Thursday, December 20, 2007

2007, we bid you Farewell!

Thanks to those kept up with the reviews, that was far more of an undertaking that I had imagined, but I do appreciate those that responded.

Speaking of responding, I am looking to get more reader input going with this blog. Posting your reviews of albums, shows, movies, books, news, media…whatever. Post comments; give me feedback on what you want more of and what you can do without.

Essential Albums that might have made the cut had I heard them more/sooner.

LP – Holy Fuck
Wierdo Rippers – No Age
All Hour CymbalsYeasayer
I Was Submerged – Tulsa
Easy Tiger – Ryan Adams
Person Pitch – Panda Bear (Jejune, I broke down and got it, no AC, but solid nonetheless)

And this little album; review from McConnell:

Dead Confederate - Dead Confederate
Could it be? Another band to hail from the City of Dreams. Yes, its true. Dead Confederate has emerged from our dear Athens, GA to spill their venom on the rest of the music world. I first heard the band through a chance encounter this past October at the Echo Project. I was impressed with their ability to bring a solid sound at an outdoor venue. I grabbed their EP, The News Underneath, for five bucks. Although I was instantly intrigued, it really took me a couple of listens to get hooked. I have since been delighted by my newfound treasure. Having been compared by the "real" critics to MMJ and Band of Horses, there is definitely something eerie and airy about their sound that leaves the soul drooling for more. Their sound can be best described as a grunge-infused darker psych-rock. The strongest songs on The News Underneath EP were carried over to Dead Confederate. The EP opens with the quasi ballad of "Memorial Day Night" before transitioning into one of their oldest songs. A stronger song,"The Rat", seems to lull you into submission with a constant drum beat before the powerful chorus sneaks up from behind to punch you in the face. Powerful instrumentals resonate throughout next two tracks, "Tortured Artist Saint" and "Get Out". The ethereal guitar sounds captured by the likes of MMJ are especially potent in "Get Out". The record wraps up rocking out with "Shadow the Walls" and as quick as the joy ride had begun, it is over. At times, it seems almost as if Kurt Cobain has returned to the planet of the apes to haunt the vocal chords of lead singer, Hardy Morrris. I've missed you Kurt. Since my first drink at the Echo Project, I have seen the band open for the Black Angels and then the Black Lips. They keep getting better and I find myself more and more inebriated. I'm looking forward to their next show December 19th at Smith's Olde Bar and their release party on the 22nd at Red Lion Pub. With the release of their LP early next year, you can expect big things from Dead Confederate in 2008.
Here are a few gifts for the Holiday Season:
Hope you enjoy the holidays and I will be back rockin' out in '08.

(Black Mountain, The Whigs, Tapes ‘N Tapes, My Morning Jacket, Wolfmother, Wolf Parade, DeVotchKa, Stepehen Malkmus, Britt Daniel, Franz Ferdinand, Postal Service, The Raconteurs, Islands, R.E.M., Blur and much, much more to come in ’08)

