Music, etc.

Monday, December 25, 2006


Christmas morning: time to sit back, relax, open gifts and enjoy the company of those you love. This Christmas morning, however, a piece of news relayed to me by my grandmother put a damper on what was supposed to be a momentous day. No amount of Christmas cookies, eggnog or carols could make up for the terrible news.

I had plans to see the Godfater of Soul, James Brown, next week at Count Basie Theatre in Red Bank, NJ. Sadly, I will no longer be attending this concert. Brown died early this morning due to pneumonia. He was an absolute legend in the music business as well as one of the worlds biggest contributers to soul and funk music.

Brown was no stranger to Christmas tunes, releasing "James Brown's Funky Christmas" in 1968. These two are my personal favorties from the great album.

Aside from the horrible news, Christmas has been treating me fairly. I am now much more wealthy then I was yesterday at this time and I'm also the pround new owner of an awsome coat. Enjoy the Christmas tunes. I will probably get back to daily posts next week or so. In the mean time, I'll post when I feel the need.

Christmas at the Zoo- The Flaming Lips

Monday, December 18, 2006

Top 20 songs of 2006

After counting off the 10 best albums of the year, it was only fitting for me to put up my favorite 20 songs of the year. Please download these songs and appericate the great music given to us by these artists. I speant a long time uploading thses tracks and I would hate my efforts to be done in vain, so download and enjoy.


20) How Could You Live in the Northeast- Paul Simon

-Paul Simon proves he still has it with this opener from "Surprise." Humanity will prevail over any local setting, a message that works especially well when Brian Eno is producing.


19) Some Kind of Chill- Arizona

-Wheter it is the amazing guitar solo, or the brilliant folk lyrics that gets you, this song is one of the most pleasent pieces of music released all year.


18) Lloyd, I'm Ready To Be Heartbroken- Camera Obscura

-This song is just delightful indie-pop at its finest.


Minute by Minute- Girl Talk

-Before this year, if you were to tell me that there would ever be a song featuring Jefferson Airplane, Missy Elliott, Steely Dan, 50 Cent, The Game, Ying Yang Twins and Neutral Milk Hotel I would have said you were crazy. This song manages to mix all of these elements and more to make one of the best songs of the year.


16) The Great Salt Lake- Band of Horses

- Like any Band of Horses's song, this one is all about the build up.


Don’t Call Me Whitney, Bobby- Islands

- Another indie-pop gem. Just an explosion of delightful music. The lyrics are more or less nonsense, but the song is not about great lyrics.


The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song- The Flaming Lips

- Typical Lips lyrics and a rocking backing make this AWWTM's finest track. It is overproduced, but that is not a bad thing. If the Lips were to make a song that wasn't overproducted, then I would be disappointed.


Monkey & Bear- Joanna Newsom

-The classic story of the deception of friends is played out through the eyes of Joanna Newsom...including the niave Bear and the bastard monkey. Newsom's voice is just perfect for this amazing track.


Girl in the War- Josh Ritter

- Being in a field of music which does nt require too much innovation, Josh Ritter must rely on his lyrics to get his message across. This so is one of the many examples of why Ritter is one of the finer songwriters out there.


We Used to Vacation- Cold War Kids

-For having just started releasing material this year, the Cold War Kids have already released three solid EP's and an above average LP. They have matured a lot in the past year and this track from the Up in Rags EP is an example of Nathan Willett's songwriting ability.


Stuck Between Stations- The Hold Steady

-The perfect opener of one of the year's best albums. Craig Finn, although many years past his glory days, can write about teenagers better than any Emo musician out there.


Chariot- Page France

-Another example of great indie-pop. Never has the apoclypse seemed so happy.
The build up which finally explodes into a medely of instruments is one of the most satisfying moments in music this year.


Over and Over- Hot Chip

-Hot Chip's album is so infectious that in order to pick the best track from it, I played the whole album and chose which one was best by the one which made me dance the most. I dare you not to dance to this song.


The Crane Wife 1 & 2- The Decemberists

-Another amazing story by the Decemberists. The entire Crane Wife album is a masterpiece and this song is not exception...definatly the finest track on the album.


Shakey Dog- Ghostface

-Ghostface is one of the best storytellers in the business today. When a Ghost track is playing, the best doesn't matter, the cameos don't matter, all that matters is the "crafty darts" which come from his mouth.


Hotel Song- Regina Spektor

- Playing a prostitute who regrets a life of never getting close to anyone emotionally, Spektor protrays a part of all of us that we will never share with another person, regardless of how close we get.


