Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Punk-Rocklamation of the steadyrock easy groove council!

Panthers - Stroke My Genius - I remember, back in my earliest days of college radio, a CD showed up on the rack from this band called Panthers. The liner notes were full of somewhat asinine political slogans, but the Similar Artists mentioned intrigued me and my Co-DJ, and he, (an Orchid fan), decided we could give it a shot. I thought my ears were going to bleed. It was TERRIBLE. Just... really really bad. See, Panthers is a frankenstein outfit, with alums from a number of bands, with members from all sorts of musical backgrounds. And then, something strange happened. Panthers started getting all sorts of good buzz, and hanging out with bands like the Yeah Yeah Yeahs... Turns out, they had produced another EP. And this one was good. Let's Get Serious made waves by turning the blistering intensity of members past hardcore projects into full throttle garage rock, full of screeching riffs, fist pounding lyrics, and drum work that people can actually dance too. So of course, I was wary when I got an email from Vice Records offering me the chance to hear panthers new album. Would we be getting the shitty hardcore poseur panthers? Or the thrilling garage rock outfit? On Stroke My Genius at least, we definitely got the latter, but it seems that Panthers have begun to reconcile thier two sides. The rhythyms here are definitely more reminiscent of orchid than anything on the EP, as the song opens with a slow pound before exploding into a somewhat milder take on the chaos that was the trademark of past bands like The Red Scare and Orchid. The song stomps and thrashes for another 3 minutes, unrelenting.

[Buy Things Are Strange from Insound.com!]

Hepcat - Open Season... Is Closed - I haven't posted a ska track in ages. I've said it before, and I'll say it again. Ska needs to ditch the bad rap it's gotten over the years. In my mind, it's aged better than most of the mid 90's fads that come to mind (does Bush have fans anymore? I can assure you that bands like Ednas Goldfish and The Slackers still do...), and I make no bones about having come to music as a Long Island skakid. Hepcat were some of the best that the 90's boom had to offer, hailing from Southern California, and playing a variety of ska so thoroughly retro, I can segue between Hepcat and my collection of old Studio One tracks, and not blink an eye. This isn't the Ska-Core of Big D, or, hell, in spite of being on Epitaph, this ska has nothing to do with punk. Smooth swinging horns, velvet vocals, rhythyms - I can't remember a diss track ever having been this smoothe.
[But Right on Time from Amazon.com!]

P.S. - a note to people that send me things: I DO get them, and I DO often like them. It's just that I have a terrible memory/tend to lose things. Obviously, this is bad, and I'm going to try to get a little better in the future/start clearing the backlog of great music people have sent me. Please do keep it coming, be you a label, an artist, or merely a fan of a band I've never heard of.

Monday, September 27, 2004

Crusty Old Punks - Part II - and a little something else.

Quick note in front of todays post - I'm testing something today that may or may not work. If it works, you'll have no idea.

I have too much Political Music. And the times, they call for it. That said, I don't want this blog to become purely politics. So I'm gonna toss it in the ghetto from now on, and try to keep the overtly political songs to Mondays only. How's that? So, Maddening Monday, Volume One.

Jello Biafra & The Melvins - McGruff the Crime Dog - Last week, I hilighted a new album from Social Distortion. Today, I go for another seminal west coast punk getting on in years, who hasn't changed a bit. Jello Biafra's back, and in collaboration with the Melvins, has a new album out on his own Alternative Tentacles Records The entire thing is classic Jello, full of his trademark lyrical political caricatures, over the Melvins typical noisy screechy work. Painting a portrait of America in the era of the Patriot Act, Jello shows that some things haven't changed since the Dead Kennedy's days. One of the foremost musicians associated with Rocking Against Reagan has returned as an elder statesman, just as the modern Punk Rock community has discovered it's second wind thanks to Rocking Against Bush.

[Buy Never Breathe What You Can't See from Alternative Tentacles Records!]

