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New Music Poll - Email tweak@stoptheweakness.com

Albums - 8.16.10

going to aka its a beautiful day but it aint shittySo in Phila (2 weeks ago) I went by my favorite spot, aka, and picked up a few records. I have had the Wu Massacre cd for a while but since I have come to love it, I picked up the vinyl. It's a pretty sweet package if I do say so myself. Anyway the CDs I picked up are the new Gogol Bordello, Band of Horses, Wolf Parade, Flying Lotus, and Kings Go Forth.

I meant to put this up a few weeks ago, before going on vacaction, to get people's opinions first and then see how they compared to what I end up liking. Now we are doing it a little bit in reverse, and the responses I get from readers won't affect my listening. So, have at it - which of these CDs do you like? which don't you? favorite? what do you hate? I haven't made up my mind fully on these yet, but regardless I will post the results along with my review of each this week.

New CDs

 

Wu Massacre Wu Mass

Beck's One Foot in the Grave Deluxe - Extremely Not Weak

Album Review - 7.21.10

one foot in the graveYou know, cool people always say One Foot in the Grave is Beck's best album and really cool people try to claim Stereopatheticsoulmanure is the best, which is plain too cool for school in my book. Personally, Mellow Gold is where its at, but I can respect the One Foot in the Grave choice. In fact, if you cleared away all the shit tracks off Stereopathetic you would be left with a collection of tracks that could compete with both but that's neither here nor there. For some reason, though I like it, One Foot in the Grave has always fallen a little flat for me. I think this is because, though his early folk stuff is some of my favorite, these tunes just lack some of the upbeat fun that makes me like early Beck. Anyway, I have gone on about my love for deluxe edition albums here before and this one's no different. In fact, the bonus material, which is enough to fill a full album, is probably better than the actual album.

There are a few songs on here which Beck would later re-record and/or were released unchanged on singles etc. These include It's All in Your Mind which was released as a single in '94 along with Whiskey Can Can and Feather in Your Cap. Feather in Your Cap was also re-recorded during Odelay sessions and given more studio attention and cleanliness. I like the roughness of early Beck so the later versions are not necessarily better, just different. They may be a tad better, but that isn't the issue here - it is really the lack of upbeat fun, which I think is the problem with later Beck albums as well. Don't get me wrong, I am not saying this album is in the same league as Geuro or anything after.....this album destroys those albums. I just wish it was a little more lively and fun.

So, yeah, I would have to say that the deluxe version of One Foot in the Grave is a big improvement over the original album. As I said, the additional songs are maybe stronger than the original album and just have the jester fun I like out of Beck. If you like One Foot in the Grave I would say you have to buy this album - it is more than doubly better than the original.

Talking Heads - Fear of Music - Stops the Weakness

Albums - 6.28.10

fear of musicThis album defies the laws of weakness. It is one of the greatest albums ever created. Ever. If I had to create a top 10 albums ever, this would be right at the top. I don’t care, this is going to be the gayest write up I have ever done, but I can’t help it because this album is that good. Fuck Remain in the Light. That album cannot come close to touching this one. Not much can. It’s funny actually because I Zimbra is the song that is the most telling of what is to come and it is the song I skip every time when I listen to this album. I love the Talking Heads, don’t get me wrong, there isn’t an album of theirs that I don’t love really, but, this album is just in a whole different league. This is the album where, well I don’t know. It is perfectly weird and perfectly poppy. It is not overblown. It is perfect. I mean, post Remain in the Light with Bernie Worrell in the band, I mean, fuck, yeah, hard to beat that, but this album…..it destroys that. And Bernie Worrell was just in the live band, so it doesn’t matter. I mean live albums, you want to battle Stop Making Sense vs. The Name of this Band is Talking Heads…..shit….that is tough…but that is for another time.

See, it is kind of hard for me to really get so excited about the Talking Heads these days because I was obsessed with them when I was 14 years old, and that was a while ago. Just as I don’t throw on Appetite or Paul’s Boutique very often, Talking Heads well, I just don’t listen to them as much as I once did. So, every once in while I put it on and when I do it brings me back to that excitement of being one of the best albums by one of the best bands ever. Kind of like Elvis Costello – is this punk? Well, yeah, I guess it sort of is. Sure it goes into the new wave era, but fuck those stupid labels. Trying to put myself back to when I first heard it, I couldn’t understand or comprehend that it was actual instruments and music. It seemed….well, I don’t know, like it was all made with synths and shit and it was fake.