Steal the Blueprints- +/-

-A very Postal Service esque track including funky keyboard loops and static guitar tones to complete this electro-pop masterpiece.


First Night- The Hold Steady

-Aside from writing songs of wild parties, Craig Finn can also write about the effects of wild parties. This slow song is a good change of pace from a band that does so much rocking.


The Funeral - Band of Horses

-I cannot get enough of this song. Ever since it came out, even during stretchs where I would hate basically anything, this song was always on a playlist of mine. The impact is apparent upon first listen.


1) Chinese Translation- M. Ward

-This is the second #1 spot for Ward on this site. While gazing at the other lists (including Pitchfork's), I've noticed that "Chinese Translation" has been very overlooked. "What do you do with the pieces of a broken heart?" asks a love-sick Ward. I'm not sure there will ever be an answer to such a question.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

2006 Top 10: #2,1

This list is finally down to the final two. I had a very hard time weighing each album out and deciding on the better of the two. I am certain that I picked the better album. Each one provided me with so much joy, but when it came down to it, #1 just was overall better. There are many more lists on the way (concerts of the year, songs, etc.) so don't fret.

#2) The Decemberists- The Crane Wife

In many cases, the switch to a mjor label leads to a less artistic output. On their fourth LP, first on major label Capitol, that old myth turned out to work out the exact opposite. The Crane Wife is easily the smartest, most musically advanced album the Decemberists have ever released.

The album itself focuses on many themes: love, loss, war amongst other things. Each songs stands out on its own as a work of art. Two songs reach over ten minutes and fit enough material to fit three or foure tracks.

Signing to Capitol means more money for production; more money to pull of things they could have never imagined on an independent label. "The Island," in particular, one of the ten minutee epics, could have never been pulled of on Kill Rock Stars. It also amazes me that these advanced arrangements can be pulled off live. The five members of this band are some of the most musically talented folks out there.

Throughout tracks such as "Yankee Bayonette" "When the War Came" and "Sons and Daughters" focus on the war within the album. Ig there were anyone more qualified to write about a war on a folk-rock record, it's Colin Meloy.

Meloy just has a knack for story-telling. He always has had that in him, but this time the arrangements are more complex, giving backing to Meloy's powerful words. Any other year, thsi would be a sure0fire number one record. It includes everthing I love about music; about the Decemberists, all in a one hour package.

1) M. Ward- Post-War

I cannot name a song writer on top of his game more so than M. Ward is on his fifth release, Post-War. This time around, Ward's talents are backed by some interesting arrangements from a backing band, something Ward has lived without on his first four releases.

On paper, the first track, "Poison Cup" does not look like an M. Ward song, but once the deep voice and electric piano pick up, it becomes a love song in which only M. Ward could pull off. Having appeared on Daniel's tribute album a few years ago, it is interesting to see Ward go with another cover from Daniel Johnston. No doubt, M. Ward gives the song, "To Go Home" the justice it deserves. The song is just done perfectly and the harmonies from Neko Case only adds to the mystique.

I never even think about clicking the skip button when "Post-War" is playing. If you are a fan of M. Ward's voice, which is a bit to get used to for a new comer, than this is the perfect M. Ward album for you. Even the less serious tracks, like "Magic Trick" come off brilliantly.

"Requiem," is a sad, yet pretty uplifting song. The character has died, but the way he lived his life is what really matters to those who knew him. Cliche, I know, but the way Ward adds his own touch really shows how far good lyrics can take a song. Take the basic idea of mourning and add M. Ward and you get one of the most happy songs about death you'll find anywhere.

"What do you do with the pieces of a broken heart?" asks a love-sick Ward to an old man under a weeping willow tree during the albums masterpiece, "Chinese Translation." The song itself is one of the finest pieces of music I've heard in the past few years.

Even on lighter songs, like the instrumental "Neptune's Net" or the fun "Rollercoaster." Post-War is an example of a great song-writer producing a brilliant record. Sure, other albums this year have been pretty great, but this one surpasses all the rest.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

2006 Top Ten: #4,3

The countdown is winding down and we're getting closer to the year's best release. Today marks the first appearence of a solo female vocalist, as well as the second. I reviewed one of them just around a week ago, so I'm going to pull the old cop out and pretty mush repost my exact review, only this time from a more advanced perspective, having giving the album many more listens.

