Saturday, March 31, 2007

Daniel Was In Town

what i'm listening to right now: This Ain't No Picnic by the Minutemen
This past week our friend, Daniel was in town from NYC. I took my camera along with us one night to document the fun. Amanda and I drank more than we have in the span of a week in a quite a while. Thursday night Daniel went all night with us, peaking with the following...

After this, Amanda went to sleep and we wrapped up the night with bourbon and The White Album. Damn, The White Album is good.
also, there are some pictures added to the post about the Tokyo Police Club show the other night, scroll down to see them.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

The Night Of The Furies

this is an outline for a review I'm attempting to write for the
Hatchet. I'm going to write and edit as the week progresses, as it stands
it's nowhere near what I want it to be. there's plenty of thoughts trailing
off and little notes to myself. feel free to comment on it, give me your
feedback etc.
Things happen and change the way you view a song or a band. Your friends change, and maybe you can't hang with them anymore. That friend who got all patriotic and started voting Republican. Steve who started doing more drugs than you were doing, and you know, opium dens were never really your scene. Maybe that's what's happening with The Rosebuds now. At least with me. The Rosebuds are in that opium den of layered 80's new wave. I never really got into Depeche Mode. And that's who The Rosebuds are reminding me of on their new album, Night Of The Furies.

Now, I can't say that I dislike this album. Ivan Howard's voice is as amazing as it always has been. It seems to have moved out of the forefront this time, though. Being surrounded by the synthesizers and bass that seem to overtake their once spare arrangements.

I've always imagined The Rosebuds as a modern day Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers. Ivan's simple, optimistic songs about growing up, being in love, going out at night, umm The Lost Colony...

(this album could be like those new wave songs that Tom Petty did, like "don't come around here" and what was that one with the arcade games in the desert?)

in the end I think this album is where the future of the Rosebuds will be decided. go forward with this new wave thing, or continue to experiment. will they regress to the power pop of Make Out? will they try different instruments in their arrangements? will they go country? will they turn the band into an Arcade Fire-like symphony? they'll probably just go ahead with the new wave thing. maybe they'll fine tune it. I'm just not sold on this album. I've had the promo copy for about a month now, and just can't figure out how to like it as much as Make Out Or Birds Make Good Neighbors. and maybe that's just it. I don't like it as much as their previous work, it's good, they're just that friend that turned out to be a opium smoking republican.

The Official Thumbs Down On The Cold War Kids.

Last night I went to Chapel Hill to see a concert. The main reason I went was to see Tokyo Police Club. Who were just as good as I'd expected them to be. They are a fantastic, energetic band, with good songs and great hooks. It was just really good. Amanda was contemplating trying to get a few questions out of the band, but realized there wasn't much she could ask. The band is just good, and we could only think to ask them if they think they're as good as we think they are. It's just really good rock, and there's not much else I can say or think about it.

They were opening for The Cold War Kids. As Pitchfork said, please, bloggers, place your hyperbolic praise on something worth it. Like an earthy, conservative Pearl Jam, Cold War Kids is an easy pick. Easy as in lazy. It sounds like the good moments from bands that you liked years before, just not as good, and nowhere near as interesting. Add to that, Cold War Kids are conservatives.

At the end of hidden track "Sermons vs. the Gospel", which dismisses The
New York Times, psychoanalysis, and European vacations before somehow
absolving "stealing from the poor," Willett yowls, "Lord, have mercy on me/
I believe the words can change the heart" from pitchfork

So, I can't hang with Gingrichian rock. Milquetoast Gingrichian rock at that.

The surprise of the night was openers The Delta Spirit. Taking Rhett Miller's egomania out of The Old 97s and inserting harmonies straight outta "Music From Big Pink", Delta Spirit sound like they should be from New Orleans. Maybe they are, their website says California, though. Maybe they got moved by Katrina? I'm going to go with myth, and assume they're from La. and not L.A. As if I was listening to Creedence in the 60's, I'd be completely fooled by the feeling of location I get from this band. They were more in the mold of Cold War Kids than Tokyo Police Club, so the transitions between sets were fairly weird, alt-country/indie-punk/alt. rock. Delta Spirit played with conviction and swerve that seemed genuine. (Cold War Kids' conviction and swerve seemed rehearsed, playing up close to each other, pained facial expressions with every word.) Delta Spirit's songs aren't as interesting on CD, as I found from listening to their ep "I Think I've Found It!". That bristling energy and belief in song that were so apparent on stage get watered down on disc. At the very least, they're a band to watch. I'd go see them again without hesitation.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Sad News.