pool writingI don’t even know where to start with a best song on this…..Memories Can’t Wait? I mean, that may be it, but…..I don’t know. Animals? Just like the Pink Floyds best album, this may be their best song. I love Brian Eno and I like the whole Fela inspired Afro-beat stuff, but….well, this is just on the verge of that, not completely there yet and thats fine by me. Sure, Remain in the Light is brilliant in its loops and construction and use of, well, a whole new way of recording, but……Sgt Peppers is great, right? But how much better is Revolver? That’s right. I mean, this is incredible. When nothing is safe and good and when you aren’t relying on studio trickery and something to wow the masses to make your new album good. It is just on the brink where it is on the edge of so fucking weird, and something so new, that it makes it way better than the one that jumps off the cliff. I mean…who am I kidding….people may listen to Fear of Music and say, this album is way fucking weird, and not more normal than Remain in the Light, but whatever. Maybe I am drunk sitting by the pool at the Beverly Hills Hotel listening to Fear of Music and getting a little too excited trying to make lame reasons and excuses for how awesome it is.

To conclude….I don’t’ think I am putting videos in here. This is one of my all time top 5 albums. It is perfect all the way through. Every single song. If you don’t own this, well, you are a fucking loser. For real. Throw away your fucking ipod and just stop listening to music.

Wu Massacre - Not Weak

Album Review - 6.18.10

wu massacreAlright, I don't really know what is wrong with me. For some reason I always get all excited about Wu albums, then they come out and I am let down, usually to the point of thinking they suck, and then I love them. Every time I fall for this and don't realize the pattern. This happened with Cuban Linx II and most recently Wu Massacre.

I couldn't wait for this album to come out. It was right on the heels of Cuban Linx II and I was listening to that album non-stop. Well, when this album came out, I was let down. I kind of thought it sucked in fact. Seemed like Meth, Rae and Ghost just cashed in on this one. The production seemed almost worse than mixtape status and.....yeah, that sums it up. It just seemed sloppy.

Well, I take that back per usual. It may still be sloppy, but I like it. Maybe I just got used to it, but I like the verses and they top the rest of it. It's kind of odd because I really like Method Man here. That shouldn't really be odd, but I sort of started to dislike Method Man in recent years (since I couldn't get into Tical 2000)....so that's where that comes from. I loved his verse on the New Wu on Cuban Linx II, too. So I think Method Man is back in my good graces.

Songs, well, it's tough because I just want to list the album off because I pretty much always just throw this on beginning to end - minus the stupid fucking skit. The only reason I can sort of handle listening to this skit is that it reminds me of the skit on the Method Man track off 36 Chambers. Otherwise - why are skits still put on albums? They got shitty and annoying right around 3Ft High and Rising, which is when the rap skit was invented. so...check out, Criminology 2.5, Meth vs Chef 2, Our Dreams and Smooth Sailing.....that should be a good start. Oh check out that Our Dreams clip, it is good. And yes, Our Dreams is the tune with a young Michael Jackson sampled chorus...not to mention Method Man throwing out a line about Martin and Gina which for some odd reason is my favorite on the album.

Capgun Coup - Brought to you by Nebraskafish - Stops the Weakness many times over, BEST NEW ALBUM IN A LONG TIME

Album Review - 6.15.10

brought to you by nebraskafishAs I say in the title, this album destroys and is the best thing new/blind album/band I have bought in...well, I don't remember when. I got a free compilation at a show a while back (2007 maybe) and never really listened to it - I am not a big fan of compilations of bands I don't know. anyway, I put it on my ipod and it sat there for a long time. about a month ago this song came on my ipod and I didn't know what it was. I loved it on first listen, which is something rare, and ended up listening to it almost 3 times in a row. the song was called Bobby Chops or something by Capgun Coup. Anyway, because this song was so awesome I decided, fuck it and went and bought both of the bands albums on CD and vinyl. kind of a bold move, but I thought this one song was good enough that a) they deserve the money just for that and b) hopefully the albums would be just as good as the song.

anyway....their second album, which doesn't contain the song I like, was emailed to me with my order (I bought them online) so I listened to that one first....and wasn't that impressed (note: I do like it now). in fact, I felt kind of like an idiot for my excessive buying. I pretty much listened once and then stopped. when the albums finally came I was no longer as excited as I originally was, but I thought the first album may be different. It's called Brought to you by Nebraska Fish. At first listen, it was a let down. I basically thought it was a complete waste. The songs all have these sound collages at the beginning and end, and its kind of sloppy and all over the place.....which is exactly what I love about the album now, amongst other things. At first listen the sound collage noise parts make you skip the song before it gets into the song, therefore making it seem like there is nothing good on the album.....when the songs get going though, they are pretty incredible.

