Friday, August 29, 2003

Well I went to the Mae, Holland, and Celebrity concert at The End this Wed. so I'll give it a nice review here. Holland started out the show, somehow they're hometown boys even though the Tooth and Nail bio says they are from Texas. Hmmm. They were pretty good, they had the distinction of having the fattest drummer ever, the guy had to be like 320lbs. Awesome. They even played a country-tinged song (if that's possible) for us Nashvillians (see how I've quickly adotped this place?) that was great. For their last piece the lead singer played the keyboards and played a cool song that reminded me of early Homesick For Space. Next we had Celebrity, also hometown boys. Stright up emo, sans the screaming, which I did miss. The bassist looked exactly like Rob Schnider, it was so freaky. Nothing outstanding, but you could tell the die hard fans in the crowd singing along. Another thing, the sound was horrible in terms of vocal level, you could barely hear Celebrity's singer. Finally Mae took the stage, and rocked out. Every band has it's quirk and Maes was the bassist that never moved, kinda a John Enstwile type of guy. Both guitarists were going crazy, yet he never moved. Stared straight ahead. Whoa. My favorite song was "summertime." You could hear his vocals so it made it much better. Anyways, it was a good first-Nashville concert, can't wait for Cursive on Oct 2nd!

Monday, August 25, 2003

well, I'm here at Belmont now, in my very small room. no new cd reviews yet, but I will get to them.

Tuesday, August 19, 2003

Well, I leave Thursday for Nashville, kinda scary. Has anyone else noticed that Jerry Springer always says the same thing at the end of his show?

Wednesday, August 13, 2003

"Make Up The Breakdown" - Hot Hot Heat

9 Tacos

Steve Bays, singer/keyboardist of Hot Hot Heat has this obsession with his city. I know they're Canadian, a country that I have fond memories of, but does that give him the right to tell someone to get in or get out of his city? With three songs dealing with this city, I really want to know why. Does it have good food? Are the girls hot? Are the freeways congestion-free? Whatever the reason, this release on Sub Pop is one of my favorite records of the year (so far).
I used to think I was the only kid who really enjoyed new wave this day and age. Sure, we all could sing A-Ha and Flock of Seagulls, but who really thought it was good? I did. By far, my favorite band was the Cars. Well, early Cars, I could care less about "Drive." They were punk, but then they were new wave. They had style, chops, and barely clothed women on their record covers. What I'm trying to get to here is that Hot Hot Heat are channeling the Cars. Steve Bays is a dead ringer for Rick Ocasek on "Aveda" and the organ is reminiscent of an early Greg Hawkes, especialy on "Get In or Get Out." Imagine of the Cars made a album of songs just like "Just What I Needed." This is it's illegitimate child. No one told them new wave is dead.
Now it's not exactly the new wave of your much older siblings. There are no crazy synths, in fact there is only one keyboard part that isn't an organ. Their hairstyles look normal. Only one of the guys is wearing a tie. No one is participating in Live Aid. But it's unmistakably new-new wave. I'll call it Nuveau Wave. Crazy French.
This is the most danceable record I've bought this year, seriously. I always listen to cd's in my car while I review them, and I was going crazy in my car, shakin' my butt in my Saturn. "Naked In The City Again" starts off with a disco beat and underlying organ, with Bays telling us "Says she's got it all/I don't want to be the one to tell her she don't" breaking down the ego of an overly concieted young woman. Right before I bought this record at Best Buy (for the low, low price of $10) they played "No, Not Now" overhead, which stems from the fact they were just snapped up by Warner Bros. Records. Let's hope they don't fall into the majot label rut (Greenday, anyone). "Get In or Get Out" is part of the triumverate of "City" songs which also includes "Naked..." and "This Town." It has a great freak out organ solo that should have been included in every song. "Bandages" has this little eastern style intro that they revisit on "In Cairo" and for the life of me everytime I hear the last 'bandages' in the chorus it sounds like he's saying 'band of Jews.' Whatever, great song.
"You are my only girl/But you're not my owner, girl" begins the samba-like "Dance With Me" another perfect example of how this is great dance music. I really like the eastern-melody style of "In Cairo" I actually don't know if it's true sitar style crap, but it works for me. The only complaint I have is that sometimes the music leaves you at a sonic loss, like when you think that it should come crashing down on you, it almost seems timid, afraid to go out there and bust a ball. The most glaring example is "Oh Goddamnit" but other than that this is a great Nuveau Wave, butt shakin' record.