Friday, December 14, 2007

THE ESSENTIAL ALBUMS OF 2007...'Bout, F-ing Time!*


When our generation reaches an age where we reflect on the artists that defined our era there will be names from the silver screen, the walls of museums, the inventors of software and programs, athletes who reached heights never imagined, business people that changed commerce and musicians such as Radiohead. Musicans at the caliber of Radiohead do not simply make songs that are played on the radio or that wind up in ad campaigns. They challenge their critics, fans and peers to gain a perspective and evaluate what is being conveyed. The great ones make music that change the way you hear everything else. Such is the craft of Radiohead. Now we have In Rainbows, which may be the most defining album of Radiohead’s catalogue. Why? Nearly a decade after releasing one of the most influential albums of all time in OK Computer, the band has returned with not just an awing album, but also one that alters the state of modern music. A second, and third masterful album garners the rite of legend or Hall of Famer. Ad nausea, the media has fallen over its collective heels to grasp what the release format of this album will dictate. In perspective, the launch of the album has distracted from the greatness of its contained material. At this juncture Radiohead have mastered a form, a sound. What is so encompassing with this release is the synergy of the variations of style that the band has explored over the years in those 2-3 classic albums. 15 Step and Bodysnatchers are simply the best one-two punch I’ve heard in a long time. As the album flows along the boldness of The Bends era guitars melt to the post OK Computer sounds when digitalized amplifications became more and more prevalent. Then we receive an acoustic song Faust Arp, followed by the strongest songs of the album in House of Cards and Jigsaw Falling Into Place; closing quietly with the Kid A sounds of Videotape. What makes this so interesting and successful is that although the style has been explored before, it has never sounded so well versed and robust it does now. I am once again a believer in Radiohead and strongly feel that they are among the finest bands our generation will ever see.


I take great pride in knowing that most every one of my readers disagrees with my infatuation of this band…they’ve also never seen this magic performed live. Poof! It appears as if from nowhere. No strings attached, flashy lights, no smoke screens, only Mirrors. Intricate and masterful in delivery, this is the black magic of sound and it leaves the stunned audience scrambling for answers in the terror of it all. Performers can preach their abilities throughout the night, but if the act falls short of what is expected then the presentation is nothing short of complete failure. In the same notion if the act is just what the audience anticipated and that which they paid for, then where is the suspense? Where is the intrigue? What will keep them coming back? You see my friends, if you truly aim to win them over you must take them by surprise; give them what they never dreamed possible and leave them with curious smile. With audience perched on the mere edge of their seats in air thickening with anticipation the stunning vibration of the opening stanza of Race-In dashes outward and casts its image in their eyes and ears. The trickery and mind bending exploration grows and as more and more is unveiled, certainty slips further from grasp. Dare we say such sound comes from man, or be it machine that make such ruckus? That noise, that din, be that the vocals? Oh what contortion hath these hackers wrought? The man speaks and plays in machine and machine relays the message, does that change the meaning? What lies in those shadows of sound? Such theatrics, such toying, such the performance! Chirping noise waves over the nearly dumbfounded crowd with every wave of the wand and snap of the handkerchief. Soon that chirp become a growl and the feat of it all is unveiled as the curtains come crashing down. Behold the mysterious Tonto and breakthrough show stopper of the year, Atlas! Hear yea, hear yea! Come gather round. There are new masters of the oddity, fear you their sound?
Remember kids; you will always fear what you are unwilling to understand!

Andrew Bird

It’s good to see you as well. Grab a seat anywhere; can I pour a drink? Sure, I’ve got a scotch; smooth, well blended, aged with a smoky texture that rolls down the tongue leaving no burning aftertaste. I imagine it has not been all that long since last we spoke, but I feel much has changed and for the better I might add. This time last year, if my memory serves right, and these days it’s difficult to trust, you had found yourself in a new way, far more expressive in your work. You seem to have discovered something that made everything else click, and if you’ll allow me to be so curt, you really needed an edge. I guess now you’ve got it down. What was the name of that chap that you’ve been working with? Dash? Of course, Dosh. Good man. You two make quite the explosive duo, lucky you were introduced. Well, despite how it came about, I’m glad it did, it’s been grand for us all to share in. That being said, I hate to even bring it up, things are going so well here, and like I said it seems longer than it’s been since we last conversed, but I must know; what is it that troubles you so? Is there some dark matter from your past that haunts you? Surely this trouble is not of your own doing, so out with it, dispel the ghost that haunts. Tell us what we did wrong and you can blame us for it. Well that is something you say there, some truth to it for sure. I say, I’ve justly never see you look and sound so sharp, but there lies a trouble in those words you speak. You can’t be blamed you know? How about some credit now where credit is due, after all, like you’ve said it’s only fatal. Stay put, allow me to fetch something for you, I keep it on the nightstand. That’s right, it’s a book, a book of hidden things as such. It’s challenging but without a doubt, rewarding. An Apocrypha. You’ll grow much from the read and soon thank me.
What was that you were going to say?


