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Monday, November 28, 2005

Doveman - The Acrobat

Thomas Bartlett, the mastermind behind Doveman, a New York-based dream-pop collective, describes his music as "lamp rock" or "insomnia pop." It all works. The music is slow and dreamy/dreary. Strings are plucked gently and piano keys are hesitant in their plinks and synths are warm and distant tones and the drums echo powerfully because they are so forceful compared to the rest of the delicate music, despite the fact that the drums are barely slapped all that much. This is music for curling up with a blanket and a cup of tea next to the window with streaks of rain tearing down. Definitely not the most exciting listen of the year, but definitely a worthwhile listen. Its not likely to impress your friends, but I love it all by myself plenty. Maybe you will too.
It might be worth noting that members of Doveman are also past or present members of Elysian Fields, Flashpapr, His Name Is Alive, Assembly, and the backing bands for Mike Doughty and Iggy Pop.

Honey MP3
Boy + Angel MP3

The Most Serene Republic - Underwater Cinematographer

The Most Serene Republic is a group of six friends hailing from Milton, Ontario. Their claim to fame is being the first band signed to the Arts & Crafts label to have absolutely no personel in the aformentioned Broken Social Scene. That's all well and good, but why are they worthy of note? Because they make some WILD alternative music. Adrian Jewett's vocals have often been compared to Ben Gibbard of Death Cab For Cutie and the Postal Service, and while I can hear the similarities, there is a great deal more youthful exhuberance to Adrian's voice. Musically, they are full as well, with blaring synths and lively percussion and joyous guitars. The more energetic songs on the album feel like a grand party with dancing, laughter, and healthy amounts of wine mixed with wacky party games.
That's not to say the album is perfection. There are a few lackluster tracks that will probably prevent Underwater Cinematographer from making my top ten this year, but when the album is good, its really, really, REALLY fucking good.

Content Was Always My Favorite Color MP3
Proposition 61 MP3

12:36 PM
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Sunday, November 27, 2005

Broken Social Scene - Broken Social Scene

The long-awaited follow-up to 2002's smash sensation You Forgot it in People. Three years may not seem like a very long time, especially when you considerthe average amount of time between albums for most bands, but for Canadian indie-rock collective Broken Social Scene, it feels like an eternity. Nobody expected You Forgot it in People to etch itself into the brains of tens of thousands of music lovers the way it did, and since Broken Social Scene is actually composed of nine musicians from other bands, its been very hard for them to get back together to work on new material. And the time seems even longer when you consider that fact that so many of the artists involved have had huge success recently in their other projects (Stars, Feist, and Metric, especially). Critics seem to be split on this new self-titled album. Many see it as just an exceptional an effort as the preceeding masterpiece. Others are less enthralled, but no one seems to be willing to say Broken Social Scene is less than awesome.
I will say this: in my opinion, this album is nothing spectacular outside of the two track I'm featuring here. Then again, I haven't listened to the album as a whole as many times as I have with many of the other albums from this year, so it may grow on me yet (in fact, I'm pretty sure it will).
First, "7/4 (Shoreline)" showcases the crazy kids of BSS doing what they do best, working as one big group of kids who just want to rock out. Its big. Its massive, in fact. And lively. Hurrah.
"Windsurfing Nation," though, does something I never expected from the BSS collective: they've made a perfect club remix in an original song. I can not imagine this song playing at any club anywhere without every single person on the dance floor going nuts. With loopy guitars dripping like wine and about seven layers of vocals and manic handclaps and Leslie Feist's excited whelps of "We won't be what you want us be, oh no!" There's even some good old funky white rapping! This is not a song. This is a joint!

7/4 (Shoreline) MP3
Windsurfing Nation MP3

The Decemberists - Picaresque

I was wary going into this third full-length from the Decemberists. I was a huge fan of both Castaways and Cutouts and Her Majesty, the Decemberists, but could Colin Meloy and company really keep up the brilliance on a third full-length? Their EPs so far had been solid, but different. I was pleasantly surprised by Picaresque, possibly their best album to date.
"The Engine Driver" uses lovely acoustic harmonies to build a platform of folky comfort as Colin does what he does best, tell us a story, in this case, one about being unable to ever really let go of a lover who has left. An engine driver, a county lineman, a writer of fiction, and a money lender all repeat the same words: "And if you don't love me, let me go."
"The Mariner's Revenge Song," however, is the song Decemberists fan's have been waiting to hear from Colin ever since our first taste of "A Cautionary Tale" back on Castaways and Cutouts. "Mariner" is a first-person narrative of a boy who swears revenge on the vagrant sailor who breaks his mother's heart, takes her money and leaves her sick and dying. The boy, follows his mother's dying wish, "Find him, bind him, tie him to a pole and break his fingers to splinters, drag him to a hole until he wakes up naked clawing at the ceiling of his grave," and it leads him on a rather grand and exciting adventure which I won't ruin for you here. Just go ahead and listen to the 8:47 epic tale. I will say that this song has become a fast favorite of the band's live show.