4) Regina Spektor-Begin to Hope

The album kicks of with easily the years most catchy song. A lot of Spektor fans were upset about this, becuase they felt Regina gave up on her old style in favor of the radio-friendly tunes on "Begin to Hope." She hasn't lost that flare for songwriting though, drawing the listener deeper and deeper into the songs are multiple listens.

Regina has one of the most beautiful voices in modern music, a benefit that only helps the ambitious love songs on "Begin to Hope" work out really well in the end. In easliy the songs most eccentric song, Samson, Spektor sings to the mysterious Samson, "You are my sweetest downfall, I loved you first." As the soft piano-backing is drowned out by Regina's high note, the song begins to take on a mystical tone.

On the next track, she sticks with the love theme in "On the Radio." The song can put anyone in a good mood. The song portraits a young couple with no regrets as they lie together in a car as "November Rain" comes on the radio.

Spektor takes on the persona if a prostitute on my favorite track on the album, "Hotel Song." The poor, lost narrator searches for love in a dark hotel room, optimistic at night, but in the morning she is sad and lost one again. "I have dreams of orca whales and owls/but I wake up in fear/you will never be my, you will never be my dear/will never be my dear, dear friend," finishes up the catchy, yet depressing song.

Regina, with her beautiful voice and knack for song-writing has created one of the most delightful albums of the year. It is hard not to sing along with every track on the record, it is that good.

3) Joanna Newsom- Ys

After all of the hype about it, I thought that Joanna Newsom's new album simply title "Ys" would disappoint me greatly. After one listen though, I can say that it completly blew me away. Not to hate on "The Milk-Eyed Mender" but "Ys" puts Newsom's freshman effort to shame. This time around, so much is going on in each song, too many themes to fully grasp. Thats the true wonder of it though, it takes time and if you're willing to gather up all of the beautiful allegories and metaphors, then you're in for a tremendous treat.

One song in particular, "Monkey & Bear," almost brings me to tears. Newsom's song-writing skills really shine in a story of two friends, and the decieveing tricks we will play on our firends, regardless of the consiquences, just to benefit ourselves. Newsom's voices weaves maticulously through fantasy and reality to make some of the most breath-taking moments in recent music memory. Each song, ranging in the five to sixteen minutes range, tells a beautiful story.

The utter ambition and uniqueness gives this album a completely refreshing feeling. Newsom's harp perfectly coats each beautiful song. She even trows in some Jew's harp on the absolutly stunning "Cosmia." Unlike all of the other albums on this list, you won't find a guitar, bass, or a set of drums anywhere in album. Instead, a lovely arrrangements of strings creates a surreal feeling throughout.

It also is a great bonus that Newsom's voice is actually bearable on this five song mix. Again, it's not that I did not like her previous release, I thought her voice was weird for the sake of being weird. This time, we get a more polished, beautiful version of the pierceing voice that plagues "Mender."

I've never been a big Newsom fan, but if there ever were a time to convert, it is now.


For the most part, this season of "Nip/Tuck" has been a complete mess. The storylines, which did build up at all, like they usually do, revolved around a completly ridiculous concept, once again involving villian Escobar Gallardo. He seems to be the wirter's scapegoat when they cannot think of anything more creative.

The finale, which aired last night, completly redeemed the entire season. All of the horrible sotrylines and characters (Michelle, Escobar, Juila) are all gone for next season. On top of that, they have moved from Miami to Hollywood, a move that could just save the show from the gutter it was headed for. I think it was the writers' way of saying, "You had to put up with all this crap this season, here is a gift."

"Nip/Tuck" has been one of two reasons for me to turn on the television recently (the other being the completely amazing Dexter). I really feared that after this season, the show that I called my favorite for years now was going to become a complete mess, but episodes like last night really remind me why I'm a fan in the first place.

"Nip/Tuck" episodes always have a few great tracks to back-up a few scenes. Last night, my favorite scene, a complete ode to Magnolia, found the characters singing along to "Brighter Discontent" by the Submarines. This marked the third appearence of Submarines in the finale alone. It was just one of those classic scenes where I had no idea why it was left in (maybe Ryan Murphy is just a huge Magnolia fan?) but I was completely happy that it was.

The track comes from the Submarines release this year, "Decalre a New State." Personally, I am not familiar with the album, but this track is pretty good. Anything that can aide in the revamping of a great show is alright in my book.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

2006 Top Ten: #6,5

As the week winds down, so does my list of the greatest releases of the year. Today is a pretty interesting mix of a debut cd from othherwise noted veterans, as well as one of the best rap albums to come out in the past few years.

