Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Let Me Tell You 'bout My Town

I love that Dirty Water - Boston your my home!
Many thanks to my lovely wife who spent 2 hrs yesterday driving to Braintree to get our insurance stamp of approval and then spending another 3 at the DMV to get our new "fancy plates" - VERY NICE!

(Speaking of)
I was 0-2 on Red Sox games this year. We went 2 weeks ago with Jim "Moon" Burrough, and apparently he brought the golden horseshoe. The Sox dominated with a run filled explosion 12-8. We finally got to hear "Dirty Water". Here we are at the end.

Here is a shoddy wannabe bandstand with one of the worst lip-syncing jobs ever by the Standells, Boston's own little 60's garage band. Whenever the Red Sox win a game, this song plays promptly upon the last out.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Last Time (promise)

(500) Days of Summer was very good. Not excellent or anything but highly enjoyable! You all should see it, and remember - "This is not a love story". Great songs/cast/story. It does lag in the bridge a bit, but all is well when you leave. We especially loved the faux-Truffaut French vignettes and dream sequences - look for Han Solo - that's all I'm saying!

Proust said, "On n'aime que ce qu'on ne poss├Ęde pas tout entier"

We only love what we cannot wholly possess

True 'dat, Marcel.....
Boy, does that apply to this flick...


Sunday, July 19, 2009

The Halvesies - Part II

Here's Part II of my 1st half of 2009. Bon Apetit!

The Thermals - Now We Can See
1st grabbing my attention with their album F*&^*&n-A years back, the Thermals were a Sub Pop staple. You know how I love Sub Pop. NWCS is their debut for Kill Rock Stars. Nothing changed but the label. Thermals purists will say they're not as hard as they once were. For me it's as fuzzed out as ever with a bit of pop tinge. The Thermals don't really sing. It is more of talking over fuzz. The title track "Now We Can See" has a recurring Oh, Wee, Oh, Wee, Oh chant for you that is fun. "When I Died" gets the album going with a ruckus akin to their last album, The Blood, The Body, The Machine. While this NW threesome may sound political with their words, they really could care less. Just sit back and enjoy the rock of it all (like "We Were Sick").

Passion Pit - Manners
Boston has had plenty of music through the years and here comes another. While they will never be an Aerosmith, maybe they can at least garner some attention. The buzz/backlash has followed them from the get-go when they dropped the song "Sleepyhead". One of so many DIY indie bands that have appeared over the last 10 years that have made their own steam, PP are better than CYHSY (the bar by which they're measured in my mind). Much like CYHSY, PP has a singer with a strange annunciation to say the least. "Little Secrets" is one of my favorite songs of the year and has a children's choir chorus that doesn't sound like some creepy Pink Floyd opera ala PB&J. The whole album is pretty fun musically, but again like CYHSY - can you handle the voice of the lead singer?

Strange Boys - ...And Girls Club
More garage rock? Yup! SXSW was abuzz this past spring waiting on these local youngins' to take the stage. Already a staple locally in Austin, they were set to unveil themselves to the nation. Slamming out bluesy rock that you could've made in your bedroom, the Boys have more than a "Poem Party". For some more retro garage, bend an ear to the aforementioned track and others like "No Way for a Slave to Behave".

Phoenix - Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix
Well, have we saved the best for last? Maybe. Maybe this will be the best of the year (not likely - but one of the best). These Versailles fellas have drawn the masses in the states, finally. "1901" is one of their best yet. "Listomania" could be one of the better songs of the year. "Lasso" is representative of the rest of the album - just plain fun pop rock. "Armistice" winds down a great album and leaves you thirsty for more.

Various Artists - Dark Was the Night
A compilation for the benefit of AIDS research put together by the brothers Dessner of the NYC band, the National. With contributions of nearly everyone, this comp is worth a listen. The list on contributors reads like a 00's indie rock all-star team. Check it out HERE.

Here are the ones that the jury is still out on for me.
"Near misses"

Dirty Projectors - Bitte Orca
Please whale? My German is not up to snuff, but that is what I hear. Weird and good but not as good as Merriweather Post Pavilion.

Death Cab For Cutie - Open Door EP
Actually, this is worthy of the list, but it is only 5 or 6 songs. Great companion to last years Narrow Stairs. Check "Little Bribes"

Telekinesis - Telekinesis!
This one man band from North Carolina found acclaim from Death Cab guitarist Chris Walla. He went on to produce this debut with good results. Try "Tokyo" or "Coast of Carolina"

The Love Language - (S/T)
Yet another North Carolina upstart. This Wilmington attache is the brainchild of one man ala Telekinesis. While not the power pop they wield, TLL is a combo of Old 97's and the National with good results. This was my favorite "near miss". Can't go wrong with "Lalita".

Saturday, July 18, 2009

The Halvesies - Part I

Where in the world did 2009 go? I mean I know it's only half-way gone, but it is GONE!
Maybe it hasn't been the banner year for tunes that some years have been in the past, but we still have 6 months to go. These are my favorites. There are albums looked over and forgotten, so please give me a clue on what you loved that I missed. Not to mention, there are so many albums I wanted to buy and never did (Andrew Bird, M Ward, AC Newman, Lily Allen, Bill Callahan (SMOG), Grizzly Bear, and Wilco and on and on....notice my prejudice against solo artists, bear bands and wilco, apparently....)

