Super limited deluxe special editions of albums (I think I got all of the adjectives) are getting a bit ridiculous. On one hand, I think it’s really awesome that there are bands out there who want to give the fans a little something extra, but then I realize that most “special editions” contain some shitty, half-assed DVD that has thirty minutes of footage (if you’re lucky) about what five of the songs are about.
The horrible thing is, I will almost always buy the special edition even though logic has proven time and time again that it is a total waste of money. And do I legitimize my purchase by watching the DVD/listening to the bonus tracks/utilizing surround sound technology to hear Opeth’s Still Life in a whole new light? Nope. I very rarely take advantage of the band’s decision to bestow insight into their writing process and/or the things they do while they’re on their tour bus or inside their tour van. Here is a list of some of the bonus content that I have done absolutely nothing with:
- The DVD included with Underoath’s Lost In The Sound Of Separation. It’s worth mentioning here that I bought both the special edition of the CD that came with the DVD, and the special vinyl box set that also includes the CD and DVD. So I have two Underoath DVDs that I will most likely never, ever watch. But hey, 10″ vinyl in the shape of a sawblade!
Sweden has always had a strong DIY culture. Look no further than the brand name most famously exported from the Scandinavians, IKEA, for an indication of the trait. Easy, self-assembled and stylish furniture, much like the music that the nations independent scene has made its name with. Where the status quo of mainstream pop music in most other countries is that of record executives with dollar signs for pupils and the incendiary scorn of independent/niche fans, Sweden owes a huge part of its musical history to the genre; ask anyone to name a Swedish artist and seminal pop act ABBA will undoubtedly fall from their lips, and for good reason. ABBA may in fact have been the most important group ever to emerge out of the country. As well as lighting the world up with hustle inducing hits like “Waterloo” and “Gimme Gimme Gimme (A Man After Midnight)”, they encouraged a nation to let loose their inhibitions and muster up the confidence to write music in English; simple, excellent pop songs, kooky accent and all. Bands like Roxette (of “Listen to your Heart” fame) and The Cardigans followed suit, creating intelligent, accessible pop that lit up the charts throughout the 90’s, with the former registering four #1 singles in the US and dozens more UK Top 40 hits.
ABBA, in all their glory.
Looking specifically at the contemporary state of the independent scene, you wouldn’t have to go further than the…
“Sunnyside” is the kind of song that I’ve been waiting for from Kaki King.Stripped down and honest, it’s her first song that aims right for the heartstrings. She’s had material that has come close, but it has always missed the emotional mark due to a greater concern with showing off just how good a guitarist she is. Not only is “Sunnyside” an F-you to those that proclaimed her just another songwriter playing shallow background music, it may just have the best use of the word “wiener dog” in the history of music.
As any Sputnik regular will know, a couple of the staffers here have got a thing going on for UK hip-hop; Orphans of Cush did gatecrash our 2009 top 50 at an impressive #27, after all. You might have realized, too, that the latest record from the scene to makes among us is Devil May Cry by Iron Braydz.
Now, I couldn’t tell you why, but something about Braydz made me cast my mind back to the early part of last decade, when UK garage was just beginning to turn into grime, and British urban music has a stranglehold on UK radio and people still gave a crap about the MOBOs. So Solid Crew were absolutely massive then. Hell, they were probably the biggest band in the country, regardless of country; they genuinely revolutionized UK rap. Angus Batey pointed out as much in a recent Guardian interview with the group’s lynchpin Megaman, while the band still gets respect in the scene; Durrty Goodz, on the state-of-the-nation address “Switching Songs”, acknowledged the change they brought to the UK garage scene.
‘Deep basslines and a load of energy
And I loved the beats because they came with melodies
I could go raving and sip on the Hennessey
And wouldn’t even think about looking for enemies
Then shit changed, everyone just bugged out
So Solid came and it all got thugged out’
That lyric encapsulates why the band were never really embraced…
The concept of State Intervention is simple: impromptu gigs are arranged in diffuse spots around the city, from music shops and bars to parks and street corners. The featured act is announced on the morning of the gig via Facebook and Twitter, and the whole gig is professionally shot and plastered up all over the internet for the whole world to squeeze and poke and do all sorts of deranged shit to.