The Engine Driver MP3
The Mariner's Revenge Song MP3

Sixteen Military Wives MOV

5:21 PM
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Xiu Xiu - La Foret

On Jamie Stewart's fourth 5rc full-length as Xiu Xiu, things are a good bit less frantic and wildly excited as they were on last year's shocking Fabulous Muscles. That doesn't mean the album isn't intense. Just as any Xiu Xiu fan would expect, La Foret is an intimate record, and I don't mean "intimate" in the sense that No Doubt unplugged is intimate. No. Intimate as in Jamie alone in a room with a guitar repenting for his sins and you've got your ear pressed up to a glass against the wall, or at least, that's what the album's opener, "Clover," sounds like. Its like sitting at an open mic night and watching the guy up on stage get so into his song that he breaks into tears and it just affects everyone watching him. And as Jamie rests and the synth and strings swell and the xylophone gets hit harder and harder to build the tension, in the end it all comes down to Jamie's quietly admitting "I can only say it so many times."
Things grow more somber and gothic on beutiful songs like "Rose of Sharon (Grey Ghost Version)," but Xiu Xiu does do us a kindness by including at least one song to work as a transition between the more electronic, rythmic, and excited Fabulous Muscles and this in "Muppet Face." With balls, synths, and other staccato chimes sounding like an electronic rain on the roof, Jamie sets the stage for us, standing with some sort of confidence, be it feigned or sincere, as he confesses, "This shit clings like dander. This kiss scrapes like rust." before breaking into a delightfully oversaturated chorus which is followed by a completely and utterly surprising bridge of "do-do-do"s. There are waterfalls of unexpected noise and electronic snaps and discordant harmonies. The only thing that really separates "Muppet Face" from its Fabulous Muscles brethren is Jamie falling over screaming (as I always imagined he must do when singing "Crank Heart").

Clover MP3
Muppet Face MP3

Pox MOV (takes a few minutes to load)

10:56 AM
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Saturday, November 26, 2005

Out Hud - Let Us Never Speak of It Again

Out Hud are a dance band. That was made abundantly clear by their six-track, forty-minute long debut full-length S.T.R.E.E.T. D.A.D. a couple of years back. They're the closest to a jam band I've heard in the realm of electronic dance music without becoming a complete and utter bore. Apparently, though, it was boring a few people, so the fine folks at Out Hud (3/5 of whom are also members of the dancepunk powerhouse !!!) decided to do something with their sophomore full-length to make them a bit friendlier to the wary scenesters: they added vocals. Female vocals, to be precise, and who doesn't love those? While a few critics have blasted the band for ruining what was true about their sound, I for one don't see it as a problem. The music isn't all that much different than it was before, but now its building itself into more pop-friendly shapes and patterns, and lets face it, their sound works really well with the voices of Molly and Phyllis, who had been there from the start, just not singing.
"It's For You," the album's second single and first real song, sounds like a rave in the jungle, with a sprinkle of sex appeal.
"How Long" offers up an irresistable booty-shaking rythm with an absolutely serious bouncing bassline and some cool, relaxed synths, along with plenty of handclaps. Even if you don't get up and dance, the song is perfect for just leaning up against the wall and looking cool, so everybody in the club is happy!

It's For You MP3
How Long MP3

5:32 PM
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in celebration of the official start of the Christmas season, here's my Christmas mix tape for 2005. I encoded it in AAC format, so you must use iTunes to listen to it, or use a converter. why use AAC? because its better and i honestly think everyone should be using iTunes anyway.

Wonderful - 13 songs - 44 minutes, 26 seconds

year in review music posts will resume later today. and yes, i tried to have a few hannukah songs in the mix, but they were grossly overpowered by christmas spirit and thusly removed. sorry.

11:57 AM
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i just wanted to take a break from all these music posts for a minute to celebrate that its been just over a year since i started using my wonderful Colorsplash camera. to celebrate this fact, here are a few of my favorite shots that i took with it last week at the Metric concert in Tampa:

The Lovely Feathers


check out more of my Colorsplash photos at my lomohome.