In No Particular Order
(except chronological)

Animal Collective - Merriweather Post Pavilion
I've spoken my piece on these weirdos. Can one look past previous sins and transgressions (Prospect Hummer with Vashti Bunyan, I'm looking at you...) to accept their crowning achievement? I guess so. Even with all the hype and backlash/sell-out talk, it's still a great record. "My Girls" is the best song of the year (arguably). "Brother Sport" and "Summertime Clothes" are tons of fun. It is one of those albums that despite your greatest desire to click FFwd on your CD player/iPOD - DON'T. This album is meant to be heard all together and straight on through. It is bizarre but beautiful.

The Pains of Being Pure at Heart - (S/T)
These Brooklyn scenesters were a breath of fresh air back in January. While fresh air, it had an air of familiarity. As I listen to this record, I always feel like I've heard it before. The album opener says it all: this band is a "Contender" for album of the year. It is the record that I has received the most repeat plays. The standout tracks are "Everything With You" and "Young Adult Friction". All the songs sound pretty similar. Their familiarity could place them in the 80's or now or even in 1994/1995 in something as lame as the Empire Records soundtrack. Regardless, you can enjoy it all no matter the year.

Black Lips - 200 Million Thousand
The Black Lips are my quintessential garage rock band. They sound like the house band/soundtrack to some obscure 60's or 70's B-movie or horror movie. Weaving the sounds of surf rock and garage into the Stones via the Troggs, the Kingsmen, the Sonics on down to the Standells. While this album does not reach the greatness of 2007's Good Bad Not Evil, it has grown into my heart. "Short Fuse" is one of their best songs bar-none and one of my favorites of the year. "Drugs" and "Let It Grow" are that B-Movie sound I was referencing. "Starting Over" and "Take My Heart" show they came to rock your sock-hop. After watching Grease last night with Whit and the Bear, I think the Black Lips are what the T-Birds would listen to if they were really as hard as they thought they were....

Yeah Yeah Yeahs - It's Blitz
A blitz indeed! This album comes out of the gate firing (and does trail off/falter towards it's conclusion). Much like the Killers debut years ago, the 1st half is good enough to make this album worth it. "Zero" starts you off with it's Miami Vice drum line harking back to the "Y Control" days of YYYs. Not letting up "Heads Will Roll" keeps it coming with a fury that almost makes you want to dance. No one wants to dance with me, so I'll dance with myself as per usual. They could only get better after the disappointing Show Your Bones years ago. "Skeletons" ironically shows their bones and softer side. With the coolest frontwoman in rock, Karen O, the YYYs just may have some staying power.

Peter Bjorn & John - Living Thing
After making one of the better pop rock albums of the year/decade in 2007, PB&J (isn't that fun to say?) were screaming for a slump. They almost did. With championing crys from the likes of Kanye West et al leading up this release, I couldn't roll my eyes enough. Then it came. Gone was the bright and shiny ideals of Writer's Block and in was the industrial scaryness of Living Thing. I was put off for sure and disappointed. I've given this album time it didn't deserve, and I now appreciate it. "It Don't Move Me" has become one of my favorite songs of the year. I can even tolerate "Nothing to Worry About" with its creepy children choir chant. In the end, this album sounds like an experimental Paul Simon album in the vein of Krautrock (or Kraftwerk). These Young Folks are bizarro but respected.

Crocodiles - Summer of Hate
These San Diegans (thank you Ron Burgundy) have been praised by some and derided by others as rip-off hacks. Some (ahem, Pitchfork) have gone as far as to pick apart every intro, verse, chorus and bridge to discuss which sound/band they were plagiarizing at that moment. Take your pick. Pick your side. I did. I like them. Pick which band you think they're ripping off. It's likely a band you've never heard. Therefore, it's new to you! (how many of you own and worship Jesus & Mary Chain - Psycho Candy? exactly!). "I Wanna Kill" is a fuzzed out song that was meant for summertime. Enjoy.

More to come tomorrow (Part II)
Here are some highlight songs from these albums today.

Friday, July 17, 2009

To Die By Your Side Is Such A Heavenly Way to Die..

Today, (500) Days of Summer comes out here and other major cities. It'll be everywhere next week. I hope it doesn't suck. It sounds like it's going to do for the Smiths what Garden State did for the Shins (have I already made that point...?). Let's be honest though, if you haven't ever checked out the Smiths (England's premier 80's band) then slap yourself. Go download some immediately. I recommend buying their entire catalog, but I am a bit crazy. The title is a line from "There is a Light that Never Goes Out" from the 1986 album the Queen Is Dead. Go check out a greatest hit compilation if you like (there are countless ones), but again the full albums are delightful. Lead singer, Morrissey, and lead guitarist, Johnny Marr, never made feeling melancholy so beautiful.

PS - My favorite song is "This Charming Man"

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

We Are Country Mice (aren't we?)

I've been compiling my "Halvsies" awards for the 1st half of 2009 (BTW - where the heck did this year go?). I will post that hopefully this Saturday when I can finally breathe.

Before we get to that, let me tell you what is kicking off my 2nd half of 2009:

We Are Country Mice

This Brooklyn group is originally from the Midwest (read: Kansas/Wisconsin). They hit the NYC club scene earlier this year. Check 'em out on their MySpace****

**** If you like chill music, may I suggest the B-Side of their new 7" (Make Your Own Damn Fun), "The Ballad of John". If you are a little progressive, then "A Good Old Fashion Barn Raising" is for you. If you listen to both these songs, it is hard to believe that they are from the same band. Wicked Good!

Pre-Order this band's debut - HERE