SWDnce Assmbl seks, SWPop-Rck cllbrtn fr nw albm. Mst hv wllngnss to cr8 and dstrt and thn mx all tht we mak bck up and chrn it all out agn, unlk u wld evr drm!
SWDance Assmbl, ntrstd, vry ntrstd. We hve fnk, rck, and rhtm, w/ sme 2 spr. U brng the hrtbrk stries, w’ll brng the hrns…hw shld we mt?
W’ll dvlp the sngs wth our cmptrs, thn w’ll wrk 2gthr 2 make snd amzng!
Lt’s do ths!!
The result, a musical match that would make Apollo and Cupid blush in the heavens. It’s rare that heart felt stories of despair and young adulthood can be situated within the framework of fast tempo and amped up funk music, but Menomena introduce just enough of the mellow along with the layering of piano and whistles and chimes to make this jumble of sounds singable. It’s the darkest album that’s ever lifted my spirits. As the marriage of acoustic guitar and heavy bass lines finds jittery piano melodies underscoring choir like vocals the love story alters the whole romance with some inventive production skills. It’s the musical equivalent of a honeymoon gone wrong, only to be saved by the spirit of the young. But the Friendly sounds find Foe in the folds and depth of the words. A lover’s strife set to music that makes the room turn to frenzy. The closer we get to one another the more we discover we should never have met…so why does this work? I know you love to hear yourself speak, words that you think I can’t follow. Maybe that’s the way you and I will always relate. Broken hearted, jaded, and prickly slicing…music that scorns in draped red cloak and full of unearned decaDance!
End the search, the sound that was sought has been found.
Frnd dscvrd foe, rslt, mssve 3umph!!!


Winter gets cold in all the ways you forget. You’re feeling alone, your stride picks up a step. What keeps this simple is what keeps you going. When others fall short bein’ so new, you and I, we’ll stick to what’s tried and true.
Just one hit, a kick and drum.
Swagger on guitar, you’ll feel what he’s sung.
There’s Power in what they do. Textbook remedies to a long forgotten perfection. It’s everything a rock n’ roll song set out to be. For years Spoon has been perfecting the Pop-Rock template, and in so doing they have outperformed and surpassed in creativity most all of their peers. Keep it simple stupid. Well this time around, they did tweak the norm and pressed hard, not bending, but applying a little pressure to their fast set rules. There’s strong subtlety to these tunes and as always Brit Daniel’s lyrics are vivid and succinct, saying the commonplace in extraordinary ways. This band is an inspiration. Excess is no word amongst the vocabulary of these pop stars. The songs are keen and crisp, short and energetic, bold and reassuring. There is so much that can be said about this album, the song titles alone are conversation pieces, the exploration of tracks such as The Ghost of You Lingers and the sadness to jubilance of the closer Black Like Me, but if Spoon has taught me anything, it’s stop while you still got them interested.
Don’t you never think it’s right. Bet you think you had to but it doesn’t feel right. Bet you never think it feels right. Famous-sounding words make your head feel light.

