Sunday, September 30, 2007

Forget About March Wax, or Why Telling Your Fans That You Are Not Releasing an Album When You Really Are Makes Up For Working 12 Hours.

Rumors of Radiohead's seventh album not being released this year appear to have been greatly exaggerated. Granted, this could turn out to be a great big hoax like the one that occurred yesterday, but since the following post came from the band's official blog, Dead Air Space, I am inclined to believe that this is true:

"Hello everyone.

Well, the new album is finished, and it's coming out in 10 days;

We've called it In Rainbows.

Love from us all.


There you have it, the album formerly known as LP7 has a release date. It appears that the band has eschewed the label route entirely, not that they need one at this point, in lieu of taking the album directly to the fans themselves. Fans can order a gorgeous looking 2 LP set at 40 Euros (roughly $51) plus shipping, or can (apparently?) name a price for the mp3s.



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Live Pics: The Arcade Fire & LCD Soundsystem

9/28/07 - Starlight Theatre - Kansas City, Mo.

I hereby proclaim Arcade Fire/LCD Soundsystem to be the best value concert of the year -- if not the best concert, period. For a paltry $26 (plus service fees), you can dance off your pants and still make rent. Can you tell from the following pics at which point Chad finagled wristbands from the crotchety guards?

LCD Soundsystem:

The Arcade Fire:

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Saturday, September 29, 2007

In Other Radiohead News: This Guy Should Be Shot


So, yesterday morning PF posted the doubtful story, "Something Maybe Possibly Radiohead-Related Possibly Maybe Happening Saturday Morning, Maybe Possibly?" Anyone who knows me knows that something "possibly maybe happening" regarding Radiohead is enough to grab my attention. Apparently a countdown of sorts had been posted on, a site I don't even want to give any more visitors, but I feel compelled to cite for the sake of journalistic integrity (I'll have the last laugh and remove the hyperlink, bwooohaha).

So this morning I hopped on over to said site and saw that some fucker had removed the countdown and posted the following: "The Most Gigantic Lying Hoax of All Time. I'm NEVER GOING TO RUN AROUND AND DESERT YOU. How to RICKROLL 21,232 people at once." 21,232 people and counting, of course. Now wait just a minute: No. 1, this is a hoax? Ok, fine. But, No. 2... is that a Rick Astley quote? You are going down.

What I really don't get is that on the comments page, everyone is applauding this guy, saying, "I love you," "ha," "I salute you," and my personal favorite, "Greate job man!" WTF???

I could blame Radiohead for being so secretive and cryptic and shit and thereby enabling such hoaxers, but I don't. I blame this Rick-Astley-lovin' bastard. Now I will slink back to my cave and anxiously await any further maybe possibly maybe Radiohead-related news.

COMING SOON - Arcade Fire/LCD Soundsystem live pics!!

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Thursday, September 27, 2007

Radiohead Release Date Set?

Does this image say anything to you? To hundreds of fans at the Radiohead fan site At Ease, it spells out MARCH WA X. Maybe Radiohead's seventh long player will see the light of day (on vinyl?) in March. Or not. Feel free to add fuel to the fire over at the At Ease message boards, and we'll try to keep you posted.

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Wednesday, September 26, 2007


Spoon canceled next week's Lawrence gig so they could play Saturday Night Live. Yes, you read that right, our Wednesday night show was axed so Spoon could play New York on Saturday. Am I the only one who doesn't see how this adds up. I could understand canceling our Wednesday show for something like a Conan gig on the same night, but for SNL three nights later? Come on! Between Clap Your Hands... backing out on their midwest gigs for soundtrack work and now Spoon's New York vacation, it's as if the whole indie rock community is making a public statement that playing the Midwest is of no importance to them whatsoever. The band promises to come back in the Spring, big fucking whoop. Excuse me for not being excited, Spoon, but you see, I was looking forward to seeing you play NEXT WEEK, not next year, but try to have fun in New York (jerks).

In the meantime, I guess that means I can go see the either the Black Lips or Midlake, both bands, barring their own cancellation, have shows scheduled the same day as Spoon's former Lawrence gig. And to be fair, Spoon aren't totally ducking out of the Midwest, as their Columbia, Missouri gig is still on at the moment, as well as their Oklahoma City show. Apparently they just hate Kansas. And their bass player is from there. Perhaps he wasn't keen on coming home quite yet. Whatever.

Its only two in the afternoon, and I already need a drink.

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Don't Tell Anyone You Don't Own...

Modest Mouse - This is a Long Drive for Someone with Nothing to Think About

(1996, Up)


One of my husband's coworkers purports to be a big Modest Mouse fan, though in this age of ITunes, his exposure has been limited to "Float On" and "Dashboard." It's for guys like him, if for no other reason, that I'm giving a shoutout to the Mouse's fantastic debut LP.

As Backdrifter noted in his first post, Modest Mouse's music has an energy that is perfect for facilitating inebriation (See: "Breakthrough"), or, as the band's titles often suggest, for driving really long distances. So you're someone with nothing to think about, you say, and all this distance to drive? Well mister/missy, even if you "know your geography pretty damn well," pop some Dramamine and prepare for some road rage.

Although MM's earlier albums are markedly rawer, Long Drive's music still feels lush and scenic. Just listen to the six and a half minute "Lounge" (the first of the track's two incarnations) or "Talking Shit About a Pretty Sunset" (Why or why wasn't this the album closer?? Get an editor, Mr. Brock!). Whether you want to feel pretty or cut yourself in true MM style, Long Drive has something for everyone who claims to love the Mouse, but has yet to hear 9/10 of their catalogue.

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Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Album Review: Iron & Wine - The Shepherd's Dog

Iron & Wine - The Shepherd's Dog

(2007, Sub Pop)

Grade: 89%






In a March Billboard interview, Sam Beam stated his upcoming release The Shepherd's Dog would be a "playful" album. He went on to describe how touring with alt-country rockers Calexico had enhanced his sound, giving Shepherd's Dog a "wider sonic palette" than previous Iron & Wine releases. Well, there you have it folks: my review of The Shepherd's Dog, from the man Mr. Beam himself. Just one thing. He forgot to mention its his best album yet.

