Thursday, August 28, 2008

Goodbye Blogger

Due to the fact that Blogger is the devil and shut down my blog for well over a week, I've moved to Wordpress along with all my old posts.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

I have a new obsession

Pugs in costumes. I think they're amazing. They're cute, funny, and ridiculous. They have these ugly faces that are angry, disheveled, but somehow achieve adorable. And the costumes are what really set it off though. They manage a strange combination of horrifying and sickening and wonderful. Anyways, here are some favorites of mine:

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

A Favorite Recipe of Mine

I'm going to take a break from writing about music and write about something I love making. WARNING: I use no real measurements so be prepared to guesstimate. It's a delicious soft taco type recipe, so you need ground beef (just a regular sized grocery store thingy should do), a green pepper, small tortillas, butter, taco seasoning, and cinnamon. Yes, cinnamon. I'll get to that.

Now because I'm either lazy or unoriginal, I like frying everything. So the first thing you want to do is heat up a frying pan with a slap of butter in it. Yes, slap. That is a very technical term that is equivalent to 4.32 snicks. What I mean is, just put some butter in. Once that butter is nice and melted and bubbly, go ahead and drop the ground beef in. Stir it around, make sure it gets evenly fried. While it's in there add in a table spoon of cinnamon and 1/2-2 table spoons of taco seasoning in addition to about half of that green pepper. If it's mild seasoning, go high, if it's hot, go low. We're not trying to make it spicy, just adding some spice. Once the beef is done empty the beef and peppers into a bowl, but leave the burner on and frying pan full of butter and juices. Now add about a teaspoon more of cinnamon and turn down the heat. Drop a couple of the tortillas on to the frying pan for about 5-7 seconds, then flip them, then remove after another five to seven. Repeat.

All you have to do know is spoon some beef into the shells and you're set on a crash course for YUM-ALPHA-4. Make it so Number 1!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Album Review: Girls and Weather (Rumble Strips)

This is with out a doubt the second best album I've enjoyed all summer. Well, maybe not best, but second most enjoyable. So Many Nights by Cat Empire is still better.

Regardless, this album is really truly great. It's got a garage rock sound that doesn't trade melody for noise (like so many other garage rock bands) and really brings in a lot of soul influence. The band finally manages to prove that Britain can supply the modern world with a sound that's not Oasis, U2, Amy "How the hell are you still alive and who still cares about you" Winehouse, and whatever the Britpop flavor of the month is. They're upbeat, but not fast upbeat. They have horns, but stay away from ska (thank god- more ska is the last thing the world needs. I mean seriously, what "wave" are they on now? And what's the difference between the waves? And who wants to call dancing skanking? And why the plaid?)

Ahem. It's fun music. Meant to be played loud. Possibly while driving. They're not particularly deep songwriters, but are a hell of a lot of fun. Great example, Motorcycle. It's a song about how the singer's life would be better if the bike he was riding on was a motorcycle. And it basically says he'd be a mad cool pimp. And he'd be halfway home.

I already posted a couple songs before, but that post is getting deleted and the songs will be reposted here.

Girls and Boys in Love, my favorite song from the album.

No Soul, the album opener. A great example of the horns.

Alarm Clock, another fun one. A great example of the sheer fun and cheerfulness of their lyrics.


I like vinyls. I think they're pretty nifty. I also like CDs. But the vast vast majority of my collection is mp3 format. And this is the strange life I live with my music.

The thing I can't stand is people who "only" listen to vinyl. Or claim it sounds better. Or whatever. Because it's blatantly not true. Yes, a very good quality vinyl will sound better than a song 96 kbps encoded mp3 downloaded off of limewire or wherever kids are getting their illegal mp3's these days, but so will an 8-track. Fact is, most vinyls are recorded on recycled plastic and contain a lot of errors, and the ones that aren't are older and just poorer quality. Most of the time the sound is only as good as the receiver and speakers it's piped through, and because hipsters don't understand this, they have poor quality equipment a lot of the time.

So why do I have vinyls? Because they're fun. They're big, tangible, and just so very real. I rarely listen to my vinyls. In fact, I don't know when the last time I did listen to them. Another thing I like is that it's like having part of history. I have a first edition Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club, which I've never had a desire to listen to (I'm bizarre and don't like that album. One of my few faults, I'm sure.). But it's such an important album in history, it feels really cool to own. I even have the little mustache cut-outs.

What I really like owning though are CDs. They are the perfect music format. They don't compress the music down, or do so by only a bit. So they have a much better sound than mp3s, but aren't as awkward to carry around as vinyls. Plus the whole tangibility thing is going on again.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Long story short

My computer is dead for at least a week, if not longer. So no posts for a little bit.

Here's a video by my newest love, the Rumble Strips.

And here's another.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Looong Album Review: Pretty. Odd. (Panic At The Disco)

I'm embarrassed. Really seriously embarrassed. To review this album I had to listen to it, which would normally be embarrassing enough. But it gets worse: I like it.

But the thing I'm embarrassed about the most is that I'm embarrassed about liking/listening to it. Because it's good. Damn good. But there's this idea that Panic can never be good, and even listening to this as I type and loving every second of it I get a bit confused.

I mean, let's face it. A Fever You Can't Sweat Out was a joke of an album. I'm sure you could listen to the same album by buying Fallout Boy and playing it at 2x speed. And there's no reason to expect Panic's sophomore release to be this good. The lyrics on A Fever... were trite and contrived, the music was, well, basic and written by 12 year olds. They wore top hats, makeup, and were generally mocked by the music world.

So here comes Pretty. Odd and it gets, weirdly enough, good reviews. Like, really good reviews. I hear about it everywhere.