King Missile - Another Political Poem - Yes, That King Missile. The guy responsible for such landmarks of wit as "Detachable Penis", and "Gay/Not Gay". He's back with a new album, entitled Royal Lunch, which is packed to the gills with political tirades. This isn't the best, and it isn't the funniest. Hell, like most King Missile tracks, none of them have much shelf life. But there's something... honest about this one that makes me think it's the most worthwhile on there. Over a Casio bossa-nova instrumental, we get classic King Missile chatter, and then he gets to the point. The self effacing remarks, the shame over yet another political song, but in the end, he decides it matters, because he "hate[s] this president even more now than [he] did before 9/11 - a cancer on the world and in [his] soul..." And then, it begins in earnest. It's simple. To the point. Direct. And speaks for a great many out there. The rage, the sense of hopelessness, and in the end, the apathy of it. Is this all there is?

[Buy Royal Lunch from Important Records!]

And, here's a bonus for you... Jello Biafra - Live from the Battle in Seattle - This is Jello's remarks from the Seattle protests in 1999, 15 minutes of, what is, for my money, the best piece of political rhetoric from the past 5 years. Though the movement he's addressing has fallen into something of a "Grateful Dead" phase as Naomi Klein has referred to it, the issues are still relevant, and more importantly, Jellos remarks stretch well beyond the movement. The message here is a broader one, an impassioned defense of the importance of activism, and the need to keep on grinding away at things, even when the media fervor dies down. This election will be over in 38 days (barring a 2000 style recount debacle). But it won't be over. There will always be work to be done, and if we let the energy die because Bush is out of office - or because Bush is still in office and we've gotten all defeatist - then we'll never achieve anything.

Don't hate the Media. Become the Media

Friday, September 24, 2004

I won't be confined.

Jon Brion - Walking Through Walls - Jon Brion is well known as the genius behind soundtracks for such films as Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Punch Drunk Love, Magnolia, and the upcoming I <3 Huckabees. Less well known is his work as a singer/songwriter, gorgeous psychedelic pop that easily recalls the sunny Beatles/Beach Boys sound, without the cloying cuteness of some Elephant 6 acts. 'Walking Through Walls' is packed to the gills with bouncy Sgt. Peppers-esque guitars, and a decidedly unbeatles vocal harmony of "motherfuckers". The slight touches of guitar fuzz on the chorus, the honkytonk pianos, the hints of something more dangerous, just waiting to explode in a live show, are everywhere in this song.

[Buy Jon Brion's album, Meaningless from CDBaby!]

J.U.F. - Last Wish of the Bride - I posted about Gogol Bordello a few months back, and people really did like what they've heard. Well, they're in Chicago right now, recording their 3rd proper album, with none other than Steve Albini at the boards. In the meantime, this is from a release from Gogol Bordello side project "Jewish-Ukrainishe Freundschaft" entitled Gogol Bordello Vs. Tamir Muskrat. Borne of Eugene Hutz's longtime DJing gigs @ Mehanata, the JUF is a DJ based take on the gogol sound, expanding the Gogol Bordello sonic pallette to take in elements of Rai, Reggae, Hiphop, and just about anything else Hutz manages to find interesting. Th is particular song is built around singer Eugene Hutz's storyteller persona as the band plays frantic party music, with the horns more dominating than in past Gogol music, and the rest of the band exploring a more global influence - especially in the rhythym. When the flutes solos kick in, it's clear that this is just a band having as good a time as it can, and showing off just how global they are. And when Gogol Bordello is the band in question, thats no sin.

J.U.F. - Gypsy Part of Town - What's this though? Have Hutz & Company decided to take on hip-hop? Eastern European Horn fills, and funny accents aside, the dynamics of this song scream hip hop to me. Hutz's vocals are definitely going for that vibe, and the breakbeats and female Rai vocal hook all scream that thats what they're trying for. So, it's Gypsy-folk-punk-rapper now? I'm down with that. And this is making me REALLY excited for the Gogol proper album. EXCELLENT stuff.

