Music, etc.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Another Fine Album

Jeff Tweedy has been having a busy 2006 so far. His main band, Wilco, have been touring their asses off this year. Wilco is also working on a new album, which is due out early next year. Tweedy also has a few solo dates scheduled. His side project, Loose Fur, released an album at the beginning of the year. Although the album, Born Again in the USA, is no where near Wilco quality, there are a few gems. Finally, his other side project, Golden Smog, released their third album last week.

The album, Another Fine Day, is unlike any of their other albums. Golden Smog's first record, Down by the Old Mainstream is very loud and not very well arranged. That was 10 years ago though. These guys have changed, they have grown up.The songs seems more focused and the band seems to cleverly craft each song, with the exception of a few wild ones. Also, instead of sticking with the alt-country sound in which they created on their first two albums, the boys aren't afraid to be poppy. The first single (not the song by The Format) 5-22-02 is very pop sounding, which isn't a bad thing.

The change from country to pop was very unexpected. When I first heard this album, I wasn't sure it was the same Golden Smog. With such a talented group of musicians, it is good to see that they changed their style for the better. After a few listens, this album really sinks in. Not to put down
Dan Murphy or Chris Mars, but I think that the change had a lot to do with Tweedy. Honestly, just the fact that they made a new album is a tribute to their fans. With each member having their own sucess in the music industry, it is great to see that they still care about making music that their fans want to hear.

The boys also have a mini tour thing going on. They have one show today in Minneapolis and another show on July 26 at The Bowery Ballroom in NYC. I would love to attend the show in they city because I love the new cd, but it's not worth the trip if Tweedy isn't at the show, which is a pretty big possibility.

While you're at it...

The latest blog craze has been Girl Talk. While I'll admit, I like the idea. Hell, if anything can make top 40 listenable, then it is Girl Talk. With that being said, it gets old very quick. Sure, it is cool to hear Biggy's 'Juicy' over the piano chords to Elton John's 'Tiny Dancer' but it gets old too quick.

See for yourself:

Friday, July 21, 2006

Upcoming Concerts

There are three concerts that are coming up that I must see. Pretty much my life depends on seeing these three artists.

THE FLAMING LIPS...September 24&25...Hammerstein Ballroom

...Last time I had plans to see my favorite band of all time, The Flaming Lips, the most horrible thing happened. My tickets had just come in the mail. Keep in mind that these were extremely hard tickets to find, considering the show had sold out immediatly after the sale. So, I'm sitting at my home with two tickets to see the band I had always wanted to see and I can't go because Webster Hall only lets 18+ into the shows. That might have been the most disappointing thing I've ever had to do. When I sold the tickets, I felt like I was giving away a small child.

SUFJAN STEVENS...City Hall...September 29

...Any time Sufjan Stevens is playing, everyone should go and see him. I am happy to say that I already have a ticket, and just to know I'll be there makes me extremely excited. When I found out that he was touring, I couldn't believe it. Considering he said that he wanted to take a break in a recent Pitchfork interview. I've always wanted to see Illinois live and I am certain it will not disappoint.

THE DECEMBERISTS...November 3...Hammerstein Ballroom

Considering I have not been to too many concerts in my day, ever time a favorite comes around, it is usually going to be my first time seeing them. I haven't seen the Decemberists play live and I honestly can't wait for the show. It is a month after they release their 4th album (1st under Capitol), The Crane Wife. With all the info Meloy has given out about the album, it sounds like it will be very good (or above average, as he puts it).

What does a scanner see? Into the head? Into the heart?
Does it see into me? Clearly? Or darkly?

I have to confess, I have not read Phillip K. Dick's novel, A Scanner Darkly. In fact, I haven't read any of Phillip K. Dick's novels. He has always been one fo those authors for me. The kind that you hear so much about, but can never find the time to read a full book. With that being said, I did not have much background going into the movie theater. All I knew was that Richard Linklater (who I enjoy very much) was using that same 'Waking Life' animation. The animation upset me; how can he pull this again? Nothing bugs me more than when a state of the art style is over-used.