3:29 AM
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Spoon - Gimme Fiction

Indie rock staples Spoon issued their fifth full-length this year, the much-lauded Gimme Fiction, with this head-scratcher of cover designs by the tremendously chic and productive Sean McCabe, responsible for much of the visual styling behind bands such as Interpol and Asobi Seksu. Its certainly not an unusual cover for the band, and it appropriately allows the viewer to wonder what the story is behind this unusual scene without brazenly challenging the viewer to admit that there is anything there to figure out. Spoon's songs tell tales of confusion and general unrest, but are still crafted as gentle rockers, songs that you would be perfectly content just listening to without trying to figure out what they mean.
In "The Two Sides of Monsieur Valentine," Britt Daniel tells us about a man who loses himself in a play because the real world is just too mundane for him. "I turn the news on a while, I practice my scene. You think things are straight but they're not what they seem 'til you know the two sides on Monsieur Valentine, in his coat and his boots and his blackheart machine."
And the sense of unrest continues in the terrifically catchy single, "Sister Jack," where we hear that "And I can't relax with my knees on the ground and a stick in my back, Sister Jack. No, I can't just relax knowing that you're coming back, Sister Jack."
There's really not much I can say about this album. Spoon is an amazing band who have earned the huge amount of "indie-cred" they've aquired over the years, and this album is just as good if not better than previous albums such as Girls Can Tell which have served as the soundtrack for my college life.

The Two Sides of Monsieur Valentine MP3
Sister Jack MP3

3:20 AM
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Friday, November 25, 2005

Architecture In Helsinki - In Case We Die

Architecture In Helsinki make grandiose experimental twee pop. Why, you ask? Because they're an Australian octet, and that's reason enough. Their debut album, Fingers Crossed, is certainly a more engaging and interesting album simply because of all the beautiful and crazy things that are happening, but it is here on In Case We Die that the wacky kids of AiH start to hone that playful madness into pop music bliss.
The opening "Nevereverdid" is truly an epic piece of experimental pop. The first minute or so sounds like the march of ghouls and zombies, and at the 1:28 point, gentle pianos and vocal harmonies suddenly turn those moans into a song, a ballad, really. But then that all falls apart at the 2:11 point as everything but the piano drops out and a variety of percussive noises create a jumbled mess. The percussion of seemingly random things being slapped begin to pick up the pace as horns and a xylophone join in and gently crescendo into something that begins to sound like an energectic rock song, and when the snare drum starts to come in around 2:40, you suspect that the song is definitely going somewhere exciting, and your suspisions are confirmed by the bassline that kicks in at 2:56. The tempo builds and the crescendo swells and at 3:06, all of the cacophonious noise drops out to make room at 3:19 for the frantic criy "One! Of! Two! Things! I wish I had but never did!" The moans come back! The snare picks up again! More cries! And then, at the 4-minute mark, it all drops out except for the piano again, save a lone accompanying horn, a soothing reminder of where all that noise came from. 4:22, the snare comes back and the horns come back and everything is lively for a brief instant before it all dies down in a glorious rest.
My personal favorite track on the album, "Tiny Paintings," revels in its rythmic simplicity. A lone baritone repeats its murmur throughout as various playful elements, like tickled keyboards, xylophones, and staccato guitars, come and go every four measures and a variety of things are dropped, slapped and plucked in the background. Its all very likably and soothing, until the excitment builds at 2:09, where Cameron's voice - which has been steadily building from a calm falsetto into a squint holding back a contemptuous rage - stands all alone as he accuses "Two millionaires have bought this town and changed everything! I found you in a lost and found, white, white, white!!!" Its alternative pop mastery, is what it is.

Nevereverdid MP3
Tiny Paintings MP3

2:20 PM
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Diamond Nights - Popsicle

Diamond Nights are yet another band trying to bring back the classic eighties rock and roll sound, except unlike bands like The Darkness, they're not goofy to the point of stupidity, and unlike bands like Queens of the Stone Age, they don't suck!
It is with good old-fashioned wailing electric guitars and steadily hit (not exploding pounds, but rythmic hitting, people!) drums and high-register chorused lead vocals that Diamond Nights will remind you why rock and roll used to be the dominant genre of music in this country. I can't say much else about these tracks because you'll either like them or you won't.

Destination Diamonds MP3
Dirty Thief MP3

Girl's Attractive MOV

1:15 PM
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Thursday, November 24, 2005

Acid House Kings - Sing Along With Acid House Kings

Acid House Kings win the award for most apprpriately titled album and most inappropriately named band of 2005. Yeah, they've been around for sixteen years now doing this stuff and all, but this here's the album that finally forced itself in front of my face and made me take notice. Just so you know, Acid House Kings are a swedish pop quartet. They sound like a mix between Belle and Sebastian and ABBA (acoustic guitars and cute sing-songy vocals). Coupling well with the folksy retro charm and album title, the CD of Sing Along With Acid House Kings actually comes with a karaoke disc so you can literally sing along! Awesome, no?
The album opens with the utterly adorable "That's Because You Drive Me," where one of the Kings (I'm not entirely sure which) joyously accepts that he is having an impossible time accepting that his girlfriend has left him. "I’ve kept our room in perfect order. I’ve kept your keys where you left them. Call me insane, that’s because you drive me." With briskly strummed guitars, brushed drums and playfully tapped pianos underneath the blissful vocals, I can't help but bop and sing along. Does that make me a bad person?
On the delightfully twee "Tonight Is Forever," the retro-trip brings back the nostalgia of roller disco with a healthy dosage of tambourine, handclaps, rhodes organ and pop horns over a lively chorused electric guitar. I desperately want to be zooming around an oversized disco ball on the hardwood circle in my old-school roller skates with the four chunky orange wheels in a rectangle, chasing some girl in a playful manner. Damn, I feel really awkward sometimes by how happy this music makes me want to be.

