28 September 2009

It may not be hockey season yet, but there's still fighting.

On Friday night/Saturday morning, Wavves a.k.a. Nathan Williams allegedly attacked Black Lips bassist Jared Swilley outside a Brooklyn bar. Pitchfork reports that back in June, Swilley made some quasi-disparaging remarks regarding Williams. "I've heard stories from others that he's like a real dick. And just like a baby, thought he was really cool," Swilley told a Norwegian radio station.
According to Brooklyn Vegan, the confrontation took place outside a New York watering hole known as Daddy's. The blog, Pop Jew in Brooklyn, was on hand for the incident, and while they missed the beginning of it they were able to see people pulling the two individuals away from one another. According to reports, Swilley and a female accomplice then chased Williams down the street. The internets also says that Williams was unharmed while Swilley was bleeding.
Williams released a statement in which he says that Swilley was talking shit about him to his face, and that the female companion in question was spitting in people's faces. Williams maintained that he has no problem with any of the other members of the Black Lips, but didn't exactly sound remorseful either. "I just want to play music and have fun. It was unfortunate that it escalated to that point, but he got what was coming to him," Williams said.
Swilley also spoke on the incident, and contends that there was certainly not a fight. He further expounds that Wavves did not touch him, it was not 4 am when the event occurred, the female associate was not his girlfriend, and she was not spitting. To hammer his point home, Swilley said "I don't give a shit about that kid and his music." Swilley says that he arrived at Daddy's, and saw Williams talking to a photographer friend. Swilley then approached Williams, and said, "You're that faggot from Wavves and I don't like you." Swilley says that Williams said nothing after hearing this. According to Swilley, he went outside at this point and was then harassed by Wavves' tour manager who proceeded to strike Swilley in the face with a bottle thus causing the blood to flow. To top it off, a group of dudes started kicking Swilley repeatedly until he blacked out, presumably from being hit in the face with a bottle and then being kicked a bunch of times. 
Swilley ended his interview with this statement. "He's coming to Atlanta October 3rd adn we're gonna get ugly on him. We're gonna destroy their van, we're gonna destroy their faces, we're gonna get crazy on em'. Nasty style."
This beef looks like it may have legs, but nothing will be known for certain until Saturday to see if Swilley makes good on his promise. This reporter loves a brawl as much as the next guy, but reading Swilley's account makes this event sound more like the Perez Hilton/Will.i.am incident than a knock em' down brawl. Since there was alcohol involved, it may be hard to pin down the actual facts in this story, but nonetheless this definitely happened for the most part and presumably it is not over yet. More details as they come.

27 September 2009

Pictureplane/Double Dagger/HEALTH, 9/26/2009. Sonar, Baltimore

When I was on my way to the show, I began to wonder what the crowd would be like. For the most part, all three bands are ones who receive some blog love and it would be suffice to say that they have an internet following. Well, pretty much everyone has an internet connection these days so essentially anyone could show up, I determined. Once inside Sonar, the crowd proved to be a mixed bag, to say the least. Maybe it was just me, but it seemed to be a super young crowd. Lots of young'uns, but I did see one brooding, Internet type by the bar. Like the kind of guy who found these bands on the internets, and really dug it and decided to go the show and then he gets to the show and realizes this isn't exactly what he was expecting. It's somewhat hard to explain, but when it happens the face gives off a certain expression and it's pretty easy to identify. Anyway, I'm sure even that dude had a good time because the show was awesome.
There was an opening band called Shams, but I was at the bar and he did some sort of Dan Deacon thing where he played from the floor so I couldn't totally see what he was doing. I did hear an awful lot of talk about fucking, though. However, it was a Saturday night in the city and I was drinking beer and listening to live music so it's not like I could really complain. 
Pictureplane is this guy from Denver, and he was pretty dope. The internets have drummed up the hype, but it is totally well-deserved. 
HEALTH ended up coming on next, but again no complaints on this end. So cool. Two drum sets, and by the end of the show everyone has banged on them at least once. What I like about seeing HEALTH live is that they are one of the noisiest bands on the block, yet they tear through their songs like they are Bruce Springsteen & the E Street band. It's like, these are our songs deal with it. And there isn't even a question of getting on the bus to dig it because the it's coming no matter what and there's nothing you can do to stop it. It's quite awesome.
Double Dagger is from Baltimore, and their songs are about graphic design. It would be easy to say that they sound like Les Savy Fav, but Double Dagger do it all with bass, drums, and vocals. And to add to boot, two of the members of the band have contributed content to the Baltimore City Paper. Within, the first ten seconds of their set beer was already flying through the air. In discussing the band's latest album, More, the City Paper said that Double Dagger has anthems that could stop a tank. Yeah, that's a pretty apt description of tonight's events. 

23 September 2009

In exactly one year, I will be standing in New York at Central Park. I will be completely consumed with an excitement that has been growing inside of me for many, many years. I will smoke lots and lots of cigarettes because I will probably be a little nervous, and also because whenever I'm in New York I feel compelled to smoke more than normal because I know that I paid roughly half as much for my pack than what a New York resident paid. I will look around, and scan the crowd for other people who are enthusiastic just like me. Gary will be with me, and we will probably exchange several high-fives while we wait. More than likely, we will be drinking out of paper bags. 
And then, all of the sudden it will happen. The crowd will erupt into a chorus of cheers. People will yelp and holler. I might faint. Hopefully not, but I make no promises at this time. 
At this point, Pavement will be standing on stage preparing to being their set. They will have already played two shows together in the last two days. For the first few minutes, the fans will probably make more noise than the band. Eventually, Stephen Malkmus will approach the microphone. He'll probably smirk, and then say something clever. The show will then begin.
At this juncture, I can't imagine what else will happen. The prospect of actually seeing Pavement is almost too much to think about, and the fact that it will be 365 days until the show makes it even more daunting. Maybe, in a few months I can start to think about what songs they will play and stuff like that, but for now all I can do is play my albums over and over again until this magical day arrives.

