Friday, December 24, 2010

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Songs from 2010 - Part 10 - Everything Is Going To Be Okay

Our brave heroine has narrowly escaped the throes of a sickening killer, a possessed house. In 40 minutes, she navigated the disorienting hallways of the Temple Room, had wax from Black Candles dripped onto her quivering naval, and received bad tidings from The Psychic. Through it all, she persevered, kept her pants on, and swore allegiance to the cross and to her Italian knight in mustachioed armor. One kiss from the knight makes it all worthwhile. A nightmare turned dream. Everything Is Going To Be Okay. Roll credits.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Songs from 2010 - Part 9 - Lazarus

"Lazarus" opens with a minute of feedback and noise. It's a welcome stylistic gesture and cue for the listener embarking on Immaculada's second side. The song kicks into 4/4 gear at 1:14 but remains rife with tension. At 3:16, the song opens for a guitar riff that is so melodic and groovy that we don't want it leave, but it departs after a taste, and The Men bring the song full circle with familiar vocal parts and riffing. I think Miles at Gold Zounds might enjoy The Men.  

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Songs from 2010 - Part 8 - Monster

When Kanye West asks, "have you ever had sex with a pharaoh?" he might as well be asking, "have you ever had sex with me?" 

What came first, the chain that gives Kanye back pain, or the line, "Bought the chain that always give me back pain?"

Does My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy's cover match Kanye's red suit? Did his inspiration for his Dark Twisted Identity start with a fly suit?

How do I put the pussy in a sarcophagus?

So many questions to ask oneself when listening to this year's hottest mp3. Kanye opens the proverbial can of worms on pimping, flossing, and being a monster, and he does it over the starkest beat on the record, a beat that is just a jazz loop away from RZA and the 90s. Jay-Z nearly derails the communal boast by talking about his lonely soul and love-void, as if we care, but it's cool because Nicki Minaj brags about her pink wig and thick ass and having a Minaj on Friday. 

Still, the star is Kanye, and I'm sure he wouldn't have it any other way. As John pointed out, he kills it with every line and boast. As the halfway point in a record about insecurity and hypocrisy and opulence, "Monster" is straight bragging. Jay-Z doesn't get it, but gosh, it's cool now. I already skipped back to Kanye's verse anyway.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Songs from 2010 - Part 7 - Sorrow

Do I take The National for granted? Is it their fault that High Violet didn't seduce me like Boxer? Did I have unreasonable expectations?

Yes, my friends, High Violet let me down. I expected a home run and got a triple. Understand, I listened to Boxer so much. I like Boxer more than I like a lot of you. Four of its tracks are in my iTunes top 25 playlist. I don't even want to get into iPod plays. Good fucking record.

The first two songs to go public from High Violet were "Runaway" and "Bloodbuzz Ohio." I got stoked. I replayed them over and over. I thought about ways in which I would use the lyrics in my online profiles. And then I developed too-high expectations for High Violet
The songs that came later are texturally rich ("Conversation 16"), immaculately paced ("Little Faith"), haunting ("Afraid of Everyone"), and triumphant ("Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks"). There are some weak tracks, too. Some lines in "Anyone's Ghost" are lame, and the allure of "Lemonworld" is lost on me. 

Mostly, I have positive things to say, as you can see. I think, for now, I'll let High Violet grow on me and become a part of The National's catalog on its own terms. I look forward to any new material the band releases; I look forward to High Violet being their second-to-newest album.

Here's "Sorrow." You know it. You love it. It reminds me of Boxer but with that sonic High Violet stamp. All of the things I really liked about High Violet (the drumming, the backing vocals that sound like whispers) are present, and some of the things I didn't like (lyrics repeated to death, namely) aren't. Get down with your sad self because sorrow found you when you were young.

Are any of y'all with me on this? 
Did you buy the double LP? Definitely my favorite piece of vinyl of 2010.
Still one of the best live acts going. Drink too much white wine and go see them.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Songs of 2010 - Part 6 - Shine Blockas

The year-end lists are coming in, and blogs will have to choose between Big Boi and Kanye. Whether you think that's stupid or not, your decision might actually say a lot about your taste in hip-hop. Since it's Friday, I'm highlighting this Big Boi banger called "Shine Blockas." It technically came out in 2009, but it was on this year's LP, and it is just super.

Kanye is for the weekdays, the headphones, the soul-searching. It's not very club-friendly, unfortunately: the songs are long, and the best songs can be slow and challenging. Not so with Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty. Three-and-a-half minute bangers all the way through, and Big Boi has fun the whole time.

