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Archive for the ‘The Strokes’ Category

[ATTENDED: July 7, 2018] Foo Fighters

I can recall living in Boston when the debut Foo Fighters album came out.  I had heard that it was pretty good and I bought it.  And I enjoyed it quite a lot.

Who would have guessed that the album that Grohl created to excise some demons, a small project in which he played every instrument would turn into a group that would become one of the largest bands on the planet.  This show was sold out at 25,000 people.  Which is a lot of humanity.

Despite this impressive success, Grohl himself seems to be remarkably down to earth and seems to never lose his sense of humor.  No one will ever forget the show that he broke his leg falling off a stage, went to the hospital, and came back to finish the show.  I wanted to see them when they came back to the U.S. on that tour–seeing Dave in his throne would have been super fun.  But it was not to be.

However, when they announced they were coming back again, I jumped at the chance to get tickets and scored some pretty decent seats.

I hadn’t really been to an arena show in a long time.  I can’t remember the last time a band that I’ve seen used the arena size to its capacity.  I’ve seen many a great light show, but except for Kiss, I suppose, there’s been very little in the way of excess.  And I never expected it from the Foo Fighters.

But by God if that’s not what this show was all about. (more…)

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[NOT ATTENDED: July 7, 2018] The Struts

The Struts are another buzz band from England.  Aside from having a band name that is way too close to The Strokes, I don’t actually know all that much about them.

Usually I listen to a warm up band at least a little before going to see them.  But for whatever reason, I never listened to The Struts.

And that’s all for the best, I suppose.  The parking situation outside of BB&T was crazy, bordering on nightmarish.

Sarah and I briskly walked to the stadium, glanced at merch, didn’t even stop to use the bathroom (crazy long lines) and as we got to our seat the lights dimmed for The Foo Fighters.

All I can say is that vocalist Luke Spiller did a decent Freddie Mercury when he came out to sing Under Pressure with the Foo Fighters.

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  grant7SOUNDTRACK: VOIVOD-The Outer Limits (1993).

voivodouterAfter Angel Rat, original bassist Blacky left the band.  That’s never a good sign.  After the tour for this album, original singer Snake left the band.  That’s an even worse sign.  I still can’t quite figure out exactly why Snake left (personal problems) but he went on to form the band Union Made.  For a very detailed history of the band, check out this very cool timeline at Voivod dot net.

The Outer Limits got a pretty big release.  I have an original copy that came with 3D glasses and all of the illustrations in 3D. But i was a little disappointed in Angel Rat and I don’t think I gave The Outer Limits much of a chance.  It was no Nothingface.  But the band was always morphing.  Since Angel rat went very commercial, this album brought things back into the prog realm (with a 17(!) minute song) but also had a lot of commercial songs.

The album opens with “Fix My Heart” which starts out much heavier than anything on Angel Rat. It’s also got some metal guitar pyrotechnics (squeaks and harmonics).  Snake’s voice isn’t quite as pretty as on Angel Rat either—he growls a bit, but maintains his nicer voice overall.  Nevertheless, “Fix My Heart” is a pretty commercial enterprise (as the title might even suggest).  There’s some good “spacey guitars sounds which bode will for the sci-fi angle of the album (and there’s some cool effects that reward headphone use).  “Moonbeam Rider” starts with a very classic rock sounding riff and then morphs into a kind of pretty, mellow verse.  But the interstitial guitar is all speed.  It’s a nice mix of fast and slow.  This song features some interesting bass work—nothing fancy but for the slow parts it is actually keeping the beat instead of the drums.  The bassist was a studio musician for this album.  There’s also what sounds like a bong during the pre-guitar solo section (the solo is fairly traditional).  “Le Pont Noir” is a mellow, slow guitar song with a very cool delay effect and Snake’s whispered vocals.  The bridge gets heavy with a wonderfully weird Piggy guitar riff.   It’s one of my favorite songs on the album.

