Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Wayne Coyne's Mind Just Melted

This is obviously a missing track from Embryonic...

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Youth Born Again

Backspacer - Pearl Jam

My allegiance is reaffirmed.

It feels great to listen to a straight forward rock album from a band that defies age and stereotypes. I've long been a fan of Pearl Jam, but like most have lost touch since the early part of the decade. This album reminds me of why I had a Ten poster on my wall and why I used to wake up to VS every morning. Shoot, I played the shit out of Binaural, but there have been plenty of miscues over the years.

This is Pearl Jam's bold statement that they aren't going away and we are all better for it.

It's tight, fast and loud. The lyrics aren't always on point, but they never have been for this band. Gossard and Amet don't write the best songs but they play the heck out of them. Vedder shines bright here knocking a few home runs early and closing strong. He brings to PJ a little of his solo magic from the OST to Into the Wild with "Just Breathe", a song I can't get enough of.

I dig this album and the band.


Freaks Alive!

Embryonic - Flaming Lips
(Fast Review)


This is the most difficult album of the year, in the best possible way. The Lips have never been one to dwell in the approachable realm for all. They are, afterall, the purveyors of oddity and showmen of the other world. They love to freak and they love the bizzare but moslty the love to be themselves.

The album has it's certain ups and downs but when played as a cohesive unit the spacious and alientating tracks take form and things flesh themselves out into a rather stunning collection of sounds.

There are the quick fix hits scattered about, but mostly you'll find the band at play with free style jazz influenced, jam outs that tip around the direction you assume (and at times yearn) they will head. It's almost like the want the fans to be frustrated and it's fucking awesome.

Take the trip, leave reality and assumptions at home.


Monday, October 26, 2009

New Fang

Video for the first single from Powerhouse Super Group: Them Crooked Vultures

New Fang:

This Fears Got a Hold on Me

To Lose My Life - White Lies

When words like power, angst, emotive meant more to music there was a sound that wasn’t rock and it wasn’t pop. Listeners could find a connection to the words and find them real in their own lives. The songs were beat driven and flowing to keep listeners engaged but still challenging and complex enough to inspire. It felt artistic, creative yet safely reassuring. The music had a style or an attitude that you could see almost more than you could hear. It wasn’t dark exactly but it was far from happy, a paradox to the pop structure of the songs.

We know this music now to be the popular music of the 1980’s, lead mostly by the movie soundtracks and hit songs that defined our youth. It’s brilliantly simplistic music that was ageless the day it hit the airwaves. Bands like A-Ha, The Cars and Tears for Fears found a way to make pop music for the mind and lead a movement. It was post Clash and the disco movement but pre hair metal. The tagline, emo rock founds its origins with bands like the Cure and the Smiths a standard that would carry over into the music of INXS.

In the early part of this decade a band took these sounds and blended them with the rawness and musical genius of the brooding Joy Division, that band is Interpol. Once thought to be the next icon along with the Strokes, Interpol has met it’s match. M83 has nothing on this band.
White Lies is all that made those 80’s soundtracks sound so great minus the bubble gum and hair product. They are darker than many of the bands above but the sound is built on the same foundation. The range and sincerity of this album is stunning at times. The lyrics are what make this album a true prize.

Having stumbled upon them via a Day Trotter Session, I soon became engulfed with their work. After touring with Kings of Leon and building a fan base in their home of England, White Lies is ready for American domination and I for one welcome it.

Songs to hear: "Fifty on Our Foreheads", "Death", "Unfinished Business"


Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Voice of the Woods

Unmap - Volcano Choir

Collaboration from Justin Vernon (Bon Iver) and Collections of Colonies of Bees gives us Volcano Choir. Beautifully Bizarre.

Mixed opinions on this one. I love that Justin is as ambitious as he is but the heavily instrumental and sparse arrangements leave much to be desired for me. It sounds more like a small collection of songs strung together with outtakes from studio sessions given the ‘alone in the woods’ treatment Bon Iver has now mastered. I enjoy minimalism in music but get lost when I feel the intent is to push listeners past a point of focus and trail off with no intent to retain or draw back. Thom Yorke explores as well as anyone as we have been reminded again this year, but he never loses me despite what I take to be some of better attempts.

"Island, IS" comes as a hands down winner and is among my favorite songs of the year. If more of the tracks had this kind of direction I feel the overall project would be more of a success had the outfit followed a more structured approach. Some can argue that the point of this project was to explore new soundscapes, I can’t argue, but I’ll leave exploring soundscapes to Califone.


I Just Wanna Bang on the Drums All Day

Single from the new project of the Black Keys, drummer, aptly titled: Drummer.

The song is post grunge, a lot like a Dinosaur Jr. fuzzy riff heavy stuff of late. I dig it and look forward to digging into this album soon.
"Feel Good Together"

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Suckin Ya Dry

Deertick with Johnny Corndawg - The Visulite, October 18th 2009

Sunday night shows are tough in a town like Charlotte. For the most part, Charlotte is a play it by the book kinda town, the crisp shirted, big banking folks who enjoy being scene at the best spot more than checking out the scenes that the backside of this town offers. Sunday nights are tough because most folks have hit it hard all weekend and most guys just wanna sit on the couch and watch the tube. But every now and then, if you venture out, you'll catch a rare show, a band in their groove on a Sunday.

I've caught a few Sunday shows in my time and the most amazing of them is My Morning Jackets show at the Tabernacle on the Z tour; changed the way I see live music.
Deertick is not going to redefine anything about my life, but there is plenty they solidify, and on a Sunday sometimes the best thing going is a true affirmation. A calling of faith of all things southern, twangy, rough and tough, a little boozed up and full of grit, hard lessons and broken hearted songs.