That's Because You Drive Me MP3
Tonight Is Forever MP3

7 Days MOV

11:31 AM
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Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Datarock - Datarock Datarock

What's not to love about Norwegian electronic dancerockmeisters Datarock? They look, act, and sound like a real-live version of the band from Revenge of the Nerds, and there's only two of them. They've got the perfect balance of serious dancing and rocking with a sense of humor that has yet to grow weary on me, as fantastically demonstrated by my favorite song on their debut full-length, "Computer Camp Love," where Frederic Saroea regales us with the tale of getting laid at computer camp as a kid with lyrics that play off of the similar tale told in Grease, such as "'Tell me more, was it love at first sight?' That's right, this was god given grace with a face you could praise. 'Tell me more, did she put up a fight?'" And as if the call-and-response vocals weren't charming enough, the deceptively minimal drum machine percussion and warm synth horns only play up both the intimacy and humor of the story. Well played, gentlemen.
It is on the album's final track, though, that the boys truly shed their shells and show some sensitivity as only true geeks can. "The Most Beautiful Girl" has Saroea singing lines like "When you told me one of those impersonal tales I really fell for you, it really never fails, but what you gave me when you gave me nothing at all was just broken hearts," over the kind of keyboard chords you only hear when an emo boy breaks out his casio on a rainy day by the window. Take that, Conor Oberst, Ben Gibbard, Blake Sennet, et cetera!

Computer Camp Love MP3
The Most Beautiful Girl MP3

Fa Fa Fa MP4

1:44 AM
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Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Junior Senior - Hey Hey My My Yo Yo

In case it hasn't been made abundandtly clear by my previous posts about Tom Vek and LCD Soundsystem (scroll down), I am an ardant supporter of the resurgance of disco in modern day pop music. I loved disco and new wave growing up, even though they were considered dead and dying ever since my infancy, respectively. It was that great desire to hear disco and new wave come back that made me listen to so much Jamiroquai and Zebrahead in high school (hey, Zebrahead's "Fly Daze" was straight-up awesomesauce disco, okay?). I don't think any present-day music artist embodies the joy and life of disco/new wave as much as the Danish duo, Junior Senior.
So everybody remember's their outrageous dance hit "D-D-Don't Stop The Beat" from a couple years back, what with the ingenious pixelicious Shynola-produced music video that depicted a rowdy squirrel getting drunk and blowing shit up while the guys from Junior Senior basically had a damn fun time hanging out and dancing with anthropomorphic toast, hot dogs, horses, ducks and stick figures, right? Well they're back, and while none of the tracks are as standout fantastic as that debut single, the album as a whole is a more satisfying and enjoyable romp than their debut. On "Itch U Can't Skratch," Junior and Senior swap lines back and forth playing off of their similarities and differences and generally calling as many people as they can to the dancefloor to get on down.
On "I Like Music (W.O.S.B.)," Junior sings about his favorite hobby, writing a song (sort of like taking a photograph of someone taking a photograph). The whole thing unfolds like some wild number in an out of control Broadway musical with neon lights and toe-tapping. I see Fred Astaire in a leisure suit! And in the end, it has the sweet aroma of optimism as the boys remind you to "keep on working on something better," a motto they've apparently taken to heart over the past few years while cranking out this disc of glorious pop.

Itch U Can't Skratch MP3
I Like Music (W.O.S.B.) MP3

11:51 AM
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Monday, November 21, 2005

Tom Vek - We Have Sound

Dubbed by many music critics as the British Beck, Tom Vek is a young multi-instrumentalist taking the scene by storm. With only the slightest of set-up in the form of a momentary whir of electronic sound, the album's opener "C-C (You Set The Fire In Me)" proceeds to immediately knock the listener either back on their ass or up to their feet, dancing. Dreamy synths and bouncy guitars working off of the drums, which sound like they are being played while both falling down the stairs and, appropriately with the song, on fire.
Meanwhile, the latest single, "Nothing But Green Lights," calls for a minimalist disco revival, inspiring me to spin in circles on the dance floor. The booty-shaking bassline couples well with the honest but typically of disco uninspired lyrics like "I can hear your voice from here, girl, and I can't hear no other sound. No need to spend anymore time apart. Thats it, I'm not being left out anymore" Still, boring as those lyrics may be, they are absolutely a call or action to the dancefloor, and that's what its all about, isn't it?

