Friday, June 8, 2007

I'm So Very Sorry

I recently took down a post about an artist who is dope as efff. It was taken down because the artist didn't like what was being said on this blog, and I agree with him. Most of the non-sense on here has been caused by me, T.H. Dollar sign, and I'm not proud of it.
So, as a way to show I have changed my ways, I have edited my blogs to NOT be so sexist.
People should know I love women (and I am a woman). I love the way they smell, walk, talk, think, but most importantly the way they look.

The new T.H. Dollar sign is now T.H. peace sign.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

What Kind Of $hit Is That

Since last month there was mother’s day and I didn’t get anything for my mom, I’m going to dedicate this week’s W.K.O.$.I.T. to all mothers. Let me start by giving them some advice: stop driving pick-up trucks you “nappyheaded hoes”(Imus); that shit is unattractive.
Trucks are big and are used for moving shit; girls don’t move shit and should not be allowed to drive (at all) large vehicles their weak arms and simple minds can’t handle.
In recent discussions with an expert in the field of stereotyping, Matty G, I was informed that the only type of girl that drives a truck is in fact not a girl at all. Words used to describe these people were: lesbians (not the hot kind), dykes, or chicks with dicks. Yes, people that look like girls but instead of producing sweet jelly, they produce mayonnaise.
Now ask yourself, "does this lady have a peter?":

Answer: she doesn't. I love that woman in the picture above.

T.H. Dollar sign

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

No he's not.

If I have to listen to one more teenager/20something tell me how awesome Chuck Palahniuk is, I'm going to have RJD2 bite off their cocks.

Matty G.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

RJD2 sucks a lot (the PG 13 edit)

I just downloaded RJD2's latest album, "The Third Hand". And now I'm deleting it.

-Thomas Hanks

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Sage Francis - Human The Death Dance

shilzzz: gather round, kiddies, you're boy is still here, holding down the fort like everyday.

This may be going out on a ledge, but Sage Francis is, in my opinion, the most intricate lyricist that rap music currently has. People talked a lot of shit about A Healthy Distrust, but when it comes down to it, Francis had fine tuned his literary vehicles so tightly that by the time Human the Death Dance came out, the thread of those bolts were undoubtedly stripped. Your boy Thoma$ Hank$ would call this another case of 'two classic album syndrome.' It holds fairly true, across each genre: Eminem had Slim Shady then Marshall Mathers, The Flaming Lips with The Soft Bulletin and Yoshimi, et all. Sage pulled out all the stunts, jumping a record set of buses on Hope and Distrust, the vocal effects and song structures that were used on those set him up for failure here. He could no longer use those old school background hype sounds, he stretched metaphors of God, death, the sun and moon, among other things, and his hip-hop reference base was exhaustingly devoured. Human, then, finds him in a fireball at the bottom of a canyon in disarray, waiting for an EMT to swoop through.

HTDD begins in the same vein as Distrust to much applause. The first sound is the same opening of 2Pac's 7 Day Theory (rung church bell, where supposedly a voice says "Suge shot him," though I haven't heard or read anything underlying in Sage's version about an impending bullet shower), and is fitting in so far as the canvas he continually paints upon has to do with, simply enough - death. The rest of the intro, as well as "Underground for Dummies" ("I'm the d-i-y artist with thick grass roots," as well as contradictory statements of his melatonin) finds Paul Francis at varying ages of youth rhyming, in an effort to prove his hip-hop-icity, a point he has been hollering about each album, as if people don't believe by now he has gained respect of his peers (honestly, doggie, if you don't by now, you never will).

Up through track five, the tempo is kept as high as anything on his previous effort. "Civil Obedience" is Francis at his most political, slugging the listener with jab after jab.
"Got Up This Morning," produced by cowboy boot rockin' Buck 65 with vocals by the folksy Jolie Holland (whom Sage had been touring with), is typical emo (yes, I will keep calling you emo, Sage) fare, over cavernous howls and harmonica/guitar lines. His flow is as keen as ever, wading in the beat that wanes and flares accordingly.

