I’m sorry for the TL;DR length of this. I guess I rambled a lot. And secondly, I apologise for the quality, which might be the result of a late 5 hour rush through this. It has been a very good year.
All of these are lovely Sputnik 4.5s, I would say. Unless they’re 5s. Enjoy!
Dananananaykroyd– There Is a Way
When I saw these guys play their last show in Leeds (ever!) on their last tour of the universe as we know it, I sort of felt like I was hitching a ride. Everyone else seemed so clued in on these guys, so it was like the outside of post-hardcore’s very own in-joke, one that only makes sense when you see how joyous an experience they are. There’s the hair ruffling—which I was on the receiving end of—and the wall of death that converts death into hugs. Most will tell you that prior knowledge of their albums is pointless, and it kind of was that way: I could pick up every chant of “da na na na!” as it bounced from fan to fan. It was the gig first for this band, but going back to There Is a Way felt wholly satisfying to me- I was able to see where one ridiculous song ended and where the next began. The two best—“Think and Feel” followed by the stomping “Muscle…
Before I’m lambasted for only putting only six albums on my ‘best of 2011′ list, I’d like to mention a couple of things. One: I’ve digested less music this year than any of the last five or six, and two: there were plenty of albums which I liked but clearly had no place on a ‘best of’ list, especially in a top ten. The lack of discovery isn’t due to any ‘personal issues’ or ‘other commitments’ (though I have been really busy). I’ve just fallen ‘out of love’ with new music a bit this year, and I don’t know whether that’s due to me or the music, but, regardless, something isn’t quite right. I hope to find myself back in the game next year. The quality of reviews/reviewers on this site has come on leaps and bounds in the last few years (seriously, even some of the user reviews blow me away) and I’d be foolish not to want to be a part of that. Anyway….
Inspired by Hemingway’s six word story (after being reminded of its brilliance in Knott’s lyrics post a couple weeks back), I challenged myself to go one better and write my best of 2011 with mini reviews that had only half the word count. It wasn’t easy. Some might say it required even more effort than those writing 500+ words. Others know me better than that. In no order:
Hi. My name is Adam. I’m 22, I speak three languages, and I don’t believe in god. When I was 15 I got my heart broken and fell into radio pop-punk, which put it back together again without even thinking twice. Since then, I’ve gradually fallen deeper and deeper into music; I discovered post-rock through God Is An Astronaut and dubstep through Burial, and as it grew more dizzying it got more important. I love music.
Is it so wrong to admit that? And yet, almost every professional music publication in the world denies the humanity behind both its writers and its readers by presenting itself as wholly impartial. Critique 101 reads as follows: “don’t refer to yourself in the first-person; it looks unprofessional.” Is that what “professionalism” means now – detachment? How can you expect people to take seriously any article whose author claims that what he’s written is not a reflection of himself? Why would you want to? People don’t listen to music in a state of disconnect; whatever’s playing right now, the chances are that it’s making you feel something. So why would you ever want to even pretend that the best way to talk about music is by taking five or ten steps back? Or even one?
There is simply no such thing as an objective stance on music. OK Computer is not better than “Friday” by Rebecca Black. Sorry. I wish beyond all limits that it were possible to say so, but there are definitely…
Halloween draws to a close and I found myself wandering home off the bus listening to Red House Painter’s “Katy Song” on the moonlit path and thinking about words and music. I had just finished conducting a seminar on the “Sirens” episode of Ulysses. For those not familiar with the text I will explain it briefly: Joyce writes an entire chapter in a bar scene and structures it as a fugue. The language serves a tripled purpose—narrative, thematic, and sound qualities. Snippets of songs and of important lines in the book are refrained and build one on top of the other fuga per canonem. So I was churning over thoughts of language patterns, phonetics and word associations, when I began thinking about nachtmusik. There is no real reason to actually associate certain kinds of music to the night, just as there’s no real reason why Ulysses should be considered Joyce’s masterpiece of the day and Finnegans Wake his masterpiece of the night. These concepts are purely constructs of the mind, for whatever reason we do it; the Real, idleness, nostalgia, kernelization of sound.
Then it hit me: night music is night music for the same reason that language is the perpetual creative act. Because language is the highest echelon of creativity; we have our set rules (grammar) but beyond that there are infinite ways to construct a sentence (ask Kafka) and infinite ways to combine phonemes to create neologisms (ask Joyce). The same goes for music; these chords sound nice…
Music does a lot of different things to a lot of different people but I think what I love about it the most is the way it can condense and translate the most complicated and screwed-up ideas, situations or emotions into a song, or (better) just a single line. Some artists have the capacity to say in a word what would take most people a paragraph. I think of Hemingway’s response to a friend’s wager that he couldn’t write a story in six words: For Sale, Baby Shoes, Never Worn. I think what this kind of beautiful expression needs is a connection at the front end so powerful that instinct takes over and says it for you.