As I said, it is sloppy or not tight. You have multiple singers and they kind of sound like a mix of Bob Dylan, Lou Reed and David Byrne all singing in the same band....oh, and that guy from Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, who is basically a ripoff of David Byrne. The songs don't often have a normal verse chorus verse framework, but its far from stereotypical prog, as the musical skill isn't there. punk prog?.... if that isn't the biggest (lamest?) contradiction of terms. Also throw in some folk as well as some country flavors. I think you get the point, but at the same time there is a cohesiveness to it. It all sounds like the same band.

After reading up on these guys, I have my own little explanation for their sound based on their background. These guys are young, straight out of high school....or they were straight out of high school when they started back in 2004 or so, which was shortly before this album was recorded/released....and I think the young factor explains a lot of the sloppiness and jumping around. It seems like their music was still heavily influenced by the bands they like and their youthfulness and/or lack of experience helped them just go with it, do what they want, and not worry about how it should or shouldn't sound. youthful arrogance if you will. They go for energy and spontaneity over well thought out, crafted songs.....and it really works.vinyl

Sorry.....that writing above got a little too lame, music critic-y. This album is really good though, don't hate it because of me. I have had it for a little while now, and I kind of kept waiting to get sick of it...but I keep liking it more. Now I have talked it up way too much, so I feel like if anyone goes and gets it based on this review, they will be disappointed. I mean, it has an indie rock feel to it too which will probably turn a bunch of people off. I don't know, I just wrote a lot on this album, so I am done. I would be interested in hearing peoples' thoughts on this though.

Here are some of the the ill songs, though they are all great - Adorable Doorsteps, A Liar in Texas in a Green Room in Memphis, and that is all I can find for clips really. Here is a shitty quality version of an awesome song, Social Security Number, and the rest you will have to buy the album to hear. It's worth it.

Exile on Main Street Reissue - Not Weak

Album Review - 6.11.10

exile reissueReissues are the siren song for haters. Like some one finally cleaned their sticky herpes bong and now they're PISSED! Little do these haters know…if this alternate version of Loving Cup was the first version they heard in 1972 -- and they subsequently heard the original version as an alternate take with this reissue -- they would declare it "blasphemously overdone".

I assume we all know how crunchingly great this dirty album is. Don't worry about the remixed tracks. Sure, we might prefer Jagger's voice to be drowning in the music sludge, but that is why we own the original album. Actually, I wont pretend that I can tell the difference enough to even describe it articulately. The reissue tracks just seem a bit louder to me. So if my favorite time to crank this album is during a messy house party, then what's to hate?

The alternate/unreleased tracks become the obvious reason to buy this album. Critics love to masturbate about how they can tell that Mick's elderly voice is "tinnier" in the overdub. As someone who has masturbated to Mick Jagger, I can tell you that his overdubs sound just fine. Like tumbling velvet covered rocks(!) He does try to noodle his voice around (dare I say embarrassingly?) at the end of Plundered My Soul, but the whole song is so great it doesn't matter. Hearing that song for the first time is like finding a never before seen picture of yourself banging your hottest ex GF. (with her in a submissive position)

I feel like I get bored when people go on to describe the tracks in detail, so I will spare you. Just know that there is: 1) a rad alternate take of Loving Cup 2) A sophomore cut of "Tumbling Dice" called "Good Time Woman" (which is cool because the track sounds so different…and Tumbling Dice was famously the hardest track for them to figure out) 3) A version of "Soul survivor" with Keith on vocals. And 4) Plundered my Soul. Maybe just go on Itunes and buy all the unreleased/alternate tracks. Or if you don't masturbate to the Stones…just by the 4 tracks that I mentioned.

RATATAT - LP4 - Not Weak

Album Review - 6.8.10

Alright, there has been a lot going on here so we have been slow to get stuff up. We have a potential new writer here and this was submitted over a week ago. This works out nicely though since this album was released today. Here is the review, let us know if you like what you read and you may see more from this writer:

LP4Ok, landmark occasion. And no, I’m not talking about LP4 yet, although ill get there eventually... And not that anyone else really cares, but this is my first review for the already highly touted and soon-to-be-totally-kick-ass-ground-breaking-and-pants-dropping STOPTHEWEAKNESS website. Long time listener, first time, umm… contributor? And yes. I rock mangled clichés if I feel like it. Also sentence fragments. So until I’m forcibly dismissed or imprisoned, get used to it. What.

Generally in life, I try to be as civil and as reasonable as possible in conveying my opinions to others, but hey, I’ve got important things to do, and violence is faster. So if you’re a hater, fine. More power to you. But do us all a favor – ‘get with the program homie.’ (A totally dorky Ratatat reference for heads in the know out there)… And segue. Nice.

