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Musings

I have to admit that I’m a bit worried by these song samples. Despite everything I’ve read, this album just sounds like it’s going to be very dull. With the exception of “The Termination Proclamation” and the title track, every song felt like something from Dead Heart in a Dead World (an album that I’m not a huge fan of). Worse, it sounded more tame and generic than that album did. You’d have to go all the way back to their debut to find something as lifeless. I hope I’m wrong because 30 second samples definitely aren’t the whole story, but this has definitely dampened my enthusiasm for this release.

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Titus Andronicus (And The Problem With Aiden)

Generally, music does not make me want to go out and do things.  I guess there is a large demographic that becomes motivated by music, but I’m certainly not a part of it.  I hear a lot of people – wait, let’s be honest here; I read a lot of comments from people online – talking about how they’ll listen to music to pump them up before they hit the field to play a football game or something.  When I get done scoffing at the fact that someone on a music forum is pretending to be manly beyond having the ability to grow some kind of creepy neckbeard, I get to thinking.  I mean, if I wanted to pump myself up about getting my frail, super indie body crushed under a pile of sweaty jocks, I’m pretty sure I would just put on some show-tunes and get my ass down to the Drama Department where I so obviously belong in the first place.

home sweet home

But seriously, listening to, say, a Pantera song to pump me up for a certain event would just make me want to…listen to more Pantera.  It reminds me of when I was still in high school.  I never actually was in the Drama Department, by the way.  It was a good thing because I was never labeled as a homo because I liked to wear tights on stage in front…

Here at sputnikmusic.com, we have a whole crap-load of users who have yet to write a review.  It’s not necessarily in my job description as a staff writer to notice things like that, but then again it’s not my job to stare at the leggy photographs in the liner notes for Joanna Newsom’s Have One On Me for hours on end either, which is what my day generally consists of.  Some of these users are fairly established, with a few hundred comments or so.  It’s clear they’ve read plenty of reviews and would theoretically be able to accurately reconstruct one of them in their own unique voice, so why haven’t they?  And then it hit me:

I haven’t written a how-to guide yet.

this guy looks familiar

I have been on this site for far too long now.  I won’t say how long exactly but I will hint that it may or may not be more than four years.  As such, I’ve watched reviewing trends come and go out of style like all those articles of clothing in the American Apparel ads (or maybe they’re cool because they’re out of style?  Are they post-out of style??  What sort of man wears a scarf in the summer anyway?).  Back when I first joined the site, people were still writing track-by-track reviews and at that point I think there were still only 175 or so Pokemon.  Things were simpler back then.  There was a basic reviewing progression…

There is a curious phenomenon that I’ve only come across a few times in my music listening history.  Think about an album that you’ve been listening to for a few years or more, an album so familiar that you wouldn’t be able to begin to count how many times you’ve heard it.  Now, think about the last time you listened to that particular album.  Did you really listen to it, or did it simply wash over you?  I’m not implying that you didn’t enjoy it, but you probably feel like you’ve heard all there is to hear, you’ve felt all there is to feel.  The music is well worn and well loved, but you regret that you can’t regain the way you felt when you first heard the album.

Every now and then though, I listen to a song that I’ve heard hundreds of times, only it feels like the first time again.  It’s similar to the feeling you get when you put on a record you love but haven’t heard in awhile.  Something you grew tired of a few months ago and haven’t thought about until now.  That’s a great feeling, but it’s the same as when you jump back into a pool after adult swim is over.  The air is cold, the breeze sharp, but the water welcomes you when the whistle blows.  Very common.  The one I’m describing is much rarer and deeper.

Specifically, I was listening to blink-182’s self-titled album.  This is an album that I’ve…

For those of you who haven’t checked out one of Japan’s most endearing songwriters (and why haven’t you??), now is certainly as good a time as any to seek out Shugo Tokumaru who, for this lowly critic’s money, released one of last decade’s strongest pop collections.  Shugo is gearing up to release his fourth album, Port Entropy, in Japan on April 21, three years after Exit’s sugar rush.  Based on the new video below, we are in for some more indelible, colorful, very foreign folk music.  No news yet on release dates around the world, but that shouldn’t stop you from eating up the rest of this man’s discography.  It is weird and humble in a very, very good way.

“Lahaha” off Port Entropy released April 21

【MyX 10.04】トクマルシューゴ / Lahaha

MyX | MySpace Video

Sputnik Music would like all of you to join us in congratulating Kiran Soderqvist (Kirgasm), Adam Thomas (Redskyformiles), and Rudy Klapper (Klap4music) on their promotions to staff.

Note: Contributor promotions are still scheduled to take place later in the Spring.