Five minutes into the film, I realized that the animation really was needed. Agent Fred, played by Keanu Reeves, is forced to wear a 'scramble suit' in order to remain completly undercover. The way the 'Scramble Suit' works is that every second or so the whole body of the person wearing it changes appearence (hair, clothes, etc.), an effect that could not have been used in C.GI. Fred is one of many agents used o stop the epidemic of 'Substance D' abuse. This drug, is the most addictive drug known to man. There are no 'weekend warriors' on substance d. You either are addicted or you haven't tried it.

With so much happening on screen in such a short period of time, it is sometimes hard to follow the plot at times. Linklater does his best, it seems, to make a movie for fans of the book. That could be the reason why he used such a fast paced animation style. As far as style goes, this is the best looking film I've seen all year.

With such great style, however, it looses a lot in preformances and direction. Fred is sent undercover to investigate the suspicious behavior of local druggie Bob Arctor. Fred, in real life, happens to be Bob Arctor. Keanu was mis-cast, flat out. The internal struggle between Arctor and Fred could have lead to more drama, more conflict, if Keanu even attempted to bring life to either character. Instead Keanu playes the do with the tail between his legs. He does not know where he is , why he is there. If only they had casred an actor who did know where they were. Robert Downey, Jr. ,however, is perfect as Barris, the nutty house-mate of Arctor, who tries to turn him in various times. I can't help but think that the movie would have worked more if those two switched roles.

In the end, the story is very legible. Although the story jumps around a lot during the film, in the end I believe Linklater accomplished all that he wanted to. This could be the sleeper of the year, a Memento of sorts. After a while, when it is long gone from the theater, people are going to realize that it is a terrific movie.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Concerts Special

Okkervil River...7-13-06...Castle Clinton

It was exactly a week ago when I attended this free show. I had been long anticipating watching these guys from Texas play their tunes. Black Sheep Boy was one of my favorite albums last year and it only helped that the show was free. Overall, the show was worth the 20$ train ticket to the city.

I arrived at Battery Park at 4 o'cock; exactly one hour before tickets were going to be given out. I was waiting on line for an hour,but it seemed to go by quick with all of the interesting people around. One heavy-set lady was playing the electric harp, and I got a kick out of that. Also, the older man standing next to me happened to be the father of lead singer/song-writer Will Sheff. It was interesting to hear that a man whose son is an extremely talented musician had disdain for musicians back when he was in high school. The entire Sheff family was standing behind him, (Will Sheff's sister is incredibly hott!) which was pretty cool.

The show started off with a few gems off of Black Sheep Boy. The crowd was not too into it at first. Everyone who had waited hours to get actual seats did not get up. That would be alright if we had gone to see a movie, but we were there to watch a frickin rock show. Eventually they all got up, allowing me to move closer to the band. I never realized how good the song 'Stone' was until I heard it live. Sheff sings with just the right amount of flare and emotion.

"Will Sheff, you have a beautiful voice!" a man from the back of the venue screams.

"You too, sir. I can hear it all the way up here." Sheff returns the compliment.

For not having played together in months, the guys really seemed tight. Will Sheff is also very good doing solo material. He introduced two new songs, 'Life is not a movie or maybe' and 'The presidents dead', the latter was one of my favorites of the night. Having really wanted to hear Westfall live, I was extremely excited when they started plating the opening chords. These guys are playing the city again in October and I do not plan to miss it.

Two Favorites from the show...(from Ryspace)

The Presedents Dead

The Latest Toughs

Paul Simon...7-16-06...PNC Bank Arts Center

When I purchased my tickets for Paul Simon, nothing could describe how I was feeling. If there is one musical artist who I could considered obsessed with, it is Paul Simon. The man is a god, he is my god. Every thing he has ever written is just fantastic. That is saying something for such a prolific artist.

My weekend had not been going too well, considering I had to go on a camping retreat with people from school. I'm not saying it wasn't a good time, but it was a little much. But it was sunday night, nothing was going to stop my from enjoying my idol, not even my crappy lawn seats (I have to buy closer seats next time he comes around). The benefit of the lawn seats, though, was that it is easy to smoke a little while enjoying the concert.