Monday, August 11, 2003

Gap Jeans CD feat. "Hollywood" - Madonna and Missy Elliot.

0.5 Tacos. Heck, it's not even worth the tin foil the taco comes on, that's why they give it away for free.

"Everybody comes to Hollywood/They want to make it in the neighborhood." One thing that you can say about Madonna is that she a superb businesswoman. More than a decade after she should have been rendered irrelevant, she is still around promoting her 40+ year old, married with kids image as if she was the newest thing. You certainly have to respect her for that, since there is no one to compare her to from her heyday in the 80's. Cindi Lauper? Pat Benetar? Objects of VH1 Behind the Music while Madonna's videos play in steady rotation on MTV. What contributes to her staying power? Sure, you could say the music, but there are plenty of people putting out more worthy recordings than she is. One word - Marketing. Case in point, the new Gap ad with Missy Elliot. Madonna realized that there is no "art" in mainstream pop music, since all focus is on selling records. She has cleverly placed her music in this ad campaign and then used Missy Elliot to attract the "hip-hop" crowd. Despite her techno posings, Madonna is not a techno artist, nor a hip-hop artist. I use the word "artist" very loosely. This product placement will ensure her loads of sales, and one cannot help but admire her for her marketing prowess and insight.
Now I will focus on the music on this cd that my friend Alexa got when she bought Jeans from the Gap. The first track contians what they call "elements" from "Hollywood" and "Into the Groove." What the heck is an element?? Can I touch it? Is it scientific? My God, I hate stupid catch-phrasing like that. Anyways, the best part of this song is that it's only 1:14' long. Madonna asks "How can it hurt you when it looks so good?" I'll tell you, cause it's a hacked-off, absolutly no inspiration track that is so commercial it hurts. And Missy Elliot continues her reign as the "why is she popular?" queen, adding nothing to this song at all, except a stupid mini-rap about how everyone wants to know where she gets those jeans. Ok, I know this is a commercial, and you're supposed to sell things, but is it wrong to to want some integrity from today's musicians? Back to Elliot; she is absoultly the worst "singer" in pop music. Can we even call her a singer? I would rather listen to Macy Gray through a broken guitar amp. Don't even get me started on how "Get Ur Freak On" was quite possibly the worst song of the decade. But she's popular for God knows why, and Madonna brilliantly includes her on this. Don't get any impressions that this is a shared bill, Madonna is clearly the featured performer.
The second and last track on here is what they call the "Jaques tu Cont's thin white duck mix" of Hollywood, a track that is on Madonna's newest album and also had "elements" (OH BOY!) of it taken for the first track, which is basically just the vocals. I think I read about this guy in a Remix mag a while back, some French guy, whoopdedoo. This is a straight up electronica/techno track. Maybe it's good dancefloor stuff, it's danceable. I guess that's all they are looking for. But for originality, it sucks. I've been listening to techno for a few years now, and while I'm no expert, I tire easily of the cookie-cutter "kick-hat-snare-hat" drum pattern that infects most techno. I am more drawn to exotic drum patterns that keep me guessing. This song is ultimately predictable and boring, and lasts way too long for it's own good (7:09')
Sometimes I will never understand pop music. Like how they let someone is utterly no talent like Elliot become a huge star, and how they act like hyprocrites by allowing something that's not new (Madonna) have a say in the current music scene. Maybe it should be refreshing that they haven't kicked her to the curb like they do with most acts that had a wane in popularity, but the quality of the music that is produced still leaves me wondering at their intellegence.

Saturday, August 09, 2003

Why Texas Deomcrats are Wrong.

I identify myself as a moderate Republican when it comes to political matters. Moderate towards the liberal side mainly because of gun control, censorship laws, and health care, but in many social and economic issues I side with the Republicans. This little disertation might sound slanted towards the Republicans, and in fact it is. But if it were the Republicans that were skirting their duties, I would bash them just as hard. This is wrong no matter how you go about it...