I was very saddened by the news that Elizabeth Edwards' cancer has returned. Though I am an Obama man, I have been a supporter of theirs for a long time. I still have the response letters that John Edwards wrote me when he was in the Senate. I was probably ranting about the war or some other thing that Bush was doing terribly wrong. Probably the 2000 election as well. Anyway, it's just awful news. Her cancer can be treated, but never cured. I hope she's able to live a long comfortable life.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Conservapedia Returns. Strikes Back. Go To White Castle.

what i'm listening to right now: white light/white heat by the Velvet Underground

My good friends at Conservapedia continue to outdo themselves. You might remember last month I wrote about Conservapedia's fact/faith based article on Unicorns. Now, I've stumbled upon their article for George Washington and they lay this doozy on us...

Washington is perhaps the only person other than Jesus who declined enormous
worldly power, in Washington's case by first refusing to become a military
dictator or king and then by voluntarily stepping aside as the leader of a
prosperous nation. His precedent was voluntarily followed for 140 years.

Let me tell you, I've been declining enormous worldly power for at the most 23 years. It's amazing what these people will say. They go on to talk about how G. Wash was a Christian. Then continue to pound that nail into the wooden teeth for a couple more paragraphs. Now, let's look at the Wikipedia entry for ol' Washy... aside from being much longer, it sees fit to cover details of his life that are... interesting. And not in that wink wink interesting way, just interesting, like...

After retiring from the presidency in March 1797, Washington returned to Mount
Vernon with a profound sense of relief. He devoted much time to farming and, in
that year, constructed a 2,250 square foot (75-by-30 feet, 200 m²)
distillery, which was one of the largest in the new republic, housing five
copper stills, a boiler and 50 mash tubs, at the site of one of his unprofitable
farms. At its peak, two years later, the distillery produced 11,000 gallons of
corn and rye whiskey worth $7,500, and fruit brandy.[18][19]
George Washington's distillery is a part of the American Whiskey
That's interesting, but Conservapedia has an agenda, whereas, Wikipedia doesn't. Even though the people at Conservapdedia will tell you Wikipedia is a bastion of liberal censorship of conservative values. Wikipedia's educational, Conservapedia's a propoghanda tool. They're not taking into mind that Wikipedia is used by the entire world, and the American conservative movement is a tiny blip to the rest of the world. What douchebags. I'm done ranting about them... for now.

damn, this makes two posts that I used something I found on The Hater, who pointed out the George Washington article.

The Joy Of Local News

For every mind numbingly boring moment of your local news, there's one rare moment of whacked out bliss that breaks out of the monotony. Here are a few examples...

Texas, El Paso! I lost my leg in VIETnam!

"you sposta be up makin breakfast for someone. it's like an alarm clock, woo woo!"

it'll only make me sick.

I found the Tracy Morgan clip through my new favorite blog, The Hater.

Grand Canyon

what i'm listening to right now: Bicycle, Bicycle, You Are My Bicycle by Be Your Own Pet

This is a shot from a new walkway that hangs out over the Grand Canyon. It's from Reuters (click the link to see a slide show). I don't have much to say about this, aside from that I really really want to go to this. The idea of the Grand Canyon never really interested me until this moment. How odd.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

The Red Skull Pt. Two (Coal Shoveller's Pub)

this is a continuation of my post from earlier in the day. i'll give you an overview of what i'm doing here. basically we get a ton of CDs every week. if they're not promos, they're things we get from my girlfriend, Amanda's store (Ed McKay's Used Books & More), or stuff we actually spend money on. It's all more than we can actually listen to in one sitting, so some fall through the cracks, get shelved and we forget about them. Maybe I find something under the passenger seat in the car, anyway, you get the picture. In the first part of this ongoing irregular feature, I talked about Kaleidoscope, a gypsy/psychedelic/blues/mid-eastern/jugband group from the late sixties L.A. Now, I'm going to focus on one of the weirdest Kinks albums ever, The Kinks Present A Soap Opera...

