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…
Tokyo Police Club have released a free single from their upcoming album Champ. For those of you who care, check out the brief review below.
If Helen was the face that launched a thousand ships, Tokyo Police Club was the band name that launched a legion of equally silly imitators. In the years since their debut, we’ve witnessed the Bombay Bicycle Club, the Two Door Cinema Club, the New Young Pony Club, and even Tom Morello’s Street Sweeper Culture Club. Of course, one could claim that Black Rebel Motorcycle Club started this associative naming trend, but seeing as motorcycle clubs actually exist, I’ll choose to ignore this otherwise salient point.
On to the track. My initial impressions were decidedly mixed — for a song titled “Breakneck Speed”, it’s rather long by Tokyo Police Club standards, and it’s missing some of the frenetic energy (and pounding drumming) that characterized their previous efforts. The first few notes also sound suspiciously like the opening notes to Limp Bizkit’s cover of ‘Mission Impossible’. However, once you stick with the song past :50 seconds, it’s a grower (especially the chorus, in which Dave Monks matches his falsetto with Josh Hook’s guitar).
My final verdict: 3 out of 5. If you don’t like Tokyo Police Club, you probably won’t like this track. However, feel free to voice your objection by ripping off the absurd name and forming a rival ‘club.’
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.
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
Coffee shops and small halls are filled with ‘cover bands’ specializing in reproducing classic rock hits and songs that your parents used to love. However, indie cover bands are exceedingly rare — especially attic-based ones that provide arguably higher quality recordings than the original song.
And for something slightly less serious, here’s Katy Perry – Hot N Cold
This version has convinced me that Katy Perry should sing with an Eastern European accent from now on.
Alright guys, I really have no idea about this one. Is it good? Is it bad? There are times when I think both. Gaggle is a British “choir” of women (trust me, it’s not what you’re thinking), “I Hear Flies” a catchy single that is either perfect for pregaming or an earworm hook comparable to the spice girls if they were angry drunk bitches (hence the title). Listen to those cockney accents hypnotically shouting over dubstep beats… mmmmmmmm………
Remixes are often hit or miss affairs. Modern technology allows any teenager or unemployed DJ to sit in their living room and churn out tracks — as a result, the internet is bombarded with thousands of crappy Rihanna and Lady Gaga remixes every day.
However, to use a cliched expression, there are diamonds hidden in the rough. This semi-recurring column will highlight some of the better remixes that I’ve stumbled upon over the past few months.
First up is a fairly well known act, The Hood Internet. Visit their website here for additional tracks.
Cult Logic Forever
Daníel Bjaranson is the Icelandic artist behind Icelandic music. The guy who conducted the choir in Sigur Ros’ “Ara Batur”? Bjarnason. The guy who conducts the Iceland Symphony Orchestra? Bjarnason. Although overshadowed by Nico Muhly on the Bedroom Community record label, Bjarnason is a leading musical figure in the circles that know him. In February of 2010, Bjarnason released a record entitled Processions, featuring three of his compositions. The first composition, Bow to String, is a three movement suite for multi-tracked cello, and its opening movement is a fiery rage of uneven time signatures, rapid melodies, and driving percussion from the bow of the cello. Check out Processions immediately.
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…
To let everybody know, I was originally going to post something a bit more relevant for my first ‘track of the day’ feature, being a new Flying Lotus song from Cosmogramma (which is great, btw, even if its leak is in pretty shitty transcode; am definitely buying for the occasion when it’s released on April 20th). But I’m ultimately ruled by Lala, which is some fucking music service kind of thing that I have to add our Track of the Day to for I don’t know what reason, and Lala definitely ain’t reppin Flylo. Lala was also hard as hell to figure out, and that’s for damn sure.
But, alas, I’m forced to find some other song to quickly write about, and I ultimately landed on a Neil Young song, who I’ve been incessantly listening to and basically rediscovering recently, to great rewards. And in this process of rediscovery, I’ve decided that “Cowgirl in the Sand” is easily Young’s definitive and best song, a ten-minute bruiser that highlights why Young’s music is so great. His vocals, equally rough and effeminate, twist around lyrics that concern a lost love: the effect is something like listening to a drunkard bitch about his ex for ten minutes straight, but not annoying. The tale Young spins is interrupted with sonic booms of guitar feedback and hair-raising solos: a Young specialty, first perfected on this song after he stumbled through Buffalo Springsteen and a bland, unremarkable debut. You could say he peaked early, but…
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…
Today is the 13 year anniversary of The Notorious B.I.G.’s landmark album, Life After Death. To celebrate, Sputnikmusic is offering an exclusive stream and download link for an album by producer wait what, who pairs Biggie verses with backing tracks from indie artist The xx. The album, the notorious xx, is surprise union where “the extrovert meets the introvert.” Biggie’s ambitious and fluent rhymes flow over The xx’s pensive and melodic instrumentals, creating a combination that is sublime.
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…
About 2-3 weeks ago, we posted a news item asking for volunteers to improve the site’s database. Unfortunately, the announcement predated some new community album editing features that we were in the process of adding. As a result, thousands of hopeful, enthusiastic recruits were turned aside in dismay.
Never fear, eager album editors. Meatplow is still organizing an on-going effort in the forums. As of today, there have been over 2,400 album edits using the new and improved community editing system. If you are interested in helping out, visit the organizing thread here
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…