C-C (You Set The Fire In Me) MP3
Nothing But Green Lights MP3

If You Want MOV

2:58 PM
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Neon Blonde - Chandeliers in the Savannah

2005 has been a great year for relaxed side-projects, like Christopher Richards of the post-punk Q and Not U's ethereal aural dystopia in Ris Paul Ric's Purple Blaze, or Chad Crouch of the lounge-pop quartet Blanket Music's lappop self-reflection in Toothfairy's Formative.
Neon Blonde is the side-project of Blood Brothers' Johnny Whitney and Mark Gajadhar, and while it is noticably more "relaxed" than any of the Blood Brothers' material, its still QUITE frantic and wild, they've just replaced the screeching guitars with cooing synth keys, a well-intentioned drum machine and the occassional wailing horns.
In Johnny Whitney's typical fashion, the lyrics go above and beyond the call of duty for a pop-rock song, so much so that you're likely to miss alot of what he's talking about until you really sit down and read the words. Par example, in the uber-chic and tres catchy lead single "Headlines," Whitney sings about a suburban kid fantacizing about the victims of a serial killer. The first verse informs us, "Another girl has turned up dead, another teenage whore. You know the cops, they couldn’t give a shit, but the nightly news is all over it; 'She was just 16 never been out of Michigan.' They say he tied her to his bed and lit the trailer park on fire. 'They found her body charred and wrecked in the ashes,' says the on-the-ground reporter with Gucci sunglasses and his hair sprayed perfect, his microphone so serious."
My personal favorite on the album is the closing track "Wings Made Out of Noise," where the comparatively minimal and repetative drumbeat and keys set the stage to be filled by Johnny's epic vocals and freeform guitar shredding, all of which makes for a very open space like wafting through clouds, which couples well with the lyrics about three different deaths being met with anything but sadness.

Headlines MP3
Wings Made Out of Noise MP3

Headlines MOV

12:57 PM
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Sunday, November 20, 2005

Final Fantasy - Has A Good Home

Everyone's first question when I reccomend they listen to Final Fantasy is met by the same answer: "No, not the video game soundtrack."
Final Fantasy is the stage name for Owen Pallett, most well-known as being the violinist for the aformentioned indie-rock powerhouse The Arcade Fire. He also arranges strings for many other bands, used to be a member of the sort-of-popular Les Mouches, and has become a popular remix and cover wizard (I particularly adore his remix of Grizzly Bear's "Don't Ask" on their new Horn of Plenty Remixes, but I have a feeling I'll get to that later.). Still, it is on this debut album, Has A Good Home, that Owen really shows us that he knows more than a thing or two about music. Like his astounding live show, the music on this album is primarily constructed of layers upon layers of violin played by Owen himself (in the live show he uses a loop pedal to nothing short of fantastic results), but does feature enough percussion, keys, and vocals to keep it from getting too monotonous for those of you unaccostomed to frequenting traditional concert halls.
The first track I'm sharing with you here is the first Final Fantasy song I ever heard, and the first one I thrust upon people unfamiliar with his work, the outrageously beautiful "The CN Tower Belongs to the Dead," which tells the story of, as you could guess from the title, hoards of undead creatures marching to the CN tower to reclaim it as their own, as it was built upon their graves. I use this song as an introduction to the man because I feel that the strings in this song give the tale both the epic cinematic quality it so demands as well as creating the sense of uncomfortable urgency during the bridge that you can only imagine feeling if you were confronted by legions of zombies. And its pretty.
And while there are plenty of other catchy tracks that would fit in well on the radio, given the opportunity ("This is the Dream of Win and Regine," "Please Please Please"), the next song I choose to share is the somewhat more subdued "Adventure.exe," in which Owen plucks his violin like a mondolin for a more folksy tune in which he is sickened by the routine of everyday life and wishes he were living a videogame so life would be more exciting and interesting. Particularly poigniant are the lyrics, where he laments "You make me wish for a more dangerous life so I could teach you about self-sacrifice."
Owen announced a while back that his upcoming second album will be titled He Poos Clouds will be all about Dungeons and Dragons. in fact, one of my favorite songs he's been playing live is titled "Many Live for 49 Mana Points"

The CN Tower Belongs To The Dead MP3
Adventure.exe MP3

4:39 PM
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Low - The Great Destroyer

