Tuesday, December 16, 2008

This year in songs: part 5 - Fucked Up

This song has Fucked Up doing what they do best as well as changing the game a little. The pretty chorus comes outta nowhere. I can't write about music, ok. Enjoy the song.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

This year in songs: part 4 - Panic at the Disco

I doubt their sophomore effort, Pretty. Odd., did nearly as well as their debut, but Panic at the Disco took some chances and released a gutsy records by their standards. This is the first single and best song from that record. When I think about pop records, I like to pick out lines (usually vocal lines) that are purely pop and that I could never write. At about :52, Brandon (I think that's the singer's name) sings, "and I know that you feel it too" like an R & B song, and his inflection alone keeps me coming back. I can't tell you how many times I've listened to 9 in the Afternoon up to that point and shut it off.

Friday, December 12, 2008

This year in songs: part 3 - Blacklisted

Blacklisted really impressed me in '08. After teasing listeners with, "I Am Weighing Me Down," they dropped my favorite album of the year and became the most relevant band in hardcore save for Fucked Up. This song is an all-out rager, and I hope you like it.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

This year in songs: part 2 - The Dodos

The Dodos came out of nowhere, captivated me until early summer, dropped out of memory, came back hard at Pitchfork, and just recently got back into my playlist with their new album, Visiter.

"Red and Purple" is my favorite song from the record, a song I jammed over and over again this spring. It has a nice toy-piano-esque intro followed by rough acoustic guitars and syncopated drums. Come and join us in the trenches.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

This year in songs: part 1 - Vivian Girls

I am not going to list or rank my favorite songs of 2008. Instead, I'll post youtube videos of them for your viewing enjoyment and talk about why I like them so much.

The first song comes to you from Vivian Girls, a New York girl-group with surf, punk, and shoegaze influences (if you haven't heard of them by now, you're under-a-rock-lifestyle has got to change). The LP has grown on me, and it's one of my favorites from the year. My favorite song from the record is still the first one I heard, "Tell the World." It starts with some jangly guitars, and then jumps into something you'd expect from a blender mixing The Rivieras with the Crystals and even Fucked Up.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Vinyl news #4 - American Football

Remember how excited I was to get my hands on the American Football LP? Now, Polyvinyl is pressing the EP on a one-sided 12', the Owen EP on one-side 12', and also a 7' from some band called the One Up Downstairs. Apparently, they preceded American Football, sounded like American Football, but never really released their songs formally. I'm excited to hear it no doubt. Here are links for those.

American Football
The One Up Downstairs

Also, head on over to Nightmare of You's myspace and find the link to buy their up-to-date discography vinyl. Love their first LP, and the Bang EP is solid, too.
Check it!

Finally, I'd like to point you all in the direction of a band from Scotland known as the Sexy Kids. Their song "Sisters are Forever" is in pretty constant rotation. For fans of peppy indie rock.
Sexy Kids

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Did you hear? Texas is the Reason/ The Promise Ring Split

What is autumn if it doesn’t include some nineties emo jams? Whoops! Sorry emo purists. Nineties Midwestern emo-indie jams. Better? Good.

This is a split between two bands you probably already know by now: Texas is the Reason and The Promise Ring. I believe Texas is the Reason was on their last leg as a band, and the Promise Ring was just getting started. The Promise Ring gained more notoriety and put out a lot more material, but I think Texas is the Reason’s side is better. When I bought this split at Reckless a year or two ago, my friend Pat told me that “E. Texas Ave.” was his favorite Promise Ring song. Please give this split a listen and tell me what you think.

P.S. How perfect is that cover art? This is out of print, but go buy yourself a copy on ebay. Black wax will probably cost you under 8 bucks. Totally worth it.

Get it here!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Review: Fucked Up - The Chemistry of Common Life

In light of yesterday’s Chicago show and the ensuing message board shenanigans, I bring you my review of the new Fucked Up LP, lovingly shortened to ChemCom.

For all the fans of Fucked Up, there are equal numbers of haters lurking in the shadows, waiting to take their jabs when the moment is right. Is it the abstract artwork? Eight minute long songs? Non-traditional instrumentation? Outrageous ebay prices? Whatever the reason, Fucked Up polarizes the punks. I belong to the, “they’re fucking awesome” camp, but I know people that don’t, and with this blog, I intend to show just how wrong they are.

ChemCom opens with a flute intro and “Son the Father.” Fucked Up eschews traditional gang vocals in favor of an all-female bizarro chorus, and it works. “Magic Word” incorporates bongos. Apparently, “No Epiphany” has a million guitar tracks, though I can barely tell them all apart. As the album rages on to its climax, “Twice Born,” Fucked Up demands listeners to put their, “hands up.” After eight punk classics, how can you resist? The two instrumental tracks force the audience to adjust to Fucked Up's love for psychedelics and shoegazey goodness. Though it’s starting to become cliché to say, Fucked Up reminds us of just how unoriginal contemporary hardcore can be, and they challenge us to do some experimenting. ChemCom is great; haters be damned.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Did you hear? Sundowner - Four One Five Two demos

Sundowner is Chris McCaughan’s solo project when he’s not busy with the Lawrence Arms. I’m guessing most of you have already heard his debut record, Four One Five Two. If you haven’t, let me tell you about it. It’s a mostly acoustic record with touches of viola, keys, and background vocals. Do you own a shitty car that can barely start on a cold Chicago morning? I bet you have this album in your CD player.

These are four demos that appeared on his myspace before Four One Five Two. They all come from the debut, and as expected, they are rougher. The guitar sounds thin, but surprisingly, there are background vocals. All told, these demos are pretty good- a must-hear for Lawrence Arms and Sundowner aficionados. I must add that I downloaded this from LawrenceArms.org, and you can find much more cool shit over there.

