Monday, January 5, 2009

A New Home

We moved! Check out our new home at

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Sunday, March 2, 2008

Top 5 - March 2 2008

1. Guided By Voices - Alien Lanes

Often viewed as Bee Thousand's kid brother, Alien Lanes packs 28 songs into just over 40 minutes. My copy actually smells like basements and stale beer.

2. Nick Lowe - Jesus of Cool
Pure Pop For Now People. This reissue restores the original UK trackorder and tacks on some choice bonus cuts ("Cruel to Be Kind (Original Version)"). The cover photo perfectly illustrates his chameleon-like appropriation of pop stylings.

3. Throw Me the Statue - Moonbeams
Secretly Canadian keeps sneaking out these great little records. "Lolita" is a great sounding homemade pop tune that trades Nabakov's dreariness for the sunny sounds of toy xylophones, hyper-active drumming, and choppy acoustic guitars.
Download: Throw Me the Statue - About to Walk

4. Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung by Lester Bangs
I originally read through this collection of Bangs' writings in college, but hadn't revisited since. While often obnoxious, his writing style deftly mimics the propulsive nature of good rock 'n roll. Worth the sticker price for his account of the 1977 Clash tour.

5. Deer Tick - "Dirty Dishes" Live at SSLB Fest (video)
Sam first introduced me to Deer Tick through this very site, but this video really peaked my interest. Filmed in a dark apartment bathroom,
John McCauley picks and rasps his way through "Dirty Dishes" in a way that could never be contained by a traditional recording.

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Saturday, March 1, 2008

New Format - Back to "Regular" Updates

After over a month of complete inactivity (and about a month of irregular updates preceding that), we're coming back. Well, sort of.

I came to the difficult realization that it was utterly impossible for me to update this site as frequently as I'd like. As a form of compromise I'll begin posting a weekly music related "Top 5" with brief comments. When time (or uncontainable excitement) permits I will post additional content.

This format is inspired by the Big Takeover's weekly Top 10 lists and Mac McCaughn's weekly post at the Portastatic blog.

Look for the first list tomorrow afternoon.

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Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Wye Oak - If Children

Merge Records just announced the upcoming release of Wye Oak's debut release, If Children, on April 8th. If the teaser track, "Warning," is any indication the album will balance lush melodies with noisy guitars. In other words, exactly my cup of tea.

In the band's own words:

When our band plays live, Jenn plays guitar and sings and Andy plays the drums and keyboard and sings. When we record, Andy and Jenn sing and play all the instruments, although each of us play some things better than others.

Many people have said that our album sounds lush, layered and full, and that we do a pretty good job of capturing that sound on stage, although there are just two of us. We'd like to think that if a song is good enough, it'll stand on its own regardless of how much noise you pile on top. On the other hand, we do like noise.


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Sunday, January 6, 2008

2007 Faves - Yeasayer: All Hour Cymbals

This is the first installment of a series of posts detailing our favorite albums of 2007. Each installment will be tagged appropriately so that eventually, when we're finished compiling and posting our picks, you can see them all by clicking on the tag.

All Hour Cymbals, Yeasayer's first album, feels oddly like the kind of album a small community might assemble. The album has an almost tribal quality, but of a distinctly more civilized nature. And following the comparison a little further, each song shares and builds upon that feeling of generations old culture you might find in such a civilization.

With a few exceptions, most notably 2080, these are not immediately catchy songs. Many of the songs are more like collections of short movements, none of which command much more than a fond remark in passing. I find myself wondering why I am compelled to keep coming back to this album. But inevitably, I am compelled. I start from the beginning and before I know it, I find myself at the end with a distant satisfaction of having listened to a great album. And somewhere between where it began and it ended, I have a vague recollection of having joined in the chanting and shouting, as each movement passed through me. I said "through", not "by".

And while the memorable lines are not numerous, the one that stands out the most for me, and the one that answer my question of why I keep coming back to this album:

"Everybody's coming, down with the same thing!"

Buy it from or

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Thursday, December 20, 2007

David Byrne's Survival Strategies for Emerging Artists - and Megastars

David Byrne raises some interesting ideas regarding the role of business in music in the latest issue of Wired.

There is no one single way of doing business these days. There are, in fact, six viable models by my count. That variety is good for artists; it gives them more ways to get paid and make a living. And it's good for audiences, too, who will have more — and more interesting — music to listen to.
Read the article here.

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Saturday, December 15, 2007

Various Artists - Yuletunes

In 1991 the Shoes compiled this holiday collection for those of us who like a little jangle with our jingle. Inspired by Phil Spector’s Christmas LP and the Beatles’ Fan Club Christmas EPs, this is a totally original take on holiday music with nary a standard in sight. Besides being a fine Christmas album, this serves as a nice look back at often forgotten early 90’s power pop.