He builds "Shine Blockas" from the beat up. After all the hos say ho, you get to feel the beat out for 20-30 seconds, and then Big Boi drops a pretty chill verse. Just chillin', riding Luciouswaves. After Gucci Mane, we get the song's finest moment---Big Boi's third verse with the pistol whip singalong part. New Years Eve is coming, and you'll undoubtedly be at a party. Find someone---doesn't matter who---and grind. I bet it will work, too, because no one will be able to block your shine.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Songs from 2010 - Part 5 - The Oh So Protective One

Who says you should take a year-off when you're a 2009 hype band? Girls returned with an EP, Broken Dreams Club, and it is exquisite. "The Oh So Protective One" kicks it off with Spanish-influenced guitar and horns. Christopher Owens croons about a self-conscious girl, and his lyrics, although straightforward, are poignant and effective. 

The real star, though, is Chet White, the group's bassist and record engineer. The mix is perfect; each element falls into place at just the right time, and he doesn't revert to habits we heard on Album. In other words, no "God Damned" or "Big Bad Mean Motherfucker" engineering, which, although cool in its own right, doesn't work for the band as they expand their sound and embrace their inner Beach Boys. 

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Songs from 2010 - Part 4 - Penal Colony

On the cover of Women's 2010 album, Public Strain, a few people walk in a blizzard. Think about what that's like. Women take an otherwise normal pop song with a great hook, slow it down, and accent each downbeat like a heavy step in the snow. Then they mess with it even more, adding fuzz and doubled vocals. "Penal Colony" becomes an otherworldly exercise in restraint.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Cat Plaza #2 - Back Cover

So what did everyone think of Cat Plaza #2? If I had to evaluate the issue, I'd say it's a 9.6 It's my Merriweather Post Pavilion to #4's Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. And #3 is Neon Bible. Adieu, 2009. Miss you.


Thursday, November 25, 2010

Cat Plaza #2 - p. 19

I am thankful for this rant by yesterday's birthday boy, Andrew Morrison.

cant' wait till the miami heat start rolling and it silences all the bandwagon haters who failed to support the NBA in its darker years. The same haters who ironically enough only resubmerged as fans because lebron and wade brought the flash back to the game in the first place. Regardless if the heat fail to perform, they will make the playoffs in the east. Even though the heat hating hipsters might temporarily boost ratings, they will soon lose interest as they do for nearly every banner they take up and fail to continue their NBA support allowing historical franchises to fade and collapse.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Cat Plaza #2 - p. 15-17

Back in the days when I was crushing on David Foster Wallace, I looked in every corner of the internet he occupied, and I found this list you've seen before. A list like this is cool because instead of namechecking authors we know he knew or liked personally, like many other authors do, he turns our attention to books we probably haven't read yet. Some authors (artists, musicians, movie-makers) protect their influences for whatever reason, like we can't figure them out. Gee whiz, I don't read new novels anymore. I like that line too.

In walks Steps by Jerzy Kosinski, hell bent on fucking with your mind and top-10 book list that you keep online or in that list-making brain of yours. When you see Steps in the library, it's going to have a tattered cover, no dust jacket, and it probably hasn't been checked out in 20 years, but that doesn't mean you should pass it up to read HP again. Stop re-reading HP, y'all. 

Characters in Steps are vehicles for carrying out Jerzy's theoretical nightmare-fantasies, and when you read Steps, you'll know where my story came from. Steps gets a 10.0---the original Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Cat Plaza #2 - p. 14

I'm almost done with Northern Exposure, which is just about the high-point (along with Twin Peaks) of early-90s television. An imaginative, well-acted character show that is funny and moving. I just don't see how a show like Northern Exposure could make it on networks today, and that is a shame. The good television has been relegated to cable and premium TV, and even it isn't as good as Northern Exposure. After all, Northern Exposure cranked out 110 hour-long episodes in just five years and had a big, enthusiastic audience. Bravo, Northern Exposure

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Friday, November 19, 2010

Cat Plaza #2 - p. 8-9

Here's a guest post on beer from Marc "never gonna update The Alco-log EVER!" Nardoni.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Cat Plaza #2 - p. 5-7

Readers loved pointing out the typos on this one.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Cat Plaza #2 - p. 4

Confession: I never finished House of Leaves.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Monday, November 15, 2010

Cat Plaza #2 - p. 2

Dear Readers,

I'm having a crisis. I look at my Blogspot, my old friend, and I just think meh. All my cool readers are on Tumblr. They get to Tumbl all this cool stuff, and I don't think they can Tumbl their favorite Cat Plaza pages. Should I grab at relevance by joining Tumblr, or should I hold my ground and face the day at Blogspot. Decisions, decisions.