Get it here!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Vinyl news #3 - Nightmare of You

One of my favorite bands, Nightmare of You, is releasing a split with Long Island hardcore band This is Hell. I don't know anything about This is Hell, but if Bang! and the s/t have any bearing on the new material, Nightmare of You's side should kick some serious ass. I can't figure out how to pre-order the 7' itself, so I leave you with a photo from the package deal. Note the Sonic Youth rip shirt. Not bad, I'd buy it if I liked white shirts and had some more money.


Monday, October 13, 2008

Did you hear?: Twin Peaks OST

Twin Peaks was a television drama created by David Lynch and Mark Frost that debuted in 1990. Shortly after its premier, the United States was swept by “Peaks-Mania”. Viewers needed to know who killed Laura Palmer. It’s a great show that wanders a little bit in the second season buts end strongly. Sadly, ABC cancelled it after just two seasons and a total of 30 episodes. It is my favorite television drama ever.

Part of the reason the show was so popular and remains a cult favorite today is because of its fantastic soundtrack. Angelo Badalamenti is the composer responsible for the music of Twin Peaks. The most famous piece, “Twin Peaks Theme,” opens every episode. His graceful, mellow 90s Rhodes piano sounds only a little dated, and the climax of the song sounds as poignant today as it did 18 years ago. “Laura Palmer’s Theme” lurks in ambient shadows until 1:04, only to rise and fall back again. “Audrey’s Dance” is a throwback jazz number that has Sherilyn Fenn grooving in the Café. Have mercy.

The soundtrack also features vocals by Julee Cruse, a frequent collaborator with Lynch and Badalamenti. Her vocals are reminiscent of the Cocteau Twins, and yeah, her songs also sound a bit dated, but they still rule. The lyrics were written by Lynch, so google them for some away message fodder. I highly recommend this soundtrack.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Vinyl news #2 - Slapstick, the Broadways

Asian Man Records is repressing a lot of OOP records. In fact, they're putting some records that have never been pressed into the market. I just purchased Alkaline Trio's Maybe I'll Catch Fire and Alkaline Trio on red/white and beige marble, respectively. Now, they're repressing the records that got it all started. Slapstick's 25 songs is my favorite ska-punk record. I've wanted a copy for a long time. I have an OG copy of Broken Star, but the new gray marble press is pretty cool anyway. Also, Broken Van got pressed, but I own that on cd. (I own all those Trio records on CD, but I'm kind of a sucker for the old trio stuff.)

Also! The first two Lawrence Arms records have been pressed twice! I might put photos of those up here if I can get home to take pictures. I bought the second presses.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Review: Jay Reatard - Blood Visions

Being back in school means I have a lot more time to waste in front of the computer screen, and the blogging inevitably follows. My newest installment is a review of a record that is two years old and everyone loves already.

Blood Visions by Jay Reatard is a cool punk album that grew on me. Not in the sense that it sucked at first and I had to love it to have more scenester credibility. No, I liked it immediately, but now it sounds even better.

Jay and co. were great at Pitchfork. You might have read about it a month ago. Everyone got wet for Fleet Foxes, and that’s fine, but I’d take Jay over them. It doesn’t make sense to compare the bands, so I won’t anymore. Jay Reatard plays garage punk, and blah, blah, I’m sure you know that there’s a pop element to these songs too. “If you listen close enough, you hear the Beach Boys.” Not true at all, and whoever says that is dumb, but go ahead and get this record if you like punk and Guided by Voices. My favorite songs are “My Shadow”, “Not a Substitute”, and “We Who Wait.”

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Random Candy

We posted three songs from our forthcoming EP, "Is Your Blood Alive?" Check them out!


Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Pitchfork Fest 2008 - Saturday

Pitchfork Fest 2008 came and went. It seemed like it would never arrive, and here I am writing a review of it. Summer sure does fly by.

Saturday morning was a rainy affair, but the weather pretty much cleared up by the time Jay Reatard took the stage for his 12:30 PM set. I was not too familiar with his music, but his set started off the day great. High-energy garage punk with few stops in between. I will probably retrieve his LP, Blood Visions and give that a spin. My big complaint is that the volume was too quiet for the big stage, and he would definitely benefit from playing in a small club. He reminded me of Bob Pollard in that he announced the name of the song he was about to play. I dig that, and I'll probably do the same for Random Candy.

We caught some of Caribou's set while waiting for Fleet Foxes, and wow, they sounded terrific. I wish I could have seen more.

Naturally, Fleet Foxes were next. The Chicago Tribune (and nearly every music publication) has been whacking off to them for a few months, and with good reason. Their record is really cool and different. Of course, all the reviews of their set in the next day's newspapers were super-positive. They sounded great, but the festival setting is totally wrong for them. They deserve to sell out Metro and warm some interiors. I was impressed that they quieted the crowd as much as they did, but that's partly due to the fact that the acoustic guitar was so fucking quiet.

It didn't take much for Andrew to coax me into watching part of Fuck Buttons' set. I was really impressed with this band. Noisy, loud, and with some melodic flair, the Fuck Buttons were right up my alley. I recommend seeing them and buying their newest LP. This was my great "surprise" set of the fest.

Vampire Weekend was awesome. I am in a different world from everyone that says their live show is underwhelming. They delivered. I had a great time, and so did my friends. Their new song is incredible, and they even gave "Blake's Got a New Face" a much-needed boost.

!!! - are they a joke band? Terrible.

The Hold Steady rocked really hard. They played a lot of new stuff, and I did NOT hear "Stuck Between Stations." I wish they had included it in the set. This band is well suited for all environments, including festivals. Craig Finn is hilarious.