Where the album's wheels fall off, contrary to reviews from both Urb and Pitchfork, is it's uneven-ness that follows. With drum-less tracks from some upcoming Edward Norton movie thrown in, I am left discomforted. "Good Fashion"(one of said tracks) is followed by a song that could have been produced by Eminem (ugh), "Clickety Clack," with its "The Way I Am" drum sound/structure, and odd fitting flows -- though the words are nice enough. He nearly goes to the Conor Oberst extreme with interludes, taking up extended periods of time before several tracks with young Sage raps, and an intro about broccoli, which works better on stage as entertainment than it does wasting a half minute of my life on a record.

Still self-deprecating and intricate, Sage does what many, if not any at all, other rappers can't - he sounds good while being introspective. "Hell of a Year" is evidence of the difference between why it works less here than in the past. He has become increasingly self indulgent, to an extent that a wall becomes built between artist and consumer, rather than being those universialities that consumer can apply to hirself.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Twilight Sad - Fourteen Autums Fifteen Winters

shilzzz: i like fatcat. they are as reliable as any indie labels out there. animal collective is probably one of my top five bands. even the ever reliable pitchfork gave this thing a very good review. normally, those things add up to a winner.

haha. i was swindled out of $13.

that singer has the most annoying, most cracker sounding voice of ALL TIME! man alive. i was expecting so much more. mediocrity would be one thing. but wow. i mean, if you are into listening to drunk irish people singing 'ol' danny boy' into the wee hours of the night, this may be for you.

then again, that may be slightly entertaining... something this record is not.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Liberal Hollywood Conspiracies?

Shilzzz - So I went to see 28 Weeks Later with your boy, Thoma$ Hank$, where we were fortunate enough to sit behind a large group of awesomes that smelled, at least during the previews, like really bad pot. Yeah, the kind I can find a couple blocks behind my house on a bike ride (look, feds - I know you watch me, but I'm not the one growing that shit, it's the farmers trying to skim off the top... talk about got it for cheap). Oddly enough, as the night progressed, this group began to smell more and more like baby powder. Is that what's hot in the streets, covering marijuana with Johnson & Johnson?

I digress, there are bigger fish to fry here. The chick on the left of big soldier mang (btw, Mr. Hank$, funny enough young Johannson's name is Imogen Poots, no shit) plays the top military scientist involved with the containment of this 'Rage Virus'(pardon if I mess up, never saw the first one), and, ultimately, like any (not that) good Hollywood flick, no one listens to the scientist, and the world suffers devastation as a result of this folly--and here, my friends, is wisdom.

Why is it that always the case? Well, your boy has the remedy. Major right wing news outlets will try to convince listeners (is it just me, or do a vast majority of Fox News anchors look like aliens), of a great Liberal Hollywood Conspiracy, that Matt Damon or Jorge Clooney are efforting to dissuade your vote towards Democrats, then Nader, and on down the road to Communism and total Anarchy. While this may be true(Clooney, I saw you at the Oscars), I think that this is a mere front for the real conspiracy - Scientology. See that picture? The soldier, along with scientist, save the children. In every movie of this type, when the scientist is ignored, civilization has its rug pulled from underneath itself. L.Ron Hubbard, along with Katie Holmes and that dude from Grease have teamed up to make you want to buy books like the bestselling, sweet ass volcano erupting commercial having, Dianetics. So yeah, aliens have stole my soul, and now I need to give all my money to The Foundation to Fund Kate Moss' Coke Habit. Where's Clipse when you need them?

Thursday, May 10, 2007

What Kind of $hit Is That?

Thomas Hanks: The other day I was thinking, what does a tampon smell like? Without actually smelling a tampon my question was answered in the form of music. Some may be wondering how this is possible. When God spoke to Moses, HE said “May Imogen Heap’s music sound the way a tampon smells”. And so it was and is. Doubters of this eleventh commandment (are going to hell) still ask why every Imogen Heap song sounds like it should be in a tampon commercial? The answer is simple: Imogen Heap is NOT always on her period.

With songs like “Have You Got It In You?”, “Hide And Seek”, and “Clear The Area (I’m on my period)”, we can know how tampons smell. We should thank Imogen for writing songs inspired by the depths of her cooch. E-mail her at

Scott Joplin ain’t never heard ragtime music like this. What? What!