I ignore all of this. I mean, Fallout Boy's second album got good reviews, yeah? And that was more of the first album. Then one night, I'm watching SNL and Panic comes on. I reach to mute it, but my remote dies and so I'm stuck in bed ready to be terrorized. And I'm mesmerized.

I don't know what happened, maybe the band heard a real album that wasn't written by Pete Wentz. I don't care. THIS IS GOOD.

So it's not the best thing since Pet Sounds. It's still really really good. There are a couple of weak spots, like the album opener We're So Starving, which is rather arrogant in that they apologize for being gone to write songs for "you". When they sing that, a crowd cheers. It's not a bad song, but annoying. Since I never missed them.

But most of it is, well, fantastic. Even if the lyrics are possibly pure nonsense (Do You Know What I'm Seeing is a great example of this).
One of the best songs is Folkin' Around, a Byrdsish (I hate comparing band sounds, but it's unavoidable here) track.

Another great song is Northern Downpour. It's quiet, soft, and sweet. Everything this band seemed to avoid on the first album.

My personal favorite though, for no particular reason other than it has a great chorus, is She's A Handsome Woman.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

My Irrational Dislike for Radiohead

I don't like Radiohead. To say the least. In fact, I actively dislike them. They are one of the few bands to truly earn that dubious honor. I mean, I might say that about other bands or artists, but I won't mean it. Only for Radiohead. And Nirvana.

My dislike for Radiohead stems largely from the fact that I was not a "music listener" during the Kid A and OK Computer hype. I think if any albums by them were any good at all, it would've been those two. However I missed the time when they were culturally relevant and new and so never got into that whole "Melodies can kiss my fatty McFatfat butt" style of music. And let's face it, they're pretentious piles of poo now.

Amnesiac was my first real exposure to them. And wow did that suck. I'd heard so much about this fabulous Radiohead and I spent $10 on this album, and I threw it away. I really tried to like it. I listened four or five times. Never found a song I liked. So I hoped it was just the album. Went out and got OK Computer. Eh. I mean, it wasn't great, but it didn't sound like Gary Coleman decided to get drunk and wash my car with a live cat like Amnesiac did.

So I though Radiohead was either just a terrible band or I just didn't get them for a long time. Then Thom Yorke's solo album came out. Everything clicked into place.

Thom Yorke is an evil villain who has found the proper frequencies to manipulate people's musical tastes.
Because really, that album is so much crap. It throws away any idea of structure, melody, hell, music in general. And not in a cool Beck way. In a pretentious John Cage way. He's the Jackson Pollock of music, except Pollock at least had the good sense to hate himself (abstract expressionist fans- go elsewhere, I don't want to hear it).
The closing cinch on the fact that Thom Yorke is the root of all Radiohead's evil instead of the whole of Radiohead, or the butts of bread, or talking sandwiches, or even Luficer himself, is that one Radiohead song that wasn't written by Yorke is really really good. No matter who sings it.

High and Dry. Yes, it's technically credited to the whole band, but I know the truth.
Thank you Greenwood, Greenwood, O'brien and Selway. I don't know how you forced Mr. Yorke to let you put something of yours that has a melody and actual lyrics onto an album. Maybe you him with a pipe until he said yes. Maybe you chloroformed him and put it on while he was napping. Maybe you paid a taxi driver to take him across the country by accident while you wrote that song.
But thank you.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Mr. Airplane Man

A band I'm really digging right now. It's like the White Stripes but with 2 girls, both of which are more useful than Meg.
Here's their cover of the traditional country song Jesus On the Mainline.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

I have a secret love for country music

It's true.

I mean, not even the hip alt-country stuff like Wilco (overrated, by the way). I mean, I like some alt-country, Ryan Adams would be the prime example, along with the Jayhawks, Son Volt, and Uncle Tupelo. But I mean real country. Buck Owens. Hank Williams Jr. and Sr. Gary Stewart. Gram Parsons. Loretta Lynn. Dolly Parton.

That's music with a soul. I mean so much of what's popular and critically well received is this trashy flavor of the month indie/electro/pop sound. Like the Ting Tings. It has no soul, no passion, no heartache. I mean, I love a catchy song as much as the next person, but it gets old quickly. But songs like I've posted below- they are eternal.

Buck Owens- Excuse Me, I Think I Have A Heartache

Loretta Lynn- Portland, Oregon

Hank Williams Sr.- Lovesick Blues

Love Hurts- Gram Parsons & Emmylou Harris

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The Sugars

My lady who's visiting England at the moment sent me a copy of NME for fun, and I loved going through the pages, though there was still a disturbing amount of Winehouse fanboyism.
Anyways, one of the surprises the magazine held was a review of a band called the Sugars. I can't say enough good things about this band. They take a lot of cues from garage rock, 50's doo wop, and who knows what the hell else. There's an definite catchy sound to them, but it's filled with jangly crashy guitars and lots of cymbals.

Also, any band with 2 lead singers of opposite genders makes me happy.

It's perfect.
Anyways, here're two songs by them.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Album Review: Modern Guilt (Beck)

Oh Modern Guilt. I have no idea how to describe you. You have this 60's psychedelia thing going on, you have this funky thing going on, but most of you have this Beck thing going on. And at your heart, that is what you truly are: a Beck album at its finest.
You are beautiful through and through, whether you're being a serious song or a fun song, it manages to be atmospheric and danceable.

Your opening track, Orphans starts simple and builds so well and flows so nicely into everything else.

Everything that follows is beautiful. No one song stands out, they all have the same feel but manage to be different.

Honestly, this is the best Beck album since Odelay. It's lyrically sharp, fun, dark, well produced, and always interesting. I don't really know what else to say about it.

