Sunday, December 30, 2007

Record Review: Merry Pierce - The Warm Aquarium

If you're from America you've probably never heard of Merry Pierce. They are Dutch and last time I checked bands from The Netherlands aren't regularly featured on MTV or US radio. It's really too bad. The Dutch music scene is one of the most dynamic in the world with sounds for every musical taste.

For those of you who liked Grandaddy and wouldn't mind mixing a little Dinosaur Jr. (circa Green Mind) with a few more contemporary pop influences you will be very happy to give Merry Pierce a go.

In 2000 Merry Pierce had a hit debut - Beach Blanket Bingo - full of deep and penetrating pop. Seven years is a long time to wait for an album. The Warm Aquarium has some clever wordplay - especially in "Right 2B Wrong" (If you trick me once I'll trick you twice as good") - but just isn't as good as I know they can consistently be. My favorite three tracks are "Untitled," "Audrey's Dance," and "The Town Where We Used to Live."

"Untitled" begins with some faint film dialogue and a melodic guitar until the magic words "I guess you'll have to stay the night" are spoken. Then the song moves into its own and Merry Pierce fills the sonic landscape with some truly warm and unique sounds. Untitled is the purest "listening" song on the album.

"Audrey's Dance" has guest vocals by Anneke van Giersbergen (formerly of the Gathering, lately of Agua de Annique). This James Bond-y lounge act song drips seduction. If Quentin Tarantino was going to direct a music video this song would be perfect for his special talents. It absolutely reeks of cigarettes and dim lighting. Anneke's voice sounds pure and even after almost eight minutes (by far the longest song on the album) I found myself on more than one occasion hitting repeat. It's a beautiful track and the album is worth buying if only to be able to listen to it.

"The Town Where We Used to Live" starts with a Sophtware Slump homage keyboard loop that leads into a perfect guitar followup. Its the pop-iest song on the record and therefore the catchiest and most drivable. This (and the album on a whole) is a great sunny day driving song, hopefully with the top down.

However, there are ten tracks on the album (really eleven but I don't count the one minute "Interlude Overture") and other then the three mentioned above, none really stand out to my ear. Well, that's not true. I really like listening to "7 Weeks" (with its cool sounding Voltron vocals) and I like the first track, "The Media." Actually I like the premier track a lot, but its not a stand out radio worthy song, its an album song. To me, its job is to set the tone for the rest of the album. It does this job excellently, announcing "Here we are, rising stars. Welcome to the show. Hold on here we go." It's not a single though and I suppose a song that can stand on its own receives my highest rating.

All in all I think this album should be purchased in its entirety. It has what I consider some stand out tracks, but for those of us out there who like the particular sound they fit with, they won't be disappointed by the album, though the seven year wait was a little much.

Bottom Line: Another good Dutch artist that won't be popular in the States. Not necessarily a bad thing, but still.

The Warm Aquarium receives: 3.15


Note: The Libertine and I employ different rating schemata. I rate individual songs on an album on a scale of 0-5 and then take the average. Here is how I arrived at my rating:

1. The Media: 3
2. The Town Where We Used To Live: 4
3. Kenny Roger's Son: 2.5
4. Right 2B Wrong: 3
5. Easy Come, Easy Go: 2
6. Mount Saint Elsewhere: 3
7. Untitled: 4
8. 7 Weeks: 3
9. Californian Girls: 2
10. Interlude Overture*
11. Audrey's Dance: 5

Total: 31.5/10 = 3.15
(*did not count this track due to its short length)

I believe in the artist's right to album integrity (exemplified by Radiohead’s refusal to release their catalogue for purchase on a track by track basis).

However, not every band is created equal. Same goes for songs. As we all know, some albums have only 1 or 2 good songs. I want to be able to show my readers which tracks are the “stand outs” in case they don’t want to, or can’t afford to, purchase an entire album.

Every rating system is inherently subjective and a number, no matter how it is derived, can't definitively capture whether an album is good, bad, or in the middle. If you don’t agree with my review, I welcome your comments and am open to reconsider my initial views.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Such a phenomenal band

I don't think this band gets nearly as much credit as it should. They're probably the greatest american band ever (if you really think about it, its a short list). While the Beatles were writing shitty pop songs, the Velvet Underground were living in New York's East Village writing gritty tracks about drug addiction, poverty, and issues females have with their bodies. I've been listening to the Velvet Underground alot while running lately. Here are some of my favorite songs including the track Heroin which is probably the first punk song ever written.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Record Review--Soft "Gone Faded"


If South are the second coming of both New Order and Stone Roses, then Soft completes the revival by embodying the sound of the Madchester scene's Ride circa Nowhere era. Gone Faded is a twelve track collection featuring shoegazer guitars and a polite madchester rhythm section. The results are a dreamy pop adventure remniscent of some of the best Ride albums. The lead single features, Droppin, features a slow guitar buildup to a mean bassline culminating in a simple drumbeat while the lead singer's lyrics lament an ex-girlfriend that drops in and out of his life. Its a great track. The rest of the album contains heavenly guitars over danceable basslines and drumbeats. Its an album you'll constantly be tapping your foot to and is one of the year's best albums. Other standout tracks include Great Spirit, Gone Faded, Ten Times Strong, and You Make Me Wanna Die.