[Buy Gogol Bordello Vs. Tamir Muskrat from Amazon.com!]

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Crusty old Punks.

Social Distortion - Reach for the Sky Social Distortion are legends for a reason, and I'm not referring to their (admittedly legendary) substance abuse - the whole band is clean and sober now, as their new albums title Sex, Love, and Rock & Roll (Due next Tuesday, 9/28) would attest. Rather, as some of the leading lights of the early LA Punk scene, their blend of Blues, Rockabilly, Country, and punk rock puts them in the elite of that scenes more interesting and longevity oriented acts, along with the likes of X. Though the band has had more than it's share of personnell changes and deaths over the years, they've managed the rare feat of having never put out a bad album (probably due to the relative lack of recorded material). Well, they're back this year with a new lineup, a new album, and they're on tour now. And the new album shows the boys (old men?) from Social D to be as crusty and caustic and great as ever. "Reach For The Sky" is an exhilarating road trip sort of song. It's about leaving the past behind, living in the moment, and all sorts of other rock and roll cliches that have been done to death a thousand times. But if you notice that, you're clearly missing the point. Let the song roll over you, and roll out with it. This is music to pump your fist to on the highway. Nothing more, but certainly nothing less.

Social Distortion - Angels Wings (Acoustic) - the bonus track on Sex, Love, & Rock N' Roll is this, an acoustic reworking of the albums closer - reminiscent of the band legendary cover of Fulsom County Prison Blues, Social D have always been as much Johnny Cash as Johnny Rotten. The song is a spit in the eye of the old nihilistic conceit of far too much punk rock, full of optimism, of hope. Promises of marriage, proclamations of love - this is an older, wiser Social Distortion to be sure. They've seen the belly of the best, and battled their way out from the throes of addiction, of failure, of themselves. And while I can't neccesarily find it in me to rely on faith as Mike Ness certainly seems to have found his, the music it brings is just gorgeous enough that I can't bring myself to care. And when he proclaims that "I won't live or die that way," you can tell that the man saying it almost did do just that... that he understands exactly what he;s turning away from.

[Buy Sex, Love, & Rock & Roll from Amazon.com!]

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

It turns out he was selling saviors door to door.

The Divorce - Samoas Revenge - The Divorce are current hotshit next-big-thing kids from Seattle. Their debut album There Will Be Blood Tonight, from which todays tracks come, is a romp through punked out pop music that echoes Pavement, the Pixies, Fugazi, and other presskit platitudes that I won't bother with from here on out. What you need to know about this song is that it builds itself by interspersing classic shriekey hardcore breakdowns with the BATMAN THEME SONG. Thats right, campy 60s batman + hardcore breaks = AWESOME. Mosh away good fellows.

The Divorce - Redcoats - Redcoats though, is where the band hits it's stride, and offers promise of whats to come for the band. The drums have that heavy, loping quality that Brendan Canty has made so distinctive, but the guitars have the skitter of an older post punk band - or perhaps a more high energy pavement track. But the chorus? What is this? could it be... pop-punk? It's certainly nasal enough... and it has that bounce to it, that bleating, high-low guitar thats associated with the worst excesses of the skaters at your local shopping mall. Thing is, that whole idea was never bad to begin with - it's just been exploited by bands without the talent to use it sparingly, to pull it off properly. The Divorce certainly aren't ready to take on the world yet, but they're well on their way to it.

[Buy There Will be Blood Tonight from Amazon.com! or Check out The Divorce's Website!]

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Maybe I should just move along.