Here's my favorite track, Profanity Prayers.

Tomorrow I'll post about my newest love: Charlotte Sometimes.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Album Review: The Information (Beck)

The Information was the first (and until Tuesday) only Beck album which I was aware of at the release date, which makes my thoughts on it a little different than most Beck albums. Basically, it feels tired. At no point did I sit and think "Wow- this rocks", just occasionally "Hey, that's not too bad."

I suppose I should clarify: it's not a bad album by any means. If it were any other artist, it'd be the album of their life. But it never really lives up to Beck's discography. It has a lot of the Odelay feel, but none of the energy or momentum. And it's not a quiet Sea Change album either.

However, there are a few bright spots. The first is the atypically sweet song called I Think I'm In Love. It's not so much the music that's strong here, but rather the lyrics and subject. He's singing about being nervous about his own feelings. Honestly, who besides Beck would think to sing about something that true?

The other high spot is the slower Movie Theme. This is probably the strongest song on the album. I almost feel like this was the sort of album he wanted to make but didn't for whatever reason. It feels like it's the song he cared about most, it has the most real emotion and feeling.

I dunno, The Information isn't awful. But in comparison to, well, everything else, it's just not worth more than a few listens.

Tomorrow: Sea Change.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Album Review: Odelay (Beck)

If I fell in with Beck through Guero, then it was Odelay (buy on Amazon here)that made me want to get on one knee and propose to him and his beautiful music. Odelay is the seminal Beck album. It's upbeat, danceable, ridiculous, quirky, but not without social satire. It has a party feel. It's fun.

Released in 1996, it's his fourth album, and first major one, earning him a Grammy (and rightfully so).

The album starts up with Devil's Haircut, which helped solidify Beck's, well, strangeness. Even he makes fun of the bizarre song lyrics/name in an episode of Futurama.
Here's the quote:
Beck: You know, when I'm upset, I write a song about it. Like when I wrote Devil's Haircut, I was feeling really... what's that song about?
Bender: Hey, yeah! I could write a song! With real words, not phony ones like 'odelay.'
Beck: 'Odelay' is a word! Just look it up in the Becktionary!

Anyways, after that song comes what is the most overlooked song on the album, Lord Only Knows. Honestly, it starts off weird. With a scream. But then it hits this jam. And it's smooth. And catchy. And fun. And the lyrics are near perfect. And you can listen to it right below.

The other two highlights (though the whole album is exceptionally strong) are Sissyneck and Where It's At. The latter is especially fun. To say the least. It's
got a fuzzy sound, some organ/synth going on, and that delicious Beck rap dealio that I don't know he pulls off.

Basically what I'm saying is Beck needs to get back with the Dust Brothers, who produced this album.

Album Review: Guero (Beck)

Guero (available on Amazon here) was my first introduction to Beck. Now, a lot of people would consider this a tragedy, nay, sacrilege. Or would that be Beckrilege? The point is, I was a kid when everything previous by him was released, so this was the first thing I had exposure to. A friend gave me a mix CD with Que Onda Quero, E-PRO, and Girl. These songs blew me away. They changed how I saw music, heard music, and thought about music.

Anyways, the album is great. Well, not great in a Pet Sounds great way, but pretty good. It definitely starts strong too with E-PRO, Que Onda Guero, and Girl kicking off the album and being the catchiest, most fun, upbeat songs. The album gets a little less fun after that, but no less enjoyable.

Que Onda Guero is probably my favorite track, aside from maybe Girl.

What I love most about the album is the Spanish influence. It really feels like it was written in and for some barrios in LA, Vallejo, or, hell, just about any California city that's not Oakland. It's got that tejano feel, while still being Beck.
The last half of the album is infinitely less catchy, but no less good as I said before. There's just nothing worth pointing out on it really.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Beck! Beck! And more Beck!

In honor of Beck's new album, Modern Guilt, being released on this Tuesday, the 8th, I'm going to be reviewing my favorite Beck albums. Tonight I'll cover Guero, my first introduction to Beck, then I'll hit up Odelay, Seachange, and The Information. Basically my favorites. I'm also going to start setting up this blog for submission to The Hype Machine eventually, so that means with each album review I'll have mp3 download links, and links to buy the albums on Amazon.

In the mean time, enjoy the first single from Modern Guilt.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Album Review: From Every Sphere (Ed Harcourt)

I don't know where I picked Mr. Ed Harcourt up, but I'm glad I did. Anyways, From Every Sphere was his second album, released in 2003 on Astralwerks Records (Heavenly Records in the UK). It's a melancholy album, to say the least, but fantastic in so many ways. I guess it's nothing original, but the songwriting is incredibly strong, and Ed has this way of making every song memorable.

Anyways, to start, the album is immediately, well, melancholy. I can't think of another way to say it really. From track one, Bittersweetheart (how is that not a melancholy name even?) it's sad. But not in that incredibly frustrating poor-me-my-life-sucks way. It's sweet-sad. And with some exceptions the music swells with orchestral instruments behind it.

Again, it kicks off with Bittersweetheart (I like plays on words) which sets the tone for most of the album. It's chamber-popish, which strings, pop melodies, and just a good feel. And the album keeps that feel pretty consistently, until about 3/4 of the way through. In those first 3/4 even the supposedly upbeat songs have a sadness about them, something truly haunting. But track number 8, Watching The Sun Come Up changes that. It's uplifting, expanding, and absolutely gorgeous. It's one of those songs that just builds and builds until the symphony just explodes behind him (like a dawn, I assume was the intention).

