November 21, 2008

Broken Social Scene

You Forgot It In People - KC Accidental

Broken Social Scene - 7/4 Shoreline
BSS Presents Kevin Drew's Spirit If... - Frightening Lives
BSS Presents Brendan Canning's Something For All of Us - Hit the Wall

One of my favorite bands of all time. BSS is a Canadian indie rock supergroup, an amalgam of nineteen musical minds from an array of different bands coming together to fuse indie rock, baroque pop, shoegazing, dream pop, and experimental rock. They played in Atlanta at the Variety Playhouse two nights ago with opener Land of Talk (a post for them soon to come, they absolutely rocked). It was the second time I've seen them and I still maintain that BSS is the best live band I have ever seen. Not only are all of the members incredibly musically talented (each member rotated roles throughout the show, almost all of them playing bass, guitar, synth, piano, and percussion at least once), they are also truly a web of musicians not dependent on one single entity: at one point, pseudo-frontman Kevin Drew's voice fell out, so he took a break for one song while the rest of the line up played an Apostle of Hustle cover. I'd take every opportunity I possibly could to go see them live again.

I've been consistently impressed by every release with a BSS tag on it, be it EP, LP, B-side, whatever, they never fail to create beautiful music.
BSS has had four traditional LP releases, with Bee Hives being a collection of B-sides. Recently, Broken Social Scene has decided to do a series of "Broken Social Scene Presents..." releases, which are solo efforts by individual members of the band assisted by the rest of BSS. I've posted a small mix from some of their albums, check them out, I promise they won't disappoint.
November 20, 2008

Billy Bragg and Wilco

I remember my high school English teacher, Ms. Guha (Goo-ha), asking our class if any of us had heard of Billy Bragg, a folk singer from before our time. I was the only person in class who had, and I asked if she had heard of his work with the band Wilco. She hadn't, but you will.

Billy Bragg and Wilco worked together in 1998 and released Mermaid Avenue, which is a collection of lyrics from American folk singer Woody Guthrie, who died in 1967. The album displays the creativity from three different artist identities: Woody Guthrie, Billy Bragg, and Jeff Tweedy/Wilco. Although I wish the album was longer to give more to the listener in terms of hearing each entity develop while developing as a whole, but what I heard was still good.

Enjoy the great elements from early, to modern, to very modern American "folk" music, and the culmination of all three into one album and sound.

Here's California Stars.
November 18, 2008

A Kanye West Rant

Usually, I try not to bash artists because of their headlines in the media...but I think Kanye is a different case. I'm pretty sure it's not the media that's trying to cast him in a bad light; Kanye pulls that off well enough by himself. I know I'm not alone in this view because I've read several other Kanye complaints, my favorite of which is this article on Kanye's top ten D-bag moments.

The first encounter I ever had with Kanye's outspoken demeanor was back during hurricane Katrina with his infamously awkward speech about George Bush not caring about black people. If you haven't seen it before, it's worth watching:

The next point of interest is Kanye's absurdly late appearance at the Bonnaroo. If that isn't enough, when Kanye did finally take the stage, he harassed the fans that remained to see him. Check out this NME article for more information on it. The final Kanye-is-a-tool moment, the one that actually inspired this post, was his statement that he will be remembered as the voice of this generation. If KW is remembered by that label, I think I'll lose faith in music as a whole. Here's the whole article.

So there, that's my first rant post, have at it.

November 16, 2008

Camper Van Beethoven

New Roman Times

I had the unique opportunity of seeing CVB frontman David Lowery at the AthFest panels back in September; he works in an options and derivatives trading firm in Chicago and does CVB on the side now, which is pretty understandable and respectable for a guy pushing fifty. He's a pretty cool guy, all things considered.

CVB is an alternative rock band founded in the early 80s. Their style usually consists of repeating melodies interlaced with violin and absurdist lyrics, but kind of progressed into an experimental/psychadelic band in their later careers. New Roman Times kind of reminds me of simple post-rock Wilco song. CVB broke up in the early nineties with spinoff formations of other bands, most notably Cracker, but they reconvened at the turn of the century. Given the vibe of New Roman Times, I'd like to check them out sometime.

November 14, 2008

Chairlift (part dos)

…"a motor-driven conveyor consisting of a series of seats suspended from a cable and used for transporting skiers or sightseers up or down a long slope or mountainside"
…"a band of ghosts making chamber music for young adults"

Evident Utensil

This is the title track from the 7" above, and my favorite track on the main album.


The Reindeer Section


Quiet, introspective, folky. The band was started by the lead of Snow Patrol, and released two albums, with a combination of 47 musicians from other popular bands like Mogwai, Belle & Sebastian, and Arab Strap.

Very enjoyable albums. They're no Broken Social Scene, but not every huge indie collaborative can be. The group has all the attractive features of the voice of Lightbody, without the pop aura that seems to taint his other work.
November 12, 2008

Benji Hughes

Tight Tee Shirt
The Mummy
I Went With Some Friends To See The Flaming Lips

Benji's promo carnival bark is "Looks like an Allman Brother, sings like Beck!" and that bark is dead on. Benji's style combines rock ballads with a subtle touch of electronic pop and his lyrics are incredibly playful and easy to get caught up in. His live show is ridiculous: he starts singing off stage with a voice that, if you'd never seen him before, you'd swear belonged to a guy of Beck's stature. When Benji takes the stage, it's a pretty big shock...he rocks a thick mane and is much larger than you'd ever guess by just hearing the sound of his voice. I even had the...experience...of seeing Benji take his shirt off and chug beer in between lyrics -- he let it all hang out for the rest of the show and I'm pretty sure no one at the 40 watt will ever forget it.