22 September 2009

Here's a new music video from Times New Viking. I'm actually hesitant to call this a music video because it looks more like a a video that happens to have music in it. Either way, the video is pretty rad. The background screen thing with the archived footage of fans at a concert is a pretty tight backdrop to have for the scenes that feature the band playing. The song is called "No Time, No Hope", and it is off of the group's latest album, Born Again Revisited, which comes out in stores today. 

Quick Hits

I was on the internets reading about various things, and discovered two pieces of news that absolutely had to be reported on here. First, supposed gangster rapper and definite former police officer, Rick Ross, was robbed by three groupies over the weekend. Apparently, there were these three girls got backstage and shit at a Rawse concert or something like that, and then they were invited back to the hotel to hang out with Rick Ross and crew. Later on, they snuck into Ross' room and took his laptop as well as some jewelry. One can only imagine what kind of fun stuff is on that laptop. And as for the jewelry, wonder which pieces the girls snatched. Perhaps the necklace pictured below?

The other news nugget for today involves Jay-Z. He's over in London right now, doing shows with Coldplay. Those dates may be over by now, I'm not sure. Anyway, Jay was doing an interview with the BBC, and the reporter asked him about Kanye-gate. (Writer's Note; Kanye-gate is now the official phrase to be used when referring to the Kanye/Taylor Swift/VMA situation.) And, the journo said something to the effect that Kanye picks his victims, and that he wouldn't have pulled that stunt if it had been somebody else up on stage winning an award. And, Jay-Z replied,

Jay-Z, the most awesome rapper on the planet, apparently doesn't think so highly of 50 Cent, the lamest and most boring rapper on the planet. 

20 September 2009

Video Reviews

Sunset Rubdown: "Black Swan"
Thoughts: This video is kind of trippy. There are these crazy ink blotter inspired designs that flash and spin intermittently. There's a weird naked woman who has no face. There are bros in skeleton costumes doing coordinated steps with knives. In the middle of the video, there's this very ominous looking crystal thing that is spinning out of control and the way that it is used it seems to suggest that it is supposed to represent some parallel dimension where the world itself is spinning out of control. There are also some really creepy eyes that open and close, but they don't appear until towards the end of the video. Some neon hands begin extending themselves out, but given everything else that has already happened it's not that weird. Oh, and the song is really cool

Vivian Girls: "When I'm Gone"
Thoughts: There is a understated simplicity to this video. Very no-frills. Hell, at some points it seems like even lighting isn't necessary. The song isn't too shabby, either. I like how they didn't try to make a "serious" second album. They didn't tinker with the formula too much, and it works. Also, I'm partial to videos that feature women playing instruments. 

Jay Reatard: "It Ain't Gonna Save Me"
Thoughts: I have a hard time deciding whether Jay Reatard is super twisted all by himself, or if all people from Memphis are just strange and askew. I mean, it is where Elvis is from. This is a fun video. The bro in the wolf mask and flannel shirt was a nice touch. The clown, not so much. This video looks like it was made for MTV, which is strange because Jay seems like the last guy who would cater to the MTV crowd and also because MTV doesn't even play videos anymore.

Fuck Buttons: "Surf Solar"
Thoughts: It's well-documented that people spend loads of time online, looking at random shit and watching inane videos. Perhaps, they would be better served if they were watching shit like this or something similar to this. For all the reasons that this video is cool, an argument could be made that it is also very strange at the same time. And if you don't like the song, it's alright because the video has penguins in it. 

Pink Mountaintops: "Execution"
Thoughts: Innovative concept. Hire a bunch of interesting looking women to be in a video, and have them pretend to play instruments. It's women and instruments, so it's a smashing success. The song is really good as well

The Walkmen: "On the Water"
Thoughts: I feel like there are two kinds of people in this world. Those that love The Walkmen, and those who don't give two shits about The Walkmen. 
This video commands your attention, and once you stop doing everything else you are able to realize that this is a pretty good song. The video is just so captivating and intriguing. The colors that were used, and the art, and the animation. It's all dynamite. It may even be better than the "Single Ladies" video. 

16 September 2009

Tremendous News!

This is downright incredible. The internets is reporting that Pavement is going to be reuniting to play a show in New York on September 21, 2010. Brooklyn Vegan announced the news last night, and now today Pitchfork confirmed it and then Stereogum posted it thereby cementing this news as fact. This is beyond amazing. My most favorite band in the entire world is going to be playing together once again, and you can bet your bottom dollar that I will be there to see it happen. 

15 September 2009

So, I found out that there is a music video from Girls for the song "Lust for Life". I also totally forgot, that back at the end of July I posted the video for "Hellhole Ratrace." It was that kind of long video with people smoking cigarettes and drinking wine in it while the gorgeous song played in the background. Enough about the past, and on to the present. How come they don't make more music videos like this anymore. Also, at one point in the video the camera cuts to a newspaper and the front page has a picture of Michael Jackson and the word "Dead" so you can tell that this video was made recently which would make Girls an up-and-coming band, or something like that. 