The National

No surprise here, only affirmation. I fought it, I really did. I dissected ever album I listened to this year and was prepared to change direction, make the stunning surprise and drop a newly crowned champion, but I couldn’t find the challenger worthy to claim the belt. I assure you it came not from lack of trying. Maybe I am stubborn, I just refuse to let this one go. My love of this album places it among the best I have heard in the last ten years. It’s not grandiose but it stands strong on it’s own. There lies an overwhelming sense of accomplishment to it. If you take the time to hear its predecessors it becomes all the more apparent. From alt-country origins, flings with punkesque, and a formidable first step in Alligator, this becomes the high golden banner of a band that fulfilled it’s potential. There’s not much I haven’t expressed about this album so I’ll clarify more what it is that I listen for and why this contains the those elements.
Ultimately I want to feel that I have somehow, someway become a more enlightened or creative individual upon hearing an album. Like you approach a book or a film, you want to be entertained, sure, but you desire more, much more. You want feel what it is the artist is conveying to you. There needs to be a correlation between art and life that builds a bridge into your innermost thoughts. The direction and focus of an album can arise from anywhere; I trust the diversity of this list alones serves as a testament to that. I hold no preconceived notions when I listen, I’ll worship any album that fulfills my needs. I love an album that sounds ambiguous. When influences are painted on their foreheads, but comes out through them sounding so new. They can reinvent, recreate, redirect, revisit, whatever, in the end it must sound their own. The sounds I lend my ears most readily to are those that have a rockabilly stamina. Meaning they aren’t classic country and they aren’t rock, they kinda sit right there in the middle and claim to be neither. Then it needs an attitude. I’m not a huge punk fan, but I am enthralled by it’s influence and the independent spirit of the artists I listen to most embody this nonchalance. It has to, let me repeat, IT HAS TO, sound like something that would amaze me to see in person. I don’t want to just hear or digest the music, I want to transpose it into my life. When I love a song it becomes a walking anthem to my life. I hum it constantly. I alter lyrics. I set tempo to jogging, paddling, walking to it. I play it in my car, as I sit outside on a nice day, I play it as I fall to sleep at night, I play it as I work…it plays as I live. To allow something to have that much of an influence on my being, then yeah it needs to move me, it needs to inspire. Once the hook has me then it needs to make me want more. This is when the lyrics come to play. I love to read, and I do my best to write, so combine that with sounds I love and the imagery of the band, especially in live performance and all the senses come alive. When the lyrics are nonexistent, such as the case with Battles, then I study even harder the song structure and arrangement. I make the transitions in melody, rhythm, tempo, the placements, work to serve as the lyrics; I feel this to is the intent of those artists that create this form of expression. In the end, it has to appeal to me in a transcendent manner. What I love most with good music is sometimes not knowing what it is that draws me. This quest, in realistic terms, has brought me here, to challenge myself to express what inspires. Often simple explanation of guitar here and drum there doesn’t capture, so I become vague, odd even. What I am conveying is what the music makes me feel. Boxer does this do me more than any of the other albums I heard this year. The soundtrack that I will correlate to the 365 days that serve as the year 2007 will be Boxer, and that’s all I need to say.

*Now in correct order, idiot!

Thursday, December 6, 2007


Les Savy Fav
Sometimes it takes a little of the old to shake up the new. LSV can safely be tagged old these days (been at it since the decade that came before this one), especially in the ‘love you today, hate you tomorrow’ industry of cool. LSV are known as an off the cuff collaborative, whose albums have sounds that smear any established genre, creating a brilliant template for ‘more successful’ bands to steal from. Often is the case when you make radiant music that doesn’t click with the popular trends or pigeonhole you in a suitably designed arena for review and peers to stack up against. Let’s Stay Friends is a screaming reminder of the days when music was more concerned with message and innovativeness than trends and being hip. Has your skin grown thick from bands that make you sick? Pots and Pans, the album opener, explodes off the stove and flings hot, messy sauce all over the walls and ceiling, streaking across the floor. It ruins every other bands dinner and makes no apologies for doing so. LSV make a case for being such a superior band the easy way; they just remind you that most everything you hear is just crap and what you should listen to is a band with heart. Over the course of the album the message is loud (real loud), we don’t give a fuck how popular you are, we were here first, we helped invent this and we are back to show you how it is supposed to be done. When you give this album its due listen you find yourself constantly saying, I know that riff, these lyrics, and these song structures, shit this whole sound, why do I know it all so well? How do they sound like British pop, New York indie, west coast punk and a Pacific Northwest grunge band all at the same time? I’ll tell ya why. It’s their sound, the paved the way. Sorry to sound like such a putz, but this is the most fun I’ve had with an album all year. Glad to have you back and glad you still kick ass.
This is where it stops And this is where it ends Let's tear this whole place down and build it up again This band's a beating heart and it's nowhere near its end