At the risk of sounding ridiculous, Shepherd's Dog could be considered the shepherd's pie of Sam Beam's catalog, as familiar elements are layered to create a seemingly effortless yet fulfilling effect. At once we have the li-fi folk of The Creek Drank the Saddle, country rockers a la In the Reins or Woman King 's spectacular "Evening on the Ground," and put-a-cigarette-in-your-arm odes that could have easily nestled into Endless Numbered Days. (In the aforementioned Billboard interview, Beam notes that all but "Carousel" are reworked discards from previous albums. Dare I mention that traditional shepherd's pie relies on leftovers? I'll let you figure out which tracks are the meat, the potatoes, or the corn.) Along with the familiar tracks, Mr. Beam tosses listeners a few new bones: calypso-infused numbers like "Lovesong of the Buzzard," the saloon-ready "The Devil Never Sleeps," and the African-drum-driven "House by the Sea." At last Beam's music is as multifaceted as his lyrics.

Poetic lyricism has always been Iron & Wine's forté. Beam blends the concrete with the abstract, the optimistic with the pessimistic, the love of life with the journey toward death -- all with the everyman quality that makes his music so charming. Listening to Sam Beam is like listening to two friends chronicle the workday over tinkling whiskey glasses. As far as I'm concerned, he's the only writer who could make breast milk romantic (See: "The Sea and the Rhythm"). The lyrics on Shepherd's Dog are as equally comforting ("dogs...eating snow," "long baby hair") and jarring ("grandmother's gun," "a tattoo of a flower on a broken wrist"). My only complaint about this album's "wider sonic palette" is that the lyrics -- and Sam Beams "cinders and smoke" vocals -- suddenly have to share the spotlight.

Whenever a band steps up their production, the naysayers get their cords twisted, their preconceived notions crushed (this critic sometimes included). The band's innocence has been ruined, they proclaim. Thankfully the multi-layered production on Shepherd's Dog never seems overworked or oversexed, but instead complements the staple Iron & Wine sound (consider the reverb that kisses Beam's vocals on "Carousel"). The music is polished but remains intimate. Intimate and playful, the best of Sam Beam's world.

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Album Review: Kevin Drew - Spirit If...

Broken Social Scene Presents: Kevin Drew - Spirit If...
(Arts & Crafts, 2007)

"F--ked Up Kid" (mp3)

It was only a matter of time before Kevin Drew released a solo album. If the majority of Broken Social Scene's contributors have their own projects, why not Kevin? But Spirit If... is not exactly a Kevin Drew solo album. Or maybe it is, I'm not exactly sure what qualifies as "solo" anymore (I'm looking at you too, Thurston). The album is definitely a showcase of Kevin Drew penned material, but like the two proper Broken Social Scene albums that precede it, Spirit If... also features a cavalcade of guest stars, both familiar with the BSS camp (
Justin Peroff, Feist, Brendan Canning, Amy Millan, Jason Tait, Julie Penner, Emily Haines, you get the idea...) and new to the scene (J Mascis, Scott Kannberg, and more). As a result, the first album in what is supposed to be a series of "Broken Social Scene Prestens" releases sticks to some very familiar territory, sounding very much like a Broken Social Scene album, albeit one that is a tad subdued.

Of the album's 14 tracks, the majority sound like top notch demos for Broken Social Scene's 2005 self titled release. In fact, this album makes for a fine companion piece to said album, but as a stand alone release it never quite blossoms as full as the others. That is not for any lack of effort though, as there are several highlights on Spirit If... "F--ked Up Kid" may sound the most like a Broken Social Scene track, but certainly does not suffer as a result. The guitars are not as loud, but they're still every bit as multi-layered as we have come to expect, while the drums are metronome precise with bursts of high-hat that accentuate the end of each measure, much like the excellent "7/4 Shoreline". The next track, "Safety Bricks", is very similar to "F--ked Up Kid" in its approach, but without as many bells and whistles. The song sounds clear as day, yet decidedly demolike with its erred guitar strums, though Drew's soothing falsetto and swooning strings do their part to authenticate this song as album ready, and studio quality; a true late double-auchts song for the fucked up indie kids.

If the album fails in any area, it has to be in the few real rock songs that Spirit If... has to offer, which is shocking considering Broken Social Scene's apparent knack for churning out bombastic, everything-but-the-kitchen-sink, this-one-goes-to-eleven, inundated-by-guitars, rock 'n roll extravaganzas. On Spirit If..., we're subjected to the boring, formulaic "Farewell to the Pressure Kids", and the messy "Back Out on the..." (dude, what the fuck is up with the ellipses?!), which sounds like a bad attempt at genetically splicing the DNA of a Dinosaur Jr song with some terrible billiards bar, mullet rock shit like Bob Seager. Drew at least atones for "Pressure Kids" with a gorgeous reprise, titled "Bodhi Sappy Weekend", that helps solidify the back end of the album.

Spirit If... may not stand as tall as any of the proper Broken Social Scene releases, but it does at least stand. One thing is for sure, this album is a grower. It took several listens for me to come around and finally enjoy it, and perhaps that was mostly due to my hope that this album would provide something completely different and unexpected. In the end there was no denying that, save for a couple of songs, this album is pretty good. Spirit If... never bowled me over, but it continues to get better, and that is never a bad thing.

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Area Concerts (Updated September 24th)

Featured Concert of the Week: Arcade Fire w/ LCD Soundsystem
With so many great concerts having already coming through the area in the past two weeks (thank you Austin City Limits festival), this Friday's show totally crept up on us. Hopefully it didn't do the same to you, as word on the street tells me this show is pretty much sold out. While we here at Range Life already know the Arcade Fire can entertain an audience, the addition of LCD as the night's openers provide reason enough to take a half day at work.

24 - Animal Collective w/ Tickley Feather @ Gargoyle Club (St. Louis, MO)
24 - Willy Wisely w/ the Belated @ the Record Bar (Kansas City, MO)
25 - The Melvins @ the Bottleneck (Lawrence, KS)
26 - The Weakerthans w/ Jeremy Fisher @ the Bottleneck (Lawrence, KS)
26 - The Good Life w/ Fourth of July @ The Picador (Iowa City, IA)
27 - Two Gallants w/ Blitzen Trapper, Songs For Moms @ the Picador (Iowa City, IA)
27 - Crystal Castles w/ Nomathamatics @ the Record Bar (Kansas City, MO)
27 - Holly Golightly @ the Jackpot (Lawrence, KS)
28 - Arcade Fire w/ LCD Soundsystem @ Starlight Theater (Kansas City, MO)
29 - Actors & Actresses w/ Barn Owl @ the Record Bar (Kansas City, MO)
29 - The Only Children @ the Jackpot (Lawrence, KS)
30 - Oakley Hall w/ 1900s, Jim Button Band @ the Jackpot (Lawrence, KS)

Read the whole list here.