Shoes – This Christmas
The Cavedogs – 3 Wise Men and a Baby (Xmas Song)

The album is out of print, but CD Baby has a limited number in stock.

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Monday, December 10, 2007

The Attic Lights - God

The Attic Lights' debut album isn't due out until sometime next year, but the Glasgowian poppers have recently released the lead single "God." It's hard to avoid the Bandwagonesque era Fannies comparisons, but where I come from that's pretty high praise.


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Sunday, December 9, 2007

Daedelus - Was Waiting

Experimental beats typically manage to accomplish only one thing on a consistent basis: bother the fuck out of me. To be clear, I am a fan of almost anything experimental. But when it comes to rhythm sections, there is a fine line between experimentation and pissing around.

Daedelus has, perhaps out of sheer dumb luck, found that line on Was Waiting from Of Snowdonia, and manages to skirt it magnificently. The song’s wonderfully crafted synth melodies provide the basic structure through which the snare drum bounces around in a slippery fashion always able to avoid prediction; just when you’re sure it’s going to pop, it snaps, or vanishes completely.

But perhaps more remarkable is that all this foolishness takes place behind a deceptively catchy pop tune. It is as if the rhythm section is waging a distant war, while the song carries on unaffected by the turmoil.


Buy it from or

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Friday, November 30, 2007

Elvis Costello - This Years Model

At age 16, in a musty record store attic, I purchased my first vinyl copy of This Years Model for $2. I had never heard a note of Elvis Costello's music, but I recognized his name, checked the copyright date (1978!) and was instantly attracted to the geeky but cool aesthetic of the cover photo. My turntable at the time, a pathetically cheap hand-me-down, was unable to play at a volume much above a whisper. Yet, with my ear pressed to the speaker, in Costello's frantic energy and lover's scorn I recognized a kindred spirit. He wasn't so much angry as pissed off and reflective.

Led by Steve Nieve's sharp edged organ lines, the Attractions' reckless energy is perfectly suited to Costello's breathless delivery. The whole album teeters on the verge of combustion. "No Action," immediately lets the listener know just where we're headed, as Costello spits "I don't wanna kiss you. I don't wanna touch/ I don't wanna see you 'cause I don't miss you that much." Ouch.

Halfway through side two, in the second verse of "Lip Service," Costello buries one of the best kiss-off lines in history:

"Don't act like you're above me/just look at your shoes."

So pissy. So perfect.

Witness the band's riotous attitude during their U.S. TV debut on Saturday Night Live. Scheduled to play My Aim Is True's "Less Than Zero," Costello chose to stop the song after only a few bars and instead broke into the then unreleased "Radio, Radio," reportedly much to the chagrin of the suits at both SNL and the record company.

A week later, I went back to that musty attic and picked up My Aim Is True. But that's another story...

Elvis Costello - Lip Service

Buy This Years Model at

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Thursday, November 29, 2007

CNN/Youtube Debate - Nov. 28, 2008

Sorry for the off-topic post, but it’s a must.

I just finished watching the CNN/Youtube Republican Debate and I’d like to make a few observations.

Let me get this one out of the way first. One of the Youtube questioners asked, while holding a Bible for the camera, “do you believe every word in this book?” Giuliani responded with the safe answer that he does believe it but that some of it has to be understood as metaphor and cannot be taken as the literal word of God and so avoided the damaging effect that a fundamentalist stance would have on his, or anyone’s, credibility as a rational human being, let alone a candidate for President.

Romney, however, took a different approach. He tried to take both positions. He first stated that he certainly believes the bible as the word of God. By saying this, while not saying so explicitly, he implicated that he believes the bible to be literally true. However, when pressed further by the moderator, he stammered for a bit, then backed off by saying that while he believes every word to be the word of God, some of it is surely meant to be interpreted as allegory.

Without getting too far off topic, I’d like to make the obvious, if beaten to death, point that if this is the case, how is it decided which parts are to be taken literally and which are to be taken metaphorically? Should I literally smite the inhabitants of a city of unbelievers? And if not, how does one interpret that metaphorically?

Politicians pandering aside, the more important point to be made is that it never occurred to either one of them that the only appropriate response to such a question is that a candidate’s religion HAS NO RELEVANCE IN PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE!!