Album Review?

I put a "?" in the title for this post because I'm not entirely certain that whatever follows will actually pass for being a music review,  but there's no harm in trying so hear it goes.

Girls is a band, who have drummed up quite a bit of noise on the internets over the last few months. I'm not sure if all credit is due to GorillaVsBear for the discovery, but nonetheless Girls are the type of band that GVB talks about on a regular basis. 
If you type "Girls" into any internet search engine, you will find very little about this band for obvious reasons. What can be determined for certain is that Christopher Owen is the life force for which this band flows through. He writes all the lyrics, and conceivably plays all the guitar parts. Oh, and he sings as well. On September 22, Girls will release Album, which is their first proper record. According to Matador Records, "Album is a redemptive song-cycle about the various characters and desires that color Christopher Owen's life." The phrase "song-cycle" may seem strange at the moment, but after listening to the album it makes a whole lot more sense. 
Girls ape heavily off a 60s vibe. The songs are refreshingly simple, and completely devoid of bullshit. On Album, it never sounds like the band is trying too hard but rather they are just trying to sing and play honestly. This record harkens back to a simpler time where music was music, and not something that was dissected and analyzed a thousand times over on the internet. Album sounds like it was recorded in an alternate universe, in a different dimension where never in a million years would a highly-successful hip hop artist storm an awards show stage to snatch the microphone out of the hands of America's sweetheart thereby soiling the poor girl's first experience at winning an award for a stellar music video. 
Some of the songs on this record have been floating about on the internets for quite some time now. "Hellhole Ratrace" was named as one of the 100 best songs of 2008 by Pitchfork, but its on this album as well and it is still a fantastic song about someone who more than likely needs someone to hang out with them as soon as they get their head straight. The album opener "Lust for Life" has been around for awhile as well, at least by the internets standards. This is a double-take song in the sense that the listener half-expects to hear a cover of Iggy Pop's song of the same name, but then soon realizes that this is certainly not that song. "Lust for Life" is a simple song about simple desires. Namely desires such as having a significant other, eating pizza, and drinking wine. 
The second track is entitled "Laura", though not to be confused with the ninth song on the album which is titled "Lauren Marie". It's the song cycle thing working its way through. Without having the disc playing, this whole notion of a "song cycle" is a bit hard to define. It's just that certain ideas and moods seem to return later on in the album. Some bands hit on a bevy of emotions, and then never return to any of them. Girls come back to what they were already talking about, and to hammer home their point the second time around they try to recreate the same sound elements that they used the first time. (Writer's Note: It's really cool.)  "Ghost Mouth" and "Hellhole Ratrace" could also be associated with the cyclical nature of the record, but the similarities between those two tracks are more incestuous then cyclical. The songs sound nearly identical during the verse parts, and its only during the chorus is there a slight chance that distinguishes the songs from one another. This isn't a bad thing though, and really ends up giving Album a warm, familiar feeling that seems to be lacking on most other records. 
There's also a track entitled "God Damned", and based on title alone one would think that this is some super intense, fierce song. It's not, as acoustic guitar strumming and lyrics that compare wanting and needing to drug abuse dominate the song. There's also a song called "Big Bad Mean Motherfucker", and in addition to being the shortest track on the record it also boasts some of the most blatant 60s era rock to be found on the entire album. There's "oooh, ooohs" in the background, and surf rock guitar riffs while the drums just don't quit. 
"Morning Light" will jump out to the listener for two reasons. The first one being the fact that it is a totally rad song, but also because it doesn't sound so much 60s as it kind of sounds like a song that Yo La Tengo would tack onto the end of one of their albums. 
The album closer "Darling" has a boozy, bluesy finish to it, but it's apart of the cycle as well. This song could very well be the album opener, or a song in the middle of the album. It could be placed anywhere, as long as it is on the record. 
For lack of a better way of saying it, this album is really terrific. It's an exciting take on "indie" and "alternative" music here in the year of 2009. It possesses an effortless cool, usually reserved for Lou Reed or The Dude. Quite possibly, the best new album to come out all year.

14 September 2009

Two things. First off, I really must apologize for that VMA liveblogging debacle. I was quite drunk from watching football all afternoon, and for whatever reason I decided I wanted to watch the VMAs and talk about it. The show was kind of boring except for the Kanye drama, so I feel like I wasted everyone's time by writing about it. To think, I could have utilized that time and wrote something really good. But enough about that. On to bigger and better things. How about some brand new music?
The other two person grunge blues band, The Black Keys, have started up a brand new record label and they're going to be dropping hip hop on it. Blakroc is the name of this brand new collaboration between The Black Keys and rapper Jim Jones. The album drops on November 27, and will feature appearances by RZA, Raekwon, Q-Tip, Pharoahe Monch, Mos Def, and the late Ol' Dirty Bastard. The first song off the LP hit the internets today, and it's called "Ain't Nothing Like You". It's got Mos Def on the hook, and Jim Jones appears on the
 track as well. This is actually some fairly exciting shit. This record sounds like something the Black Keys would do. Even more amazing, is the fact that Jim Jones doesn't totally fuck everything up. If we're being honest, then I have to admit that J
im Jones is one of my least favorite rappers. I've never gotten into anything that he has ever done, except for that one mixtape song where he sampled the theme from Beverly Hills Cop. But he sounds good here, like he is just straight chilling with two bros from Akron, Ohio. 
Nah Right has the song available for download, and Pitchfork has it streaming along with a little write up as to what the score is for this project.
Oh, and here's the album artwork.

