Feb 172009

Tuesday Playlist for 2008.2.17

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Intro: This week’s column may be a bit monotonic since the music part of my brain is completely stuffed full of a potent combination of Power+Light and Sasquatch! Festival excitement.  That being said, I’ll probably also mention the new Morrissey album, though only in passing.

But enough of the preview…

Listening: So, I got the new Morrissey album, Years of Refusal in .mp3 download format.  (Which, BTW, is on sale today at Amazon.com for just $4.  Helluva deal, that.)  It came out a day later than the CD, so I only just got it today and haven’t had much of a chance to listen to it yet.  What I’ve heard, though, I like a great deal.

Other than that, I’ve still been totally digging on Power+Light.  It’s embarrassing how addicted I am to it.  I listen to music about eight to ten hours a day, and for the past two weeks not a day has gone by where half of that time or more is devoted to that EP.  It’s crazy good.  If you haven’t heard it yet, PLEASE go give it a listen.

Oh, and I also grabbed the new M. Ward album today, but I haven’t had a chance to listen to it yet.

Upcoming: As mentioned above, Morrissey and M Ward have new albums out today.  In the next few weeks, look forward to new material from JJ Cale, Hatebreed, U2, and Neko Case.  (Random aside: the Neko Case, Middle Cyclone, sports some of my favorite album art in a long time.)

Thinking: 1.) In bands whose name is [Definite Article] [Noun], should the definite article be capitalized?  Should it be (e.g.) the Rakes or The Rakes?

2.) Sasquatch Festival!  As I’ll expound below, the lineup’s been announced and I am crazy stoked.  I’ve already started plotting with my good friend and long-time Sasquatch ally Mike, and the concensus is that this year’s festival is going to be a month’s worth of awesome crammed into a 3-day weekend.

News: The Sasquatch! Festival lineup has been announced!  Or at least according to the super-awesome unofficial Sasquatch Festival blog.  The main Sasquatch site for 2009 isn’t up yet, but I imagine it will be within the next day or two.  I’m extremely stoked about the fact that this year will see the return of Nine Inch Nails, The Decemberists, TV on the Radio, Calexico, and others.  Among the fresh new faces that I’m happy to see are A. A. Bondy, Silversun Pickups, Gogol Bordello, and Yeah Yeah Yeahs.

It should be noted that every place carrying the lineup also carries the wording “…and more to come” or equivalent, so there’s strong potential for even more awesome.  (Rumors abound that Sasquatch veterans Death Cab for Cutie and The Shins might added to the lineup.)

Tickets will be sold in the tiered pricing scheme of previous years, with cheap (~$155) 3-day passes going on sale the weekend of the 28th and prices going up from there.  It should be noted that these cheapest tickets will be on sale for ONE WEEKEND ONLY.  So if you want to save at least $40 on three days of Sasquatch awesomeness, then I strongly encourage you to get them then.

If anyone’s planning to attend and wants to meet up, drop me a line in comments.

Song of the Week: One of the many Josh Ritter songs I discovered a few weeks ago during my binge was this off of his album The Historical Conquests of Josh Ritter.  It’s called “Mind’s Eye” and I think it’s crazy awesome.

Oct 072008

Tuesday Playlist for 2008.10.06

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Intro: Hi folks.  The Tuesday Playlist is back after an unintentional week off.  I’d like to say that it’s back and better than ever, but I’d probably be lying.

Listening: In the past couple weeks I’ve pick up both Chris Walla’s solo album, Field Manual, and the new Thievery Corporation release, Radio Retaliation.  The short of it is: get Field Manual, pass on Radio Rataliation.

The longer version is as follows.  Walla, the multi-instrumentalist and producer who most people know from his work with Death Cab for Cutie, is a creative and evocative songwriter.  Combine this with his years of experience on both sides of sound board and you have the makings for a truly awesome album.  Between evocative, boppy pop ditties like “Geometry &c.” and more pensive, emotive songs like “A Bird is a Song”, Walla demonstrates an impressive command of a wide variety of musical styles.  And those who fear that Field Manual might be a Death Cab for Cutie album minus Gibbard et al., need look no further than the noise-pop, politically concious “Archer v. Light” to disabuse themselves of that notion.  Admittedly, the strains of Death Cab are all over the album, but whether they are representative of what Walla took away from the band or what he brought to it remains an open question.  In all, the album is easily one of the best of the year.