So, by this point, The Kinks are about to be reborn in a sort of phoenix like situation into a giant rock spectacle. Adding big eighties crunch to their workman pop music. They're about to go back to the arenas, momentarily lose their critical cache, and make big money. They're gonna start sounding more like the Van Halen cover than the original. Before this, at the moment of Soap Opera, though, Ray Davies was reportedly batshit crazy. Staging musicals, putting British actors squabbling with each other into his songs. And that kinda describes Soap Opera. It's a kinda crazy musical with actors talking over the songs in certain points. Definitely ambitious. And the songs are very good. The idea of a musical gives Davies licence to use horns and other colors to his palette. Davies pretty much takes control of this album. It's got his populist flavor and his giant ego.
Ray Davies has always wished that he was not a rich person. Constantly writing odes to the working class that he never was. By the time they were international sensations, The Kinks were teenagers. Maybe Ray saw his dad at the pub with some other coal shoveller, but he never shoveled coal himself. Guilt over not being mediocre shaped the majority of The Kinks output. Soap Opera takes this guilt, and makes it well, operatic.
There are some very good songs on here, these songs would be on your Kinks greatest hits if it weren't for the actors talking over the songs. "Ordinary People" would be right up there with "Victoria" and "Picture Book", "You Make It All Worthwhile" would be sitting next to "Oklahoma, U.S.A." as one of their greatest ballads, but damn. Damn those voice overs.
These voice overs make me think I'm listening to the soundtrack to Little Shop Of Horrors. Songs like "Rush Hour Blues" sound like Rock Horror Picture Show if it took place in a suburban English home instead of transsexual transylvania.
As I continue to write about this album, I begin to become more and more conflicted about it. I'm not sure if I like it now, after listening to it three times than I did the first time I listened to it. Then, I hear a line like "answering phones, and dictating letters, making decisions that affect no one" from "9 to 5" and I'm back on the other side of the fence. Then, damn, "When Work Is Over" comes in after that short ballad, and I'm sitting checking out my watch at a high school musical. I can at least hold to my first position that this is the weirdest Kinks album I've heard. One of the weirdest albums that any of the British Invasion Big Three put out.

The Red Skull Pt. One (Bacon From Mars)

This is the start of an irregular feature, The Red Skull. We take in more CDs than we can possibly listen to when we first get them at our house. The goal of this feature is to go through some of these things we've picked up. The ones we got because they looked interesting, then there's the myriad questionable promos Amanda receives. I'll write about the ones that really stand out. Or write about the ones that are straight up awfulness. Today's albums are a collection of songs by Kaleidoscope called Egyptian Candy, and The Kinks Present A Soap Opera.