The Frames - Sideways Down - There's an old Jewish tradition that says the 10 days between Rosh Hashannah and Yom Kippur - between the new year, and the day of atonement, should be spent reflecting on the year past. It's a time to remember past lapses, to forgive old grievances, repair burnt bridges, and to apologize. So, it seems fitting to kick off my posting during that week with a few tracks from the Frames new album, Burn the Maps, released last week. The Frames have long been known for their dynamic sound, quiet and intimate one moment, and bombastic the next. On Burn The Maps they've compressed those tendencies down to single tracks. The song opens with echoes of a distant bassline, vocals front and center. Slowly a beat comes in, filtered, it almost sounds like the intro of some weird, acoustic take on IDM. And then, the musicians come into the same room. The instrumentals move front and center as Glen Hansard sings about how "everybody fucks up, it's just something thats been going 'round." When the song explodes into the mid point of the Frames range, and the strings come in, the sense of longing, of regret - the desire to set things right shines through - even if it means leaving the past, and leaving love behind.

The Frames - Finally - Finally shows the Frames in a full on assault mode, revealing why they may be Irelands best kept secret at the moment. With string arrangements giving the song a delicacy as it opens, and then tightening, enclosing, the song picks up a martial quality. The song is a challenge and a scream, and when the song breaks, a bit before the two minute mark, there's real pain there - you can feel the anger over mistakes made, over grievances that cannot be undone. And the strings come front and center, and it's just beautiful.

The Frames - Fake - I would be remiss if I didn't include "Fake". The song is the perfect merging of the sides of the Frames sound, half Spectorized symphony, half stripped down, lo-fi rage. The dynamics of this song careen between resignation and the most vicious bitterness possible. The song opens in full on guitar attack mode, but quickly quiets down to just vocal and acoustic - resigned and weary, but with hints of a bubbling rage in the guitar work. And then, the words that set Glen off "you're telling me I should forget you..." And the song explodes with rage at this new man. The bitterness and the jealousy shine through, and as the song bounces between it's extremes, we see the Frames slowly finding a middle ground... never quite accepting, but the rage cooled, the process of falling apart and finding the pieces all over again.

[Buy Frames tracks from the Itunes Music Store, or buy Burn the Maps from Road Records!]

Friday, September 17, 2004

My Future Scares Me.

Sorry about the lateness of todays post. it was a long time in the writing.

First off, L'Shanah Tovah to all of my fellow Jews. Next week is going to be a themed week to fit the season, but for now, we're going to commemorate sundays upcoming holiday of International Talk Like a Pirate Day.

Andrew Vincent and the Pirates - Good Time - Andrew Vincent & The Pirates are, a canadian band in the tradition of the Ramones and the Modern Lovers, the best high school band out there today. Which is not to say that they're in high school, but there's an innocence, a simplicity to what they play that so affecting, you just want to sniff some glue and relive bygone days. The music is not the work of virtuosos, but there's a rightness to this simple, laid back jangle, as Vincent proclaims "My future SCARES ME," Jonathan Richman is the only reference that seems even halfway appropriate. These are not brainy or high minded lyrics, and the guitar work is nothing special, but it works. Oh god does it work. The Modern Lovers have found their heirs - or perhaps their plunderers.

Andrew Vincent and the Pirates - Bahamas - from the sparse, frightened alienation of Good Time, to this, I Love The Modern Way's closing track, we see the Ramones influence. When the Ramones started out, they weren't looking to destroy music - just to turn back time. They wanted to recapture the era before the Beatles started recording big concept albums full of studio tricks and overdubs and indian weirdness. It was about recapturing a simpler Rock 'n' Roll, that belonged to Ronnie Spector, Buddy Holly, and thousands of garage bands. Taking Rock music back from the superstars and putting it back where it belonged. The Ramones aren't around to keep that tradition alive, and growing fewer by the year (RIP Johnny), but the Pirates take on the mantle admirably. The guitar is a propulsive force, the vocals simple, unprofessional. I could sing them. The drums are workmanlike. And yet, this is at the same time the greatest music ever played. Because in the moment, when the listening carries you off, and there is no need to analyze every chord, every beat and every word - in that briefest of glimmers when you really understand - everything is right.

[Buy I Love The Modern Way from Kelp Records!]