6) Ghostface Killah- Fishscale

Fishscale sets Ghostface as one of Rap's best lyricists. After a short intro, the album jumps right into its most solid track, "Shakey Dog." The song itself describes, in complete detail, Ghost and his boy Frank robbing a convenience store full of drugs. Everything down to the food being eaten by the security guards is described in detail. The drug game, as described in this song, is previlant throughout the 18 solid tracks on Fishscale.

"Kilo," easily the albums's most catchy track, flows right after "Shakey Dog" and uses an interesting hook to describe the goal of high ranking drug dealers. The lyrics delve into detail just as much as the previous track. "Some say a drug dealers destiny is reachin the ki'/I'd rather be the man behind the door, supplying the streets/A hundred birds go out, looking like textbooks/when they wrapped and stuffed/four days later straight cash, two million bucks."

"R.A.G.U." explains about the not-so-great world of the big drug tycoons, acting as a good counter-balance to "Kilo." Whereas most rappers, especially popular ones like Ghost, are rapping about how they "own the south" or they're "the king of new york," Ghost's just lets his unparralleled ability to tell a story guide him through this record. "My arts is crafty darts? Why ya'll stuck with laffy taffy?" Ghost asks in the track "The Champ." With all of the amazing hip hop out there, it really is amazing how a song like "Laffy Taffy" can make someone that much money.

Having matured greatly since "The Pretty Toney Album," Ghost's lyrics allow him to venture areas, such as "Underwater," that he hasn't touched upon in his first four solo albums. Out of all the rap cds released in the past couple of years, this one sits high above the rest.

5) Islands- Return to the Sea

This was the first truely great album of the year. For anyone upset after the split of The Unicorns, Islands answers all their fans questions with this masterpiece of a pop album. The album, according to lead sing/songwriter Nick Diamonds, is loosley inspired by Paul Simon's "Graceland." Any band thats seek inspiration from Paul Simon gets credit in my book and pulling off an album like this gives them even more credit.

Diamonds belts out tunes ranging from love stories, to death stories, to stories about the apocalypse, all with a unique flare.While it is very hard to be too original is pop music, Islands' songs do not sound like anything you would hear on top 40 radio, but they definatly could reign supreme if they were explosed to such toxins.

Track after track these songs come at you with their infectious melodies and gradually explode into poppy wonders. "Rough Gem" and "Don't Call Me Whitney, Bobby" are just two songs that come to mind that are just wonders. Each song, though, has the ability to get stuck in your head, never to be shoved out again.

Monday, December 11, 2006

2006 Top Ten: #8,7

I'm sure most of you, like me, love to read top 10 lists. Even if the only reason we read them is to disagree with them, it is still fun to sit through other people realing off what they got out of the music year. Some of the times though, if it is a straight list with a brief explination after each choice, I find myself reading only the number one choice or some of my personal favorites. Since I feel every album that makes a top 10 list must be solid on its own merit, I will be posting two albums a day until I reach the number one spot on Thursday.

8) Band of Horses-Everything All the Time

For a while I thought this album was not going to make my list, but there are just too many great tracks on this Band of Horses debut album for me to exclude it from the list. Although "Return to Cookie Mountain," the album which I originally placed in the number eight spot is a really great album, it just does not have the affect that "Everything All the Time" has upon each listen. Overall, this is the most consistant, track by track record of the year.

For a debut album, no band could ask for more from themselves. Ben Bridwell is obviously an amazing songwriter whose talent can only grow in the coming years. I won't get my hopes up too high though, because there is no way the band's sophmore effort, whenever it may be made, can be as good as this. Although I don't anticipate it being as good as "Everything All the Time," I do expect another kick-ass record from these Seattle rockers.

Not to spoil any future list, but at least two of my top 20 songs of the year are on this album, including my number one choice for song of the year. I really don't know why I was going to exclude this from the list, writing this very review (with "Weed Party" playing on my itunes no less) just gets me even more excited about this album. St. Augustine, an aucuostic number, is also one of the best closing tracks of the year.

Sure, Band of Horses are not the most unique band out there. Obviously they are influenced by bands (or horses) such as My Morning Jacket, but influences, in my book, are a good thing. But instead of taking in influences and playing it safe, Bridwell writes songs that are all over the place. The songs aren't too catchy, they aren't too poppy or even heavily sentimental, it is just a good rock band doing what they do best.