I like dogs.  I work at an animal hospital, so I’m around them every day.  If dogs were music genres this is what they would be.  As with previous and all future Chan’s Plans, images are credited to my partner in crime charlesfishowitz, who worked a lot harder on the pictures than I did on the descriptions, and for that I will always be grateful.

Bassett Hound/Shoegaze: Proven to be the most pathetic creatures in existence, Bassett Hounds perpetually look sad and can make you give them whatever they want just by turning those droopy eyes your way.  While walking, they always look down at their feet with their nose on the ground, continually sniffing out the most strategic place to piss.  Also, they’ve got those big ears to pick up as much reverb and feedback as possible.

bassett hounds are masters of sparkling reverb

Bullmastiff/Doom: Stockier than the horse-like English Mastiff, Bullmastiffs are crushingly powerful, blundering but not stupidly so, and capable of aggression when their master commands.  Yesterday, I was dragged down a hill and through some pine trees by a 110-pound specimen named Blue.  All I could do was salute him with a \m/.

DOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOG

Boston Terrier/Metalcore:  They are intensely cute as puppies, but as they age, numerous health problems arise.  As a brachycephalic breed, breathing problems are common and can lead to a general raspy sound emanating from their throats.  Over time they become a general…

The car’s on fire and there’s no driver at the wheel


and the sewers are all muddied with a thousand lonely suicides

One of the last shows of the "political" Protest the Hero era

As puberty set in, Protest the Hero were coming off of a re-release of 2003’s A Calculated Use of Sound, now retrofitted with the one-off anti-war ‘anthem’ “Soft Targets Dig Softer Graves” wedged awkwardly in the middle of its track list. “Soft Targets”, originally released on one of Underground Operations’ Greetings From the Underground samplers, was written and recorded over a year after the release of A Calculated Use of Sound and it showed. Rody wasn’t shouting anymore. His singing voice still wasn’t where it is now but for the first time he wasn’t simply yelling at the top of his lungs. The band had gotten a little heavier and a little more technical, too; there was less focus on Moe’s drumming and a higher emphasis on the guitar trade-offs between Luke and Tim and Arif had taught himself to finger tap on the bass. But the musical evolution evidenced in “Soft Targets” is unimportant to what I want to touch on. What matters is it was the end of Protest the Hero’s political era.

That became clear when they debuted “A Plateful of Our Dead”, then known simply as “Kezia”. In its infancy, performances of the song would always begin with bassist and lyricist Arif Mirabdolwhatever introducing it with the preface, “this is a song about a little girl standing in front of a firing squad”. When the album finally came out,…

First of all, I added a new song to our nifty Track of the Day playlist over there on the right.  It’s “Wellington’s Wednesdays” from the new Weakerthans release, Live At The Burton Cummings Theatre.  John K. Samson pulls a random kid up from the crowd to play a solo in the middle of the song and he actually does pretty damn good.

Alright, onto pressing matters.  Here are some things that you guys need to stop doing:

1. Using the term “concept album” – You wouldn’t call a novel that tells a story a “concept book” would you?  No.  So why do we automatically throw the hideous term “concept album” onto any record that has themes or tells a story?  People are calling the new Titus Andronicus album a concept album for Christ’s sake.  Every album has connected themes, every song tells a story.  You know why people call vehicle prototypes “concept cars”?  Because they haven’t been fucking invented yet.

2. Using the term “pop-punk” – It’s not so much the term itself that bothers me, although it certainly does get on my nerves.  It’s the fact that it’s gained such a negative connotation (similar to how people used to use the word “emo” a few years ago) that people automatically hold something referred to as “pop-punk” to a much lower standard, as if something labelled as such can’t be better than a 3 or 3.5.   It’s especially annoying that the only thing that sets “pop-punk” albums apart…

It’s rare enough that I choose to watch a film at all (I’m just not a fan of the medium in general), but lately, my tastes have become alarmingly specific; I’ve been watching operas. More specifically, I’ve been watching the movie adaptations of operas that were briefly prevalent during the later ’70s and mid-’80s – the 1986 version of Verdi’s Otello that stars Placido Domingo in blackface, the 1983 adaptation of the same composer’s Rigoletto that boasts one of Pavarotti’s defining performances, the 1984 version of Bizet’s Carmen with Julia Migenes in the sexually aggressive titular role, the acclaimed 1979 version of Mozart’s Don Giovanni, and so on. Generally, they’re good fun and they’re entertaining enough, and since they’re effectively just music with pictures they’re perfect for someone like me. Yet, one thing is undeniable – they’re not a patch on just listening to the music on its own.