Sunday, November 14, 2010

Cat Plaza #2 Scans

After the resounding, Da Vinci Code-esque success of Cat Plaza #1, I gave in to the fans and produced a second issue. I kept saying I'd never do it, it was a one-time-only deal, but what are you gonna do? Deprive the fans of their favorite quarterly literature/ hardcore/ comedy zine? That's just cruel. 

Anyway, Cat Plaza #2 came out a year ago. It cost $1, and they're all gone. Gee whiz, Pat, what the heck? How come I didn't get one? 

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Bad Movie Society - Death Bed: The Bed That Eats

Writer/ director George Barry made Death Bed: The Bed That Eats in 1977 and apparently forgot about it until 2003, when it was re-released. I thought it would be good-bad like a lot of the other horror films I like, but Barry had something else in mind. Yellow digestive foam and skeleton hands aside, Death Bed is a pretty serious film, and creepy at that. Cross Samuel Beckett, Alejandro Jodorowsky, and Evil Dead 2, throw some dust on the film stock, and add a soundtrack of antiquated synth and pulsing percussion, and you have Death Bed. Gratuitous nudity and poor acting merely sweeten the deal. Happy Halloween!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Did you hear? Cimmerian

Like any young man in high school, I read hardcore message boards, listened to a little bit of extreme music, and discovered black metal from older people on the internet. I wasn't great at the internet yet, and I just didn't know how to download anything obscure or complete. I drove to Mojo Music and bought three CDs: Gorgoroth's Pentagram, Darkthrone's Sardonic Wrath, and Emperor's In the Nightside Eclipse. It was a home run if I do say so myself. I was the black wizards that day; I crushed the scepter.

Here is a sonic document not many people know about. In 2006, I recorded some black metal with my friend Nick at his home in Champaign. We called ourselves Cimmerian. If I remember correctly, we lost the files or weren't happy with them, and we re-tracked most of the song at ISR the following week (including vocals). My first recording on bass and vocals. I sing the first verse and the chorus, and Nick does the second verse. We had a lot of fun that weekend. 

Of course, we did a corpse paint photoshoot in his garden and living room. Right of passage.

At the time, we were influenced by symphonic black metal and Immortal. Nick wrote all the music. We collab'd on lyrics. The usual topics: white horses, snowy landscapes, hating Jesus, whatever. Happy Halloween! 

Friday, October 22, 2010

Bad Movie Society - The Human Centipede

From the freakish mind of Dutch writer/ director, Tom Six, comes The Human Centipede, a film which rides its unusual premise from start to finish. 

Think of your least favorite centipede. He just crawled out of your drain when you were brushing your teeth. She just ran up the wall and out of sight when you flipped on the basement light. Always lurking, never caught.

Six's human centipede is only three human beings surgically attached ass-to-mouth, ass-to-mouth. The first hour of the film is spent imagining what this thing will look like, and the last forty minutes plays like a slasher. The finest slasher, Halloween, is about Michael Myers chasing Laurie (Jamie Lee Curtis), who is slow (but faster than Michael, who still catches up). Not much is different about Human Centipede, but the h.c. is slower than Laurie. Makes sense. The h.c. doesn't behave like an actual centipede at all. Real centipedes aren't slow as shit and don't share digestive tracts. The three components of Six's creation barely get from room to room, and yet they still evade Dr. Heiter (Dieter Laser). The viewer is all like c'monnnnn.

Speaking of Dieter Laser, that dude is a fantastic actor. He is intense, hard, and capable of making some impossibly funny faces. Great villain. He explains the science of the h.c. to his victims stoically, and his pool has a futuristic robot cover. Makes me weak with the hope that one day I will be large and in-charge like Dieter, an owner of my very-own mechanized pool cover. 

You'll like Human Centipede if you like to be grossed out. If you've seen it and want to be grossed out more, you shouldn't worry about a thing because Six is making two more films. Hence, First Sequence. The biggest surprise, maybe, was that Human Centipede looked slick and crisp- maybe even a little too crisp- and wasn't campy. Plus, two women are naked the whole time with minimal gratuitous nudity. Supwitdat? Six is serious about his h.c.. He will never crush it, never trap it in a Kleenex and flush it down the toilet. Never drown it in the shower because he's too scared to trap it in a Kleenex and flush it down the toilet.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Will Needs a Vacation: The Rubicon Season Finale

One of the best things about AMC's new series, Rubicon, is that its creators know the psychological/ conspiracy genre (think THE CONVERSATION) and aren't afraid to pay homage for 13 episodes. Plus, they've created the right context for this genre workout, and it all feels kind of new. 