For my first review, we’ve got Ratatat’s LP4. Note: official release date is 8 June 2010. Today is 26 May. Of all places, it can be found pre-release in its entirety on NPR.

Let it be known I’m a huge Ratatat fan. Both Classics and Remixes vol. II are, in my humble opinion, two of the most earth-shattering albums I’ve come across in recent memory. Period. I mean, to name just a few tracks, Lex, Loud Pipes, Alright, and Party & Bullshit are all straight HEAT. They bang, groove, rock, and have, in their time, totally flipped my own opinion about electronic music. Before Ratatat, my jambox would never see electronica or even much to do with digital production at all (save golden-era 90’s rap of course). Now they’ve each achieved staple status, and I’m not looking back.

But this is old news. Now for the new. LP4. Except for their remix albums, Ratatat’s tunes are 100% instrumental, and LP4 is no exception. For the most part, their tracks have a solid backbeat groove more akin to hip hop than to ‘unce-y’ house, euro dance, or effeminate atmospheric electronica.

These guys know their shit – you can even hear distinct hints of serious Baroque influence here and there in various harpsichord lines or in composition techniques. Take the LP4 tracks Neckbrace and Drugs. Go listen and tell me both tracks aren’t fire. Cause they are.

Mast and Stroud are very good at what they do. They’re so good I’ll even forgive their association with Vai and Satriani et al (typically for me, shredder associations land albums firmly in waste disposal units).

The only problem, and it is a problem, is that if you don’t know the ins and outs of music well, the lack of vocals can leave listeners feeling unhooked and even bored. The music itself is super hook-y if you listen hard enough, but sometimes it won’t jump out of the speakers and grab you in the same way. My advice – let LP4 ride – let it roll around behind the ol’ eyeballs for a bit and I bet you’ll come around to it. That’s my plan anyway.

RZA To Produce Liquid Swords II

Albums/News - 5.11.10

LiquidIt's a toss up for my favorite Wu album, but Liquid Swords definitely battles for the top spot. Therefore I am pretty excited about this announcement of Liquid Swords II coming out. It is supposedly produced all by the Rza, which again makes me happy, and should be out in fall of 2010. It took me a little while to get into Cuban Linx II but I really like that album these days and am expecting this to be the same way. The RZA tracks on Cuban Linx II are my favorite as well, so a fully RZA produced Liquid Swords II will hopefully be the tops.

The Flaming Lips - Dark Side of the Moon - Not Too Weak at All

Album Review - 4.28.10

Ok with my somewhat disappointed review of Embryonic, I am here to say some positive things about the Flaming Lips. This may also further my point regarding the stale/boring nature of Embryonic.

Their take on Dark Side of the Moon is cool. As I am sure you are too, I am a little burnt out on Dark Side of the Moon, so I don't think I will be playing this record endlessly, which is the reason I did not purchase the vinyl on RSD, but it is still very cool nonetheless. Their take on the album is completely new and reworked. It is not some abstract take on the album, but they have done it in their electro wall of sound way and it is different. Unlike Les Claypool's version of Animals, which is pretty much an exact live replica played by Les, this one sounds completely new - for Dark Side, not the Flaming Lips. Still though, the electro wall of sound is great, I am just bored of it for new Lips albums and would have preferred a new sound. Here since it is new for this album it is cool.

Les' Animals is similar though because it has Les all over just like here - to a much much less degree though. I mean, it really just has Les all over it because his voice and bass playing are so distinct. Unlike Primus's cover of Have a Cigar which was very much a Primus rendition, Animals is much more true to the original....which is really what makes it kind of cool. So, I take that back, Animals does not have les all over it in a similar way as Dark Side - both are cool though. Animals destroys DSOTM in my opinion. Dark side.....its great but, it is really played out, and even beyond that Animals is just a far better album. DSOTM is a great album for the Flaming Lips to cover though because of all the weird sound effects/psychadelia. Check this out. Originally you could only download it from itunes, that is what I did, and though I never buy albums from itunes, this is probably the way I would do it again even had I known they'd be releasing it on cd/vinyl eventually. This is because it is worth a listen or two, definitely something cool to hear, but I just don't see myself listening to this a lot. Oh, by the way, I am not posting songs off Dark Side because you should know it aleady, and I think if I put the songs here you will get your fill and not buy it....and buying albums is always a good thing. In case you were wondering, brain damage/eclipse is my favorite tune. How is the Lips version? Not bad. Doesn't live up to the original, but I don't think there is anyway they could have made it better or even just exciting without just doing an exact replica of it with more energy. Also Wayne fucks up the phrasing of a line or two, which may seem really petty, but also kind of shows how much I love the original. So...buy a copy on itunes and give yourself a reason to listen to Dark Side of the Moon again