13 September 2009

A Conversation about Yo La Tengo
Books are scattered throughout the room, and and an ashtray in the corner contains at least forty nubbed out cigarette butts. Albums abound the space, taking residence in between mounds of clothes which he assures me are all totally clean. Empty beer bottles line his desk, and the only other object on the desk is a battered pair of glasses. After a long pause, he slowly turns around and asks me if I would be interested in listening to some Yo La Tengo. I enthusiastically agree, and he gives a slight nod before bending over to rummage through the albums on the ground. Finally, he re-emerges with a yellow record in hand. 
"The powers that be at Pitchfork gave this album a 9.7 out of 10," he said.
"Is that legit praise, or is it like those times where they heap praise on R. Kelly's "Trapped in the Closet" video series?," I asked.
He laughed slightly. "Nah. It's the real deal. This album is a banger," he assured me. He continued. "The first song is called 'Return to Hot Chicken', and it's a real short song, but what it does is it gives us a glimpse of what we're about to get into."
"And, what exactly are we about to get into?," I asked. 
"We're about to embark on a trip. Yo La Tengo bounce back and forth between short songs and fairly long ones. Sometimes, they feel like playing longer. There's noise, but there's also folk. There's dreamy guitar, but there's also this quasi punk rock electro sound to it. A lot of instruments are utilized, but there's still only three cats in the band," he said. "Oh, and 'Sugarcube is just like the most awesome, most perfect song in the world," he added.
"Yeah, it's a real ideal sound for just about anytime," I said.
"Did you know that they've soundtracked movies before?," he asked. "It's like they just know exactly what should be playing at any given time," he added before going into a mini rant. "I once read that when they were making the movie, Juno, the original plan was to have the entire soundtrack be nothing but Yo La Tengo. Not to be an asshole, but I think that would have seriously helped that turd of a movie. All the snarky dialogue, and now look what's happening. Teenage girls are having babies left and right. Remember the days of the good old fashioned abortion?," he asked and flashed a wry smile.
"Oh, so you're going there are you?," I asked. If someone is going to take it to that level then there has to be a retort of some kind. He shrugged his shoulders, and pulled out another smoke. I figure that this may be one of the few times where I could get a few words in before he goes on another rant. "I'm really digging this song 'Deeper Into Movie'. It's a pretty fearless song. Fearless may be a strong word, but it may be an apt one to use because this song is definitely not timid," I said. He shrugged his shoulders again, and gazed out the window. After a few long moments, he touched back down to earth.
"Is 'Stockholm Syndrome' a song about love? I'm not sure, but it would be awfully clever if that was the case. You know? Since the whole thing comes from finding love in the wrongest of wrong places, and the song itself is such a lovely little ditty," he said.
"It could be. I try not to dwell on those sort of things," I said, not wanting to anger him while he was in this passive demeanor. He stoically took another drag off his cig, and then stamped it out. 
"I just love the song title 'Autumn Sweater'. It's so fitting. It's a song that has a lot going on, but they're talking about the comfort of a sweater so it becomes instantly more familiar even if you've never heard the song before. This is a Yo La trait, in general. It all just seems so familiar and necessary. In terms of listenability, they're right up there with the Velvet Underground," he said. He takes a deep breath, and begins again. "If you were lazy then you would just lump Yo La into the same category with Pavement and Sonic Youth and Sebadoh and Dino Jr, but they are really their own band. They have elements of all those bands in their sound, but it comes out in such a way that it is undeniably Yo La Tengo," he said.
"I hadn't really thought about it like that," I said. "I once wrote a poem about a closet full of sweaters, though."
"This song 'Little Honda' kind of has a late Lou Reed vibe to it, but I might be wrong. I just saw that movie, Adventureland, and Yo La did the soundtrack for it, and in the movie there are constant references to Lou Reed. So maybe, that's where I'm getting this feeling from," he said. I'm starting to become slightly blown away by all this knowledge that he is dropping. The most insightful thing that I've come up with this whole time is that Yo La Tengo is totally awesome for having cricket sounds at the beginning of "Green Arrow". 
He gets quiet again, and it stays that way for awhile. It seems like the album is wrapping up, and a new track begins and it immediately grabs my attention. I grab the record, and turn it over to consult the track listing so that I can learn the name of this grand new song. The track is called "We're an American Band", and I can't help but laugh about this. I know what the other song of the same name sounds like, and it makes me very glad that this song sounds nothing like that one. This is such a no frills song, and there's nothing bullshit about it. What a refreshing change of pace. 
Neither one of us say another word as we let the album play out. When it ends, he merely reaches over and starts it back up from the beginning again. Well, we didn't get a whole lot accomplished but I still wouldn't call it a wash.

