Friday, December 31, 2004

New Years Eve is for Old Things.

The Cure - I Just Need Myself (Studio Demo) - The Cure are the latest band to begin the walk down Deluxe Reissue Lane, and while the quality of the bonus discs will likely decline in the coming years, the reissue of Three Imaginary Boys, carries some phenomenal rarities. While the quality of the songs, and their recordings, varies wildly, what they have in common is the fact that, more than any other albums Bonus Disc that I can think of, these recordings truly tell the story of the Teenagers Who Would Become The Cure. While it's easy to listen to "Boys Don't Cry," or "A Fire in Cairo," and think of a band that sprung, full formed from the studio womb as the kings of dark atmospheric rock and roll, the new wave pioneers that the Cure were to become, it doesn't tell the whole story. "I Just Need Myself" is proof. The song is a complete Buzzcocks rip - trebeley distorted guitars, nasal chant along vocals, and the spit in the eye to a disposable girlfriend. It's perhaps that last part thats so un-cure. Smith has over the years, built up quite the reputation as a romantic - his lyrics are notoriously smooth and, when not paranoid or depressive, reveal the sort of pop instincts more commonly found in bands to whom punkrock is an affront. So hearing "I Just Need Myself," wherein Smith talks about how alll those sentimental little promises are lies lies and lies... well, he's a young man, but somehow it totally transforms the way I think of the Cures catalog. And besides, we need a reminder every once in a while that the Cure did in fact start off punk. The official releases never did tell that story.

Over at DrunkenBlog, a post about the inadequacy of existing mac websites concludes in some ruminations on blogging and the nature of it, which somehow managed to be what it took to get me out of the exhaustion induced funk I've been in recently (ProTip: Two Retail Jobs for extra holiday cash is NOT a good idea. working 75-90 hours/week at said jobs is an even worse one). A Snippet:

It's like Plinko. The point isn't whether or not you have 10 readers or 10,000, it's that you never know if someone will randomly hit it from a search or link and something sparks in their head. In the process, you might find that you change a little too.

You do it because you just never fucking know. If you're lucky, something random might happen that makes your day. You might end up inspiring a teenager with an iBook, or a teenager with an iBook might end up inspiring you.


And on the not quite a Teenager with an iBook front (though you wouldn't know it from his enthusiasm), the amazingly knowledgable and opinionated (and longwinded) Andrew TSKS has started a blog and kicked it off with a pretty phenomenal post about how the music media seems to have, outside of sociological approaches, totally ignored Emo. Though I'll use this space to disagree with him on two fronts, It's entirely readworthy, and Andrew makes some excellent points.

As to media ignoring it, well, perhaps I'm biased. I live on the edge of Long Island and digest a large quantity of Long Island Media. And for those that don't know, Long Island is Emo Ground Zero. And the media here just can't get enough of those crazy kids. Thing is, I'm cynical about the whole thing because I remember a few years ago, when Long Island was Ska Ground Zero. And some of those guys who were in Ska bands then, are the folks at the center of the Emo scene now. The problem is exactly what Andrew seems to think is redeeming this music, and thats a lack of authenticity. The feuds, the flavor of the month vocal stylings, the musical chairs bandmates, Long Island Rock is a nexus of trend whores who find out whats cool from a random stop of a band, or some snipet of TV, and then bend it in on itself in an orgy of self referenctial incestuous scenesterism until a few bands put out a gold album and get called the Next Big Thing, and the rest all collapse in on themselves to follow the next trend. It's happened before, and I really do think it'll happen again. A few will hold the faith and Emo won't vanish completely, but it'll become the subject of mockery for the next wave, just as Ska all too unfairly is now. I just don't buy into exactly what so many people seem to about this. There are some good bands on the island to be sure. Some of them may even be playing music that might fall into categorization under the E Word. But the genres standard bearers just don't seem it to me.