Critics and friends of mine criticized Rubicon for being slow, and that seems fair, but if you tuned in for the final 3-4 episodes, you know that the show picked up and was really plot-tight and engaging. 
For the most part, Will (James Badge Dale) lives the paranoid life: jetting around NYC with a stack of loose papers, checking owl figurines for bugs, and thinking everyone is out to get him. And as it turns out, almost everyone is out to get him (see: tagline..."not every conspiracy is a theory"), that is, everyone except his artsy-fartsy girlfriend, Andy (Annie Parisse). She's Rubicon's Kramer. She never leaves the apartment, doesn't seem to be employed, and still attracts the opposite sex somehow. Oh wait, she's hot, and Will spies on her from his apartment window. 

Andy makes Will a more interesting character. By living in her art-world and allowing Will to come into it, she creates two lifestyle spheres for Will: his API-paranoid sphere and his sitting-around-doing-nothing-cuz-I'm-at-Andy's sphere. We'll call it his art-sphere. Though the show is "slow," the only time Will actually seems to slow down is when he's in her apartment. Even in his own apartment, he constantly sweeps for bugs and phone taps, grabs for his trusty baseball bat, and cracks open beers to make it look like he's relaxing. Never filmed sleeping at his apartment (to my knowledge).

In the art-sphere, Will can get perspective on his life. He can form a meaningful relationship. And most importantly, he can watch his other sphere from a distance. It is in Andy's apartment that he watches phone tappers come in and do their thing. It is a safe haven for his files (he retrieves them in the season finale) and for his gun. The art-sphere and the paranoid-sphere seem connected, but they don't influence each other.

That is, until the final episode when Katherine Rhumor (Miranda Richardson) returns to her safe haven to find it's Andy's apartment too. Will's spheres collide, the girls assume Will's banging left-and-right, and we have our first fatality. It also marks the first time (tmk) that Andy leaves her apartment. And leaves with a gun in hand, not a paintbrush. 

So what are Rubicon's makers telling us? That we all need to find our inner artist? That we should check our light switches for bugs? That when there's terrorism, our many lives become singular? I don't know, but I hope they answer these questions and more in Season 2, which looks like it will happen despite poor ratings.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Songs from 2010 - Part 3 - I Remember

When critics first described Yeasayer's new album, Odd Blood, they said it sounded like an 80s album. I remember thinking: no way Jose, this stuff tastes like Animal Collective! And I should know because I love the 80s, and my t9 recognizes Neo before I tell it to spell men. Hey what did you think of that Mad Neo episode last night?

Flash-forward to September, and it's me buying Violator by Depeche Mode at a garage sale for $1. I pop my compact disc in for the first time (latest pass), and now I'm thinking that Depeche Mode sounds like Yeasayer. Only it's the other way around. So thank you Yeasayer for making me appreciate Depeche Mode more because Odd Blood is kinda stinky. But this song is great and sounds like "Blue Dress" which has lyrics like "Bluish." In other words, I was right all along.


Friday, October 15, 2010

The Napster Days or: Jackass 3D opens today!

Napster was great. After dialing-up, it would take 45-60 minutes to download one song, and when it was done, I'd get so pumped and play that song to death. So many searches for punk covers and prank calls. Anyway, when we switched computers, I either lost my Napster songs or never bothered looking for them, and all of those jams faded in my memory. But no longer!

Must have been 7th grade when the CKY "Chinese Freestyle" came into my life. It was offensive and crude and I loved it. Memorized it. Recited it amongst friends. And I didn't even know what CKY was. Napster (and Limewire and Kazaa) had bad tagging standards. The bands weren't right or song titles were off, and it's made harvesting my memory for these junior high songs a nightmare. Sometime in college, I remembered a couple of key lines and performed a Google search. Voila! "The Chinese Freestlyle" was back in my life. Way back then, though, "The Chinese Freestyle" was a mythical song that came from this new abyss called the internet, and it was so mysterious and cool. Now I know that Brandon Dicamillo was responsible, and it's a little disappointing, but he's also one of my favorite Jackasses, and I better be able to get someone to come with me to see him in 3D.

Favorite part used to be: everybody in the phone book named Cheng, wanna see my wang? but now it's: you wanna taste my General Tso? I will give it to you now. One of the funnier disses I've heard.

