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

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Ted Leo on some dumb IGN rip-off

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Ted Leo has a kick-ass preformance of that unbearable Kelly Clarkson song over on, i highly suggest you check that shit out.

Monday, June 06, 2005

5 reasons why Bottle Rocket is the best Wes Anderson movie
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5. Retains the Wes Anderson style without the budget.
All of Wes Anderson’s films following Bottle Rocket used elaborate and outdated sets and clothes. This touch makes all of Wes Anderson’s films have the feal that they take place in no real distinct time period, as they could feasibly set in about 3 different decades. This has always been a strong point in Wes’ filmmaking as it makes his movies timeless, there is no topical nature or references to modern culture that make them as dead as every other comedy that has come out in the last few years. Bottle Rocket it also contains this timelessness but it does so on a considerably smaller budget, so although there are no old-school addidas jogging suits or Jacque Cousteau gadgets, there is still that quirky sense of being separate from a distinct time period. The funny smaller-scale props and messages in Rushmore and Royal Tenenbaums are also present in Bottle Rocket (espcially Dignan's notebook). On a side note, I think Wes’ cinematography is at the top of its game in Bottle Rocket

4. Kumar
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The shot of the freezer door opening with Kumar inside shivering: classic
Kumar: Man, I blew it. I blew it, man.
Anthony: Kumar, what were you doing in the freezer?
Kumar: I don't know, man, I lose my touch, man.
Dignan: Did you ever have a touch to lose, man?

3. The best written script

I think it is easy to say that Owen Wilson is a talented writer, and this is the most well conceived and one of the best plots. Both robbery scenes (of the bookstore and the cold storage plant), are ironically also some of the most compelling and frantic of their kind. The characters are extremely well rounded and have different traits that conflict and make for hilarious arguments. Although it could be seen a bad characteristic of the movie that the three main characters are always talking at once, I think it ad’s to their characters and makes it more fluid and less scripted.

2. More touching than Life Aquatic (and just as well acted)
Life Aquatic has some of the more deeper moments in all of wes’ movies, but the energy and vitality by both Wilson brothers in Bottle Rocket makes for some really great scenes, there are three that come to mind for me. I thought the whole scene where Anthony calls Inez back and says “I heard your in love with me”, and she says yes, and then Anthony is happy and dancing around at that party is great. I also felt that the last scene, where Dignan comes up with this elaborate escape plan to get out of jail and you feel its just a huge comedy bit up until Dignan shows that he was joking, and this feeling of pathetic and sad feeling just drops in as Dignan looks back at them in slow motion. Finally, the scene where Dignan runs back in to the cold storage plant to save Applejack and than gets arrested was great.

Dignan: I won’t get caught
Anthony: why do you think that?
Dignan: Because I’m fucking innocent

1. Dignan

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Dignan is by far the best character in all of Anderson’s movie. He is the best written and best acted (only rivaled by Bill Murray’s performances in Rushmore and Life Aquatic). Owen acted the part very convincingly and with lots of energy that made the character believable, and this was also his breakout role, so we don’t see any of the conceited Hollywood-critic’s-choice-star-awesome-great-all-around-everybody-loves-him-zoolander-ben-stiller-boyfriend he unfortunately became.

“On the run from Johnny Law... ain't no trip to Cleveland.”

“Here are just a few of the key ingredients: dynamite, pole vaulting, laughing gas, choppers - can you see how incredible this is going to be? …hang gliding… come on!”

“What a lemon! One minute it's running like a top, and the next it's broken down on the side of the road. And I can't fix a car like this, because I don't have the tools! And even if I did have the tools I don't know if I could fix a car like this!”

“Son of a bitch! Anthony! Anthony! Bob's gone. He stole his car!”

Dignan: A bigger bag you idiot!
Book Store Manager: Don't call me an idiot, you punk!
Dignan: Do you have a bigger bag for like maps and atlases... sir?

Dignan: Why are you here right now? You're always at lunch at this time!
Workers: Not always.
Dignan: Yes! Always!

“Isn't it funny how you used to be in the nut house and now I'm in jail?”

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Nine Inch Nails, [With_Teeth]
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Nine Inch Nails is the only band which could technically be classified as metal that I will ever listen to (I’m not sure what people call QOTSA, but I just consider that music to beat people up too). One of the main reasons NIN, or just Trent Reznor for that matter, is so great, is because he actually constructs and layers his music. I’ve had people try to tell me how Metallica or Slipknot are very good musicians, but I just don’t believe that shit. Ever since playing quake II , which Reznor scored, I’ve come to love the dark industrial noise and ultraviolence that encompasses Reznor’s work. In fact, I believe a lot audiophiles have found a common vein with Reznor’s work over his counterparts (i.e Marilyn Manson or maybe Rob Zombie). I don’t think that this is because Reznor is not as ‘dark’ as other industrial-metal musicians, but because he is better than other industrial-metal musicians. Trent Reznor is just as fucked up as any masked member of whatever band that fat kid at the mall has on his shirt, and could probably beat them up too. Yet Reznor’s music has a knack for being, especially on this album, drearily fun.