The Flaming Lips - Embryonic - A Little Weak

Album Review - 4.28.10

So this is sort of the weak list I guess and they all come from record store day. The Flaming Lips were always one of my favorite bands. I first got into them when Transmission from the Satellite Heart came out and I loved it. I mean they played the PPAD (the peach pit after dark for the layperson) and then the She Don't Use Jelly video played during the credits. That album was and still is incredible. I then bought the Providing Needles for Your Balloons EP, which had Bad Days on it, which would later be in Batman Forever and on their follow up album Clouds Taset Metallic......and then they fell out of my listening catalogue as I went to high school, thought alternative music was not cool and moved more toward Talking Heads and Johnny Cash and other more classic bands. I was stupid and by the time I came out of high school I recognized that and pulled out all of my old cds that I had neglected. This coincided with the release of Yoshimi. Wow, it was incredible. Bought Soft Bulletin, again, wow why have I been so stupid for the past 4 years. This sound was new and different and awesome compared to the Flaming Lips I used to know. Better? No, but just different and awesome. Basically from Soft Bulletin on they went the route of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, who made Californification 1, 2, and 3, and they lost my interest. Especially because their awesome live show got stale as well, and was the same over and over. I will note that I did sort of like At War with the Mystic though, and was excited for that to come out.

Anyway, reading reviews for this album I saw one, again I think from pitchfork, that just as the Flaming Lips had reinvented themselves in the 90s and again in the 00s, they had done it yet again in the 10s. I was so excited to get back into one of my favorite bands but sadly this just wasn't the case.... in my mind at least. The album is dark, which is new, but musically you have the same electro wall of sound as in the past. Also sadly, I just don't think the songs are that strong. The darkness is cool and different, yes, but I feel like the melodies aren't cool. The album doesn't grab me. Sucks because I was really excited...but maybe that's the problem. Maybe my expectations were too high. I don't know, I am not done with this album and will keep giving it a shot but I was hoping these guys were going to go back to more standard rock and ditch the electro wall of sound. The jury is still out on this. People really love it so you may, give it a shot....I really wish I did and really hope that some day I do. I kind of get the sneaking suspicion that this will be the case. Fingers crossed.

Mastodon - Blood Mountain - A Little Weak

Album Review - 4.28.10

Ok so typically I don't do reviews of albums I am not crazy about because there are so many albuims I love that I like to do those instead. I get worked up and excited and really enjoy writing about them. On that note, we have Blood Mountain. I don't love this album but they just reissued it on Record Store Day so I figured I'd review it.

This was the first Mastodon album I bought and....well for a while I convinced myself that I liked it but then it went away and never came back into rotation. People loved it but I just couldn't get into it. Therefore I was hesitant to buy Crack the Skye, but ended up loving that album. Since I liked Crack the Skye but didn't like Blood Mountian I was hesitant to buy Leviathan. Why? Because I thought that the reasons I didn't like Blood Mountain would only be magnified the earlier you went. Again, I was wrong to hesitate and all the rave about Leviathan is true. So then, what is wrong with Blood Mountain and why don't I love it?

The quick answer to the question is that it is not very melodic nor dynamic. There is little variation in energy and it is pretty hard straight through. I like contrast in my metal, hard vs. soft, melodic vs. screaming and this album is pretty much all screaming. Ok, Slayer is an exception so maybe it is something else. The album does have the prog feel to it so that is cool variation and I don't hate it, I could just never really get into it. I wanted to buy the reissue thinking that maybe I would end up being able to get into it, but the cool version was $50 and I wanted to buy other stuff as opposed to the $20 version even.

For a little bit of background, I remember when the album came out Pitchfork said that after Leviathan rocked and was an underground gem they thought they would go the route of nirvana post bleach and release their nevermind - but they didn't.....and pitchfork praised them for it. Quite frankly, I wish they did a nevermind. Nirvana was way more melodic to begin with so if Mastodon did that it wouldn't have come out nearly as commercial. In fact, it would come out sounding like Crack the Skye probably. Also, though a little too polished, nevermind is awesome and has incredible songs so what would be the problem?

Overall I feel bad saying this album is a little weak because I really love the band but...what can I say? I don't love it. Buy a different album. If you love this album, I don't blame you, I just like the others better.