This Is Me, and I am liveblogging the VMAs

9:00- Madonna. Ohhhh, ahhhh.
9:03- Madonna and Michael on a date? What? ZOMG.
9:04- Is it just me or does it sound like not only is Madonna reading a script, but she is also reading the script like it was an excerpt from Shakespeare.
9:07- Now, the much bally-hooed tribute celebration will commence.
9:09- If you're going to get a bunch of no-names to do the "Thriller" dance then you may as well get like 10,000 of them and make it look like a big ol' party.
9:09- Fact. "Smooth Criminal" has always been one of my all time favorite songs, and that was the case way before that other band covered it. 
9:12- I must be an asshole or something, but that MJ tribute was kind of so-so. I realize Janet is his sister and all, but it looks like she lost a step.
9:13- and now Katy Perry is going cover Queen with Joe Perry because....? wonderful VMA randomness.
9:17- Ok, I'm calling bullshit on this whole thing. Last year, Russell Brand hosts and he's all zany and inappropriate. Now, he's trying to do this whole heartfelt thing in the beginning. lame.
9:15- how many Jonai jokes are there going to be this year?
9:19- that outfit Lady Gaga is wearing is kind of weird. Like seriously, pretty fucking strange.
9:21- "In England, instead of having people dying in the streets, we have free health care." Nice one.
9:22- Oh, and Wale is performing intermittently before and after commercials tonight. Shibby.
9:23- Best female video has to be "Single Ladies". What else could it possibly be?
9:24- Apparently, Taylor Swift is better. I was going to have a drink for every prediction I got wrong, but I don't know if I have that much booze.
9:25- Kanye is awesome. This thing has just barely started, and he's already storming the stage. Fantastic.

9:26-He's right by the way. "Single Ladies" is one of the best pop records of the last ten years. Truly remarkable. It just blows any other radio song completely out of the water for the most part. This is actually pretty shocking, and a little disheartening. Hope this doesn't mean that we are in for a night of Asher Roth victories. 
9:33- Best "Rock" Video. Let us wait with bated breath to see who wins this coveted award.
9:35- Oh man, J.Lo does not look happy. If I had to guess what she was thinking, I think it would go something like this, "Shit, I have to come out to this stupid ass award show because I'm running out of money and I'm no longer relevant. I'll just sit here and think about how I used to have a little but now I have a lot and despite all this I'm still Jenny from the block."
9:37- I have a sneaking suspicion that the winners for these awards are determined by throwing shit at a wall, and seeing what sticks.
9:42- Remember that one year when the show was held in New York, and Eminem was really popular and the song "Real Slim Shady" was really big and he performed it and he did that thing where he led all the Shady lookalikes into Radio City Music Hall. I remember that being somewhat of a big deal, but I get the feeling that this whole Taylor Swift in the subway thing is coming across as way more meaningful to countless hoards of tweens everywhere. 
9:49- There have been several questions running through my mind during this Lady Gaga performance, but this one stands out the most. What is the deal with that paraplegic thing? And the fake blood on the stomach? And the whole hanging from the ceiling thing?
9:53- The worst part about that bizarre performance, is that tomorrow Perez is going to go on and on about how amazing and brilliant that was. My memory may be shaky, but I'm almost positive there was a Britney video that hit on all the same plot points as that performance just did. 
9:59- Maybe it's just getting late, but these vignettes with Eminem and Tracy Morgan are hella funny.
10:00- Amazingly, the outfit Gaga is wearing now is even stranger than the last one.
10:01- This Jay-Z performance is pretty much going to have to save the whole night. Kanye knocked the VMA train right off its rails, and now nothing has happened to rival it. 
10:04- Is it possible that there is a conspiracy theory in place to prevent Beyonce from winning? 
10:07- Apparently, they kicked Kanye out for his passionate outburst. 
10:10- There's like an hour and half of this shit left. Don't know if I'll make it that long.
10:20- Oh man, Beyonce is oh so fierce.
10:22- Performance of the night, so far.
10:31- I'm not gonna lie, this Wale house band thing isn't working out as well as I had hoped. It's like no is paying attention to it.
10:33- I'm not even mad that T.I. beat out Jay and Kanye for Best Male video. Dude deserves it. 
10:35- Is it really a big deal that Muse is making their American television debut.
10:36- Oh wait, I have heard Muse before. They're that band that tries really really hard to rip off Radiohead. 
10:37- When is this thing going to be over? I can feel my interest waning with every commercial break, and there have been a lot of them so this is really getting tricky. 
10:40- Thank the lord for Tracy Morgan. My interest has been piqued yet again.
10:42- Over on Twitter, everyone is ripping Kanye a new asshole for what he did. That was over an hour ago. People need to stop living in the past and get over shit.
10:48- It would be pretty great if Kanye wins Best Rap Video right about now.
10:49- Eminem? Really? I thought we as the internet decided a long time ago that "We Made You" was a clown shoes track.
10:52- Wale and Cudi at the same time. Nice.
10:59- You can tell that Eminem is really really unsure as to whether he should actually touch Lady Gaga or not.
11:04- Pink, the trapeze artist, is all well and good, but isn't it about time for some Jay.
11:12- Video of the Year. Is this one supposed to be a big deal?
11:14- Order has been restored to the universe.
11:15- Oh man, Beyonce is oh so classy.
11:22- Finally
11:23- That shot from behind Jay's back with the whole crowd in front of him was pretty dope.
11:25- Whoever just caught that cap is the luckiest bro in the world.
11:28- So, the VMAs on the whole were kind of ho-hum. But between Kanye's antics at the beginning, and Jay's awesome performance at the end it wasn't all bad.