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Quarterly Review - Day 3

Alright kids, we're here at the final day of our quarterly review. We're wrapping things up with another smattering of writing and music (and a video!) and getting you all primed for Thomas Hanks Thursdays tomorrow. There might be a surprise on Friday if you're good. Hopefully we'll be updating almost every day from now on, so bookmark that shit and get familiar. Bon Appetit.

Arcade Fire - Neon Bible

The trap is inescapable; Tribe Called Quest was bound to have Low End Theory and Midnight Marauders held against them, while Hail to the Thief and even to a lesser extent Amnesiac were both very good albums, it was, and will continue to be, nearly impossible for Radiohead to up the bar after Kid A and OK Computer. In a lengthy discussion, my friend Stephen (who you will be hearing from here soon enough), said that Arcade Fire, to him, are like Neutral Milk Hotel -- if Aeroplane were their last album, that would be fine by him. I am admittedly more stingy than Stephen: I want another Neutral Milk Hotel album, though it could never live up to Aeroplane, so I was mega-hyped for Neon Bible.

Funeral this is not. Missing are many of the parts that made AF so successful - comparatively the layers are flimsy (though still shoulders above most), and, on the influence tip, gone is Bowie in favor of Springsteen (a mistake, though not the pitfall I expected it to be). What is here, however, are Win Butler's orchestration and lyricism, as well as great melodies. An early leaked version of the single "Intervention" had a british disc jockey commenting after the song was over, "Man, if that doesn't touch you somewhere special (no homo?), whew, I feel sorry for you," and his sentiments are true: the song is about a family dying, and someone who is working for the church for money, and is a great commentary on various levels, depending on how the listener chooses to apply the metaphor. "Keep the Car Running" is another track in the same veins as Funeral, that frolics and skips about in "dreams through the same old city with a different name" and Butler & Co. tease the breakdowns/build-ups, then explode all over your face. And yes, the best song is "No Cars Go", a song from their first EP, with but stronger production this time around, which seems almost masturbatory (that's a real, no spell check word?). Other than those three tracks, the listener is no doubt going to give up on this quickly. But go back, and listen to tracks like "Bad Vibrations," "Ocean of Noise," and "The Well and the Lighthouse." You might be surprised to find a very good, albeit sophomore, album, as long as you don't hold Funeral against them.

Matty G: I totally nerded out the day this came out. I picked it up right when the stores opened and then played it about three times that day. I listened to it maybe five more times that week and...I haven't really listened to it since. I'll put on "Intervention" or "Keep the Car Running" on my way to class, but I haven't listened to Neon Bible as a whole since the week after it came out. Which is funny considering how much I was raving about it that week. I even declared it better than Funeral.

It's two months later and I feel kind of stupid. I still think Neon Bible is great; it's one of my favorite albums this year so far, but it's a far more uneven record that its predecessor. There's three or four really great songs ("Intervention," the new version of "No Cars Go"), a handful of ones that are good ("The Well and the Lighthouse," "Antichrist Television Blues") and only one that maybe should have been left out ("Black Wave/Bad Vibrations"). But really, what were we supposed to expect? How was this supposed to be better than Funeral? Could you even imagine what a record better than Funeral would sound like? (Assuming you agree with the rest of the world and think Funeral is damn near perfect.) So really, Neon Bible is what any reasonable person would expect: a good record, if a bit uneven, that solidifies Arcade Fire's place in the musical landscape. I feel like they might have another truly facemelting record in them somewhere, but I'm perfectly fine biding my time with albums like this one.

Beirut - Lon Gisland

Matty G: Really just pick this up for "Elephant Gun" and the new version of "Scenic World," not that there's really much else here. "Elephant Gun" is as good as anything on Gulag Orkestrar (maybe better) and hints that Zach Condon may not have just lucked out with his first record. The re-done "Scenic World" transforms the lo-fi synth pop of the original into a full blown klezmer jam. "Carousels" is decent, but just sounds like one of those middle tracks from Gulag Orkestrar that you only listen to because one of the good songs is next. If there's any flaw with Beirut, it's that Zach Condon has only written a few great songs, while the rest are just good. But really good. The worst moments on Gulag Orkestrar were still better than a lot of other standard indie crap that came out last year. This EP is a nice little something to tide you over until another album, which will hopefully be sooner than later. I just hope that Condon doesn't succumb to exhaustion and can keep putting kicking out the jams.