The last time I attempted to see Deertick was over a year ago at the world famous Milestone in town, where there were maybe 5 people in attendance and Deertick pulled a no show; flat tire en route. How Deertick landed a gig at Visulite I ain't real sure. Despite it being sparse in crowd, Deertick made the place feel like home, playing a show more like they are your buds jamming out at your favorite bar than a national touring act. This sits well with me on a Sunday and it matches all my expectations of the band.

The opening act is of course just the band with an additional vocalist, Johnny Corndawg. Corndawg is a mix between the guy that works at the general store that sells you beer in High School, a drunk art student and Hank Williams Jr (like a 30yr old version of Willie Nelson's grnadpa). His music is all twang and life and the lyrics are raw and twisted but delightful. He sings about his love being a cherry with chocolate mouse on top and a dog sporting a red rocket and a married couple yelling at one another in a long roadtrip ("Shut Up"). It's damn entertaining stuff and you can feel the realness of this guy coming over the PA. Despite a nagging cough that left him napping center stage until his bandmates woke him to start the set and his momma's sweater, the boy put on a show.

Deertick as a whole was everything I want them to be. Torn, scratchy, loose put together. Having fun, being themselves and keeping things light and movin. They open with an A-cappella version of "Dirty Dishes" and the trend for taking old standard songs of theirs and others in new directions is the theme for the evening. "Ashamed" came full steam ahead, enjoyable but not the tender, rip your heart out style I prefer. Mixed in the set were a variety of songs by John Prine and a number co-written with members of Those Darlins; a naughty number at that.

Despite my request for "Nebraska", MacCauley (lead) informs me that they are from Rhode Island, a witty conversational stageman with good anecdotes and crowd interaction. My only complaint would be the volume, could have used it turned down a notch in order to catch more vocals when things picked up tempo.

After a nice solo set that included a great version of the Replacements, "Can't Hardly Wait" (also covered perfectly by Justin Townes Earle this year), there was a solid encore featuring "La Bamba", "Maybellene" (suits there swagger and rockabilly attitude) and a tease of "I'll Be Home for Christmas."

A perfect birthday gift of a show to me

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Fuzzing on the Heavy

Post-Nothing - Japandroids

First off this is the best title for an album I have seen in years. A swift f-you to the genre geeks and loser bloggers eager to dissect and ascribe unneeded titles and classifications (ahem). Secondly, this is the most awesomest and aptly fitting band name I have seen in years. Album cover alone and these guys kick ass.

I come to my perspective of this album and band by means of No Age. Were it not for No Age's incessant fuzz and yet underlying catchy hook/riff driven formations I may not have had the ear for this album. I am lucky I am a No Age fan (also also band name), for it brought me to an even better place.

Post-Nothing is just that; almost nothing at all. It's a lot of guitars on top of guitars with thudding drums, heavy reverb droned with feedback and muffled yelling of vocals. I love it.

Each song frustrates as much as it rewards. Yearning for some semblance of song structure brings one to claw deep into the songs, hanging tight until it hits and then wham, a sick chorus explodes and a guitar riff kicks in and it almost sounds like something you've enjoyed before and then it's gone again.

The Boys Are Leaving Town is not the easiest of opening tracks so for newcomers try Crazy/Forever, undeniably fun.


Simple Sounds of the World

Person to Person - Foreign Born

David Byrne is the king of mixing elements of world music and generating expert skilled pop miracles. Foreign Born have taken the success of recent upstarts such as Vampire Weekend and Ra Ra Riot to heart, embracing the sounds of African Pop music and reinterpreting it into their own. The difference and success here falls with the efforts of the band to hop around to more than one continent. Sounds come from South America, the islands and they mix healthy doses of folksy guitars to round it all out. At times they sound clean and tight like a post punk 80's collaboration; say Aha etc., and at times they dabble with the workings of something more accustomed to say String Cheese Incident. It actually sounds a whole heck of a lot better than I just described it.

The overall sound of the album does drone a tad and tracks wash into one another at times but it stands strong as a complete piece of work. Blood Oranges, the opening track is solid as are the first few songs, but when you reach Winter Games you realize this isn't just another indie band to toss into the mix as the decade ends. They are sincere contenders. Not bent on blowing you away with a single or riding the hottest trend, the skills displayed here indicate a band ready to ride it out for a while and win over fans one by one until the collective ear pays attention and recognizes how good this all is.


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The In Sound From Deep Down

Man on the Moon: The End of Day - Kid Cudi

Damn this boy has some emotional issues. More Emo than rap, Man on the Moon, is in many ways a second coming of Kanye and in some ways a glimpse at an artist that could learn to embrace himself and be a legend.

The problem with manic people regardless of their abilities and aptitude is that their creative output is likened to their disposition; sporadic, confused, lacking confidence and direction. When Kid Cudi shines he brings the light of a new day in Indie Hip Hop, when he wanes he brings an eclipse of sound sound to the light he holds within.

There are tracks on this album that rank among the best Hip Hop I've heard in years. The flow in Simple As, the chorus to Day N Night (Nightmare) and the genre bending of Pursuit of Happiness (Nightmare) are such glimpses of talent. Great lyrical delivery and use of time and rhythm. Yet every one of these sounds is blimished by trailings of un needed and unjustified banter, noise and confusion at the end of the track. Keep the Kid straight and he'll deliver, let him dwell inside and things get messy.

Guests like Ratatat and MGMT bring life and depth to the album, highlighting the best of what Kudi has to offer. Guests like Common and Kanye weigh him down, bring out a psuedo thug and ruin the effect.

If this Kid can learn to harness his abilies he'll be big, otherwise he'll go the way of Lupe Fiasco and Jurassic 5, artists that faded too fast. Get this Kid with the Roots and Mos Def!