Now how about that? And here I thought I knew what Low sounded like.
Surely not going to make anybody's top ten list of the year, one of the most controversial releases of 2005 has been Low's seventh full-length and Sub-Pop debut, The Great Destroyer, which saw the "slow-core" trio sound almost like a rock and roll band. Granted, compared to all the other rock and roll out there nowadays, this Low record still sounds like the gutteral moan of your grandfather after thanksgiving dinner slowed down 40%, but compared to the Low that had inexplicably garnered acolades from both music critics and brooding goth kids alike, the music is noticably faster and somewhat upbeat. Alot of people saw this as a direct violation to the music they loved and met the new record with bitterness. Others welcomed it with open arms but were still only liking it. And alot of people were saddened by the fact that Mimi Parker doesn't sing lead on any of the thirteen tracks, though her backup vocals are everywhere and she's hitting those drums as hard as ever.
Personally, I didn't mind, personally, as one of my favorite Low songs is the slightly rockish "Dinosaur Act" from 2001's Things We Lost in the Fire, and looked forward to more from that. My wish was granted by the album's opener "Monkey," with its pounding drums and bass and vocals that suggest a contained aggression, as Alan sings "It's a suicide. Shut up and drive. We're never going to make the light, but it's all right. Tonight you will be mine. Tonight the monkey dies"
Still, though, Alan can break my heart with his slow songs, especially The Great Destroyer's penultimate track "Death of a Salesman," the intimate ballad in which Alan confesses "And I soon had a song, I played it around for some friends but they all said the same. They said 'music's for fools, you should go back to school. The future is prisms and math.' So I did what they said, now my children are fed 'cause they pay me to do what I'm asked. I forgot all my songs. The words now are wrong, and I burned my guitar in a rage."

Monkey MP3
Death of a Salesman MP3

3:05 PM
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Thunderbirds Are Now! - Justamustache

When I first heard a couple of songs from TAN!'s debut album Doctor, Lawyer, Indian Chief I thought they were really wacky but nothing I'd want to listen to over and over again. Then, sometime this past January or Februray, i stumbled across mp3s for "198090 (Aquatic Cupid's)," "Eat This City," and "From: Skulls," all from TAN!'s upcoming Frenchkiss release Justamustache. I was instantly enraptured by the energy and sound and just everything, and it certainly helped my opinion of the wacky bunch knowing that they were now on Frenchkiss, the label founded and operated by Syd from Les Savy Fav. about a month or so later, the controversial hipster music magazine Pitchfork posted a review of "198090 (Aquatic Cupid's)," citing the song as a lesson to The Unicorns, that sometimes its best to learn how to play your instruments before you break all the rules of pop song structure. the review amused me, even if i found it only half true (i agreed with the sentiment, but not the light it shone on either band).
Nonetheless, "198090 (Aquatic Cupid's)" became one of my favorite songs of 2005, with its spastic guitars and climbing keyboard bleeps and bloops and conspiracy planning lyrics like "The first order to attend to is to get rid of who we outsmarted, but to do this we’ll have to poison all their brothers and their sisters" and "They talk slow, repeating words that we already know. We talk fast, steal from the future and not from the past"
Comparatively, "From: Skulls" is a terribly simple guitar rocker, but who the hell cares? Its still got all the elements that make the band so much fun.
After finally loving the hell out of this album last spring, I got around to picking up Doctor, Lawyer, Indian Chief over the summer and its damn excellent as well. More goofing around on that one, but Justamustache is where the guys of TAN! begin to make some seriously good alternative rock songs.

198090 (Aquatic Cupid's) MP3
From: Skulls MP3

Eat This City MOV

11:34 AM
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Saturday, November 19, 2005

Metric - Live It Out

i've talked about this album before, and i'm not really sure why. its not amazing. its good, very good, but not amazing. i think i was just excited because it was the first time i was planning on going to a concert while away at school. anyway, i planned my next entry to be on Thunderbirds Are Now!, but since the Metric concert was this week, i'll talk about them now and get to the rest later.
Live It Out is not as enjoyably danceable or delightfully political as 2003's Old World Underground, Where Are You Now?, but its still quite pleasant.
just as i predicted, the band opened their wednesday night show in Tampa with the album's opening track, the sweeping and endearing "Empty," a song which immediately grabbed me with its first lyric, the typically Emily Haines quip "When there's no way out, the only way out is to give in." The song begins with a distant keyboard tone which makes way for some simple guitar plucking. Emily's vocals come in and set up for the calm drums and hushed bass which croon gently until the 2:01 mark, when the self-pity expressed by the song seems to look up from its feet and remember that rock music is about rebellion, which is best embodied by the same chord smashing we've heard a thousand times before (not that its a bad thing, that's why its become such a staple of rock music). Finally, the band really lets loose at the 3:20 mark when the keyboard disappears altogether and Jimmy shreads away on his axe. All this fades away by 4:20 to restart the cycle back at the crystallis keys and plucked guitar line, only this time with a bit more emphasis as the audience has had a taste of the alternative. Its a lovely opener and translates very well to the live show.
Next of course, is the single, "Monster Hospital," which easily ranks among my top three favorite tracks on the disc. You've just got to love it when the first lyric of a song is "Bam-chica-bam-chica-boom, boom, boom!" I talked about this song in the previous entry (see above) so I won't really say much more aside from its a grade-A rocker, bringing my most inspired dancing at the concert aside from maybe "Succexy," and again i am smitten with the chorus "I fought the war but the war but the war won't stop for the love of God. I fought the war, but the war won!"

