Friday, January 12, 2007


I use this term to describe certain things that need time to "grow on me", most often when describing songs or albums, but on ocassion movies, television shows, food, beverages, cysts, and so forth.

Well, the new Shins album is growing on me. Each time I listen to it I like it more than the last. This is a good sign. Most of my favorite albums were growers at some point. Take a look.

Radiohead - Ok Computer, Kid A, Hail to the Thief
All three of those Radiohead albums took at least a month to sink in, and Kid A didn't strike me until after Amnesiac was released. I'm not sure why, they are all fantastic albums, but I suspect that none of them were quite what I had expected at the time of their release, and as a result needed more time to digest them.

Neutral Milk Hotel - In the Aeroplane Over the Sea
I hated this band for at least a year. This coffee shop I used to visit regularly before I was 21 played the shit out of them, but never in sequential order, which I feel was part of the hinderance. Also, the speakers were bad, and Jeff Mangums voice on "Two-Headed Boy" was especially difficult to endure. It wasn't until I heard the album in order (at another coffee shop a few blocks, of course) that I kinda sorta started to like it. That soon turned into an obsession.

Interpol - Turn on the Bright Lights
I loved the first few songs ("Obstacle 1" especially) immediately, but always seem to let my mind wander somewhere after "Say Hello to the Angels", which I know is a mistake because this album really shines once all the "hits" have played.

So yeah, new Shins album is growing on me.

PS. Tickets for their shows go on sale this Saturday.

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Thursday, January 11, 2007

I *Heart* New York

Okay, so this was probably a drunken promise made by an acquaintance and I really probably should NOT be getting worked up over anything, but I can't help it and I'm going to tell all of you anyway.

As we all know (and we do, I think, since the only people I've told about this blog so far are friends) Justin has been in this band for a few months. They're called Well, Gentlemen, and they're pretty good. Granted, I don't know how I came to that opinion because their one show, and therefore my one and only time hearing them, was so loud at times it was pretty much a wall of static Regardless, I liked what I could actually pick out of the mess and I have good faith that Justin wouldn't be wasting his time in a band if they weren't any good. Plus Mark (vocals, guitar, socialite) has tons of band experience (he was in Ghosty, which isn't exactly a major claim to fame, but I think everyone reading this blog has at least heard of them), seems to know everyone in Lawrence, and is very motivated and always creating something (music, art, etc) it seems.

Well, Mark is from Philadelphia, which is close to New York, and has friends in both cities (another minor claim to fame, he's friends with Ryan, er, Honus Honus from Man Man). Mark went back to Philly for the holidays, but is back in Lawrence now. I ran into him last night and overheard him tell Justin there's a remote possibility they could have a gig in New York. A few too many drinks into the night I finally asked Mark if I could tag along if they do end up playing this out of town gig. His reply was something along the lines of, "shit man, you can just play with us."

Cue the church organ, the parting of the clouds, a sunbeam enveloping my body, and me peeing myself in front of a crowd of people.

Again, I know this is a long shot. Both Mark and the other guy (whose name I can never remember) are in school, and school prevented them from playing some shows in town, let alone in New York. Still, I can't describe the feeling I had. I'm sure the look on my face was priceless.

A quick aside:
I went to Best Buy today to redeem my gift card and found out they have a ton of wonderful DVD Series' on sale for $20! I picked me up some Arrested Development Season 1 and, I know you're going to laugh but I'll say it anyway, The X-Files Season 1. That's right, I'm a nerd. Beam me up, Scottie.

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Wednesday, January 10, 2007

So This Is the New Year pt. 2

For the past couple of months I've been heavily anticipating the shrimpload of new releases by bands I love. No offense 2006, but you were no 2004 in terms of new releases.

Granted, that Joanna Newsom record is amazing, but I admittedly only recently heard it. Until then I was convinced that 2006 was the Year of the Letdown. TV on the Radio's newest album is good, but not great like I hoped (though apparently I'm in the minority on that one), The Rapture put out a new album that maybe has the worst opening four songs I've heard on a record that wasn't made by Fall Out Boy in a long time. Yo La Tengo played every style they've ever tried, which is good when you're seeing them live but not as good when you really love listening to Electr-o-pura. Even Thom Yorke's album, which has some serious spine-tingling, awe inducing songs on it, also has a couple of snoozers. Albums that lived up to my expectations still didn't blow me away, the new Belle and Sebastian album being exhibit A. All of those examples, and so many others I'm not mentioning, are good but, Joanna Newsom aside, nothing blew me away.

