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Monthly Archives: October 2011

Full Albums:

  • Left Lane Cruiser, All You Can Eat!! and Bring Yo’ Ass to the Table
  • M83, Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming1
  • Mayer Hawthorne, How Do You Do
  • The Replacements, HootenannyLet it BePleased to Meet Me, Stink and Tim2
  • Tom Vek, Leisure Seizure

Random Excellence:

  • Child Rebel Soldier, “Don’t Stop!”
  • Collective Soul, “Shine”
  • Craig Mack, “Flava in Ya Ear Remix”
  • The Hold Steady, “Hot Soft Light”
  • Kidz in the Hall, “Jukebox”

Songs of the Week:

  • The Replacements, “Can’t Hardly Wait,” “God Damn Job” and “Bastards of Young”
  • The Knife, “Heartbeats”
  • Mayer Hawthorne, “No Strings”

Reviews:

1. There’s so much here that I wonder if it honestly needs to be a double album. I’m sure quite a bit could’ve been cut, but I will say it’s pretty unbeatable in terms of a big, long album to throw on and plug-and-chug to at work. As far as I can tell, the highlights are “Midnight City,” “Raconte-Moi Une Histoire,” “Claudia Lewis,” “OK Pal,” “Steve McQueen” and “Klaus I Love You.”

2. Oh man. So these guys seem like they were the punk kids who grew up to play your everyman, blue-collar rock–but they never gave up that “Fuck everyone!” vibe. On their first album it’s straight punk with hints of classic fifties doo-wop. Yes, they’ll stop mid-outrage and break into a distorted piece of R&B. I can’t quite figure them out, but I feel like they were just rebelling against everything. Like they didn’t even want to get their shit together.

One of their early songs was called “I Hate Music” and yet they went on to be signed by a major label. They might have been drunk or high or just apathetic, but when it all fell into place, you were in for a reckoning–and holy fuck could those guys nail it. “Bastards of Young,” “Can’t Hardly Wait” and “Androgynous” are pristine. It doesn’t make any sense, but they sound like the descendants of Bruce Springsteen, Norman Greenbaum, The Clash and more all just bundled up into one. Throw that mess up on stage and they’ll play some songs while flicking everyone off at the same time.

It’s as confusing and mind-boggling as it is awe-inspiring. Particularly when you listen to the Extended versions that came out in the last five years. They covered T-Rex and country singers and Elvis and a ton of music you’ve never heard of or realized you liked. They knew their shit and yet they still played like they didn’t give a shit.

But they were good.

Comment:

One of my friends pointed out there’s no Led Zeppelin on Spotify. I know they can’t support all albums across their mobile networks and whatnot, but the idea of converting my iPod to a Spotify library like it suggests every time my iPod’s connected to my computer and Spotify is open scares the shit out of me.

Sure, the local files will be okay, but the fact that it wants me to delete my non-DRM protected music from my library seems ridiculous, too. It’s not a roadblock to listening to all my other music or anything, I just don’t want to switch to a music player that won’t play my music. The songs in question were not stolen, they just don’t have some stupid lines of code that Spotify likes.

It’s also incredibly frustrating to have to have to find my recently played songs on Facebook. Maybe if I messed around a little, I could set up an updateable playlist, like I have on iTunes, that lets me review the music I’ve listened to in the last week. For example, the Chickenfoot album I listened to like three weeks ago has completely slipped my mind. Maybe I was distracted or maybe it was just okay, but the point is, since Spotify is still spotty, I didn’t do t.w.i.m. right for a while.

Which is why I cringe every time a Spotify commercial declares, “There’s no better place for your MP3s than Spotify.” I genuinely think there’s no better place to listen to (new and new to you) music without having to pirate or purchase music you don’t like than Spotify. I won’t be converting my entire library to Spotify, but I went through the majority of a band’s oeuvre in a week thanks to Spotify. I learned how truly talented they are, but never once did I think, “My God. I want to listen to these albums with unending commercials and the off-chance that I’ll only be able to listen to some of my songs.” All I really thought was, “I should probably buy Pleased to Meet Me, Tim and Let it Be when I have spare funds.”

Which is great. Maybe this is the model that will curb the music industry’s downward spiral. I genuinely hope it is, because if it really is, I’m totally willing to put up with their shitty, lying commercials.

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Full Albums:

  • Driver F, Chase the White Whale
  • Left Lane Cruiser, Bring Yo’ Ass to the Table, All You Can Eat!!, and Junkyard Speed Ball1
  • Mastodon, The Hunter
  • Mayer Hawthorne, How Do You Do2

Random Excellence:

  • The Gaslight Anthem, “The Diamond Street Church Choir”
  • TV on the Radio, “Playhouses”
  • Pearl Jam, “Severed Hand”
  • The Afghan Whigs, “Crime Scene Part One”
  • Big Boi, “You Ain’t No DJ”

Songs of the Week:

  • Left Lane Cruiser, “Busket”1
  • Eagles of Death Metal, “Speaking in Tongues”
  • Eminem, “Despicable”
  • Kanye West, “The Joy”
  • Yeah Yeah Yeahs, “Y Control”

Reviews:

1. It’s just a whole bunch of awesome. When he yells out, “Two! Three! Four!” on “Busket” I get shivers. These are just phenomenal albums.