Lambasted by the indie rock community as being pretentious because the band formed early in 2004 in Brooklyn and holed themselves in storage unit honing their songs before they played any real gigs, I personally think the approach is both reasonable and sensible. Look past the backlash and find one of the albums of the year.



Its not music but it is interesting.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Record Review -- Dragons "Here Are The Roses"

Anthony Tombling Jnr.
David Francolini
- with -
Calvin Talbot - guitar
Will Crewdson - guitar
James Fage - bass
Adam Coombs - synthesizers

"Here Are The Roses" excited me from the first measured bass strums and synth hooks. I wanted to hear more of this album and looked forward to what would come next.

Dragons debut album is inspired - maybe by other post-rock electro-gothic synth sounds like Joy Division/NewOrder, Depeche Mode, and a bit of The Cure - but great artists have a tendency to inspire other artists - i.e., The Editors and Interpol. The fact that Dragons sonic lineage is readily apparent is not a black mark in my book. Pigmaei gigantum humeris impositi plusquam ipsi gigantes vident. We wouldn’t be where we are today without those that came before to guide the way. I like Dragons and their ilk – though Interpol’s latest is a mixed bag – and these boys from Bristol are a nice new edition.

Here Are The Roses is by far my favorite song on the album. Tombling begins the song, and the album, with deep and deliberate vocals, in perfect tonal mesh with the underlying bass. But it’s the John Lydon like assault he unleashes a minute into the song that really grabbed my attention. "We've got a contender," I thought.

Authoritatively, he declares:

Here we stand the dislocated
Flung so far from what we'd dream
Hammered down then resurrected
We bear the scars of what we've been.
Now the time of new beginning
Though the past will never end
But you will never catch me thinking
It can ever be the same.

I think that should silence the critics, though I don’t think the lyric was consciously leveled at them. In a switch from genre, the song is actually an affirmation, an uplifting one at that. The past is the past, we can’t change it, we won’t know what could have been but “we can try now” and make the future ours. It’s a shame the video is so piss poor since it could have been fucking brilliant if they had a budget to work with (which I suspect they didn’t) to visually explore the thematic depth of the song.

Unfortunately Dragons never recaptures the excitement and passion so fully expressed in the title song. The follow up track, Condition promises to be hard rocking but lacks the follow through to capitalize on the solid drum foundation. Treasure, (which does sound like a Depeche Mode retread) has some nice moody guitar interspersed throughout but the song lyrically lacks substance. Obedience, my least favorite track, hammers down repetitively the command, “you cannot resist, the future demands your obedience, your obedience” sounding more like a Dalek singing into a microphone than whatever social statement Tombling is trying to get across.

The good news is that Obediance is the low point of the album. The fitth track Trust is a catchy New Order infused track that stands well on its own and is my second favorite on the album. Like a New Order tune, this would make a really nice dance remix, which is a strength of the song, not a flaw. Listen to Ozzy would be dj’s, “If you're going to do a cover of a song that has a great melody, don’t change the melody, for crissakes.”

Epiphany (a solid musical exercise routine) leads up to what will undoubtedly be their breakthrough single. Lonely Tonight will make most think of Interpol. It is the most fungible track on the album and it’s so radio-worthy that other bands should kick themselves for not writing it first.

Rememberance is a tonally dark following track with some really nice guitars and silky vocal work. Where Is The Love tries to take us to the darkest part of Dragons medley of offerings and has my favorite single lyric of the album, “Crushed by your spite, I lived on my knees, I bit off my tongue, but I wanted to.” Though the constant, “Where is the love,” gets a bit tedious.

Forever is the non sequitur of the album. It sounds like they completely channeled The Cure circa “Wish.” When’s the last time you heard wind chimes and guitars together in one place? The strange thing is that the song is somehow visually stimulating – it conjures up a nice dreamy beach scene serenade. It would make a great ironic video – soft lighting, lots of blues and tans, and some tight leather pants a la hair metal. Maybe I just need to talk to my therapist . . .

Overall it’s hard to think of this as a debut album. I want to agree that its really a collection of EP’s and singles, though the tracks do work together as a whole. There are some exceptions – Obedience, Epiphany, and the out of left field Forever.

Dragons have crafted a solid debut album with some top notch songs – lead by the title track. According to their recent interview on the Janice Long show on BBC Radio 2 they are looking to have a second album ready for the presses by February. They have the talent to produce an amazing follow-up, especially if they can capture and harness their unique musical voice readily apparent in Here Are The Roses and Remembrance.

Overall: 3.4 out of 5.

Listen on:


Buy The Album:

Amazon & Amazon mp3

Note: The Libertine and I employ different rating schemata. I rate individual songs on an album on a scale of 0-5 and then take the average. Here is how I arrived at my rating:

1. Here Are The Roses: 5
2. Condition: 3
3. Treasure: 2
4. Obedience: 1
5. Trust: 5
6. Epiphany: 3
7. Lonely Tonight: 4
8. Remembrance: 4
9. Where Is The Love: 3
10. Forever: 4

Total: 34/10 = 3.4

I believe in the artist's right to album integrity (exemplified by Radiohead’s refusal to release their catalogue for purchase on a track by track basis).

However, not every band is created equal. Same goes for songs. As we all know, some albums have only 1 or 2 good songs. I want to be able to show my readers which tracks are the “stand outs” in case they don’t want to, or can’t afford to, purchase an entire album.