Then the band’s second Pink Floyd cover appears. This time it’s the even more obscure “The Nile Song.”  They have rather heavied this one up with crunching guitars and Snake’s distance screaming filling in the void (although in fairness the original vocals are also screamed). It’s not as dynamic or exciting as “Astronomy Domine,” but it’s s till a cool cover.  “The Lost Machine” starts off heavy with Away’s double cymbal work (a noisy splash and a fast ride cymbal). Then Piggy’s guitars have a slight delay on them which makes the opening chords sound especially odd.  The bridge is a place for Piggy to show off some more weird spacey chords and some very cool guitar riffs. There’s even a spoken word narrator in the middle of the song that explains the “mission” “Time Warp” opens with a very bright and up beat sounding verse.  But it quickly disintegrates into (intentional) musical chaos as the narrator gets lost in space.

This all leads up to the 17 minute “Jack Luminous.”  If anyone doubted their prog rock leanings, this should dispel that immediate.  17 minutes, multiple parts, a sci-fi epic, it is prog (but heavy prog) at its finest.  There are some incredibly catchy parts as well as some less catchy parts, and sections seem to change every two minutes or so.  The slow down at 10 minutes is very cool—different guitar effects and the suspenseful bass line.  There’s repeated sections as well, which means if you like some guitar line (the spacey part near the end) it comes back!  It’s not quite as dynamic as say 2112, but it’s a very successful sci-fi epic.

“Wrong Way Street” returns to the normal and more conventional.  The bass that opens the song sounds great and the chords are fairly conventional –the chorus is even really catchy.  “We Are Not Alone” is a break-neck metal song, The drums are super fast, the guitars are relentless and the chorus even has an echoed “Hey!” that gets you to sing along.  The song also features a cool slow, almost jazzy bass and drum section that lets Piggy throw some soloing in before returning to the fast paced verses.

There’s lots of theories about what happened to Voivod after this album.  The success they had achieved earlier was now gone and the band seemed like they couldn’t decide to be metal or prog or is they should go for more pop music.  The problem of course is that they were too weird to get mainstream acceptance anyway.

So Snake left and then there were only two original members.  The next step would be a drastic one.

[READ: July 9, 2013] Grantland #7

This issue seemed to come hot on the heels of #6.  But I enjoyed it just as much.  A few notes: no Jeremy Lin in this issue.  Lots of LeBron James, three articles about soccer!  And a few pop culture moments that I had forgotten about.

REMBERT BROWNE AND DUSTIN PARKER-“The Jeopardy! Teen Tournament JUST. GOT. REAL.
Leonard Cooper didn’t know the final Jeopardy answer but he still won and he made a hilarious joke at the end (in cartoon format);

BILL SIMMONS-“Daring to Ask the PED Question”
Simmons talks a lot about PED’s in this forum.  Of course, to me PED is my initials.  For him (and sports fans) it is performance enhancing drugs.  He asks why sports doesn’t do more about it.  There are so many people who do it that every time we see someone who might be doing it or who suddenly has a good season, we assume they are doing them too.  It would be a service to the players and the fans to have rigorous testing or none at all.

CHRIS RYAN AND ROBERT MAYS-“The NFL Coaches Family Portrait By the Numbers”
A silly analysis of a photo of NFL coaches.

WESLEY MORRIS-“Jodie Foster’s Big Night”
What exactly did Jodie Foster say at the Golden Globes? (This was in January and everybody talked about it and now it’s September and I’ve completely forgotten about it—funny ephemera of pop culture).

JONATHAN ABRAMS-“Out of Africa”
A serious look at trying to bring basketball to Africa. How the culture and language problems make it very difficult to establish any real cohesion in the diverse country.  But there are a few examples of boys coming from Africa and benefiting from host families and then heading back to help those who love basketball back home.  The main focus is on a 15-year-old Alexis Wangmene who came to the States (and left his family!) to try to gain an education and basketball skills.  It’s a heartfelt story.

MOLLY LAMBERT-“Modern Love”
About the show Catfish which just goes to show we can sink even lower as a culture.

CHUCK KLOSTERMAN-“Mental Health Protocol”
About Royce White again.  Last time there was a lengthy look at him.  Now we get to hear that he thinks that everyone has some kind of mental health issue.

ANDY GREENWALD-“Eat Bray Love”
How cooking shows have gone from educational to crazy and annoying. He dislikes Top Chef and the new Anthony Bourdain show The Taste (which he says is awful) but he likes a decent show called Chopped.

ZACH LOWE-“The Fragile Science of Basketball Chemistry”
Sure the Heat were great this year, but it’s the way they evolved as a team, creating chemistry, that is so impressive.