7) The Flaming Lips- At War With the Mystics

This pick should come as no shock to readers of this blog. It's an album that was overlooked by a lot of publications this year (but still earned a nod for Best Alternative Album of the Year at the Grammy's) and met a dismal Pitchfork review. Although I can agree with some of the criticisms expressed in the review, I think it is perposterious to suggest that the Lips don't give studio albums their all.

The thing I love about being Flaming Lips fan is that I never know what to expect. They've evolved so much since thier hard rocking "Flaming Lips" debut. After "The Soft Bulletin" and "Yoshimi" this album may seem like a small achievement, but on its own, it stands up as a great album.

From the beginning "Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah," the listener knows that they are going to be taken on a freaky ride in which only a band like the Flaming Lips would dare to go. After revisiting the ride too many times, I've grown to love it just as much as I had expected.

And unlike many albums out there, this one is pretty solid throughout. "Haven't Got A Clue," almost single-handedly take this album down to number seven though. It is just such a bad song, which I honestly haven't got a clue why it was left on the record. Definatly the worst Lips song in their history. After first hearing this album, "Vein of Stars" stood out as one of my least favorite tracks, until I saw them do the song live and it completly changed my mind on the song, which is actually very good.

Other than that one throw away track, it is a solid album. "Free Radicals" brings in some Prince and Queen influences to portray Wayne trying to discourage a crazy suicidal bomber from doing something stupid. "The Sound of Failure," is another great depiction of loss from the arsnal of Wayne's mind.

The albums more psychedelic tones will inevidably draw comparisons to Pink Floyd. All of the cosmic instrumental numbers have, in a way, been inspired in part by Pink Floyd, especially Steven Drozd's first attemot at lead vocals on "Pompeii Am Gotterdammerung."

Overall, the album is a political and universal triumph. With shots at George Bush and other governmental officicals, "The W.A.N.D." acts as the album's most rocking track. "Mr. Ambulance," depicts a man pleading for the ambulance driver to hurry upin order for a loved one to be saved. The song itself was written after the death of Wayne's mother.

Since this is their first album in over four years, I wish they could have given someting that was better overall, but this will more than suffice for the time being. It's good to see the best band out there still has it.

More from these bands over at the Hype Machine.


Sebastian Krueger is just the latest solo artist to bear a plural name. He is also one of the very few people out there offering really good music at a great price; free. Over at luv sound you can find Kruegar's latest release, Vestibule EP, as a free download.

It is not too hard to hear the Sufjan Stevens like quality of Inlets. When I put my itunes on shuffle, "Pictures of Trees" came on right before a Sufjan song and it had not hit me that the song playing was not inlets until I brought itunes back up. It is not as if Krueger is copying Sufjan's style, it is just that they have very similar voices. The similarities more or less end there.

Being a local New Yorker, Kruegar has a few dates in the upcoming months scattered throughout the city. Without even realizing it, I saw Kruegar play guitar for My Brightest Diamond at the Sufjan show in Town Hall. Playing with two Asthmatic Kitty acts maybe can get him signed by the label? Well, let's hope so, because if this music is amazing when it's free, I can only imagine what this guy can down with an LP.

The idea of free music that you don't have to feel guilty about downloading is a very pleasing one. Especially when you are getting a product as solid as Vestibule EP.

Check for more Inlets over at The Hype Machine and become Kruegars Myspace friend.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

2006 Top Ten: #10,9

With the year winding down, I have no choice to compile my own list of the year's top 10. Instead of listing them all at one time, I have decided to list two a day for the next 5 days.

This year has definatly produced some great albums. Newcomers have put out completly magical debuts and even veterans pushing 70-years-old have managed to add something new and refreshing into the mix. Overall, the music year produced enough music to feed even those looking for someting completly new.

10) Paul Simon- Surprise

Even at 65 years old, Paul Simon has the same power that he had 40 years ago when he and Art Garfunkel put out some of the most poignant folk-rock this country has ever seen. The first track off of "Surprise," How Could You Live in the Northeast, sets the standard for the record. If you're looking for the same acoustic strum and phoned-in lyrics that most veterans try to pass off these days as music, then Surprise is not for you. Each song manages to encompass a lot of the themes Simon has played with throughout his carrer: love, loss and the incredible question as to what makes a person; only this time he is telling it from a perspective of an old man, who has been battared even more by life since America Tune and who has spent years Slip Slinin' Away.