Of course the album is not without its traditional mix of slowly building, distorted piano ‘ballads’(both on the opening and closing track), but for the most part I got what I wanted from a Nine Inch Nails album: Some hard edge and technically satisfying tracks, and more than just three of them. And although Reznor creates songs out of anger, many of them on this album display the emotion almost playfully. This aspect is clearly distinct on one of the must surprising tracks on With Teeth, Only, which is also one of my favorite tracks on the album. The song starts off with a drum beat so danceable and upbeat I thought I was hearing k-os’ Man I Used to Be. The lyrics are almost spoken-word and very carelessly, almost drunkenly (which wouldn’t be suprising with recent news) thrown out. As the bridge rolls I felt that Reznor was making a Nine Inch Nails club track, or a sarcastic shot at it. If Only is Reznor’s take on a club hit, than Getting Smaller is definitely Reznor’s version of an indie song. The opening riff and bridge seem like they could be conceived by any skinny jeans jacket wearing New Yorker. That is until the traditional Reznor kicks in with the breaking voice of “you know I still got my one good arm that I can beat mmmm-that I can beat myself up with-” and a wall of noise signals the chorus, and Reznor again refuses to change.

I’ve heard a few complaints on how The Fragile was much more constructed and that’s ambience held more power than a more ‘traditional’ sounding album on With_Teeth. But I welcomed the assemblage of 13 tracks of mostly hard-edged rock than another The Fragile. I also welcomed the fact that Reznor hasn’t, aside from ditching the more experimental creeping of The Fragile, changed his sound or bought in to any musical trends. I think that the two tracks detailed above show one truly awesome thing about With Teeth: that Reznor has seen the face of modern music, but will continue to kick its ass.

G.O.O.½ / G.O.O.A.L

Friday, June 03, 2005

Beck, Guero
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Beck's Guero was slated to be one of those 'return to greatness' albums that are supposedly 'refreshing' and 'classic' or whatever bullshit some modern-day Ben Fong-Torres is looking to pimp to Rolling Stone readers. In re-uniting with the production of the Dust Brothers, Guero was also said to be beck’s new Odelay, and the whole idea behind that made me sort of against the entire album for two reasons: mainly because I hate when writers make shitty aphorisms like that, and secondly because if that aphorism is true, than the album stands just as that, another Odelay, and thus pointless. Regardless, many trusted music-lovers told me that I should buy this album, and I did.
On first listening, I was not impressed with the sound or the production quality. Maybe I was being a little too hard on the album, but it felt unfinished and there was this whole feeling that it was a cleanly produced album trying to sound lo-fi. E-Pro especially concerned me, as it just started, there was no cool amp-buzz intro or weird nonsense, it just starts as if someone flipped the beck switch to ‘on’, and suddenly: music. It was suspicious. The nonsense and background noise that I was looking for arrived in Qué Onda Guero, but this is not a strong song, the looped riff borders on annoying and there’s just a lot of Spanish men apparently yelling a young, innocent and impressionable Beck Hansen (no homo). The lyrics aren’t bad but this whole god damned media boner about how Guero=Odelay keeps me thinking that Beck pulled these lyrics from the abortive remains of Odelay song-craft. Song’s like Girl, Earthquake Weather, and Hell Yes are awesome, but sound very modern-day pop/radio-played club tracks with the big bass and what not(mainly on Earthquake Weather and Hell Yes). Girl could almost double for a new Sheryl Crow song, if it weren’t for its nice loops and Game Boy intro. I don’t recall Odelay sounding much like its counter-parts at the time it was releases (then again, I was about 8 and Where It’s At was the soundtrack to my innocent, connotation-less life)
The one thing I do like about Guero, and what saves it from the labels it has been getting is that it retains a sense of forwardness and change in the face of inevitably being compared to Odelay. It has the sort of Blood On The Tracks feel, because Beck’s voice has changed and there is still a sense of his new persona even though he is supposedly going back to his roots. A lot of tracks show a more electronic side that’s progressed from the stripped-down sea change. The last 7 tracks (minus rental car) show a very electronic blues element that would have worked better in it’s own album, as it still retains the lyrical greatness of Sea Change. Maybe I just like Sea Change too much.
Overall this is not a bad album, to me it seems to jump all over the place, and I think that’s a good thing, but I’m just sort of against those heavier bass tracks just out of current cynicism for modern music. There are some real great tracks hear and it furthers my belief that Beck is a great musician besides being an asshole (according to Wayne Coyne), and hiring some freak to bang a Green Bay Packer’s trash can on television appearances (wtf is up with that?). If you have read nothing up to this point ill just put it to you this way: I’m sure if Interscope was more of a bastard label they would call this album Sea Odelay.

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