Saturday, December 26, 2009

Bad Movie Society - 2012

 
Christmas is a time for friends and families to get together and exchange presents.  Yesterday, three friends and I convened at the Tivoli in Downers Grove and received a lump of coal from director/ producer Roland Emmerich.  I didn't know it going in, but our trip to see 2012 became the first impromptu meeting of the Bad Movie Society, and also our first field trip.

I didn't know much about Emmerich's career until I looked him up on imdb this morning.  Turns out, he is responsible for one of my favorite movies, Independence Day, plus a lot of duds like The Day After Tomorrow and 10,000 BC.  I kept thinking how 2012 had a lot in common with ID:  Brisk walks through the halls of the White House, blowing up the White House, Air Force One, global destruction, giant vehicles, digital countdowns and probably a million other things I'm forgetting.  I'd like to focus on one aspect of Emmerich's moviemaking that really struck me: the pursuit of people by disasters and their effects.


Jackson Curtis (John Cusack) narrowly flees an earthquake in a limo, drives a plane away from a volcanic firestorm, and holds his breath for like, a half-hour while tsunamis approach.  He drives a motorhome really fast, and when chunks of molten earth explode in front of him, he maneuvers that clumsy thing around them goddamnit.  What made ID convincing was that the aliens could only attack so fast.  If you got out of the city, you were safe for at least a little while.  In 2012, airport runways collapse behind our heroes, and just when you think it's alright- whew, they made it, they're in the air- the skyline of Las Vegas takes its best shot.  No relief and no release of tension.  Combine that with the greatest act of Russian heroism since the Cold War, and you've got 2012.  I'm leaving out so much.  There's Woody Harrelson!  So bad, it's good.  Highly recommmended.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Touch & Switch

Blowing up your RSS feeds.




To download the mp3, click here.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Bad Movie Society - The Star Wars Holiday Special



Until a few months ago, I didn't know about The Star Wars Holiday Special. Downers Grove's #1 internet personality without Facebook, John, told me about it. This was one of the nicest things he's done for me besides writing songs for our band, and let me tell you why. Star Wars is a great movie franchise, but Star Wars as a variety show is very bad. You get Chewbacca's relatives, a performance by the already terrible Jefferson Starship, and enough corniness to make Return of the Jedi blush. Cult-fans approve Boba Fett's introduction (I think this guy liked him a lot back in the day, too), but that's about all there is that's valuable here.  As such, I enjoy it very much. Find part 1 below, and you can do the rest. I should note that finding a hard copy of this is not easy, and that is why I love youtube.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Review: fun. - Aim and Ignite



Oh, that voice!  Nate Ruess sure has some pipes.  He had them in the Format, and he’s still got them in fun., his new band. This record hardly lives up to Dog Problems, but it doesn’t have to.  Fun. begs the question: just how poppy can it get?  At times, like in the opener “Be Calm,” fun. is making a Disney soundtrack.  A baker pokes his head out as birds fly by the town square and our young heroine sings the praises of prince charming.  Mix that with a bunch of goofy instruments (glockenspiel, accordion, I’m sure), and you’ve got Aim and Ignite.  For fans of The Format, duh.  The baker dropped his tray of buns!  Silly baker!


Leftover review from Cat Plaza #2.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Review: Cold Cave - Love Comes Close


Wes Eisold from American Nightmare/ Give up the Ghost, XO Skeletons, and Some Girls turns out his first truly remarkable release as Cold Cave. Dark, moody electronic music for fans of New Order, JAMC, and The Knife. Cold Cave was just picked up by Matador so jump on board before they get huge!

Leftover review from Cat Plaza #2

Monday, December 7, 2009

Review: The Night Brigade - Save My Soul 10"




What this 10-inch lacks in duration it makes up for in quality.  My friends from ISU really brought it this time around.  The surge at the beginning of “Airing of Grievances” makes way for a delightful midtempo part which showcases Adam Gogola’s gruff but pleasing voice.  The highlight is “Conversations with Sam Schild.”  The intro-buildup calls to mind highpoints from Saves the Day’s catalog, but the victory is purely The Night Brigade’s.  For fans of The Bouncing Souls, Anti-Flag, and Jawbreaker.

Leftover review from Cat Plaza #2.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Bad Movie Society - Fred Claus

Don't see Fred Claus. Read my review, but do not see it ever.

1. The actors lack chemistry to the point where I found myself questioning whether they had ever met each other. Did they film their scenes alone and have the editors mash them together? How would it feel to act with Vince Vaughn talking over you, rambling to discover something funny, and straying from the already too-complicated plot? I felt bad for Giamatti and Weisz, but hey, they signed on.

2. What kind of a movie is Fred Claus? It was too serious to be a children's movie, too goofy to be an adult movie, and not magical enough to qualify as a holiday film. The cast and crew jumped around from recession-era big business criticism to dancing elves to race relations. Oof. I wished they would have watched The Santa Clause to understand the importance of streamlining major holiday releases.

3. Speaking of race relations, what the hell was going on with them in Fred Claus? Fred (Vince Vaughn) is friend to the stereotypical street-wise black orphan, Slam (Bobb'e J. Thompson from Role Models), who takes Fred's advice too much to heart and becomes a jerk. In the end, everyone is redeemed, and Vaughn gets to play the open-minded hero. I don't buy it, and I don't buy that the only noticeable black elf was Ludacris, a disc jockey, and I don't buy that Fred dates a cool, beautiful British girl (Rachel Weisz, hubba hubba, best part of the movie).