RAFE BARTHOLOMEW-“The Pariah”
Timothy Bradley beat Manny Pacquiao in a disputed judges call.  Instead of rising to fame, he has been avoided like the plague.

BILL SIMMONS-“The All-Manti Te’o Mailbag
Remember that crazy story about the football guy with the dead girlfriend who turned out to be fake?  I never really understood the story and while they spend a lot of time talking and theorizing about it I still don’t get it.  Did they ever find out the truth about it?

CHRIS BROWN-“Speak My Language”
When you play for the Patriots, you learn their way of doing things—it is simple and efficient, a streamlined version of what other coaches try to do.

KIRK GOLDSBERRY-“The Evolution of LeBron James”
Using diagrams, we see how much of a different player James is in just the last few years with The Heat.  This article has made me want to watch James in a game while he is at his peak.  So, Heat vs Bulls at the end of October, you’re on my schedule.

SEAN McINDOE-“The Non-Hater’s Guide to the NHL”
Even people who hate everyone in the NHL (which is everyone) can agree that there are some players who are universally admired: Martin Brodeur, Pavel Satsyuk. Teemu Selanne, Jarome Iginla, Jonathan Toews, Martin St. Louis, Gabriel Landeskog, Patrick Elias (Devils get two!), Ryan Smyth, Steve Sullivan, Saku Koivu, Henrik Lundqvist.

ALEX PAPPADEMAS-“God Needs a Hobby”
A look at Dan Harmon and his podcast Harmontown.  Harmon seems like he might be a crazy alcoholic, but he’s also pretty darn funny.

MARK TITUS-“Duke’s Ignominious Son”
Everybody hates Christian Laettner, but that’s only because he’s pretty and he made The Shot

MARK LISANTI-“Three Days in Austin”
Dealing with the craziness of the South by Southwest film festival.  Sounds awful.

HUA HSU-“The Alien Has Landed”
Soccer legend Ronaldo returns to Old Trafford

BILL SIMMONS-“The Greatest Action Franchise That Ever Was”
Live blogging the Fast and Furious 6 trailer.  I admit I may have to see these films after reading this.

ZACH LOWE-“Lights, Camera, Revolution”
There’s some kind of new technology that will change the NBA forever.  I pretty much don’t care.

TESS LYNCH-“Nostalgia Bites”
Watching old Real World episodes shows how much things have changed in reality TV, but also how much certain behaviors are not new.

BRIAN PHILLIPS-“Maradona, Then and Now”
Maradona was an amazing kid—at 15 he was remarkable at his ball control.  Now at 52 he’s a crazy loon. What exactly happened in between?

ANDY GREENWALD-“From Big to Small, From Movie to TV”
Why not make Men in Black into a TV show—with some other film recommendations.

AMOS BARSHAD-“How Soccer Explains Israel”
I didn’t expect to enjoy this but I found it very interesting.  An Israeli soccer team has signed two Muslim players and it has caused incredible animosity and even arson.  How this look at a team is like a microcosm of the whole Israeli situation.

LOUISA THOMS-“Back to School”
Missy Franklin won a  ton of medals in the Olympics.  And then she went back to high school.  What’s it like to be on her team at Regis Jesuit?

WESLEY MORRIS-“Run, Frank, Run”
Frank Ocean apparently wasn’t as huge as I thought he was.

MALCOLM GLADWELL AND CHUCK KLOSTERMAN–“The Lies He Told”
More about Manti Te’o. This discussion was a bit more helpful about what happened and how crazy it is.

CHRIS RYAN AND REMBERT BROWNE-“A List of Possible Reasons for Rob Gronkowski’s Arm Infection”
Hypothetical humor.

JORDAN CONN-“The Invisible Man”
Marc Gasol is extremely respected by scouts and agents, but the fans all think of him as Pau Gasol’s chubby little brother.

REMBERT BROWNE-“French Quarter Lessons”
While in New Orleans for the Super Bowl, Browne decided to go to a bunch of used bookstores.  This is very funny and enjoyable.

JAY CASPIAN KANG-“Fiercely Disputed”
Mike Tyson’s one man show is weird and strangely affecting.

KATIE BAKER-“Do Svidanya to All That”
Several NHL players went to Russia’s KHL during the lockout.  And some don’t want to come back.