The only misstep on the album I think is track number 3, Ghost Writer. It's a prog track, and really just not very listenable. He abandons all pop feeling, all melody, and leaves the listener with a dark gross dull track. However, deleting it from iTunes immediately fixed the problem for me. The album (and by extension, my ears) doesn't miss it at all.

This is All Of Your Days Will Be Blessed, another great song from From Every Sphere.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Covers: Warm and snuggly or hot and stifling

Covers are a controversial thing in the world of music listeners. Some people love them. Some people think they were the first evil let out of Pandora's Box. Others don't even realize they exist "Britney didn't write (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction? What?"

For me, it really depends on the cover. Some I love. Some bother me. But truth be told, I'd rather listen to a cover that sounds nothing like the original than hear it basically remade. Anyhow, the way I see it there are three types of cover songs.

1.) The Tribute cover.
I'm not talking about singing a song for a tribute album or a tribute concert. That's a different issue entirely. This is more a la Jack White singing Dolly Parton's Jolene. And not changing the genders because it's how she would've sung it.

These are fine. They may sound similar to the original version, but hopefully not too much.

2.) The "it's a really good song, so I'm going to put my own spin on it" cover.
This is the most common sort of cover, and is generally not even thought about, since almost everyone does this. For instance, Hallelujah, by Leonard Cohen. If I can't stand his original version, I could go out and listen to a version by any of the following people: Elisa, Maxwell Murder of Saturday's Car Ride Home, Rea Garvey of Reamonn, Alex Lloyd, Sephira, Adam Nikkel, Keren Ann, Willie Nelson, Beefy, Bono, Bon Jovi, Blake, Bret Darby, Clare Bowditch, Fred Eaglesmith, Steve Acho, Allison Crowe, Patricia O'Callaghan, Jackie Greene, Julie Felix, Damien Leith, Anthony Michael Hall [2], Bettie Serveert, Kenny Zhao, John Owen-Jones, Custard, k d lang, Kevin Max, Gord Downie, Simple Plan, Gov't Mule, Steffen Brandt/Tina Dickow (in Danish translation), K's Choice, Enrique Morente (flamenco version, translated to Spanish), Street to Nowhere, Wayne Whittaker, the Prayerbabies, Kevin Christy, Kathryn Williams, Lucky Jim, Over the Rhine, Pat Terlizzi, Myrra Malmberg, Susanna and the Magical Orchestra, Michael Wolff, The Brown Derbies, Imogen Heap, Popa Chubby, Jimm Zombie, Joe Wilson, Kristian Meurman (in Finnish), Hilary Scott, The Choir of Hard Knocks and Kate Voegele.

Okay, that was a bit unnecessary, but Wikipedia made it so easy.

Point is, there are songs like this that everyone forgets are covers, because everyone covers them. Another great example would be Knockin' On Heaven's Door. Or Yesterday by the Beatles.

3.)The Tragedy Cover
This is not so much the reason behind the attempt as it is the failure of said attempt. What exactly do I mean? This and this (not embedded due to awfulness).

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Non-Music Reviews: Books, TV, and more!

Book 1: So last week I read a book that just blew me away, The Raw Shark Texts by Stephen Hall. It's his first novel (unfortunately this means there aren't any others by him to read) and it's probably the best book I've read in years.

Everything about it is perfect. It's got just the right touch of tragicomedy that you'll be laughing at one page and crying at the next. It's got the perfect sense of absurdism. Enough to make the book ridiculous and fun, but not so much that it's unreadable or dense. And even more awesome was the typography. The author used sentences to make pictures. Kinda like ASCII art, but with actual words and sentences, as opposed to dots and slashes. For instance a fish with be "drawn" with the word fin filling in its fins and beak filling in its beak. Crazy, yeah?

But what Mr. Hall is most effective at is building empathy for the main character, Eric Sanderson. Eric Sanderson wakes up with no memory and a note from his old self giving him a person to get in contact with. I'm not going to ruin the story, because I want everyone to read it, but the way the book deals with loss, grief, love, and memories is incredible. I wish all books made me feel this way.

Book 2: Unfortunately, this book proved that that won't happen. Based on's recommendation, I checked out Remainder by Tom McCarthy. This book had potential, a lot of potential. And it was poorly used. It's about this guy who has an "Accident" which he can't disclose because he won a lawsuit where the company pays him money and he keeps his mouth shut about it. Anyways, he's rich now. And his memory is fragmented. So one night this guy has a vision with a memory he can't place. So he pays lots of money to have people reenact it for him. Again and again.

Now this book has a great opportunity to explore his memories and all sorts of cool stuff. But it doesn't. Instead the main character starts reenacting random everyday encounters he has. It's stupid, pointless. And by the end of the book the main character is a selfish boor who's entirely unlikable.

That's not even what bothered me the most about the book. The author goes to great extent at the beginning to introduce a girl named Catharine. They knew each other before the accident and something romantic was blooming. After the accident she comes to visit, and nothing happens between them. Then that's it. She's gone from the book entirely. Mentioned maybe once again.

Basically, Remainder by Tom McCarthy is a waste of time.

TV Show: Pushing Daisies. Alright, I ignored this when it was new. I ignored it for several months after. I ignored it all the way up until tonight when I watched an episode (Smell of Success) online. And it will never be ignored again. I've seen it described as a forensic fairytale, which is spot on. It's about this baker named Ned who's a twentysomething that can bring people back to life by touching them. When he touches them a second time they die, and for good. If he brings them back for longer than 60 seconds, someone or something of equal value has to die instead. And his next touch still kills them for good. Kind of a mixed bag.

Anyways, the show has a truly magical feel to it. Like Oz plus Seuss plus Charlie and the Chocolate Factory with some mystery solving. Oh right, because he can bring back the dead, he can talk to them and ask murder victims "Oh hey, since I have you here, who stuck that knife in your gullet?" So he's basically a pie baking Sam Spade.