4. Fred Claus made me laugh authentically, at my most generous estimate, twice. I laughed because I hated the film way more than that, but that kind of laughter also kills my soul.

5. 1 hour and 55 minutes. So long.

I hated Fred Claus, and now I kind of hate myself. Bah humbug.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Bad Movie Society - Shark Attack 3: Megalodon

The success of Shark Attack 3: Megalodon hinges on how much the audience likes enormous sharks devouring whole life rafts and sexually suggestive dialogue (although how I can call this sexually "suggestive" is beyond me). Like so many other bad films, Shark Attack 3 doesn't get good until the last 30 minutes, but boy are those minutes good. Watching wealthy investors jump into the jaws of a prehistoric shark has never been this satisfying.

Bonus points for the ill-conceived Luis (Bashar Rahal), a party-lovin', cliche-spurtin mess of a character. Very funny. Also note when the movie was made. Navy divers diving, Bush lovers thriving, and shark fans high fiving. God bless America.

Happy Thanksgiving. Next week, bad Christmas movies. Fred Claus anyone?

Friday, November 13, 2009

Cat Plaza #2

The Fall issue is out! 20 pages this time- almost twice as many pages as #1. Inside: a short story from my boy John Wilmes, a beer review from Marc Nardoni, two stories I wrote, concert reviews, opinions you didn't ask for, and more! I brought out the big guns this time around- better layout, better content, and at no additional cost to the reader. Yes, my friends, this issue still costs $1 in person or $2 by mail.

And won't you look at this? I figured out paypal! When you click this button, you will receive your order by mail. Please supply your address. Tell me if the paypal gives you trouble; I've never used it to sell before.



To submit: Panther1215@hotmail.com
Also use my e-mail if you want to give me your mailing address.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Bad Movie Society - Raptor Island

In Raptor Island, Hack (Lorenzo Lamas), Jamie (Hayley Dumond), and comrades get marooned on an island that didn't get the memo about the dinosaurs being extinct. Alas, there are raptors all over it, not to mention their arch-nemesis Azir (Steven Bauer). Their goal, somehow, becomes destroying the raptors by way of explosives. Why not hide in the airplane fusilage until rescue arrives? Good question!

I expected the bad CGI. When Hack shoots raptors, I was reminded of my favorite 90s arcade game. They were ugly and unrealistic. I did not expect the dreadfully long, paint-peeling boringness of Hack and Jamie's conversations. Jesus Christ, go into the minutiae of your pasts why don't you? Didn't ask for that!

Overall, I don't recommend Raptor Island. If you need a taste, watch the first 20 minutes. You'll see the raptors, you'll get a feel for the dialogue, and the characters don't change at all so you don't have to worry about a dynamic ending. How Sci-fi felt this movie acceptable for their channel is a mystery to me. Must be why I don't get it anymore.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Boys Night In

The redux, feat. the original "Boys Night In" + midi-BNI covers of "Nothing Compares 2 U" and "Let's Hear it for the Boy"

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Bad Movie Society - Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer

To anyone who asked on Thursday: Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer is loosely based on real-life killer Henry Lee Lucas. With that out of the way, I'll say that this movie was really good, and during one scene, painful to watch. Director John McNaughton did his best with the $110,000 budget to craft realistic murder scenes and hire capable actors. Though the film drifted into camp occasionally, the team pulled it together in the end. I particularly appreciated the aforementioned rape/ murder scene that occurs in a stranger's house. McNaughton knows what's uncomfortable and terrifying. By showing the scene through the lens of Henry's camera, we get to feel like voyeurs, observers of a snuff scene, pervs, and participants. Truly messed up.

Another highlight for me was the soundtrack. Industrial soundscapes with creepy synths and massive drums made for some of the best horror movie music I've heard in a long time. Next week, we'll be watching Suspiria, with soundtrack by "Goblin." Master horror-movie-watcher Chris ensures me that the soundtrack to Suspiria trumps all. We shall see.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Bad Movie Society - Peeping Tom

I thought only students and teachers had Columbus Day off; I never knew postal workers did too! Unfortunately, that meant we couldn't watch Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer on Wednesday. Instead, we watched Michael Powell's Peeping Tom (1960). Too bad because it wasn't scary or even very engaging.

How was I supposed to know?! It got the Criterion treatment, and I heard critics refer to it as the British Psycho. In Peeping Tom, Mark (Karlheinz Bohm) gets his kicks by filming women, killing them, and then watching his footage. He connects with Helen (Anna Massey), but their connection cannot save him. He continues killing and spiraling out of control until the climactic end.

So voyeurism used to be scary, but it isn't anymore, or maybe I'm too much of a voyeur to have a proper perspective on the topic. This movie has no nudity, no gore, no hardened violence, and that's a problem. I've talked about the power of suggestion/ subtlety in horror movies before, but a few home movie clips of a tormented youth hardly build tension. If you remember back to Psycho, we know Norman is fucked because he's talking to his corpse-mom. All we know about Mark is that his childhood sucked, and now he likes to take home movies. Where I come from, people with this problem listen to Mineral or the rawest of black metal and pick up Livejournaling. The makers of this film should have put less stake in their philosophy books. My friend Chris, horror-movie fan numero uno, agrees. We talked about it at Cro-Mags a little before the Clockwork Orange theme kicked in.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Bad Movie Society - Audition