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Monday, September 24, 2007

Top Five Albums to Get Smashed to

Enter: Backdrifter - aka Chad (Nicole's husband) my laziness/lack of motivaion have prevented me from contributing to this great blog - which everyone needs to read by the way...

Drinking pre-show has always been a ritual with my wife (your beloved Femme Fatale). And if we didn't just find the venue and the band goes on in say three minutes, then you bet we'll be in the parking lot with a bottle of the Captain. SonicRyan, Femme Fatale, and I went to see The National last week and I was pondering music I like to listen to while getting blitzed.

So without further adou...

Backdrifter's Top Five Albums to Get Completely Smashed to:

1. Modest Mouse - The Lonesome Crowded West

Nothing makes me want to throw a beer can at the wall more than some "Cowboy Dan." Most any Modest Mouse album will work, although this album is full of songs that have to do with drinking as well. "Can't do it not even if sober!" Perfect.

2. Pixies - Surfer Rosa

This was the choice for the pre-National party. Obviously. Nothing beats Mr. Black wailing on his vocal chords.

3. The Rapture - Echoes

The Big Three. If you don't know what I'm talking about, grab a bottle of your hard liquor of choice and work your way up to this album. Even if you don't like to dance (and I don't), everyone will soon be wasted enough to not care that you look like a fool - most importantly, you won't.

4. Sleater-Kinney - One Beat

Pissed off chicks. I don't need to say anything else.

5. The Thermals - The Body The Blood The Machine

This one is a great, go-kick-some-ass album that sadly I've listened to mostly while not being able to enjoy a beverage. I usually try to work this one in at my job while having to clean by myself. It's also great when your God-loving co-workers walk in and hear, "They pound you with the love of Jesus."

Honorable Mentions: Joanna Newsom's Ys, Sigur Ros's (), and Belle and Sebastians's If You're Feeling Sinister.

And Scene: Exit Backdrifter.

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Friday, September 21, 2007

File Under: A Drunken Post From SonicRyan

Okay readers, remember your breathing.
One, two three, four...

"I only feel alive when the vu’s flashing
alarms going off in my head
I want to grab you and just kiss you maybe I should sit down
No sense in cashing us now
Still I only feel alright when the vu’s flashing
bombs going off in my head
I want to grab you want to scream at you no icing me down
The party’s crashing us now"

Ah, such a good song.

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Live Review: The National

9/19/07 - Slowdown - Omaha, NE

Somehow it's comforting when the band you're seeing is as trashed as you are. Or more to the point, the National's Matt Berninger was more trashed than I was at Wednesday's Omaha show (and that, my friends, is saying a lot). There's also something comforting about seeing someone grasp a bottle of wine and down it onstage -- a bit of class meshed with a bit of bum. The National strike me as the types to sip wine while lamenting lost loves, grapes spilling from their pockets, of course. I guess I never took them for white wine drinkers, but I digress.

From the moment the band opened their set with "Start a War" they started a war with my emotions that has been burgeoning for months now. The band's sophomore release Boxer is no slump, slacker, or slouch. Something about Berninger's baritone simultaneously soothes and incites my soul -- I can't relate to waiting twenty-nine years for true love, but I can relate to the feelings of elation, fulfillment, relief. As they played "Slow Show" at the appropriately named venue ("Slow Down"), it occurred to me that perhaps Berninger boozes pre-show to take the edge off the emotional outpouring many of their songs require. Maybe, like me, he's out to have a fucking good time.

And a fucking good time was had. Thankfully these guys know how to croon their way into a lady's heart with slow burners like "Green Gloves" and rock her pants off with wailing rockers like "Abel." Either way, they're getting laid, right? Somebody please tell me these guys are getting laid.

--Femme Fatale, 09/21/07


September 19, 2007

The Slowdown

Omaha, NE


I've gone and done it once again, and put an great album aside when I should be listening to it. Sigh.

When Boxer came out earlier this Spring, I bought it. I listened to it. I enjoyed it, so much so that I thought it was my early favorite for album of the year. Then a little band called Spoon put a new record out, and I moved on, just like that. If you look hard enough at the pictures from last nights concert that were recently posted on Pitchfork, you can see me kicking myself. Repeatedly.

Opener St. Vincent, or Annie Clark since she was all by her lonesome, set the tone early by knocking me flat on my ass. Though my fellow bloggers and I entered the Slowdown a tad bit late, we were treated with a solid solo rendition of "Now Now" upon our arrival. I have to admit that I never got into her album, Marry Me, but seeing Ms. Clark live was a different story. With only a guitar and her voice, the subtleties of the song were fully exposed. The guitar harmonics, without any studio tweaking, stood firm behind her rich, mellow coo, whereas the chord progression that leads to the chorus felt dramatic in the best possible way, as Annie sang into a second microphone with extra effects, giving the lyrics an added emphasis. The next song, which was sadly her last and one that I cannot recall at the moment, was a little more of the same, though this time she played more chords and attacked the strings of her guitar as if she were unaware of her own strength. I wish I knew the album better so I could give a better description, but as it stands I'm left with this sad attempt at an informed review and left with no choice but to kick myself once again.

(Knowing that I missed St. Vincent, or again (probably) Annie solo, playing a show at the Record Bar - which is only two blocks away from my apartment, mind you - last month makes me want to kick myself even harder.


About half-an-hour after Ms. Clark finished her set, The National entered the stage to the music of Yo La Tengo. The song was the under-appreciated "Everyday", a dark, moody piece that would have complemented The National's set perfectly had they not rocked so fucking much. The band took the stage and began with "Start a War". The song builds slowly, much like former tourmates Clap Your Hands Say Yeah's "Details of the War" (hmmm...perhaps intentionally, those silly indie-rockers), though without the Jeff Mangum yelps and harmonica that make up the song's climax. In fact, "Start a War" resolves itself without much of a climax, knowing that there's more to come. On the album, it's the rising "Guest Room", but in concert it was the straight-up-rock of "Mistaken for Strangers." Perfect.

Did I mention that the set fucking rocked? Having never seen the National before, and being more familiar with Boxer than the preceding albums, I expected a mellower affair. It should be noted that I am glad I was wrong. Even though I love Boxer, I've always felt that it was a little restrained. In concert, however, the National unleashed their inner Broken Social Scene, the only things missing were female vocals and high kicks. The National laid it all out on the stage, and by the end as the band reached the closing yells of "Mr. November", even singer Matt Berninger let loose. Well, he let loose by his standards, anyway. Keep in mind that this is a singer who appears to hide from the audience behind his hands while they are wrapped around the microphone - Nicole was on to something when she wrote that he needed pre-show booze - yet at the end he finally appeared comfortable on stage, inching closer to the audience (at one point hovering right over my head) while screaming "I'm Mr. November/I won't fuck this over!" No, Matt, you certainly did not. In fact, you just reminded me what a great band The National is, how great of an album Boxer is, and once again I am kicking myself.