We caught Jarvis Cocker's set as we waited for Animal Collective. What a snoozer! No Pulp, no care. Sorry.

Finally, Animal Collective took the stage as headliner. Wow. I am a believer in this band. They had the best set of the weekend. Bright, trance-inducing lights perfectly complimented their zany takes on old songs. And hell, they played "Comfy in Nautica" by Panda Bear. Their show was the kind of show that turns non-believers into believers, casual listeners into avid fans, and the rest into melted snow. They sucked all the life out of me, as a matter of fact. Hail AC!

Sunday review coming soon.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Review: Alkaline Trio - Agony & Irony/ Goddamnit Redux

2008 is a significant year for the Alkaline Trio. Earlier this month, Skiba and co. released their sixth full-length, called Agony & Irony. It is their major label debut (on Epic Records). 2008 also marks the ten-year anniversary of their first LP, Goddamnit. Asian Man Records re-released Goddamnit with new artwork, better production, and a retrospective DVD called “Original Sin.” The package is known as the Goddamnit Redux. The proximity of the two releases serves as a reminder to diehard fans of where Alkaline Trio came from, and for the most part, how badly they’ve aged.

Agony & Irony has the Alkaline Trio testing new waters and then receding back to the comfortable beach they’ve made for themselves. I believe “Déjà vu” is the correct term, as in, “isn’t this the same guitar riff from Private Eye?” or, “I heard these lyrics somewhere on Maybe I’ll Catch Fire.” The greatest successes on the record come when they try something new. The hand claps at the beginning of “Calling All Skeletons” create a fun atmosphere that signals the end of the faux-goth vibe that hurt Good Mourning and Crimson. My question is, why not shed the goth image altogether? Why stick with the standard red-and-black artwork? Why continue to dress in suits when your best albums were written in t-shirts and jeans? Why the hell would you include a song called, “Live Young, Die Fast?” The creepy goth thing worked for Goddamnit because it was new and tongue-in-cheek. They’ve beat it into the ground by now, and it’s time to move on.

Some of the songs work, if only because Skiba and Andriano have a penchant for writing catchy songs. “Help Me” is as good a pop song as I’ve heard all year, and it stacks up with earlier material (kinda). “Do You Wanna Know?” and “I Found Away” are solid, and the middle of the record is better off because of it.

In the liner notes for the Goddamnit Redux, Asian Man Records founder Mike Park praises the thrifty and raw qualities of the original record. In doing so, he inadvertently criticizes Agony & Irony for its major label sound. Kudos Mike, you discovered a great punk band in their prime, put out their best records, made a killing, and moved on. Goddamnit is the finest Asian Man release, Alkaline Trio’s best, and a record that will speak to freaks like me for generations to come. Simply put, it’s a punk classic and the definitive Alkaline Trio album. Agony & Irony is the kind of record you put on for a few songs, and then take off the turntable to make room for Goddamnit.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Random Candy

I forgot all my login information for this blog, and I haven't been too interested in summer blogging, and that accounts for the absence. My new band is called Random Candy. We posted some youtube videos of a practice, and we'll be recording in the next month.


Friday, May 9, 2008


I have compiled a playlist of songs with 0 plays on Itunes, shuffled them, and I will now review some in real time.

1. Link 80 - "Nothing New" Link 80 was one of my favorite bands around seventh grade, and this was my favorite song on The Struggle Continues. The horn melody is undeniable, and the verses rule too. I could do without the chorus, and the lyrics are kind of ridiculous, but those are minor complaints. I can't believe I haven't listened to this yet, it's probably been more than two or three years.

2. Dave Holland Quintet - "The Balance" I don't know much about Dave Holland except that I have a lot of his music on my computer, and I haven't listened to much of it yet. I think he's a trombone player. This song is nine minutes long so I'll write slowly. I like the vibes more than I like the soprano sax or the trombone at this point. The trombone solo became pretty interesting around 3:15, and now I'm hearing a vibes solo. Awesome, I love these. The mix is strange, but it's probably my speakers. The vibes sound too loud. Soprano sax solo. Not a great start, but I really dig the rock section around 5:40. This is the best solo from the song so far. Bass solo. This is a pretty standard solo with a good lick at 7:00. The drum solo followed by trading is a standard way to end a song. This song was good, but not great. The soprano sax solo was the highlight for me.

3. 2Pac - "Wonda Why They Call U Bitch" This should be rough. I'm not a huge 2Pac fan. His music screams nineties, and I can rarely make it through his choruses. Misogyny will probably ruin this song. The chorus sucks, as expected. The verses aren't bad. They're bouncy and fun. The beat is mediocre. I probably won't listen to this song ever again. I spent the last minute of the song taking a piss.

4. N.W.A. - "Dopeman (Remix)" Ice Cube opens with a verse, and in true remix fashion, the DJ has interfered a little. I have no idea what the original "Dopeman" sounds like. I like the chorus! Haha, funny. I believe MC Ren is doing the verse now. I don't like the way he ends his lines in this song. The rhymes are really obvious. What rhymes with snitch? Easy E's verse is the best. I don't need to hear this song ever again. I'll take "Straight Outta Compton" any day.

5. Infest - "Seen it All Before (Live)" Yes! Starts with a radio interview. They sound totally unenthusiastic. This song is fast and chaotic. That was great. Infest rules.

6. Cro-Mags - "Death Camps" This is from Best Wishes. The beginning is great. I like the drums, and the guitars sound good. The palm muting is hard. I forgot how strange the vocals sound on this record. Really echo-y. The breakdown around 1:50 is terrible for about ten seconds, and only after does it become decent. I feel like this song should be done now, but I have to wait two minutes. Probably why I prefer Age of Quarrel. Guitar solo. This song is metal. Second guitar solo. Not necessary, and he uses pretty much the same licks. Third guitar solo. The last note of the guitar solo brought me back to hair metal. This is not better than "Hard Times".