As a long-time Thievery Corporation fan, I wish I could say the same about Radio Retaliation.  Unfortunately it lacks the sexiness of Richest Man in Babylon and the musical maturity of Mirror Conspiracy.  What’s left are beats and themes that any Thievery Corporation fan has heard dozens of times before along with pseudo-reggae crooning of political lyrics so dry they might as well be written on a debater’s note cards.  Admittedly, even at their worst, Thievery Corporation still lay down some pretty cool tunes.  The title track is about as good as the album gets.  It features the sort of chill, laid back beats and rhythmic lyrics at which TC really excel.  Unfortunately, even at it’s best the album is less-than-spectacular and at it’s worst it’s not exactly cringe-inducing.  Thievery Corporation fans won’t find any “Lebanese Blonde” or “Meu Destino” on this album, but at least they won’t find anything to really shake their love for the band’s work.  At least that’s something, I guess.

Upcoming: Now before anyone asks – no, I’m neither ill nor have I been replaced by a body snatcher.  I DID, in fact, order the new Oasis album.  I opted for a physical disk, however, so I have yet to receive my copy.

So if you buy one album this week, it should probably be the new album by The Streets.  Mike Skinner makes Brit-Hop that puts most of the Hip-Hop on this side of the pond to shame.  Few artists manage to be as simultaneously intelligent and base as Skinner.  I just grabbed it off Amazon, so you’ll all no doubt hear next week what, exactly, I think of it.  Alternately, if a member of the mullet-and-‘vette set, you can pick up a copy of Tesla’s new CD.

In coming weeks, there’s new material from Keane, Brett Dennen, Kenny Chesney, Lucinda Williams, Ludacris, and Matisyahu and a Christmas albums from Sixpence None the Richer.  AC/DC are also releasing a new album, which will be available only at Wal-Mart, indicating that AC/DC has a pretty keen understanding of their target audience’s shopping habits.

Thinking: I recently went and saw Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist.  It’s highly recommended.  It’s a smart, music-centric love story about a couple of indie kids in New York City.  Well worth the cost of admission.  Plus it’s got a pretty awesome soundtrack.

In other news – I really need to restring my guitars.  Anyone got recommendations for good acoustic strings for playing folk/pop and strings for playing rock, industrial, and punk on a Strat?

News: Nick Reynolds, one of the founding members of the Kingston Trio, passed away this past week at 75.

And honestly, that’s all I got for this week.

Song of the Week: Chris Walla covering “Shattered Dreams” by Johnny Hates Jazz – does it get any more music-geek adorable?

Jul 152008

Tuesday Playlist for 2008.7.15

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Intro: Holy Strings of Hendrix! Three on-time columns in a row? That’s unpossible! Ah, dear readers, but it is happening. In today’s Playlist, why Sigue Sigue Sputnik are more awesome than most people give them credit for, thoughts on the newly-announced Bumbershoot lineup, and the best song ever to use the word “flaaahaa”.

Listening: So occasionally I just need synth pop.  In the same way that I drink an occasional glass of scotch or smoke an occasional cigarette, (usually together) I go on occasional synth pop kick.  Earlier this week when I found myself drinking a snifter of Laphroaig and smoking a Djarum, I suddenly felt an overpowering urge to put on Sigue Sigue Sputnik‘s Flaunt It.  It felt somehow fitting.  As if it somehow rounded out a triumvirate of bad vices: alcohol, tobacco, and synth pop.

But are Sigue Sigue Sputnik and the keyboard-and-sample heavy pop music that they helped pioneer really so bad?  I don’t think so.  I mean, sure, it can be a bit goofy at times (I’m looking at you, now, Freezepop), but there’s also something extremely endearing about it.  I mean, the combination of elements of obviously non-organic origins (samples, drum machines, keyboards, etc.) with human vocals and addressing human themes is, in a way, sort of sweet.  To me it’s the act of taking technology and making it our own.  Using man-made tools and applying them to deep human concerns.

…Okay, so synth pop bands do tend to spend a lot of their time singing about robots and space and other non-human things, but even songs like “Video Killed the Radio Star” by the Buggles hit at some pretty quintessentially human things.  That they do that largely with what amount recycled and/or artificially produced sounds is pretty impressive to me.

I mean, hell, even “Love Missile F1-11” is about love and care for one’s fellow human beings.  (Or about lust depending on how metaphorically one wants to take the “missile” images in the song.)  But hey: love, compassion, and lust are all extremely human things.

So can Sigue Sigue Sputnik be a little campy sometimes?  Yes.  But is indulging in their unique brand of synth pop ridiculousness going to hurt me?  Nope.  Just as long as I don’t get addicted.