If an American production company wants to remake Audition, they'll inevitably completely change the things that make Audition special. With a running time of just under two hours, Audition takes its time creating tension and atmosphere. Frankly, I don't think the American public would wait it out. Sucks for them, because the last forty minutes deliver on the promise of the beginning. The shocking violence makes us question whether we're watching the same movie at all. At the actual "audition," director Takashi Miike inserts a montage which plays out more like a Richard Gere romantic comedy than a horror film. Fortunately, he spares no expense at the end; our minds wander as Asami (Eihi Shiina) does unspeakable things to Shigeharu (Ryo Ishibashi). Maybe Miike had a small budget or a bad costuming/ effects department, because he keeps the end slightly classy by not showing the needles actually entering the nasal cavity. Just saying.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Bad Movie Society - Night of the Living Dead


Last week, the BMS changed things up and didn't watch bad movies. Instead, we (meaning, me and Andrew) watched 1968's Night of the Living Dead. The lighting was surprisingly creepy considering the budget, and the acting was above-average considering the budget. Considering the budget, I'd say Night of the Living Dead was pretty good!

Let's get specific about what makes this movie fun/creepy. When Barbara's (Judith O'Dea) brother is killed by cemetery-zombies, she flees to a farmhouse. There, she runs into Ben (Duane Jones), a black guy who pretty much takes over as leader and only common sense-haver. Barbara gets all catatonic for the rest of the film. She wasn't attacked or infected, but she gets zombie-fied nonetheless. The horror lies not in the zombies outside, but in Barbara's zombie-like disposition. What's her problem, and what is she gonna do?

This is a problem a lot of modern horror movies have: no power of suggestion. George Romero, the director, lets us know that there's a zombie-child in the basement, but he never gives us a candid look; she's just a threat. Hell, we don't even get to see the zombies outside too much. The real terror lies in the boarding up of windows, the conversations people have about the child they know must be killed, and the bizarro-world in which a black guy can order around white people with success. Just kidding about the last one, but imagine what some moviegoers must have thought!

PS. An amazing sweatshirt.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Did you hear? Expired Youth - Demo

When Expired Youth broke up on April 17, 2007 (I'm looking at the last show shirt now, actually), it seemed like everyone who liked hardcore even a little bit came out. Such a fun time, but it ranks as my second-favorite time seeing them. The first was when they played Depaul with the Killer and some touring bands. They had the old lineup, considerably fewer fans, and a kickass demo.

And a good demo is really all a band needs to succeed at first. EY released a 7-inch on Think Fast! records, but I prefer the demo. Maybe it was a time-and-place thing, but that demo spent an entire winter in my car stereo. I can't remember the last time such a young band made that kind of impression on me.

Get it here!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Bad Movie Society - Troll 2

These last 2 weeks, I've been conducting an open-ended experiment in which I invite my friends over to watch bad movies. I call it "The Bad Movie Society." I try to choose movies that are so bad, they're good, and so far we've watched The Room and Troll 2. How bad can it get? We shall dive head first into the pits of taste. Hopefully we live to laugh about it.

In Troll 2, goblins (not trolls) terrorize a family vacationing in a rural community. The acting is weak, the plot is confusing, and the dialogue is stiff. This movie truly stinks. The filmmakers seem to want to make a horror/ thriller, but their execution is laughable. A truly good horror movie builds and releases tension. Take the Michael Myers walk. The audience forgives Michael's "laziness" because they know he will ultimately catch up to his victim. In Troll 2, the goblins give the Waits family all the time in the world to eat their poisonous food (which is hardly enough, as the Waits family is monumentally stupid and slow at coming up with plans). The only acceptable responses from the audience are to leave or celebrate brainpower. Even we could make a better picture.

Still, I recommend Troll 2. There are some great one-liners, a popcorn sex scene, and this. Next week, in honor of October, we'll be straying from the usual format to watch Night of the Living Dead.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Cat Plaza #1

My new zine is finally out! It's called Cat Plaza. Inside, you can find a short story that I wrote, music/ movie reviews, poetry, and all sorts of other stuff. Dude, it's like being in my head for a half-hour.

If you want a copy, contact me any way you know how. I'm selling them for a buck in person, but if you want me to send one in the mail, consider sending me $2. Yes, I'll put a copy aside for you if that's what you want.

Look at the cover!

I'm going to start work on #2 soon. If you want to submit something, get at me. Panther1215@hotmail.com. I'll take fiction, poetry, opinion pieces, record reviews, drawings, photographs, whatever. If your shit is good, I'll print it. Simple as that.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Did you hear? Random Candy - Buddy, I Drove You Here

My band, Random Candy, just did a new EP called "Buddy, I Drove You Here." Andy Nelson at Bricktop recorded and mixed it in June 2009. You can download it for free by clicking on the link below.

Download here!

PS - How do I get around Myspace's block on Mediafire links?

Thursday, July 9, 2009

This is a selection from my forthcoming zine, ya' freaks!

Dear Wearers-of-band-shirts,

When you go through your closet, and thinking about the day to come, choose to wear a shirt or sweatshirt with a band logo or image on it, you shoulder exciting and basically unspoken responsibilities to that band, that band’s fans, and music fans in general. You are obligated to talk about the band whenever another person approaches you with the intent to talk.


He or she (usually he) could say something as simple and harmless as dude, nice shirt. In this case, you ought to say thank you or hell yeah! depending on your mood. After all, the compliment-payer might be a norm, in which case he probably just likes the graphic or something.


In the event that the compliment-payer says great band, you should reciprocate with enthusiasm. In this case, hell yeah! is more acceptable than thank you. Frankly, thank you doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.