CHRIS RYAN-“The All-Star Circus”
NBA All-Star weekend is a crazy circus (and sounds worse than the above SXSW festival).

CHUCK KLOSETRMAN AND ALEX PAPPADEMAS-“The Nobituary”
There was a serious rumor that David Bowie was on death’s door.  Klosterman and Pappademas imagine writing his obituary.

DAVID SHOEMAKER-“Glenn Beck vs. WWE”
The WWE has always had racists as part of the act.  What happens when some goons start acting like the Tea Party?

DAVID JACOBY-“The Pure Heart Meets The Bachelor
Jacoby’s grandmother watches The Bachelor and he feels badly for her.

STEVEN HYDEN-“Is This It?”
The Strokes’ fifth album had just come out [really?].  It could be their last, but Hyden thinks their last two have been quite good.

BILL SIMMONS-“The Heat in Hindsight”
The Miami Heat came close to breaking the longest winning streak in the NBA.  Simmons looks at the fallout and who “wins” and “loses” in the effort.

CHARLES P. PIERCE-“Bleu, Blanc et Rouge
I had no idea that Charlie Pierce was a Canadiens fan!

KATIE BAKER-“The Ethics of a Family Plan”
Is it ethical to pretend that you are married to your roommate to get a family discount a ta gym?  Hell yes.

EMILY YOSHIDA-“A Dark Force”
J.J. Abrams is going to direct the next Star Wars films.  Why, when sci-fi is so multifaceted and so different is everything coming down to J.J. Abrams?

SEAN FENNESSEY-“The Case Against Justin Timberlake”
Timberlakes’s previous album was amazing.  Then he took years off to make (bad) film and (good) TV.  His star would only continue to rise if he stopped making music and only hinted that he would make another album.  But the release of his new album (which isn’t that good) can only hurt him.

BRYAN CURTIS-“Waiting for Bettman”
While many New Yorker’s didn’t care about the NHL strike, Canadian writers camped out waiting for Bettman to announce the strike was over.

WESLEY MORRIS-“30 Rock Landed on Us”
30 Rock was many things, but it dealt with racial issues (at least between blacks and whites) better than any show.

RANY JAZAYERLI-“Fall of the Evil Empire”
The New York Yankees look like they won’t make the playoff this year (this was written in March and as of my writing this they have a slim chance at getting the wild card slot).  It will be the firs time in a while, perhaps, just perhaps, it’s the start of a new drought for the Evil Empire.

BILL BARNWELL-“The Master Raven”
Ozzie Davis knows how to pick players for the Baltimore Ravens.

REMBERT BROWNE AND DUSTIN PARKER-The Best Chappelle’s Show Sketches of All Time”
Done as a series of cartoons (by Parker); Browne picks his eight favorites:

  1. Charlie Murphy’s True Hollywood Stories: Prince
  2. Wayne Brady’s Show
  3. Charlie Murphy’s True Hollywood Stories: Rick James
  4. Black Bush (especially now that Obama is president)
  5. Clayton Bigsby: Black White Supremacist
  6. Making the Band (P. Diddy)
  7. The Racial Draft (Tiger Woods Now 100% Black)
  8. The Niggar Family (uncomfortable and hilarious no matter how many times you watch it).

Once again, there’s another great issue of Grantland.  Once again, I wish they would follow up on some of their speculative stories.  But it’s fun to have a time capsule of events that occurred just a few months ago and yet which I have totally forgotten about.

And here’s the cover of The Outer Limits in non 3D style (which I haven’t see before)

voivodouter2

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aug2013SOUNDTRACK: GREEN DAY-¡Dos! (2012).

Wdoshile I was writing about these songs the words “stupid” and “dopey” came up a lot and I realized that of this trilogy of albums, this may be the dopiest (I mean, look at the cover).  I assume that’s on purpose.  We know that Green day was taking a break from their serious albums and operas to make dopey punk rock.  But between the lyrics and the riffs, this one is really quite dopey.  Charmingly so.