Jimmy Eat World - Lucky Denver Mint For those of you who are tuning out, I beg you, stay with me here. I'd wager your first exposure to Jimmy Eat World was their meteoric rise through the world of MTV2 & Pop-Emo last year with the utterly boring The Middle, and their new album which for the most part is downright painful. But before Bleed American, JEW had a stint in the Major Label world back in 1999. They released an album entitled Clarity. It still serves, for me, as the mission statement of what Post-Sunny Day Real Estate-Emo should have become. Rhythmic, and raw, but unafraid of electronics. Full of hooks, with lush wall of sound production, but still close to the chest, and at it's core, something that could have every last element of that production stripped away and still sound every bit as beautiful. "Lucky Denver Mint" is the epitome of that. Live drums are filled out with some smart loops, and the guitars chime away into a background wall that leaves all the melodic work in the hands of Jim Adkins more than capable vocal talents. It's clear in this song how the formula was built up that led to the utter generic blandness of Futures, but it's also clear that this is a band that was capable of so much more.


Jimmy Eat World - Your New Aesthetic - On Clarity this song immediately follows "Lucky Denver Mint", and like the proverbial coin flipped, we see the other side of what made Jimmy Eat World so much different then from now. The song is a gigantic, preemptive fuck-you to the radio stations that didn't give Clarity the support it needed, in spite of critical acclaim, in spite of a sound other bands should've killed for. Perhaps burned by the tanking of Pinkerton, there was no place for this on the radio. And yet, there's something to be said for a band that can turn ona dime from the pleading conciliatory tone of "Denver Mint" to the jaded bitterness of "Your New Aesthetic".

Jimmy Eat World - For Me This is Heaven - When the time we have now ends / and when the big hand goes round again / can you still hear the butterflies / can you still hear the last goodnight. "For Me This is Heaven" is a gorgeous, slowed down song. Pianos chime in on the chorus, coming from seemingly nowhere to join that perfect tenor, pop balladry at it's most perfect. And then the song goes partly acoustic, and the band is throwing a bone to it's roots. Is it wrong to hear echoes of the Smiths here, of the Beatles, of U2? Is it wrong to say that this Emo is not emo at all, but rather perfectly pitched guitar pop of the sort we've lacked on the charts for the past decade? Goodbye 2004. 2005 is bringing some VERY big plans.

Happy New Year everybody. My Resolution is to get back to daily posting. We'll be starting on Monday with a belated New Years Day is for New Years Day is for New Things post. Including some shit so hot, I'll only be keeping it up for a day or two.

Monday, December 20, 2004

If this CD were played in heaven... heaven would explode.

Put Down That Science Pole - Sci' Pole Summa' - There's a thick blanket of the white stuff surrounding me right now (no, not THAT white stuff), and as I stare outside at the vehicle that is going to need to be brushed before heading off to work this afternoon, there's something comforting about this song from San Diegos Put Down That Science Pole. School is in fact out at the moment, for college students, and day by day an increasing number of highschoolers, but except for those lucky few headed south, there will be no beaches and boogie boards and bikinis. Instead, we'll have to settle for Sci-Poles demented synths-and-sound effects hip hop, channelling generations of boys, fro the Beach to the Beastie, but with far less tunefulness (though Brian Wilson could still probably beat them out on the batshit insane front, it's close.)

Put Down That Science Pole - W.Y.L.D. - "W.Y.L.D." vomes in just before the closing track off of the bands most recent Outrageouz Dewdz EP, and it's a complete fucking mess. Casio beats, blasts of horns, bizarre turntable scratches, mutant disco skronks and bossanova breakdowns, the only thing holding it together is the sci-poles crews completely impenetrable flow - dropping rhymes and screams and noise like they've never heard of this thing that some have called "music". This is music for the party at the gates of the asylum. And you know those crazies know how to get DOWN.

Put Down That Science Pole - Where's the Gold?!?! - And if you don't have proof, there's "Where's The Gold" - alternating between fucked up mining metaphors, surreal philosophical musings, and again, sound effects, sound effects, sound effects, "Where's the Gold?!?!" isn't half as long as it should be. I know where the gold is. If you want more, tomorrow, Tuesday Night (Wed. Morning), at Midnight, PST, Sci Pole will be live in studio on KCSB (http://www.kcsb.org/) for 2 hours DJing and performing.