Bloc Party - A Weekend in the City

Shilzzz: Much like Arcade Fire, if not to a greater extent, Bloc Party reined in their efforts on Weekend to avoid the sophomore jinx. They restricted their tricks, and seemingly focused on having a solid, if not very interesting, second album. And that's what you get. Blah, blah, the singer is exploring his homosexuality more lyrically, and that's the only real risk they take. "Hunting For Witches" is the strongest track here, both lyrically and musically: "I want to be an ordinary man with ordinary desires," while the panning of vocals, and strong guitars draw the listeners attention. "Waiting for the 7.18" is closer to the rest of the album, where Kele dilly dallies around the beat. OK... I want to like it, but it's not going to happen. I liked their first album because my girlfriend at the time constantly played that "bluest light" song. Well, she's not around anymore, and neither is this album.

Matty G: Any way you look at it, this record should have sucked. Silent Alarm was so mega-hyped that no one would have been surprised if Bloc Party just imploded under the pressure. However, the band proved strong and emerged with a better album than before, even if it is still a bit flawed. There are a few songs here that are definitely skip-worthy, but for the most part the band succeeds in distancing themselves from the whole dancepunk thing they were unfortunately lumped into a few years back.

If I were a real music writer, I'd probably discuss how the album seems to be about the existential crises caused by modern life. But that's just boring and no one wants to read it. "Uniform" tries to be a commentary on everyone's favorite dumbasses, scene kids, but it just comes off as arrogant. "Where Is Home?" is kind of like Garden State but with a little less melodrama and a lot less Zach Braff. The final three songs of the album are easily the best work the band has done yet and "I Still Remember" is one of my favorite songs of the year. I'm sure a lot of people were like me and almost wrote these guys off, but Bloc Party has proved they actually have what it takes to stick around and still be relevant.

Blonde Redhead - 23

Question: what is the best idea record companies have had in the last, oh let's say, decade or so? Answer: giving free mp3 downloads to people who bought the album on vinyl. Sub Pop, Touch and Go, and 4AD are a few of the labels doing this, and hopefully the rest of independent record companies follow suit. 4AD, the label Blonde Redhead moved to for their latest album, 23, allows not just one, but three digital downloads, which is good,because I'm a dumbass and the first time I downloaded it I couldn't unzip it. But that's neither here nor there.

Blonde Redhead is probably one of the more underrated indie-rock groups, and this is another example why more people should be listening. Some of the songs sound like tougher, underground levels of the first GameBoy Mario Bros. game, with chimes falling like overhead bricks, drums like Mario's rhythmic high-stepping echoes off cavernous walls, guitars bouncing around like those crazy rock villains. What separates this record from Melody of Certain Damaged Lemons or Misery is a Butterfly is that brothers Pace and the chick with the long name gave this album the same vibe as the others, but formatted it for pop ears. And it works, as far as scaling back, in the ways Arcade Fire or Bloc Party wanted. As wonderful as long-named girl's voice is, the stand out tracks are ones with a male vocalist, "SW" and "Publisher." Really, the album is like one of those fire crackers you set on the ground that stays there, but shoots sparks and twirls around hypnotically, or maybe like a large, tightly wound spring unfurling.

Various Artists - Ed Rec Vol. 2

Matty G:
As good as the folks over at Ed Banger Records are (and they are), sometimes I think people give them too much credit. They've put out a handful of really great songs (see: anything by Justice, DJ Mehdi or Sebastian) and while they haven't released anything bad yea (at least not that I've heard), the rest of the stuff is kind of forgettable. That's not going to stop me from following the label all year though. The label has an overall aesthetic that reminds me of the work that Factory Records or other similar labels used to do. They've even got an in-house artist that handles all of the album art and it gives everything a nice sense of cohesion. But like I said, not everything the label puts out is worthy salivating over.