Every rating system is inherently subjective and a number, no matter how it is derived, can't definitively capture whether an album is good, bad, or in the middle. If you don’t agree with my review, I welcome your comments and am open to reconsider my initial views.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Two Old Songs

These are two old songs that I've been listening to alot. Client are a really decent band.

Record Review-- Mando Diao "Ode to Ochrasy"


Mando Diao's 2004 release, Hurricane Bar was a triumph of garage rock. Combining the jagged guitars and ramshackle drumming of the lyrics with emotional and raw lyrics about love and desire, Hurricane Bar was an emo album for the garage set. It contained one of my favorite songs of, You Can't Steal My Love, which is a love song about the lead singer meeting his wife for the first time at a library and features the following wonderful lyric being screamed at the end of the song, "Honey, I love you/ Like the summer falls/ And the winter crawls/ You're above and beyond me." Its a fucking great track! I was really looking forward to this year's follow-up, Ode to Ochrasy.

My hopes were not well placed. This is the most disappointing album of the year. Released in Europe in 2006, the album hit stateside in early 2007. I was expecting something like Hurricane Bar, but what I got was a bluesy stones ripoff with little melody or harmonies. Gone are the sweeping chrouses, the jagged guitars, and the poly-rhythmic drumming. Their sound has been stripped. Instead of sounding like a band that should be sharpening their skills, they sound like an untalented bar band.

The only songs worth listening to again are Morning Paper Dirt and Song for Aberdeen. Other than that, people should stay away from this album. The lads need to get back in the studio and work on their craft.


Day of the Ninja

It's December 5th and as you should know, its the Day of the Ninja. In the eternal battle between pirates and ninjas, everyone knows that ninjas would inevitably win. If you don't believe me, "You're going home in a fucking ambulance."

Those of course are the words of the expletive laden Beastie-esque sonic explosions from Ninja High School. You like Tokyo Police Club? You like The Beastie Boys? You like Professor Murder? You like ninjas and swearing and clever wordplay? You're gonna really like NHS, in fact NHS is gonna rock you.

Their website is here.

Check out their myspace here. All three songs are really good and catchy.

Listen to:
By Purpose Not By Plan (Sex Nerds Mix) (mp3) here.
Shake It Off (mp3) here.

Also for some other ninja action from the past, here is an oldie but goodie from Vanilla Ice.


Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Patrick Watson - Luscious Life

Many people compare Patrick Watson to the late Jeff Buckley. I'm not going to make that comparison. While they do share certain tendencies (listen to 1:20 for some eerily similar operatic flourishes) Patrick Watson has his own voice that is new and unique. He has a nice velvety style and lyricism that is very different from Buckley. Its a disservice to make the weighty comparison to Buckley. The only reason anyone brings up Buckley is because they want him to rise from the grave anyway.

Jeff Buckley is dead. He's never coming back no matter how many posthumous albums or lost concert recordings get released. Yes, it was a sad day when he drowned but no amount of Leonard Cohen covers is going to bring him back. Seriously, I'm pretty sick of every artist under the sun testing their chops on Hallelujah - a completely shop worn song.

Anyway, I am looking forward to hearing more from Patrick Watson. Hopefully he'll play a show or two outside of Canada.

Until then do youself a favor and watch the video above. I think you'll like it.

Check out Watson's myspace and if you dig his music, buy some here.

You can also test drive a couple of his songs on your ipod before you buy:

Luscious Life (mp3)
Giver (mp3)

My most favorite electronica song ever....

Amon Tobin is a freaking genius. Enough said. Check him out.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Record Review--Sunset Rubdown, "Random Spirit Lover"

Sprawling, ambitious and at times engrossing, the one thing that you cannot say about Random Spirit Lover is that it is boring. Each song sounds nothing like the other. Some have an almost showtunes like quality to them (although, it must be said they do not take advantage of this genre skipping as well as P:ano) while others sound like outtakes from the latest Clap Your Hands Say Yeah album. The bands sounds like a strange cross between the Shins, Clap Your Hands, P:ano, and Destroyer. If you can imagine what that band would sound like, well, then you should be writing children's books because you have one hell of an imagination.

When this album really works are on the more traditional song formats like the track "Up on Your Leopard, Upon the End of Your Feral Days" where the lead singer wins you over with the earnestness of his lyrics like, "You're the one throwing dead birds in the air" which is an insult to an ex-lover that she's the one to blame for the end of their relationship.

If there are a couple of complaints for this album on is the length of the songs. I don't think any song is less than 5:00 minutes long and some of the kitschy ideas the band has actually starts to annoy as the songs go on. Another problem with the album is that its simply too all over the place. Sunset Rubdown clearly have a lot of great ideas, the problem is they try and combne them in one one song too often. This album would have been better served if they kept one or two solid melodies and harmonies per song rather than throwing everything in at once.

With that being said, this band is really hard to describe, consequently everyone should form their own opinions on this band. Give them a listen because you may like them more than I do.

FINAL SCORE--6.6 ( I think they're next album will be much better).