[Check out Put Down That Science Pole's website, and be sure to download the Camry Sessions EP, and buy Outraegouz Dewdz for 3 bucks.]

Friday, December 17, 2004

I'll run.

Magneta Lane - Mare of the Night - For the last time, no, I do not intend to move to Canada. Instead I will merely, as an Imperialistic American, steal all of our northern brothers and sisters wonderful music and demand that they come to New York City to play for me. Magneta Lane did just that, along with the rest of the Paper Bag Records roster (most notably Controller.Controller), for a showcase during the CMJ festival a few months back, in the basement of CBGBs. Magneta Lane were the first act that night, and I was instantly hooked. Quickstep rhythyms from the likes of Erase Errata meet up with hooks that the Kinks would've been happy to figure out and a dash of Sonic Youth riffing to create some solidly poptastic garage rock. "Mare of the Night" bounces and kicks like the titular steed, as lead singer Lexi Valentine moans and howls and commands her band and her audience through the motions.


Magneta Lane - Their Party Days - it isn't all raw angular riffs though. These girls can throw down some pogo inducing power pop like the best of 'em. This song positively bounces with an infectious little melody and a fuck you chorus and a completely undeniable beat - why doesn't this stuff get radio play again?

Magneta Lane - Cheap Linguistics - This is a track from an upcoming 7" that the girls have coming out in February - they're moving in a more garage direction, pushing French's bass to the front of the mix - a wise descision that makes Lexis deep vocals sound all the richer, and when the song bursts out into a crescendo of melody on it's chorus, it's really all the more striking from the chorus. Expect big things, both from Magneta Lane, and from Paper Bag, a fantastic up and coming label in Toronto. Did I mention these girls are pretty much fresh out of high school?

[Buy The Constant Lover from Paper Bag Records]

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

The war broke out and I dropped my camera.

Superwolf - Beast for Thee - When, a few months back, Matt Sweeney (formerly of Chavez, and Zwan) announced his collaboration with Will Oldham (operating under his Bonnnie "Prince" Billy moniker"), to be known as Superwolf, people knew to expect something special. They would use a songwriting style that Oldham had devised working on split EP's back in the day, approaching songwriting as a duel, treating each song written as a challenge, and using each song of his own to force his partner/opponent to new heights. And in Sweeney, he's met his match and then some, because Sweeney is one fucking hell of a songwriter. "Beast For Thee" is proof. I BELIEVE (if what I understand of the track order is correct), that this is a Sweeney song. And it's a fine one. It's quiet, strummed guitar and violin, and nearly whispered vocals. It's a song of love as servitude - not as submission, but rather that implicit understanding, that for those you truly love, you can carry any burden. It's a song of unrequited, constant devotion, and of the sort of selfishly selfless acts to which we're driven constantly. Sadly, this album is not availiable for pre-order yet due to Drag City's minimalist web design. It will be out on Jan. 17 in the UK, and Jan. 25 in the States. Buy it.


Grizzly Bear - Deep Sea Diver - In their early press release materials, Brooklyn trio Grizzly Bear referred to their sound as "cave-core" as a joke. They got taken seriously, and now lots of press folks are hopping on and calling them genre forming visionaries. It's not hard to see why - Grizzly Bear have taken elements of the burgeoning freak-folk scene - particularly mining depths earlier explored by Animal Collective and Sufjan Stevens, and fused it with the sort of echo-laden, soaring baritones that are found in the 80's revivalism abound. It's Shoegazer music without the distortion and feedback, Glam without the flash, and Folk without the singalongs, and the result is something that really does sound like it might deserve the name of "cave-core." The band has tapped into something primordial, with vocals that sound like they're being alternately whispered from mere inches, and yelled from miles away, at the heart of the vortex that constantly threatens to pull everything in. This music is constantly expanding and contracting, at one moent, open and full of space, silence humming between notes, and the next full of sound and noise and crashing down upon itself.