I'm 15!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Show review: Guided By Voices 10/13/2010

If you know me at all, even if only through the internet, you know that I like Guided By Voices a lot. So when I learned that they were reforming the "classic lineup" for a tour, I somehow slept on the first wave of tickets (which promptly sold out), panicked, and then freaked out when they moved the show to a bigger venue, i.e. the Riviera Theater.

And GBV did not disappoint. The gang was all there: Kevin, Greg (outrageous tuxedo), Mitch (so stoked to be there), genius-foil Tobin, and rock-god Robert. 

The "classic lineup" is important because in 4 years (92-96), it released 5 LPs which became indie classics: Propeller, Vampire on Titus, Bee Thousand, Alien Lanes, and Under the Bushes Under The Stars. These records and their accompanying EPs created a ravenous fanbase and spun an endless GBV mythology. There are hundreds and hundreds of GBV songs. Some are difficult listens while others are crystal clear pop tunes. Almost all of them are good. In those days, quality control didn't matter because everything they touched was gold. Here's what they played last night ( think I can remember a setlist?):

From Propeller: Weed King, Quality of Armor, Lethargy, Unleashed! The Large-Hearted Boy, Exit Flagger, 14 Cheerleader Coldfront
From Vampire on Titus. Gleemer
From Bee Thousand. Buzzards and Dreadful Crows, Tractor Rape Chain, Goldheart Mountaintop Queen Directory, Hot Freaks, Smothered in Hugs, Echos Myron, Gold Star for Robot Boy, Awful Bliss, Queen of Cans and Jars, I Am a Scientist
From Alien Lanes. A Salty Salute, Watch Me Jumpstart, Game of Pricks, A Good Flying Bird, Pimple Zoo, Closer You Are, Motor Away, My Valuable Hunting Knife, Striped White Jets, My Son Cool
From UTBUTS. Cut Out Witch, Bright Paper Werewolves, Don't Stop Now
Plus: My Impression Now (from Fast Japanese Cycle), Shocker in Gloomtown (from Grand Hour), Dodging Invisible Rays (from Tigerbomb), Matter Eater Lad and Johnny Appleseed (from Clown Prince of the Menthol Trailer)
and I know I forgot some stuff, but you can tell how much I'm nerding out already, and I won't go any farther.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Songs from 2010 - Part 2- Boy Lilikoi

Jonsi's solo debut, Go, deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as High Violet, Halcyon Digest, and Noose Demo 2010 for AOTY. Not only does Go stand on its own, but for me it also reinvigorates Sigur Ros's brand. Can't wait for whatever Jonsi touches in the future.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Monday, October 4, 2010

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Cat Plaza #1 - p. 8

One of my favorite features of Cat Plaza, and this is my favorite installment. I love Guided By Voices, and you should too. See you on October 13.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Cat Plaza #1 - p. 3

Presented in color for the first time ever!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Monday, September 27, 2010

Cat Plaza #1 Scans

In August 2009, I put out issue 1 of Cat Plaza. It cost me $4 to print, and I sold all 30 issues. 12 photocopied pages- never reproduced on the internet until now. Now let me take a trip down memory lane.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Songs from 2010 - Part 1 - Laredo

Cat Plaza #4 dropped next week, and like in every issue, there is a playlist and a couple of articles about music. While you should buy that and make my taste yours, you should also open up to my stuffing more music opinions down your throat. Now she's claiming that I bruised her esophagus.

Year-end lists are great. The best record is never the one at the top, and so much slips through the cracks, but they're fun. You like em, I like em. I'll post some 2010-songs I like in the upcoming months.

Band of Horses is a great band. So smooth and pleasing. Their new record didn't generate the hype that their earlier stuff did, and that's a shame because it's good. 

On "The Funeral," their most-played jam, they sang about some lofty stuff that was important I think. The lyrics to "Laredo" are better, and my favorite line from 2010 that wasn't written by Kanye West can be found in it. "I put a bullet in my Kia Lorenzo." Such a perfect real-life detail crossed with a bullet thing that probably didn't happen. Nobody else is singing about Kias, and every musician's gotta drive one before they make it.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Cat Plaza #4

The fourth issue of my critically and commercially successful zine, Cat Plaza, is out. It's a monster: 40 pages and 5 contributors. Pieces on David Foster Wallace, McDonald's, The National, Antoine Dodson, and more. Stories up the wazoo. Carl Franzen, Ferrari Nardoni, Alex Bahler, and JAWs. There are 23 copies, and since one of them is mine, you need to be one of the 22 to get yours.