I can't tell you how much I love this show. In fact, I'm going to go watch another episode right now.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Guess who's back (back again)

Alright, so half of my crap sorted itself out and I'm back to doing some writing. Tonight we have a three-way album battle between three of G. Love's best albums.

First up is Coast to Coast Motel.
Coast to Coast is G. Love and Special Sauce's second album, released in 1994. This was the first release by the Philadelphia group that brought them to the front of critical love, though it wasn't quite as popular as the self-titled debut.

Coast to Coast Motel has a much smaller hip-hop influence than, well, almost every other G. Love album. It's more groove and jam based which makes for a much different sound. Unfortunately, this vocals sometimes come across as lo-fi, which ruins the enjoyment of G. Love's . But the instruments are perfect, and ever melody and harmony fits just right making a weirdly retro sound. It's good. Here's my favorite song off of the album, probably one of the catchiest, Kiss and Tell.

Next up is Electric Mile, released in 2001 on 550 Music (once part of Epic Records).

This album is really sort of bizarre. It's almost impossible to predict what sort of music or sound will pop up next. GLaSS play around in soul, funk, rock, folk, etc. In fact, you'd have a shorter list writing down what sort of sound they don't use. Here's a song called Free at Last. Weirdly enough the usual G. Love funk isn't here. And I miss it. I mean, it's still good, but not quite as good, y'know?

And thirdly, we have Lemonade.

This is G. Love at his truest. Released in 2006, this is the quintessential summer album, full of relaxed funk-filled melodies. I can't praise this album enough. Everything about it is great. The lyrics are smart, but don't revel in their own cleverness (Mraz- I'm looking at you and your smarmyness). Every song has the same general sound, but feels completely different from the last one. Here's Hot Cookin, one of the best on the album.

Electric Mile, Coast to Coast Motel, and Lemonade are exceptionally different from each other, but only Lemonade provides a consistent sound. And that sound is sweet.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Lo siento

Due to a lot of things being really crappy right now, I'm not going to be updating tonight. Or tomorrow either probably. We can hope for Friday though.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Album Review: Move By Yourself (Donavon Frankenreiter)

SCENE: Warm summer evening. Lemonade in the right hand, book in the left, sun hasn't quite set allowing the man in the lawn chair to read.

ARIK: Ah, this lemonade is delish, the fireflies are beaut, and I can't stop talking in abbreves. What I need right now is some chill relaxed music to enjoy while I read this Peter Pan book which was definitely not written for people eight years younger than myself.

A tune drifts through the air alighting upon Arik's ears.

ARIK: What's this? A song? Something that reminds me of my warm California years in the sand and ocean? Why- I must know what it is!

UNKNOWN VOICE FROM SOMEWHERE ELSE: It's Donavon Frankenreiter, now shut up!

Okay, so it didn't really happen like that. But the feelings of warmth, crickets, fireflies, and lemonade are all pretty strong in this album. Donavon Frankenreiter's second solo album is really wonderful to listen to, and was a real joy to find. And to be honest, finding it was more like:
ARIK: I need more summer music. Hm. I'll look up summery on allmusic, maybe that'll help.

But that's much less exciting. Anyways, this album really just feels good. It's a strong album all the way around. I mean, there are a few missteps, but it's definitely good. There's a lot of a funk type feel with that Sly Stone synth sound coming in on every other track. This would normally make it sound like a funk revival, but avoids that with some smooth singing. The album opens on one of the more uptempo songs, the title track Move By Yourself (sorry, embedding was disabled for this video, so I'm linking it instead), which at first listen sounds a little preachy, but it's easily overlooked in view of the foottapping beat and guitarage.

After this the album mellows out a little bit more and continues with a more soul/jazz oriented song called The Way It Is (same here). It's got more of that lovely synth, but still keeps the album Donavon's. In fact, Move By Yourself continues this lovely starry sky night sound almost the entire rest of the way. He doesn't get cheesey again, just relaxes and sings about life and love and that whole gang.

Okay, I lied. The last track is well, very cheesey. But it's also quite beautiful. It's got the whole soul singer in the background dealio going on and everything.

Anyway, the album is worth a listen, if not a buy. The Way It Is is probably my favorite track, and worth a buy, if nothing else. I really can't think of a single weak point other than the subject matter of the opening and closing tracks.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Album Review: Grand National (John Butler Trio)

More summer music!

I picked up this album in a quest to listen to as much Australian music as possible this summer, and I really was not disappointed. John Butler (and his trio) have a laid back lemonade sippin sun on your cheeks sound. There's a hint of reggae, but not in that annoying "put on a fake Jamaican accent" way. Just in the basic rhythms and beats. I mean, it makes sense. Can you see a guy with hair like this making music without reggae influences? Anyways, I'd kinda put off listening to it for a while because A) I'm lazy and B) I'm forgetful. That is until one song came up on my iPod, Good Excuse.

I put the official Good Excuse video up last week so here's a live performance on some Australian TV show.

That song is a great example of the feel of the whole album, especially the first 2/3. There's great use of harmonica, the guitars have hint of blues and funk, and the overall sound brings in some reggae. Here's another song, Daniella.

I'm a fan of songs with guitar solos that don't feel like they have to be completely over the top or detract from the main melody. Honestly, if it weren't for one particular song, it'd be a perfect summer album. The song Devil Running is a complete shift in tempo and style about 2/3 through. It's not so laid back. It's rock. And not even fun rock. It's serious. Boringly and annoyingly serious. It loses all the fun that the rest of the album has an is loud with electric guitars and distortion. There's a time and place for these things, but this wasn't it.