Grizzly Bear - La Duchess Anne - Also from Horn of Plenty, Grizzly Bears debut LP, is La Duchess Anne, which is an odd sort of song. It starts off as a little acoustic lullaby, but there are signs that something is not quite right - the vocals go out of sync, and develop subtle distortions - they come in and out of focus. As the song reaches it's conclusion, it's clear that something isn't right, as a refrain of "how could you fit in?" is repeated until the worlds lose all meaning and the song falls apart. Something is disentegrating on record here, and I only wish I was able to figure out what.

[Buy Horn of Plenty from Insound.com!]

Monday, December 13, 2004

The Kids Have Taken Over the Classroom, Pt. 3

Our Guestblogger today is Cameron, who covered this site for a week back in June, and is generally my ol' reliable connection as concerns all bands British, and all things excessively pop.

Hi, my name's Cameron. You may remember me from such TTIKTDA guest posts as Morrissey: Throughout the Ages and Brit-Pack: Vols. I, II and III. I'm honored to have been asked to guest MP3J again! Yay!

Anyway, enough of the shitty intro, onto the pop bands...


Aberfeldy - Vegetarian Restaurant - I don't know much about Aberfeldy, only that a) They're an awesome indie band from Edinburgh, Scotland, a country that pretty much has the market cornered on cutsie pop outfits featuring two or more girls, b)they have a new album out on Rough Trade and c) "Vegetarian Restaurant" is, quite plainly, awesome. "I like the way that you shell the peas/I only wish you were shelling me." And a new genre of music was spawned: Vegggiemo.

[Buy Aberfeldy's Young Forever from Insound.com]

Television Personalities - Geoffrey Ingram - When I look back on 2004, for years and years to come, it will stand out not as the year I turned 20 and thus became totally disillusioned with this sick little ride we call life, but as the year I spent approximately 15 hours a day listening to Television Personalities' ...And Don't the Kids Just Love It?. I would give just about any part of my body to have been in London last Friday to see TVPs' comeback gig (singer/songwriter Dan Treacy was apparently in jail for some time and was released earlier this year). The brilliant thing about Dan's songwriting is the one-take, make-shift feel; close your eyes while listening to songs like "The Angry Silence" and "Parties in Chelsea", and you might as well be in Dan's flat, having some tea while he pens a little masterpiece. Let's hope for some US reunion dates in the near future...

[Buy Television Personalities' ...And Don't the Kids Just Love It From Insound.com!]

Baby Shambles - "Killamangiro" - WHY change an awesome song title like "Kill a Man For His Giro" to "Killamangiro"? What the fuck? Was this one of Pete's crack-fueled bad decisions like "quitting the Libertines" and "not showing up to most of the shows you schedule with your side project"? We can only suppose so. Anyway, this song has been circulating on sites like BabyShambles.com for ages now, and it ties in to what I was just saying about TVPs. Although you can't really tell with this single mix (wow! Real production!) most Baby Shambles songs are recorded in Pete Doherty's London apartment, and posted directly onto numerous BabySham fansites. IN one track, you can actually hear a guy bringing in Chinese food. If that's not fantastic, then I just don't know what is.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

The Kids Have Taken Over the Classroom, Pt. 2

Our Guestblogger today is Ryan. He is enthusiastic about good music. Sorry for the lateness of this post. I've been away from the Internet.

Need New Body - Show Me Your Heart - Need New Body makes you feel exactly what their name implies-- like a completely inadequate physical being: "Why do I not have 16 arms and 112 legs and eight fucking heads so I can TWITCH LIKE THEY WANT ME TO?" Well, suck it up, bitches, you aren't good enough to dance to this. A circular, bleeping melody charges out of the speakers and into your brain, stuttering and spiraling into itself. Followed by some cheerful maracas, Show Me Your Heart gets off to a nice rollicking start, but then-- an explosion of bass and piano informs the song with a disturbing evil that reverberates for the next 3 minutes. From then on, schizophrenic noises circle the outskirts of your hearing while Jeff Bradbury moans that "this time we want your brain." A delightful little banjo interlude gives the proceedings a kick in the ass from Our Collective American Roots, &c., but the real beauty of this shuffling, mechanized lump from heaven/hell is in the bizzarely hilarious lyrics. Ahh.