As anyone in Texas that is politically aware knows, 11 Democratic Senators are holed in up New Mexico in order to prevent the Texas Legislature from voting on redistricting. Their main rallying cry is that redistricting is a once every ten year process, and normally they would have a leg to stand on. But the last redistricting was not done by Texas Legistators, but Federal judges who came in in 2001 after the Texans could not come to a consensus. Wow, so in reality, redistricting by honest of God Texans hasn't occured yet. You'd think they would be all for it, since it is a time honored practice.
The reason the Democrats are so enraged about this is because for the first time in forever that Republicans are in power. They are behaving like the spoiled child who doesn't get his way and proceeds to wreck the party for everyone instead of doing what is right.
"They are fighting for a Texas that I want to be a part of — a Texas that recognizes voting rights, minority rights and above all democracy," said Nicole Van de Putte, daughter of Leticia Van de Putte, a senator that fled to New Mexico. Let's see rights...Texans voted in a Republican legislature, and now they have the ability to dictate proceedings just like Democrats have done for years. Minority Rights...they are not preventing Democrats from doing anything, they are free to vote against it, and yes they will lose, because they are the minority party and in turn they are not going to get everything they want. Democracy...this is not democracy. Democracy means the will of the people, and Republican agenda was clearly the will of the people when they last voted, and it shall be until the vote again. To run away is not democratic.
Let's address the redistricting concept: Redistricting is nothing new, it has occured in American Government for a long time, at least since the modern two-party concept. Now, I am no expert on Texas history, but I'm willing to bet that Democratic legisaltures in the past used redistricting to handcuff Republican gains in congress. No one has brought up that anytime in the past Republicans ran away from their elected duties. This display by the eleven senators is disgraceful to American Politics, and I can only hope that Texans will show their disgust in this unprofessional behavior next time at the polls.
"Give Up" - The Postal Service

8.5 Tacos

Foreward - This is not a techno album. Please excuse the few references.

It was bound to happen sometime, thank God it actually worked. Indie bands have dabbled in techno for years, spicing up arrangements with drum machines and synths, though never going straight into techno. Then Ben Gibbard of Death Cab for Cutie threw convention into the air and collaborated with Jimmy Tamborello of DNTEL and created this by-mail project, a marriage of indie pop lyrics and 80's synths. Anything Gibbard does gets me crazy excited anyways, but the fact that they are using Duran Duran instrumentation justs puts this thing over the top.
Probably since they swapped tracks by mail (hence the name) and Gibbard recorded his vocals back home in WA, his vocal sound is identical to any DCFC album, which I thought was interesting. I guess you find a good mic you don't want to change.
The album starts out with "The District Sleeps Alone Tonight," by far the most impressive track. The lyrics are intellegent and don't dive into a sophomoric level, as is the tendency later on, and the underlying vinyl-popping gives a sublte warmth. I don't know what to think about "Such Great Heights," musically, it is superb, lyrically it sucks. If NSYNC sang this they would have a huge hit. "Sleeping In" is fine, lyrically wondering how the world would be if "everything was exactly how it seemed," and I laughed when I heard "no concerns about that world getting warmer/people thought that they were just being rewarded" since I'm not a big Global Warming fan. I'm a big fan of "Nothing Better", easily the catchiest melody on the record. Despite other reviews I've read that disparage the vocals of Jen Wood on this song, I think the duet is great. "Clark Gable" marks a return to more intellegent lyrics, thankfully.
Unlike many techno songs, it's not hard to identify these songs based on their instrumentation alone, and this disc gets props for not falling into a rut. For some reason, they threw a DCFC song on here. I'm not joking, there's live drums and everything. It has the basic techno form for the first minute or so, but "This Place is a Prison" easily could have found a place on "The Photo Album." I guess it's a break from the usual fare, but its inclusion is puzzling.
I love the cheesy synths at the beginning of "Brand New Colony" for no real reason at all. I just wanted to write that. It's a good uptempo song to counter "This Place.." "Natural Anthem" gives Tamborello a chance to go crazy for the first half of the song, something I wish he had more room to do. The lyrics are extremely disapointing. I've come to expect more from Gibbard, intellegent thought out full sentence stuff, instead of "I will write a song for you, blah blah," crap that accompanies this song. There are many times on this record that Gibbard does write outstanding stuff, but the few that fall short really leave you grasping for something more.
Overall this was a great collaboration, and something to tide me over until DCFC releases their next album. I think it would be a good album for people who sometimes shy away from the off-broadway fare of regular indie music since it is pretty accesiable record and maybe get them interested in more challenging music. But that's just my opinion.