That was fun.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Verminators: Boom or Bust?

Reality television is a two-headed beast that can be very ugly or very awesome. The running joke is that The Real World, the show that spawned it all, is not “real” anymore. With shows like A Shot at Love, America’s Top Model, and Nashville Star, I don’t care about reality, I just want them off the air.

Reality television took an unexpected turn when the History Channel, the Discovery Channel, A&E, etc. began to air their own programs. They cater to people that want more content and less teenage drama. I am talking about Ice Road Truckers, Deadliest Catch, and Intervention. All great shows, I found one that might top them all. It’s called Verminators, it’s on the Discovery Channel, and it’s good.

The name says it all. Cameras follow a team of exterminators as they encounter pests in Los Angeles. In the episode that I watched, the team removed bee hives, killed rats, and fumigated a kitchen with a serious roach problem. It sounds gross, right? The catch is, you’re watching from your comfortable, presumably pest-free house. Each call is like a detective mission to find the source of the pests and take them out. At the end, you root for the exterminators and their clients.

Verdict: Boom. I recommend Verminators if you have even a mild tolerance of vermin. It’s fascinating work that makes for good television.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Vinyl news #1 - The Format

The Format is a rock band from Arizona. They have released two full lengths, a slew of EPs, and a live DVD. Their 2006 record, Dog Problems, is still one of my five favorite records from 2006, a year that saw releases by Saves the Day, Spitalfield, The Lawrence Arms, Fucked Up, Yo La Tengo, and Brand New. The Format sound like the Elected, Neutral Milk Hotel, and the Starting Line tossed into a blender with a better singer.

Dog Problems generated a ton of praise and hype on the internet, so it came as a shock when the band announced that they were going on indefinite hiatus earlier this year. They released some new vinyl in the webstore that you should definitely pick up. The Snails EP is a seven song gem released before Dog Problems. It has a couple original songs, including the favorite, “Janet.” I don’t know much about the “Time Bomb” single, except that it’s namesake song is pretty darn good. Merch Store

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Did you hear? Polaris - Music from the Adventures of Pete & Pete

In the unlikely event that a terrorist puts a gun to my head and forces me to choose between Nickelodeon’s first-rate 90’s show, The Adventures of Pete & Pete and its soundtrack, I would probably choose the soundtrack.

Polaris was the “house band” on Pete & Pete, which basically means they provided most of the background music. This strikes me as unusual, and I doubt many other shows hire bands to create the music that goes into the episodes.

Think back to the opening credits of Pete & Pete. In the credits, a band jams on the Wrigley’s lawn in the late summer. That is Polaris. The footage and music compliment each other well, and I feel like Polaris is somehow part of the soundtrack to my youth, even if I just got the record last year.

The record starts off with a short message to the space cadets and then “Hey Sandy,” the theme song to the show kicks in. I would describe Polaris’s sound as a blend between R.E.M.’s Murmur and a band like the Gin Blossoms. It’s jangly and melodic. There are harmonica solos and more pieces of advice to space travelers sprinkled throughout. They nailed the nineties alternative sound. Kudos to lead singer and songwriter Mark Mulcahy. Polaris is a one-album wonder; there is nothing else by them. My favorite moments include:

- “Waiting for October.” The quick start and the backing vocals in the chorus.

- The harmonica solo in “Everywhere”

- The last chorus in “Ashamed of the Story I Told”

- The last chorus in “The Monster’s Loose”. Honestly, they did not have to do it once more, but they got indulgent, and it works.

My biggest complaint is that the record is not perfect. I could do without “As Usual” and the long outro on “Waiting for October.” I’m willing to look past these shortcomings. This record is a classic, even if you haven’t heard it before. Favorite tracks: “Hey Sandy,” “Ashamed of the Story I Told,” and “The Monster’s Loose.”

Myspace 1 2


Sunday, April 20, 2008

Did you hear? Jimmy Buffett - "Lone Palm"

I get a lot of criticism for enjoying Jimmy Buffett’s music, and I’ve heard all of the arguments for why he’s not a good artist. You can’t change 21 years of programming and conditioning. I like him, and you don’t have to read on if you don’t.

My mom visits this blog occasionally, but she is not interested in reading about The Dodos or Blacklisted or whatever else I dribble on about. So hi mom! I extend my welcome to any other visitors of her age persuasion. Apartment Story: not just for kids.

I want to talk about this Buffett song for a little bit. It’s called “Lone Palm” and you can find it on Fruitcakes. The record came out in 1994, and just putting my head around that makes me feel old. Next year it turns 15! I can still remember when it came out. I loved the title track then, but now I prefer “Lone Palm.”

Call him gimmicky, fine, but I don’t think this song is gimmicky at all. The music conjures images of hammocks and the setting sun, not chugging margaritas in a shark suit. The melody is understated, and I love the quiet acoustic guitar strumming. It reminds me of his best songs from the seventies like “Come Monday” and “He Went to Paris.”

Most importantly, I really like the lyrics. The second chorus is magnificent. Jimmy tells the (sad) story of a girl he only knows a little bit. The line, “from under my lone palm/I think about her today,” captures the mood of the song. The lone palm is a nice symbol for the quiet contemplation that goes hand in hand with living. We all need to sort out our problems once in awhile. And yeah, we contemplate different endings. The future might be uncertain, but at least we have the past to guide us. I guess getting old has some serious advantages.