Modest Mouse - The Moon & the Antarctica - Stops the Weakness

Album Review- 4.21.10

People love this album and consider it the bands highest achievement. When I picked up the vinyl the other day it had a sticker on it that said Pitchfork rated it in the top 10 albums of the decade. This is also their last album before signing to a major (not counting the release what would have been their first album), which to some means their last album worth listening. These guys were on indies forever, since 1994, and they had a long and always growing fanbase. The move to the majors really pissed people off. With their next album they were all over MTV, and everyone's secret was no longer such.

Quite honestly, I don't think the move to a major label hurt these guys musically. The first full length album of new material, Good News for People who Love Bad News, was delayed a few times because the label kept having the band go back into the studio to perfect it. I honestly don't feel like the band lost their feeling at all. I don't think it made them overpolished or boring at all. In fact, I think it really pushed them and took great songs and made them even better. I love this album, but I would almost venture to say that if it was release while they were on Epic, it would have been better. Oh the horror, I know. The songs on this album are some of their best. My one issue is that the production is a little stale. It lacks somewhat of a punch. I had been listening to Modest Mouse when this album came out, so years before their 2004 major label debut, so this isn't a case of getting into them in their major label years. All of that being said, this album is really just the tops. The songs are incredible and as anyone knows, a good song is a good song regardless of production. Production can just fool you into thinking shitty songs are better than they are. This is probably the best Modest Mouse album around.

Where to start with this thing? Well, when I said the production is a little stale, what I meant is that your ear doesn't really get a break. i.e. the songs may change tempo, instrumentation, more layers of Isaac's voice - but in the end the songs all sort of blend together. Therefore it is kind of hard to pick out standout tracks. This is an album you put on and listen to straight through. I Came as a Rat, ok this one does stand apart from the rest and is pretty incredible. I also love 3rd Planet and Gravity Rides Everything. Tiny Cities Made of Ashes and Wild Pack of Family Dogs - I can't get enough of these either.

Alright - after listing out those songs, I just went back and changed this album to Stops the Weakenss. I was being bitter and trying to prove a point. It pisses me off with all the naysayers who disowned these guys post move to the major, just because they moved to a major. I wanted to point out the flaws of this album and that I believe that it probably would have been better if they had perfected it, because I don't think that killed their other albums or their sound. At the end of the day though - this album stops the weakness. It is one awesome song after another, and as I stated, production doesn't mean shit when a song is great. I guess it only plays a part on an album as a whole because it makes it all blend together. Really what you have here is a full album of awesome songs. So, yeah, I went back and changed it from not weak to stops the weakness. Check this out if you haven't. Check out all their albums, old and new in fact. I also didn't post any clips here because....well, I have heard very bad things about Isaac Brock's voice live. On the record it is usually layered about 5 times, and it is tough to recreate that live. Therefore I will leave it to you to check the songs out for yourself.

   

Record Store Day - April 17, 2010

I meant to put this up at the beginning of the week, but it was a long weak and I never got around to it. Probably for the better too so that less people will go and steal all the things I want. Tomorrow is the day that will drain my bank account, record store day. For those that don't know, since record stores are getting wiped out across the nation, there is this relatively new thing (2007) called record store day where artists put together special limited releases just for certain record stores. Check here to see if your local record store participates...that is if you still have a local record store. People line up early to get in and buy this stuff, many people just to turn around and sell it on ebay, so get there early if you want anything good. I have always missed it in the past and everything good is gone. This year there are a lot of good things, and I will do some reviews to go along with them. Monsters of Folk is releasing 2,000 copies of their album on vinyl. Mastodon is releasing 2,500 double LP copies of Blood Mountain, and 3,000 single LP copies. MGMT is releasing a Siberian Breaks 12" single. Joy Division is releasing 820 copies of a 4 180 gram LP set. Bon Iver and Peter Gabriel are doing a split single (2,000 copies) where they cover each other (Come Talk to Me/Flume) just like Beck and Sonic Youth did last year. Devo has a whole slew of releases for the day. The Flaming Lips are releasing 5,000 copies of their Dark Side of the Moon cover, which was previously a download only release, on seafoam green vinyl. Modest Mouse is reissuing a double 180 gram LP set of The Moon and the Antarctica. Pantera is releasing 5,000 copies of Cowboys from Hell, Vulgar Displays of Power, and Far Beyond Driven on vinyl. The Sex Pistols are reissuing 2,000 copies of The Great Rock N Roll Swindle on vinyl. Sonic Youth is reissuing Sex and Evol (1,500 copies each) and Hits are for Squares on individually numbered vinyl. Originally released through Starbucks only, this album is a collection of SY tracks selected by other artists and is supposedly the most rare SY album around. This is just the tip of the iceberg too. There are a lot more things that I like but just don't feel like listing out. This seems like the best record store day yet.