¡Dos! opens with “See You Tonight” a tinny guitar sound that makes me think they’re goin to bust into The Allman Brother’s “Jessica,” but no, it remains a folky song that lasts for 90 seconds before it bleeds into “Fuck Time” a knuckleheaded, big drummed bluesy riff that  reminds me of Soundgarden’s “Big Dumb Sex” except that it might actually be serious.  And it may be the least sexy song about sex I’ve ever head.  “Stop When the Red Lights Flash” ups the speed even further (although they manage to have catchy verses that seem to recall The Who again).  “Lazy Bones” changes the tone somewhat, bringing in some nice ringing guitars (sounding more like The Strokes than punk) and a prettier feel (in the verses anyhow).  It’s probably my favorite on this disc.

“Wild One” is one of their rockier ballads.  It could probably do with being about a minute shorter, but the backing vocals are pretty cool.  “Makeout Party” is  stupid fun (with some wild solos, and even a bass solo section).   “Stray Heart” is a fun boppy song with, yes, a big arena-friendly chorus).  “Ashley” is a fast punky song (that plays high guitar notes rather than big chords).

“Baby Eyes” has  good harsh sound in the riff (a rare minor chord)–although again those verses are bright and happy.  “Nightlife” is the one glaringly odd song.  It has a silky bass line and a really interesting sound.  But it also feature an extensive rap by Lady Cobra (who I’ve never heard of).  The rap is just as silly as Armstrong;s lyrics, but somehow since she is speaking them so clearly (rather than hurriedly singing them) they seem even dumber.

“Wow! That’s Loud” is a wonderful title for a fast spirited song, with a dopey riff and some fun soloing sections (unusual for Green Day).  The disc ends like it began with an acoustic type ballad.  This one is called “Amy” and it is pretty much the quintessential sweet Green day ballad.

Although I liked this one, I preferred the first disc overall.

[READ: September 6, 2013] “Segmented Sleep”

I’m repeating this intro because of the content of this essay.  The timing of this Folio, entitled “Are You Sleeping? In search of a good night’s rest” is quite spooky.  I myself have been having middle of the night insomnia.  I seem to battle this occasionally.  This recent bout seems to be accompanied by a stomach upset.  So I have this really unfair cycle.  My stomach is bothered by caffeine, so it keeps me up at night and when I wake up groggy and with a headache, I need the caffeine to get me somewhat stabilized (and I’m not a big caffeine drinker—a cup of tea, maybe two a day).  But that seems to upset me during the night.  I am also really strangely accurate with my insomnia.  It is almost always between 2 and 2:30 AM. So, yea, here’s other people interested in sleep deprivation.

[begin new content] Although Julavits’ piece read like a story, Ekirch’s has a much more academic style.  Turns out that he wrote about a history of sleep for his dissertation and for part of his book At Day’s Close: Night in Times Past.  This short essay focuses on “segmented sleep.”  It turns out that in pre-industrial nights, sleep was segmented: a first and second sleep bridged after midnight “by an hour or more of wakefulness in which people did practically everything imaginable.”  This second sleep is mentioned in Odyssey and Aeneid.

In the 1990s a sleep study was done.  Males were deprived of artificial light at night for a few weeks.  They began sleeping in segments as well.  This seems to be a natural circadian rhythm to our lives.  Indeed, It was in the 1800s that segmented sleep gave way to one longer sleep—when lighting and industry came to dominate our lives.  And we felt compelled to be awake when it was light out so we could be more productive. (more…)

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zita2SOUNDTRACK:poodle “WEIRD AL” YANKOVIC–Poodle Hat (2003).

I think of Poodle hat as a good Al album.  It won a Grammy even (the true sign of quality, right?).  But its the only one of his albums (along with Polka arty) to not even go gold!  That’s pretty amazing given that he’s usually platinum.  I read that stat before listening again and I wondered why this album tanked so bad.  Was it the title or the cover or what?  And why do I think fondly of the record?  Well, it turns out I think fondly of the record because of the final track, “Genius in France” a Frank Zappa style parody (which I assume was not terribly endearing to many people either).  But what about the rest of the album:

Couch Potato.  It’s a good parody of Eminem, but I never thought the original was that good to begin with–it’s pretty repetitive with no real drama.  And while the lyrics are funny, so as a lead off track it’s not that great.  “Hardware Store” is a weird song–lots of crazy sound effects and backing vocalists.  I want to like it more than I do–the fast singing is great the lyrics are all kinda funny but it doesn’t really resonate–the chorus, perhaps is not that great.  “Trash Day” is a parody of a song by Nelly, which I don’t know.  I’ll now show off my musical prejudice by saying that a lot of these aggressive R&B/rap songs sound very similar with no real hook, which I think makes the parodies harder to enjoy.  “Party at the Leper Colony” just seems like a bad idea (especially for Al’s umpeenth album).  It’s a rockabilly type song (a style I don’t like anyway), so another thumbs down.