Friday, April 18, 2008

30 Minute Weekend Playlist (4/18/08)

I lost my pedometer at Murphy’s yesterday, so this entry is a tribute to that. The Pedometer Challenge rages on without me, but do not worry, it’s still in my mind and heart. I’m counting steps in my head as I walk down the street. Believe that.

Check out the track listing, see what I did? Clever right? The list goes off with a classic Cannonball live cut. I dig what that guy says at the start of his records. Oh, to see him live. Total master. I was listening to that first Against Me! yesterday and taking in how good that thing was. In twenty years, people will still be listening to it. New Wave will be in the trash though! Speaking of songs that stand up with time, “Walking in the Rain” by the Ronettes does. I may be involved in the Pedometer Challenge with 200+ library employees, but I’m still out of step with the world. Hence the closer (and photo).

  1. Cannonball Atterley – Walk Tall (Live)
  2. Kanye West – Jesus Walks
  3. The Dodos - Walking
  4. October Fall – It Was Summer (Baby Steps)
  5. Husker Du – One Step at a Time
  6. Against Me! – Walking is Still Honest
  7. The Ronettes – Walking in the Rain
  8. Shipwreck – Walk in the Woods
  9. Saturday Looks Good To Me – Keep Walking
  10. Minor Threat – Out of Step (With the World)
Get it here!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Review: The Dodos - Visiter

When I first saw the cover of The Dodos’ Visiter on the front page of Pitchfork, I dismissed it, guessing that it would be crappy electronica or spastic noise music. Fortunately, my friend John suggested I give it a try, and I discovered that I was completely wrong.

Visiter is the kind of record that sounds like it was concocted in basements and apartment living rooms, the musicians adding subtle nuances each time they rehearse. I can imagine the (incredible) drummer practicing his parts over and over again to make them more unique, intricate, and also useful. The drums and the guitar weave in and out and then strike in unison at just the right times.

Perhaps the best thing about Visister is that there are only two principle instruments used: the acoustic guitar and drum set. The guitarist (I think his name is Meric) is really great. He switches from furious strumming to confident fingerpicking without batting a lash, and tailors the vocals to compliment it all. Still, the beauty is in the simplicity.

The Dodos’ sound is difficult to describe. It is unlike most acoustic guitar-centered indie music that comes out these days. Forget Iron & Wine or Owen. I have heard Visiter described as psychedelic-pop that is in touch with Animal Collective’s sensibilities. I do not hear psychedelic so much, but I definitely can hear hints of Panda Bear’s drumming on Visiter. The Dodos one-up Animal Collective in vocal execution (and nearly everywhere else). Listening to Visiter is like listening to your friends play music for you. Each melody is deeply personal, a testament to the craft. Did I mention that this record sounds loud? Because it does. This is not meek Dashboard Confessional bullshit. Get this record if you like great drumming, acoustic guitar, lo-fi production, cohesive records, and damn good songs. Favorite tracks are “Red and Purple” and the amazing “Undeclared.”

Friday, April 11, 2008

30 Minute Weekend Playlist (4/11/08)

Welcome University of Illinois mothers to my blog! It’s Mom’s Weekend- a very special time for students to bond with their moms through alcohol and the Staysh. My mom’s not coming, but if she was, we’d definitely listen to my weekend playlist.

We’re not classy people, but we can listen to classy music. Jazz is classy. I’ve put on a song from Mingus Mingus Mingus Mingus Mingus to bring the class up. It’s jazzy, hip, and in the groove. Didn’t Spoon rip off Mingus recently? The other song is from Sunday at the Village Vanguard by Bill Evans and his trio. The bassist died a few weeks (or days) after recording this record, and it’s pretty much legendary. So get into it (the groove).

I must also point out that this week’s playlist has two songs from Dodos. Dodos just put out a record called Visiter that is really cool. Figure out how to get a hold of that and let’s talk about it. Let’s work it out. Happy Friday, happy Mom’s Weekend, see ya’ll on Green St. Keep it classy Champaign, and if you can’t, pretend.

  1. New Found Glory – Shadow
  2. Clipse ft. Spanish Lee – We Got it 4 Cheap
  3. Charles Mingus – Theme for Lester Young
  4. Dodos – Park Song
  5. The National – Brainy (Alternate)
  6. Bill Evans Trio – My Romance (Take One)
  7. Dodos - Undeclared
Get it here!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Did you hear? Nightmare of You - "Yuengling"

Nightmare of You is a four-piece band from Long Island, New York. They have released nothing but incredible music in their short career, and I hope they continue to make records. Their debut LP (Nightmare of You) ranks among my favorite debuts of all time, and their follow-up EP, Bang, is no sophomore slump. The members have a long history of music greatness having played in bands like The Movielife, Youth of Today, and Judge.

If you’ve heard Nightmare of You before, you can vouch for me when I say that each song is great. Even “Thumbelina” has its moments. The standout song for me is, “I Want to be Buried in your Backyard.” It was the first single from the record. It evokes the sounds of The Smiths, jangly eighties pop, and modern pop-punk.

I do not know the origins of “Yuengling” except that it an early version of “I Want to Be Buried…” The chorus is intact, but the verse has totally different lyrics. Most importantly, there is an instrumental section before the final chorus that is just incredible. The production is more raw. You must get this song. If you haven’t heard Nightmare of You before, they might be the band you’re looking for. Nightmare of You is the catchiest record, perhaps, that I have ever heard.
Who wants to see them in Chicago on May 21 or in Tinley Park on May 22?

Get it here!

Monday, April 7, 2008

Live music: Chicago summer festivals

Somehow in the past five years, Chicago has become a hotspot for prominent music festivals. Here’s how I would spend my time at Pitchfork Fest and Lollapalooza if I decide to go.