2. Now here’s an unreasonably good album. Admittedly, I don’t like “The News,” but my favorite songs are “A Long Time,” “Finally Falling” and “No Strings.” “The Walk” is proving to be pretty contagious, probably because it reeks of sixties soul, its lyrics are hysterical and the video is phenomenal. But a lot of the time, I’ll keep reaching for “No Strings” and I’ll often even listen to the “Classixx Original” version too because it’s also crazy good. It’s a great way to end the album because it keeps the whole thing circular: he ends the album with his (stronger) one night stand song and starts the album with a song about wanting to get to know a girl. Then it all builds into more songs about love and making love (or broken love a la “The Walk”). It’s disappointing to see that “Henny and Ginger Ale” isn’t on the CD, but all in all, this album’s appropriately titled. This is his time to shine.

Comment:
I’m excited about a lot of music right now, whether it’s out or about to come out. I don’t know if this is preemptive, but I feel like there’s kind of a resurgence happening right now. Then again, I could just be paying more attention than usual. All I’m saying is, there’s lots of good stuff out there and I want to listen to most of it.

Oh man, oh man, oh man, I cannot begin to tell you how excited I am about this one. I’m taking a copyediting class and part of the assigned reading is a section from The Chicago Manual of Style, 16th Ed. I’ve mentioned this before, but periods are not supposed to go outside quotation marks–but here’s the one exception:

In an alternative system, sometimes called British style (as described in The Oxford Style Manual; see bibliog. 1.1), single quotation marks are used, and only those punctuation points that appeared in the original material should be included within the quotation marks; all others follow the closing quotation marks.

Then, a little bit further down, there’s also:

Double quotation marks are reserved for quotations within quotations.

Which is to say, when writers leave periods outside quotation marks and use “British style” as their excuse, they’re still doing it wrong–unless they’re using single quotation marks.

I love it when rules are that simple and explicit. I feel sane again.

Full Albums

  • GZA, Pro Tools
  • The Hold Steady, Almost Killed Me
  • Hugo, Old Tyme Religion1
  • Kendrick Lamar, Section.802
  • Left Lane Cruiser, Junkyard Speed Ball and Bring Yo’ Ass to the Table3
  • Mastodon, The Hunter4
  • The Rolling Stones, Exile on Main St. (Deluxe Edition)

Random Excellence:

  • Terius Nash, “Wake Me When It’s Over”
  • Tame Impala, “Lucidity”
  • Public Enemy, “By the Time I Get to Arizona”
  • Prince, “Starfish and Coffee”
  • Outkast, “West Savannah”

Songs of the Week:

  • Nice & Smooth, “No Delayin'” and “Funky For You”5
  • Yelle, “Tu Es Beau”
  • M83, “We Own the Sky”
  • J.J. Cale, “I’ll Make Love to You Anytime”

Reviews:

1. So this is good, but I don’t think the poor guy’s going to be more than a one hit wonder. It’s a delight but it’s not quite as good as some of the other stuff on this list. But then again, some of the other stuff I like here will never be as mainstream as this guy could be. You have to admit, that “99 Problems” bit was pretty genius.

2. I’m so glad this guy is around. It kind of hearkens back to production of the late eighties and early nineties without any of the shitty rhymes. An excellent album.

3. This will probably be the only band I listen to for a month or so. It’s part Black Keys, part Rolling Stones and part metal. It’s blues the way I love to hear it: loud, dirty and crunchy as hell. They Junkyard just came out this year, but it’s their third album and this is the first time I’ve ever heard of them. Needless to say, I immediately dug into the back catalog to try to quench my thirst for more. I probably won’t be satiated until I’ve listened to all three of their albums on repeat for a very long time.

4. I love AllMusic.com. They’re such a great resource for proper spellings, song orders and reviews–but sometimes I don’t understand them. I know the art of reviewing albums in a very short time span is hit and miss (I frequently disregard an album that I’ll discover I kind of love on the second listen), but I really don’t think Leviathan is better than this album. They’ve been critical darlings for a while, but that album got 5 out of 5 stars and this one only got 4. What is so weird to me is not just the AllMusic response, but how most critics seem to generally agree with them. It makes me wonder if I just don’t know enough about metal music or somehow listening to them in the wrong way. That said, I’ll probably end up listening to The Hunter more than Leviathan because I can. Reviews aren’t my real dad.

5. These are those days where production was too good and the raps were fucking terrible. I think Greg Nice might’ve worn a helmet to class in high school. But good gravy, the things they were doing with samples. They were so good at sampling that it no longer matters that their raps were only kind of good–people listened to these songs so much that they had no choice but to ingrain some of these lines and build on them. Which is okay, because snippets in here taken out of context make way more sense than when they’re laying next to each other. Give me two weeks with these songs and I’ll hate that I know every word, but the beats will be eternal.