“Angry White Boy Polka”is the first bright ray on the disc–mixing aggressive metal songs in the polka style is a pretty great idea, especially System of a Down, The Hives and The White Stripes.  Twisting the style of The Strokes twist is a pretty great idea too.  I really enjoyed the way the angry songs are utterly lightened with silly sound effects.  It’s very funny.

“Wanna Be Ur Lovr” is a song I never much liked until seeing him perform it live.  It’s a sexy song made up entirely of lame come on lines.  It’s petty funny but the live version utterly blows it away.  “A Complicated Song” is a parody of Avril Lavigne’s “Complicated”.  It seems like it might be just a silly parody until the first verse turns out to be about eating too much cheese.  I laughed so hard to find that the first rhyme was “constipated”  The other two verses can’t possibly live it to it but that first one is a big highlight (toilet humor it may be, but it’s good toilet humor).  “Why Does This Always Happen to Me?” features Ben Folds on piano (the piano is very good).  The song is a series of complaints about minor things within the context of real tragedy.  It’s a funny idea but the presentation doesn’t seem to work somehow.

“Ode to a Superhero” is a surprise because it uses Billy Joel’s “Piano Man” as the musical basis for a song about Spiderman.  It seems like a sure fire hit after “The Saga Begins.”  And it works quite well.  “Bob” is a series of palindromes (see the title) done in the style of Bob Dylan.  It’s very clever.  “Ebay” has been mocked for being so similar to an actual eBay commercial, but I think its very funny.  I never liked the original but I find myself singing this every time I think of eBay.  “Genius in France” features Dweezil Zappa on guitar, and beyond that it gets so many Frank Zappa things right.  It is weird and crazy and spot-on.  I love to think that it may have made some Zappa fans out of Weird Al fans.  And if you’re a Zappa fan, you must listen to this to see just how many great Zappa musical moments he throws in here (including vocals styles and potty jokes).

It’s pretty interesting how the back half of the album is so much better than the first half (that’s no way to sell albums, Al).  I can totally see why this album didn’t sell all that well. And I’m a little bummed that I didn’t enjoy it as much as I thought I would.

[READ: June 19, 2013] Legends of Zita the Spacegirl

I actually read this book first of the two (didn’t realize it was the second book in the series and, frankly from the title, how could I?).  But I’ll treat it like I read it second.

So this story picks up soon after the first ended.  But rather than Zita, we see a robot crawling through a junkyard.  The robot’s box says RECALLED and the name is Imprint-o-tron.  The robot sees a poster of Zita and is immediately overwhelmed by a crowd who is rushing to see her.  Imprint-o-tron paints itself to look like Zita as the crowd assembles.

And there we see, Piper introducing Zita, the girl who saved Scriptorius.  But she is nervous, and intimidated by the crowd and tells the truth, that it was Randy who blew up the bad guys.  But they aren’t buying it.  She signs autographs, gets exhausted and hides behind a rock where Imprint-o-tron sees her and immediately becomes her (but with circles instead of dots for eyes).  Zita delights in this doppelgänger and sends it out to do her singing work while she and Mouse run off to have fun.

But then the ambassador of the planet Lumponia informs them that  swarm of star hearts are heading for their planet and they as Zita for help.  Robot Zita agrees and when real Zita returns to the ship, robot Zita pushes her away and takes off with the crew. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: CLOUD NOTHINGS-“Stay Useless” (2012).

This was the song of the day on NPR on March 14th.  While NPR describes it as like 90s indie rock, I find it to be much more like early 2000s indie rock (think The Strokes or Arctic Monkeys).  True, those bands were playing in the spirit of 90s rock, but they had a slightly different take on things–cleaner, perhaps.

So, while the guitars are buzzy and distorted, the vocals are up front and clear (even if the words aren’t entirely understandable–a neat trick that).  The song is under three minutes and has a catchy, powerful chorus.  I’ll bet it’s a lot of fun to hear live, although honestly I don’t think it’s anything all that special.