Pitchfork Fest is from July 18-20 at Grant Park. On Friday night, three seminal bands (Public Enemy, Mission of Burma, +1 TBA) take the stage to perform classic albums. This year’s lineup is weak compared to last year, when GZA spit out Liquid Swords and Sonic Youth ripped through Daydream Nation. I wasn’t there, but I heard it ruled!

On Saturday, I would start by seeing Animal Collective. I don’t even like them, but I do love Panda Bear, and the potential to see a song off Person Pitch would be too great to ignore. If anything, I could catch a few tracks off their lukewarm release, Strawberry Jam (best song: ‘Chores’). I would then follow the footprints of boat shoes and the smell of sea air over to the Vampire Weekend stage. I am interested to see if they’re good live and how the crowd will react. Diego doesn’t like them. If I had to fill time, I’d do it by catching Fleet Foxes’ set, The Ruby Suns’ set, or by eating overpriced concessions.

On Sunday, the festival really heats up. I hope Dinosaur Jr. plays a set late in the day so I can preserve my eardrums. What better way to start a Sunday than by dancing to the jams of El Guincho? Alegranza totally rules! Next, I would position myself as close as possible to the Boris stage. If they play ‘Farewell’, I will leave the weekend a happy man. Finally, Spiritualized is sure to be awesome. In my spare time, I would go see Raekwon, Pretty Toney, and M. Ward.

Lollapalooza. August 1-3. Grant Park. Is it better than Pitchfork? Maybe. Not sure how I feel yet. I’d be down for a set from NiN, but I would rather not watch Radiohead. I’d be down for a set from Rage, but I’d prefer the grooves of Kanye. Wilco? I’ll pass. The most important part of Lolla is the National. If you don’t know, or don’t care, you lose out. I would also check out Brand New’s set, Lupe Fiasco (awesome live), Explosions in the Sky, Girl Talk, Battles, and the Weakerthans. As much as Pitchfork gets criticized for being a hype machine, Lollapalooza is buying right into it. Good work booking MGMT guys!

Wow, that was a lot of typing. Pitchfork will be better because the lineup is better and because it’s cheaper. Lollapalooza will be better if you want to hear a sweeping rendition of “Fake Plastic Trees” or “Crazy”. I’ll probably go to both. See ya there!

Friday, April 4, 2008

30 Minute Weekend Playlist (4/4/08)

Happy Friday loyal readers! It’s April, but who could tell judging from the weather? I wouldn’t be shocked if it started snowing sometime this week.

Spring Break is now a memory, and summer is nowhere in sight. The playlist kind of reflects this. I have been listening to a lot of the Talking Heads and Gang of Four. Their mechanical sound is perfect for dreary Spring weather. The new Panic at the Disco record is surprisingly good, and I have book ended the mix with songs from Pretty. Odd. Everyone is saying it sounds like the Beatles, and I agree. However, it sounds nothing like “Two of Us”. Good song either way. Catch you on the flip side!

1. Panic at the Disco – Do You Know What I’m Seeing?
2. The Format – Do You Believe in Magic (Lovin’ Spoonful Cover)
3. Brian Eno – Sky Saw
4. The Talking Heads – Crosseyed and Painless
5. Gang of Four – Natural’s Not in It
6. R.E.M. – Shaking Through
7. The Beatles – Two Of Us
8. Panic at the Disco – Nine in the Afternoon

Get it here!

Monday, March 31, 2008

Free Radio: Boom or Bust?

The American public has always been fascinated with celebrities. The endless racks of tabloids at the supermarket are testament to this. Specifically, we like to watch celebrities hit rock bottom. I think South Park did a fine job with this phenomenon two weeks ago in the Britney Spears episode.

It is refreshing to see celebrities turn the tables on the American public once in awhile for a bit of self-parody. I recently finished watching the HBO series, Extras. In that show, a prominent celebrity guest stars each episode and is made to look like a buffoon. I will return to Extras in the future, but for now, I am going to talk about a great new VH1 show, Free Radio.

Free Radio is reminiscent of The Howard Stern Show in that it is a mash-up of radio and television. The main character is Lance Krall, an intern (and improv comedy actor) that lands the dream job of hosting his own show at a prominent radio station. The show is called “Moron in the Morning.” In the course of the half-hour, Lance belittles and discredits celebrity guests, often unintentionally. On this past week’s episode, he complimented Ray Romano for his show, which was great “for the first few seasons.” Lance speaks his mind about celebrities we often go out our way to protect. We prefer to pick apart a person’s personal life but not professional work. For Lance, nothing is off limits. The truth is, Everybody Loves Raymond did suffer with time. It just took a dimwitted intern to tell the star of the show that. The supporting cast is wonderful too.

Free Radio takes all the problems with American celebrity worship and makes them funny. The stars go on the show voluntarily and are in on the joke. Celebrities are most compelling when they are vulnerable.

Verdict: Boom. If you can spare a half-hour on a Friday night to watch this show, do it. Otherwise, invest in DVR, TiVO, or perhaps a VHS tape. You will not be disappointed. This is one my favorite new shows.

Friday, March 28, 2008

30 Minute Weekend Playlist (3/28/08)

Long time, no weekend playlist! I’m sorry about that, but I did not want to post one over spring break. Speaking of, how was everyone’s break? I picked up some crucial vinyl over the past month, including: Alkaline Trio – Goddamnit Redux (Red/black out of 500), Panda Bear – Person Pitch LP, Dykehouse – Midrange LP, Blacklisted – Heavier Than Heaven, Lonelier Than God (Clear/green out of 200, record release), The National – Alligator LP, and Saves the Day – Under the Boards LP (Green out of 300) is in the mail.