Everything Justice put their hands on turns to gritty gold. This comp has "Phantom" and while it's not as good as "Waters of Nazareth," it's still better than about 99% of electronic music that's come out in the past year. Uffie brings just as much attitude to "Dismissed" as anything else she's done and Mr. Flash and Busy P both turn in a few decent efforts. The So Me remix of the Klaxons is just unnecessary and Krazy Baldhead's "Strings of Death" isn't anything special. Despite the unevenness of the labels second compilation, it's still worth checking out if only as a primer to one of the most consistent labels out there.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Quarterly Review - Day 2

Alright kids, Matty G here with day two of the quarterly review. We've only got four albums for you today, because finals have squeezed my mindgrapes dry. So for you Shilzzz fans out there, soak up the extra juice he's giving you today and we'll both be back tomorrow for the final part of this Ken Burns rivaling series. Dig it.

(It's come to my attention that some of you aren't familiar with IMEEM. You see those little boxes at the bottom of each review? Click the big, green play button to hear the toons. No MP3s right now because we're poor and can't afford hosting. Deal with it.)

Panda Bear - Person Pitch

Matty G: It took me a little while to warm up to this one, but then again I've never really dug anything associated with Animal Collective on the first listen. I caught the snipped of "Bros" when it first leaked and promptly deleted it. But Shilzzz and Thomas Hanks wouldn't shut the hell up about it, so I decided to give the album a shot. I listened to it once, then filed it away in the giant stack of CDs sitting on my desk. As I was getting ready to take a rather long drive one day, I was scanning the stack for something to play and decided to give Person Pitch another shot. I couldn't have planned a better combination of beautiful weather, country roads and feel-good jams if I tried. I was hooked.

"Take Pills" sounds breezy and laid-back until it breaks down and all of a sudden you're in the middle of JAM CITY. "I'm Not" come dangerously close to sounding like that Moby song that was used in the X-Files (at the end of the episode where Mulder finds out his sister is dead), but it's still one of my favorites. The lyrics are straightforward almost to a fault, but they're incredibly endearing in an entirely dorky way. Panda Bears blunt honesty and good vibery is something that I've been missing from music for a while. I read an interview with Panda Bear where he said that he thought walking old ladies across the street was really cool. I would hate him for being a hippie if he wasn't totally right.

Shilzzz: By far the album of the year, and honestly, unless Animal Collective really does release another full length this year, I can't see much fucking with the ranking. Nearly the perfect record. Someone, can't remember who right now, said this album sounds like if the Beach Boys (don't front, "Pet Sounds" was the ish) and Aphex Twin(or some electronic group) were having a party across the street, and that is about as apt as it gets.

For only having seven tracks, five were released as singles. "Bros" is twelve and a half minutes long, and I don't want it to stop. "Take Pills" seems to be an ode to the rest of his crew, and while the lyricism isn't profound or tricky, it is honest and cutting - something too many writers forget to be. While I wish I had bought the 12" for "Carrots" when in Chicago a while back so as to have that and "Good Girl" split up, it's for no good reason because it is great as one track. Does it get repetitive? Yes... but not to a fault as some suggest. It works, and the songs get stuck in my head for hours at a time. With the incredible melodies here, this is not a bad thing.

Menomena - Friend and Foe

Shilzzz: Another one that came out of nowhere. At first this was my shit. Very funky, as if parliament leaned more towards indie rock and their studio was in the middle of the gaza strip. One can easily hear Menomena's influences on "Friend or Foe"-- a marginally better disc than their debut "I am the Fun Blame Monster"-- which are spread widely, from DJ Shadow's "Private Press" on tracks like "Air Aid" when the bass and piano & effects get all deep green and static; they delve into something between a beatnik club where Amiri Baraka is spinning spoken word poetry and trolls humming beneath a bridge. There are Arcade Fire-esque church organs and strings on "My My" minus the fullness(lack of better word) of Win Butler's sound, even the vocals here are closer to Win than anywhere else, when the singer gently strokes his guitar and sings "what if everyone is right?" There are also hints of the Fridmann/Drozd drums sprinkled throughout.

Don't get me wrong when I say they sound like a million other bands -- this is not the worst possible thing, because Menomena, as a group, are a very creative band of motherfuckers. "Fun Blame Monster" had a flipbook for it's cover art, and this album's sleeve can be switched around into, iirc, 8 different covers, each different yet familiar and distinct. but although you don't listen to the cover, as cool as it may be, it is indicative of what the listeners find here: indie-rock gumbo, done as beautifully as can be done, whatever that means.

