Saturday, July 30, 2005

Okkervil River is the best band in America
(and Jagjaguwar is one promising label)

I love making a statement that can be seen as off-hand and lazy, and then completely justifying it(or attempting to), although I believe the justifying part is not common in blogging, or ‘journalism’, or Rolling Stone.

Rolling Stone provides a nice seg-way into my statement on Okkervil River. Critics are so busy riding the dicks of bands that either are being handed the fate of the “industry” and being bought good reviews, or bands that are promising but will most likely be jinxed by the circus their marginal talent brings about. Although Nietzsche stated “only sick music makes money today” nearly two centuries ago, it still seems astonishing that Coldplay and Avenged Sevenfold can be called “great” or “important”. I’m not professing now that Okkervil River is going to save music, but I’d just like to point all the reviews I hear about Black Sheep Boy being a “breakout album” confuse and anger me. Okkervil River is already an accomplished band, Black Sheep Boy is merely an extension of the craftsmanship and brilliance that can be found on Down the River of Golden Dreams. The emotion and brevity that is apparent in their work solidifies them as at least noteworthy. There is a nice set-up, and even when it is stripped down the strings and organs (specifically on their third disc) are reminiscent of Blonde on Blonde. They know how to build a song to a grand and sweeping climax and to then swiftly resolve it. Will Sheff, the principle songwriter, knows how to write a song: how to be specific and literate but gain a more subjective and thereby more interesting point of view on the themes he tackles in his songs. Okkervil River take chances, the biggest of which is being honest.

I’ve come to realize that anytime a critic or a magazine, Your Rolling Stone, Spin, Alternative Press, Q, and what have you slap and album with that lovable term “breakthrough”, it seems to signify the end of that bands status as for the most part self-sufficient stint of having creative control over their work, and being launched into big studios with and over-cooked contrived album (take X & Y for a obvious example, or to a lesser extent Antics, and most likely Bloc Party’s next album). There seems to be a certain quality about these bands that allows their music to become less inspired and more conventional, a quality I believe to be lacking in a certain 3/4/5-piece from Austin, Texas. Although there is a part of me that accepts the fact that Slim Thug and obvious sex offendor R. Kelly can climb the top of the charts, I can’t stand to see band passed off as being ‘great’ when over already accomplished, ‘breakthrough’ artists.

Regardless, Okkervil’s label-mates Black Mountain are currently on tour with Coldplay, and if the Insound sales for Clap Your Hands Say Yeah are any inclination upon the power intelligent but snooty pitchfork has over the current resurgence for ‘indie rock’ and subsequently similar forms of independent music, perhaps Okkervil will get some more deserved recognition, as will fellow bands on the stellar line-up that is Jagjaguwar.

Here are some tracks from Okkervil River and other bands on Jagjaguwar:

Okkervil River, For Real
Okkervil River, It Ends With a Fall
Okkervil River, The War Criminal Rises and Speaks
Oneida, Run through my Hair
Wilderness, Arkless
Black Mountain, Heart of Snow
The Minus Story, You Were On My Side

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

The Tom Cruise Redundancy report
becuase this stuff needs to be drilled into your head.

Without a doubt, all of America has become too familiar with one Thomas J. Cruise, J of course standing for J-completely insane. Im sure Tom's situation has been mentioned tounge n' cheek by many a late night TV host, radio jockey, blogger, people with xangas (or cutters as they are more commonly called) and the occasional livejournal-er when they are not venting their problems with lesbianism. As I'm typing this I realize that even I myself am succumbing to the unneeded media frenzy over a psychopath and his 10 year old girlfriend (seriously, look at her teeth). Writing this very post causes serious internal dilemmas because it goes against my hatred for people’s interest in celebrity. I have a slight disrespect for people, even my own mother, who read US weekly and People even though they claim they do it just because they feel the same way I do, but this makes no sense.

