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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Record Review - Future of the Left's Travels With Myself and Another

Can we all agree to stop comparing Future of the Left to McLusky now? Though the bands share two-thirds of the same members, Future of the Left have proven in only two albums to be more focused, more powerful, and generally more awe-inspiring than McLusky were throughout their nine-year career. Andy Falkous's lyrics are as vein-searingly earnest as ever. "You Need Satan More Than He Needs You" brings us such sound wisdom as "The spell that brought me here dissipated when the weather turned. Yeah sure, Satan rules, but that doesn't mean I can't be practical. What kind of orgy leaves a sense of deeper love?" "Chin Music" paints a powerful confrontation with words like "I knew I couldn't stop it so I didn't die trying. I couldn't stop it so I didn't think twice." "Throwing Bricks at Trains" is quite easily one of the catchiest rock songs of the year with its staccato keyboard melody so fuzzed out it resembles a distorted punk guitar, and album closer "Lapsed Catholics" delivers some of the most satisfying power chords in recent memory after a minute-and-a-half of aimless acoustic wondering. "I'm on a mercy mission to prove to my new love that she is my nothing, that she is my no one," Andy belts when the song finally kicks in, and the listener begins to wonder just how scary the future of the left will be.

6:00 PM
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Sunday, June 28, 2009

Record Review - Starscream's Future, and It Doesn't Work

Forget everything you know about chiptune music. There, that was easy, right? Starscream's new EP Future, and It Doesn't Work does not sound like a love song set in the land of Pokémon, nor does it sound like a violent rave happening inside of your Game Boy, the two realms that most chiptune fall into. 4bit synths compose a melancholy and majestic melody while acoustic drums fill the air with intensity and urgency lacking from similar songs that aren't sped up to imply that time is running out. The truth, though, is that time does run out all too soon. The boys of Starscream are not afraid to linger on the good moments, but at a scant twenty minutes, this EP will surely leave players itching for the next level.

7:00 PM
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Friday, June 26, 2009

Record Review - God Help The Girl's God Help The Girl

Upon first listen, Stuart Murdoch's grandiose film soundtrack to his upcoming feature film God Help The Girl sounded to me like the result of London rock/r&b nonet Do Me Bad Things covering Belle & Sebastian songs in a session produced by the Dears' Murray Lightburn. On second listen, it sounded more like the result of Phil Spector conducting a ballet. On third listen, it sounded like a letter to every girl I've ever loved from afar. On fourth listen, God Help The Girl sounded like smiling in a refreshing summer rain.

If you've ever wondered what Belle & Sebastian would sound like if the drums and guitar were replaced with an orchestra, or what love sounded like without all the sex, or what sex sounded like without all the worry and deceit, God Help The Girl is a good start to finding your answers.

7:00 PM
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Sunday, June 21, 2009

Record Review - Dinosaur Jr.'s Farm

Remember when the term "alternative" actually meant something in pop music? Before it was the blanket term used to describe 70% of the music on the racks at The Wall, "alternative" was exactly that: a drastic and noticeable alternative to what had become established in the worlds or rock and pop, namely big hair, big egos, big style, and superficial substance. Dinosaur Jr. remember all too well, as they were one of the most critically-acclaimed bands of the proper alternative movement. When J Mascis reunited with Lou Barlow and Murph in 2005, it seemed too sweet to be real.

Unlike the Pixies reunion of the same time, though, which only resulted in sold-out stadium shows and a documentary of their awkwardness, Dinosaur Jr.'s reunion brought about possibly the best work of their career. 2007's Beyond was universally praised as a hugely pleasing nugget of euphony. And now, their second post-reunion album, Farm, is even bigger and better than anyone could have expected from these admittedly aging rockers. Enough with the vague praise, let me just say that Farm is fantastic.

The opening bars of "Pieces" will instantly transport the listener to the very best guitar-centric rock music America had to offer in the 1990s and the rest of Farm from that point on will keep you steadily locked in a state of "alternative." Perhaps most telling, though, of Dinosaur Jr.'s return to force with this album is that its catchiest, most single-worthy track, "I Don't Wanna Go There" is a nearly nine-minute long thrash epic, with more than half of that time being comprised of one massive unapologetic guitar solo, as if Mascis were looking right at FM radio and music television and saying "you can't have this."

3:00 PM
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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Record Reviews - 6/16/09

Major Lazer - Guns Don't Kill People, Lazers Do - Major Lazer is a Jamaican cartoon commando with a gun for a right arm and a rocket skateboard who battles all types of monsters in a drugged-out G.I. Joe fantasy. Major Lazer is also the collaboration between indie hip-hop producers Diplo and Switch featuring vocals from Santigold, Nina Sky, Ms Thing and a whole mess of others. It's basically the dubstep answer to Gorillaz. Guns Don't Kill People, Lazers Do is a guaranteed party-starter with beats so grimy they induce sweat before even hitting the dancefloor. Forget Megan Fox, Major Lazer is 2009's sex symbol for the Transformers demographic.

Math the Band - Don't Worry - Kevin Steinhauser cannot sing. He knows this. Kevin makes up for his lack of traditional musical talent, though, with infectious enthusiasm. If going to parties and dancing in skate parks were a videogame, Don't Worry would be the soundtrack and it would be awesome.

Ashley Tisdale - Guilty Pleasure - The High School Musical bad girl is back with a teen pop album that doesn't suck quite as much as you might expect. It would be nice if her band sounded livelier than the average studio ensemble and her voice wasn't auto-tuned so obviously, but "Hot Mess", "Hair", and "Me Without You" are actually pleasant, if utterly forgettable, pop songs.

a-ha - Foot of the Mountain - Does 21st century synth-pop have an aesthetic? It does in Norway as a-ha's return to synth after 2005's Analogue looks and sounds remarkably similar to Röyksopp's Junior, which is not a bad thing. a-ha prove that they are yet another band Coldplay tries and fails at being like.

Big Star - #1 Record/Radio City (Reissue) - It's no surprise that songs on this album have been covered by Wilco, Elliott Smith, and The Decemberists and featured in period pieces like That 70's Show, Adventureland and Diggers. #1 Record/Radio City may not be summer jam material, but it's the perfect soundtrack for sitting around with friends and talking about the good days, be they past, present or future.

8:30 PM
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Monday, June 15, 2009

This here is the mixtape I made for myself back in March, listened to privately for weeks and finally distributed to friends in May. That sort of made it a Spring season mix, and with Summer officially beginning next week, I thought it was far past time to share it online.
A really solid selection of relaxed rock and bouncy beats. I still enjoy it, several months later.
Download the mix right here - 39.3MB zip archive, 11 tracks in m4a format

9:00 PM
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