Jan 242008

Example: “Pete Doherty is a scumbag.

Quote from the article:

“Hold on a second. Pete Doherty got hit by a guitar and didn’t shatter into a thousand pieces of crack? Sonofabitch. Here I had all these plans for punching Pete in his cartoon head and making a hefty profit after I swept his face into a dustpan. I even drew blueprints of me with dollar signs for eyes while standing over a stick figure with no head. It was very scientific.”

Jan 232008

"Playin’ all the bars, sleepin’ in our cars"

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Okay, this is so many kinds of awesome that it kind of blew my mind: Rock Band Logos blog.

Bonus bit of awesome (via the above mentioned blog’s post on the Vandals logo): A bunch of clips of from Clint Eastwood’s For a Few Dollars More set to “Urban Struggle” by the Vandals.

Jan 222008

And on the more fun side of things, here’s Melbourne Symphony Orchestra playing the Victoria Bitters theme on beer bottles:

Jan 222008

"I told you I was trouble"

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Dear Media,

Okay, so you’re getting a little better with the whole “musicians doing drugs thing.” This time around it’s Amy Winehouse getting caught doing drugs on film. Well done, Media, you must be very proud of yourselves.

The problem with this story is that it’s Amy Winehouse. Reporting Amy Winehouse’s drug use as if it were news is a bit like showing footage of Jacques Cousteau in the water and marveling at his swimming habit. Amy Winehouse isn’t so much a musician with a drug habit as she is a druggie with a music habit.

So, progress on the drug reporting, there, Media, but let us know when it’s someone we don’t expect. Preferably someone we couldn’t in our right minds EVER expect. You find me video of the guys from They Might Be Giants doing lines off of copies of Harold and the Purple Crayon and then we’ll talk.

Cheers,
Aaron

P.S: Being serious for a second though, could we just back off the trainwreck reporting? Just for a little while? Drug addiction is something that often ruins lives and it’s always seemed a bit perverse to me that we (societal ‘we’), watch in ghoulish fascination as our (austensible) idols self-destruct like this. I’m not saying all drugs are bad. I’ve known some people who have had remarkably positive experiences with them, in fact. But drug addiction and abuse is a horrific experience, even for those who survive it and are able, eventually, to get on with their lives.

I hope it’s understood that I poke fun here not at drug addiction, but at the media’s treatment of it, and at those people (like Amy Winehouse or Keith Richards) who have chosen to make drug use part of their public identity. Which is why I have nothing pithy or quippy or clever to say about the (apparently drug-related) death of actor Heath Ledger. Ledger’s death is a tragedy, pure and simple. Would that the media would leave it at that. Somehow, I doubt that they will.

Personally, I can’t help but think that we, as a culture, must have something better to do with our time than to intimately acquaint ourselves with the demons of our idols. And I hope that I’m right. Because if I’m not, and if all we have to do with ourselves is to watch celebrities burn themselves up, then we, my friends, are well and truly fucked.

UPDATE: Yep. We’re fucked.


(Hat tip to Heather for linking me to the image.)

Jan 222008

Well, the beginning of the semester just happened and managed to hit me hard enough to knock me back a week. That means that I’ve just posted my review of the Shondes and that I’ve got two pretty heavy weeks of releases to try to narrow down for voting. Cuts will be made, many world-famous acts will no doubt be brought to tears by the fact that they didn’t get a chance at a review on my illustrious blog.

Or I’ll cut mainly at random, through up the voting options, and keep muddling along as usual and no one will really be the wiser.

But anyway, voting options. Some really stiff competition in this week’s voting, so get to it. Ready, set, DEMOCRACY!

Cat Power, Jukebox (LINK)
Get Set Go, Sunshine, Joy and Happiness: A Tragic Tale of Death, Despair and Other Silly Nonsense (LINK)
Helio Sequence, Keep Your Eyes Open (LINK)
The Mars Volta, The Bedlam In Goliath (LINK)
Chris Walla, Field Manual (LINK)
Xiu Xiu, Women As Lovers (LINK)

Jan 222008

Artist: The Shondes
Album: The Red Sea
Label: N/A (Self-Released)
Release Date: Tuesday, 2008.1.8
Score: 8.5/10

The Red Sea, the debut album from The Shondes was pretty obviously cooked up for the express purpose of making me dance around my room in my boxers at four in the morning. Between its driving, punk-influenced beats; its lilting, exotic violin melodies; and its crying, Dolores O’Riordan-esque lyrics, it’s basically a designer musical drug. And I’ve been doing big, fat lines of it for a week now, and loving every minute of it.

Admittedly, part of the reason I’m so addicted is because it hits a lot of my musical buttons. Punk influences? Check. Slick melodic hooks? Check. Complete disregard for genre boundaries? Check. Wrap all that and more up in a tight, well-presented package and it’s a fair guarantee that I’ll be mainlining it for quite awhile. Unfortunately for the Shondes, not everyone shares my same set of musical cravings, but even without sharing my musical aesthetic, there’s a lot in The Red Sea for any listener.