If you ever get the chance to see him, I'd definitely check it out. Benji doesn't dissappoint. Speaking of chances...he's rocking the 40 watt again tomorrow night.
November 9, 2008

Third Eye Blind's First Release in 5 Years

Non-Dairy Creamer
I can't even imagine the flack I'll get for doing a 3eb post, but I think they're a severely underrated band: Jenkins' sense for melody is impeccable and I'm a sucker for his lyrics saturated with sex and drug comments. If you don't think they're underrated, then I'll meet you half-way and call them guilty pleasure.

Non-Dairy Creamer is supposedly the first single chosen for Ursa Major, 3eb's long awaited follow-up to 2003's Out of the Vein. The album has allegedly been in the works for 5 years; most of the instrumentals were completed long ago, the delay was apparently because Jenkins' had writer's block in drafting the lyrics. There have been reports that Ursa Major's lyrics will be more political than the band's prior albums which had me worried (I feel like few bands nowadays can successfully pull off political commentary), but if Non-Dairy Creamer is any indication of how the rest of the album is lyrically, it's definitely a pleasant surprise. The song is classic 3eb pop, catchy as hell, has a ridiculous string-laden breakdown about halfway through, and is lyrically both humorous and clever. I'm excited for Ursa Major.
November 7, 2008

Blood Raw feat. Young Jeezy's Louie Bag

From Panama City, we have Blood Raw. Enjoy.
November 4, 2008

What happened to them? caP'n Jazz

Oh Messy Life

This band has more passion behind it than any other band I've ever listened to. This album is raw, unpolished, young, experimental, but still catchy and impacting. The band's comprised of Tim Kinsella (vocals/Joan of Arc, Owls), Samuel Burick (bass), Mike Kinsella (drums/Joan of Arc, American Football), Victor Villareal (guitar), and Davey von Bohlen (guitar, vocals/Promise Ring). They only released one full-length album, Schmap'n Schmazz (as it's often called), and the band broke up almost immediately after its release. What we're left with is ANALPHABETOLOGY, the anthology of Schmap'n Schmazz and some other live stuff along with other little tracks they released.

This band formed in the end of the first emo wave (Fugazi, Rites of Spring, Nation of Ulysses, etc) in 1989, released Schmap'n Schmazz in 1994, when Sunny Day Real Estate released Diary. What we're left with now is the legacy they left behind in the form of bands like Jimmy Eat World, The Get Up Kids, Dashboard Confessional, and boys dressing like girls and a lot of dark clothing, ugly hair and bad makeup. Even though the bands that spawned in the wake of Cap'n Jazz may be bad, their good features are undeniable. They are amazingly creative and confrontational, yelling, emoting, and gushing lyrics violently and often to where you can barely understand them. This album is loud, introspective and full of the passion and feeling we all feel when growing up.

If you like any modern alternative band you should give this song a listen and you can see the subsequent influence on modern bands. Give it a listen.
November 3, 2008

What happened to them? My Bloody Valentine

This week, we're going to do a series of "What happened to them" posts where we'll pick artists who used to be huge players in all facets of the music scene but haven't been seen on the main stage in a while. We'll do a little bit of history, talk about what kind of impact they made, and then we'll talk about where the members are now. If you have any requests for artists that you want us to post about, just comment or e-mail us. I'll start off with My Bloody Valentine...


MBV was one of my absolute favorite bands and, coincidentally, influenced a lot of my favorite bands ranging from the Smashing Pumpkins to Sigur Ros. The group formed in 1984 in Dublin with the two founding members being guitarist/vocalist Kevin Shields and drummer Colm Ó Cíosóig. After gigging around Europe, the band finally settled in London and solidified their lineup with the addition of guitarist/vocalist Bilinda Butcher and bassist Debbie Googe. MBV were huge pioneers of the shoegazing genre using guitars as textures and vocals as reverb-based instruments.

I have to admit, I was not very impressed with the group's first LP release, Isn't Anything; however, it was the first release by MBV that was really well-received by critics and firmly established the group as a shoegazing band. It was their second LP release that is almost unanimously considered to be the group's masterpiece: Loveless. Several rumors were spread that the album almost bankrupted the label because of Shield's perfectionist intentions which, consequently, made the price of producing the album skyrocket (it was rumored to have costed upwards of £250,000, but Shields denies this). After listening to Loveless, I can see why. Every single sound is perfectly handcrafted and beautifully placed. I'd venture to say it's one of the top 5 albums of all time in terms of production techniques. Whenever somebody asks me what shoegazing is, I tell them to go get a copy of Loveless.

Unfortunately, Loveless failed to perform well commercially; it never charted in the United States. MBV began work on an album, but halted the production in 1996. Since then, the band hasn't released any material and the group disbanded. The popular reason behind the lack of material is because Shields thought that he could never make anything as beautiful as Loveless ever again. Fortunately for all of the MBV lovers, Shields announced in 2007 that the band was reuniting and plan to finish the album they had put on hold since 1996. The group performed a series of live shows in London and New York and, with any luck, we'll see the new MBV album out by early next year.