And So I Watch You From Afar – ‘S Is For Salamander / Set Guitars To Kill’
The new staff members aren’t yet able to post in the staff blog, so I’m doing my favorite son Adam Thomas a big favor here and posting his blog about this year’s Record Store Day. I’m lending my support to this blog post, as Record Store Day is a big fucking deal for guys like us who buy vinyl and albums that you can’t get at Best Buy, etc. So give Adam your full attention and support your local record stores if you have any! As a sidenote, here are some possible names for his future column: Adam’s Spasms, Adam’s Orgasms, Adam’s Chasms. Just some suggestions.
Just a little reminder for y’all, the fourth annual Record Store Day is this Saturday, April 17th. For those not in the know, Record Store Day is a world wide celebration of independent music retailers, marked by a plethora of special releases from musicians on both major and indie labels, and special in-store appearances by tons of bands both big and small. So why honor the local record shop? Despite the fact that they can at times be a bit more pricey than their superstore counterparts, local record stores foster a sense of community amongst their consumers, stocking albums based on what their clientele want, not based on corporate buggery and marketing deals. This personal touch is what they rely on to survive, and with retail giants like Wal-Mart, Target, and Best Buy holding brick and mortar retail music sales by the balls and…
Why yes, that is the Talking Heads you’re hearing aped on James Murphy’s “One Touch” off his upcoming juggernaut This Is Happening. Doesn’t really matter though, does it? Murphy’s Byrne-esque monotone and quasi political lyrics (“People who need people to the back of the bus”) slide effortlessly over polyrhythmic percussion and tense competing synths to create a seriously slick tune. Won’t tell you much more than this, but here’s a thought: on an album filled with jams that threaten to rule your summer, this here’s the front-runner.
I’ve been a fan of most the music that Peter Steele has put out including Carnivore and Type O Negative. Based on that, I’m not going to jump to any conclusions based on all of the news that’s floating around right now – we’ll save that shit for a different day. I did want to take this time to highlight his band prior to Type O Negative, though, because they were always a bit underrated in my opinion. Their first album was kind of sloppy thrash but their second release, Retaliation, was straight up hardcore with a huge streak of sarcasm and a warped sense of humor. None of these songs were supposed to be taken seriously, they were just supposed to be so incredibly stupid that they were funny. Of course, when Peter became famous through Type O Negative critics returned to this album to accuse him of everything from racism to homophobia to just about everything else (prompting the song “We Hate Everyone” on Bloody Kisses). Anyway, hopefully Peter is somewhere sleeping in New York (it is only 11am)…
- Jesus Hitler
- Angry Neurotic Catholics
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Try as I might, Bruce Springsteen’s music has always been somewhat of an impenetrable wall for me. He should resonate more strongly with me. From his workman-like roots to his 80s shlock, right back to the grizzled folk of Devils & Dust, Springsteen’s career trajectory is right in line with what I’m often drawn to outside of the metal bullshit readers of this site would probably associate with me. Yet throughout my admittedly limited experience with Springsteen, only one of his album’s has really stuck with me (Nebraska), and even then only one song really “hits” me where it “hurts”.
My first intention in writing this blog was to choose Justin Townes Earle’s cover of “Atlantic City” played as part of the A.V. Club’s “Undercover” series, and I’ll still do that below. But “Atlantic City” as I now want you to hear it is a more unique take on the Springsteen classic. For “Undercover”, Earle strums frenetically, replacing the original version’s pain-struck backing howls with a heightened pace and added sense of vulnerability and nervousness. Then, right as I was about to publish this blog, someoneDAVEDESYLVIAtold me the video didn’t work.
In seeking out an alternative video-feed of the A.V. Club rendition, I eventually stumbled upon a live cover from March the 10th of this year. In it, Earle, accompanied by Joe Pug and his usual backing band, says—not long after citing alcohol as an influence for the ensuing performance—that if you don’t like Springsteen then you don’t…
It seems I’m making something of a habit of posting whimsical, folksy music from the north of Ireland.