Record Review-- Telefon Tel Aviv "Remixes Compiled"


I'm not really a huge fan of electronica music. I think its a genre that's bereft of emotion, feeling, and depth. Its too much saccharine. Let's be honest, have you been to a DJ show lately? How can peoples lives revolve around a 4x4 beat that crescendos with some cheesy synth over and over again? The venues are always pretty much full of losers too--people who couldn't hold a conversation about world politics, that don't know who the LTTE are, couldn't name the Senate majority leader, and people who get most of their information from sites like wikipedia. If you're out of college and you're routinely going to see DJs at clubs, chances are you're either a loser or you have a serious drug problem. While I don't listen much to electronica, there are exceptions to every rule, however. I will follow a select few electronica artists, namely, Telefon Tel Aviv, Amon Tobin, Burial, Four Tet, and DJ Shadow.

Telefon Tel Aviv's new album is an exclusive compilation of remixes ranging from Nine Inch Nails to jazz legend phil ranelin to international artists like Bebel Gilberto. The album is a nice hybrid between their first album Fareneheith Fair Enough (which remains one of my most favorite electronica albums ever, EVERYONE should listen to this album) and their second album Map of What is Effortless which strove for a more organic sound while still retaining much of the insanity and off-kilter loops of Farenheit Fair Enough.

What really sets this album apart from most remix albums is that Telefon Tel Aviv stray so far from the source material that they create whole new environments that the songs can inhabit. So many remixes sound crappy because the artist sticks so close to the original sounds and melodies of the original song. Telefon Tel Aviv's willingness to explore new territory is never more evident than in the standout track on the album which is Time is Running Out. Time is Running Out is a 1972 jazz song by Phil Ranelin. The original song version sounds like a b-side to Miles Davis Bitches Brew (a fantastic jazz album). Telefon Tel Aviv loop a small strand over the original song and layer it on to a whole new skittering polyrhythmics beats over a smooth jzazz bass line. There's no possibly way anyone could actually know this was a remix unless someone told them. Its a FUCKING intense song and is one of the most original things I've heard all year, its definitely in my top 5 songs of this year (which is growing to be a seriously crowded list with all the great music released this year!!!).

Other standouts on the album include Even Deeper, Knock me Down, and the hypnotic orchestral arrangements on a Genuine Display. Remixes Compiled is an ambitious album that continually challenges the listener with its hypnotic beats, loops, and samples. These guys are probably the most original act in the music landscape right now, and they put all those shitty DJs to shame like Oakenfold, Tiesto, and Paul Van Dyk. This is an album for anyone that likes original, challenging, and intense music. If you don't like this music, then, chances are you probably aren't really a fan of alternative music.


Sunday, November 25, 2007

This is hilarious...

I have a bunch of reviews that I've been working on, but just haven't had a chance to complete for whatever reason. In the meantime, watch this hilarious video.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Record Review--Babyshambles, "Shotter's Nation"

My three favorite bands of all time are Radiohead, the Libertines, and the Stone Roses (sidenote, The National will bump someone from this list in 2 years time). Up The Bracket, the Libertines' first record, was pretty much on repeat from 2001-2004. I still love the record. From 1-15 its an unbelievable roller coaster ride. I was really devastated to see them break-up. Carl Barat and Pete Doherty were great artists. They each seemed to bring out the best in one another. Out of the ashes of the Libertines arose two bands: (i) Doherty's Babyshambles; and (ii) Barat's "Dirty Pretty Things."

Babyshambles' previous album, 2005's "Down in Albion", was probably one of the most peculiar records I've ever heard. Clocking in at over 60 minutes with 15 tracks complete with slurred vocals, broken guitar strings, missed beats, Kate Moss on backing vocals for one song, a reggae track featuring none of the members of Babyshambles called Pentonville featuring one of Doherty's prison mates simply called The General that he reportedly promised a spot on his album in return for protection, and, at one point, Pete Doherty falling down into the drum kit and knocking over the microphone. It also featured some of his most emotionally raw lyrics--just check out the lyrics to "Back From the Dead," my favorite 'Shambles song to date. Or this gem from "A'rebours", "Oh no, I think I understand/ What I misunderstood before/ How your love gives me so much more/ I am free again, I can see again/ But if I should fail today/ Would you vow today to pay tomorrow/ The fucked off big debt I owe to sorrow ?"

The album featured Doherty as alternately defiant, petulant, and overwhelmed from his addictions all over a jagged guitar crunches from Patrick Walden. Seriously, check out the riff to "Fuck Forever" and tell me it doesn't kick your ass. Its a great song to workout to. It was an album that explored the human condition of addiction from the prism of a confused, talented, and audacious young man. Although it wasn't the greatest album of all time, it was always thrilling, and ranked as one of my favorites of 2005. To this day, there hasn't been quite an album like it.

Needless to say, I was really excited about Shotter's Nation. Replacing Mick Jones on the boards is Stephen Street who produced some of the best brit-pop artists of my generation--The Smiths, Blur, and Morrissey. The album gets off to a great start with "Carry on up the Morning" that features a rude guitar opening and lyrics that show a more self-aware Doherty as he sings about his addictions. Its a great track. "Delivery," the first single and strongest track on the album, contains a Jam like hook with a shout-along chorus that recalls the glory days of The Libertines. The third song, "You Talk" really grows on the listener after repeated listens.

The middle part of the album sags as we find Babyshambles exploring new territory. "Crumb Begging Baghead" is a poor attempt at mimicing the Stone Roses and "French Dog Blues" would be much benefitted from a different chorus. The album picks up at the end with the superb "Deft Left Hand" and the dark heart of Shotter's Nation--"Lost Art of Murder", a ballad that's ostensibly about his turbulent off again/on again relationship with Kate Moss that's even stronger than Down in Albion's "Albion." The song is unbelievable.