One last item for today. This weekend, Sean from Said The Gramophone will be writing his last post before an extended hiatus before he goes off gallivanting through Europe. Sean - before you go, I just want to thank you. You're probably the single biggest factor in inspiring me to set up shop over here, and you've been a wealth of both music, and musicblogging wisdom. You're writing is some of the sharpest and most eloquent in our little corner of the blogosphere, and it's been a pleasure and an honor to know and work with you over the past 7 months. You'll be missed, and you'd better stay in touch somehow while you're across the pond. I'm sure you've left Said The Gramophone in capable hands, but nonetheless, we'll all be eagerly and impatiently awaiting your return. May your adventures in the new year and this new era of your life be as worthwhile and fulfilling as I know running Gramophone has been for you.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

The dreams and the communities to come are electric.

The Projects - If There Are More of Us - The Projects is, well, a side project, of Stereolab keyboardist Morgane Lhote. The influence of Morganes other band is extremely obvious, at times to the point of being oppressive, but the Projects manage, for the most part, to take the 'Labs distinctive keywork and dueling boy/girl vocals, and fuse it with an angular guitar and bass style more readily associated with Gang of Four, or Wire. This song, opens with a skittery electric piano, and a flattened, buzzing, bassline and the Labs melodicism, but by the minute mark, they're counting off and going into a section of just chaos as the vocals fly from multiple directions and the guitars pick up, and all of a sudden it all makes sense. Postpunk has gone twee.

The Projects - Happy Endings - The album finishes with, fittingly, "Happy Endings" The bassline sounds, to my ears, like the first 2/3rds of Wires famous bassline for "Three Girl Rhumba" (one of the best grooves ever BTW), and slowly layers go on over the top of that bass, sinking the angles and edges in a warm, soft, pop package. Melodic, but still sharp guitar gives way to pianos, as both yield to gorgeous sugary female vocals. The sonng strips itself down again after the first verse, and when everything returns, it's darker. Theres a new element. And the vocals, where once there were words, nearly belt out that one long note. Over the course of all this happening, as the song returns the form, and then breaks down into a furious instrumental conclusion, that bassline is still going, and it's speeding up too! Great stuff.

Learn more about the Projects at their website!
[Buy the Projects debut, Let's Get Static from the Track and Field Organisation! And be sure to check out their single, Ulysses in the Supermarket!]

UPDATE: I'vee just learned that tonights Wolf Parade (and secretly Modest Mouse - but Wolf Parade are cooler anyway, right Sean?) show at Webster Hall that I had thought was sold out, and that I had missed the boat on... HAS TICKETS AVAILIABLE. GET YOURS NOW. And drop me an email, as it looks like I'll be going alone, and I'd love to meet some readers.

Also, be sure to drop by The Tofu Hut, where I've just done an interview as part of John's "Meetin' the Neighbors" series. Here's a taste.

Drop on by Better Propaganda and pick out a track to hype.

Gravenhurst - The Diver

I may have blogged gravenhurst at some point, but I don't think so. I've come very close on a number of occasions however. Nick Talbot creates dark, gorgeous slices of poetry with an acoustic guitar and a falsetto to die for. The album, titled Flashlight Sessions has that sort of light in the darkness feel to it, and this song in particular is full of that. When he croons "And I, am never frightened, no I am never afraid." the hope in his voice, the power of it, is all we have to fight off the opressive darkness of those low, sparse chords. But it's a powerful light to shine.

Monday, September 13, 2004

It goes on and on and on...

The Thrills - Whatever Happened to Corey Haim? - The Thrills have a new album due out tomorrow, entitled Let's Bottle Bohemia. It's great. I wasn't too high on the Thrills after their first album, and apparantly their label wasn't either. They almost got dropped. Then the numbers came in, and it turns out, they're close to platinum. Bohemia's draft is gonna drag that last record over the top and then some. The first single from the new album, "Whatever Happened to Corey Haim?" is one of a few songs on the album questioning the worth of fame, taking the Thrills trademark california sunshine and adding a twinge of darkness to the sweeping, Roxy Music-esque strings (Especially Country Life). Though the Brian in charge may be more Wilson than Ferry. It's a song full of grandeur and beauty and pain questions. But in the end, it's those strings that just keep selling it. The song spirals out of control, and it's all lead singer Conor Deasy can do to keep everything around him from exploding as he croons.