Now that I have that out of the way, let me tell you about my playlist choices. We start with a great Chameleons song I found via Harsh Distractions (link to the right). This week is a sort of crash course on all things Robert Pollard. He is the lead singer of Guided by Voices and has a thriving solo career now that GBV broke up. With over 1000 songs to his name, he is quite prolific. Other bands on the mix include XO Skeletons, Electric Wizard, The National, and the Beach Boys. The last two songs are particularly exciting. McCoy Tyner is a fantastic jazz pianist that goes unnoticed in most music circles that I’m a part of. The last song is my new favorite from the Blacklisted LP. It is called “Wish.” Sorry, but this is from the leak, so the mix at the beginning is sloppy. The problem was handled on the LP, which you can order at Deathwish. Happy weekend everyone. Tell me how the Repos, PITF, WN, and others were. Try not to hate on MLIW too much, they’re a good band. Adios!

  1. The Chameleons – The Fan and the Bellows
  2. Robert Pollard – I’m a Strong Lion
  3. The Beach Boys – Here Today
  4. XO Skeletons – Asthmagasm
  5. Electric Wizard – Satanic Rites of Drugula
  6. The National – Fashion Coat
  7. Guided By Voices – Game of Pricks
  8. Robert Pollard – U.S. Mustard Company
  9. McCoy Tyner – Impressions
  10. Blacklisted – Wish
Get it here!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Review: Blacklisted - Heavier than Heaven, Lonelier than God

In an effort to avoid riding Pitchfork’s coattails, here is my review of Blacklisted’s new LP, Heavier than Heaven, Lonelier than God.

When the first MP3 from the new record dropped (“I am Weighing me Down”), I flipped out. I knew instantly that the new album would be special. Move forward a few weeks, and I’m receiving messages from my friends that it had leaked. No, this was not the Evan Blanco/Rick Astley leak, but the actual leak, and I loved it upon first listen. Flash forward to Saturday night, and I have a physical copy (record release, hand-numbered /200, no less) in my hands.

The finished product sounds better than the leak, for sure. The mixing problems have been fixed, and the tracks are tagged properly. Blacklisted has subtly changed their sound from record to record, and this is their biggest leap yet. The songs are dynamic. There are massive tempo and style changes in each song. On their official myspace, they claim to be a soul and shoegaze band. This is a bit of an exaggeration, but they have some elements of those genres in place. “Circuit Breaker”, the album’s standout, has a psychedelic/noisy section that really stands out. “Touch Test” has an outro a la My Bloody Valentine. Read: this is not generic hardcore.

George’s vocal delivery is the best it has ever been. He wore a Cat Power shirt at Saturday’s show, and I can tell he is influenced by that sort of soulful music. On “Wish”, the stellar closer, he sneers, “Wish I wasn’t an emotional wreck.” The effect is massive. The lyrics, as usual, are great.

I have no complaints. The album is short; that’s about it. Go out and get the gatefold LP, it looks amazing. For fans of: groovy hardcore and Blacklisted. Is this the best Blacklisted material? Yes. Is this the album of the year so far? It just might be.

Friday, March 14, 2008

30 Minute Weekend Playlist (3/14/08)

Welcome back blogosphere! This edition of 30 Minute Playlist is brought to you courtesy of Spring Break! It’s here. I intend to relax in Downers Grove for the week and maybe drive out to a friend’s campus for good times. What do you intend to do? Are you even on Spring Break? Let’s hang out during the week; we’ll buy records or get lunch or drink alcohol. Sounds like a plan to me.

Naturally, the playlist has a lot of feel good jams in it. It starts out with Desmond Dekker’s ’69 classic, “Israelites.” If you don’t know, chances are you are not British. Youtube it. Marley’s oft-forgotten “So Much Things to Say” is next, followed by African musician, Fela Kuti. Driven to madness by Vampire Weekend, I naturally started listening to Paul Simon again. The Band of Horses song is a real winner. The playlist ends with a tune to cater to your inner parrothead. Fact or fiction: 4 Buffett tickets cost $407.35. I’ll put it out there and let you all decide.

  1. Desmond Dekker – Israelites
  2. Bob Marley – So Much Things to Say
  3. Fela Kuti – Trouble Sleep Yanga Wake AM
  4. Paul Simon – Graceland
  5. Panda Bear – Untitled 1
  6. Vampire Weekend – Campus
  7. Band of Horses – No One’s Gonna Love You
  8. Jimmy Buffett – He Went to Paris

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

That's Amore: Boom or Bust?

As I continue to write in this blog, you will all come to learn that I am guilty of watching really bad television. If it wasn’t enough that my first real entry was a review of The Steve Wilkos Show, I am now bringing you a review of the Tila Tequila SPINOFF. That’s right. Prepare yourselves, because I officially reviewing That’s Amore.

I hated Tila Tequila. It was boring, in bad taste, annoying, and soulless. The show had no real purpose except to provide kids with jerkin’ material in the absence of porn. The show had one star, and surprisingly, it wasn’t Tila, but a loveable Italian guy named Domenico. In the true spirit of reality television, he has received his own show. It is called That’s Amore, it's on MTV, and it’s great!

The show has no intellectual value. It is funny, absurd, and a showcase for hotties. In the first two episodes, girls have gone to the hospital and criticized each other non-stop. A gang of blondes teamed up on a slightly eccentric girl for wearing socks and not getting the standard Brazilian wax. One girl breaks down and cries every ten minutes. Domenico makes out whenever he gets a chance and awards Italian flags to girls he decides to keep around for the next episode. Two challenges have involved Italian food, with no end in sight. Mangia!

Domenico is hilarious, though, and he is the reason to watch. He kicked a girl off the show for having smelly armpits. How did he know? He put his nose up to them and took a whiff. That’s Amore is a good way to kill forty minutes (if you have TiVo or DVR).