--SonicRyan, 09/21/07

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We're on Pitchfork!

At 4:11 p.m. yesterday every Pitchdork's favorite site posted pics of the 9/19 National show in Omaha. Check out your faithful bloggers captured here, baby. That's me in the front row, taking far uglier pics for our humble blog.

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Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Live Review: Flaming Lips

September 12, 2007

Uptown Theater

Kansas City, MO

Let me make one thing clear, it is much easier to complain about a Flaming Lips concert than to actually go to one. People complain about everything this band does anymore: they complain that the bubble gag is getting old, that the sets are getting stale/didn't play their favorite song, that Wayne talks too much/preaches to the choir with his political rants, and so forth. To some extent, I can understand the validity of the complaints. The bubble gag is now well past its third year, believe it or not. The sets they played this summer are roughly the same they're playing now, and I didn't get to hear my favorite song. Wayne does ramble on a bit at times, mostly waxing politics. Oh, the tickets were expensive, too.

However easy it is to complain about a Flaming Lips gig, I still say it is even easier to have a fucking balls out good time once you're there.

The best way I can explain a Flaming Lips show, assuming you have not been to one by now, is to compare it to the clock striking midnight on New Year's Day with nearly each and every song. Once Wayne returned to the stage from his stint surfing the audience in his space bubble, the band struck up their consistent set opener, "Race For the Prize", and the party began. Take a look at Nicole's pictures, if you haven't already, of what the Uptown Theater looked like while that song was playing. It was pure lunacy, yet it was magic too.

The set, while sticking mostly to the tried and true hits and latest album, At War With the Mystics, was still a crowd pleaser. I know the Flaming Lips are popular, but I've never experienced a theater full of people singing along to "Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots Pt. 1" before, not even when I saw them touring with Beck five years ago. The now standard old song of the set, "Mountain Side" from In a Priest Driven Ambulance, rocked the house, and recalled an era of the Flaming Lips past that is rarely touched upon in their sets anymore. Sometimes us fans forget that they were once contemporaries with Sonic Youth, Dinosaur Jr., the Pixies, and the rest of the seminal college rock gang. Their 3 minute feedback interlude was just the perfect reminder, and made me wish that I owned a time machine so I could travel back to 1990 to watch them at some shitty Oklahoma City bar, bad hair, flaming drumsets and all.

Another older track, "Riding To Work In The Year 2025 (Youre Invisible Now)" from 1997's 4 disc head trip Zaireeka, was also played, much to my surprise. It may have been the only surprise for me that night, but damn if it wasn't the most pleasant surprise I could have witnessed. It is no secret that I adore Zaireeka, and spread its gospel to all those that will man a CD player and listen. It should be noted that "Riding To Work" is one of my favorite songs off that album, and hearing it performed live while watching the band so intensely focused on performing it - the song was perhaps the only that didn't receive the full on flair of confetti, balloons, and costumed adults jumping around on stage - gave me goosebumps. When it was over I felt an incredible urge to leave right then and there and start a Zaireeka party back at the apartment, but there was still half a set left.

I'm glad I stayed, as I got to hear an intense "Waitin' For a Superman". Wayne, again rambling a bit before the song was played, spoke about his prop bugle that played "Taps" automatically. He explained that it was in honor of those who have died in battle, any battle (though on assumes that Iraq was mostly on his mind), and how he hoped that once the war in Iraq ended, the only place a person could hear "Taps" would be at a Flaming Lips concert. It probably sounds a bit corny when read, but trust me when I say that it was a touching statement, and once the prerecorded notes of "Taps" led into the beginning of "Waitin' For a Superman", I thought I was going to cry.

Before I end this, I would like to say a few more positive things about last weeks show, to hopefully counterbalance the complaints I lobbed earlier in this post.

1). Steven Drozd, where's the solo album? "Pompeii Am Götterdämmerung" is such a great song, and you sang it very well live. We all know you're the musical genius of the band, now make a record.

2). Wayne's voice held up incredibly well, I must say. Its no secret that Wayne is not a technically trained vocalist, but he sounded very good, especially on "Vein of Stars".

3). I also have to commend the band on bringing the bubble on the road for this tour. Its nice to know that the big and small venues alike can live that moment hoisting Wayne over their heads, even for a moment.

I've always said that a Flaming Lips show is an experience, and last week's show did nothing to convince me otherwise. Here's hoping they don't make Kansas City wait another five years before they bring their outer space circus to town again.

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Live Review: Flaming Lips


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With a last name like "Bird" he had to do something special with his life. No ordinary paperboy or blacksmith...oh NO! Andrew Bird is a musician. This talented musician performed at The Granada in Lawrence on Monday night and captivated his audience. His latest album, I must admit, entertains but doesn't sustain it flare throughout. What Armchair Apocrypha left behind Andrew made sure to bring along to one of the best concerts of the year, thus far. Standing on a bare stage accompanied only by three spiraling phonographs, violin, guitar and two microphones this man layered sound like a world class baker layers cake. Sigh. The night consisted of music that was simple yet complex, a beautiful oxymoron. The evening ended with a little tune called "Dr. Stringz." Listen, look, laugh and enjoy!

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Album Review: Thurston Moore - Trees Outside the Academy

Forget about the Kanye/50 record sales spar, that was merely the under card to the month's main event: Kevin Drew vs. a man who needs no introduction, Thurston Moore (or, K-Dog and 'On as they're affectionately called here at the Range Life office). We'll post our Kevin Drew album later this week, possibly tonight.


Thurston Moore - Trees Outside the Academy
(Ecstatic Peace, 2007)

"Frozen Gtr" (mp3)

In the music video for "The Empty Page", the lead-off track from the outstanding Sonic Youth album, Murray Street, Thurston can be seen writing the words "I am not Beck" on a plain white t-shirt. Listening to the first track on Trees Outside the Academy, Thurston Moore's first solo rock album (as opposed to instrumental/experimental noise) in 12 years, you might understand where the confusion lies. The opening notes of Thurston's detuned acoustic (yes, acoustic!) guitar recalls certain songs from Mr. Hanson's back catalog, a bygone era that many Beck fans, including myself, mourn for with each passing Beck album. However, it doesn't take long for Thurston to establish his presence on the album, his voice may be plain, but it is also unmistakable after two-and-a-half decades of playing a major role in one of the most innovative and inspirational bands to ever put music to tape. The song eventually takes its shape, and eventually sounds like, wait for it...