Songs like “Winter”, for example, with its brooding, jangly guitar lines, soaring vocal lines, and interesting lyrical images is not only a good listen, but warrants coming back for several listens. Similarly, the energetic “At The Water” is a song that begs to be put on repeat, not only for its rollicking energy, but also for the fact that it’s melodically and lyrically rich enough to reward repeat listening. This depth is not limited to a few tunes, but rather is endemic to the album, which features excellent songwriting, catchy melodies, and (with a few exceptions, such as the heavy-handed “What Love Is”) engaging lyrics.

Probably the most interest aspects of the album, however, are not strictly compositional, but rather stylistic. The Shondes have managed to take a diverse set of influences and weave them together into something truly new and unique. On “Don’t Whisper”, for example, exotic, folky violin lines support growling guitars and wailing lyrics to create a song which obviously borrows widely from the musical spectrum, including punk, classic rock, and folk to create something which is intriguing and new. The whole album draws musically from wide enough sources that many individual aspects feel familiar, while the whole is something altogether new and different.
This blending of so many different genres is used to great effect most of the time, though there are times when drawing together so many stylistic threads seems to have gotten in the way. The result is that, while The Red Sea really is a great album, it tends to get a bit confused and muddy at times. “Let’s Go” is a prime example of this. It tries too hard to be too many things at once and winds up sounding a bit like a bar brawl between the Ramones and the Cranberries as reinterpreted by a modern-day Rogers and Hammerstein. That is to say that it’s odd, and quirky, and if it ran with any one of its musical themes, it could be really cool. As it is, it’s random to the point of incoherence.

The Red Sea is a great album from a promising new band, with a unique sound and a hell of a lot of talent. And while it is undoubtedly rough or muddled at times, it’s an impressive first release from a group of great musicians. It’s well worth price ($10 from the band’s MySpace via MySpace’s SnoCap download service) and a sure sign that The Shondes are a band to listen for in the future.

Jan 172008

"Okay so there’s the Triton in Bangor…"

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Okay, sorry, but I’m not going to get my Shondes review up tonight. I’m stuck finishing up a paper for a class I took an incomplete in last semester. (I was going to finish it this weekend, but they’re holding my financial aid hostage until I get a grade in the class, so the sooner I finish it, probably the better.) Anyway, here’s a video from the best Irish punk band ever, at all, ever, period. This is Stiff Little Fingers playing “Alternative Ulster” off of Inflammable Material.

Sometimes I just want to sit down some of the emo “punk” bands that are releasing records today and play them a video like that and say “hear that sound? That’s you getting massively out-rocked by a bunch of 50-year-olds.”

As a bonus, here’s Stiff Little Fingers doing a badass cover (albeit with some botched lyrics) of the traditional drinking song “Wild Rover”.

Jan 162008

"My love will rip a whole in the ceiling."

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Hey folks, finally got around to buying the new Shondes album (courtesy of MySpaces’ digital music store, SnoCap, with which I was actually fairly impressed), but I’ve not gotten much of a chance to listen to it. I will say this, I’m definitely a fan. But I’ll need a few more listens before I’m ready to say quite why. So no review tonight, but it should be up tomorrow. In the meantime, check out this video from another Jewish act: This is Matisyahu performing “King Without a Crown”, off of his album Youth:

P.S: If you ever get a chance to see Matisyahu perform live, DO IT. I saw him a few years ago at Sasquatch and it was one of the best live shows I’ve ever seen.

Jan 142008

"And I feel just like Jesus’ son"

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Okay, Keith Richards’ forthcoming autobiography needs to come forth a little more quickly. Maybe after the media gets a refresher course in just how ludicrous celebrity drug use can get, they won’t waste e-trees printing stuff like articles on musicians being linked to steroids.

Yes, musicians often have ridiculous life styles, and some of them choose to use illegal substances. Steroids is a touch unusual, but it’s by no means news worthy. I mean, hell, I could name several albums worth of musical material specifically devoted to drugs. Ballads to cocaine (Buckcherry, “I Love the Cocaine”), heroin (The Stranglers, “Golden Brown”), alcohol (John Lee Hooker, “One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer”), and any number of other drugs exist. As things go, a few musicians implicated in an obscure fashion in a steroids sting is almost industry non-news. I mean,

I don’t mean to sound jaded, but please, AP: if the story can’t use a phrase at least as interesting as “horse-sized pile of blow”, please consider just bashing together another one of those “cute animal born in zoo” stories that you’re so good at.

In the meantime, here’s a song about doing heroin, written by the very talented, and extremely smacked out Lou Reed. This is the Velvet Underground performing “Heroin”, off of The Velvet Underground and Nico.

Jan 142008

"God damn right, it’s a beautiful day!"

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Okay, really dumb video (features a bunch of scenes from a movie [Road Trip?] the tune was in, apparently), but fantastic song. Groovy tune, and amazingly life-affirming to boot.

Eels, “Mr. E’s Beautiful Blues” off of Daisies of the Galaxy.