It doesn’t happen a lot, except for maybe at shows, but when a person comes up to you and wants to strike up a conversation (or even a friendship) with your band shirt as the lead-in, you must have at least some opinion about the merits of that band’s work. It will usually go something like this:


Compliment-payer: Love the shirt, brah. What’s your favorite (let’s say) Saves the Day (but New Found Glory, Slayer, Nas, etc. would all work fine) record?

Well, well, well Wearer-of-band-shirts, the burden now rests with you. Tread lightly.


Answer #1: Through Being Cool, of course!

Analysis: Good answer. You stuck with a fan-favorite and older record, a good strategy with most bands. The compliment-payer should react positively, and if spirits have been served, you two might get involved in a wee sing-a-long. “Holly Hox” anyone?


Answer #2: I like the newer stuff a lot, maybe even more than the old stuff.

Analysis: Whoa, dude. You’ve just entered no man’s land. On the one hand, your loyalty to a great band is commendable. On the other hand, you’re wrong. If compliment-payer doesn’t clown you, you’re sure to hit it off.


The point is, don’t ignore someone if they like your shirt. This especially applies if the shirt is from an obscure band. Remember that music people are some of the best people out there. For every geek waiting in wings to discuss the American Nightmare demo, there are countless others who can get all-up-in-your-face, and guess what? They want to talk about The Fray. Be thankful that you’re in-the-know and you’re not alone.


Sincerely,

Cat “Why don’t you want to talk about the Descendents?” Plaza

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Pat's dos and don'ts of Pitchfork Fest 2k9

Last year, I gave you some advice about how to spend your precious weekends in Chicago. This year, I have constructed a tidy list of dos and don't s to help make P4K extra special!

DO - See the National. They haven't put out a record in a long time, but this new video of a new song suggests that their new record will be more of the same. IOW, awesome.

DON'T - Wear jeans, long sleeves, carry an unnecessary umbrella, or act like the Coachella Wizard.

DO - See Fucked Up. The put out a good record last year, and they rule live!

DON'T - Forget to drink water. Especially whilst under the influence of magical mushrooms.

DO - See Mew. Their record Frengers is seriously awesome. Here's an example. They will most likely kill it, as opposed to...

DON'T - See Japandroids or The Very Best when you could be watching the Thermals. You should probably skip The Walkmen, The Black Lips, Beirut, and basically every other band in order to watch the Flaming Lips, M83, and Vivian Girls. But wait, you're saying, doesn't Vivian Girls sound a lot like some of the aforementioned bands? Yes, they do, but this is my blog, and if you want to write about one of the other thousand garage revival bands out there, be my guest.

DO - Go to the first day. Obviously, it's going to be sweet.

Lollapalooza looks pretty dumb. Won't be going. It sucks to miss The Beastie Boys. How bad are Silversun Pickups and Thievery Corporation? Enough. Have fun.

P4k - July 17-19, Union Park, not a whole lot of money
Lolla - August 7-9, Grant Park, a whole lot of money

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Review: Matt Pond PA - The Freeep

In late 2008, Matt Pond PA released The Freeep. A free digital download from their website, the Freeep felt like a new page for the band. With three instrumental tracks/ nine tracks total, it's some of the best stuff they've put out in years. Some of these jams borrow from the post-rock annals, while others could have been released on any one of their last three pitchfork-hated albums. BTW, what's up with all the hate over there? What a bunch of dorks. Dude's need to step down and shelve their St. Vincent records indefinitely.

Get it here!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Did you hear? Bunny Wailer - Roots, Radics, Rockers, Reggae

So it's summertime and you're laying out by the pool, the burgers are on the grill, cold ones are in the cooler, the wirly girlies are taking a dip, the ice cream man is coming, and everything is just perfect...except you got no tunes. Instead of reaching for your copy of Legend, you know, the one your mom scratched to hell, why not give Bunny Wailer a try? He jammed with the Wailers on their best records, and Roots, Radics, Rockers, Reggae is one hell of a solo effort. Think mid-80s synth/production mixed with classic 70s reggae, and bingo. Go out there and conquer, bitches.

Get it here!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Did you hear? Bastard - Wind of Pain

I don't have a lot of knowledge of Japanese hardcore, but I know that Bastard's Wind of Pain is one of the best examples of it. Wind of Pain rages for its full duration (just under 17 minutes). My favorite parts include the first riff in "Never Change," the opening riff in "To the Stumped Underdogs," and the final minute of "Truth." Thanks to John from Weekend Nachos for turning me onto this awesome band. The first two songs posted from WN's new LP are on a total Bastard tip, so check those out. Hopefully, they play some Bastard covers in the future.

Get it here!

Friday, May 1, 2009

30 Minute Weekend Playlist (5/1/2009)

Whoa! It's May! My thesis is almost done, summer's almost here, and I'm feeling okay. Bookending this week's playlist are two new Camera Obscura songs, the latter being total Beach Boys worship. I threw in a Dino Jr. song to get you psyched on their new record, coming out soon. If you're into all things heavy, check out that Eyehategod song from Dopesick. If you're into the spiritually heavy, there's "Giant Steps" by Coltrane. Learn the changes, and then revel in the simplicity of Guided By Voices's Tobin Sprout performing "Little Whirl" live.


Get a playlist! Standalone player Get Ringtones

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Did you hear? Depaul University Jazz Ensemble with special guest Phil Woods - Woodlands

In 2005, the Depaul U. Jazz Ensemble played a special concert at D.G.S. Their special guest for that tour was the jazz alto-sax legend, Phil Woods. He taught a workshop in the afternoon before the concert, and at night he performed a few numbers with the Depaul kids. He was old then, and I'm pretty sure he already had some bad respiratory problems because he took breaks between songs and had to sit when he played. Nevertheless, his tone was massive and he shamed the other jazz peons on stage.