Suprisingly, Paul opened the show with Gumboots, off of Graceland. Graceland seemed to be the theme of the evening, a lot of the songs from the night came from it. As an S&G super-fan, I am upset to say that I am not a big fan of 'Mrs. Robinson.' I guess because it is over-played. During the show, however, I couldn't get enough. Paul changed it considerably, adding many instrumental solos as well as making the song slower. That was the highlight of the night for me.

Althogh he didn't play some of my favorite songs that I was dying to hear live (American Tune, I know what I know) he did manage to mix in sme lesser known favorites like Duncan and You're the One. Also, since this is the Suprise tour, he played a lot of Suprise. I had no problem with that because it is a really great album.

After the show, I had a real sense of what Heaven was really like.

Graceland (covered by Islands)

American Tune

If what doesn't kill us is making us stronger
We're gonna last longer...

I have always been a big fan of Roseanne, both the woman and the TV show. As a comedian, Roseanne was everything that other female comedians were afraid to be, herself. She laughed at herself, at her deranged family, at her weight. I never thought she was the funniest comedian, but she always held a spot in my head as one of my favorites. It was because of that fearless stage presence that she recieved a sitcom. This could mean one of two things: sell out or innovate. Unlike many comedains, with the excption of Larry David, Jerry Seinfeld, and Bill Cosby, Roseanne chose the latter. I can't say what the reaction was back when the show first came out (I wasn't even alive!), but I can say that the sitcom is now very respected for being real. The Connor's weren't the Seavers, they weren't the Clevers, and hell, they damn sure weren'tthe Bradys. They were a blue collar family with a lot of love to give.

Ever since I was little I remember watching the show, both in the new ABC episodes and the sindication on 'Nick at Nite'. Distant memories of the final episode have been in my head, ever since it was first broadcast, but I was seven then, and I can hardly remember where I lived when I was seven. Today, the sindication the Oxygen network finally had reaced that infamous final episode. I was ready for what was going to happen, but I was not ready to be so emotionally affected by a sitcom. The truley great thing about art, about writing, regardless of the medium, is the affect it can have on people. And yehh I now I sound corney, it's a freakin sitcom for Christ's sake, but someone like Roseanne conquered the art of the sitcom. They all don't have to be sappy, paper thin comedy like Friends, or light-hearted fluff like Everybody Loves Raymond. Sitcoms, even on a major network, can be meaningful. The way I see it...Roseanne, Seinfeld and All in the Family are the three most important sitcoms of all time. They all gave the audience a chance to look at themselves differently and really laugh.

That is why I love music so much, it is just another way for me to feel thing I would not necessarily feel. Someone may listen to Michael Jackson and be really affected by it. While soemone, possibly the Michael Jackson person's best friend, is really affected by Matellica. Sure, I can be pretty pretentious (you like Creed?), but never too much. Eveyone has there own thing and I understand that. Nothing is meant for everyone either. As nuts as it may seem, some people don't find Woody Allen funny (pretention lingers) and get the biggest kick out of the latest Hollywood blockbuster.

As an artist, Roseanne was able to write with the help from her friends, her family. She wasn't able to please everyone, or even make everyone laugh, but she really affected some people, on a greater level than just making them laugh for a minute. She made people think, how can we make the best out of a dead-end job?...How can I make the best out of life? The closing monologue is one of the greatest moments in TV history...

"I made a commitment to finish my story, even if I had to write in the basement, in the middle of the night, while everyone else was asleep. But, the more I wrote, the more I understood myself and why I had made the choices I made, and that was the real jackpot. I learned that dreams don’t work without action. I learned that no one can stop me, but me. I learned that love is stronger than hate. And most important, I learned that God does exist. He, and/or She, is right inside you, underneath the pain, the sorrow, and the shame. I think I’ll be a lot better now that this book is done."

Feel free to comment, telling about what art/artists affect you.

Was knowing your weakness what made you strong?