I heard this song while I was driving earlier, and it made me remember that I had watched the video for it the other day. It's more goodness from Grizzly Bear. The song is called "While You Wait For the Others", and it's off the mostly flawless Veckatimest. The version of the song that I heard on the radio featured Michael McDonald on it, which I found to be pretty amusing since McDonald is that one dude from the Doobie Brothers and if you've ever seen The 40-Year Old Virgin then you know about how they all work at that electronics store and all the tv sets in the store have Michael McDonald concert footage on them at all times and its all a little grating to say the least. For the reasons above I didn't really dig the McDonald collaboration with Grizzly Bear, but the biggest reason that it didn't sparkle with me is the fact that I dig Ed Droste's voice so much that I don't want to hear anything else except for it.
When this video first started, I thought it was going to get very strange but as it progressed I can say now that it never got weird enough for me. Unfortunately, it also never got to a point where it rivaled the end of the "Two Weeks" video where all the heads explode after being filled with light. This video is still pretty cool even though it is sans exploding heads.

10 September 2009

Lately, over at Hipster Runoff, Carles has been bemoaning the death of all things "indie" and "alt". He also isn't as taken with the whole lo-fi resurgence as I am, but I still think he has a point. Where are we going, and where have we been? Where do we go from here? Is this it? 
It's beginning to get to a point where it is becoming nearly impossible to discern what is good and what isn't. It seems like every day there is a special new band, but what the hell are we supposed to do with that? Embrace it, and dub it as the "next big thing". Or reject, and call it "lame" and complain about how it isn't as good as ________. Even Pitchfork seems confused as to what to do. 
Despite the current state of affairs, I think this dry spell can also be a good thing for music fans. With so much nondescript shit coming out, it is becoming increasingly easy to work your way backwards through musical history. If there's nothing new to get excited about, then why not turn to the past and enjoy something that is already proven to be awesome. Deerhunter can't be expected to release a new album every month, and even Grizzly Bear needs time off in between albums. Beach House can't craft beautifully delicate melodies around the clock, and occasionally Jay Reatard needs to be somewhere other than a recording space. But, it's still ok. Personally, I've been able to take this time to get even further into Guided By Voices, Built to Spill, and Yo La Tengo. These are all seminal indie bands, and are worthy of further exploration and fortunately this dearth of good music has paved the way for more quality listening of top-shelf shit. Wavves is all well and good, but no one can be expected to sustain themselves off of it. Cymbals Eat Guitars have been one of my most favorite bands of the year, but so much of their appeal has to do with the fact that they remind me of classic indie standards like Built to Spill and the Pixies. 
A lot of these "older" bands, and by older I mean late '80s/early '90s, never really got a moment to shine. For as awesome as Pavement was, and despite the fact that they made a super radio accessible song  in "Cut Your Hair", they never rose above any of their constituents because for whatever reason The Breeders' "Cannonball" was seen as a more viable song for the marketplace. And that's fine, but if Pavement can't break through then what does that mean for the rest of the bands from this moment in time. 
Being popular is overrated anyway, and it's also entirely possible that the most important band of our era is still out there lurking in the shadows somewhere. Maybe, we just haven't heard them yet. In a way, it would almost defy the point of being good indie music if everyone was ga-ga over the same new band. This confusion may be a good thing. Guess, only time will tell. Until then....
PS: As your attorney I advise that you listen to Yo La Tengo.

09 September 2009

Weedeater/The Melvins/Down: 9/8/09 Sonar, Baltimore

Wow, I really needed this. Last week, I was told that my blog was starting to sound depressing, and I had to agree, but I still remained confident that shit would bounce back. I would say that is has already. I mean, if I'm back to sitting around all day watching videos on the internet then I must not be too concerned about the larger, more serious matters of life which means everything is back to where it was before last week. Anyway, enough of my bullshit. Last night's show of Weedeater, The Melvins, and Down was awesome. My hearing hasn't returned to me yet, but that doesn't really bother me because of what I saw last night.
I went to this show, basically because I felt like it. I'd never seen Down before, and last.fm is always telling me that I like the Melvins so I figured that this would be a rad show to check out. When the show ended, it occurred to me that this was one of the raddest shows that I have ever taken in. 
The opening band, Weedeater, was 90% awesome. I say 90% because I have to admit that I was slightly unsure after the first song and a half. What I like immediately about this band was that they had the drummer set up at the front of the stage, as opposed to being tucked in the rear. So, basically all three dudes in the band were standing right next to each other. The other thing that I really liked about the band was the fact that they toasted before every song which led to added consumption of beer. 
The Melvins were really, really good. They sounded surprisingly tight. You would think that a band as old as them and with a lead singer who has a huge fro and a bassist who wears a wig that they would be sloppy, but that was totally not the case. They came on stage to the theme music from the "A-Team". Their set was so awesome that it seemed like all the songs they played kind of blended into one monster jam. Then again, it is also entirely possible that I was so blown away that I completely lost my grasp on timekeeping.
For those of you who don't know, Down is fronted by Phil Anselmo, who used to be the lead singer of Pantera. Down and Pantera are two entirely different bands, as Down utilizes a sound that is slightly less aggressive than Pantera. I can't speak about Pantera performing live, but Down was fucking incredible. Phil Anselmo possesses the most dominant stage presence that I have ever seen. The other week when I was at Sonar and I saw the No Deachunter tour, I thought that Dan Deacon owned the crowd. But last night, Phil really had the crowd by the balls. He wanted hands in the air, and he got hands in the air. He wanted movement, he got movement. Throngs of people kept throwing themselves into the crowd surfing festivities, and it was wild to watch because you only ever saw them on top of the crowd once. You could see them get hoisted up, and then after that it was like they were just thrown at the stage. Bodies floated above the crowd, and as they reached their destination Phil would high-five the surfer and then the body disappeared from the crowd. It was awesome. Phil commanded every square inch of the joint, and it was a marvel to witness. And, they actually did an encore. On the drive home, I started thinking about how the past few shows I've been to there hasn't been an encore and if there has been it was a shitty one. Down's encore was terrific, and was almost like a second set. They covered Van Halen's "Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Love", and Phil swore it was the first time that they ever tried it. As the encore was winding down, Phil asked the crowd what they wanted to hear. I've seen this happen before, but normally when it happens the crowd becomes full of douchey know-it-alls who then proceed to shout the names of obscure B-sides of EPs that were never even released in America. When Phil asked the question, the answer was unanimous. Every motherfucker in that place shouted "Bury Me in Smoke", and when they did Phil said, "Oh, we know how to play that one."Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. 