The most impressive number on Woodlands is "Goodbye, Mr. Evans." When Phil's solo builds and explodes at 2:30, and then again at 3:20, I go nuts. Woods has a history of writing tribute songs (go get this record), but his ode to Bill Evans is the best. The author of Woodlands's liner notes remarked on how great the pianist's solo was in "Goodbye" being that he followed Phil and that the track is about the best jazz pianist ever. The other songs aren't bad either, and since this thing's been OOP for awhile, have at it.

Get it here!

Friday, April 10, 2009

30 Minute Weekend Playlist (4/10/09)

The last time I did one of these things was almost a year ago, so excuse me if I'm rusty. I wanted to review a couple records, but I can always get to that later. The first track is from Dan Deacon's new record Bromst. I like this guy's music and all, but certain songs rule so much more than others and this is one of them. Sometimes his jams make me feel like I'm locked inside the playgrounds for the under-5 crowd at Six Flags. "Blank Slate" is from The Virginia Ep and I believe it's the B-side to the Mistaken for Strangers single, but whatever. That Iron & Wine song is easily one of his best; it's from the Dark Was the Night LP that I've been spinning nonstop. It's one of those songs with a familiar melody and you're all like, he must have stolen that shit. If you don't know Antony & The Johnsons by now you better get outta town. He's been tearing it up for like 4 years at least. Vijay Iyer is a young pianist that plays with Rudresh Mahanthappa (remember when I blogged about him?). If you're into angular piano-jazz with f'd-up phrasing (and who isn't?), Vijay's your man. The other songs are incidentals that will help get your weekend rolling along smoothly. Will's running the marathon in Champaign tomorrow- I hope he doesn't listen to this playlist for inspiration. He should be listening to Terror.


Get a playlist! Standalone player Get Ringtones

Monday, April 6, 2009

Did you hear? Tuesday - Early Summer

Dan Andriano wasn't always singing and playing bass for Alkaline Trio. But you already know that. When Slapstick disbanded, he took Matt Stamps and Rob Kellenberger and created Tuesday. Their LP Freewheelin' is an undisputed classic. It took me forever to track this EP down in the days of Soulseek, so aren't you glad there's blogsearch people? I finally bought a physical copy on Ebay a year or so ago, but it came with no artwork. Folks with deep crates- does Early Summer have an insert?

For those who don't know, there are four raging songs including my favorite jam "That's Not Like Me." The version of "So Awake" is rawer and doesn't have that awesome instrumental prelude. It's betterness is hotly debated. There's snow on the ground, but early summer is just around the corner. Celebrate it properly.

Get it here!

PS - I checked to make sure this is really OOP. I couldn't find it for sale on AMR's site, and I suspect they're one of the few vendors that would still have copies. 2000 pressed on black, many years ago.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Review: Black Dice - Repo

The new Black Dice record officially drops next Tuesday, and boy is it good. Usually when I listen to electronic music, I spend a good chunk of time shaking my head (not my ass, unfortunately) and asking myself "what do people see in this?" Not with Repo. I think the difference is that it's not a dance album. With dance records, lots of the tension comes from bass, the absence of bass, and (im?)patiently waiting for the bass to drop. When the bass finally does drop, everyone in the club (because that's where these records get played) raises their champaigne glass to the gods and gets wild. But what about those two minutes setting up the damn drop?

Black Dice subverts this expectation. The tension comes from these noisy, sampled melodies that morph into one another. The effect is that when the song ends, the listener has to replay it to remember where it started, and when we do remember, the effect is so satisfying. The pulse of these songs comes not from bass but from fucking with the sample tempos and other stuff like crunchy bass-esque sounds. Again, this is not a dance album. But why do I feel like dancing? In my bed? As I listen to Repo with headphones on?

When they released "Kokomo" on Load Blown, they added their own notch to the "Kokomo" franchise, which until that point pretty much consisted of a Beach Boys song and old-man covers of a Beach Boys song. They've gone and done it again with "La Cucaracha." Once you've heard it, you may no longer think of the folk song exclusively.

Finally, with Repo, part of the charm comes from the terrible fact that I have no idea how they made these songs. What instruments did they use? What buttons did they push? What knobs did they turn? It's always fun to hear a record that sounds great and that you can play (with your own guitar) straight through. Sometimes though, it's more fun to hear a record that's totally foreign. I have a feeling people won't be covering Repo for a long time. I hear Endtroducing in songs like "Whirligig," but Black Dice is a truly original band. Highly recommended...and I'm in before the hype!

Myspace

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Did you hear? Joshua Redman

On January 13, Joshua Redman released a new record called Compass. Though I haven't heard it yet, I trust it's amazing like every other Redman record. If you're into jazz but wary of (or unexposed to) new jazz- Redman is a good place to start.

I don't know anything about theory, but Redman's records sound like they could have been released forty years ago. On his 1996 album, Freedom in the Groove, he plays swing/ bop that calls to mind the great Blue Note tenor players Sonny Rollins and Tina Brooks. My personal favorite Redman records are the '93 debut- Joshua Redman (he plays a great "Salt Peanuts") and '94's Mood Swing.

Here's a video of the making of Compass. It'll give you some of his personal background.