With songs like Wartime Prayers and Outrageous, Paul ventures into familiar territory, giving it his own spin. Brian Eno's production really shows; especially on Outrageous in which Paul raps about somethings in life that just don't seem too fair. But it's outrageous for a man like him to co mplain, a paradox that seems to be eating up this old-timer. On top of the excellent, reflective lyrics and Eno's personal technological input, Paul's voice is another shining moment of the album. It seems as though as much as he has changed as a person since he began writing music, his voice has remined the same, with little signs of ageing.

I got a chance to see the living legend in concert this past summer and I was glad to see that he played the majority of tracks from this record. Paul seemed to be just as emotinally attached to thses songs as he did with his back cataloge. If Simon never relases anoter album, I will be happy with Surprise as a good-bye.

9) The Hold Steady- Boys & Girls in America

This is the tough thing about making a top 10. When the album first came out, I thought it was very good, but I did not really feel like hearing it again for a while. A few weeks ago though, it really hit me. I've been listening to it more and more now and I fear that I am not doing it justice by ranking it the number 9 album of the year.

This album follows their release last year, Seperation Sunday (the album that made me fall in love with them), and it is a pretty different album. The boys and girls in this album have a blast just drinking, doing drugs and having a good, easy time. This is the album that Art Brut was going for when they released "Rock and Roll," the similarities are undeniable, but there is much more truth in "Boys and Girls." The characters in each story remind me of people I know: doing anything they can to get some sort of buzz, but still are unsatisfyed when the buzz finally arrives.

Instead of merely belting out his vocals to his descriptive stories, band-leader Craig Finn finds his own singing voice, but it is just as raw as if he were talking. Unlike most other bands these days, The Hold Steady are not afraid to rock out on one track and completly go the opposite way on the next track. But, through out the album is Finn's truthful tales of young American life.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

You've got to be joking

So, the Grammy Nominations are in and just as I'd expected, they are absolutly ridiculous. "You're Beautiful" for Record of the Year? Justin Timberlake for Album of the Year? And that's not even the worst part. Do you remember that two hour long piece of trash the Red Hot Chili Peppers put out this year? Neither do I (or at least I wish I wasn't able to remember), but thats right up there with J.T. for album of the year. Excluded from this list is Paul Simon's "Surprise," which may be the biggest shocker on the whole list. In fact, he doesn't even make one appearence! Holy Shit, the people running the Grammy's have gone mad.

Sure, past years have sucked, but this year's list takes the cake. And of course the overrated Arctic Monkeys are up there for "Alternative" album of the year, but at least the Lips got the same 'honor' for "At War With the Mystics." The Lips are also up for Best Rock Instrumental Performance (the category which they won in 2002) for their song "The Wizard Turns On..."

Normally I try not to be so biased, but this is really upsetting. I know I'm going on a rant and by doing so am turning off a lot of people, but I'm sure most will agree that this list is a complete joke.

No Joanna Newsom. No Regina Spektor. No TV on the Radio. No M Ward. And worst of all, no "Crane Wife." Let me thrown in an awful pun to end this rant and say that leaving "The Crane Wife" off of Best Alternative Album is the imperfect crime.

Here is some Crane Wife for you to listen to as you look in awe at who will be at the Grammy's...

Wednesday, December 06, 2006


Casiotone for the Painfully Alone - Graceland

Although I am an Owen Ashworth fan, I was a little skeptical going into this song for Paul Simon's Graceland is one of my all time favorite songs. Although Islands were able to cover this song very well (Islands- Graceland ), it is not an easy song to duplicate. This new monotone, depressing take is a breath of fresh air and works as an interesting interpertation of a pretty hopeful song. Some sythn cords back this pretty slow, stripped-down cover. A limited edition of Casiotone's 7" "Graceland" single can be found here .

Goldspot - Float On

A lot of Modest Mouse fans detest the band's 2004 brush with the main stream that came along with the song Float On. I, however, find it to be one of their more delightful songs. Obviously the fact that it was more over-played than "Crazy" is going to get some people upset. Although I can't speak for experience, Modest Mouse shows seem to include more people just banking on hearing that song, which is pretty lame. This cover is also pretty lame. I was trying to find a cool bluegrass cover of this song that I heard a while back, but that was no where to be found. It doesn't help that this track come from the new O.C. Album.