Sometimes artists express things in simple ways and it rules, LOOK, songs!
The Mountain Goats – Old College Try
I wanna say I’m sorry for stuff I haven’t done yet; things will shortly get completely out of hand.
I’m just delving into the Mountain Goats discography and I get the feeling this isn’t the only line he’s written that could fit on this list. To me, this line sums up that feeling of unavoidable chaos where you know you’re strapped into a ride that you should technically be able to stop but really, really can’t. What I absolutely adore about the way he phrases it is that it’s so matter-of-fact it almost makes it seem not his fault. Or mine.
I don’t know about you, but oftentimes I find myself analyzing the music behind a movie just as much as the film itself. It’s difficult to determine to what extent a soundtrack influences my opinion of a movie’s quality…technically it shouldn’t, but I always favor movies with indie-geared soundtracks (500 Days of Summer, Garden State) all the same. It’s something that annoys the hell out of my friends, which is why I’m not sure if this is common or if there is just something really wrong with me. But anyway, I glanced through my library and pulled out notable soundtracks (some good, others very bad) and decided to evaluate them for their contributions to the movie and their overall quality. Since it’s Halloween today, let’s begin with Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas:
The Nightmare Before Christmas
This is one of those movies with a cult following, and I totally get why. It’s stunningly original, visually appealing for its time, and it features a thoroughly enjoyable plot. For music enthusiasts, the soundtrack has to be another reason. It follows the storyline extremely closely, sometimes even narrating through song or spoken word (via Danny Elfman). It has been remade, but nothing touches the original which, if you ask me, is a classic.
Sample: “This Is Halloween” by Danny Elfman
Across The Universe
Now this one I never understood the hype for. I was a sophomore in college…
Anyone booked on a Qantas flight right now is probably searching for something to do at an airport. Well, how about getting out your iPad, an acoustic guitar and a violin? Because that’s what these three gentlemen recently did at Shanghai airport.
For those unfamiliar with the guy under the hoodie (surely risking arrest by airport security just for wearing a hoodie) and the part-alien drummer, this is pop-punk outfit Yellowcard playing ‘My Hero’ by The Foo Fighters.
Let me start off by saying that I’ve been listening to Iron Maiden all day, so my ratings and descriptions might be more venom-filled than they were in the last entry because I had to pause Powerslave to do this. Also, am I the last person to notice that on the cover to Powerslave, the stairs lead right into Eddie’s crotch?
Where this entrance leads, nobody knows. Except for Eddie. He knows.
I enjoyed doing the first part a lot because I don’t often feel nostalgic. By no means was my childhood hard, but they weren’t exactly halcyon days that I reminisce about either. My childhood and teen years are just sort of hunkered down in the background of my mind, only making themselves known on very rare occasions. So it was pleasantly surprising that I felt the urge to revisit some of the songs and videos that got me into music, even though some of them weren’t all that great. It’s nice to be reminded of more innocent times, especially because we can so often be blinded by all the musical knowledge we’ve accrued over the years. We weren’t always like this, and songs like these will always be there to remind us of that.
Story Of The Year – “Anthem Of Our Dying Day”
It was a toss-up between this song and “Until The Day I Die,” but this song won out because it definitely brought back more memories (although I can…
I discovered music television when I was around 13 years old. As I’ve stated in numerous reviews where I incessantly talk about myself (Atavanhalen has dubbed the past few Sputnik years “The ‘Me’ Generation”), I didn’t have a very distinct notion of what music television even was for the majority of my childhood. But one day I was at a friend’s house and he turned on MTV2, and my life was forever changed by shitty music. Looking back, it’s hard to believe that I really loved some of the things I saw on television, but not surprising. I didn’t know anything else existed. Tonight however, I was struck by nostalgia and I traveled to Youtube to revisit some of those songs, and some of them hold up reasonably well. Of course, some of them are just fucking shit. And oh my god the fucking videos.
Three Days Grace – “I Hate Everything About You”
One distinct memory that I have involving this song contains a bit of early-era elitism from me. I told my older brother that the radio sucked, and he responded by turning on the local rock station. This is the song that was playing, prompting him to say, “See? One of the BEST SONGS EVER. The radio doesn’t suck, idiot.” And I didn’t argue because at the time, I agreed that Three Days Grace had written one of the BEST SONGS EVER. It was a simpler time. Back then, every song I heard had the potential…
Actually Exhibit B is kind of cool but that picture is unforgivable. And I don’t remember Kevin Costner bullying a troll with a fish. Dude was just minding his own business under a tree. Fuck’s sake lads, get it together.