07 September 2009

This video is somewhat strange but who's to say what's strange anyway? The song itself is pretty cool, but that should come as no surprise because it is a HEALTH video and HEALTH is totally awesome. The new HEALTH album, Get Color, arrives in stores tomorrow.

06 September 2009

Well, the Blueprint 3 may have been an enormous disappointment, but on to bigger and better things. Raekwon's Only Built 4 Cuban Linx...Pt II hits stores on Tuesday, September 8, and it is going to be awesome. No doubt about it, Raekwon and his super hero rap are going to save hip hop from the boring ass year it has been having. Below, is the video for one of the songs of the album. The song is called "House of Flying Daggers", and it was produced by the late Dilla so you know its official. (Writer's Note: I have to give a head's up. This video is somewhat violent in a cartoon kung fu kind of way, and there are parts where blood is flying all over the place. Just felt like it was my duty to point that out before encouraging cats to check it out.)
I think that I can say, unequivocally, that Grizzly Bear is my favorite band for a Sunday morning. And now that I've mentioned them, I guess that means that I can talk about them. Two things. First, I apologize for the suspect video from the other day of Jay-Z at the Grizzly Bear concert. I realize that the video isn't entirely convincing, and it looks like that could be any dude, but make no mistake this event actually happened. The two artists that I like to blog about the most converged on one spot for one moment of time. MTV has an interview with Jay, and in it shares his thoughts on music. It's a pretty brief interview, and in the beginning Jay is just talking about how he is a fan of music and what not. But then, he expounds further and begins talking about Grizzly Bear as well as hip hop. 
"They're [Grizzly Bear] an incredible band. The thing I want to say to everybone--- I hope this happens because it will push rap, it will push hip-hop to go even further--- what the indie-rock movement is doing right now is very inspiring... These concerts, they're not on the radio, no one hears about them, and there's 12,000 people in attendance. And the music that they're making and the connection they're making to people is really inspiring. So, I hope that they have a run where they push hip hop back a little bit, so it will force hip hop to fight to make better music, because it can happen, because that's what rap did to rock." (via MTV). 
Brooklyn Vegan also has pictures from the event which you can see HERE.
Also, there's this. This is a video of the band performing at some concert in Europe. I post it because "Two Weeks" is still after all this time, a really awesome song.

04 September 2009

I Bought This on Amazon for Less Than a Pack of Cigarettes

This one is going to be a little bit different. I don't really have any interest in analyzing this latest album. I'm afraid it would ruin things between myself and this record. The band is called Times New Viking, and the album is entitled Rip It Off. Oh, and this album is awesome. Really, really awesome.
On the back of the album in the bottom left hand corner is a message that simply states, "please play loud". This disc is very loud. Literally. When I put this album in my stereo, the music came blasting out and I had to turn it down a little. If I had let it play at that volume, it would have blown the speakers. It's so loud, but it's so great. 
Times New Viking is from Columbus, Ohio. Guided By Voices are also from Ohio,  but they're from Dayton. After consulting a map, Dayton appears to be very close to Indiana while Columbus appears to be a city that is right in the thick of things. The first time I listened to Rip It Off there was a moment where the music made me think of GBV. Some of the songs on Rip It Off are on the shorter side, and at times they seem to be a little all over the place. But, it works. It totally works. Like GBV, the strange sounds never last long enough to become bothersome. It's from one thing to the next with no stops in between. 
One of the songs on the album is called "Times New Viking vs. Yo La Tengo", and as you can imagine it is totally rad. 