Joshua Redman EPK


Myspace

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Remembering Mojo Music Part 8

My cheapest purchase at Mojo Music was also one of my best. For $1 they had the "Jesus" single from Brand New's new record The Devil and God are Raging Inside Me. The tracklisting:

1. Jesus
2. Millstone (Alternate)
3. Brothers

"Brothers" should have made the cut, somehow. You may know it from the Fight Off Your Demons demos (Untitled 3). They could have gotten rid of "Handcuffs" or something. Anyway, it's an acoustic song with cool lyrics and vocals. The Millstone is pretty cool too, with some new lyrics and an echo effect. For the first time in awhile, I'm upping it for your pleasure! (Not so fast: If you want "Jesus," you're going to have to use your internet powers to find it- easiest task ever.)

Get it here!

Note: When I refer to the single- I mean the CD single- not the vinyl that was only pressed in the UK and 15 dollars to ship over. When will they finally press the LP?

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Remembering Mojo Music Part 7

One of the first and only new pieces of vinyl I bought at Mojo Music was a 2x10'' limited edition version of Wood/Water by your favorite band, The Promise Ring. I hadn't heard it before I bought it, but being a huge fan of Nothing Feels Good and Very Emergency was reason enough to give it a shot. I think I knew that it had a pretty sorry reputation, but I didn't think about it when I put it on the first time. I loved it right away. I think that the Promise Ring took a really surprising and devastating and courageous musical path that was impossible to rally back from. This is another record that I have to defend. "Become One Anything One Time" is as good a meloncholy acoustic jam as I've ever heard. "Suffer Never" is a perfect extension of the sound and vibe on Very Emergency. "Say Goodbye Good" has a children's choir that doesn't fail nearly as bad as when Kanye uses one. The Promise Ring didn't fade away. From my favorite early jam "E. Texas Ave.," to their last hit "Stop Playing Guitar," Milwaukee's best should not be forgotten. Turn them on if you don't believe me.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Remembering Mojo Music Part 6

One of the only new releases I bought at Mojo Music was this new Alkaline Trio record called Crimson. It must have been 2005 cuz I got it the day it came out. Anyway, I wasn't expecting much since Good Mourning let me down. At the time, I thought it topped considerably, but now I'm not so sure. Their releases post-Asian Man have been one long sigh after another- good records that are shells of what was. (See my Agony & Irony review from 2008).

Crimson has some fun songs. In "Time to Waste," lyrics like "Such a basketcase, hide the cutlery" prevent me from totally rocking out, but the music's pretty cool still. "Mercy Me" always impressed me. It felt like an Infirmary b-side. Some songs flop really bad, like "Smoke" and "Burn" (though the ending of the latter is sweet). Crimson is a nice addition to the catalog for when you want to shuffle around, but as albums go, stick with the older ones. One positive: Matt's voice sounds a lot better than on Good Mourning. 2005-Pat liked this record more that 2009-Pat does.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Remembering Mojo Music Part 5

Mojo Music slowly got into new vinyl, and by the end there, they had a decent selection. Their used vinyl selection was enormous with really bad quality control and like 20 copies of each Eagles record. Sometimes they had good stuff, and on one occasion I bought Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, and Thyme by Simon & Garfunkel.

Parsley has a pretty good reputation in S & G's catalog, but it's no Bookends and no Bridge Over Troubled Water. For some reason, I always felt protective of Parsley and I've defended it before from naysayers and skeptics. "Cloudy" is pleasant rainy mood music. "The Dangling Conversation" is the same. Actually, pretty much all the good songs on the record work well in the fall and during rainy seasons. There are some stinkers, like the 60s-tastic and embarrassing "Simple Delsutory." Nevertheless, Parsley is a good record and perhaps my favorite S & G.

Remembering Mojo Music Part 4

Let's continue on my quest to find great music via diggin in the crates. Another favorite that came from Mojo's used bin was Brian Eno's Another Green World. I think the price was either $7.99 or $8.99, but it was worth every penny. Another Green World is the perfect crash-course in all things Eno. It has the weirdo glam rocker "St. Elmo's Fire," the ambient look-at-what-I'll-be-doing-for-the-rest-of-my-career jam "Zawinul/Lava," and the loveable, though admittedly sorta dorky "I'll Come Running." As World grew on me, I developed an obsession with Eno's music, art, and whatever else he does (I read his journal, for example). This is his best record.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Remembering Mojo Music Part 3

Mojo Music had a decent used CD bin. Usually it was full of Kid Rock CDs and really lame early-2000s rap singles, but sometimes you'd find something good. In Freshman year of college, I took an intro. film course and we watched The Harder they Come. I liked the movie a lot, and the songs from the soundtrack were stuck in my head for days. Fortunately, Mojo had a copy in the used CD bin. The price tag is still on it. $7.99.

Be cautious: saying The Harder they Come OST is your favorite reggae CD is just as bad as saying you like Legend the best. Tread lightly. Even if the Maytals's "Sweet and Dandy" makes you want to dance, "Many Rivers to Cross" makes you want to cry, and you write personal statements to "The Harder they Come" you gotta pick a more obscure favorite reggae album. Lie as best you can.

Remembering Mojo Music Part 2

Like any good record store, Mojo was happy to order shit for you if it wasn't in stock. In the days of internet reluctance, this was the perfect way to get cool/ obscure records.