Anyways, I'm going to be writing one review every day this week, and trying to stick with fun summery music. Tomorrow will be Donavon Frankenreiter, G. Love later, and maybe some O.A.R. We'll see.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Finally, the Jakob Dylan Album Review

So between allergies, working for my freeish housing, and job interviews, I haven't had time to get this done. Sorta. Part of the problem was the album itself. But first we need to talk about Dylans. Jakob Dylan is not his father. He avoids dealing with that very well, despite the album being a guitar and singing affair. In fact, Jakob Dylan can sing. I mean, he's not the next Pavarotti, but he has a pleasant voice. Unfortunately, he never does anything too interesting.

That's largely why I couldn't get around to writing this album. For something interesting, whether in a good way or bad way, I'd be interested in writing the review. With this, I was kinda "eh". And it kept slipping my mind or getting put off.

Now, it's not a bad album. In fact, it's pretty good. But it's not very interesting. I've heard it four or five times and I can't tell the difference between a bunch of the songs. The lyrics are smart, the guitar is well played, but nothing ever really changes. And that is the biggest failing of the album. It makes for good reading music though.

Other news:
My job interview went really well today. I might get hired at Best Buy.
Bugs like crawling on my blinds.
I found out 4 people are subscribed to my blog on Google Reader. This made my day.
I love the local library. Went there tonight, then read the entirety of Neil Gaiman's Eternals Vol. 1 in a nearby park over 2 hours.
I rode my bike to my interview today. My butt still hasn't forgiven me.

Next review will probably be of the John Butler Trio's Grand National.

Another excuse

Job interview sorta early tomorrow morning, haven't had a chance to really listen to Jakob Dylan thoroughly. It'll get done soon though. In the meantime, here's the John Butler Trio.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Due to Allergies..

The album review I was going to do today of Jakob Dylan's Seeing Things is postponed until tomorrow (Wednesday) because of awful allergies inhibiting my focus abilities. Jesus, the amount of times I've had to retype words in this paragraph is ridiculous.

Anyways, see you when my nose no longer runs.
Enjoy this song in the meantime

Monday, June 9, 2008

Abum Review: Beautiful Freak (The Eels)

In case you don't know the days of the week, today is Monday, which means new album releases tomorrow and new album reviews. Hopefully I'll be writing about Jakob Dylan's, The Infamous Stringduster's, or Emmylou Harris' new album. Just depends on which of the three is easier/cheaper to get my hands on.

But for this review I'm going back in time about 12 years when Eels was a new band and this album, Beautiful Freak, just came out. In some ways, listening to it feels like listening to an old friend. The songs are smooth. Something you can ignore for good background music, or get really into. They're catchy, but not necessarily in an upbeat hooky way. The title track, Novocaine For The Soul is a prime example of this.

It starts with a "what the hell?" sort of intro. Then it launches into the real song. And it's like heaven. The way E sings Novocaine is blissful. The lyrics are a love supreme (Jesus and his lawyer are coming back). I mean, how can it get better than this? Easy: My Beloved Monster.

Yes, the Shrek song. I don't care if Shrek had it. I love that movie, and I love this song. It's amazing. Incredibly sweet.

Another highlight of the album is Susan's House. I guess I got a little out of order, as this is the second song. It's one of those songs where there's a sung chorus and the verses are spoken over a beat. What makes it amazing is how it deals with the things that we tend to look away from in society, such as the mentally ill. It does this without becoming preachy or admonishing. I mean yeah, it's a depressing song. But it's a damn fine depressing song.

That's really the feel for the whole album. It's not a very happy album, though a couple of the songs (My Beloved Monster, etc.) are sweet songs. Despite the generally somber themes, every song will stick with you, in a good way. The tight production makes every beat dance by itself. I'd recommend this album in a heartbeat.

Why I shouldn't be allowed to write about music

I read a lot of music blogs and magazines, and I know what's hip and cool with all those cats. And I know that they'd never let me sit at their music-reviewing lunch table for 4 simple reasons. Basically it's a sort-of pet peeve list regarding music press and bloggers.

1. I don't like Radiohead.
It's not just a lack of like, it's an active dislike. But even more than my dislike for Radiohead is my disgust for Thom Yorke. I don't get him. His music is the absence of everything I like about music. He drones. He has no structure, no real harmony. And it pisses me off that he's so popular. It actually makes me angry. That's how much I dislike him.

2. I enjoy U2, and think Bono is a pretty decent guy.
I don't understand some of the finer points of music elitism, and this is one of them. Everybody who's involved with the music journalism industry seems to have it out for Bono. "He's pretentious." "He wears sunglasses inside" "He's called Bono". I don't see how any of these are basis for irrational hate. Kanye wears freaking venetian blind sunglasses inside. Where're his haters? And how do you know that he's pretentious? Have you met him? Maybe I'm a naive fool, but I think it's nicer to have an irrational like of somebody as opposed to an irrational hatred. But what do I know?

3. I don't see what the hubub is about Daft Punk and Nirvana
I mean, I think they're alright bands. But nothing fancy. Maybe it's just one of those "you had to be there when they changed the music world" deals. I was in elementary school the huge years of both artists, so I guess I wasn't there.

4. I don't listen to music ironically
It seems like everyone has to have something ironic on their iTunes to be hip and chic today. Whether A-Ha, Backstreet Boys, or Hannah Montana, that's how they show their irony chicness. And the more godawful one-hit wonderness it is, the cooler they are. I have A-Ha's Take On Me because I like listening to it. It makes me smile. I have Taylor Swift on my computer because my lady gave it to me and it grew on me. I like Joss Stone. Even the new stuff.