02 September 2009

I have to apologize. I had been formulating big plans for this upcoming week. Jay-Z's Blueprint 3 was slated to arrive in stores on September 11, and I was totally ready. I was going to have a whole week of nothing but Jay-Z. I was going to buy the album, and each day I was going to breakdown and review a few songs. By the end of the week, I expected to have a whole post for each song on the album. This was supposed to be some of my most comprehensive analysis ever, and I was excited about the challenge. But then some shit happened. First, things fell apart for me on a personal level and without sounding too whiny or bitchy I will admit I am struggling with the aftermath of said shit. (Writer's Note: Seriously, I could use a hug.) Secondly, over the weekend the Blueprint 3 leaked all over the internet and the consensus has been that it is not very good. I've listened to it, and I don't hate it or anything like that but I will admit that it's not that stellar. Jay sounds bored, but who can really blame him. He's the best rapper on the planet. He's got one of the most gorgeous women in the world as his wife. He's seen as a legitimate businessman after of years of being an illegitimate one. His last album was American Gangster, and some hip hop heads hated on it because they thought it was whack or whatever. I liked it, but the thing about it was the fact that Jay was kind of just playing a character. He wasn't Shawn Corey Carter, but rather he was a rapping version of Denzel Washington's character from the movie with the same name as the album. Beyonce has encountered a similar problem since marrying Jay. They're too successful to complain about the shit they used to complain about so they have to find new ways to work the system. Beyonce made an album called I am...Sasha Fierce so that she could still sing to all the sisters about how no-good men be keeping them down because it's not like she could complain about her home life with Jay. And, Jay basically did the same thing with American Gangster. He can't talk about picking up women because he's married to Beyonce, and he can't talk about selling drugs because he is now seen as a legitimate businessman and he can't be soiling his personal brand just so he can sell a few more records. So, American Gangster was Jay-Z's Sasha Fierce moment, and in true Jay fashion, he did it first. Some of the songs on BP3 just aren't that great. "D.O.A. (Death of Auto-Tune)" was exciting when it first came out and still isn't that bad, but "Run This Town" is still basically a Rihanna song with a dope verse from Kanye. There's another song with Kanye on it, and again Kanye outshines Jay. Drake does a song for the album called "Off That", and in it Jay outlines everything that is no longer cool according to him. It's a neat concept, but Jay sounds indifferent while explaining his lesson plan. MGMT don't really appear on the album. They produced one of the songs, and that's still kind of cool but it's not as cool as the original news that they would be appearing on the album as performers. Jay does a song with Alicia Keys, and it's a pretty little number but this is a hip hop album so ballads aren't going to make the grade. All in all, Blueprint 3 just isn't what it was hyped as. As Byron Crawford posted earlier in the week, this album sounds more like the Blueprint 2 than the Blueprint and that is not a good thing. 
So, the moral of the story is that I am a huge let down. But, I will think of something new and it will be great. Maybe I will dedicate the entire month to Yo La Tengo, and every day I can break down a different song or something like that. That could be fun, or it could be stupid. It'll be hard to tell without trying.

01 September 2009

I Bought This on Amazon for Less Than a Pack of Cigarettes

I have to confess that I am somewhat cheating on this one. I have heard this album prior to procuring it off of Amazon for roughly the same price as a pack of cigarettes in the greater Baltimore area. Once, I was in a girl's bedroom and we sat on the floor and listened to the first Passion Pit EP and an album by a band known as Department of Eagles, and while we sat we drank malt liquor out of a can. At one point and for whatever reason, I started out talking about how not hip I am, and as an example I started talking about how I had never heard TV On the Radio until "Wolf Like Me" started getting played on MTV. "Shit. You're missing out," is what she said, and shortly after that I heard desperate youth, blood thirsty babes for the first time. 
The album was released in 2004, and was awarded the Shortlist Music Prize, which is basically the American version of the Mercury Prize in which a group of musicians, producers, and journalists get together and vote on what the best album of the year was and they're only allowed to vote on albums that didn't go Gold that year. For instance, in 2004 when TVotR won, they beat out Wilco, Ghostface Killah, Franz Ferdinand, and The Killers for top ranking. 
On the flip side, music scribe Robert Christgau lambasted the album in his review, basically dismissing the band as art crap. He called them "dull", and said that the only people who would like it are people who praise every piece of new art as genius. "All told, pretty dull--unless you're so desperate that you'll sing hosanna for ever piece of intelligent-honest-original that comes down the circuit." (Christgau, Village Voice, 8/31/04).
In a way, I understand Christgau's criticism. I just finished reading this book called Bright Lights, Big City by Jay McInerney, and I harbored similar feelings. The book was written entirely in the second person which makes it clever, but clever only holds up for so long. Take the first line of the book as an example. "You are not the kind of guy who would be at a place like this at this time of the morning." (McInerney 1). When you read that, you're like "Holy shit, this book is going to be awesome!!!" This is a fleeting feeling though, and eventually it wears off. As a reader, you finally get to a point where the protagonist may as well just be named "you" because as the story unfolds the reader begins to become a little weary from all the self-destructive behavior that the main character engages in. I finally got to a point where I felt like I was reading one of those Choose Your Own Adventure stories except this time I had no control and my character's options all revolved around drugs and sex. 
Anyway, back to TVotR. I wouldn't lump this album and that book in the same category, and the reason for that is because Bright Lights, Big City doesn't have "Staring At The Sun" on it. This is actually a fairly interesting record, especially when compared to the band's last two albums Return to Cookie Mountain and Dear, Science. Return to Cookie Mountain is the disc that rocketed the band into a whole other stratosphere, and Dear, Science was just really really good. Already, I feel like I could make the argument that Desperate Youth, Blood Thirsty Babes is my favorite and the best TVotR album. The beats and the loops give this disc its crackle and pop, and at no time does it sound like they are trying too hard. 
One of the big knocks on TVotR is that they are no fun. Haters say that the songs aren't fun to listen to, and when you see pictures of the band they look like surly bros. But, not everything is going to be fun all the time. That's just setting the bar way too high. And, besides on "Ambulance" the band attempts some kind of weird, avant-garde barbershop quartet singing which is kind of funny if only for the reason that this band is considered to be no fun at all. The songs don't have to be fun because they are heavy, and they pack a punch. If you want fun, then just skip ahead to Dear, Science and dance the night away. But there is something much more deliberate going on with this one. What it is, I have no idea, but the band's delivery makes me want to believe that they know what they are doing. 
(Writer's Note: Sorry for the absence, but a whole lot of awful shit has been happening. As a result, I may start writing on here at a somewhat furious pace, or, perhaps I will go back to reading books. As a betting man, I would say that I will be writing a lot more in the future. It's a new day. It's a new phase. It's all just so, new.)