The Thrills - The Irish Keep Gate Crashing - It's the vocals that do the heavy lifting on this track, the albums closer. Hopeful, bouyant falsettos delivers acerbic lines like "Lust... Top 40 Fame... I can smell your Catholic Shame...", and the pianos bounce and the song just makes you want to dance because this is a party of Irish boys who wish they were california boys who have listened to lots of british music about America. And it does indeed go on and on. One of the greatest things about Rock & Roll, and pop culture as a whole is it's endless ability to cannibalize itself eternally. The Thrills are hopelessly derivative, endlessly nostalgaic, and some of the most fun you'll have listening to music this year.

[Buy Let's Bottle Bohemia from Amazon.com!]

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Just like... terrorists, on a... Day of Rest...

Adult. - Pray for Pills (Dirtbombs Cover) - On the unlikely split EP's front, this new release from Adult. and The Dirtbombs is probably the present top of the pile. The bands are about as unlike as any you're going to find out there, with Adult. carrying on the tradition of Electro begun in Detroit in the early 80's, and the Dirtbombs fusion of Motown and Garage Rock, the only real common thread is geographic. Nonetheless, they've decided to cover each other for a split 7", and the results are definitely worthwhile. (Be sure to snap this up if you're vinyl friendly, or scour the web for the Dirbombs side, a cover of Adult.'s "Lost Love" that might be the better track, but I've posted the 'bombs before.). Adult.s contribution is a cover of a VERY early Dirtbombs b-side. The track opens with a somewhat canned synth & bass line, but it's made up for by the sheer exuberance of the vocal work, and as the track moves, it just keeps on getting stronger, even as Kuperus's vocals just keep sounding more and more desperate. This is a limited run, 3000 pressing vinyl release, so snap it up people! You can listen to half of the 'Bombs track, and get more info here.

[Buy the Split/Split/Split 7" from Cass Records!]

Kasabian - Processed Beats - Kasabian are a quartet from Leicester, England that have had a fair amount of success at home, but haven't amounted to a blip stateside. Following very much in the tradition of early 90's Manchester, copping a fair amount of style from the Stone Roses and the Happy Mondays, with some mid-career Blur in the mix, and a dash of contemporaries such as the Coral, Processed Beats was the bands first single across the pond. It's since been announced that the single that made a splash was a demo, and this, the album cut, is the final version. It's a bouncy ditty, sounding like an energetic, menacing Cooper Temple Clause that might just kick your ass if you don't dance to it.

[Check out more Kasabian tracks, and pick up a CD from their website!]

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

I let my work consume me. I got something that keeps me real busy now.

Back! How was yer Labor Day weekend? Mine was punctuated by seeing Liars, Panthers, and Lightning Bolt in a dirty old parking lot on Saturday, which was rather awesome, and seeing Zaitoichi on Sunday, which was somewhat less awesome. Also, discovered Stylus Mag's new Stypod MP3 blog, focusing on rarities. Sadly, you've missed the lost Album section full of gorgeous Dennis Wilson and Kraftwerk and other tracks. Nonetheless, this week has some great selections too. get on it.

Oh, one last piece of weekend news before the musics. You can now reach this side by typing in www.TTIKTDA.info into your browser. Thas right, we done got ourselves a cheap domain name, so that your poor typing fingers don't cramp up too much typing in the long version. The blogspot address isn't going anywhere, so don't change your bookmarks. But for those of you that type it in... this should be easier. www.teachingtheindiekidstodanceagain.info and www.teachingtheindykidstodanceagain.info also work now. As does www.funnierwithmonkeys.info

Now for the Musics!