Deer Tick
He’s a sonofabitch really. He drags you through every damn sad story you’ve ever heard. He makes you ponder your life, your relationships and your place in the world you know. That guitar twangs along, plucking at you, finding weak points and then plucking deeper ‘til it just hurts to hear it. His voice don’t do much in way of soothing ya neither. So just what the hell is it that makes this little piece such a melodically challenged beaut? It hits you just as much in the heart and the head as it does the eardrums, and man does it hit hard. Each song has its on story, which is how this whole thing got started; so it’s nice to hear someone make it sound so simple once again. The voice draws an image of a faceless man treading the empty roads by the light of an old kerosene lantern. It’s not lost so to say; it’s just not sure where it needs to be going. Stuck in the past, trudging in the knee-deep mistakes it’s made, it wants to apologize but either can’t find the right words to do so or it’s misplaced the will to admit its done wrong to begin with. The songs are scratchy in the sincerest of ways, keeping you attuned to what’s being unfolded without ever really sounding in tune at all. It’s a bit of a back alley, nickel shop sounding record, cheaply recorded without what seems to be a true drawing focus to what the intent was. In the same argument you might find one saying it’s downright made like it oughtta be heard. Variation in song volumes, mixed amps on instruments on various tracks and the drop note, kill close to Ashamed, really does sound of something earnest and all of its own right. If I had to call it, I’d say it’s the bar band nature of this Warring beast that gives it a backbone. It sure ain’t the prettiest of sounding things you’ll bend your ears to, but it goes down easy and sets up just right.

White Stripes
Icky, choppy and all kinds of riffy, King White makes his mark on guitar legendry once again. Jack dumped the piano off at the neighbors and uncovers bizarre goodies from the yard sale whilst prepping to unleash this heavily Euro influenced ditty. Bold aspirations have always been the ace up the sleeve for the Detroit Duo, but when over zealousness cast a shadow on Get Behind Me Satan, the former lovers needed to regroup. Regrouping apparently means digging deep down in that bottomless rhinestone studded leather bag of good timing tricks Jack keeps at his hip, for the guitar returns and it brings a few nasty accomplices to come play along. When the title track screeches into high gear ain’t nobody foolin’ nobody bout who’s brought the heavy and twisted this go around. Far from the sounds of their humble orgins, the Stripes are veteran and sneakily playing with a creative fever that teeters on a dirty disease. 300 M.P.H. Torrential Outpour Blues is the most aptly tagged track this vinyl owns; it’s downright filthy the way them kids fling themselves back and forth from blues to rock to metal to blues to some stuff you wouldn’t never tell your mother ‘bout, least you be sent to your room without supper. Now how the mates in question thunk up a rendition of Conquest like this’n, then smash their whole soundsystem with Little Cream Soda and flipped the whole mess so’s it gushed out to all corners of the studio just so’s they’s can dance in the slop belting out Catch Hell Blues…it’s elICKYtric! A little Southern Sass to light up that ass. Southern UK that is. The wizard on the mountain is Rag and Bone, the supreme parody driven/satirical song I’ve ever heard (sorry Ween). The red and white have reclaimed the Thump, and that’s music to my ears.

