Tag Archives: rock

People say they like Best of Lists…2012 version

16 Dec

PJ Harvey-Let England Shake
This is the first PJ album that did not make me wish she would return to the power-trio Rid of Me, angry Ms. Harvey I love so. Adventurous sampling and instrumentation, hypnotic songs, and thematic lyrics made it the album of the year.

Kurt Vile-Smoke Ring For My Halo
Vile is the new Tom Petty according to some, but in reality he’s just continuing the absurd roll he started with Constant Hitmaker. There’s just so many great lazy slurred Americana songs on this album, that it’s almost a greatest hits collection.

Danger Mouse and Daniele Luppi-Rome
Ennio Morricone meets Air meets the earnestness of Norah Jones. Oh and it’s also Danger Mouse soundtracking an imaginary 70s Italo film, which makes for a great listening experience.

Jessica Lea Mayfield-Tell Me
Very young, absurdly talented, and came out with an album that reminded me of an electro-sexual version of Lucinda Williams.

The Go Team-Rolling Blackouts
There are few albums I listened to more than this oddly enough. The saccharine explosion, scrappy raps and punchy horns are every thing you expect from this band, the long-lasting appeal of the songs are still a surprise though.

Yes you like Galaxie 500, yes you like Yuck. Like the album, a couple of super-memorable songs mixed with some perfectly ok, that sounded far better live, which helped me understand the greatness far more.

Cloud Nothings-Cloud Nothings
It was consistent, indie pop goodness, which made for an album that didn’t have a single song I didn’t like on it. And new Albini-esque single No Future/No Past only enhances its power.(Yes this song is on the next album, but still I’m rating and I’m allowing it to boost the score.)

Regina-Soita Mulle
I don’t know Finnish, but the wistfulness and smoothness of this album just works so well. A welcome surprise.

Girls-Father, Son, Holy Ghost
I didn’t like this when I first heard it, but once I realized that the band isn’t so shoegaze and more from The La’s school of jangle pop I got it. It’s a bit top heavy, but also has one of the best first sides in a long time.

Kanye West and Jay Z-Watch The Throne
Finally a hip hop album that you can roll out to! Enough shitty rappers, backpackers, and skaters/rappers. I want something that embodies the arena-rock era of hip-hop in the same way Toys in The Attic by Aerosmith does. And like Eli they deed it.

Wild Flag-Wild Flag
Carrie Brownstein is the lead on everything(no one stops her rock moves, seriously), the players are all pros, and it’s a great big 70’s rock out. That’s more than enough to get on this list. Something Came Over Me, could be my favorite song of the year as well.(It’s top 5 at least)

Biosphere- N-Plants
Strange coincidence and context aside(the album is about Japanese nuclear plants pre earthquakes), this was a really great ambient album in a landscape where those albums don’t come along that often. Fits beautifully with great IDM and ambient records of the past, so it must be good.

Those Darlins-Screws Get Loose
I just like how they sound like The Runaways sloppier more drugged Southern cousins. This album continued the great tongue in cheek madness of the last album, just with more rock and less country which always=win.

Laura Marling- A Creature I Don’t Know
She is a folk star, on her way to being a folk icon. Why don’t you have this album? Oh because you’re American, and we don’t respect her like we should. At least this album sounds like she’s having some fun finally.


Cover Version: Take Your Head Off My Shoulder by Blake Babies

25 Oct

Juliana Hatfield is one of the most star-crossed singers of modern times. Seriously, she should’ve been the biggest star in the world, and I’m far from the only one that said that. Even in her heyday, people exalted her genius on magazine covers and critical acclaim. And then between the universe conspiring against her and her general own fragile sensibilities something would happen to just stop all of her momentum. I mean “My Sister,” “Universal Heartbeat,” “Spin the Bottle”, all stand as classics of the era. There was an awkward cuteness and plucky attitude that worked so well on record that an array of pretenders (Veruca Salt) totally xeroxed each step and attempted to make it their own to far more acclaim.