Later today/tonight: Album Review

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Album Review: So Many Nights (The Cat Empire)

As I've mentioned, I am in love with this album. Everything about it is almost perfect. Given only word to describe it I would pick funky. And I don't normally like funky.

The album opens with a bass heavy, jazzy piano turntable scratchy super catchy title song, So Many Nights (video below). First time I listened I expected to be disappointed by the rest of the album, since it's so good. I was wrong.

After this song, the album slows down a little bit, with a track called Panama. But make no mistake, being slower be no means makes it bad or less of a good song. However, it's the song directly after that solidified my love for this album: Fishies. Very Latin influenced with a strong trumpet and a Cubano style piano.

I don't know how all the elements blended to make this song so great, but I don't really care. It's heaven. Thankfully, this band is not just strong musically. The lyrics are really well crafted and fit perfectly with the singing. Sunny Moon (my favorite track) is a great example of this.

You may forget the details and you can forget the dates but never
Forget the moment when the light revealed her face
To be poor by lack of money but by god be rich in prize
I found my youths desire dark within her eyes
And the tent kept breathing something and then she cried -
'Hold on we're going somewhere else tonight'

This band really does it all, and does it all well. Between this album and their older album, Two Shoes, I've found my summery music for the summer.

Musical Explorations for the past week

I listen to a lot of music, so I'm going to start doing this on a weekly basis. It'll be a catalog of all the new things I listen to over a week. I'll start this week with the one album I bought physically: So Many Nights by the Cat Empire.

This album is funky. Yes, funky. I found it in Borders at one of those listening stations. Normally I'm hesitant to enjoy anything related to cats, but I gave it a shot. The first track sold me. It's catchy. Fun. Hook filled. Has a vague ska feel, but not really. It has turntables, but it's not a turntable song. It's just fun music. The whole album is that way too. The piano is always jazzy, sometimes has a Spanish flair, sometimes has a downbeat feel. Basically, this Melbourne album is fun, good, and perfect for summer.

Hearing this album made me wonder what else from down under I was missing. So led me to The Beautiful Girls, Xavier Rudd, and Ari Hest. Unfortunately, I've only been able to give them brief listens. But I like what I heard. Especially The Beautiful Girls. Very chill.

What I have listened to this week though is Weezer's new album (terrible, see previous post), and the first album by the Eels.

Beautiful Freak is amazing. It's slick, but not over produced. The lyrics are incredible and billowing with imagery (can you billow with imagery?). I love everything about it. It's fun, but not entirely light. It has a lot of good serious moments. Novacaine for the Soul is probably my favorite track from it, along with My Beloved Monster (which most people will recognize from Shrek). Anyways, between this and Cat Empire, and even in spite of Weezer, this has been a good week for music. Full review of Cat Empire tomorrow.

Album Review: The Red Album (Weezer)

I like Weezer. Almost all of their back catalog I think is pretty good, if not great.

However, the very thought of listening to anything Rivers Cuomo has touched ever again makes me angry. Yes, angry. This album isn't just bad. It's bad enough that it ruins every other Weezer album. I wanted to like it. I really did. I just can't though.

Maybe I'm not being fair, since I promised myself that I'd listen to it all the way through no matter what, and I yet I can't bring myself to do that. But when I hit a song comprised of the lyrics "Everybody get dangerous everybody get dangerous booyah" I draw the line. This is music made for Nickelodeon action movies targeted towards 5th graders. I'm not sure what went wrong. Maybe Linkin Park produced it, I have no idea. Basically, it sounds like Weezer took their geeky hook filled fun sound, sat on it and wrote music over it while gripping the pen tightly with their butt cheeks. The album isn't fun. It doesn't make you smile. Weezer should make you smile. Even when it's bad.

Hell, Beverly Hills is a bad song. But it's fun at least. You can hum along on a sumer day. This album refuses to give you even that small pleasure. Weezer really went for a darker more experimental sound. Weezer failed.


Update: a more objective less angry track by track review of the same album tomorrow. Also a review of the Cat Empire album So Many Nights.

Monday, June 2, 2008

A Slightly More Coherent Blog Post

So that last post was fun. And it felt good, because I was feeling frustrated and angry and kinda beat up emotionally.

I went to the library today. Libraries and I have a love-hate relationship. I love that they have all these books for people to read at no real charge. I love the atmosphere. I love the people there. I love the creepy old men that follow girls around really creepily. Though if I were a girl, that would probably change.

But I hate hate hate that the books I always want to checkout have been stolen months ago, and it's only realized when I want to check them out. Like today, I wanted to reread The Watchmen. But no. I spend forty freaking minutes looking for this book, finally ask someone to help me, they look for about ten minutes, and finally we decide it was stolen.

I think libraries shouldn't list what books they have in, they should list what books they might have in.

I'm all moved into my apartment now. It's weird, living in crappy dorms for 2 years and then going to this carpeted air-conditioned single room all to myself. I mean, I love it. And I'm going to hate fall when I go back to single crappy room, but it's great.

Summer has really started. It's a weird thought. We had a flash thunderstorm today, just 2 minutes after I walked in from walking back from the library. It was crazy. And I'm really frustrated with something. I don't know what. That really just popped out there. Like a banana. Do those pop out of things? Screw it, I'm going to bed.

Being Angry


This is what Angry Lions sound like.


That is the sound of an Angry Bee.


Angry Cats are not your friends.

Chinchillas, however, do not get angry.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

I want a hover car.

We need hover cars.

Think about it.

They are more versatile in where they can travel.

They could use grass parking lots.

They look really cool

They don't need new roads to be built.

Much less traffic.

They look really really cool.

We've been promised them for years.