MOF

Monsters of Folk - S/T - Really Not Weak

Album Review- 4.16.10

I was unsure about this album for a while. I flipflopped back and forth and couldn't decide if I loved it or hated it. At first I liked it - I mean, I knew I would like it to some extent, so that was not a surprise. Then after listening to it more, I wasn't all that crazy about it. It seemed pretty clear that many of the songs were not written together, and each person brought their own tracks to the table and it was more of a split release. This was furthered by having a live show from 2007 with A Man Named Truth being played. This was at the first Mystic Valley Band show. Now, I still get that feeling somewhat, but at the same time the songs do blend together to a certain extent and their is more collaboration than I initially thought. Or maybe I just really love the tracks now, so I ignore the fact that it is more of a compilation of the various artists. Also, taking that into consideration, the real standout artist here is Mike Mogis. He is the binding factor that holds it all together and makes it seem like one band. His production and instrumental role here is just as hidden and just as important as it is on a Bright Eyes album.

To start off with some tracks here, I think I will go with the most collaborative of them all. No, not Dear God, but rather Baby Boomer. This song has all of the elements that makes this band awesome and something different than the sum of the parts. Musicwise you basically have a M Ward song as the base, with sort of that 50s throw back R&B/country sound. The vocals on this song are great. You have M Ward and Conor Oberst leading with Jim James providing harmonies. The Jim James harmonies are really what makes this album awesome. M Ward and Conor have distinctive voices, but are similar in their somewhat lower, talking style singing. These guys always sound better with a girl or higher male register harmonies, and that is exactly what Jim James adds here, and through out the album. Lyrically, this album is a mix of M Ward and Conor Oberst, who are both pretty incredible and have similar styles. This is representative of a later more worldly Conor Oberst too, which more closely matches M Ward. Therefore the album is linked together pretty well lyrically. Honestly, Man Named Truth is probably the track that really stands apart from the rest and doesn't fit as well, but I really like the track so it is fine in my mind. In fact, most of the Conor Oberst tracks stand apart from the others. I don't know if that is because I know his music much better than the others or what, but it just seems to be the case in my mind. While we are on Conor Oberst, I think Map of the World may be my favorite track on here behind Baby Boomer. This song is pretty much straight Conor though.

Taking a step back, you can break down the 4 artists this way. Jim James provides the high harmonies and the distorted guitars. Mike Mogis provides the production, most of the additional instrumentation, the underlying lap steel and other sounds etc. These two guys are less in the forefront, but are also the ones that tie the whole thing together. They are really the most important of the four and really the ones that make this band work. M Ward and Conor are different, but very similar. Singer songwriters with an acoustic alt country base. They have different styles completely, but on the surface are very similar. Therefore, I won't bore you with trying to decipher the intricacies of their voices and strumming/picking styles. The Sandman, The Brakeman and Me is a great M Ward tune (this video has them all singing together and it's way cooler than on the album...and it's incredible on the album). Put that back to back with Temazcal or A Map of the World and you will see the differences pretty clearly. The Sandman, the Brakeman and Me is another one of my favorite tunes.

To go back to my statement that the majority of the album doesn't seem to be that collaborative, once you get down and try to break it down by artist, you really start to notice that it is a collaborative effort. Now, you can tell the writers here, but that is obviously going to happen, so it seems less half assed than you may think at first. That being said, you can sort of break the album down this way. M Ward = Whole Lotta Losin', Goodway, Slow Down Jo, Magic Marker, and The Sandman, The Brakeman and Me. Conor Oberst = Temazcal, Man Named Truth, Ahead of the Curve, and Map of the World. Jim James = The Right Place, Losin Yo Head, and His Master's Voice. That leaves Dear God (M.O.F), which could be called a Jim James song, Say Please, and Baby Boomer as the MOF songs. As I said though, going back and digging through the songs, they tie together way better than you may think at first, and I think the disconnect is really prevelant at first due to the distinctive, well known nature of their voices. Therefore when you hear one of them take the mic for a song, it really makes it seem like that persons songs. So, unless they trade off lines, like in Say Please, Dear God and Baby Boomer, you feel like the songs are just thrown together. There are a lot of harmonies on this record though and if you listen closely you will notice this is true on most of the songs.

Alright, I have gone on way too long about this album, but it is awesome and has something for everyone. These guys have opened for eachother, and played together a lot over the years, so it is cool to see this project finally come out. This also opened up fans of one to the rest of the band. I have a lot of Jim James fans, that ended up loving M Ward and Conor Oberst after listening and seeing them live, and vice versa.

