May 292007

As I mentioned, I’ll be posting my review of the Used and about my impressions of Sasquatch within the next few days. Many apologies for them being late.

In the meantime, you, my beloved readers, have spoken and nominated Maroon 5’s It Won’t Be Soon Before Long as my next album review. I’ve taken the necessary steps and, through my special channels, acquired a copy of the album which is speeding its way to my door as we speak. In return, I offer up some more voting choices for next week’s review, including selections from Chris Cornell, Long Blondes, Paul McCartney, Trembling Blue Stars, and many more. Behold the bounty:

Big & Rich, Between Raising Hell And Amazing Grace
The Cinematic, Orchestra Ma Fleur
Chris Cornell , Carry On
Matthew Dear , Asa Breed
Get Him Eat Him, Arms Down
The Ladybug Transistor, Can’t Wait Another Day
Long Blondes, Someone To Drive You Home
Marilyn Manson, Eat Me, Drink Me
Paul McCartney, Memory Almost Full
Dizzee Rascal, Maths + English
Rihanna, Good Girl Gone Bad
Shellac, Excellent Italian Greyhound
Swizz Beatz, One Man Band Man
Trembling Blue Stars, The Last Holy Writer
Von Sudenfed, Tromatic Reflexxions

May 282007

"Don’t you be so crude and a feckless"

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Been meaning to blog this for a few days but, well, there was this festival and stuff . . . Anyway, turns out that Doc Martens has fired Saatchi & Saatchi over the whole “using dead rockstars to shill boots thing.

May 282007

"Nothing ever changes on the Great Western"

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Well, I’ve returned safe and sound from Sasquatch! Festival, which was quite a bit of awesome. I’ll be writing up a festival post-mortem for my readers in the next few days.

Speaking of which, my review of the Used is probably going to be a few days late this week. I spent the vast majority of my weekend getting ready for the festival, being at the festival, and commuting to/from festival. All of which, it turns out, are not terribly conducive to listening to the Used. So the review will be up tomorrow or the next day. Certainly by Thursday, which is usually the day when next week’s album is magicked onto my porch by the Amazon.com gremlins.

Voting options will go up in a few hours and it’s looking like Maroon 5 is the clear winner this week, but I’ll give you all another few hours if you want to get in any last minute votes.

May 252007

Well, the Sasquatch! lineup got a step more awesome a few days ago with the announcement that the Long Winters will be a part of it. So here, for your final Sasquatch! Festival preview, are the Long Winters playing “Scared Straight” off of their album When I Pretend to Fall.

May 242007

Sasquatch Preview: Arcade Fire

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Arcade Fire are returning to Sasquatch! Festival this year and I’m anticipating that their show will, again, be brilliant. I saw them last time they played the festival and they were energetic, engaging, talented, fun…everything one might hope for in a live act.

Here’s some video of them performing “Crown of Love” off of Funeral at the Rock en Seine festival in Paris a few years ago:

May 232007

Okay, seriously: enlisting dead musicians to shill boots? Isn’t that a little, I don’t know, tacky? Kurt Cobain, Sid Vicious, Joey Ramone, and Joe Strummer (of Nirvana, the Sex Pistols, the Ramones, and the Clash, respectively) are being used in a new ad campaign to sell Doc Martens. Quote:

“…we discovered that these idolized musicians wore [Doc Martens]. Showing them still wearing their Docs in heaven dramatized the boots’ durability perfectly. And, as images, they feel very iconic.”So because these musicians may have worn Doc Martens at some point in their life, the ad companies are co-opting them to help sell more boots. What if Idi Amin or Augusto Pinochet wore Doc Martens? Or hell, I bet they didn’t, why not show them roasting in hell wearing Gucci?

You know, I’m almost starting to agree with Bill Hicks on this one (sorry, Ann): if you’re in the advertising industry, there’s a good chance the Satan is somewhere in your recent ancestry.

Besides, Sid Vicious in Heaven? I’m somehow not buying it . . .

May 222007

Sasquatch Preview: The Blow

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Well, when I thought of previewing The Blow I was originally going to offer up the music video for “Parentheses”, but then I came across this live video and a.) was instantly charmed and b.) thought maybe keeping with live performances is a better way to go for a festival preview. So here’s The Blow (aka Khaela Maricich) performing at Fader Sideshow last year:

May 222007

"I like my [rock stars] like I like my coffee… covered in bees!"

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Since we’re obviously not above engaging in a little light Rolling Stones gossip around here: Mick Jagger ‘Used Bees to Enlarge His Manhood.’ Wince along with Mick now:

Temple – who directed the Rolling Stones’s Undercover Of The Night video – told how Jagger covered his private parts with the insects so that they could sting his penis and inflate it.

The technique is an Amazonian marriage ritual.

He said: “It involved putting bamboo over the male member and filling it with stinger bees so the member attained the size of the bamboo.

Of course the source for this information is Julien Temple, so it should be taken with a rather large grain of salt.

