Thursday, October 20, 2011

Fame, Fame, Fatal Fame. (Frankly Mr. Shankly)

Whenever I'm telling someone new about my love of The Smiths there is a moment however slight when they pause and stare. At least this is the case with most people who are  somewhat familiar with the band or their flamboyant frontman Morrissey. I can see the wheels in their head turning at that moment wondering about me as if they may have stumbled upon something secret and sordid . Misguided as these assumptions people make may be given that the response is fairly common. Its almost as if these people have never considered that a perfectly straight man can love Morrissey. Well I do - and so I was super excited to hear The Smiths Compete (came out** haha) this week

.  The eight disc box set includes all four of the bands full length albums The Smiths (1984) Meat is Murder, The Queen Is Dead (1986) and Strangeways, Here We Come (1987) ; the live album Rank (1988) ; and three compilations, Hatful of Hollow (1984) The World Won't Listen & Louder Than Bombs (1987).  Literally everything you could possibly want from the band is here remastered.

My favorite is still the self-titled debut - though The Queen is Dead comes in at a close second. I still haven't heard the live album as of yet but it's something I'm looking forward to. The guitar work by Marr is as good as ever and may very well be the element of Smiths tunes that can help it appeal to a wider audience. Still, I understand that Morrissey's singing style and voice will turn many people away from The Smiths even if they don't listen to his ambiguously gay lyrics and start to feel awkward ( I contend this response is more homo than the lyrics to "Hand In Glove") which is fucking classic. There isn't a lot I can do to change those people's minds but for those of you who aren't scared of a such nonsense I strongly recommend this collection. It's very expensive of course so it may be better just to search out the originals - but it's never too late to appreciate a band like The Smiths.

here is one of my faves from the aforementioned The Queen Is Dead "Frankly, Mr Shankly"


Monday, September 19, 2011

Bled Correct (Rife Eyesight)

This is a few weeks overdue and I apologize for that - yet I still think it's worth mentioning here on my blog.  The album I want to tell you about is Cymbals Eat Guitars sophomore release Lenses Alien. The band's debut Why There Are Mountains was a 2009 favorite of mine so naturally the follow up was high on my list for the year. C.E.G. is a very polarizing group for a number of reasons - though it is also for these reasons that I, and those who do appreciate them, like them so much. To start with they use very unconventional song structure that may come across as disorganized or cluttered. Their lo-fi stylings and frequent use of distortion can also turn some people off, and finally their singer ; who admittedly has a silly stage-name (Justin Ferocious) can wail and scream and drag his voice in such a way that some might find themselves cringing. Yet for me these quirks give the band personality - in the same way that I love Stephen Malkmus for writing lyrics that are in way nonsensical and in another totally brilliant I always on edge listening - for the next clever line, or the next unexpected shift in tempo or delicious guitar riff. Lenses Alien is the band's first effort as a signed act, with real label credentials. The label who gave them the chance is Barsuk (probably best known for being the home of Deathcab For Cutie and Mates of State ; though they also carry another personal fave of mine in Ra Ra Riot) The new record was also produced with the help of John Agnello - who if you read my previous entry also did work not only on the new Male Bonding record but also some Archers of Loaf - The Archers of Loaf connection is of particular interest to me because though they are very distinct in their own right - it is part of that past love that I hear echoed in C.E.G. at times It sounds as if Agnello let the band do most all of what they wanted with the recording but still pushed something out that perhaps a bit more refined and polished, for that I am thankful because this was all I really could have hoped for in a sophomore release.

Here I have included the album opener "Rife Eyesight" I considered throwing a different song up yet I think this one shows the band at it's best and also displays all of the qualities I mentioned that can cause people to love them or hate them.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

What's That You Say? (Tame the Sun)

Last week Madden 2012 hit stores and like many others I went out and bought it. Still the music world did not stop kicking.  Quite the opposite really - as I was soon to discover. For starters Male Bonding dropped their sophomore album Endless Now on Sub-Pop.  It was their second release in as many years, as their debut Nothing Hurts came out last year - and was one of my sleeper picks for best debut of the year. Male Bonding is a  fuzz-punk outfit from London. Their melodies are uplifting even when their lyrics are decidedly less so. They also feature a lo-fi production quality that indie aficionados will likely appreciate. Still that said this album does sound cleaner in some respects. The riffs are tighter if only slightly. This is probably  due to the production assistance of John Agnello (who strangely enough also helped on the next album I'm going to talk about) Agnello has been around a long time and has worked with both mainstream successes (Dylan, Alice Cooper, etc) and indie favorites of mine like Archers of Loaf.  My mom made the comment to me that Male Bonding sounds a lot like The Stone Roses - and I am inclined to agree with her (yes, I got my ear for music from my mom, and I am thankful enough to risk sounding like a momma's boy) Here I've posted a live version of the album opener "Tame The Sun".  You can find an album version on youtube but I already posted that on facebook last week so that's why I opted for the live version here.  Also an interesting last thought is that the band's previous tour was with Sub-Pop label-mates Dum Dum Girls (who are also awesome)