What really hurts the album is the loss of Patrick Walden. Walden a talented, troubled guitarist that, like Doherty, was addicted to crack (The chorus to "Pipedown" addressed his addiciton--"Oh, Paddy put the pipedown") was an extremely talented guitarist. Last time I checked, Patrick was serving time in prison for domestic violence. Replacing him is their ex roadie, Mik Whitnall, who (I SWEAR I'M NOT MAKING ANY OF THIS UP) is an ex-skinhead. While his guitar-work on "Delivery" and "Side of the Road" are exceptional, the songs he co-wrote lack that Babyshambles edge and are deliberately poppy trite songs that sound like Kaiser Chief's b-sides songs.

If there's one thing that this album makes clear, is that Babyshambles produce better music amid all the chaos and strife. Hopefully Patrick Walden can clean up some and rejoin the band. Or, wait, better yet, bring back Carl Barat. Will somebody surround Pete with better talent, he's better than this.

FINAL SCORE 6.7 (was expecting the album to be a 9 or higher).

Saturday, November 17, 2007

New Band Alert

A new band I'm really excited about is The Courteeners. Their new single "Acrylic" is awesome. I can't stop playing it. Really looking forward to an album whenever it comes out.

Record Review--The Forms, "The Forms"

Its been 4 longs year since The Forms released the stellar Icarus album, which is an eternity in the music business. It had been so long since I had heard anything from them that I stopped researching them. It was much to my surprise that they even released an album. I thought they had broken up or something. So it was much to my surprise that I saw a new album released when I was going through my record catalogue catching up on old bands.

Their new album is amazing. Lush, orchestral, and complex, it is a serious step up from Icarus. Their sound is complex indie rock in the mold of Modest Mouse if Modest Mouse weren't so poppy. One of the best things about this band is they feature a lead singer with an octave range to rival an opera singer. Its refreshing to hear a band as polished as this. I recommend this album to everyone.

2007 has been a great year for music. From the new Radiohead album to the Lodger to the National's album of the year, Boxer, this has been the best year in music since 2001. The Forms self-titled LP only adds to the murderer's row of records released this year. In fact, its second only to Boxer in terms of merit.


Saturday, November 10, 2007

Record Review-- The Blakes, "The Blakes"

I'm really excited about this band. They're a three piece outfit of young kids from Seattle. The album contains what should be a breakout hit, "Don't Bother Me." It has all the hallmarks of a hit--catchy beat, sweeping guitar hook, and a chorus you want to shout out loud with--"Don't Bother Me!/ I'm caught up in your legs, I don't want to get out/Don't bother me!" Its a great, great tune. The rest of the album is quite good as well. Their sound is largely garage rock with a bit of classic rock and roll built in. Its a band that I'm quite excited about. I think they have a bright future.

My favorite song on the album is "Lint Walk." The video for the song is above. Great video. Watch out for this band. They got serious talent.

RATING-- 7.7

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Record Review-- Radiohead "In Rainbows"

In the interests of full disclosure I must confess that Radiohead are my favorite band of all time. I have: (i) every song they've ever written on my iPod, either live or in the studio; (ii) two gigantic framed posters hanging in my place; and (iii) three custom and numbered Thom Yorke lithographs. OK Computer is and always will be my favorite album of all time. Two of their other albums are in my top 10 albums of all time. I follow their every move like I'm one step away from going Mark David Chapman on them--seriously, nobody send me a copy of Catcher In The Rye. Alright, maybe that last bit was a poor attempt at humor.

Seriously, though, I was hyped to get their new album "In Rainbows" when it debuted October 10 especially since their last album was such a disappointment. In their 7 album career, 2004's "Hail to the Thief" ranks as their worst album. The arrangements and lyrics were just plain boring. It was the first Radiohead record that really held no excitement. Each song seemed so forced. Even the best song on the album "Scttrbrain" was better redone as a remix by Four Tet on the Com Lag EP. Its an album that I rarely listen to.

Its with great excitement that I can report that "In Rainbows" is a return to form. We actually have Phil Selway back on drums. Although, its no OK Computer, it certainly bears some resemblance to that LP. Both Bodysnatchers and Videotape could easily have fitten on that LP. Fifteen Steps recalls bridges the gap between Kid A and OK Computer.

The album is not without missteps, however. House of Cards is probably the worst song Radiohead has ever written. Nude, while a very good song, becomes repetitive and is too reminiscent of Sail to the Moon from Amnesiac. Worst of all is the re-recording of Appregi/Weird Fishes. When I saw them perform this song live, the song reached an emotional crescendo at the end with Thom Yorke screaming "No Escape/No Escape" over and over again. Sadly, this has been removed from the album version removing some of the emotion from one of the saddest songs Radiohead has ever written.

Overall, it isn't any OK Computer, but its not nearly as bad as Hail to the Thief.

RATING-- 8.1

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Record Review: Flim School's "Hideout"

In my top 10 records of 2006, I had Film School's self titled LP as my #2 album overall of 2006. It was a fantastic record. Filled with memorable riffs, great lyrics, and a surprising populist tinged shoegaze sound throughout. Consequently, Film School's Hideout was one of my most anticipated records of 2007.