A couple of weeks back, I blogged ‘You’ve Been Released,’ the new single from London-based Sligo musicians Yngve & the Innocent. This week, I’m focusing on Belfast four-piece John, Shelly and the Creatures – who, by happy coincidence, will support Yngve & Co. at their record launch in Dublin on April 23. Don’t you just love it when a good plan comes together?
Today’s Track of the Day, ‘Long May You Reign,’ was the group’s debut single, and was buoyed by a prominent appearance in the Discover Northern Ireland tourism advertisements across the UK and Ireland these past months. ‘Long May You Reign’ is the driving force behind the band’s one and only album, Dinosaur, which was released back in March of this year, and is the perfect showcase for the group’s ethereal brand of folk, blues and rock n’ roll. Frontman Walter’s layered, hushed vocals are reminiscent of Elliott Smith, while the song’s earthy acoustic guitar, prickly piano and crazed slide licks recall ’70s singer-songwriters of the Harry Nilsson and Jackson Browne ilk.
John, Shelly and the Creatures – ‘Long May You Reign’
But it’s come to my attention that there are a lot of people out there who don’t like it. Now, I’ve never seen a specific comment on this website stating dislike for Glee, but I’m going to assume that there are bunch of you guys who hate it. My first response to you, if you’re out there, is Fuck you faggot Glee rules. My second response is Have you seen it? You probably answered that question with a “no,” because this is a website where we give albums a rating of “1″ just because we heard the beginning of “Tik Tok” on the radio and turned it off, repulsed and intent on lowering Ke$ha’s rating when we get home. So what have you heard about Glee? That it’s like High School Musical for people who enjoyed High School Musical but are now slightly older? That it’s full of high school drama that you will most likely find beneath you? That it’s gay?
Well, first of all, High School Musical was awesome too.
i'm ashley tisdale's homosexual twin, he's the… black girl
Second of all, I got news for ya. It’s all of those things! But in a good way. I can hear you guys now: ”But how can something that’s a bit gay actually be good?” Well, we all listen to Animal Collective, right? Those guys seriously…
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.
Regular Ellen viewers can skip to the next paragraph – you’ll already know all about the latest sensation to break from the burgeoning Irish showband scene. Everybody else, allow me to introduce you to Crystal Swing, East Cork’s answer to the Carter Family and, as of a few hours ago, the most successful singing group in Irish music history.
The mother-daughter-son group (Dad is the sound engineer) consists of mother Mary Murray-Burke, daughter Dervla and son Derek. The trio have been on a rapid incline since the release of their album The Best Years of Our Lives in 2009. A performance video of ‘He Drinks Tequila,’ an old American country tune from the ’70s, from a local TV broadcast was picked up by Irish drag queen Panti, and from there the local music media. Their story soon became the thing of internet legend, earning the group an appearance on Ireland’s equivalent of the Late Show, the, err, Late Late Show, as well as a number of other national talk shows. From there, they were discovered by the white people’s answer to Oprah, Ellen DeGeneres, and featured on her St. Paddy’s Day special.
Smitten, Ellen vowed to have the band appear live on the show, and on April 12 her wish became a reality. And aside from perhaps the most lengthy and shameless plug for a hard liquor company in US network TV history, Crystal Schwing’s appearance on Ellen was an unqualified…
Alright, so I guess the “rule” for song of the day is that the song has to be upcoming or just released, but shit, have you guys heard “Seeds”? Much hullaballoo was made when “Colouring of Pigeons” dropped in anticipation of The Knife’s Darwinian Electo-opera, Tomorrow, In a Year, but the critical reception to the project has been mixed. You don’t need me to tell you again how I think the naysayers are wrong and that this is one of the most forward thinking releases of our generation, but I do want to call your attention to the best song off the project, “Seeds.”
This hyperelectronic house jam is the most “Knife-ish” thing off Tomorrow, In a Year, but that’s not why it’s the best track. “Seeds” is a slow burning tune that marks the climax of Tomorrow, In a Year: the project. It morphs slowly over time, rocking an 808 beat and yes, opera vocals. Remember that scene in The Fifth Element with the blue chick? This is kind of like that. I’m not gonna give anymore away- you guys should really just get the whole thing and don’t be a pussy about it- but yeah, “Seeds.”