A large scale dumping of garage rock collections fell upon Amanda's store last month, it's taken awhile to wade through everything. It's range from the sublime (the object of this piece, Kaleidoscope, The Blue Magoos, Mouse & The Traps) to the so-so (We The People) to the embarrassing (The Peanut Butter Conspiracy). Kaleidoscope was the last of the bunch that I listened to. As I had become accustomed to the hyperbole infected liner notes of these CDs, I didn't bat much of a lash at the grand claim that "despite releasing excellent albums, made the Velvet Underground look famous in comparison". Now, taken as a statement of fact, this is true. The Velvet Underground probably sold more records while they were together. But we can all tell by this statement that Scott Isler is trying to tell us that Kaleidoscope is more obscure and yet on the same level of greatness as Velvet Underground. I really couldn't believe the balls of this guy writing the liner notes.
Then I listened to the CD. It's no White Light/White Heat, but it is very, very good. I was weary of the band because of the obvious psychedelic signs that were all over the case of the CD. The name of the band, the swirly lines on the cover, titles like "Pulsating Dream" and "Keep Your Mind Open". I was getting ready for insipid rhymes and being told that opening my mind would lift the Pentagon etc. I was wrong in all of my assumptions.
Some of the melodies have that similarity to your general summer of love hippy-dippy bullshit. The band takes your mind off that very quickly. They twist "world music" into the Arthur Lee blueprint for acceptable psychedelic rock. Goddamn, I hate that term world music. Generally dismissing thousands of genres into one. Putting Fela Kuti next to Micheal Flatley. I understand that it's hard to organize shelves in a record store into "Afrobeat" "Celtic" "Reggae" "Klezmer" etc. would be near impossible, but "world music" is just godawfully dismissive. Anyway, completely got off subject there. I was talking about Kaleidoscope.
Kaleidoscope started out as a bluegrass band. You can hear that in melodies and songs like "Baldheaded End Of A Broom" and "Cuckoo". They mix all that in with instruments that I've never heard of before, like the oud, the doumbeg, and the saz. These foreign instruments rub elbows with distorted guitar drones and banjos and mandolins. This all creates a genuinely unique sound. David Feldthouse and David Lindley the guys who play all these instruments and were the main guys behind Kaleidoscope aren't squatters in other cultures either. They are actually proficient at these instruments, unlike the swarms of sitar players that popped up after Sgt. Pepper's came out.
This band is also up on that whole gypsy thing that is getting so popular in the indie rock circles now. They just happened to do it forty years earlier than Beirut or Devotchka. (Not to deride either of these bands, because I'm totally into this shit too, guys.)
They even get all Flying Burrito Brothers on us on "Life Will Pass You By" third singer Chris Darrow sounds like the doppelganger of Gram Parsons here. It sounds fantastic. It's jaunty with high plains lonesome three part harmonies.
On "You Don't Love Me" they get their guitars at a dirty Junior Kimbrough/Black Keys tone and get impossibly bluesy. As with most of the songs on this collection, there isn't a precedent for this sound on earlier tracks.
They reach their peak on "Beacon From Mars" with it's drone and melody that totally rips off "You Are My Sunshine" (in a good way). The song was originally titled "Bacon From Mars" which would have made it one of the greatest song titles ever. The blues element of this band surfaces again during this song. It's a dark 12 minutes, not a boring dark like the 18 minutes of Love's "Revelation" at the end of Da Capo.
Any of these songs could have served as a blueprint for a passable late sixties garage band that could be lamented and called the forefathers of punk/gypsy rock/space rock/alt country/the as yet not created cross between indie rock and jugband music... instead Kaleidoscope got all of these down. Achieving an eclectic nature that few bands were truly able to achieve.
So, Scott Isler, liner note author, you came the closest out of the fantastical post-Nuggets hype men have to the truth in your hyperbole. While none of the members of Kaleidoscope were as good as lyricists that Lou Reed used to be. They did hop genres as The Velvet Underground did, just on a different side of the street.

I ended up writing much more about Kaleidoscope than I thought I would, so I will return either later today, or tomorrow with my thoughts on The Kinks Present a Soap Opera.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Garlic Non.

what i'm listening to right now: White House by The American Analog Set

My girlfriend, Amanda started her blog last night. It's called "The Obscure Object Of Desire" (shouting out to Jeffrey Ugenides and Bunel at the same time!). Amanda is the music editor of The Raleigh Hatchet, which has a new issue out.

Also just wanted to tell anyone interested that my picks for the big tournament are Texas vs. Oregon in the Finals, with Texas winning.

Damn, Son.

what i'm listening to right now: Some Beginner's Mind by Ted Leo & The Pharmacists

from Pitchfork

The Arcade Fire's second album, Neon Bible, claimed the No. 2 spot on the U.S. Billboard 200 charts this week, stomping all over new LPs from Daughtry, Relient K and Robin Thicke. According to Billboard, the album sold 92,000 copies this week; only Notorious B.I.G.'s Greatest Hits sold more.
That album, which was released ten years after the rapper's death, sold
99,000 copies. This position is miles ahead of Funeral's chart ranking,
which peaked at #131. The album also topped the Independent and Rock Album
charts. Neon Bible also took #2 in the UK, coming in second to the Kaiser
Chiefs' Yours Truly, Angry Mob.