El-P - I'll Sleep When You're Dead

Matty G:
This thing sounds like the motherfucking apocalypse. El-P is one of those dudes you either love or hate, and I'm planted firmly on the "love" side. Maybe it's my own pessimistic tendencies, but I find the album's nihilism and despair totally engrossing. Themes of doom have always been present in El-P's music, even his beats, but he's never articulated this well before. He almost delights in pointing out the fact that humanity has totally and completely fucked itself.

Somewhere between Fantastic Damage and I'll Sleep... El-P actually learned how to rap. He wasn't really bad to begin with, but there are more quotables in "Tasmanian Pain Coaster" and "Drive" than almost all of Fantastic Damage. El-P has stepped up almost everything. His beats are more abrasive and fucked up than ever, but now there's an underlying melody and soul to them. I guess you have to have soul to begin with in order for it to be crushed. I'll Sleep... just reminds me of the time five or six years ago when Def Jux was consistently putting out great music that didn't sound like anything anyone else was even thinking of. The label has always existed on another plane than the rest of hip-hop, and I hope this is just the first step towards getting back to that.

Shilzzz: Anybody else ever seen the Def Jux 'Robots' DVD (ahhh, my EYE!!!)? It became blatantly obvious how bad a case of attention whore-icit disorder El-P has when he shuffled around his flat post 9/11 N.Y.C., talking about the apocalypse in jokes that were neither clever nor ironic. With that said, he does have a decent grip on what's going on around him: what art styles are hot, who is doing what in music, politics, and, seemingly enough, a decent taste in literature. Thusly, his label and signees are eccentric and often waaaay out in left field. It's funny to me that these guys are called "intelligent hip hop," and is maybe more of a case where dumbass white kids, in their ever fervent search for something out of the ordinary, latched onto jukies like Aesop and Can-Ox(Cage is in another league compared to these guys) after Rawkus Records' spot got blown. WARNING TO WHITE PEOPLE: BIG WORDS ALONE DOES NOT MEAN A RAPPER IS SAYING SOMETHING RELEVANT.

This is already long, I know, and have yet to get to the record. A perfect example of "I'll Sleep..." is "Smithereens." All of Producto's great taste is filtered through N.Y.C.-tinted lenses--everywhere you listen there is a taxi cab driving through construction and a bodega and a grandmother being mugged for her dentures and Derek Jeter dry humping Alex Rodriguez: just too many layers upon layers. But once the song is over, El-P drops the simple piano sample or whatever that one can tell the song resulted from, which is, other than hearing Chan Marshalls voice at some point, the high water mark of the record. Ain't that a bitch? It's better than his first solo album, but only marginally at the fringes. His use of vocal effects is interesting in the contexts of rap music, but not anything you didn't heard Radiohead do seven years ago, or better yet, Paul Wall more recently. He sounds like he wants to be good, and works really hard at being good, but wasn't born very good. plus he's still not exactly on beat, which is maybe the most frustrating part. WARNING TO WHITE PEOPLE: BEING OFF BEAT DOES NOT INHERENTLY MAKE YOU "ARTISTIC"...he has gotten better, and I'll give him credit for the work, but really, don't try so hard doggie. Oh yeah, before I forget, can we get a Cage and DJ Shadow full length? I'm salivating.

Bright Eyes - Cassadaga

I wish rock and roll people did direct disses like they do in rap. I severely want Ben Gibbard to dis Bright Eyes how Mr.'The Serial Killer's in 4E' Cam'ron did 50 Cent, on the song "Cuuuuuuuuuurtis." Connnnnnnnnor! Wake up. YOU ARE NOT BOB DYLAN. Folk is one thing, but COUNTRY MUSIC IS NOT A GOOD IDEA. Really. Much like El-P, one can tell that Oberst isn't necessarily Ramona Cordova when it comes to sincerity on the mic. But that is part of the reason why Conor Oberst is such a fascinating enigma: for all of is overplayed, behemoth-ist lyricism he still has the uncanny ability to pull at the listener's heart strings, so I continue to buy his work, even though the mixed feelings will always be there.