Well, at least now we know what’s been killing all the bees

May 222007

Well, well, well. Once again we have a tie in the voting. We also, unfortunately, have a rather unimpressive lineup for this weeks voting (as you’ll see presently.) Truly a sorrowful state of affairs. And as much as I’m intrigued to hear the new Maroon 5 album, I’m going to have to go with the Used for this next week. I think what I will do, however, is put Maroon 5 back on the list for this week, so if any of you are unimpressed by the other options, please feel free to vote for it. Why you ask? Well because from what Maroon 5 I’ve heard, they sound like a pop band with some talent and potential, but in need of experience, musical maturity, and a chance to work out their own sound. So while I wasn’t too thrilled with Songs About Jane, I’m hopeful that It Won’t Be Soon Before Long will be better (despite a rather off-putting title.) So if you voted for Maroon 5 last week or if you just don’t like any of the other options this week, please feel free to vote for them again this week.

As I said, not much selection this week. Metacritic only turned up three albums and the Billboard new releases were the usual noise of singles, foreign releases, special editions, and reissues (the hot re-release bands this week are the Alan Parsons Project and Creedence Clearwater Revival, apparently) and only turned up a Juliana Hatfield EP. and a handful of debuts that didn’t pique my interest enough to make it onto the list. But anyway, your options for this week:

Maroon 5, It Won’t Be Soon Before Long
R. Kelly, Double Up
Satellite Party, Ultra Payloaded
Richard Thompson, Sweet Warrior
Juliana Hatfield, Sittin’ in a Tree

May 222007

Wilco, Sky Blue Sky

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Artist: Wilco
Album: Sky Blue Sky
Label: Nonesuch
Release Date: Tuesday, 2007.5.15
Score: 8/10

Well, it only took Wilco took 12 years and 8 discs worth of studio material, but they have finally released an album that everyone can enjoy. Sky Blue Sky is, without a doubt, the most accessible Wilco album to date. Gone are the fence-straddling rock/country hybridism of their early work, the oft-surreal art-rock of their work with Billy Bragg, and the noisy experimental sound of Yankee Hotel Foxtrot and A Ghost is Born. What’s left is an album full of genuinely listenable music, spanning the divide between rock and alt-country. Mostly down-tempo and introspective, Sky Blue Sky is an album full of conflict and sorrow, edged with hope and redemption.

This broad thematic description is probably best instantiated in the album’s title track. Soft slide guitars and brushed snares punctuate a pleasant, jaunty lead guitar line and support the rather hopeless lyrics (“Oh I didn’t die / I should be satisfied / I survived / that’s good enough for now.”) This kind juxtaposition of a pleasant, happy melody with such sorrowful lyrics is an effect which is hard to pull off, but which Wilco have really mastered and show it off in several places on the album. “Shake It Off” features a sly major melody paired with lines like “A ceiling fan is on / Chopping up my dreams.” “Hate It Here” wraps lyrical heartbreak (“I try to stay busy / I take out the trash, I sweep the floor / try to keep myself occupied / ’cause I know you don’t live here anymore”) in the kind of slightly-bluesy rock groove which is more often found in songs about love than about heartbreak.

Sky Blue Sky is, however, far from being a one trick pony. Fans of the rock of the 70s will definitely hear its influence throughout the album, throughout which a solid, down-tempo rock feel predominates. (The guitar solo at the end of “Side with the Seeds” is Eagles-ish enough to give me flashbacks. A feat, considering I wasn’t actually yet alive in the 70s.) The opening track, “Either Way”, has an almost Cat Stevens feel to it, with busy, hooky accoustic guitar and a decidedly folk tinge to its classic rock sound.

The price that’s paid for this accessibility is that it’s a decidedly flatter album than some of Wilco’s other work. One gets the feel that, while they’ve not heard these songs before, they’ve heard enough like them that the album isn’t going to really surprise them. And it doesn’t, particularly. It lacks a lot of the highs (“Hummingbird”, “Poor Places”, in my book) and lows (“Dash 7”, “All You Fascists”) that a listener could find in the band’s previous work.

Wilco has, once again, delivered a great record full of wistful melancholy, sorrow, and hope. And while they’ve left behind quite a bit of what many people think of as being quintessentially “Wilco”, they’ve simultaneously gained a level of accessibility that a great deal of their other music, while brilliant, simply didn’t have. This is precisely why, if you’ve missed the last decade plus of Wilco music, this is probably the best place to start. It’s not only rewarding to listen to, but also easy. I’m fairly confident that most people will find many songs on here that they enjoy listening to them, and quite a few even that will speak to them.

As for longtime Wilco fans, it’s a great record, but depending on one’s taste, it may be a bit of a let down. It’s got great replay value, but it’s not going to kick Yankee Hotel Foxtrot out of rotation, by any means. And while it’s a pleasant listen, it lacks the flashes of brilliance that I found on A Ghost is Born and A.M. and which really hooked me on the band. That being said, I definitely recommend picking it up. It’s not as daring as previous Wilco records, but that’s not entirely a bad thing.