I miss the days where multiple albums really hit me. In '04 it was the Arcade Fire and Animal Collective leading the way, followed by solid albums from Sonic Youth, Of Montreal, Deerhoof, and tremendously under appreciated Blonde Redhead album. In '03 I was seriously into Hail to the Thief, De-Loused in the Comatorium and Chutes Too Narrow, and later discovered The Books. 2002 was maybe a bit overwhelming with Beck and the Flaming Lips making perhaps their biggest artistic statements, Sonic Youth making a major comeback, Sigur Ros saying a lot while really saying nothing, ...Trail of Dead's big big-league debut, and lastly, Interpol's Turn on the Bright Lights, an album I honestly feel people will be talking about for years to come. (What about '05, you ask? I'd say it was somewhere between '04 and '06.)

So, to get back on track, I've been waiting for the arrival of the new year unlike any other. In case you've been hibernating (or haven't talked to me in a couple of months to hear this rant in person), the following bands have albums scheduled for release soon, most before Spring Break: The Shins, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Deerhoof, Of Montreal, Arcade Fire, LCD Soundsystem, Modest Mouse, Blonde Redhead, Bright Eyes, Bloc Party, The Ponys, !!!, Explosions in the Sky, Air, Sondre Lerche, and supposedly a little band called Radiohead. I'll acknowledge that not all of the bands/artists listed are great, or have made a great record yet, but I do feel that most of them have the potential to make a great record, and with that potential comes hope.

There's just one little problem though...

You see, some of these albums have leaked, while other bands have started putting songs on their MySpace, websites, or in the case of a select few, the radio. And, well, so far I'm not terribly impressed.

The biggest disappointment comes from Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. Of the three new songs I've heard, only "Satan Says Dance" really stands out to me, and even it is not as good as the version they played in concert last year. I feel like something is missing from the album version. Guitars maybe. I don't know, I just remember it rocking a little more. It is not a bad song, but you know how it is when you hear a particular version of a song first (the leaked version of Hail to the Thief versus the official release comes to mind). This point brings me to the Arcade Fire. I'm having a hard time getting used to the church organs in "Intervention" after almost two years of hearing the KCRW version. Am I the only one not sure what to make of the Goth Arcade Fire? I know that I need to hear more than three songs and I'm sure I'll like the album, but I don't want to just like it, I want it to reach out and Tickle Me Elmo like the last one did.

The Arcade Fire going goth was one thing, but the biggest shock came when I heard the new Modest Mouse song "Dashboard". I know I probably shouldn't have been so bewildered after "Float On", but this is fucking nuts. Its growing on me though, but not enough to leave me feeling confident that it will create a special place in my heart. I just hope there's at least a couple of songs like "Satin in a Coffin", or "Bukowski".

The new Of Montreal is very much like their other albums in how some songs sound great and others are skippable. I'll probably like it more after seeing them live in February, at least that has been the case in the past. Seeing Of Montreal live is more fun than listening to them at home anyway.

The new releases are not without hope, however. The new Shins album, Wincing the Night Away, is really good. Its not mind blowing great, but considering the new steps they're taking its no surprise. How often are transitional albums mind blowing great? I do enjoy a few of the tracks very much, and already I'm excited for album number 4. The biggest surprise I think has been the new !!! album. I haven't taken enough drugs or the proper amount of time to really absorb it all, but so far what I've heard I really, really like. The title track got me to do some serious dancing on New Year's Eve, as I'm sure it will again and again throughout 2007.

However, don't take my word for any of this. Listen for yourself. Perhaps we can discuss further at a later date (please, Andre is getting a little bored of music talk).

If you want to hear new Arcade Fire, go here. The new songs that they have are "Intervention", "Black Mirror", and "Black Wave/Bad Vibrations".

If you want to hear "Dashboard" click on the link. I'm pretty sure there are some live versions of other new songs on there that honestly don't sound too bad (except for Isaac's voice, which isn't always the best live).

New Of Montreal can be found here. "Bunny Ain't No Kind of Rider", "She's a Rejector", "Heimdalsgate Like a Promethean Curse", "Gronlandic Edit", "Suffer for Fashion" are the songs they have available.

Go here for the Shins. "Phantom Limb", "Sea Legs," "Australia," and "Sleeping Lessons".

You can probably search for others while you're there. This site is kinda cool if you're looking to check out a band or find some new blogs.

I have to extend an apology to Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. Your new songs are not nearly as disappointing as the new Bloc Party song I just heard. Pitchfork posted their latest video today (I'm linking to Pitchfork because for some strange reason I couldn't find it on YouTube). Its bad. Real bad.

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Tuesday, January 9, 2007

So This Is the New Year pt. 1

"Same as it ever was..."