But then I discovered something…

Juliana Hatfield wrote a lot of great songs before that…on a cluster of albums that I didn’t really know about until a few years ago. I mean sure I had heard she was in some band called Blake Babies, but how was I to know they had actually been a fairly prolific recording and touring band? Well I suppose it’s my job to know these things…but part of the greatness of being really into music is discovering things you don’t know about. Even things you should…

How was I to know that with a bit of backup in the form of jagged yet poppy guitarist John Stohm and damage dealer and drummer Freda Love, that Juliana Hatfield seriously punched with the great indie rock bands of the day, and made every one count. In fact she almost sounds strong with her girlish pitchy voice that’s trying to rise up and free her soul of the entire daily shit that brings her all this emotional baggage. Of course it’s a battle she’ll lose, like anyone that lives and dies by their sensitivity, but man does it make for some great songs.

I could go on and on about how the song “Out There” is one the most fantastic hit/non-hits of the 80s.There’s no reason that song shouldn’t slot in on classic radio between “Here’s Where The Story Ends” by The Sundays and “There She Goes” by The La’s. The jangly opening chords, the produced drums that appear on like every record of the era, it all just sounds like pop greatness. And then there are those depressing harmonies that belie the cheeriness of the song itself. Only Juliana Hatfield could create an anthemic moment out of a self-exaltation like “I know it’s stupiiiiid” and make it sound like the kind of truth you’ll believe and sing, but never actually follow.

This resignation stands in total contrast with the earlier Blake Babies track “Take Your Head Off My Shoulder.” Again Juliana and co tell us just how much she both loves and is fed up with love. But, in this case the whole starts with a simple old-school 50’s rock and roll intro as opposed to the Byrds-ish chime used so effectively in “Out There.” Freda Love seems shot out of a cannon, with a quick simple rhythm that just lets Juliana go off. She just vents in these brilliant rhymes, all hyped up almost out of breath until the chorus…

That chorus, which of course is a take off of “Put Your Head On My Shoulder” by Paul Anka. (Even though when Blake Babies do it, it kind of sounds like a warped version of the Leif Garrett cover) It’s a revelation. Seriously, what is potentially less punk than Paul fucking Anka? Second it’s the kind of feminist irreverence that the impending Riot Girl movement would try to refine into rock and roll defiance, and here’s this pitchy singer from Boston being lovelorn but actually sticking up for herself. None of the new wave girls stood up for themselves, not even Aimee Mann. And all the punks and post-punks never really admitted to being in love. They might allude to it, but they always wanted to show they were as tough as the guys.

“ Take your head off my shooooulder. I’m asking you to. I’m tired of all your charm. I’m tired of waiting on you.”

But, Juliana Hatfield loves. I mean really loves. And in one of the best sub 2-minute songs ever, right there with “Three Girl Rhumba” by Wire and “Beverly Hills” by The Circle Jerks, she wants you to know just how much she loves and that because she loves, she will not be taking shit anymore. Rarely have truer words of self affirmation been spoken.

CSS-La Liberacion

21 Oct

CSS second album took all the great cleverness of album one and turned it into a badly wrtiten moody late 80s college rock mess.

And yet album number three, La Liberacion also feels sloppy…but sloppy in the good way. In fact the title track is one of my favorite singles, because it sounds like Menudo makes a punk record. Whereas the other tracks kind of sound like Menudo makes a new wave album.

(Yes I know Menudo actually made a new wave record,  which is noteworthy because it contains “Hold Me,” a bonkersly awesome underrated single of the period.)

Anyway, the album is ok, containing such platitudes as “I Love You. I Love You Too.” Much of it falls in the perfectly ok but forgetable category which places it in stark contrast with the title track and Lovefoxx’s recent turn with Kavinsky on the Drive Soundtrack.

On Random Play: Bass Drum Of Death-GB City

1 Sep

Simple effective rock and roll. Wheel not reinvented though. No synthesizers appearing=victory and points in its favor. I like the band, it’s a perfect compliment to your already ballooning collection of Japandroid and Wavves albums. I could prattle on, but I’m doin this Christgau style. If you are seriously tired of the current synth-pop badness, you should get it.