I miss my old printer Ralph. I swear, he was the only professional in Dupage County. Where this is going is that I'm charging 5 dollars (hand delivered) and 6 dollars (mailed anywhere in the United States) per zine. I get a stomachache just thinking about the price and what it'll do to sales/ your pockets, but that's what I need to do to break anywhere close to even.

Each zine comes with a handmade bookmark. Each bookmark is unique. They're cool; I worked hard on them.
Don't forget that you too can publish with Cat Plaza industries. Please e-mail me: Expect back issues scanned and uploaded soon. Thanks!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Vinyl news #8

I'm feeling pretty good about August. Tomorrow, Cap'n Jazz is playing Wicker Park Fest. On Monday, I embark on a week-long trip to New York City (NYC). The road trip stops for an evening in Columbus, Ohio to see The National. In case you're uninformed, The National is just about the best band out there. They're doing the High Violet victory lap right now, and they totally deserve it.  It's ironic that we're seeing them in Ohio because they live in the NYC neighborhood we're trippin' to (Williamsburg, Brooklyn). Insert Bloodbuzz Ohio joke here.

For a lot of people, The National's discography starts with Alligator, and that's fine. Gator is their first really good record. But some die hard fans might be all like: oh no sir, I must say you're wrong. Enter Brassland. They released The National's first two LPs: The National and Sad Songs For Dirty Lovers. While good records, they don't really capture what makes The National so great. Pretty glad they dropped the twang from the debut and tightened everything up for Alligator

The best songs (IMO): The Perfect Song, Theory of the Crows, Fashion Coat, Lucky You.

Vinyl completists will be happy to know Brassland reissued their first two records on pretty colored vinyl with posters and matte jackets and digital download codes. /500. Or on black.

And here's the link. Act quickly because colored vinyl is running out. I got that fa'sho.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Vinyl news #7 - Spitalfield

No, I didn't stop buying vinyl.  I just don't feel like it should be my responsibility to tell y'all when each and every exciting record is released.  Especially since that means more competition for me.  But since this is the underrated Spitalfield's magnum opus Remember Right Now, and since it's never been released on vinyl (thanks Victory), and since the record company (RTBR) is tiny and up-and-coming, I'll come right out and say it: you can buy Remember Right Now here.  

And I was j/k about my responsibility re: vinyl news- I've neglected my duty.  Records are a right, not a privilege.

What will you get when you place your order?  Music wise, one of the finest pop-rock/ pop-punk records of the aughts.  A record I listened to in my car non-stop after the generous A. Cor bought it for me on CD at Best Buy.  Crystal clear, expressive vocals from M. Rose, catchy music, and not just another trip down feel-sorry-for-yourself-pop-punk-lane-lyrics either.  Vinyl wise, some color variants and even test presses for sale.  Nice!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Did you hear? Random Candy - Greatest Hits

This is Random Candy's third release, Greatest Hits.  We recorded the songs in January and February, but because of unfortunate delays, we haven't released them until now.  You can stream two new jams on Myspace, but what I really think you should do is download the songs from Mediafire so that they can become a part of your Itunes lifestylePlus, you'll get an extra song and boost our stats. 

1. Alison
2. Lindsay Weir
3. Untitled

Get it here!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Did you hear? Will Noise

Few recordings have achieved the legendary status of Will's Noise project.  And to think these five songs almost never saw the light of day.

The story goes like this.  Sometime in high school, Will, a founding member of 3B, told the rest of 3B that he had made some demented recordings on his computer.  He used these recordings to wake his brother late at night, and then got grounded because, as I mentioned, these recordings are demented.  Five 30-second bursts of screaming and noise-making that would swell Jonathan Davis's Korn-heart (I'm sure Davis's ramblings on "Freak on a Leash" inspired Will- he did a killer impression).  Imagine waking up at 2 AM to Noise

Will kept Noise to himself despite unrelenting pressure from 3B to leak it.  Then one day after cross country practice, he told us we could hear the songs.  I don't think I've ever had more anticipation or laughed harder than when I first heard Noise.  This is a great example of outsider art; who will disagree with me?  It's hard to listen to this distorted garbage- the spikes, the ear-piercing frequencies, the sheer volume of it.  Even the track order is perfect.  So many rumors of a sequel, but he has officially squashed them.  This was a one-time-only deal, and I am glad I was there to witness it firsthand.  

I often played Noise at college parties to the horror of my guests.  Tell me what you think, and feel free to share your personal experiences.  What is your favorite Noise track?  It's hotly debated.  I like...


Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Judy Clocks - A Cover Project

Jordan Anderson and I talked about making some music on a cold day in February, and in March,  we convened in his Downers Grove basement to make it happen.  Here is our cover of the classic Slowdive song, "40 Days."  I'm happy with the product.  I'm happy that we strayed from shoegaze conventions and gave it our own spin.  In case you're wondering, the original "40 Days" can be found on Souvlaki, one of my favorite records ever.  

Jordan played ukulele, electric guitar, and percussion.  He sang backup vocals and recorded too.
I played electric guitar and percussion, and I sang the lead.  I don't know how to record music on a computer.

Because I come up with band names so regularly, I asked J. if he wanted to call the project something other than Pat & Jordan or whatever other Joe's Brewery name we could have come up with.  Hence, The Judy Clocks.  Google the term if you want to know where it comes from.

Thanks for listening!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Did you hear? Taking Back Sunday - Tell All Your Friends Demo

As a responsible blogger, I think about my entries long before I write and submit them.  I take a bunch of things into consideration before uploading a record.  

1 - Does anyone want this record?
2 - Will uploading this record please my existing readers?
3 - Will uploading this record bring in new readers?
4 - Can I say something new in my entry and thus justify my uploading this record?
Taking Back Sunday recently announced that they're back with the original Tell All Your Friends lineup.  The announcement generated a lot of interest, and I'm sure people want to hear the old stuff.  I'm guessing everyone already has TAYF so here's the demo.  Check box #3.

In this entry, I can talk about a broader phenomenon in music: the great debut.  Check box #4.  

Journalists appreciate bands that work hard and develop their sound- bands that finally come into their own on albums four or five.  While I love these bands too, I'm also impressed by bands that arrive on the scene fully-formed with a unique sound and songs to boot.  Taking Back Sunday's Tell All Your Friends is so complete and impossible to improve upon that I'm surprised they even tried.  Obviously, the later stuff is not very good.  

Out of the five songs on this demo, four made it to the LP.  My favorite TBS song, "Bike Scene," is here in rudimentary form.  The only song that didn't make the cut- an acoustic song called "Your Own Disaster"- illustrates how impressive TBS really was in 2002.  "Your Own Disaster" is generic and boring.  Their sound just couldn't accommodate wimpy shit like it so it got the axe.  They knew what worked, and because it worked, they made three more records.  My last point: breaking up isn't hard to do. 

What other bands arrived with the perfect sound and vision?  What happened to those bands? 

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Cat Plaza #3

Did you follow through on your New Years Resolution to read Ulysses or Infinite Jest?  No?  Sorry about that; what you need is a nice easy read to help you through.  Introducing Cat Plaza #3.  The new issue is 16 pages (because you jokers don't submit work) and costs one dollar.  You can expect all the great things you've come to expect from my zine: top-notch short stories, music reviews, show reviews, opinions, and a report on my brief but life-changing encounter with Tommy Wiseau.  

Cat Plaza #3 is only available in person or by snail mail.  No paypal this time- no one used it and I still sold out of #2s.  If you're dead set on acquiring Cat Plaza by snail mail, you should send me 2 dollars, your address, and a fun note.  Maybe then I'll consider driving to the post office to accommodate you.  Just kidding, I love all my readers near and far.

Summer #1: 30 copies SOLD OUT
Fall #2: 40 copies SOLD OUT (The last copies are gathering dust at Quimby's.)
Spring #3: 50 copies ACT NOW

No reprints ever.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Did You Hear? Sea of Treasures

A lot of brainiacs tell me they like jazz because they know I like jazz.  We start talking, and they tell me all about their obsessions with John Coltrane, the 39 Miles records they got on their computer, the near-mint copy of Take Five they found in the bargain racks.  I nod my head and wait for them to leave because they are fucking stupid.  You don't like jazz unless you like Sea of Treasures.  This is the most ferocious and interesting cult-jazz record out there.  The saxophone playing rivals Brick Blackwell's, and several songs boldly predict what jazz will look like in the future (if the right people take it there).  You won't find this at Starbucks, people.  This is jazz for players; this is jazz for the converted.

Get it here!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Did you hear? Sig Transit Gloria - 2>8>2000

"Why would I listen to Sig Transit Gloria when there's the Get Up Kids?"