Sadly, Hideout does not live up to my lofty expectations. Hideout does have its moments, but the record is bogged down in muted lyrics and guitars that rather than standout "hideout" in the background of the songs. Whereas, the self-titled LP had shoegazer tendencies, Hideout is above all a shoegazers record that aims for psychedelic sonic-achievement. The synths and keyboards dominate and are up front and center. The guitars, save for the song "What I Meant to Say", and one of the albums standouts, are relegated to the background. It seems as if Film School is attempting to reach a much darker psychedelic platitude that the Stone Roses met on their standout, albeit sunny, tracks "Don't Stop" and "Elephant Stone" from their self-titled LP. Thats a commendable goal. Can you name any other band today trying to bridge the gap between shoegaze and psychedleia in an accessible manner? Neither can I.

Hideout, however, never soars. Its rarely memorable either. Don't get me wrong, Hideout has good songs. "Lectric", the lead single and the video linked to above is a fantastic song as is the polyrhthmic "Two Kinds" and the song "Plots and Plans" which could have easily have been an outtake from their self-titled LP. What really holds the record down is Greg Bertens' vocals. Greg is a talented lyricist. He wrote one of my favorite verses of 2006--Well, I can't seem to help myself from showing only sides/What you can't seem to figure out, I know I've tried to hide/All I seem fit to say right now, I don't feel justified/One day becomes another day regardless of our fights/And, Oh, we measure heights/Back to Back/Your heels to mine/Oh you seem so high/Despite where you stand alone/In your mind. The listener wants to hear what he has to say, but, the arrangements leave the vocals tracks in the distance. Its like being at a concert where the PA has mixed the vocals way down in the arrangement. The album probably would have gained a higher score if the producer and band had decided to up the amount of vocal tracks in the mix.

Regardless of what could have been done, none of the songs, besides "Lectric" and "Two Kinds", reach the heights the band achieved with "Breet", "On and On" or "Harmed" or practically any of the other songs from their self-titled LP. What attempts to be a genre defining psychelic bridge between indie rock and shoegazer is instead a patchy, flawed effort, with the last quarter of the album really containig the bright spots of the whole records.


Discussing the Release of Radiohead's "In Rainbows"

Libertine14: You listen to it yet?
Sent at 11:17 AM on Wednesday

Ben Kamobi: yeah. so far I really like Videotape, Jigsaw, house of cards, all i need, and reckoner.
videotape and jigsaw are my two favs so far
Sent at 11:18 AM on Wednesday

Libertine14: I really love jigsaw and videotape and bodysnatchers. Haven't listened to it all the way through though. Just heard brief clips this morning. Its definitely not OK Computer 2, and, first, very brief impression is that it is kind of mellow.
Sent at 11:20 AM on Wednesday

Ben Kamobi: i listened to it on my commute. You're right, its not ok computer redux. It’s a different sound. Mellow, I want to say almost Jazz like.
Sent at 11:21 AM on Wednesday

Ben Kamobi: my only complaint is that they didn't put any album art on the tracks.
I'll have to do that later
Sent at 11:23 AM on Wednesday

Libertine14: They will when they release the CD. The download is poor quality too. Its only 160 kbps or something like that.
Sent at 11:26 AM on Wednesday

Ben Kamobi: that will probably be their way to sell any cd's. Better sound quality. So if you like the download enough to want more you can. Its a pretty fair compromise.

Libertine14: I think most people went with the 80 box set. That box set better be fucking awesome. It better have some cool poster or something. Eighty is alot.

Ben Kamobi: i know. The other tracks had better be good. The cd is enhanced so it will have other stuff too. We'll see
Sent at 11:31 AM on Wednesday

Libertine14's new status message - In Rainbows right now. 1:14 PM

Libertine14: Not sure I'm digging the vocals initially.
Sent at 1:15 PM on Wednesday

Ben Kamobi: i wish one of the songs actually rocked like old radiohead

Libertine14: Yeah, I know, me too. Its really disappointing how far away they've gotten from The Bends and parts of OK Computer.
Sent at 1:27 PM on Wednesday

Ben Kamobi: before they railed against things with noise and now they seem to just lament with weird sounds

Libertine14: I know, I totally agree. They've done enough weird shit with different sounds that if they came back to the Bends nobody would accuse them of just putting out another Radiohead record.

Ben Kamobi: the album is already getting rave reviews in the British press. I don't see how really. If any other band released this album it wouldn't even register.
Sent at 1:30 PM on Wednesday

Libertine14: I know, I totally agree. Who is raving about it? I need to really listen to it, but it definitely didn't jump out at me. I remember thinking the songs sounded great in concert, but most songs sound better live with the energy. I remember them being more rock oriented.
Sent at 1:31 PM on Wednesday

Ben Kamobi: the times of London gave it 4 out of five stars. The guardian is gushing over it. They are talking about it like its the most monumental release in British rock history. I think that it is more of a statement of how people think of radiohead as a band image and the current state of post-coldplay British music.
Sent at 1:33 PM on Wednesday

Ben Kamobi: 15 steps gets better with every listen though.
Sent at 1:34 PM on Wednesday

Ben Kamobi: and arpeggio is good, though the background really reminded me of Moby's "god moving over the face of the water." Though comparisons could be drawn to anything.