Best Track:Heartbreak Kid

Ya Mo Burn This Place To The Ground: Friday Night Videos

25 Jun

Just because I’ve been doing my silly impression of him today. An all Michael McDonald version of Friday Night Videos.

I Keep Forgettttttin

The making of I Keep Forgettin

Yep had to put up Ya Mo Be Theeeeeeere(produced by Quincy Jones no less…)

And OMG someone finally put the FULL Rick Moranis does Michael McDonald from SCTV.(where he does the rug ad as McDonald and Ride Like The Wind spoof.)

Kurt Vile:American Genius?

21 Jun

I’ve been trying to figure out if Kurt Vile is a genius all week, because while I certainly liked Childish Prodigy, finally taking time to sit down with Smoke Ring From My Halo has told me that he very well might be one. Critical comparisons with Tom Petty didn’t seem so apt until I heard this release. Part of the greatness of this album comes in the form of a production and tone that resembles Full Moon Fever and Learning to Fly era Petty, but his lazy slurred vocals and assured swagger keep the album rocking even at it’s most mellow. There’s none of that indie “we’re oh so deep and epic” attitude that has spread like a plague through a multitude of “rock” releases. These are just random thoughts I felt like mentioning, I’m not doing a full review.

But, since some of you like a good review here it is.

Check this album out, it is one of the best of the year thus far. Easily. Kurt Vile is an American genius who might be able to finally kill synthesizers dead with austerity and acoustic guitars.

There review over.

Hey You What’s That Sound: Foster The People-Torches

20 Jun

Let’s keep it real, sooooooooo many people are talking about Foster The People(women primarily) and I’m not sure why.In fact they are playing here in Austin and I believe they’ve already sold out Emo’s way in advance, which is certainly an achievement. The hype about this band is so insane that I’m going to cut through it in the interest of fairness and giving the music an actual chance.

First, all of the big three songs from their EP are here, Helena Beat, Houdini, and Pumped Up Kicks. I think that’s a good thing, I always get frustrated with bands who make me track down another release when realistically they could just place those tracks on their debut.

And those three songs aren’t bad, but they aren’t necessarily good either. In fact much of the overtly unmuscular, clear production strips the guitars of any personality and leaves the dance moves far too stiff away from the icy coolness that the ace dance tracks have. The lyrics all fade together with pitchy vocals that reminded me of Mew or Passion Pit, without any of the occasional genius of either band mind you.

Honestly, I don’t really dislike any of the songs on this album, in fact if they came on the radio it would provide a relief from the epic fail array of Arcade Fire singles. But, you also know it’s pretty bad when you hear the beat to Houdini and instantly wish you were listening to a Billy Squire song that has the exact same beat.(Because we all know Billy Squire was in fact pretty much shit.)

The whole Foster the People album and phenomenon reminds me of Phoenix, except that Phoenix had at least paid their dues by releasing a few albums that werent that well received and played with Air for a few years.(They also had released “If I Only Feel Better” early in their career, which was unstoppable.) Maybe another apt comparison is Supertramp, another band who specialized in pitchy vocals and doing everything their peers had already done in a perfectly ok way.

Anyway that’s beside the point, the album is so safe and semi-catchy, there’s little for me to really pick out as noteworthy or something you must here. But, if this band isn’t headlining fairly large tours of their own or opening for Maroon 5 in the next two or three years I will be shocked at how the world has wised up against such mediocrity. Anyway, the band is better than I figured, but again that also doesnt mean they are particularly good either.

Friday Night Videos Returns…#1

18 Jun

Deerhoof-Running Thoughts. Yes they have a new album out, but I’ve been more in the mood for this song as of late.

Ricardo Villalobos-I Try To Live(Can I Live) Simply put this is how you make interesting electronic music and DJ, it’s an old classic, but good.

M.A.R.R.S.-Pump Up The Volume

Sample based awesome rocked the 80s, still owns it today. Also love the Space footage. One of the ones I remember from back in the old classic FNV days.