That's some serious shit, man. It's huge. It's huge for Merge, it's huge for indie rock, and it's definitely huge for Arcade Fire. It's an amazing album. It's not watered down, it's no more easily accessable or poppy than Funeral, their previous album. It's fantastic, it's a giant of an album that is going to be the best album of the year barring a Neutral Milk Hotel reunion.

This shows the power of the internet. If the internet can make a band from Canada with a bad name second only to Biggie, then it can pick the next President, it can cook your clothes and wash your food. It's big time.

On an unrelated note, I'm listening to a promo copy of the new Ted Leo album. It's really good, very political, very well written. But, it's tracks are divided into 45 second parts to discourage people burning the album onto their ipods. That's some ol' bullshit. Thumbs down, Touch And Go. Thumbs down.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

"My Pet Goat"

what i'm listening to right now: gold lion by Yeah Yeah Yeahs

Yesterday I was listening to NPR in the shower and heard a story about Mrs. World. In a contest that seems vaguely Republican to me, married women do the whole beauty contest thing. This year's contest was held in Chechnya. You might know it for it's wars, terrorism, and being oppressed by Russia. There's something just so hilarious about a horde of beautiful women descending upon a war torn country side for a contest like this. What makes it more hilarious is that the president of the country actually offered one of the contestants, Mrs. Kenya, a goat and some chickens to lure her away from her husband.

This most definitely the first entrant into my "Best Stories Of 2007". I'll compile all of them at the end of the year. It's certainly not the best written story, just the best story story. I think someone should make a movie about this, ala Drop Dead Gorgeous. Which, by the way, is a totally underrated, very funny movie.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

We Travel The Spaceways With Yoshi

what i'm listening to right now: Pink Turns To Blue by Hüsker Dü

Late last night, Esteban and I faced off with eachother on some old school Nintendo action. The skill with which we approached this situation was minimal at best due to all the Canadian whisky and American lite beer. We started gamely enough with quite possibly the greatest video game ever, Yoshi. Amanda and I recently bought a top loading Nintendo, which plays about 90% of all the games I had from when I was a kid. The top loading Nintendo came out after the release of the Super Nintendo, for whatever reason, and it vanished shortly thereafter. So the ones you find are not usually played to death and all dusty/nasty like the one that was in my attic for years.

I woke up godawfully early this morning so I could take Amanda to work. Her cousin, Joe is coming in to town from Columbia, SC to play a rugby game. Later they'll be partying- rugby style, which is when I'll catch up with them after work. Speaking of sports, I'm crestfallen that Duke lost in the first round of the ACC tournament. I saw it coming, but was hoping for some miracle. Maybe that Greg Paulus touched the hem of His garment, or drank the water that was not from the well, maybe even heard an mp3 of the sermon on the mount. Unfortunately, that didn't happen, and this will continue to be one of the worst years ever for Duke fans. I just noticed the dirt on the video game cartridge pictured. That looks kinda nasty.

esteban! esteban! esteban!

Friday, March 9, 2007

Kings' Last (Great) Show

what i'm listening to right now: Synthetic Flying Machine by Neutral Milk Hotel
this is an image from montonix's myspace page, i'll have pictures from the concert that I took up in the next couple of days.
Two nights ago, I went to the what was the last great show that King's will ever have in it's hallowed, greasy hall(s). A triple bill of Un Deu Troix, Montonix, and town heroes, The Rosebuds. Un Deu Troix were pretty good. Passable female led indie rock with good basslines. Nothing to prepare any of us for the ensuing chaos.

Monotonix were crazed. Coming all the way from Tel Aviv, Israel, they literally set the place on fire. Flames shooting off of the cymbals and a flaming ring of toilet paper on the floor set us up for an act that I would not have wanted to follow. Monotonix's lead singer, Ami Shalev was a cross between Captain Hook (Dustin Hoffman, not the cartoon, and with more stubble, and glassy, drunken eyes) and Iggy Pop. At one point, he set even himself on fire. The band played on the floor instead of on the stage, from here, Shalev ventured out into the crowd, singing from the booths at the back of the club, and deep within the crowd. Shalev climbed into the rafters, and forced the typically armcrossed indie kids into holding hands and dancing ring around the rosey style. For the last song, Shalev broke down the drum kit piece by piece, giving a cymbals, kick drums and hi-hats to various members of the crowd, leaving the drummer with just his tom-tom. Then he took that and the drummer chased after it.