[Buy UFO by Need New Body from Insound.com]

Mohammed Rafi - Jaan Pehechaan Ho - This Bollywood masterpiece makes an appearance in Ghost World. First off, fuck Ghost World. I have never seen it and never will. This song rocks eight ways from Sunday: gigantic, shrill horns flourish all over the track, painting everything in preposterous gold and white. Surf-guitar weaves in and out of the vocal track, occasionally bursting into an irresistible stream of extended rhythmic riffing. And those DRUMS! Tinny though they are, they propel the song with a breathless energy, and occasionally, a hint of madness. The vocals are just too catchy, too coy to withstand: you WILL try to sing along in a language you don't understand. You just know this guy has never had this much fun in his fucking life. And whenever his fevered wailing reaches the level of a ululation, the song bursts apart at the seams, and snaps back into place with karmic predestination. We get a final coo to our ears before he lets out a barbaric yawp followed by a fantastic outro wherein the drums flip into hyperspeed. God exists, children!

[Buy the Soundtrack from Ghost World at Insound.com]

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

The Kids Have Taken Over the Classroom. Pt. 1

Things are getting really crazy here, so rather than abandon you for a week, I've lined up some great guestbloggers for you. The first is one of the many people I've come into correspondence with courtesy of this blog, the wonderful Gretchen, who lives in Chicago, and has submitted some stuff thats gotten posted by me in the past. She has great taste, and I suspect you'll like her picks.

And I Know That This Will Hurt You More Than It Hurts Me...

I've never done this, so I'm not sure why Keith asked me to do it. My positive musical criticism usually consists of "No, this song is amazing! Listen! Seriously, this one part, voom." So forgive me my writing. And I've been on an Elvis kick lately, so you're getting two Elvis tracks that you possibly might not have heard, but can always stand to be heard again.

Elvis Costello - I Hope You're Happy Now (Acoustic) "I Hope You're Happy Now" is one of my favorite Elvis songs. It's so loud and bouncy, and above all, angry and bitter. Something Elvis excels at, and I appreciate him for. This version is just him and his acoustic guitar, which doesn't allow anything to be hidden. With the original version (on Blood and Chocolate), you can play it anywhere and people will bop around without really listening. In this, you hear every single word and cannot deny anything. It has possibly the meanest line I've ever heard in a song, "I knew then what I know now / I never loved you anyhow." But you know full well that he did, otherwise he wouldn't be writing the song. And you know you've done the same thing.

[Buy Blood & Chocolate - the Expanded Reissue - from Insound.com]

Elvis Costello & the Brodsky Quartet - I Almost Had a Weakness Even a lot of Elvis fans don't seem to know about The Juliet Letters. The entire album is gorgeous; I'm particularly fond of "Taking My Life in Your Hands" and "This Offer is Unrepeatable." With just the strings backing him, Elvis's voice is really allowed to shine, and no one can deny what an amazing voice he really does have. Each song is built as a letter, to lovers, strangers, parents, or anyone who will listen. "I Almost Had a Weakness" is Elvis as a rich old woman, letting the gold diggers in her family know that she sees right through them. When listening to it I can't help but conjure images of crazy, old, rich people in the 1900's, insulting each other in the manner of Oscar Wilde with a couple of drinks in him. The pure vitriol when he spits out "and you little swines will get nothing" is enough to make me smile in even my worst moods.

[Buy The Juliet Letters from Amazon.com! - it's only $3.50 for fucks sake!]

Monday, December 06, 2004

It'll be so Long Until it's June.

The Fiery Furnaces - Sing For Me - Matt Friedberger needs to sing more. The Fiery Furnaces, as has been announced, are releasing a compilation of their singles and B-sides to date, on Rough Trade Records, next month. You've already heard a few of these probably ("Single Again," "Evergreen", the alternate, rollicking single mix of "Tropical Ice-Land") Others have never been released in the states, or never on CD. This is the result of The Furnaces style - one that, at least on album, doesn't lend itself to singles. Which lets them go and record lots of singles and non-album tracks, that, note for note, minute for minute, song for song, easily outdo most of their album brethren, packing tons of punch into simple structures, with less of the short attention span for which the Friedbergers are infamous. Instead we have songs like "Sing for Me". A gorgeous lullaby of a song, built on a jangly little guitar riff and an instantly familiar blues piano that only diverts into wierd synths in the songs final moment. But really, what the song focuses on is Matt. And more to the point, his singing, which is really absolutely stunning. I can't recall him ever flexing his vocal chops on a song like this on album. He should. It probably won't happen on the next album (it being mostly duets between Eleanor and the siblings grandmother), but perhaps on album # 4 (which is also underway! Talk about productive!).