When I first heard Crazy back in October, I was delighted. There I was with this masterpiece, all to myself , I thought. When ever I was with a friend, I would play the track. This was back in the day when the radio was not even imagined for the song. Always, the reaction would be that of shock. Who is this? Why haven't I heard of them? I did not have a clue who Gnarls Barkley was when this track first emegred. All I knew was that it was Cee-Lo and Dangermouse, that must have been why it was so good. As the months passed, I was growing tired of the song and I was longing for the release of St. Elsewhere. Finally the day came and I was amazed. By that time, everyone and their mother had heard Crazy, but at least I had the rest of the CD, and no radio listening teeny bopper was going to take that away.

I feared the day when I heard that 'Smiley Faces' was going to be released as a single. Oh no! Not another song that I love, please don't play this on the radio. Sure enough, I'm in the car, with the top 40 station on the dial, if that isn't bad enough, I hear 'What did you do? what did you say? Did you walk or did you run away?' Damnit, they've got a hold of it.

The good thing about this otherwise horrible news is that I knew there would be a video. And if there is one thing I love about Cee-Lo's music, is that is usually translates into an amazing piece of film. Taking a page out of Woody Allen's Zelig (if not blatently plagiarizing that page) Gnarls made a pretty interesting video. The editing is fantastic as it shows Dangermouse and Cee-Lo blending in with rock greats such as David Bowie and The Rolling Stones.

Take a look, it's a pretty nice video...

Please radio, please don't take Transformer...(but hell, that would make an epic video)

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

What do atheists scream when they cum?

I was just listening to Bill Hicks (which I find myself doing often) and it just baffles me how much this guy did in his short period of time on earth. For years to come, young people will discover his voice and it will affect them, just like he has done to me. He was only 32 fucking years old and he died of cancer. It bugs me to no end that I will never be able to talk to him or even see him. He is by far the funniest comedian I have ever seen, not to mention one of the most insightful people to ever live. As far as stand-up comedy goes, Hicks will forvever be the barometer. When ever I am somewhere and I feel the conversations have hit a wall, I love to see peoples reactions when I bust out some Hicks jokes. It sounds corney, but try it and see what happens.

I got a chance to read the Hicks biography, Agent of Evolution, by life time friend Kevin Booth and it is fascinating. His short life was fulled with things that I couldn't even imagine. Being up on stage at such an early age and being able to make people double your age is something I've always wanted to do, but I just don't have that talent. The thing about the book that I really loved is that Kevin is not afraid to show the darker aspects of Bills life. He was human; he had some drug problems; he loved porn. I have always wanted to be a stand-up comedian; it's my dream job, but I could never see myself making people laugh on stage.

Bill had a vision, a vision that everyone on the planet should at least give a look into. Whether or not you agree with him politically, you can't deny his talent.

Drunk Driving

Monday, July 10, 2006

Page France: Tell them to kill Zidane

Although the headline is a play on words, it expresses the two things I want to do at the moment: kill Zidane for his bone-headed 'header' yesterday, and listen to Page France. Enough about soccer though, (but I mean, seriously, how are you going to let a PK shootout determine the winner of the World Cup?) and let's move on to Page France. These guys are amazing. I know, I know...Hello, Dear Wind came out last year and therefore I am late to the game, but I'd rather be late than be out of the loop forever.

Michael Nau is a great song-writer. From the start Hello, Dear Wind delivers. Chariot is probably my favorite song of all time. There is a touch of hyperbole in there, but it is that good. Before listening to the album in its' entirity, I looked up the review over at Pitchfork. I wasn't suprised; typically, they dwelled on the 'Christian' aspect of Nau's writing. Christian themes are scattered about the album, but it is much more than that. I think they are there to add to the other themes of the album.

My first Page France song was 'Mother' I came upon it while surfing the blogosphere on Mother's Day. After hearing that song, I had to get everything that they had released; I was hooked. Usually when I listen to a band for an extended perios of time, I take a while off from their music, but in this case, doing that would be impossible. If you haven't heard them yet, do yourself a favor and buy Hello, Dear Wind.




...And if you haven't heard Arizona, check them out:

Some Kind of Chill