Josh Ritter
With a title like that a listener may just make the mistake of believing they are about to hear a greatest hits album or a collection of classic tracks redone…they would mistaken, foolishly mistaken. Irony of course being the foresight of the title. It refers not to a yesterday, it echoes onward to a time when we can look back and see where the Conquest of Ritter was defined, today. It’s not that this is the first time Ritter has written stunning songs or even assembled a triumphant album; it’s just that this time he knew this was going change his musical namesake while he was making it. This is a profound collection, expounding and expanding what has been dabbled with before, just never fully delved into. Nothing is held back here. Be it a slow waltz of a song or a galloping barn burner, all the preconceived notions of what an outfit like this is capable of are swept under rug. I love the way it moves, I love the way it grooves. I dig the meaning and feel the attitude. Can see the accomplishment and lift it’s might. Burning as the sunset that welcomes the night. It does so much and it does it right. It’s brilliant. It’s rocking, loose but with care. Did I mention how I love you in your underwear? Love songs, yeah you’ve heard ‘em for sure. But have you ever heard the bleeding heart of the Next to the Last Romantic before? Doubt you’ve felt the rhythm of Still Beating, Empty Hearts; leaving the others To the Dogs or Whoever from the start. You think you know Ritter, just Rumors. When the time comes you won’t refer to ‘knowing’ or ‘having heard’ you’ll tell ‘em all when you were laid waste by the Conquest.

Band of Horses
Condensation peaks, assembles, bubbles and runs down the slope of the cool glass against the heat of the day. In the south we like it sweet. Real sweet. Maybe we take it that way to agitate the Yankees, maybe we just know better. Any way you slice it, tea is always better served sweat and iced with a wedge of lemon. It’s almost a perfect drink. Simple, smooth, with a little pick-me-up. If you like, you can sneak a little more of that pick-me-up in there. Personally, I take to the sweat tea of beer, High Life, of course. It’s more than a beer; it’s a statement, a way of doing things. Simple, and just enough of everything you’re looking for. I kinda think Band of Horses had that mentality when they set out to record their breathtaking yet smooth and simple sophomore album, Cease to Begin. Even the title begets ease. A notion or pause just before act. So often bands are quick to enter the high moments, cluttering songs. Patience is a wise man’s virtue. Let the songs build, let the reverb fill the air, allow the voice to bellow and open the guitars when the moment strikes. Steeped in the country tendencies of a South Carolina upbringing, the Pacific Northwest’s folk heroes return home, just in time to catch the Dawgs on the tube. The album has many facets, yet at no time is there a feel that the band has lost touch or turned a poor direction. It’s the kind of album you listen to with a Lab, a bucket of beer and some true pals. Band of Horses has defined a role as the new leading southern rock band, and despite a few temptations, they seem prepared to stay sincere to their roots and keep the Carolina vibe alive. Drink this one up, it’s as refreshing as they come and yeah there’s plenty pick-me-up in there to boot.

LCD Soundsystem
You spent the first five years trying to get with the plan,and the next five years trying to be with your friends again.
It’s a cliché latenight in a swanky town, sipping top shelf with the kind of friends that’ll let you down. It’s bored with you before it had a clue you couldn’t keep up. It talks through you as if you were in the way. It builds and builds, just to keep you in your place. And when it’s over, it just wrecks the whole space. Keyboards stammer, drumkits clack, hit all the high notes and ignore the flat. Remember when what you loved, well that was cool? If it you aren’t with the masses, get left behind and dig the old skool.
To think I used to pity you. To think I used to pity you, it’s true.
Now you seem confused. Are we not who we am? Oh, sorry that’s right, we never even shook hands. We picked up your beats and made them our own. When we sing out loud, sounds like we talk on the phone. Moving in time and feeling upbeat, but you’re still at that last club, yeah the one down the street. When you think you’ve caught up, that’s when we throw you in spin. Oh I don’t know, I don’t know, oh, where to begin? There are so many voices, sound all the same. That repetitive beating, if it weren’t so catchy, it’d drive you insane! So where is it headed and from where did it come. It sounds so greasy, covered like that North American Scum. You try and shine up a bit, with your champagne and spit. Cleans up real nice, new buzzes come out. Heavy on the twist, plum out of the shout. So crank it up, crank it, this is just the beginning. If silence is golden, noise must be silvern.