Verdict: Boom. Compliments The Steve Wilkos Show nicely. If you can watch them back-to-back, by all means, do it. Arrivederce!

PS. Don't miss Domenico's sidekick...a hick cowboy...named Ashley. Not kidding.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Review: Vampire Weekend - Vampire Weekend

I’ll start by asking for a late pass, and I also have to apologize for sleeping on Vampire Weekend for about a month too long. Vampire Weekend is the early frontrunner for the most-hyped band of 2008 award, and with good reason. Their debut is smart, catchy, and likely to top some critics’ best-of lists in nine months.

This record smokes in more than one way. For starters, it is just over 34 minutes. That’s short, even by indie pop standards. Secondly, the songs are compact, straightforward, and generally fast. “The Kids Don’t Stand a Chance” ends just as you think “Mansard Road” has begun.

What I like most about this record is the use of clean guitar and clever global hooks. The songs seem easy enough to play, but are neatly executed for fans of precision. The drummer is excellent, especially on “Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa” when he uses bongos (or something like that). The vocalist is confident, even if his lyrics are absurd.

This brings me to my biggest complaint about the record: the lyrics. They are trite, hard to relate to, and generally snobbish. I’m sure they get this criticism all the time, so I don’t have to go any further. If you like songs about yachts, Vampire Weekend is for you!

Don’t sleep on this band any longer: go out and get Vampire Weekend ASAP (or at least before you bring the fishing boat out of winter storage). For fans of: Paul Simon’s Graceland, unique pop music, Cape Cod, African grooves, and clean guitars.

Friday, March 7, 2008

30 Minute Weekend Playlist (3/7/08)

This is the first installment of my thirty minute playlist feature. I think it will be a smash hit on my fresh, up-and-coming blog!

The beginning of the playlist starts with some tunes that will get you all ready for Spring. Song five is from the Blacklisted leak and takes the playlist in a sinister, heavy, and noisy direction. This does not last long, however, as I ease the mix back into the smooth department at about 26 minutes. On the weekend, who has the time to listen to two hour mixes? Not me! The Starting Line song is there to provide evidence of their illustrious career as a band- a career that was put on indefinite hiatus this past week.

1. Vampire Weekend – A-Punk

2. Beatnik Termites – Red Haired Girl

3. El Guincho – Kalise

4. Beach House – Wedding Bell

5. Blacklisted – Circuit Breaker

6. Pulling Teeth – Stonethrowers

7. The Starting Line – Hello Houston

8. Logh – Note on Bathroom Mirror

9. Medeski, Martin, Scofield, and Wood – Julia

Remember: I am not going to host files for download. I assume my loyal reader(s) have some, if not all of the songs. I would be willing to send them somewhere else, but not in this blog. Maybe in person! Or on AIM! SN - Panther1215.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Review: Beach House - Devotion

Beach House is a relatively new band from Baltimore, Maryland. Their self-titled debut was released in 2006 to much critical acclaim. They recently released their sophomore effort called Devotion.

Beach House is a two-piece band, but I do not feel like this limits them in any way, especially on record. The music sounds lush and complete like there are more musicians playing. Their sound is restrained and pretty. There is no harshness, and for the most part, the songs are of a slower tempo.

The singer Victoria has a nice voice that sits easy in the mix. It is neither buried nor distracting. Back up singer Alex harmonizes really well to add subtle nuances to the songs. This record is great for a variety of moods. It is breezy enough to be a compliment to the spring weather, but thoughtful in a way that would warrant nice/winter listening. In other words, Devotion is a versatile record.

My biggest problem with the record is that I cannot see it becoming a staple of my listening repertoire in the distant future. I am really into it now, and I have spun it about eight times since I got it last week. On the other hand, I can see it becoming a once-a-month-or-two record as 2008 goes on.

I highly recommend Devotion. For fans of: Asobi Seksu, other assorted dream pop, electronic music, and female vocalists. My favorite tracks are Wedding Bell and Heart of Chambers. You can hear the latter on their myspace page.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The Steve Wilkos Show: Boom or Bust?

Steve Wilkos was well-known before he got his own show. He handled rowdy guests on The Jerry Springer Show as the head of security. Known for his great stature, baldness, and intimidating presence, it was only natural that he would host his own show.

The Steve Wilkos Show takes itself very seriously, which throws me off as a viewer because the guests are over-the-top; their problems are real, bizarre, and nothing like you could imagine in your own life.

The thrill of The Steve Wilkos Show is (no wonder) Steve. He is a firm believer in ‘tough love.’ He spends much of the show getting in the faces of the guests, throwing chairs across the stage, and swearing. His demeanor separates the show from the countless imitators in the genre. Watching the show is like watching a fight about to happen, except for an hour.

The Steve Wilkos Show is not meaningful television. It is a guilty pleasure. Is it a boom or a bust, though? The answer is easy: it is a boom. Put aside your prejudices for education television for an hour and allow yourself to indulge. The Steve Wilkos Show is unusual enough to warrant tuning in, but familiar enough to become a mainstay of daytime television.

Verdict: Boom. A must see.

Photo taken from Steve Wilkos Show Myspace

Monday, February 25, 2008

The sun child speaks

Hello friends!

Welcome to my blog. I intend to use this space to tell everyone how I feel about new (and old) music, make recommendations, and hawk my creative writing. I am going to sift through the best indie, hardcore, punk, hip-hop, and jazz releases for people with eclectic interests. I hope that I can devote more time and energy to the entries in this blog so I can keep my LJ casual.

Feel free to disagree with me at anytime. I will not host files for download, but you can always message me at Panther1215 to see if we can strike an arrangement.

Love, Pat