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!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Did you hear? Boilerman - Demo 2010

To prepare you for the arrival of Cat Plaza Volume 3, I'm uploading Boilerman's new demo tape.  I reviewed two of their shows in the upcoming issue, and I want you to hear their music before reading those reviews. I want you to hear the music because it's really good.

Is there a pop-punk revival going on right now or did that end already? I get invited to pop-punk shows on Facebook once in awhile, but no thanks I don't want to see Teenage Bottlerocket live.  I do, however, want to see bands that sound like the Broadways. Thus, I always want to see Boilerman.

I like my songs catchy, and I especially like when the catchiness comes from the music.  In other words, I'm not a big fan of these power choruses I sometimes hear with like, every member of the band singing along.  I understand that this technique can get drunk dudes with mustaches to go wild at your shows, but that's not for me.  I prefer speed, buried vocals, and rockin' out instrumental sections (you hear: this). I really like "Boo Radley Game" from 1:13 on and "Whipping Boys" from 2:15 on.  I haven't had much of an opportunity to read the lyrics booklet, but I don't think these songs are about girls.  If your songs aren't going to be about girls, what do you write about?  I don't know, maybe you can help me understand.  Politics?

Get it here!