Let me first digress: celebrities are normal people who are seen by billions because they are in motion pictures which are distributed throughout the world, common sense right? Not for some. People miss the ‘regular people’ aspect. These people’s private lives have become uncommon and ‘glamorous’ due to the attention of the media. Its regular life distorted by millions of reporters. Honestly, who the fuck cares about Britney Spears buying cigarettes or Kevin Federline’s trailer trash ass hanging out of his pants? These pictures are worth thousands of dollars? There are 8 trailer parks in the Iowa City/Coralville area that would gladly supply these ‘photographers’ with far more ass cleavage than they would ever need. This fascination with trashy and unintelligent people's lives have given way to allowing them to tell us what we should think politically and socialy. Actors throw themselves behind political candidates and fighting poverty. I have never understood endorsements, the ones that don’t involve money that is. Sure it helps the cause, no one would buy those ONE bands if it weren’t for them being pimped by Tom hanks and Brad Pitt and that one African American gentleman. But politically I hate it, if a political candidates needs Brooks and Dunn or Mark Hoppus to sell themselves, then why are they running for president. Why doesn’t Billy Regular, Janitor at Kum & Go throw his support behind John Kerry? Is it because no one knows who that is? What if he was in every at-one-time slightly significant journalistic magazine? He’s still just as smart as any dumb-ass motherfucker who doesn’t believe in medicine or wants to be jewish by prefers a more fashionable form of it. Seriously, does Mark Hoppus have a college education? No, he plays bass and ‘sings’ in a shitty band, but now thanks to him, people equally retarded will vote on the part of this moron, and the writings of William Saphire and Irving Krystal and Martin Peretz and Norman Podhoretz are trumped by some guy who wrote “whats my age again?”

I think the above problem is best exemplefied through Tom Cruise, that is, how he can hold more attention then serious news issues as well as logical and intriguing philosophy and pschology. And how hollywood celebrities who as I’ve discussed, are no different intellect-wise then a janitor insomuch as a janitor can’t act, are able to endorse and popularize trivial philosophy and unfounded 'pschology' to an extent that established and respected philosophy as seen in say, college, are completely dismissed(EDIT: in fact, check out Verby's disection of Cruise's Lauer rampage). I am young, so this cunundrum could be older than I think it is, but how could america(n media) be so obessed with someone when:

1. There is a good chance tom cruise may be mentally challenged

or maybe a chimpanzee.

would you let this man around your children? (not that I particulary care about the safety of Dakota Fanning)

They are probably laughing at Thomas Locke or some crazy non-sceintologist

2. He is more heard of then any 19th century German philosopher, 20th century political theorist, prominent psychologist, or Theologian yet he voices the opinions of a religion created by a science fiction writer who was rumored to have created it on a bet?

3. Matt Lauer can hold his own against him?

4. from above link:...and when i started studying the history of psychiatry, i understood more and more why i didn't believe in psychology.

this is like something someone my age would say, acting like psychology is something you subscribe to like, say, scientology?

And I know that-- psychiatry is-- is a pseudo science

again with the whole big picture, psychiatry is as scientology, one big set of rules, by 'psychiatry' Tom has said that all of it is the same, the most elementary fallacy in all of thinking. honestly... why not interview a hobo who thinks there is aliens in his brain?

There's my two cents. pretty soon colleges will just hand out US weekly to people in the humanities.

Monday, July 11, 2005

i have no idea what to write about

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Queens of the Stone Age,
Lullabies to Paralyze

I know I don't really keep up on reviewing albums as soon as they come out, but I also rarely post, so you should be happy with what you get. Also, I like buying things as opposed to downloading them, I enjoy owning cd's, for some reason.

I had low expectations for this album considering Songs for the Deaf pretty much blew my mind and still does: songs like No One Knows, First it Giveth, and The Sky is Falln' still blow mind after hearing well into double digits. Also, Lullabies is the first album sans Nick Oliveri, who really was the only 'real' member of Queens, and whose bass was behind all of their best songs. I felt without Oliveri's presence the album would inevitably suffer, and i think on some tracks this is true. There are a lot of songs on Lullabies that fail to reach any sort of apex or climax, a lot of songs begin slowly and build towards a chorus, but oftentimes the chorus is a huge let down, I Never Came is prime example of this. It seems to be an attempt to make a more relaxed, slower song, but instead it feels like a great song stripped of a great chorus riff and then turned down in volume, which leaves an endless building with no resolution. I Never Came is probably the worst of the albums unfortunately high count of throwaway tracks. There are one or two other tracks in this album that are either too long or not interesting.