Friday, August 08, 2003


"Everlong" - The Foo Fighters - How could I forget this song? If there was every a rock song that I would classify as beautiful, this is it. It lulls you in, and just builds and builds. I don't care much for them anymore, but The Colour and The Shape is one of the most important records of the 90's, and their influence cannot be denied.

BTW... Why is it that every 20ish year old guy that appears on a talk show has some sort of facial hair? And it's always, no exceptions, fuzzy like they've never shaved before. I mean, I probably sound like a hypocrite, seeing as though I perpetually have facial hair, but I tend to think I am tasteful. These guys are commiting a crime. It's almost pitiful.

Thursday, August 07, 2003

Greatest 20 (+1) Radio Rock Songs of the Early-Mid 90's

I used to listen to the radio, in fact I was a voracious consumer of commercial radio during my formative pre-teen and early teen years before I swore off its crass commercialization and repetative nature. Rock radio shaped my youth, there is no question about it. I can't imagine my youth without the stupid "99.5 Kiss Rocks!" slogan broadcasted accross my radio dial. Leisle and Hahn in the morning, endless stretches of Metallica in the afternoon, and rock blocks in the evening. I wasted whole summers perched in front of a radio trying to figure out the latest hits on my guitar. Oh to be thirteen again.
But I grew up. I keep trying to think of what turned me off of commercial radio, and I only can think of one band that really started the movement that killed the joy of major label anthems in me: Limp Bizkit and nu-metal. I don't even know if nu-metal is cool anymore and I don't care. I just remember thinking "Screw this," and finding solace in buying loads of records that no-one had heard of, much less wanted to put on the radio. But for that while, rock radio was my leader, and these songs were its declarations. And now I give you the Greatest Radio Rock songs of the Early-Mid 90's, in no real particular order as of now.

"Today" - Smashing Pumpkins, 1993 - I hadn't realized how much the Smashing Pumpkins influenced me until I undertook this list. Sure, some of their stuff sucked hardcore, but when they made a hit, it was a freaking hit. This song lulls you in with a simple clean, picked guitar pattern before whacking you over the head and laughing at you. Arena rock at its finest.

"Desperatly Wanting" - Better Than Ezra, 1996 - The chorus of this song has been perpetually stuck in my head since I copied this record onto a tape (I was stealing music before Napster) "I remember running through the wet grass/Falling a step behind/Both of us never tiring/Desperatly Wanting." Good God, whatever happened to these guys, they were awesome. Lost romance at its finest.

"1979" - Smashing Pumpkins, 1996 - This song introduced the Pumpkins to a much larger audience. I still don't know what 1979 has to do with anything, but it became an anthem of disilluisoned youth, heck, it even made it onto those top-40 radio shows sharing air time with people like Seal. It's one of the greatest songs of the 90's, spanning every genre.

"Flagpole Sitta" - Harvey Danger, 1998 - Indie rock gone big time. Who remembers this song? I bet all of you do, "I'm not sick/But I'm not well." My favorite part is when the guy goes "Paranoia, Paranioa/Everyone's out to get me." Enough said.

"Outtasite (Outta Mind)" - Wilco, 1996 - Quite possibly one of my favorite bands ever, this song was the big "break through" then they wallowed in obscurity, releasing brilliant record after brilliant record. Country rock at its catchiest. I highly recommend that everyone download a copy of this song.

"Rat In a Cage" - Smashing Pumpkins, 1996 - My favorite Pumpkins "hard rock" song. Another one of those disillusioned youth songs, which I don't know why I'm so drawn to, since I really wasn't a disillusioned youth. Awesome nonetheless.