And honestly, I can quit anytime.  .  .  Right after I hear “21st Century Boy” just ONE more time.

Upcoming: A new album by The Hold Steady is out today.  I’ve largely missed them, anyone in the audience a fan?  Is a new album from them something I should be excited about?

Nine Inch Nails’ newest album The Slip comes out next Tuesday on CD.  If you can’t wait that long, it’s been available for digital download for awhile now and it is WELL worth the download.  And it’s free!  Why?  Because Trent Reznor loves each and every one of us.  Or because he hates the record companies.  Or some awesome combination of the two.

Also: did you know that Alice Cooper’s still around?  And that he’s making music?  And that he’s given up drugs and alcohol and taken up religion and golf?  (No, seriously.)  Well he’s got a new album coming out (his 25th!) in a fortnight.  2000’s Brutal Planet and 2001’s Dragontown weren’t bad.  I may have to give the old man a shot.

Also that same week (if you’re not tired of giving them money, yet) the Rolling Stones have a new DVD out.  See, I often joke about rock stars saying “wait, shouldn’t they be dead now?” and such but the thing about the Rolling Stones is, they actually all ARE dead.  Those are just clever crafted androids parading around and giving shows and shooting DVDs and such.  Isn’t it amazing how far we’ve come?

News: Well, the new Bumbershoot schedule is finally out and it’s a doozy.  It’s got music, comedy, visual arts, literature, the whole 9 yards.  Unfortunately I’m not going to be able to make it this year (the next few months are going to be crazy and broke for me), but those who do go will be treated to everything from musical headlines Beck, The Stone Temple Pilots, and Death Cab for Cutie to science fiction luminary William Gibson.  If you can go, do so.  It’s August 30th through September 1st in Seattle and it’s going to be fanastic.

Thinking: Honestly, I haven’t had much time to think about anything but work lately.  And while at work I do try to listen to music.  Favorite work soundtracking by far is electronic dance stuff, mostly trance and drum-and-bass.  It also helps that I have headphones with both great sound quality and excellent noise attenuation.  This is doubly so, since I work in a small office with five other people.

Basically your thought for the week is “trance + headphones = good work music.”  I’ll have something deeper and more interesting next week, I promise.

Song of the Week: Ever since Ann reminded me that Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry did a cover of “Hey Jude” I’ve been listening to that and to Hugh Laurie’s “The Sophisticated Song” on pretty heavy repeat.  So here for the song of the week is my favorite Hugh Laurie tune and one of my favorite songs of all time:

Video: Hugh Laurie performs “The Sophisticated Song”
May 222008

Sasquatch! Festival Preview 8

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Well, Sasquatch! is just around the corner. Here’s another band that’ll be rocking the Sasquatch! Mainstage (Saturday, 8:15pm, just ahead of the Cure). This is Death Cab for Cutie performing “Title and Registration” off of Transatlanticism.

Oct 212007

Thank god we’re safe from foppish mope-rockers

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[politics]This is the latest in random abuses by the DHS that just makes me sick. Schneier has been right this whole time: none of this is security, it’s security theater. Full of sound and fury and signifying that we’re sinking billions of dollars a year so that fascist dickheads can play at security. [/politics]

Seems the DHS has snagged Death Cab for Cutie guitarist Chris Walla’s hard drive as it was crossing the Canadian border via courier. The contents? The masters for his new solo LP.

The AP has a remarkably even-handed assessment of the whole thing. And thank god, the original MTV coverage about it is about as bad as journalism can get while still plausibly being called journalism. It does, however, give some good page-time to Walla himself, so it’s worth reading, if you’re a DCfC and/or Chris Walla fan.

Bonus Chris Walla quotes: “Luckily, the tapes are Plan B, so while I’m bummed about the whole thing, it could be a whole lot worse. … I still get to play music. I mean, I’m not at Guantánamo or anything like that. I mean, my drive might be. They could be water-boarding my drive for all I know.”

AND

“This is a solo record, which is a little bit scary, because there’s a feeling of ‘Oh, you’re officially making a statement,‘ and you’re either the fist-waving left or the flag-waving right, and there’s no in between. … But I made this record because it felt irresponsible for me to have a platform for what I’m thinking and not use it. And not just to do political songs. If all I wanted to do was cover Air Supply songs, I could’ve done that too.”

UPDATE: The Daily Swarm goes a bit hysteric on Walla, Barsuk Records, MTV, et al. and receives a remarkably even-headed, professional email response from Mr. Walla. The article itself is a bit screedy, but Walla’s response is worth reading. Scroll down to the big quoted chunk toward the end to find it.