They just are cool.

Look at this. How is that not awesome? How is just hovering over a nice calm lake not the best date idea in the world?

I want a hover car.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Velvet Pants

So. It's Friday. And I like Fridays. No- I love them. But who doesn't, really?

I think I'm going to start fickle-blogging. I'll edit posts, delete them, etc. This is almost a stream of consciousness journal.

Mm, morning sun, so much honey/Fill up the cracks and butter my toast/Sleep in my coffee and can't we wait?

Noon, you don't have to come, no not yet/Cartoons can stay on and we can stay in/Waffles and syrup pour some OJ in my cup.

This honied tea and you are all that's left from that warm morning/Why is it so cold and do you turn away/That morning sun is behind a cloud letting you curl into another day.

So I haven't found out about the internship yet.
This is really aggravating.

There's this one tree out my window. I think I love it. It changes colors so much. I've seen it green, yellow, bare, red, crimson. Now it's sort of a gold.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Mm, self-esteem.

Sent those lyrics to a song-writer friend of mine.
He thought they were good. I mean, yeah, he could've just been being nice. But I like to think he'd be honest about them with me. He's a good guy, and we've talked about stuff like that before.

So it's nice, knowing somebody thinks I'm good at that. Too bad I can't do crap with music. I have no idea how I'd sing them or whatever. Maybe Jordan'll do something with them.
Here's the conversation, just before it starts I send him the lyrics.

(12:52:50 PM) Jordan: dude
(12:52:52 PM) Jordan: .....
(12:52:53 PM) Jordan: dude
(12:53:03 PM) Arik: Yeah?
(12:53:14 PM) Jordan: those are straight bad ass
(12:53:18 PM) Jordan: no kidding

It's nice having somewhere to write where nobody'll read this. It's kinda funny, you put something out there the whole world to see and it gets ignored. I'm sure if I made it all secretive and whatnot at least three people would want to see what I wrote and write and scribble and thnk.

More Thoughts Expanded

Re: Death

What would I do if somebody I really knew, or whose art I cared about even more died? If, say, my mom or dad died. I've never really felt death. My grandma died in 2001, but she was in Arizona and I never really saw her anyways. It's so abstract to me. Hell, I'm not even afraid of death. The idea of me not waking up, or getting into a car accident doesn't bother me in the least. But if someone close to me died. I don't know. It's strange to imagine, because I can't put it there really.

Re: Nothing

I've been more conscious of not being sincere this week. I mean, I've probably been as sarcastic or cynical as usual, but I've been more aware of it. I dream a lot. I kinda want to start taking notes on my dreams. They tend to be pretty odd. And maybe reveal a lot about me? I'm not sure.

Hands are great. They do so much. Flex bend touch. It's really magical. Watch them move, one finger, then another, and another. Prodding, poking, extending.

Girl you have these eyes so brown and gentle, warm crisp /Sweet pudding that makes me smile and taste/All that cinnamon in the air.
Girl you got these cheeks so red and soft but just that perfect shape/Apple blossoms in a fall so graceful/Filled with fiddles and candy.
Girl you got this thing this thing this thing and I don't know who you are and who am I and who are you to be in my life this way.

Some thoughts

Met a girl.

She's pretty much amazing. And we're dating. And it's great. Sometimes I feel really dumb around her.

The Fruit Bats are a really nice band. I love their sound.

Stanley Cup Playoffs start on Wednesday. Flames and Sharks go at it at 10 PM. I'm a little excited, mostly scared. Sharks are probably the best team in the league right now, Montreal aside.

Writing is good. Gets words out that otherwise get stuck inside.

Charlton Heston died today. Or was it yesterday by now? It's really sad. That man was amazing. You know, with all the deaths this year, Roy Schneider, Heath Ledger, the guy from Popeye's Chicken, nothing really bothered me. I mean, it sucks that Heath died so young. But something about Charlton's death really tears me up. He was so vivid. So alive. Even as an old man, he was calling internet nerds lonely and telling Al Gore to take his guns away from his cold dead fingers.

But he's dead now. And it's weird.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008


This movie trailer recently got me thinking. How sincere are we? How sincere am I? What does it mean to be sincere?

To be sincere means to speak truly about one's thoughts, feelings, and desires. This does not mean wearing emotions on your sleeve, but just being real. It's so easy to hide behind walls of cynicism, sarcasm, irony, jokes, all of that. It keeps us "safe". But when we're so closed off from what we really feel and what everyone else really feels, it's just an empty security.

For me, I like to think I try and be as sincere as possible. I've actually been working on it a lot the past few months, and I feel like I'm a pretty sincere guy. I know I can be sarcastic and joke around in a way that hurts people's feelings, but I'm working on it. At the end of the day, the way people are so mean to each other just sucks. It's so unnecessary and it sucks. Why did our generation get this way?

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Doing List- The first week of April

1. Get a haircut.
2. Do a full painting
3. Get 7 hours of sleep a night
4. Smile
5. Stop acting like you think anyone will ever read this
6. Pray for the Flames to make the post-season
7. Fix my jeans
8. Do laundry
9. Teach myself to rap

This is my current to-do list. I'll probably accomplish two of these. Smiling and laundry. Oh well.
I guess I don't expect anybody to read this. Which I'm okay with. This is half to just order the disjointed thoughts I have. Like right now, my back really hurts. And it sucks. Which might mean no volleyball tomorrow night. I should really decide if I'm going to stick with Spanish or not. And watch how much soda I drink. I was actually going to say "watch (something else I forgot)" but forgot whatever it was I forgot. Oh right! Watch out for sad people.

When I was a kid I really liked shiny things. I think to a degree they still fascinate me.