The Fiery Furnaces - Here Comes Summer - EP(not so aptly named at 10 tracks and 42 minutes), has another truly standout track though, in "Here Comes the Summer," a track that didn't see the light of day to wierd UK single rules. Eleanors vocals here are more forceful than usual, conveying the nostalgia and childishness for which she has gained a reputation, but taking on a demanding edge - as if the child is bitter at the return of school and cold and rules. The other thing thats notable here is the guitar - Blueberry Boat featured this washed out, distorted guitar on occasion, but it's really been allowed to mature on the singles recorded since that album, and "Here Comes the Summer" is the showcase. Synths and wierdness abound, and if you have "Single Again" and "Evergreen" you can queue this up in between them for a nice little effect. Oh, and I should probably voice the fact that I concur with Matt Perpetua, Rough Trade really needs to figure out how to market this stuff to the kid&parent market. (He's also Reposted Christmas Rhapsody, a track I remember grabbing last year from him and which is utterly awesome. Get that too.)

[Buy The Fiery Furnaces EP from Insound.com]

The Kleptones - Jazz - A hip-hop sample from a group I'd never heard of going by the moniker of "Task Force" over Queens original "More of That Jazz" with some vocals from the ubiquitous "We Will Rock You" results in some killer guitar driven hiphop with a male vocal hook from the master of the falsetto.

Unfortunately, I can't find a buy link for the Taskforce track, it's entitled "Tears on My Pillowcase" If someone would oblige, I would love you for it.

[Buy the "We Will Rock You" Remix single from Insound.com!]

[Buy Jazz From Insound.com]

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

And when the AMA don't care:

Ted Leo - Treble in Trouble - Today is World Aids Day. Go donate some money. Or some time. Or remind a friend that the AIDS Epidemic is still the single greatest crisis facing world health today. And that millions are dying in Africa, and we had better get off our asses and do something about it. This is from the first Ted Leo solo EP on which he really found his voice as a songwriter, and is just a blast of classic punk rage over pop jangle and what might've been harmonies become scremas from a mob of thousands. (Yes, I post a lot of Ted Leo. It's for a good cause today. Deal.)

[Buy the Treble in Trouble EP from Insound.com and get 10% off with coupon code "Indie Dance"]


Pit Er Pat - I Am The Jungle - Pit Er Pat are a band from Chicago, formerly known as Blackbirds. A trio, comprised of a classically trained pianist on organs, a former member of Neutral Milk Hotel on drums, and a founding member of Alkaline Trio on bass, you would not be amiss in wondering what the fuck the band will sound like. While the band self describes as "post-rock", I think it's more apt to think of them as part of the emerging "Toddlerclash" movement I've talked about here. Singer and Pianist Fay Davis Jeffers sounds not unlike Eleanor Friedberger, or Blonde Redheads Kazu, her voice weaving in and out of drunken basslines and steady, insistent drum work that makes the song swing with a momentum all it's own.


Pit Er Pat - Too Many - A song full of sunshine for these harsh, short, dark winter days. A sonic trip to beaches and cabanas and the sort of problems we all wish we had. The keys are really played up here, coming front and center and dominating the entirety of the song, setting it's mood and subjugating all else to their will. Why is this called "post-rock" again? Clearly this just flat out rocks. There is nothing for it to come after. It is a unique moment all it's own. Do not expect Sigur Ros.

[Buy Pit Er Pat's Emergency EP from Insound.com and get 10% off with coupon code "Indie Dance"]

Back to the Kleptones tomorrow.
And there are rumors on the internets.