Libertine14: I really like bodysnatchers and jigsaw.
Sent at 1:36 PM on Wednesday

Ben Kamobi: I think its an album is the sense that its completely listenable all the way through. Which might be why they had the whole itunes tiff. The songs are better all together than apart.
But who has time to listen to a whole album?
I think bodysnatcher is good too.
Actually, all the songs are good there just aren't any singles in the traditional sense of music.
Sent at 1:39 PM on Wednesday

Libertine14: The melodies really aren't there. I gotta listen to it 3 times before any final conclusions though.
Sent at 1:44 PM on Wednesday

Ben Kamobi: Its like they never put out pablo, bends, or ok computer. If they had started out with kid a, rainbows sounds like the natural progression.
though, the latter half of bodysnatchers sounds like older radiohead, just muted or reined in somehow

Libertine14: Yeah, I heard the drummer has been really upset about things because he's had less and less to do.
I really miss old Radiohead.
I could listen to the lyrics and sing along. You can't really sing along as much to the new stuff. Since OK Computer he's become such a cryptic lyricist.

Ben Kamobi: I never get tired of the bends but it would be nice if they released an album with songs; wait, exactly, you hit the nail on the head.
Sent at 1:48 PM on Wednesday

Ben Kamobi: none of the new lyrics really stink in your head like they used to

Libertine14: I think the Bends is the better album, but I like OK Computer more. OK Computer was just more interesting more nuanced whereas The Bends is straight up rock and roll.
And Pablo Honey is fucking good.

Ben Kamobi: I love talk show host: You want me?Fucking well come and find meI'll be waitingWith a gun and a pack of sandwiches
Sent at 1:51 PM on Wednesday

Ben Kamobi: Yeah, I don't know why they get such guff in the press about Pablo. Its a really good album. Its definitly a young album but the Radiohead in The Bends and Ok Computer is there in natal form.
Sent at 1:52 PM on Wednesday

Ben Kamobi: I really like and have listened to constantly over the years about half the bends and half ok computer. About half of each I rarely listen to.
Sent at 1:54 PM on Wednesday

Libertine14: Really? I listen to all of the songs on the bends. I really love Black Star. On OK Computer, I listen to all of them. I even love the robot song. I think its the dark heart of OK Computer.
Wait on OK Computer, I rarely listen to the really slow tracks 3, 4.

Ben Kamobi: check this quote from the times of london:

Pablo Honey (1993): Universally recognized as the worst Radiohead album, the
band's debut LP also has the worst cover art of their back catalogue.
Sent at 1:58 PM on Wednesday

Ben Kamobi: On Ok Computer I like: lucky, no surprises, let down, exit music, paranoid android, and climbing up the walls. I leave Karma Police out because everyone like that. Lucky is my absolute favorite song on the album though.
Sent at 2:01 PM on Wednesday

Ben Kamobi: On The Bends, I pretty much don't listen to Bones, Nice Dream, Just (which sounds like an orphan from Pablo) and Sulk.

Libertine14: I really love that song. I love the part where he's like...."The head of state.....Has called for me....But I don't have time for him" I also love Airbag. Let down is my all time fave radiohead song.

Ben Kamobi: I really like street spirit.

Libertine14: What about Street Spirit, The Bends, Fake Plastic, and Black Star?

Ben Kamobi: the first four songs on the bends are untouchable.
saying they are good is stating the obvious
Sent at 2:06 PM on Wednesday

Ben Kamobi: I'm not that into black star, which isn't to say that dislike it. Its just not one of the ones that I listen to with any frequency. Though if it comes on I usually let it play.
I also really like every thing in its right place. I want to have that be the opening title sequence in a movie I direct.
Sent at 2:09 PM on Wednesday

Ben Kamobi: Unlike you, I have limited my explorations. I should probably just sitdown and listen to the albums again in their entirety.
Sent at 2:11 PM on Wednesday

Ben Kamobi: I need a new copy of the bends though. My CD was all scratched when I converted it for my ipod so High and Dry skips at "watching the ground beneath you drop". Its just something I've gotten used to.
Sent at 2:13 PM on Wednesday

Libertine14: At this point in time, i think i like the national more than radiohead, although, i like both older Radiohead albums more than the present national albums. I can't believe you can't get into the national.
Sent at 2:15 PM on Wednesday

Ben Kamobi: Its that dudes voice! I just don't like it. Its too low and eeyore sounding.

Libertine14: I love the baritone. Its so deep. He actually sings on Alligator if you've heard that. You may like that a lot more than Boxer. Boxer he just kind of talks. Man, but his lyrics are absolutely stunning.
he's probably the best lyricist in the world right now.

Ben Kamobi: I've been listening to the new Grand Avenue album a lot. I think they get short changed when they are called the "Coldplay of Denmark." They are much more nuanced (though poppy) than they get credit for.
Sent at 2:18 PM on Wednesday

Ben Kamobi: They're like a jumble of INXS, U2, Matchbox 20, Coldplay, and some other bands I'm not remembering.

Libertine14: That album is OK. I really like The Blakes album that just came out. I'm also disappointed by the new Film School record. All his vocals are so muted. I also can't get into the new Shout Out Louds record. That guys' voice makes me want to bang my head against the wall.
Sent at 2:19 PM on Wednesday

Ben Kamobi: You know who everyone likes so far that I've played for them? Zoe Keating. People also seem to like Amiina.

Libertine14: Yeah, Zoe Keating is fucking awesome!
Don't know Amiina. You ever listen to South? They're so good, and nobody listens to them.