Friday, August 26, 2011

In The Darkness, I Know ( A Hole In Your Halo)

Despite my fanaticism when it comes to searching out new and interesting artists I still occasionally come across something new to me ( but not apparently so new) This is the case with Ana Egge.  She is a a folk singer with simple yet poetic phrasing that feels very well constructed and very measured. Her new record Bad Blood (out this week on Ammal Records) is her seventh effort thus far and is co-produced with the steady hand of Steve Earle.  Not being entirely familiar with her previous work it is difficult to judge how much Earle influenced this but it does showcase an ability for storytelling which is very akin to Earle who has recently published his own novel I'll  Never Get Out of this World Alive ; which was released simultaneously with an album of the same name.  A little digging also revealed that Egge's last album Road to My Love (2009) was co-produced with James Mercer of the Shins -- one need only to look at my previous blog post relating to this years Broken Bells EP to know just how I feel about Mercer. It's fair to say I have some listening to do of my own when it comes to Egge's discography, but that is an undertaking I will gladly dive into soon enough.

As for Bad Blood;  Having heard the whole thing on Spinner, I can say that it's full of heart. It's songs often have depressing subject matter that might be described by some as Gothic in feel (the literary sense, not the fashion sense friends) Yet the songs are still somehow uplifting when it's all said and done.  My favorite is unquestionably the title track "Bad Blood" [ which by some cursed logic is not on youtube yet] Another standout is "Evil". What I have for you is the first single, "A Hole In Your Halo" and although it wasn't my first choice of songs to share it does well in showing what this album is all about.

Revel In The Disconnect (Asking Price)

Well it's been a minute folks.. took time away [again] to enjoy my summer. Seeing as the season is good for just about everything BUT music releases I don't feel I truly missed much. (still if you'd like yell at me and tell me how wrong I am in this assessment you can always start your own blog about how I am a lazy good-for-nothing bum)

Anyway, what's finally pulled me from the doldrums is the new album from Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks, Mirror Traffic ; which was released this week on Matador.  If you know me at all you are likely aware of my love for all things Malkmus related - and while nothing can ever really come close to Pavement,  I have had to resign myself to the fact that they will probably never re-convene in full force and drop a new album. (Re-union tours are apparently another matter).  Knowing this is a little easier to take considering Stephen has consistently kept up work with the Jicks. Mirror Traffic is the groups fifth full length album since their debut ;  titled simply Stephen Malkmus (2001), and continuing on with Pig Lib (2003), Face the Truth (2005) and Real Emotional Trash (2008).  While I have liked these albums (Pig Lib in particular) I'd be lying if I said they were what I would call great albums.  Still Stephen remains one of my favorite song writers of all time.  He has always walked the line between incoherence and brilliance for me as a listener, going back even to pre-Pavement days w/ Silver Jews.  I still remember singing "Stereo" at the top of my pre-pubescent  lungs in the back of my mom's Ford Explorer.   

Mirror Traffic might not take me back to the glory days of 1997, but it is quite possibly the best Stephen Malkmus centric project in years and for me a definite step up from the group's last release Real Emotional Trash.  Here is one of the album's slow burners "Asking Price".


Monday, April 4, 2011

Baby, No Ones Honest Anymore (Bloodsucking Whore)

Sometimes just singing a song won't do - Songwriters know that from time to time you simply must wail to get your point across in a  fashion befitting the feeling you've got eating up your insides like an accursed tapeworm. This is a  truth that Ezra Furman is well acquainted with as evidenced by his band's  third full length effort Mysterious Power. Ezra Furman and The Harpoons scored a minor hit amongst indie fans on their last album with the catchy "Take Off Your Sunglasses". As much as I dig that tune I already feel like this new album which hits shelves tomorrow is a fuller, richer, piece of work, than Inside The Human Body. There is an honesty to these songs, sometimes quiet and reserved (  "Mysterious Power", "Fall in Love With My World") and sometimes brash and near scathing ("Bloodsucking Whore") Whichever variety it feels genuine in a way I can't help but appreciate.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Old 97's Rock Mountain Stage (free streaming set list)

The Old 97's are one of my favorite bands period. They are also fantastic live performers so when I saw they played Mountain Stage yesterday I felt like it was a must to post about it. The set list is just a hair over a half hour and features "Champaign, Illinois"  "Every Night Is Friday Night", and "Please Hold On While The Train is Moving" -  standouts from their latest project The Grand Theater Volume One which as the name suggests will be followed by a volume two, surprisingly soon in fact - as Rhett says in the backstage interview, it's currently slated to drop later this year. They didn't  limit themselves to all new stuff though, there are older fan faves  "Won't Be Home" and "Barrier Reef" here too. Although nothing can match seeing these guys live this is still worth a listen, so check it out courtesy of those recently beleaguered OG's of the airwaves NPR.