Rigoletto This all ties into something that’s bugged me about opera for some time. Whether you choose to use the term ’snobs’ or ‘traditionalists’, there are a lot of big opera fans that will insist that it’s almost not worth owning an album until you’ve seen the opera performed live; that the music is just one part of a bigger event. On paper, this is completely true – the whole point of opera, in the beginning, was to combine every art form into one spectacle. The composers handled the music, the performers

I wanted the title of my column to be something awesome like Burt’s Bits or Taylor Talk but I have a weird name and “plan” is the only relevant word that rhymes with Chan.

Anyway, the other day I saw Paranormal Activity for the first time.  Marketed by many as one of the scariest movies of all time, I was pretty disappointed.  However, it did fill my head with a bunch of interesting thoughts, many of them so tangential that I couldn’t remember how I got from Point A to Point F or whatever.  Mostly I was distracted by thoughts of how awesome the movie would be if it was told from the demon’s perspective.  Imagine you’ve just died and suddenly you’re a badass demon living in hell.  You’re psyched, you’re ready to fuck shit up.  You get a message from the Colonel of the Demonic Legion saying that he wishes to speak with you.  You’re excited as hell.  You start mentally preparing for Armageddon.  When you reach his office, he gives you your first assignment:  squat in the house of a young engaged couple and scare the living shit out of them, with the eventual goal of possessing one of them or killing them both.  Sounds good, right?  But then he gives you some limitations.  You can’t just go in there and pinch their grape heads in your claws.  You’ve got to have finesse.  You’ve got to…make only one scary noise a night and then spend the rest of…

Echo Curio is a small art shop in Echo Park, California. A few days ago I went and saw the group Extra Life perform there. The venue was totally overpacked with it probably comfortably only holding 25 people. I imagine there was probably 50 to 60 people there so the streets were lined with kids drinking 22s out of brown bags. The concert was definitely a different atmosphere than the last time I saw Extra Life, but in general worked for the band. Some hipster noise group opened named Halloween Swim Team. Their music was boring as hell, but their equipment which included a vintage minimoog was fun to look at. My friends and I went next store to buy beer during the end of their set. The next opener was jesus makes the shotgun sound which I had heard of before, but never actually listened to. The group was pretty cool in a live setting though I don’t think I would be into their records.

Extra Life is currently wrapping up the last couple dates of a tour for their new release ‘Made Flesh’. The record takes a lot of the ideas found on their debut ‘Secular Works’ and makes them a little more comprehendible. The group played every track from ‘Made Flesh’ sans ‘Black Hoodie’ and ‘The Body is True’. From their debut they played ‘The Refrain’. Charlie Looker the main figure of Extra Life was very interactive with the crowd making plenty of jokes and talking…

On my way home from work I heard about the decision of  a German court on the radio. It’s one of the kind where you can only think “Wow dude… you are ABSOLUTELY f***ed, as f***ed as you can be”. Some might remember news about some German “gangster rapper” called Bushido (pictured to the left), who ripped off parts of a Dimmu Bogir song for one of his own. It was not the first nor the last time the rapper was accused of using parts of songs by other artsist without giving credit, but usually this ended with a settlement outside of court. In other words: getting away with a bruised eye, if you want to call it that way. Well, not this time, as the court in Hamburg owned Bushido, his label, as well as other labels REAL hard on tuesday.

The French Gothic band Dark Sanctuary took action against Bushido, when they got the feeling he was ripping off songs of the band. That is, ripping of thirteen songs by Dark Sanctuary. Here just one example, first the song “Janine” by Bushido:

And here’s the original song by Dark Sanctuary, “Les Memmoires Blessees”:

Everyone with ears can probably spot the obvious rip off, it’s so obvious that it’s (almost) not even funny anymore. And it’s not really that different with the other twelve songs in question, from all that one could gather. Add to this that all the songs were promoted and noted as very own…

Just in case anyone had thought that the Idol franchise had departed us, we are currently getting down to the business end of the 9th season of the American version. As much as the names and the faces have changed, it is pretty much the same ol’ same ol’ this year… And that folks, is not a good thing. Although, I must admit that there have been a couple of positives worth mentioning this time around and I’ll get to them later.

The usual controversy occurred with one contestant who had been named in the top 24 being disqualified due to an existing contract with some kind of (surprise surprise) boy band. As if to put us through hell and back on purpose, the powers-that-be replaced him with some kid named Tim, who subsequently stunk up the stage as the worst performance on top 24 night. Of course, this is Idol, so Tim survived based on his looks and his ability to be drowned out by screeching 15 year old females! A month later and Tim is still sucking, except now he’s made it into the top 10.

With 4 contestants initially being eliminated each week, there was some potential to be heard in the top 16. However, almost half of that was eradicated by the American public when Alex, Katelyn & Lilly were voted out heading into the top 12. All 3 of these contestants had at least a semblance of originality about them and could have even been…

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