That's not to say Gorgoroth is obscure. You can probably watch them on WGN right now. Still, Pentagram wasn't everywhere in 2003 like it is now. (Was it?) Kinda like with Emperor, I really only listen to this one record. I love the vocals, the mosh parts, everything. This band could play hardcore shows, I think. I remember that after my copy came in, a second copy sat on the shelves probably until the store closed. They also had some weird Gorgoroth bootleg concert vinyl in the back, but I don't like pic discs and who knows how it would have sounded.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Remembering Mojo Music Part 1

In the next however many posts, I'll be talking about the albums I bought at Mojo Music. Mojo Music was at the intersection of Kingery and 63rd st., and if you lived in Dupage, you might have known about it. I bought a lot of important records there in my high school years, and I'll try to write about them. Mojo closed a couple years back.

I bought Into the Nightside Eclipse by Emperor there, and to this day it's my favorite Emperor record. The first track is really long, but it's one of the only black metal songs I know the words to. Every other metal record with keyboards sound cheesy to me, so I'm surprised this record is so good. I downloaded Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk a few years later and was underwhelmed. "We are the Black Wizards" is awesome, and the vocals in "Gypsy" are hilarious. Long live Emperor.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Did you hear? Rudresh Mahanthappa

NPR music is a great resource for when you want to get caught up on what the patrons of Amazon.com are into. Not to mention they post entire concerts from captivating artists (like Antony and the Johnsons, Leonard Cohen) and half-hour+ interviews. I listened to an interview/listening party with Rudresh Mahanthappa yesterday, and I was blown away.

Mahanthappa graduated from the Berklee College of Music in Mass. before discovering Kadri Golpanath, an Indian Carnatic saxophone player. He got in touch with his Indian-American heritage, studied with Golpanath in India, and then created some genre-bending jazz jams that are currently blowing my mind. His album is in the top 30 at Amazon! A fucking jazz record! People are so into India right now. All the best to Mahanthappa. I can't wait to buy Apti, his latest trio record with a guitarist and tabla player. But maybe I'll get Kinsmen instead. That record features Golpanath, and I'll post a link to an ensemble performance on youtube. Who said jazz in the new millenium sucked? When you have dudes playing ragas and talas on the saxophone, who knows what other shit could go down.

Myspace
Myspace for the Apti record

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Did you hear? Various Artists - I Wonder

"I Wonder" was a minor hit for the Crystals in 1964. The Ronettes also recorded a version of the tune. I don't think it was a big deal, Phil Spector produced both tracks. My question is: which is the better version?





The Ronettes clearly win this battle. The song has more momentum, clearer vocals, and one of the sexiest bridges ever. I love the Crystals, but I'd take the Ronettes any day.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Vinyl news #6 - Fall Out Boy

Until recently, Take This To Your Grave was pretty hard to find on vinyl, and worse, widely bootlegged. Fortunately, FbR is reissuing it on blue vinyl /2500. Start to finish, this is Fall Out Boy's classic record, and always a personal favorite.

Get it here!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Review: Desperate Man Blues

Desperate Man Blues is a fascinating documentary about a record collector named Joe Bussard. An expert on early twentieth century blues, jazz, gospel, and folk, Joe owns ~25,000 records from the time period. He's totally into it- so much so that anything after 1955 he considers garbage. (Take that Steven Blush!) This documentary makes me want to smoke tons of cigars, dig in the crates, and learn that damn banjo that sits downstairs.

Be sure to check out his myspace! I wonder if he likes Lil' Wayne? The question is: does it really matter when you own one of the most precious archives of American music ever assembled?

Coupling: Boom or Bust?

Many hit American television shows are based on British shows. Coupling was not one of them. The American version failed to make it through one season. I didn't watch it. (Who did?) BBC's Coupling ran strong for 4 series- that's 28 episodes. Fresh off reruns of The Office (BBC) and Extras, I started watching Coupling to capitalize on my growing appreciation of British humor. To my surprise, Coupling has more in common with our Seinfeld than with anything I've seen from Britain (though, admittedly, I haven't seen a lot).

In the pilot, Susan (Sarah Alexander) and Steve (Jack Davenport) start dating. Steve's Jane's (Gina Bellman) ex, and Susan's Patrick's (Ben Miles) ex. Susan (Kate Isitt) and Jeff (Richard Coyle) kind of drift about causing chaos and trying to shag whoever. If you can't tell, Coupling is all about sex, relationships, and modern love (good Bowie song).

Everyone says it reminds them of Friends, but I disagree. For one, Coupling is funny. For two, the tangling plots and characters have more to do with Seinfeld. In one episode, Jeff explains how an invisible man can take your erections when you need them the most. Soon, everyone starts goin' limp. Never profane, Coupling owes a lot to "The Contest" episode in Seinfeld. Have you mastered your domain tonight?

Verdict: Boom! I hope the library has Series 3. Just wondering: who's the hottest?

Friday, January 30, 2009

Review: Keane - Perfect Symmetry

My fondest memories always have soundtracks, and the soundtrack to a lot of senior year in high school was Keane's Hopes and Fears. Not an ambitious record, Hopes and Fears won me over on its melodies, honest lyrics, and Tom's phenominal voice. I still think it's a fine record and one of the best debuts ever.

Keane released Perfect Symmetry in October 2008. The greatest of Keane fans, Jordan, told me that I should expect 80s vibes throughout. He was right. I don't like the record as much as he does, but I can't fault Keane for trying out new things. Still, my favorite songs sound like they could be on Hopes and Fears, or even the enjoyable, Under the Iron Sea. In the standout, "The Lovers are Losing," Tom belts out unusual vocal lines over Tim's anthemic chorus. Nothing really rhymes, but that makes it stand out. On Hopes and Fears, everything rhymed, fit, and sounded just right. I'm pleased that Keane takes (very small, but appreciated) risks. Other standouts are "You Don't See Me" and "Love is the End."