...a long lost Sonic Youth gem.

In many ways, "Frozen Gtr" is the perfect precursor for what to expect on the rest of the album's twelve songs. Sonic Youth's signature sound is all over the album: Thurston's voice, the trademark (de)tunings, spot on overdubs that accentuate rather than hog the headphones, and yet there are a couple of surprises on both the song and the album that make it a worthwhile addition to even the biggest Sonic Youth fan's already overloaded collection.

The first surprise, at least to this listener, is the use of acoustic guitar. For decades it has seemed as if an acoustic guitar might be Sonic Youth's enemy, the instrument making only brief appearances during the bands long and storied career (though one does pop up in another music video highlight, Sonic Youth's cover of The Carpenters' classic, "Superstar"), but Thurston rocks the shit out of the hollowbodies on Trees. Don't get me wrong, Trees still rocks, its just that many of the songs rely on momentum rather than rocking in the more conventional sense, while traditional Sonic Youth-esque mid-song jam-outs still retain their impact despite the lack of distortion. Take the song "Silver>Blue" for example, there is no distortion or feedback distracting the clarity of the notes being played, for the better. Still, there's plenty of actual rockage in the Trees, courtesy of Dinosaur Jr. frontman J Mascis, who lets his hair down on several of the album's tracks.

Speaking of Mascis, I should mention the album's other contributors. Though this is first and foremost a Thurston Moore record, the contributions will not go unnoticed, nor should they, as they provide the album's other big surprise. The lead violin work of Samara Lubelski often takes the place of a guitar overdub or a Mascis solo, and to great effect. The song "Never Light" would probably be quite a bore without her gentle touches. The other notable contribution comes from Christina Carter, of the Charalambides, who sings on both "Frozen Gtr" and "Honest James", another one of the album's standout tracks. There's no denying the fact that I am a big, BIG, Sonic Youth fan, but even I must admit that hearing Thurston duet with a woman who can actually sing (sorry Kim) is quite pleasing.

Because I was never a big fan of Psychic Hearts, I had my doubts as to whether or not Thurston could craft a really good solo album, but the expansion of Thurston Moore's musical palate on Trees, thanks in no small part to the album's aforementioned guests, prevents this album from going in the record collection merely for completion's sake. I believe that this is an album that you will find yourself listening to down the road, not just this month, and easily holds its own with most of the Sonic Youth catalog (the exceptions being Daydream, Sister, and possibly Murray Street). This Tree is solid, and further proof that rather than killing yr idols, you should buy their records instead.

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Monday, September 17, 2007

Live Pics: Flaming Lips

9/12/07 - The Uptown Theatre - Kansas City, MO

A flurry of confetti and I'm reborn. I'm in lust with the owners of so many outstretched arms. We hunger for the glowing orb that whips past, its nucleus clamoring on his knees, hungry, too, for outstretched arms. Balloons amorphize and lunge for our soft skulls. We protect each other. With flicks of wrists we reject the orange globules, then bob them closer and closer and then too close, when father takes a wayward balloon and makes it pop on a mike stand or blows it big, bigger, pop. We protect our ears, cheeks burning at the death of our plaything.

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Area Concerts (Updated September 17th)

Featured Concert of the Week: Andrew Bird

I'm going to Andrew Bird tomorrow, and you should too. If for some reason you can't make it, perhaps you're coloring your hair, or going to the Sea and Cake in Columbia, maybe the above video will suffice (though I somehow doubt it). Le Loup opens the show, and they're pretty good too. Their latest album has a vibe that makes me think Arcade Fire meets Sung Tongs, or, a nice indie sound that I can really dig.

17 - The Sea and Cake @ the Blue Note (Columbia, MO)
17 - Andrew Bird w/ Le Loup @ the Granada (Lawrence, KS)
18 - Jim Button Band w/ Mason Proper, the Coast @ the Record Bar (Lawrence, KS)
19 - The Fucking Champs @ the Record Bar (Kansas City, MO)
20 - Dave Bazan (of Pedro the Lion) w/ Casiotone For the Painfully Alone @ the Jackpot (Lawrence, KS)
21 - Caspian w/ The Constant, Actors & Actresses, World Dance Party @ the Bottleneck (Lawrence, KS)
22 - Qui w/ Beautiful Bodies, The Mad Kings @ the Record Bar (Kansas City, MO)
22 - The Ants w/ Rats and People, Bad Folk @ the Replay (Lawrence, KS)

Read the whole list here.

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Sunday, September 16, 2007

Live Pics: Blonde Redhead

9/13/07 - Bricktown Ballroom - Oklahoma City, OK

Despite the fact that the Bricktown Ballroom's neon sign attested that "Blond Redhead" was playing that night, I knew what I was really in for -- that's right, the best show I've heard with a sinus and/or inner ear infection since Wilco's 2005 Colombia jaunt. (Seriously people, "blonde" and "blond" are interchangeable, but not when it comes to a band name. For shame! I told you I'd do a write-up only an English teacher could produce.) Check out dese BR pics, along with a shameless shot of the Flaming Lips' Alley street sign (which can be found just outside the Bricktown Ballroom, and which reminds me I need to post those Lips' Uptown pics, too...).

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Thursday, September 13, 2007

Uh, Is It May Yet?

So Pitchfork recently posted The Cure's rescheduled North American tour dates. No big deal, right? I mean, should we care that their Madison Square Garden show was rescheduled for June 20, 2008? No, probably not. But, I bet you will care, a little bit at least, that they're playing Starlight Theater on May 19, 2008.

No, I'm not fucking kidding.

See you there.

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Little Blurbs

Animal Collective - Strawberry Jam
(Domino, 2007)

"Chores" (mp3)

Animal Collective are back with yet another album to add to their increasingly prolific career, and while Nicole's review is more than enough to represent our blog (and gives the better score), we decided early on that if an album is released that more than one contributer feels the need to write about it, then so be it. If nothing else, the fact that both Nicole and I had to write something about this album should speak volumes about just how good this album is (and be on the lookout for a third review as well). The more time I spend with it, the more I think it just might be the best album released under the Animal Collective name, no small feat considering I've held Sung Tongs pretty dear to me for the past three or so years since its release.