A couple years back Bright Eyes and them released two albums simultaneously: the folksy I'm Wide Awake and Digital Ash in a Digital Urn. Wide Awake holds a shit ton of nostalgic meaning to me, yellow bird and all, so while I do go back to that one, Digital... was more up my alley, musically, with it's dreamscape electronica. Cassadaga shows, now with a steady lineup in the band, which direction he fell. So it seems now, after the see-sawing of "Lifted" and earlier works, that the two previous were attempts to even out his work, and in that sense this album is successful. Where it fails is that it is, essentially, country music. It's no doubt bias alone,but I can't stand that shit. Tracks 3-7 work well, when he involves more string arrangements ("Soul Singer in a Session Band" is honestly great), but other than that, it's typical Conor fare, with a few long interludes that are totally unnecessary. Also, his voice, in spots, has grown incredibly strong. If you are a big Bright Eyes fan, you will probably like it. However,if you are on the fence with his work, you are probably going to fall on the side of not.

That's it for day two. Check back tomorrow for the final piece of the puzzle.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Quarterly Review - Day 1

We're kicking off 22 Positions with a quarterly review, where we run down the biggest/smallest/best/worst records from the first few months of 2007. If we actually stay on schedule. we should be bringing you six or so albums a day until Thursday, when Thomas Hanks will take over. That dude's got big plans. Let's get to it.

(Excuse the shoddy design work. We wanted to get the blog up ASAP, which meant we didn't have a lot of time to work on the look. Don't worry though, we'll clean this place up as soon as we can.)

Modest Mouse - We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank

Matty G:
I don't really care about Modest Mouse. Good News for People Who Love Bad News is the only record that I can actually sit through, and if I'm in a good mood I might even say it's a decent album. When "Dashboard" hit the intercool, I was pretty jazzed at the prospect of another Modest Mouse album that's not a colossal waste of time. The song recalls the best moments of Good News... and the horns and strings hinted that the band might branch our and try on some new digs.

Unfortunately, I was pretty nonplussed with We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank. I don't really think it's a bad record, I just can't imagine the next time I'm going to listen to it. And that pretty much sums up my relationship with Modest Mouse: they make decent music that I never listen to. I'll just file them away under "Things People Care About But I Don't" (See Also: Forrest Gump, Global warming).

Shilzzz: Meh. If you are in Seattle, or at a show, could you please give Isaac Brock a large amount of LSD? There are no less than two amusing rumors about the writing of their albums previous to Good News...: 1) there is a homeless man MM has never met that mails lyrics to the band 2) Brock wrote all of the albums in facemelt mode. And even Good News (which, in my opinion is vastly underrated by people who get mad whenever a band goes on MTV - you punks need to stop that shit, it doesn't make you cooler if you stop listening to a band, follow your heart, bitches) was supposedly written while Brock was on suicide watch. So let's see... the band gets rich, employs Mercer to do some production and the much paraded Marr on guitar, and put out a shit album. "Dashboard" is, more or less, a very catchy, four on the floor, Franz Ferdinand shit stain of a single. "Parting of the Sensory" is decent, but is not nearly on the level of anything close to Moon & Antarctica. Brock moans on and on about boats, and frankly, the metaphor gets tired very quickly. Little shelf life, you will forget it exists after the first few listens.

Klaxons - Myths of the Near Future

Shilzzz: This was something I picked up on a whim, knowing nothing about who they were or what they were about, on the same day I purchased the Besnard Lakes CD. The album cover reminded me of Bitches Brew for some reason (probably the odd montage/ use of blue), and it was cheap, making it worth the risk. Well, the Klaxons took over my iPod, car, between class walk, getting ready for a night out, and any other occasion I could make an excuse to play this. People make too much about the rave stuff here... don't get me wrong, it's noticeable for sure, just not as prominent as other reviews suggested. Think of it this way: if you meshed Bloc Party's first album, Karen O's raucous, maybe a dash of Wolf Parade, and the lead singer was Aleister Crowley, you end up with this. Highly recommended. My second favorite album thus far in 2007. Favorite tracks are "Magick," "Two Receivers," and "Atlantis to Interzone" (though there isn't much to skip).

Matty G: Myths... is a good album, and I've playe
d the shit out of it since it came out, but I can easily see everyone forgetting about Klaxons before the year is over. They just have that feel of a band that is going to be completely irrelevant in six months. Which is kind of a shame, considering they're actually kind of good. I don't totally get the whole "new rave" tag though, but that might be because I have no idea what "old rave" is.