‘Robin Hood’ appears on Edguy’s new album, Age of the Joker, which is scheduled for release on August 26 a.k.a. tomorrow.
Just scroll down to the song if you are not in a story-reading mood.
This is going to be kind of a sob story, so I’ll try to keep it brief in the interest of not turning this into a pathetic Xanga entry.
When I was in junior high, my parents thought it was a brilliant idea to move to a new city without bracing me for the move. For any twelve year-old, that can be pretty devastating, and sure, thanks to Facebook and things like that I keep in contact with my ‘old’ friends, but I had a bit of a tough time readjusting to my new surroundings because, as a socially-awkward adolescent at the time, I didn’t exactly have the gift of gab to make friends easily.
WHAT UP, BITCHES! You guys wanna play some POGS?
However, I did make one immediate friend right away — for the sake of this story, I’ll call her Beth. She was a grade higher than me, and while it’s seriously frowned upon to talk to kids in lower grades, she never treated me any differently. Unfortunately, she went off to high school while I wrapped up junior high, and her parents got into a colossally-shitty divorce. She wound up moving a couple counties away with her dad while her mom and brother continued to live next door. I had no idea where she went because it was that…
The recent news that Century Media Records had removed its entire catalog from Spotify ended up leading to another discussion about file sharing and everything that goes along with it. This blog post is not that serious. I’ve just decided to dredge up some old videos that were created during the intial Napster controversy.
Greetings and salutations, friends and acquaintances.
Life’s been pretty hectic lately (attending your buddies’ bachelor parties kicks ass; I highly recommend it) and I know I haven’t written anything that doesn’t suck in awhile (if ever — HEY OHHHHH), so I’m not really gonna bore you to tears. Instead, I wanted to pass along something that’s caught my ear (and later, my eyes, which’ve recently been Lasik’d in all their glory).
Today’s catch o’ the day (or whatever you wish to call it — I wanted to incorporate Trap Door somehow but I like Berk too much as a friendly blue blob…) is by an Adelaide-based group known as the Funkoars; the song is called “Where I Am”. Unsurprisingly, they have a tight connection with Hilltop Hoods and are part of the Aussie hip-hop conglomerate known as the Certified Wise crew: sixteen South Aussie artists collaborating, producing, and appearing as guests on one another’s works. You may remember Trials’ guest verse on “The Light You Burned,” for instance, or his producing credits on Drapht’s Brothers Grimm record.
“Where I Am” will be featured on the group’s fourth LP, The Quickening, slated for a September 16th release through Golden Era Records. The…
Here at Sputnik Towers, we get sent some pretty bad press releases.
Most of them are harmless enough – just things that nobody but the band and their immediate families would be interested in. A lot I’ll delete without reading. Some I’ll quietly seethe over for a while first. Hard rock bands tend to be the best at shamelessly taking advantage of natural disasters. New York indie bands tend to be the quickest to lash out an over-sincere cover version when a major musician dies. I thought I was immune to it at this point. Until today.
I know I’m basically doing the PR’s job for them here by reposting the press release verbatim. They might get mad at me for openly mocking their craft and refuse to send us stuff anymore. That would be a crying shame, because if they’ve got even one more release like this in their armoury then I might just actually explode, spraying litres and litres of hot, juicy amazoplasm all over the walls. I’ll be sure to put that one on Youtube.
Next week: Mikael Åkerfeldt exchanges emails with David Coverdale.
When Petrucci and James Unite
As a regular contributor to the LickLibrary, Andy James is no stranger to hosting interviews with some of the best Rock & Metal guitar players in the world. Zakk Wylde, Gus G and Judas Priest are among those recently grilled by a man who is already hot on their tails for joining that very list.
TV On The Radio’s Nine Types of Light, released this year, was not ambitious.
This was odd. What have we come to expect from TV On The Radio if not ambition? Each record before this one seemed to give us another reason to call them ‘art-rock’, be it for their crazy musical ventures (to think they had the nerve to sample Metal Machine Music) or for their lyrically cryptic nature. Nine Types of Light, then, saw a band happy to slow down and ready to lose whatever “edge” was elevating them above the rest. You have to be pretty confident to do that, or at least very content indeed, and to me Nine Types of Light celebrates losing its higher calling as “art.” There’s no denying, however, that it doesn’t try to carry a statement as dark as “DLZ” or to look at an issue in the way “I Was A Lover” did.
So it feels brilliant to have the Nine Types of Light film as an accompanying piece, no matter how satisfied I am with the hour of music. To me, it feels intriguing to see a band re-imagine their music so immediately. There are other forums to offer a second interpretation on your music, but most of them feel a little more distant than this; the Flaming Lips, for instance, dedicated a musical to Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, a record already surreal as hell, but it was released after the fact. Others would prefer…