Empty MP3
Monster Hospital MP3

1:50 PM
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Tuesday, November 15, 2005

of Montreal - The Sunlandic Twins

Now I'll admit that in the long run, I probably prefer the older, wackier, psychadellier of Montreal, but I loved last year's pop masterpiece Satanic Panic In The Attic as much as the next guy. So when Kevin Barnes decided to jump from the 60's aesthetic up to some late-70's/early-to-mid-80's disco/new wave stuff for The Sunlandic Twins, I was filled with glee. This glee was welcomed with open arms by the first single, "So Begins Our Alabee," with is sweeping keyboards and driving tonal rhythm. Of course, the over-your-head psychadelic styled lyrics are still there. Kevin can't take those away, can he? "The chrysalis is breaking and the super ego’s waking. I’ve been a gloomy Petrarch with a quill as weepy as Dido" I feel like I need a refresher in whatever mythology or folklore he's referencing there!
But that's the single, I thought, it can't all be that good, can it? Well, I was delighted to be proven wrong by "Oslo In The Summertime," which promised to be the exciting sequel to my favorite track from Satanic..., "Lysergic Bliss." The grooving melody is just so simplistic and rhythmic, you don't know whether to grind gently against the person you love or curl up in a ball and just enjoy your warmth, but its the chorus that really sells me, the distorted proclamation "Ba-ba-ba-ba-ba!"

So Begins Our Alabee MP3
Oslo In The Summertime MP3

Wraith Pinned to the Mist (and Other Games) MOV

11:10 AM
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Monday, November 14, 2005

Art Brut - Bang Bang Rock & Roll

You want to not love this band. It seems so simple that it breaks the boundaries of pretention, except they don't seem to be all that pretentious, in fact, they seem rather aloof to the whole thing.
Art Brut sound exactly like what they are, a straight-up rock and roll band from the United Kingdom. We've got a couple of guitars playing incredibly simple rythm chords back and forth, a rather standard bass and some general rock drums, along with sing-speak vocals. Overall, it sounds like a bunch of disaffected kids who just learned basic pop song structure just playing with no real intent other than hanging out.
But here's the thing: they're fucking brilliant.
The hit single "Emily Kane," a ballad about the singer's high school girlfriend, is a perfect example of how hopelessly catchy their deceptively simple music can be, and the lyrics demonstrate both how shockingly honest ("There’s so much about you I miss, every time I see a couple kiss.") and humorously juvenile ("if memory serves we’re still on a break.").
And then there's "Bad Weekend," with possibly the most "lead" guitar on the whole album (not counting the occasional solo), where the lyrics would have you believe that the band is sick of their decades of fame, despite the fact that this is their debut album ("Haven’t read the NME in so long, don’t know what genre we belong. Popular culture, no longer applies to me")
So yeah, I wanted to write these guys off as a one trick pony after last year's adorable single "Formed A Band," but goddammit, this album just rocks too hard. Long live Art Brut.

Emily Kane MP3
Bad Weekend MP3

12:57 PM
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Thursday, November 10, 2005

LCD Soundsystem - LCD Soundsystem

James Murphy knows more about music that makes people dance than anybody ever in the history of mankind ever has, does, or will. Monsieur Murphy is one-half of NYC's world famous DFA (Death From Above, tastefully shortened after 9/11) production team. In addition to being the first DJ known to ever play Daft Punk, he also produced The Rapture's Echoes, the album widely thought of as kicking off the whole dancepunk craze that completely swept the nightclub scene for the past few years. Apparently, James had so much fun with all of that, he decided he wanted to start his own band. Over a couple of years, LCD Soundsystem put out a series of four singles, which the hipsters went nuts for. The grand total of eight songs in two years (an A side and B side to each of the four singles) left the masses dancing in place, craving more, More, MORE!!! James delievered this past January with the release of LCD Soundsystem's self-titled debut album. The album alone doubled the number of bootyliscious tracks in the band's repetoir, and not a single one was pointless filler. To make it even better, DFA released the album as a double-disc, including all of the pre-released A sides and B sides on the second disc. 16 tracks of dancamatic glory!
Ok, so you couldn't really dance to "Never As Tired As When I'm Waking Up," or "Great Release," but they were both beautiful songs nonetheless.