There really isn't a bad song on here, just some that aren't as good as "Golden Skans" and "Gravity's Rainbow." If the band can prove they're not a fluke, they may actually be able to stick around for a little while. At least until their second album sucks.

LCD Soundsystem - Sound of Silver

Matty G: I'm about as big a DFA fanboy as they come. I've got almost every record the label has put out and I'm of the opinion that Murphy & Goldsworthy haven't had their names attatched to a bad project yet. Not even Automato. Having established my very biased opinion, you can probably guess that I'm going to say that Sound of Silver is easily one of my favorite albums of the year so far.

Instead of just putting out another DFA-standard dance record, Murphy did something no one expected: he grew up. LCD Soundsystem's first record, as well as the early singles, were great, but they reeked of irony, self-reference and allusions to James Murphy's record collection. (Which was kind of the whole point.) But on Sound of Silver, Murphy created a record that alludes to past greats without outright acknowledging them and crafted his best work in the process. "New York, I Love You" does sound a lot like Lou Reed, but other than
that the songs are almost all Murphy; from the weird post-breakup haze of "Someone Great" and the desire for old company in "All My Friends" to a sneering critique of our complacent lifestyle in "North American Scum." Murphy can still can bring the jams, too: "Get Innocuous!" and "Us v Them" are as booty-ready as anything the DFA has done. I could keep gushing about this record, but I'll just stop myself here.

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah - Some Loud Thunder

Alec Ounsworth's voice sweeps wistfully, like a mad hatter on a chain link swing in spring, halting mid-air to add emphasis, then threatening to swing all the way around the iron
pole the swing is suspended from. On their second album, Some Loud Thunder, CYHSY paired with producer Dave Fridmann, of both brilliant Soft Bulletin and Yoshimi from The Flaming Lips, as well as Mercury Rev and Sleater-Kinney, among others... it is interesting because, knowing what CYHSY did on their mega-hyped self-titled album without Fridmann, and with what Fridmann had done with other groups, one is able to see where the styles clash on the canvas of Some Loud Thunder. I jumped on their bandwagon after their debut, which I liked enough, but for whatever reason was not super enamored with this release, even knowing Dave was on board (no pun intended). Thunder starts on an odd note. At first listen I thought my earbuds had blown, all the static, and not even swirling, 5.1 surround sound static like you might expect from Fridmann. Thankfully the first track is the only one like this and the album quickly steps up to mediocrity, where it stays, for the most part, throughout. It is good to hear that Fridmann produced trademark symbol use here. Standout tracks are: "Love Song No. 9" (where Ounsworth really explores his vocal range beautifully), "Yankee Go Home," and, outside of the out of place synths, "Satan Said Dance."

The Postmarks - The Postmarks

Matty G: The Postmarks are good for the same reason they might not be: they're an indie-pop band. While they sound exactly how you'd think an "indie-pop" band would sound, they put almost everyone else in the genre to shame just by the sheer perfection of their songs. Instead of trying to breathe life into a genre that's been boring for a long time, the Postmarks went in the other direction and decided to just be the absolute best pop band they can.

It's the band's attention to detail that makes their music so enjoyable. I've listened to this record five times or more and I'm still picking up on the minute touches that I didn't even realize the songs needed. I almost feel guilty after listening to the record. The songs sound like they were recorded under a staircase and were nev
er meant for anyone to hear. The feeling I get from them is like reading someone's diary: I know I'm not supposed to, but I love every second of it.

The Shins - Wincing the Night Away

Shilzzz: Forget Garden State ever happened; Lord knows the kid from Scrubs did when he made that other movie. Forget The Shins first two albums had been released, and forget every pretense you have about how a Shins
record should sound, and Wincing will steal your heart. I can do this. I never listened to James Mercer and his crew before this to be honest, and I couldn't be happier. While others complained (see: Pitchfork) about their use of drums on tracks like "Sea Legs" and "Split Needles," those two actually became a couple of my more memorable tracks here. The album is pure indie pop, but is floaty and light through an eerie juxtaposition of voice and instrumentation -- a though line to toe, yet one that Mercer and his co-horts pull off to much praise. One of my top three albums so far this year.

That's it for today. Come back tomorrow for
round two.