When someone asked this on a message board years ago, I actually considered the question.  Sure, 2>8>2000 sounds like Four Minute Mile with synthesizer/ piano, and that sounds like new Get Up Kids, but why not listen to both bands?  Think about your computer's specs.  Unless you're running a relic from the 80s, you have enough memory to hold mp3-files from both the Get Up Kids and STG.  Question answered and problem solved.  Sure, imitation can be a bad thing, but not in this case.  The STG EP is too fun, energetic, and relevant to not warrant your attention.  

You're going to want this record as the weather improves, too.  The bounce in "Hello" and "Don't Come In" will put that spring back in your shoes.  Another quality I like in pop-punk: voice-maxing.  The singer has a high voice, and when he maxes out on the lyric "wanna go home with me?" it really resonates.  There are lyrics about girls on this EP, guys. 

On "Wide Open Window"- my favorite STG song- the raging verse gives way to that delightful synth/ guitar break and then the chorus.  "Wanted to spend the night/ holding you in my/ arms you can't resist/ the warmth of your breath." Yep.

Get it here!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Review: Alkaline Trio - This Addiction

In the spirit of reviewing new music, I was going to review Yeasayer's Odd Blood.  Then I remembered something I hate: clone websites.  These sites cover the same records and break the same news, but because they have different URLs and sometimes contradict Pitchfork, they're allowed to exist.   I'm happy to get news on indie records I'll never listen to from Pitchfork.  

I used to run a Pitchfork clone.  Just scroll through my archives.  I saw that something was wrong and started writing about other bands.  My favorite band is Alkaline Trio.  Here's how Pitchfork feels about them.  My Alkaline Trio tag reveals that I write about them a lot.  My favorite music websites cover the Trio a lot.  Hence, my favorite music website is my own.

I flamed Agony & Irony because it blows.  I expected This Addiction to blow too, but I've been pleasantly surprised.  Matt used to be pretty serious about horrorpunk.  He's less serious about it now.  See: "Draculina."  "Dead on the Floor" is reminiscent of "Fuck You Aurora" in tempo and structure.  The title track is too cookie-cutter to be truly great, but it's catchy so who really cares?

They had to throw a curveball our way, and they did it by sticking trumpet on "Lead Poisoning."  In "Eating Me Alive," the melody comes from synthesizer reminiscent of the one used in the Heavens side project.  I like both songs so something must be right.

Don't get me wrong, This Addiction is no Goddamnit, but how could it be?  That's my favorite record.  Sometimes, though, it's important to stop sifting through the countless flash-in-the-pan indie and punk hype bands to get back to your roots.  A Matt Skiba melody is what it is, and his songs are refreshing to hear when you've just sat through "Rome" and "Mondegreen" by Yeasayer. 

PS - Compare the cover to GUTG's We're Down.  Whoa.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Review: Midlake - The Courage of Others

I haven't written a new music review in a long time. I don't read them that much anymore, either. I might peak at the number in a Pitchfork review or look at Metacritic to see how people are reacting, but I've found in the last two years that blogs and message boards are far more reliable indicators of what I'll like. 

The problem with these music review websites is that they have to fulfill negative-review quotas. Pitchfork, for example (and because it's the most influential site out there, the only 'indie' blog I read), tosses tepid reviews at big-time records about once a month. They also inflate their reviews if the band is coming to their fest that particular year. Since Midlake's new record, The Courage of Others, got a straight-up bad review, I'm coming to its rescue and not expecting them to be at Union Park in July.

The biggest complaint most people have is that the songs are too deliberate, too mid-tempo. A lot of reviewers poke fun at Midlake for carrying out their vision so thoroughly. Isn't that what people liked about The Trials of Van Occupanther? People encouraged them to dive deeper into their sound, and now they're complaining about it. We all know that they are best listened to when stitching pelts. I think their sound is engaging, unique, and worth pursuing. On The Courage of Others, they really nailed it.  They out-Fleet-Foxed the Fleet Foxes and other bands with bearded dudes in them. Their pastoral, pre-industrial vision demands these songs to be brooding and slow. Life was slow, life was hard, and there were flutes.

Yes, there are flutes on this record. There are quietly fingerpicked guitars, reserved vocals, and communal harmonies. The organic drums stay out of the way only to take command during climaxes and crescendos. "Fortune" is a great little acoustic number, and "Acts of Man" builds to barely a boil, then subsides.

I wanted another "Roscoe" or "Head Home," but I didn't get one. That's my complaint. Really, that's everyone's complaint even if they didn't come right out and say it. I'm glad to have The Courage of Others, though. I'll be at the Midlake show in May, that is if they can make it to the venue without cracking a wagon axle or dying from dysentery. See? Those jokes are way too easy!