I really didn't think that there was anyway that The Rosebuds could have matched this set. Especially considering that the last couple of times I've seen them, they've been lacking in the energy that they've been known for. A mix of low expectations, and how absolutely great they were made this one of the best concerts I've been to in years. They've finally become accustomed to their new material and played with abandon. Towards the end of the show, they brought us all up onto the stage to sing and dance along with crowd favorite, "Drunkard's Worst Nightmare". During a rare performance of "The El Camino" Ivan inserted lyrics from Tom Petty's "Walls" into the end of the song. I'm still not sold on their new album, and that could change. But the direction they're heading in on the stage now points to a much more exciting fourth album.

Speaking of albums by local bands that i'm not sold on: The Annuals. So far it's done nothing for me. What's the big deal. And I think they maybe played two shows in town, if that before they got the big internet fellatio. Maybe i'm just drinking the haterade instead of the Kool-Aid on this band.

I'm gonna miss Kings. It was (is until the 7th of next month) the only venue of note in Raleigh. It's been nice being able to see quality shows without having to drive back from Carborro at the end of the night. Hopefully it finds a new space and doesn't have to change itself to much to fit into a new spot. It's character has invited wide and varying shows, everything from a rare Shellac show, Renelvis, and Th' Legendary Shack Shakers. It served as the homebase to at least two of the best bands this area's had since Superchunk, The Rosebuds and Cherry Valence put on some of the best shows ever there. They've hosted wrestling, talk shows, and the jewel in their crown, The Great Cover Up. I've had bottles tossed at me by a fake Hasil Adkins, I almost moshed to a fake Minor Threat, and I gained respect for a fake Eddie Money. I'll miss you, Kings.

I'll go to the final show on the 7th. Birds Of Avalon and Black Taj (and special guests). It should be great, but the hangover from the show two nights ago will probably make that night fuzzy in comparison.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

i against i

Many years ago, I was probably in middle school, I saw a 30 second clip on MTV that blew my brains across the room. It was a grainy, black and white promo clip of "i against i" by The Bad Brains. I'm pretty sure it was my first exposure to hardcore punk. I'm not sure of the context that the clip was played in, but I remember feeling that I was on a mission from God. As soon as I had enough money saved up, I bought the first Bad Brains album. Through the magic of YouTube, I found that clip that had me so completely transfixed. I've since tired of hardcore punk. As has most of the world. But, damn, listening to the Bad Brains is like listening to Sam Cooke. It's so transcendant. They just completely went beyond what anyone else did with the genre, creating something timeless, exciting and visceral. Of course, as any one who spent so much of their early career melting people's faces off, they faltered later on in their careers. But, man, the early face melting is totally worth it.

The Greatest Thing... Ever.

This is a clip of the group, Young At Heart. A chorus of elderly people interperting modern songs, Talking Heads, Rolling Stones, and this gem, "Schizophrenia" by Sonic Youth. There is an NPR clip of them performing "Stairway To Heaven", it's amazing. This is what I want to be doing when I'm put in a home.

Gay Porn Star Making The Rounds In The Conservative Media

what i'm listening to right now: None Shall Pass by Aesop Rock
So, this guy Matt Sanchez has been making the rounds in the conservative media. He is a student at Columbia, and a corporal in the Marines. He's 36. He also is a former gay porn star who made an appearance on the Tom Green show on MTV. He was dressed as a fireman, and gyrated all over co-host, Glenn. I wonder if O'Reilly knew this, how would he react? I mean, he screams at the children of 9/11 victims, what would he do in this situation? Hey, good for Matt Sanchez, though. If you ain't sellin' your skin, you're sellin' your soul. Gotta make that paper somehow. You do know that these people you're cavorting with, blame you for 9/11, don't you?
story from Atrios via Joe My God