The Flaming Lips -
After the Goldrush

Since I've given you one shitty cover and one mediocre cover, I thought'd I'd top off this weeks covers with a great rendition of Neil Young's "After the Goldrush" from my favorite band of all time. This pretty rough version of the song, that can oly be described as "kick ass," comes from the Lips anthology, A Collection of Songs Representing an Enthusiasm for Recording... By Amateurs (1984-1990). Much like Young's voice, Wayne's voice is by no means the old standard of great. The both of them though have such a unique voices that it fits their own personal music very well. I couldn't imagine a beautiful voice like Jeff Buckley's pulling off "The Spiderbite Song." Because this is a fairly early Lips' recording, you have to expect the noisy quality to it, but that quality only adds to this great cover.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Cold Hard World

Hundreds of years from now, after a nuclear holocaust takes out the entire Western Hemisphere, and a new age of civilization arises from the ashes, if the people of the new generation were to find one burried relic under the ruins of America, I would really hope they find an old Daniel Johnston tape. Sure, it might be hard for the beings to master the technology involved in playing it, but once they figured it out, they would have a positive view of their lost, disconnected ancestors.

If you think about it, all we have from the ancient Greeks (while trying to understand their personalities) are their classic works and other small things that have stood the test of time. It would be really awful for our society to be represented by an old copy of "The O.C." or a Click 5 cd. Who knows? Maybe I'm just talking out of my ass here, but I really believe that if we were to only be known for Daniel's music than we're in good shape.

First off, If you havent seen the 2005 Sundance award-winning film, The Devil and Daniel Johnston, do yourself a favor and buy it. Daniel has had a rough life, but I'm sure he wouldn't trade it for the world. He has been to more places and done more things than I could ever hope to do, while at the same time suffering from a severe illness. On top of that, he is easily one of the top five song-writers of all time.

Never does a Daniel Johnston song seem dated, sure some of their technical qualities have been "a little worped from the rain," but that does not stop them from sounding just as brilliant than they did 20 years ago.

Every now and then you hear a song and you wish time would freeze; some songs actually have the power to make time feel as if it is indeed frozen. A song like "Cold Hard World," no matter how sad and lonesome it can sound, has an undeniable truth ridden throughout the two jumping chords and depressing lyrics. As depressing as the lyrics are though, it is a song that you can put on when you're in a bad mood in order to brighten you up and give you the message that "you aren't the only one in that boat."

Wheter you have run over a ladder, have had an abortion, have lost a loved-one, or just simply don't feel like seeing an old friend after so many things have changed, it is important to know that it really is a "Cold Hard World" and as soon as we can all realize this, the better off we will be. Have fun with life while it lasts because it truely is special.

This beautiful song comes from his 1982 cassette "Don't Be Scared" which can be purchased at the offical website of Stress Records. Honestly buy it. For five bucks, you will never be able to find a better collection of songs.

So, as the new dawn rises and "Don't Be Scared" is found to the delight of a new, futuristic audience, people of all generations will get to experience how great a world so cold and hard can actually be.

Cold Hard World

Check out this bonus Daniel Mp3:

Funeral Home (Sing Along)

And don't forget to check Daniel out over at The Hype Machine

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Immortal Technique

Who is my favorite rapper out there? A few weeks ago I would have said Ghostface, the most consistantly good rapper maybe of all time. With yet another cd coming out this week (I'm so excited), Ghostface has been delevering an album every two years ever since I can remember (and two in this year alone).

A few weeks ago, however, while in a complete rap phase, I began downloading some rap cds and give artists a try when one artist, who I had only been familiar with through the absolutly haunting song "Dance with the Devil" really stood out. The artist, as most of you probably have at least heard of, is Immortal Technique. Ever since that fateful day of hearing Revolutionary Vol. 2 in its entirity, my experiences with music have greatly changed.

A lot of people generalize about rap and say it is made by no-talent hacks looking to make a quick buck. This is mainly due to the fact that most main-stream rap is just awful. Hearing bands like Creed though don't make me say that all Rock is awful, so I wish people would look at it from a different perspective and quit being so ignorant. If more people were to pick up an Immortal Technique song--or just a lyric sheet--they would not be able to deny its lyrical brillance. As far as lyrics go for me, Immortal is the best rap writer of all time. With only two full albums and a few mix-tape tracks under his belt, things can only get better for him.

Nothing is safe when Immortal gets a hold of it: religious groups, the government and even his own neighbors get a tatse of Tech's venom when the beat is playing. His best work though, comes from his extensivly researched governmental bashes including personal favorite "The 4th Branch" in which Tech spits:

Embedded correspondents don't tell the source of the tension
And they refuse to even mention, European intervention

Or the massacres in Jenin, the innocent screams
U.S. manufactured missles, and M-16's
Weapon contracts and corrupted American dreams

Media censorship, blocking out the video screens
A continent of oil kingdoms, bought for a bargain

Democracy is just a word, when the people are starvin'

At the end of the song, Tech sends a message to his people on the streets, people of all ages and races, by asking them to stop watching the news, stop watching these lies, and pick up a book and read. Don't depend on the talking television heads for information, read and find it out for yourself.