For your educational purposes, I've picked one track off of each disc. First up, the album opener and first single from the album, the self-servicing "Daft Punk is Playing At My House." Next, the epic song that first convinced me that the band was worth the praise that had been heaped upon them months before the album even leaked, "Beat Connection," which originally appeared as the B-side to the bands very first single "Losing My Edge" back in summer 2002.

Daft Punk Is Playing At My House MP3
Beat Connection MP3

Tribulations MOV

9:35 PM
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Do Me Bad Things - Yes!

So here's the thing about this: everything I know about this band/album is what I've read on the internet, from the very few album and live reviews I've managed to find. The reason for this is that Do Me Bad Things are an act that has not even attempted to break into the United States, where I've wasted my entire life away.
Do Me Bad Things are a British nonet (that's nine people) that apparently even the British don't want to hear all that much from. There was a great deal of speculation surrounding the band, as they were signed by Must Destroy Records, home of gaudy joke/serious rock band The Darkness, and they were hyped as the next Scissor Sisters. If those two comparisons didn't scare away enough people, the fact that there were nine people on stage certainly did. When Yes! was released in April, it bombed fairly decently.
But here's the twist: its actually really, really good!
God bless the internet for finding the generosity to throw this album at me when I didn't know anything about it.
The songs are like grand 80's metal power ballads with a disco sensibility and R&B diva vocals. The nine person band isn't a gimmick, but a powerful well of talent used wisely. Vocals are swapped back and forth between three girls and two or three guys, I have trouble telling sometimes. Its four or five eras of classic rock jumbled up into modern day pop songs. Reccomended for anyone who likes Fleetwood Mac, Steely Dan, Elton John, Manic Street Preachers, any of that stuff.

The two songs I'm sharing from it should give you a decent idea what the band's about. There's the unrelenting opening rocker "Time For Deliverance," and the epically soulful "Suburban Flame." It might be hard at first to believe that these are both off of the same album by the same band, but they are and the rest of the album is just as interesting. People are going to be sorry they scoffed at these guys and gals. And word is their live show is nothing short of phenomenal.

Time For Deliverance MP3
Suburban Flame MP3

8:42 PM
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Sunday, November 06, 2005

i've been putting this off for far too long, but we're almost one full week done with november, so i'm finally starting on this series of posts about my favorite music of 2005.

do you remember summer 2004? the most "elite" of the musically hip probably remember what i'm talking about. most of the indie music scenesters didn't catch the fever until that autumn, and it was a widespread epidemic by the winter, and while the buzz has died down a bit since, there's no denying that there was just an unprecedented fervor behind The Arcade Fire's debut album Funeral and their impossible to ignore live show. one by one, everybody "discovered" The Arcade Fire and became momentarily obsessed, and ever since then everybody's been clamoring to find "the next Arcade Fire," so much so that its almost become a running joke in the indie music scene. from what i've seen, of the many bands labeled as "the next Arcade Fire," there are only two that meet the sufficient buzz requirements, and those are Clap Your Hands Say Yeah and Wolf Parade. in my opinion, it it a fight that CYHSY is undoubtedly winning, thought that does not make them a better band. i, myself, prefer Wolf Parade, which brings me to this:

Wolf Parade's 2005 debut album, Apologies to the Queen Mary

i'll admit, i don't love this album...yet. sometime i forget about it, but i'll walk by somebody's apartment and they'll be playing "You Are a Runner and I am My Father's Son" extra loud on their computer's fragile speakers and i'll bop along and remember, "oh right, this song is fucking awesome," and then go home, listen to the album again and love it and forget another hour later.
many people have likened the sound of this album to that of Modest Mouse, which is wholly understandable when you consider that head Mouse Isaac Brock produced this LP.
one of my greatest joys and sorrows about this album is that the whole thing flows together TOO well, in that the first time i listened to it, i thought for sure that the first three tracks were just one lengthy song and the same of later pieces. i still have trouble noticing when some of the songs end, which is both lovely and upsetting.
the glorious thing about all of this, in my opinion, though, is that the whole album comes across as one grand cathartic release. the beats sputter to instill and echo your rage at whatever it is that's driving you mad today, the guitars and pianos pound in violent hostility, but you still hear the lead parts being tickled in the background with an intent playfulness, and the vocals wain back and forth from bemoaning cries and nonchalant warbles as if to say "i've had it, you're bigger and stronger than me and i accept that, but i'm not going down without a fight!" i can't help but listen to this album and feel like i've just gone through an hour of both mental and physical therapy, without any of the emotional or physiological pain.

i had a hard time picking one track to post as an example of all of this, so here's my favorite couplet of tracks, which include a rather ingenious transitional element.
Dear Sons and Daughters of Hungry Ghosts MP3
I'll Believe in Anything MP3

7:13 PM
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