"Lucky" - Seven Mary Three, 1997 - I just made up a category for this song, "Alternative Acoustic Ballads." I always get this strange Black Crows vibe when I hear this song, since it sounds like "She Talks to Angels" with the acoustic guitar and thin organ in the background. For some reason I can't shake the idea that this was just the next extention of the 80's metal acoustic ballad, but it's a great song.

"Disarm" - Smashing Pumpkins, 1994 - Yet another Smashing Pumpkins song. This was the first "rock" song I learned on guitar, some guy on my dad's wrestling taught me the chords before practice. No one will ever be able to convince me that sometimes there is nothing more powerful than acoustic guitar and strings. And the bells certainly don't hurt either.

"Creep" - Radiohead, 1993 - This is Radiohead at their best before they got all techno on us (Which I love, don't get me wrong). Another one of those songs that just beats you up with distortion and then leaves you to fend for yourself. Amazing.

"Tonight Tonight" - Smashing Pumpkins, 1996 - I don't really care that Billy Corgan's voice sucks. I don't care that he sounds like he has a freaking clothespin on his nose. This song is simply one of the most beautiful things put out in the 90's, with its plaintive "Believe/Believe in me" that just haunts.

"Growing Up" - Blink 182, 1997 - Say what you will about Blink 182 now, how they've created the pop-punk monster, how they've sold out. You're right. But before they did that, they dropped this brilliant gem on us and got me interested in punk and indie music. In some ways I owe these guys a lot. In some ways I hate them. Either way, this song rocks.

"Bittersweet Symphony" - The Verve, 1996 - Oh man, I don't know if this qualifies as a true 90's rock song, but I love it. So what if it was played to death. It has so many hooks that it can kill a man. Admit it, you liked this song too, before it got annoying.

"Supersonic" - Oasis - No one really knows this song, it was from their US debut, and they didn't really get big until "Wonderwall" and all that. Combining sources like the Smiths and the Sex Pistols, Oasis was truly the most relevant British mainstream band of the 90's. Some older kid gave me a copy of this tape and it blew me away. Just listen to this and think what effect it had on a 6th grader who thought Ace of Base was cool. Wow.

"You Get What You Give" - The New Radicals - Holy crap, this song is awesome. I love the little rap part at the end, it's so random. They name drop like no other, from Hanson To Marylin Manson.

"Brainstew" - Green Day - Brainstew was a bit before my time, to be honest, but Insomniac was right up my alley. What kid didn't know how to play this song on the guitar? Green Day put punk on the map and made it acceptable for the masses. They are the modern day punk messiahs.

"In The Meantime" - Spacehog - Oh man, this is an obscure band these days, but usally people will remember this song. I don't know what happened to them, but I'm glad they stuck around long enough to give us this winner. A freaking Triple Crown winner at that.

"No Rain" - Blind Mellon - Holy geez, where do I begin? I think the part that gets me is the snapping. It's such a carefree song, the little snapping part in the beginning is genius, it sets the feel perfectly. "It's not sane." Oh is it ever.

"Possum Kingdom" - Toadies - Man, whatever happened to the Toadies? I think they only released this and "I come from the water" but who can stop rocking out to this song? It definately has that Pixies edge to it, sans Black Francis's wail. Come on, sing with me: "Do you wanna die?"

"Found Out About You" - The Gin Blossoms - One of my all-time favorite bands, they simply ruled. Their songwriting was flawless, and this was the best song from their major label debut. Yeah, you might have found out about her, but I found out that you guys rock. Every song had like eleventy billion guitar parts, like a freaking guitar symphony. Even now when I try to write songs, I can feel their influence. Truly one of the most unappreciated bands of the 90's.

"Spiderwebs" - No Doubt - ok, so what if they're pretty much irrelevant nowadays? They got me hooked on ska, and their debut kicked ass like no other, there's no other way to put it. I guess ska was somewhat popular in Cal, but it was almost unknown in South Texas, and their sound was like nothing I had ever heard before. Oi.