Comment:

I listened to Todd Hanson’s WTFPod. This guy’s a 20-year man at The Onion. Maron interviewed him in the hotel room he tried to commit suicide in. He’s such a funny man and it was heartbreaking to be able to hear the sadness in his voice. But it seems like after his attempt failed, his life started to come back together. He finally realized how many people care about him. I’ll stop putting words in his mouth, but listening to his story made me love (and want to work for) The Onion more than ever before. Todd Hanson, you glorious son of a bitch. Be well.

Full Albums:

  • Bill Withers, Just as I Am1
  • LCD Soundsystem, Live at Madison Square Garden2
  • Ol’ Dirty Bastard, Return to the 36 Chambers3
  • U-God, Golden Arms Redemption3
  • Toro y Moi, Underneath the Pine4

Random Excellence:

  • Ghostface Killah, “Nutmeg”5
  • Big K.R.I.T., “Country Shit (Remix)”
  • Sleigh Bells, “Rill Rill”
  • Saves the Day, “Bones”
  • Wu-Tang Clan, “Wu Tang: 7th Chamber”

Songs of the Week:

  • Big Pun, “Twinz (Deep Cover 98)”6
  • Bill Withers, “Grandma’s Hands”7

Reviews:

1. My goodness, the production on this album is phenomenal. From the strings to the guitars to the signing, it’s just a beautiful collection of music. It reminds me of Songs in the Key of Life in the sense that I’m also very clearly not the only person who feels as strongly about it. At every turn there’s at least a snippet that has even become a musical archetype: you don’t know why or how, but you know this song. For just one example, see the seventh footnote here.

2. Of course it’s because this recording’s from his fourth and last night, but James Murphy just sounds tired. He sounds full of joy and gratitude, but he’s ready to sit behind the recording board once again. LCD Soundsytem might be calling it a night, but they sure as hell went out with a bang.

3. On Wednesday, two friends and I took MTA’s X22 bus from 42nd Street out to Staten Island where we saw the Wu-Tang Clan perform. Sure, Ol’ Dirty Bastard’s dead and neither RZA nor Method Man could attend, but I was still on the secluded side of Staten Island where the tiny stage had 8-15 of the most important rappers in the recent development of the DZA.

It started off with Raekwon. Then Ghostface came out and they did “Criminology.” Then Cappadonna. Then Masta Killa so they could do “Ice Cream.” Then Cappadonna did a song of his own I’d never heard of because I don’t follow him because he didn’t enter the 36 chambers–not for me. And just as I was getting nervous this was going to be the whole “Wu-Tang Clan” performance, Ghostface said this was just an appetizer. And out came Inspectah Deck, U-God and GZA. They did some of their own songs (“Duel of the Iron Mic”) but also the classics (“Protect Ya Neck” with audience members to fill in for the missing rappers). The rest is blurred by sheer elation, but it made me realize I still don’t listen to enough Wu-Tang.

So I listened to these two on Spotify and they are just so incredibly different. Honestly, U-God’s album’s kind of terrible. I don’t think he’s even rapping on beat on “Stay in Your Lane.” I’ll admit “Dat’s Gangsta” and “Rumble” were pretty impressive, but some of it was just so disappointing, particularly considering how many lives he changed with his verse on “Da Mystery of Chessboxin’.”

Somehow that doesn’t happen on ODB’s album. The majority of the songs are either excellent or good enough. It’s by no means a perfect album, but listening to that after the U-God album was like a breath of fresh air. But don’t get me wrong, Golden Arms’ redemption came in the form of the memories of Wednesday night I’ll probably carry with me forever.

4. I had the same problem with this one as I had with his previous album. The stuff that’s great on it is phenomenal, but I don’t really like much else. It feels like too much of a jumble. But the new hotness is “New Beat.”

5. So Ghostface names all the first solo albums of the other members then starts naming all of his albums except Supreme Clientele. When we all yell the name of the missing puzzle piece, he just rips into this song. And of course when it came up on random while I was jogging the next day, I had the most awesome flashback. That boy Ghostface is charisma incarnate, yo.

6. DJ Jasmine Solano played this one during her warm up set. Even when Mick Boogie followed up her set with amazing songs (including some of my favorite Pete Rock & C.L Smooth jumpoffs), I still couldn’t get over this one. I played it on repeat at work about five times. Pretty incongruous for my workplace, but it’s just so good. Big Pun just crush a lot–dude got mad puns, yo.

7. The intro of this song is the entire basis of Blackstreet’s “No Diggity.” Sure, Dr. Dre threw on some keys, but can you blame him? Actually, there’s no one to blame, both songs are a sheer delight. Mr. Withers was truly a master.

Comment:

I think I made this abundantly clear, but I saw the Wu-Tang Clan on the 28th and it was amazing. Also amazing: I listened to 12.5 hours of WTF with Marc Maron–only 10 episodes with about 30 left.

All that shit’s heavy, yo.