The main reason why: Strawberry Jam is home to some of the Collective's most accessible songs. Sure, lyrics like "bulimic vegetarian wins weight contest" or "the other side of takeout is mildew on rice" might turn off the masses, but musically, Strawberry Jam is probably best described as, dare I say it, Animal Collective's pop album. Which is fine with me, its not like the Collective are not unfamiliar with pop song, as evidenced by such standout tracks like "Who Could Win a Rabbit" and "Grass" from Sung Tongs and Feels respectively.

But remember, this is not a pop album, just Animal Collective's pop album, which means, unless of course you are totally unfamiliar with Animal Collective, you should find some familiarity in this Strawberry's jams. In that regard, Strawberry Jam reminds me of when Kid A was released almost seven years ago. Many of Radiohead's fans complained that the album was not as good as their prior works, mainly because guitars were conspicuously absent throughout much of the album. While there's no arguing that many of those fans never came back, others did finally warm up to the album when they eventually realized that the songs were still good, it was only the instruments that were different.

The same can be said for Strawberry Jam. Say goodbye to the comfy and warm acoustic sounds of Sung Tongs, or the faucet drip minimalism that makes up most of Feels' second half. This time around the Collective rely heavily on synths, sequencers, and sample, while electric guitars are often relegated to the background. The album, like their predecessors, is also densely layered, but now the bass is more in the mix than ever before. The song "Chores", may be the best example; the song is a psychedelic headphone head trip with pounding drums, vocal chants, and swirling samples. And that's just the first half of the song, we haven't even got to the part where it transforms into a campfire disco party. Yes, I'm serious, but they pull it off flawlessly.

The exciting part about listening to Strawberry Jam, for me at least, is that I never once got the feeling like Animal Collective have outdone themselves. Whether or not I'm right remains to be seen, but there's no doubt that for now, in 2007, Animal Collective are certainly out pacing the competition.

Shout Out Louds - Our Ill Wills

(Merge, 2007) 61.0%
"Blue Headlights" (mp3)

The Shout Out Louds' sophomore album picks up where the first left off. The pop Belle & Sebastian-esque pop sensibilities remain intact, and singer Adam Olenius sounds as much like Robert Smith as ever before. There are some fine songs on the album, notably "Blue Headlights," which sees multi-instrumentalist Bebban Stenborg taking over lead vocal, and the album's closing track "Hard Rain", which could be mistaken for a long lost Anniversary track if not for the Sweedish accents.

As a whole, Our Ill Wills is not a bad album, the album does the indie-pop/indie-rock thing very well. It's biggest offense is that it winds up sounding so much like the Cure or Belle & Sebastian at times that I wonder why I shouldn't be listening to, well, you know where I'm going with this one. Perhaps with a broader scope of inspiration, or more lead vocals from Stenborg, this album might have struck me a little more. But alas, twas not meant to be.

The Go! Team - Proof of Youth
(Sub Pop, 2007)

"Titanic Vandalism" (mp3)

The Go! Team's follow up to the surprise indie smash Thunder, Lightning, Strike appears to rely on the hope that lightning can indeed strike the same place twice. Unfortunately, Proof of Youth offers very little new to The Go! Team's sonic pallet, its almost like they followed the Hollywood formula of making a sequel (make the same movie, but with more). Thunder, Lightning Strike was not exactly original, bands had been making rock and hip-hop music over samples for decades before The Go! Team came along. The reason their debut worked so well was because the songs on Thunder sounded both a little bit old and new. Ninja's raps were recited like schoolyard chants and, of course, cheerleader cadences, and musically it often sounded as if Team captain Ian Parton was channeling his inner Kevin Shields.

The problem with Proof of Youth is that it is more or less the same album. The songs aren't bad, but instead of sounding fresh they come off as formulaic. However, there are a couple of notable exceptions. Both "Fake ID" and "I Never Need it Now So Much" evoke a masked twee pop sensibility while retaining an edge that feels natural to The Go! Team, preventing either song from sounding like copycats. In "Fake ID", it's a distorted punk guitar riff that masks the glockenspiels, making you wonder why Deerhoof and Camera Obscura never teamed up for an album, while the wall-of-percussion sound (which now seems like a Go! Team trademark) helps "I Never Need it Now So Much" fit in with the rest of the album's sampledelic pastiche. Both songs offer hope that Proof of Youth may only be a sophomore slump and not the beginnings of a band with nothing left to do but imitate themselves.

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Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Is It Wicked...

... to cancel a university course so I can attend a Blonde Redhead show? Ladies and gents, I feel a quiz question coming along. Unfortunately I wouldn't give a hoot about the results, as I'm going to Oklahoma City anyhow, and if it so be, to hell in a handbasket.

Perhaps I feel most guilty about the fact when I told my students class was canceled, I hinted at some dark, possibly murderous/liscentious/incestuous family tragedy as the impetus. So what? How many times have I been given some funeral pamphlet and been forced to consider, "Now did Grammy Opal really hose the horse, or was this little number devised on Microsoft Word? (Admittedly I never considered a third option, that Grammy Opal did die, and that her family members are cheapskates and/or poorly skilled at pamphlet design.)

Reading about the White Stripes nixing their latest tour today, I thought, to hell with it. If Meg White can tell her fans the band's canceling shows because she's got a case of the Icky Thump (aka anxiety), then I can tell my students I'm canceling class because of an incident involving certain damaged lemons (aka a BR show). Dear readers, anticipate a lovingly rendered review only an English teacher could pen -- if I can remember it.

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Monday, September 10, 2007

Album Review: Animal Collective - Strawberry Jams

Femme Fatale says...


Great albums come and go, but great bands are rare. What differentiates artists with a flash-in-the-pan success from those who rest comfortably among the greats? Longevity, of course, but also reinvention and rediscovery. Nothing speaks more for a band than diehard fans, but more specifically, diehard fans of particular albums.

In less than a decade Animal Collective has forged a fanbase that includes Here Comes the Indian followers who fell in love with the band at its most primitive, Sung Tong worshippers who prefer airy, drum-beat chants like “Winter’s Love,” and Feels fans who seek poppier, more traditional song structures. Now from the proverbial mixing pot springs Strawberry Jams, the band’s latest witches’ brew. Somewhere “Fireworks” are exploding in music lovers' headphones, and a new wave of sycophants is falling under the band’s spell.

