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.

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.