The Queens still come through a numerous amount of short, loud kicks of songs that warrant several repeated listenings. Medication, Everybody know that you're insane, In My Head, and Little Sister are provide said nourishment. This what QOTSA excell at, a few kick ass chords and some wicked drums blended with Josh Homme's melodic nondescript lyrics. Of course, on Songs For The Deaf, this sound could never really be maintained past the 5 minute mark. One of the accomplishments of Lullabies then is the song The Blood is Love, which maintains the buzzing amps and big chords over 6 minutes while still being (relitively) interesting. The intro and exit tracks of the album fill the thing out nicely despite some fat that could have easily been cut.

I bought this album without thinking it would be anything too great, and thats also the attitude you have to have while listening to it. Some songs in this album will most likely end up in a retrospective down the road (including the epic 'Long Slow Goodbye') but the album itself is nothing spectacular. There is still a lot of promise for upcoming albums, considering that Homme's creative process has definitely not been hindered by the loss of Oliveri.

G.O.O / G.O.O.A.L

Thursday, June 09, 2005

The Futureheads, The Futureheads
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let me prefice this review with a few things a) this album has been out for awhile, and if you have not heard it yet, you're life has yet to be awesome b) the entire idea of writing this review and re-starting my blog came from me listening to this album in my car at a high decibal, whilst musicaly un-educated U of I students looked aghast at my disregard for their game of throwing a bag into some hole.

To me, this debut album of The Futureheads is by far one of the best albums I've listened to all year, and proved far more refreshing to me than bloc party. There is a lot of energy and awesome, short songcraft and interesting lyrics that far surpass most songs on silent alarm. Also, the interesting inclusion of harmonizing vocalization on some songs gives the entire album a sound that sets it apart from anything i've heard in a long time. this vocalization, in which several or all of the bandmates trade off 'doo doo's or lyrics in a song proves also for a very interesting live show that I would love to see. the vocalization also fortfies the bands positsion as muscians, a status that is questionable in other 'similar' bands (like hot heat).

Some of the stand out tracks are the single 'decent days and nights' and the next following it on the album 'meantime'. I also enjoyed the intro song as well as 'a to b'. The only problem i have with 'decent days and nights' is that in some versions(including the video), the suprising and awesome chorus riff is added to the begining of the song. In my opinion this change ruins the suprise and apex of the song. Regardless, 'decent days and nights' is a great and extremely dancable track, as well as 'meantime' and well, most of this album. The lyrics are also extremely clever and sum up how fun this album is. Lyrics like "you eat shit becuase you're stupid and shallow/but i like you when you're stupid and shallow" from the song stupid and shallow are both hillarious and awesome to listen too. the entire lyrics to 'meantime' build up a great story about a man who is stuck in the pitfalls of conversastion, the apex of his argument occuring at the shifting(and head-banging) choruses.

At the end of this album i felt a littl overwhelemed, or at least my interest had tappered off in the songs (save the brilliant cover of Kate Bush's Hounds of Love)There are lot of similar and ditchable songs on this album, and i think if they ditched some of the ones which may have been added for length (as most songs are short), they could have had an amazing and breathtaking debut as opposed to an intialy breathtaking but overcooked album.

(pre-emptive nh on this entire post)

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credit to DCOY for being behind me(!!!NH!!!!)on my return to being bol's devil's advocate once again for the summer. Although I appreciate this, I hope not to run into him when im down visting Wash U(..nh i guess), as that guy seems to have a weird crew.

also of note:
i leave for wisconsin saturday and will be gone for a week...don't expect guest posts becuase a)no one reads this shit and b)I'm not B-dot-C