I think this is appropriate:

Second, I’d like to address the failure of democracy in this country that is so blatantly obvious that no one seems to want to acknowledge it. Any two year old watching this debate, or any other presidential debate, could tell you that what we have here is a media spectacle that exploits the general public’s propensity for favoring entertainment over substance. Is it any surprise that the frontrunners got center stage and were given the majority of the two hours? You can check my numbers on this, but it is not a gross overstatement that Giuliani and Romney spent more time quibbling back and forth over the very first question of illegal immigration than Ron Paul was given the entire time.

Call me crazy, but if it is going to be scewed, face time should be inversely related to poll figures. How can we possibly have a democracy if the opposite is true.

If you doubt the media bias, I refer you to the following clip from an earlier debate. Listen for Sean Hannity in the background saying that Fox’s own poll is driving him crazy because the results indicate overwhelming support for Ron Paul.

Of course the poll in question was not scientific and was probably flooded with Paul supporters. But the media is constantly trivializing Paul, suggesting he has no chance of winning. Well of course he has no chance if all anyone hears about him is a dismissive/insulting remark made in passing by Sean Hannity.

Hilariously, the media has had to start taking Paul seriously after he raised 4.3 million dollars on November 5 of this year, setting a one-day GOP fundraising record. That's hardly indicitive of someone who has no chance of winning the nomination.

Listen. What I’m getting at is that now is the time to make a conscious decision to become interested in politics and it has never been so important as it is now. We are on the verge of something big, and we all have a vested interest in the outcome. Our generation could see the fall of the most powerful nation in the world. We have been witnesses to and accomplices of the most egregious acts of aggression abroad and have allowed the most potentially irreversible losses of freedom and liberty at home in the history of the United States.

If you’re interested in Liberty and freedom, you’re not going to find it in a CNN debate. Do your 2008 Election research on the internet. I’ll get you started with a couple clips of two candidates that I feel strongly about. I don’t agree with either one of them on every issue, but in the words of Elizabeth Kucinich, they are both “truth tellers.” And from what I can gather so far, they are the only “truth tellers” running.

Democrat: Dennis Kucinich

Republican: Ron Paul

And finally, since this is a music blog, I’ll bring it all together with the appropriately titled:

Arcade Fire – Wake Up

Buy it from or

/end rant

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Saturday, November 24, 2007

The Magnetic Fields – Take Ecstasy With Me

On the surface, this song is almost boring. But somewhere beneath the layers of cheesy synths and dry vocals, there’s a vast dusty labyrinth to be explored. It’s one of those songs that you have to have your eyes closed for in order to get the full effect. If you listen closely, during the chorus, the echoing of Stephin Merritt’s voice gives shape to the walls of a great underground concourse. Stand there in the middle for awhile, and look around.

The Magnetic Fields have a nack for establishing a specific mood in their songs. And although it's difficult to describe those moods or explain where it is that the songs takes you, the effect, when they are at their best, is overwhelming.

The Magnetic Fields - Take Ecstacy With Me

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Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Citay - Little Kingdom

Little Kingdom is a guitar lovers album. Before you run away, this isn't the guitar shreddery of the Eddie Van Halen pentatonic-finger-blister variety. Instead Citay focus their energy on interweaving guitar lines that move the listener into an otherworldly headspace. This is an album where the individual songs come together beautifully to form a cooperative whole. Imagine a campfire version of Television and you’re almost there.


Citay - On the Wings

Buy Little Kingdom at

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Saturday, November 17, 2007

Saturday Looks Good To Me - Fill Up the Room

Pop music contains a long line of “cracked” geniuses, artists who take the simple structure of a pop song and find creative ways to invert them without losing their hummability. Brian Wilson’s post-Pet Sounds output is the obvious touchstone, but more recent artists like the Microphones have created lofi headphone pop that leads the listener into a scattered but transcendental head space.

With Fill up the Room Fred Thomas has officially laminated his membership card for this very special club. Previous Saturday Looks Good to Me albums were full of instantly likeable retro pop, but this time around finds each of Thomas’s tunes overflowing with different ideas pulling in every direction.

The album opener, “Apple,” uses a doo-wop chord progression as a jumping off point as it builds into a symbol crashing barroom sing-along. The hyperactive strumming of “When I Lose My Eyes” perpetually sounds like it’s on the verge of collapse yet manages to sustain its momentum for nearly 7 minutes. Buzzing spy movie guitars prevent “Make a Plan” from sounding like the otherwise simple folk pop that falls behind them. The albums only track not sung by Thomas, “Hands In the Snow,” uses Betty Marie Barnes’s sweet voice to contrast the fuck off message of the lyrics.

With a move to K Records and a less immediate sound, Saturday Looks Good to Me may lose some fans but are poised to connect with many more. This is the kind of album that leaves me to wonder, “What’s next?”

Saturday Looks Good To Me - When I Lose My Eyes

Buy Fill Up the Room at

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