For those of you just tuning in, its January 9th, and I've yet to make a year end list of favorite albums...and I'm not going to. Honestly, it would be very similar to Pitchfork's, Tiny Mix Tapes', and several bloggers lists I've run across. To be completely honest I spent most of 2006 slowly building my record collection, and purchased far more dusty old vinyls than crisp new ones. Big shout out to Love Garden's bargain room by the way.

However, I will list some of my favorite songs of the year just because I can.

Islands - "Swans (Life After Death)"

The first time I heard this song I was terribly unimpressed. In fact, I was unimpressed with just about every song this band had to offer with the exception of "Where There's a Will, There's a Whalebone", mainly because of that song's contrast to the rest of the album. I went to see them live hoping that would convert me, but was instead forced to endure the show after J'aime Tambeur left the band, which by most accounts was a total disaster. (The show in question even gets a brief mention in a Pitchfork interview) Then, several months later, something strange happened: I listened to the album again. The album became my unofficial "pack and get ready to move" album, then my unofficial "driving to school" album. While I could have very easily picked a different song from this album ("Volcanoes" comes to mind), I felt this song deserves the most credit for getting me back into the band in the first place. After all, at over 9 minutes in length it would have been easy to get bored, turn the album off and forget about it for good. In the end this song, and eventually the rest of the album, won the day.

Belle and Sebastian - "The Blues are Still Blue"

Derivative of simple pop, reliant on cheesy blues licks and intentional play on words, and yet one of the most catchy and infectious songs I've heard this side of the New Pornographers. I absolutely love it.

TV on the Radio - "Providence"

"Wolf Like Me" is actually my favorite song of '06, but shit, I think even my own mother has heard enough hype about that song. Instead, I thought I'd give some love to "Providence", which features a guest appearance by an up and comer named David Bowie, and sounds like the TV on the Radio I hoped they would become after hearing their debut album back in '04.

Hot Chip - "And I Was a Boy From School"

I have to admit, I only very recently heard this song. Acually, it was New Year's Eve to be exact. And yet in the late hours of what remained 2006, I was able to hear this song twice and fall in love with it. Now I can't get it out of my head.

Yo La Tengo - "The Room Got Heavy"

It seems the popular thing to do is knock on And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside Out and Summer Sun, so maybe saying that "The Room Got Heavy" sounds like the best songs off those two albums morphed into one groovin' jam won't convert any new followers, but hey, I call it like I see it.

Thom Yorke - "Harrowdown Hill"

This was a tough choice because of the nine songs that make up Thom Yorke's, uh, first album he made by himself* I love Love LOVE five of them so very fucking much. I chose this one because my girlfriend and I used to sing this song to each other (love you baby!)

Beirut - "Postcards from Italy"

Mmmmm...I've really fallen for this song, fuck it, this whole album, over the past month.

I'm sure there are more songs I could mention. I'm so sure in fact that I'll list a few more, just without my explanations. Don't call them honorable mentions, instead just call me lazy.

Joanna Newsom - "Emily"
Annuals - "Brother"
Grizzly Bear - "On a Neck, On a Spit"
Peter Bjorn and John - "Young Folks"
Swan Lake - "Widows Walk"
Destroyer - "Your Blood"
Sonic Youth - "Jams Run Free"
Tapes 'n Tapes - "Manitoba"

That's enough I think. You get the idea, don't you? Besides, you didn't come here to hear the same crap you read in Pitchfork months ago, did you? I mean, you'll get that anyway regardless, but we both know you came for the hardcore nudity. If only I had some lying around...

*In a message Thom sent out to members of the W.A.S.T.E. fanclub, Thom made his feelings about the term "solo album" very clear, and how he
"...don't wanna hear that word solo. doesnt sound right."

Neither did that quote, but I kinda like it that way.

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The Cliff Notes Version of my First Post

This is my second attempt at creating a post for this page, and I sincerely hope it goes better than the first. For those who care, my initial post explained what I'm about, this blog is and hopes to be about, and sorta rambled on into the sunset. However, for some strange reason, my blog was deemed unpostable. I checked to make sure all of the links I had intended to use were working, which they were, and still no dice. After dicking around for what seemed like hours, I gave up in a cloud of expletives. Rather than do that all over again, I'm leaving this diatribe and a half drunken promise to make the effort to explain who I am, what I want this blog to achieve, etc etc etc all over again sometime down the road. Just consider this the Twin Peaks of blogging*, only with less backwards talking....for now.

*Apparently the Twin Peaks Season 1 DVD set does not contain the pilot episode, and sorta starts off where it left off. I've never actually confirmed this rumor, though it would probably be easy to do since several of my friends own the DVD set. Honestly, I don't care enough to find out if I'm wrong. Take that respectable journalism!

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