[READ: March 9, 2012] “Ever Since”

I’ve enjoyed many of Antrim’s stories in the past.  And, I rather enjoyed this one as well.

This was a fairly simple story of a man who has not let go of the woman who broke up with him a year earlier.  And how she haunts him and his current relationship still.

The opening of the story is really quite wonderful.  It didn’t really have an impact on me at first but when I reread it, I realized it’s a wonderful precis of the story:

Ever since his wife had left him–but she wasn’t his wife, was she? he’d only thought of her that way, had begun to think of her that way, since her abrupt departure, the year before, with Richard Bishop [I’m interrupting to say wow, has he packed a lot into a dependent clause.  And then he continues with the rest of the powerful descriptor]–Jonathan had taken up a new side of his personality, and become the sort of lurking man who, say at work or at a party, mainly hovers on the outskirts of other people’s conversations, leaning close but not too close, listening in while gazing out vaguely over their heads in order to seem distracted and inattentive waiting for the conversation to wind down, so that he can weigh in gloomily and summarize whatever has just been said.

Now, THAT, dear readers, is a SENTENCE!

To make him even more pathetic, when he summarizes an idea he often claims that his ex-wife felt a certain way about it…and then explaining that she wasn’t really his ex-wife.

The crazy thing is that Jonathan has a new love in his life: Sarah, the kind of woman who  appears by his side at a party (a work party for her) and says, “Hey Buster, lets’ go fuck in the bathroom.”  It’s unclear whether she was joking, which makes it even more fun. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: DANGER MOUSE AND SPARKLEHORSE present: Dark Night of the Soul (2010).

Seems like most things that Danger Mouse touches involve lawsuits.  I’m not entirely sure why this disc had such a hard time seeing the light of day.  But it is due for a proper release in July.  Although by now, surely everyone has obtained a copy of the music, so why would anyone give EMI any money for the disc (since they hid it away in the first place).

The name that is not listed above is David Lynch, who is an important contributor to the project.  He creates all the visuals (and the visuals in the book that was the original release format).  He also contributed vocals to two tracks on the CD.  (His vocals are weird and spacey, just like him…and if you remember his voice from Twin Peaks, just imagine Gordon singing (but with lots of effects).

The rest of the disc is jam packed with interesting singers: Wayne Coyne (from The Flaming Lips), Gruff Rhys (from Super Furry Animals), Jason Lytle (from Grandaddy) on my two favorite tracks, Julian Casablancas (from The Strokes), Black Francis, Iggy Pop, James Mercer (from The Shins), Nina Persson (from The Cardigans), Suzanne Vega, and Vic Chesnutt.

I’m not sure if Danger Mouse and Mark Linkous wrote the music already knowing who the singers were going to be, but musically the tracks work very well.  And yet, despite the different sounds by the different singers, the overall tone and mood of the disc is very consistent: processed and scratchy, melodies hidden deep under noises and effects.   Even the more “upbeat” songs (James Mercer, Nina Persson) are dark meanderings.

It took me a few listens before I really saw how good this album was.  On the surface, it’s a samey sounding disc.  But once you dig beneath, there’s some really great melodies, and it’s fascinating how well the songs stay unified yet reflect the individual singers.

EMI is going to have to pull out all the stops to make it a worthy purchase for those of us who have already found the disc.  Since The Lynch book was way overpriced for my purchase, (and they surely won’t include it with this CD), they need to include at least a few dozen Lynch photos (and more).  And with a list price of  $19 (NINETEEN!) and an Amazon price of $15, the disc should clean your house and improve your wireless connection too.

[READ: June 1, 2010] Bloom County Vol. 1

Boy, did I ever love Bloom County.  Back in high school I had more drawings of Opus and crew in my locker than anything else.  (I used to reproduce the cartoons by hand, I was never one of those “cut out of the paper” people.)  And so, there are tons of punch lines that I still remember twenty-five years later.

And yet, despite my fondness for the cartoon (and the fact that I owned (and read many times)) all of the collected books, I was amazed at how much of the early strips I had no memory of, at all.  True, some of the really early ones are here for the first time in collected form (according to an interview there are hundreds of comics in collected form for the first time in these volumes).   But those early 1980 comics…wha? (more…)

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