Corperations are another thing that he just can't understand. This is once again a point that he is dead on with. His words are not something that would come out of a cd with a major lable on the cover. I'm glad he has not sold out, only to produce records that are only half of his true potetential like other rappers. In stead Tech "cuts out the middle man" by releasing the records on the company to which he is the president, Viper Records. In the song "Freedom of Speech" explains his success just by distributing himself:

Fuck a middle man, I won't pay anyone else
I'll bootleg it and sell it to the streets myself
I'd rather be that than signed and stuck on a shelf

And because of this executives try to diss me
Racism frozen in time like Walt Disney

And now they say they wanna get me signed to the majors
If I switch up my politics and change my behavior

Try to tell me what to rhyme about over the beat
Bitch niggas that never spent a day in the street

Thats another thing about Technique, he could have easily been corupted by the inner city life, but Tech speaks for a different perspective. Sure, he's been in gangs, spent time in jail and has definatly "sent some people to heaven" but to quote Pac, "that's just the way it is." Who am I to say he is a bad man for doing anything in his life, when all I've had thoughout life is the suburban lifestyle. I am a "Bitch nigga who has never spent a day in the street" so why turn around and get angry with him for decisions he has made?

On one concert that I got my hands on, Tech explains to the crowd that he isn't trying to portray a shetto you see in the movies or on TV, where the good times flow just like the cocaine; he wants to show the ghetto where your whole family can die in one night and you could get raped walking home from work. Tech is at least giving a brutal, real-life version of the place he has lived for the majority of his life. The media down-plays the struggles that go on everyday by instead glamorizing a horrific world; they don't even offer a way to fix it.

That leads to another point that is apparent is Tech's raps: classism. "I don't want to escape the plantation I want to come back, free all my people, hang the Mother-Fucker that kept me there and burn the house to the god damn ground. I want to take over the encomienda and give it back to the people who work the land," is found in the non-rapping track, "The poverty of philosophy." It seems as though that the people living in inner cities, who are working their asses off day by day just to get by, are not in the slightest way represtented. Even when someone rises from thses conditions to make money, most of that money goes to getting the latest car or the biggest house. This is the reason Immortal doesn't rap about material objects, it also helps to be intelligent, somthing to which he can definatly say.

Listen to some intelligent rap from one of the most insightful guys out there. And dont worry about downloading it with lyrics like, "Burn it off the internet and bump it outside," I'm sure he won't mind. But if your going to listen, pull some ideas out of it instead of just some fo the great beats. So, by all means, bump this shit outside:


Alright, I'll pretend that anyone actually read this blog before two month hiatus and that you guys are really upset that I haven't been blogging. I am making a vow, however to have at least one post a day for one month in order to make it up to you.

After all of the hype about it, I thought that Joanna Newsom's new album simply title "Ys" would disappoint me greatly. After one listen though, I can say that it completly blew me away. Not to hate on "The Milk-Eyed Mender" but "Ys" puts Newsom's freshman effort to shame. This time around, so much is going on in each song, that I am certain that I missed about 90% of the themes going on in each masterfully crafted song. But the 10% or so that I picked up is enough to put it towards the top of the list for this years finest releases.

Although it's not quite "The Crane Wife" yet, we are talking about one listen. A good reviewer would give himself time to understand the album more beofre giving it a justifiable review, but I feel that first impressions while listening to an album are really important.

One song in particular, "Monkey & Bear," almost brings me to tears. Newsom's song-writing skills really shine in a story of two friends, and the decieveing tricks we will play on our firends, regardless of the consiquences, just to benefit ourselves. Newsom's voices weaves maticulously through fantasy and reality to make some of the most breath-taking moments in recent music memory. Each song, ranging in the five to sixteen minutes range, tells a beautiful story.

It also is a great bonus that Newsom's voice is actually bearable on this five song mix. Again, it's not that I did not like her previous release, I thought her voice was weird for the sake of being weird. This time, we get a more polished, beautiful version of the pierceing voice that plagues "Mender."

I've never been a big Newsom fan, but if there ever were a time to convert, it is now. Check out "Monkey & Bear" to get a taste of the beautiful album.

Check out the Hype Machine for more Newsom tracks from fellow bloggers.