How does a band stay true to its core while pursuing a new, singular sound? For Animal Collective this has meant experimenting with what makes songs. I’ll never forget my first crack at “College,” the breezy Sung Tongs charmer that distills its theme in its sole lyric, “You don’t have to go to college.” You don’t have to live life according to an instruction manual, the band purports, any more than we have to make music following one. On Strawberry Jams experimentation means shifting the focus to more lyric-based tunes. Standout track “For Reverend Green” proves that being lyrical doesn’t have to hold up to the term's pleasant connotations. The result? Avey Tare’s vocal cords run ragged on a loaded gun of a track that could have misfired -- if it didn’t pop on every gut gripping level. The track's jagged edge is the perfect segue into the sleepy builder "Fireworks."

An Animal Collective for every season, perhaps? Perhaps it’s because I’ve been jamming to these jams all summer, but the album evokes the tingle of an early sunburn, palms sticky with popsicle. With Strawberry Jams Animal Collective has proven they have the wherewithal to journey from the promise of spring to the isolating bleakness of winter and back again. This is the moment that music lovers/critics revere, the moment they can say a favorite band has what it takes to be one of the greats.

Sonic Ryan says... Click here.

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Don't Tell Anyone You Don't Own...

Pavement - Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain

(Matador Records, 1994)

I know, there are some of you pulling your hair out, screaming at the computer screen (or whatever it is you kids use to surf the web these days) in a fit of rage over the fact that I dared not pick Slanted and Enchanted. Though it may put me in the minority, I still say that Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain is the better album. This is mainly because I personally prefer Crooked Rain's poppier leanings to Slanted's endearing sloppiness. These are songs that, unlike much of their debut, get stuck in your head.

Nearly every song on here is a classic. There is the pseudo-sleeper hit in "Cut Your Hair", a staple of college and cool alternative radio stations alike. There's "Gold Soundz", a jangly pop nugget that more than lives up to its name. Hell, even the irreverent "Heaven Is a Truck" is unforgettable, even if
only for Stephen Malkmus' stream-of-conscience-nonsense-turned-lyrics. Of course, there's also "Range Life", where this esteemed blog took its name.

There are also sentimental reasons for why I love this album so much. More than anything, it represents several bygone eras, a trip down memory lane with several detours along the way. This album represents a time when college and commercial radio came so close to having a beautiful wedding. As I mentioned earlier, "Cut Your Hair" received a fair amount of play, and you know that if they're playing the song in Lawrence, Kansas, then surely other radio stations were spinning it too. I also think about Summer when I listen to this album, and that is perhaps the exact reason why I chose it. You see, I've always imagined Crooked Rain as Summer passing by. It moves so slow but yet is always over much too soon, and before you know it the kids with the Vespas are back for the Fall semester. With Summer un-officially over with the passing of Labor Day and the start of the NFL, I'm already missing the bygone days of the past couple of months, hot nights on the porch (beer in hand), Pitchfork Music Festivals, barbecues, and perhaps most importantly of all - my birthday. Thankfully I can relive the Summer, every Summer, with every listen.

Pavement - "Range Life" (mp3)
From the album Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain

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Area Concerts (Updated September 10th)

Featured Concert: Blonde Redhead
Road trip! That is, if you don't live in Columbia, Missouri or Oklahoma City, but I digress. Blonde Redhead return to the midwest for the first time since opening for Interpol one snowy February evening back in 2005. They were touring for Misery Is a Butterfly then, a fine album for sure, but now they're supporting the more rocking 23, a reason enough to go if you ask me, not to mention the excellent back catalog. If Blonde Redhead is not your cup of tea, there's still Okkervil River in Omaha on Thursday, and in a week from today the veteran college rockers of the Sea and Cake will treat the citizens of Columbia, Missouri to a set of old and new goodies that hopefully won't be half as bass heavy as their Pitchfork Festival appearance.

10 - Coat Party w/ Fast Computers, Waterfowl Habitat @ the Jackpot (Lawrence, KS)
12 - Blonde Redhead @ the Blue Note (Columbia, MO)
12 - Flaming Lips w/ Black Moth Super Rainbow @ Uptown Theater (Kansas City, MO)
12 - Mobius Band w/ White Rabbits, Mason Proper @ the Jackpot (Lawrence, KS)
13 - Blonde Redhead @ Bricktown Ballroom (Oklahoma City, OK)
13 - Devendra Banhart w/ Rio En Medio @ the Granada (Lawrence, KS)
13 - Oh No! Oh My! w/ The Legendary Terrordactyls @ the Replay Lounge (Lawrence, KS)
13 - Cloud Cult @ the Bottleneck (Lawrence, KS)
13 - Paper Cities w/ Via Audio, Noise FM @ the Record Bar (Kansas City, MO)
14 - Okkervil River w/ Damien Jurardo @ the Picador (Iowa City, IA)
14 - Roman Numerals w/ Femme Fatale, The Bureau @ the Record Bar (Lawrence, KS)
14 - William Elliot Whitmore w/ Tim Barry, Josh Small @ the Jackpot (Lawrence, KS)
15 - AM Syndicate w/ Baby Birds Don't Drink Milk, Ample Branches @ the Jackpot (Lawrence, KS)
15 - Sal Retta w/ Snuff Jazz, Blackpool Lights, Life & Times, Appleseed Cast, and more @ the Record Bar (Kansas City, MO)
16 - Bob Log III @ the Record Bar (Kansas City, MO)

Read the whole list here.

Blonde Redhead - "Loved Despite of Great Faults" (mp3)
From the album Melody of Certain Damaged Lemons

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Friday, September 7, 2007

The Art of Music Reviews

Sifting the coals to review Tuesday's release Strawberry Jams, I started reflecting on a recent conversation regarding music review criteria. We all know when we hear something good, but what makes it good, exactly? I'd like to share some thoughts and hopefully spark a discussion on what is arguably as much an art as the music itself: the art of reviewing.

- First and Foremost -

Before I start getting technical with how and why an album does it for me, I first have to decide whether an album does do it for me. What does this mean, exactly? It means, do I want to listen to the album beyond the first two or three tracks? Does something reach out and grab me, whether it's the music, the vocals, the lyrics, the production, etc.? Longterm this means, do I think about the album when I'm not listening to it? Do I find myself singing it in the shower? Above all, do I have that itch to blast the volume, mix a drink, rifle the album's innards, and start pontificating to the nearest comrade/victim?

- New Bands -

When I listen to a new band, I first ask, have I heard this before? Does this album have something new to contribute to the music universe? If a band's immediate influences are easily detectable, have they tweaked those influences to create something fresh and innovative, or is it merely plagiarism? Debut albums are tricky business, because they can either take risks and assert a band's individuality or make an album that sounds good but is one we've all heard before.