Brian Wilson - Child is The Father of Man 2004 - It's coming. SMiLE is coming. Child is the Father of Man has never had a proper release, despite showing up in a variety of bootleg releases. But the bootlegs never even approached the masterfulness of this track. It can be argued that tracks like Heroes & Villains, and Good Vibrations, no matter how good the new recordings are, will never approach the strength they had when backed by brians voice in all it's youthfullnes, the full compliment of original Beach Boys backups (instead of the Wondermints playing reserve) And I will admit to a place in my heart for the sparse, creepiness of the bootleg mix I have, with it's delicate, brooding piano intro. But then, I go and listen to this (admittedly strangely cut (with splices out of Wonderful, and a strange horn intro - this is part of a Suite of songs thats kinda strangely spliced)), and wonder why I bothered with that bootleg. It captures the brooding moodiness, and yet, offsets it with a strange, cheerful jaunt, like a Music Box that at first seems delicate and cheerful, but as it runs down, it slows, and reveals a sadness, the weight of memory, and things unfinished. When, at 2:20, the song enters it's final phase, full of echo, finally recalling the version we had all known, a dark and inverted version of Wonderful. The song slowly builds into a crescendo, the approaching storm. Surf's Up!

[Buy SMiLE from Amazon.com, due out on 9/24]

Troubled Hubble - Where Racoons Don't Live - it's kinda cruel to make anybody follow up Brian Wilson, don't ya think? But I'm not gonna give you only one track today. So, here goes. Troubled Hubble are a band from Chicago that tends to play bouncy, catchy shuffly indie rock. Sorta like Weezer with a dance beat. "Where Racoons Don't Live" though, is a new B-Side, from the A Happy Day Went off the Cliff EP, and takes the shuffle out of the occassion. Mostly spoken word vox, and some sparse strumming produce the sort of bitterness I haven't heard in a song in ages, and pulls it off well, which is even tougher. But the bitterness is only a guise for a man who simply has not given up. As the song speeds up, and becomes more painful, we learn that our narrator is a wee bit obsessed. When he takes his vengance, the song erupts, dense guitars, a bass line, and the percussion kicks in. The insanity of that final moment, of "I box up live raccoons and ship them to countries where they don't live." shines through. Great stuff. And be sure to download Dulcinea Duct Tape off of the bands website.

[Buy Troubled Hubble merch from their webstore!]

Thanks for all the great feedback last week kids! Question of the day: What is your favorite track/Favorite Band you've discovered off of TTIKTDA?

Thursday, September 02, 2004

I wanna be a part of something bigger than me.

Central Services - I Work For The Government Now - So, last night, me and John hopped on down to the Bowery Ballroom to catch Who's America a benefit concert for Music For America, presented by Def Jux Records, with Chuck D hosting the whole affair. Needless to say, the evening was tight. Be sure to check the track John has up now from opening act Hangar 18, "Where We At" - and any DJ's in the house, please try to do us the favor of recreating that song the way it is live, the way it is MEANT to be - rhymes over G'n'R's "Welcome to the Jungle". But enough of that. You want to know about Central Services. Central Services is Def Jux impresario El-P, and Camutao (who was doing backing work for El-P and Aesop Rock last night). But to close out last nights set, Camutao took center stage, Ace danced around, and El worked the hooks. Central Servics had taken over the night with "I Work for the Government Now". You could feel the room transformed by funk. And this song IS funk. Just listen to that bassline and try not to groove. Feel those vocal hooks, perfectly placed scratches. The song is off of Def Jux, System Recordings, and URB's new protest song comp, Who's America, which also features tracks from Mr. Lif, RJD2, and the aforementioned Hangar 18. And just to add to last nights magnificence, both El-P and Aesop Rock registered to fucking vote. You should too.