I don't highly recommend this, but it's good for a few spins.

Keane's Myspace

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Did you hear? The Broadways - Live in Hoffman Estates

I wish I was just five years older. It doesn't matter if you're 21, 25, or 15 - if you like music, you've said it before. When you listen to music as much as I do, you end up discovering bands that are defunct. No more, rest in peace. I am fucking pissed I never got to see The Broadways, Tuesday, and even Alkaline Trio during their Asian Man days. Fortunately, the internet can sew up these wounds and make them a little less painful. For your pleasure, here's a live Broadways set from 1998. I was 12. They were playing in Hoffman Estates (at a little place called Record Breakers). Even if I listened to them at the time, you can bet your ass my mom wouldn't have let me go.

A year ago, I saw the Lawrence Arms plays "15 Minutes" and "Kitchen Floor". Still, I can't help but think that the Broadways would have played it a little faster, a little gruffer, and all because they were just a little bit more punk. It would have been better.

Get it here!

PS - On my first trip to Record Breakers some five years later, I bought Tuesday's Freewheelin', The Suicide File's Twilight, and Gorilla Biscuits's Start Today. Not bad.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Merch: Slowdive

This is the first OG Slowdive shirt I've ever seen on Ebay. If you're like me, you've wanted a Slowdive shirt forever, but the bootlegged/ugly third party shirts just don't cut it. And hey, this shirt is ugly too, but at least it's authentic. Obviously from the Souvlaki era.

Vinyl news #5 - The Get Up Kids

If you've heard it, you know why you need it on vinyl. If you haven't heard it, god save your miserable soul.

Something to Write Home About Vinyl

Some prefer: Four Minute Mile

They must be preparing for a(n) (unnecessary) reunion!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Review: The National - A Skin, A Night / The Virginia EP

A month ago, I thought about properly reviewing Boxer, my heads-and-shoulders AOTY from 2007. I intended to call it "Boxer as religious experience" as an ode to both the band and David Foster Wallace. I'm glad I didn't go through with the title, but one day, I would like to write about why Boxer is such a special record. Of course, I wouldn't be the first to try and explain it away, and that's where Vincent Moon steps in.

A Skin, A Night is a worthy companion to Boxer. The film follows The National as they write, record, and tour during the creation of their newest LP. If you're expecting interviews and straightforward multi-camera live videos, you came to the wrong place. I think the National like to be enigmatic (is that too obvious?) . Matt's lyrics depend so much on the listener's interpretation, so why shouldn't the documentary? That being said, it's quite abstract. Sometimes I feel like Moon let the camera run at arbitrary places and then shut it off when the good parts were about to come. I admire the editing, of course, and it looks really pretty. Still, the DVD left me wanting a little more. Guess I'll wait until 2010 for the next LP.

The Virginia EP, collects Boxer b-sides, unreleased jams, and live performances. Chances are, you bought the package for the CD anyway. And it's good. "You've Done it Again, Virginia" is a fine opener, though I'm happy it was cut from Boxer. The next four songs are very good. My favorite is probably "Blank Slate," the b-side from that 7-inch they did. Word of warning: the "Slow Show" demo is pretty lame. I know a lot of "Slow Show" fetishists, and if that's you, my advice is to steer clear.



PS - Matt Berninger seemed like a wreck while making Boxer. In a way, it's comforting to me. Not everyone can leave their self-consciousness at the door. Music is fucking scary, man.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Random Candy videos

This video is from my band Random Candy performing "Monkey" at North Beach on 1/6.



http://www.myspace.com/randomcandymusic

Saturday, January 10, 2009

I don't get it: Bon Iver

I don't want to spend too much time on this subject, but does someone care to share their reasons for liking Bon Iver? His voice is usually pretty annoying, the guitar bits aren't all that interesting, and the recording is pretty normal and not nearly echoey and log cabin-y enough. I've heard the sob story that usually comes with his record reviews, so spare me that.

An acquaintance once told me that she loves to fornicate to For Emma. Maybe she killed it before it had a chance to grow. My vote for overrated in 2008 goes to Bon (as she pronounced it) "eye"ver.

PS: As a responsible blogger, I've listened to the new Animal Collective. It rules, and maybe I'll talk about it later, but for now, that's all.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Music on film: The Office

Have you ever noticed how a song can sound even better in a film or on television? For example, in Slumdog Millionaire, M.I.A.'s "Paper Planes" came on, and though I'm sick of that song (along with everyone in the world, probably) I didn't mind hearing it too much as a part of the soundtrack. It just seemed to fit.

Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant understand this phenomenon. In the holiday special for The Office, the final scenes take place in the office during the Christmas party. Naturally, as there is a DJ, there is always background music. Not only do the writers move the story along, but they also give us a sort-of crash course in really popular 80s-90s British music. In the most heart-wrenching scene, The Spice Girls and Take That provide the soundtrack with inexplicable success. I'm not a fan of the Spice Girls, sure, and I hadn't heard "Back for Good" in many years, but while watching this scene, I kind of dug it. Man, I like the Take That song. And the lyrics comment on the onscreen drama. Very nicely done, blokes.



Don't watch it if you haven't seen the series and still intend to. It kind of blows everything.

Gervais and Merchant continue to work their magic on Extras. Hint: England's biggest 80s and 90s melodramatic and possibly celibate singer makes a soundtrack appearance.

I might just like the BBC Office better than its American counterpart. I wish they would have made more. Cheers.