"Buddy Holly" - Weezer - They will never record another album like the blue one. In fact, they probably won't even come close to the amazingly disapointing green one now that they think they are Iron Maiden or Judas Preist. Rick Okasek's (GO CARS!) production was amazing, and this song is chock full of hooks. Though not the best song on the record ("The World Has Turned"), this song was given to the masses and what self respecting cover band can't hack their way through it? Rivers, you were so much cooler when you didn't think you were Rob Halford.

"One Headlight" - Wallflowers
"Two Princes" - Spin Doctors
"Hook" - Blues Traveler

Peace People, and long live 90's rock n' roll.

Sunday, August 03, 2003

Well, as you can see, I finished the Mogwai review, but I have another CD to add to the "To Be Reviewed" section...The Postal Service - "Give Up"...I wonder if anyone ever reads this?

Saturday, August 02, 2003

Mogwai - "Happy Songs For Happy People"

9 Tacos

I don't know much about Scotland. It seems to get ignored like a red-headed stepchild when you talk about the United Kingdom, always overshadowed by its hell-raising big brother Ireland. I think they wear kilts and play the bagpipes, but that's the extent of my knowledge. Ireland produces terrorists and U2, and all Scotland has given us is the namesake for Scotch tape and Teenage Fanclub. But fear not, all you Scots, your country has finally something to be proud of, and though the picture they paint of Scotland is one of gloom, overcast days, and death, you won't really care.
I was first introduced to Mogwai last year, having picked up a copy of "EP+2" on an impulse, and mainly because it was under $10. "Christmas Song" made my list of top songs of 2002 (even though the record was released in 1999, it was new to me) and made impressed me. Somewhere in between the releases of these two records, Mogwai underwent a change almost Sigur Ros-ian in nature. Gone are the overwhelming washes of white noise that made their earlier work aurally exciting, and instead of adding synth parts as a gimmick, they have become an integral part of their sound. "Moses? I Amn't" would have found a place on last years "( )" and for me, represents Mogwai's most drastic change. Now, they could have been slowly changing over the course of a few albums, but judging from the two I have, there is a noticeable, shall I say maturation.
There is a fullness to the sound that was lacking before, though that can be a detraction as well, as in "Kids Will Be Skeletons", a beautiful song that becomes overwhelmed by synth pads and computer noises. In "EP+2" the focus was on the guitars and the melodies, while now they can tend to be cluttered by synths and other extraneous noises. Mogwai are no strangers to blanketing their songs with waves of noise, yet it was what made it exciting. Now it seems as though they have too many devices at their disposal and don't know what they want to do with them except use them. They revisit their white noise days on "Killing All The Flies" a majestic song that succumbs to a wave of distortion before settling back into its haunting melody.
"Boring Machines Disturbs Sleep" is the only song on here with vocals, but I have no idea what he's saying since it's buried deep in the mix. And that's a good thing, because music like this is most effective when the vocals blend into the sound, rendering them just another instrument, not overpowering anything, nor detracting.
"Ratts Of The Capital" is the longest track, clocking in at 8:27', and reminds me of the "classic" Mogwai, with piano lines and again, the washes of distortion and white noise. Beautiful. "Golden Porsche" is a perfect antidote to the intensity of "Ratts..." subdued and calming.
There are other doing instrumental guitar rock, but none keep my attention like Mogwai, or make me want to finish listening. Some people might find the repetition to be tedious, and listened to in the wrong environment, that is a valid case. I find music like this to be perfect for empty houses, where no one cares how loud it is. Mogwai needs to be loud. It needs to overwhelm you.
Oh, as a side note, Mogwai gets major, major props for quite possibly the best CD extra I have ever come across. They provide a demo version of the Cubase SX audio production software and the tracks to "Hunted By a Freak" for you to mix however you feel like. As a commited studio freak, this was so much better than throw-away live videos and "secret websites." Again, a brilliant gesture.

CD's in the reviewing stage - Mogwai - "Happy Songs for Happy People"...Radiohead "Hail to the Thief"
CD's I am eagerly waiting for - Death Cab For Cutie - "Transalanticism" ... MxPx, I forget the name.
Anyways, I will have those two reviews up soon.