Ben Kamobi: Yeah you got me on to south.
You know who I just don't understand? The Plain White T's

Libertine14: Everyone I play that for loves them. Yeah, they suck. I also don't get why everyone thinks The White Stripes are so good.

Ben Kamobi: Amiina is the female Sigur Ros though better. I think 2 are married to 2 sigur ros dudes.
Sent at 2:22 PM on Wednesday

Ben Kamobi: I think the White Stripes best album by far is Elepant. Everything else just isn't nearly as good. Icky Thump I never really gave a chance too though. I listened to it a few times but was not blown away.

Libertine14: Is this reviewer listening to the same Radiohead record we are? Read this.
The 80,000 references to In Rainbows being "lush" and "sparse" were correct. People who like Radiohead with guitars and melodies should be very happy today, people who like weird bleeps and bloops maybe a bit less happy. If OK Computer is your favorite album In Rainbows might be your second favorite.

Ben Kamobi: With Elepant I liked it immediately.
Sent at 2:24 PM on Wednesday

Ben Kamobi: I'm telling you. People are walking all over themselves to gush all over this album like its the greatest thing. Its like they want want it to be good so much that they are making themselves believe its as good as they want it to be.
Maybe its really good. But I'm not going to know how much I like it until I listen to it for a little bit right?
Sent at 2:26 PM on Wednesday

Ben Kamobi: I've been hearing background buzz about Reliant K. You listen to anything by them?
They sound like an American Snow Patrol (I'm on their myspace now.)

Libertine14: Yeah, I totally agree, dude. Look, its clearly not one of those albums that I push play and I instantly love like the libertines. I gotta play it at least 3 times before I form any opinions. I listened to it on headphones at lunch, and it sounded much better than through my iMac. Yeah, Reliant K are OK. They're just nothing special. I can't believe people are declaring this a 4 star album 8 hours after its been released.
Sent at 2:31 PM on Wednesday

Ben Kamobi: The guy gave it 5 stars. I am reading the comments now. Everyone seems to really like it. I wonder how old some of these people are?

Libertine14: I think The National have been the last band where I've really heard something different. Some people can't find the melodies, but they're really melodic and really lush with their orchestral arrangements. I also love how the guitars aren't based on riffs as much as dueling high notes that cascade. I think that may be the gayest thing ever.
Sent at 2:33 PM on Wednesday

Ben Kamobi: I will give them another try. I will listen to the album ONE more time ALL the way through.

Libertine14: Well, you gotta spread your listening sessions out, I think, and try to listen to it in different moods.

Ben Kamobi: Oh, and the gayest thing is more like Ben Folds "Best Imitation of Myself" or something like that.

Libertine14: Its amazing how people are falling all over themselves with this album. I wonder what pitchfork will give it. I think they'll go 7.6.

Ben Kamobi: I can't wait for rolling stone or spin. Rolling stone 4.5 spin 5. Spin sucks.
Sent at 2:42 PM on Wednesday

Libertine14: Spin is absolutely horrible! The one good part of spin, is the brief side column entitled, "What the office is currently listening to." The sad thing is they never review any of those bands. The best music magazine is Magnet, I think. I subscribe to that one, its really, really good.

Ben Kamobi: I like Rolling Stone because there is at least one political piece where they bash Bush or the republicans. And, because its a generalist music magazine and exposes me to general music (read pop, r&b, rap) that I wouldn't think about normally.
Sent at 2:44 PM on Wednesday

Libertine14: Blender used to be good. Now it really sucks. I subscribe to Spin, Rolling Stone, and Magnet. But Magnet is only good for reviews. It comes out every 2 months and comes with a CD of indie bands. There are like a 100 reviews in every issue with bands that I've rarely ever heard of. They refused to review the Interpol and National album because they deemed them too big. Its good for finding rare shit. I go through every review and listen to the band.

Ben Kamobi: I'll have to subscribe. I like listening to KinkFM in Amsterdam and XFM in London. Kink is great because it actually tells you what they are playing while they are playing it. They also have an eclectic mix of american and european groups from all genre's played next to each other. I then check out the bands website pages or their myspace's. Sometimes I look at what label they're on.
Sent at 2:48 PM on Wednesday

Libertine14: I wish iTunes let you search or click on record labels.
Sent at 2:50 PM on Wednesday

Ben Kamobi: You know what's good for that? Wikipedia. They put a little icon for what label a band is on. Its pretty handy. I hate how itunes doesn't have tabbed browsing. Sometimes I still want to look at what I am looking at but want to have other bands and stuff in another window. Itunes has really stagnated.
You know, I sold the new editors album short when I first listened to it but its good.

Get In Rainbows

In Rainbows Track Listing

1. "15 Step" – 3:57
2. "Bodysnatchers" – 4:02
3. "Nude" – 4:15
4. "Weird Fishes/Arpeggi" – 5:18
5. "All I Need" – 3:48
6. "Faust Arp" – 2:09
7. "Reckoner" – 4:50
8. "House of Cards" – 5:28
9. "Jigsaw Falling into Place" – 4:09
10. "Videotape" – 4:39

Monday, September 24, 2007


I'm a 29 year old indie rock snob. The purpose of this blog is to, hopefully, review one indie rock album per week on a scale from 1-10. Additionally, I will pepper the blog with live concert reviews as well as musings on tax related issues (I am a practicing tax attorney after all).
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