[Preorder Who's America from System Recordings, availiable Sept. 7]

El-P Feat. Cage - Oxycontin Pt. 2 - How to follow up that? Well, how about with El-P & Cage's high drama "Oxycontin Pt. 2." The song has a gorgeous piano line running through it, and El-P & Cage play out the role of a pair of rival dealers, feuding over a woman. They each have room to breathe in their own narratives before confronting each other, both in narrative, and in verse at the end - as the two distinct styles clash and merge, struggling for dominance, you begin to hear the conflict of the song given sonic life, something beyond words. It's epic, in all the ways it should be.

[You can buy this track on Def Jux Presents III, availiable online from Def Jux.]

And yes, I know I've been unusually political lately. The RNC is in town, and I spend about 20-40 hours a week doing various political work of all sorts. It's hard to not do it. If it's really buggin ya, let me know.

And y'know what, for that matter, let's make this a little Reader Survey Day. I've been doing this for about 6 months now. What do you like? What don't you like? Has my writing been off lately? particularly on point? have the track selections been good? Is there a genre/artist/label you want to see/hear more of? Is there a particular entry that you thought was particularly magnificent? Does the design suck? is it awesome? I want to make this blog better, but I can't do that until I know what works and what doesn't. And just to offer some incentivization, I won't post another track until I get 10 responses from you folks. So I'd better see some feedback!

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

The Debut of the Year. Hands down.

The Arcade Fire - Crown of Love - Back in Late July, I recieved my promo copy of The Arcade Fire's Funeral. I recieved this by default, as a friend had no idea who the Arcade Fire are, and I - well, I was too covetous to even think of letting him in on the secret before I laid claim upon it as MINE. That night, I dashed off a quick e-mail to Sean (who has 2 more genius Arcade Fire tracks today), asking him if he knew the bands thoughts on the album. Turns out his copy was still en route - probably because he is in Canada - so I sent him this song. This is the response he sent me:
Keith, holymoly, it's like magic over here - something to believe in and something to dance to. The gliding strings, Win's vocals, arrow-to-heart. And then DRUMS, guitars that GROWL. I am desperate to hear it all all all.

He was right. This song is like magic. I've remarked in the past that someday, I think Connor Oberst is capable of a masterpiece. Well, Win Butler & Co. have beat him to it. This song is the masterpiece Oberst should have made. It opens tortured. Piano and acoustics. And Win. Always Win. If anything distinguishes Funeral from the band's Debut EP, it's Win's maturation as a vocalist - his ability to convincingly deliver the tortured chorus of this song, to sound utterly and completely devestated and devestating. There is pain here, and beauty, competing for the highest attentions. But the song slowly builds. On every chorus, new elements come in. Strings. Regine's backing vocals, moans in the distance. It sounds like something out of a 70's variety repretoire, complete with the psychotic disco strings at the end, but this is so much more - more honest, more raw, more confessional, more powerful than any of that. A fierce contender for the years best single.

The Arcade Fire - Neighborhood # 2 (Laika) - This song is part of the albums opening 4 part Neighborhood suite, and, more than any other track on the full length, manages to capture what made the EP work for me in the first place. The declamation in Win's vocals, when he shouts "If you want nothing! Don't ask for something!," the intertwining of Win and Regines vocals on choruses, sounding like (as I've referred to The Arcade Fire's vocals in the past) the howls of terrified children, grabbing hold of you by the collar, and staring straight into your face as they scream for their lives, like a scene from a horror movie. But the band is doing something with this song - moving away from that sound within a track. There's definite movement here. It opens with accordion, a sound which defined the EP, and a lo-fi, unproduced buzz hangs around the voclas, but by the end, Win and Regine are chanting about how "The Neighbors can dance in the disco police lights" (a disarmingly gorgeous lyric if ever there was one), and the keyboards are in full swing, and the production seems to have slowly become more and more crisp over a matter of minutes. Utterly beautiful, strikingly powerful, and terrifying in it's way. The Arcade Fire have arrived. Their debut full length will be out on Merge Records in a matter of weeks. Pre-order it now. Be cooler than all your friends. You HAVE been advised.

[Preorder Funeral on September 3rd from Merge Records]