Somewhat recent debut LPs that have impressed this listener: Annuals - Be He Me (pictured), Battles - Mirrored, The Twilight Sad - Fourteen Autumns and Fifteen Winters, El Perro Del Mar - El Perro Del Mar.

- Old(er) Bands -

Reviewing a band's subsequent releases is far more difficult. Whether we loved, hated, or were indifferent to the band's earlier attempts, our perpeptions of the new release will be tainted accordingly. I try to look at an album independently, though this is nearly impossible (see my last week's rant about Interpol.) Ideally a reviewer should review whatever sound the artist is currently putting forth, rather than what he/she wishes the artist would have done. Again, a difficult task.

When I approach an older artist's newest work, I ask similar questions that I ask of debut albums. Does this album add something to the artist's palette that we haven't seen from them before? A complete reinvention is not necessary, and may in fact be a shot in the foot (see, once more, Interpol), but the artist's approach, be it musically, lyrically, etc., should be reworked in some significant way. (If not, then it better be damned good.) Essentially, why should I listen to At War with the Mystics when I could listen to Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, or Sky Blue Sky when I could listen to Yankee Hotel Foxtrot? (I don't.)

This leaves a vital question simmering over the weekend: Does Strawberry Jams offer this listener something she can't get from Feels or Sung Tongs?

Somewhat recent new albums from older artists that have impressed this listener: Arcade Fire - Neon Bible (pictured), Feist- The Reminder, Of Montreal - Hissing Fauna, Grizzly Bear - Yellow House, The National - Boxer, and yes, Animal Collective - Strawberry Jams.

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Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Better Late Than Never: Of Montreal - Hissing Fauna

of Montreal - Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer?
(2007, Polyvinyl Records)
Grade: 89.8

"A Sentence Of Sorts In Kongsvinger" (mp3)

If you've been following this blog since its inception (the original inception, not the deluxe re-issue you've been perusing for the past month), you may recall a post where I served up my feelings on some of the latest songs to hit the internet, including the Shins, Arcade Fire, Clap Your Hands, and Of Montreal. You may also remember that the overall mood of the post was not very positive. Here's what I had to say about Of Montreal in particular:

"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."

Looking back on that quote, I admit I am a little embarrassed that I allowed myself to post such a gut reaction, especially knowing full well I would eventually like the album. To quote one of Kevin Barnes' many insightful lyrics found within Hissing Fauna's manic musical textures, "The past is a grotesque animal, and in its eyes you see how completely wrong you can be." Despite my embarrassment, I stand by my post. It was, if nothing else, a snapshot of my feelings, even if those feelings lasted just one day. Besides, if there's one quality I find most appealing about a person, it's honesty, which is undoubtedly the reason I was able to finally get into Hissing Fauna several months after its release.

On Hissing Fauna, Kevin Barnes cleans his proverbial closet, the bedroom, the bathroom, and then finds time to rearrange the furniture. The lyrics on Hissing Fauna go beyond unflinching honesty; this album is perhaps the no-holds-barred cage match of soul cleansing, confessing albums. Despite its candor, at times the album proves ambiguous. Barnes is no dummy -- he knows that the best stories often mix fact and fiction with relative ease. Some examples, in no particular order: Kevin Barnes as the violent, malicious, bitter ex-lover ("She's a Rejector"); a detached husband drowning in his own misery ("A Sentence of Sorts In Kongsvinger"); a man pleading with his antidepressants to, in some ways, not do the job they're prescribed for ("Heimdalsgate Like a Promethean Curse"); a man with the realization that the biggest mistake he's ever made was marrying the woman he loves ("The Past is a Grotesque Animal"); and a soul-searching, bi-curious, African-American soul singer ("Bunny Ain't No Kind of Rider," "Faberge Falls for Shuggie"). If this all sounds a bit messy, that's because it is. In real life, Kevin Barnes was separating from his wife while, as he puts it, spending the winter "on the verge of a total breakdown" in his wife's native country, Norway. In other words, his life was a fucking mess. This album, more than any I've heard in quite some time, is a prime example of art imitating life.

Another fascinating aspect of listening to Hissing Fauna is the evolution of Of Montreal, both lyrically and musically. Barnes still throws in his Lit course quips here and there, and his sentimental side gets a flash now and then, but never before before has he exposed so many other sides of himself. Likewise, his pop music sensibilities have expanded to the point that even Of Montreal's 2004 release Satanic Panic in the Attic sounds like a completely different person might have written it.

Still, this album could have very easily been a train wreck from the beginning, but Barnes, ten years after the first Of Montreal release, appears to have finally reached his creative peak. Sure, it would be easy to point out the album's obvious leanings to Prince and David Bowie, but this album is no mere imitator. Hissing Fauna stands on its own two legs very well, and while only time will tell what the masses think, I envision this album standing the test of time and eventually ranking with the likes of Prince and Bowie instead of constantly being compared to them. Hissing Fauna may be ugly at times, but it's still a snapshot deserving of a spot in the glam/flamboyant rock family album.

September 5, 2007
(Edited with love by Femme Fatale)

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Don't Tell Anyone You Don't Own...

The Pixies -
Surfer Rosa

(4AD/Elektra, 1988)

The new Black Francis album Bluefinger hit shelves today (and p2p networks long before that, I'm sure). I've yet to hear it. If good old Pitchfork is worth its weight in self-aggrandizing music critics, I probably won't. Besides, why bother listening to a sub-par, watered-down solo album when I can hit the waves with Surfer Rosa?

Perhaps this album represents another case of the "I fell in love with this album first, and therefore I will always love it more" syndrome. Sorry Doolittle, but your monkey gone to heaven just doesn't compare to Surfer Rosa's raucous screaming, ragged production, and err, tits.

I confess: I didn't encounter this album until '99 when "Where is My Mind?" caught my attention in the denouement of Fight Club. Yes, I was one of those people. Now I skip the track when I listen to the album. Don't get wrong, the song is exceptional, but is at best out of place on an album that is otherwise raw and dirty.

Surfer Rosa is the perfect pick-me-up for that mid-day slump, that angry-at-the-world afternoon, that summer evening when you're driving around with your windows cracked so passersby can hear how much cooler your music is than theirs. (Yes, I am one of those people.) And I don't care if the lyrics are spelled out for me in the song's title, I still contest that track three, although deserving of endless prolix commendations, is first and foremost "Something to Dance To."

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