Ok, I wrote this up and then went to youtube to find videos for this review....when doing so, I came across a collection of studio performances from the band, and they blow away and confirm everything I said about this band not seeming like a collaboration but a mix of songs by each artists. The videos in this post make me kind of depressed about the album. These videos show the band playing together and doing the songs as one band. They are absurdly incredible. You get a hint of this on the album, but these videos seem to be what they were, or should have been, really going for. Wow, they are ill. Check out the videos above for The Sandman, The Brakeman, and Me, Temazcal and The Right Place - those are the studio ones.

Alright, so I didn't really get down to writing more before Record Store Day came around, so instead, here is what I ended up with:
MOF pavement
SY Hits
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So I ended up getting wrapped up in Record Store Day and spending more money than I would have liked on records that I didn't really need. I wanted to pick up Monsters of Folk on record as well as Moon and the Antarctica, but the Sonic Youth and Pavement records were not ones I set out to purchase. I am not saying I'm not happy to have them, there were just other records I wanted more. The Pavement greatest hits is a good collection and comes with different artwork and a different order of the songs than the original release. It is pretty cool. The Sonic Youth album was originally released through Starbucks and has various artists (Beck, Mike D, Mike Watt, Flaming Lips to name a few) selecting their favorite songs. It is an interesting collection, and it is cool to read what other artists have to say about their favorite Sonic Youth songs. The MOF record was a limited release on blue vinyl, as you may have noticed, which is pretty cool, and the Modest Mouse record is just a reissue. I don't think this is limited or very special in any way, other than the fact that it is an awesome album.

I really wanted to get some Pantera, the Bon Iver split and some other stuff, but....maybe ebay if I really feel the need. If you go to ebay and type in Record Store Day, it is pretty absurd.

   
   

Coachella

So Coachella is coming up next week. I have never been nor have I had the extreme desire in the past, but this year I really wanted to go, mainly for Faith No More. Last year Faith No More toured Europe for the first time since they broke up in 1998 and it seemed like they may not play any US dates. Then they announced two dates in San Fran, and that they were playing Coachella. I really wanted to go to Coachella this year because I wasn't sure if Faith No More would be playing other US dates. It was going to be tough for me to swing, so when SF dates were announced it made me think other dates were sure to come and I felt ok missing Coachella. No additional dates have been announced and I am getting a little nervous that this could be it...and I am going to miss it. Therefore, all of you who are going to Coachella better get excited for Faith No More, and realize how awesome they are and lucky you are to see them play. To get you ready for the weekend, here are some reviews of albums by the bands I want to see. Others not reviewed below (because they have already been reviewed), include: Public Image Ltd, Echo & the Bunnymen and Pavement.

Faith No More - The Real Thing - Stops the Weakness

Album Review- 4.10.10

This is my favorite Faith No More album. Growing up I made it to Angel Dust, and then didn't purchase anything else after, as I heard they sucked. I have always had a tough time getting into Angel Dust in fact. Not being completlely obsessive about the band, I always sort of assumed that most fans shared this same view as me - that The Real Thing is the best, things pretty much end with Angel Dust, and old is preferred to new. Anyway, a few years back I was looking around the old internet and it seems this not the case and many fans consider Angel Dust to be their masterpiece, but also, many consider King for a Day and Album of the Year to be better than The Real Thing. This was very shocking to me. Not so much that people love those albums, though I was under the impression they sucked, but that people think the three later albums are better than The Real Thing. The Real Thing is the tops. Everything about it is so....it's perfect. I find it hard that any could make a follow up record that is better than this. I still have never really gotten into KFOAD or AOTY, but I have tried many times to get into Angel Dust, and after years, I think I am starting to come around and see/enjoy its genius. My heart still lies with The Real Thing though and I think it always will.

FNM

The Real Thing is one of those albums that you put on and it is incredible song after song. It is also noteworthy because the album has two pretty big hits, Epic and Falling to Pieces, but the surrounding songs are equally as good and hit-worthy. Ok, so if you just clicked on that Epic link, you may have noticed that the band has aged over the past 20 years, Jim Martin is not in this reunion, and that Mike Patton may not be hitting his trademark nasal-y snarl the way he used to, but it's 20 years later so what do you expect. First off, I believe Jim Martin is now renowned in the veinn of Bach, referred to as Sir James Martin, and runs the Faith No More Spiritual and Theological Center, so he could not be on the tour. He is also tending after his giant pumpkins. Secondly, Mike Patton's voice is still awesome, and if you clicked on the Falling to Pieces link you would see his trademark sound still intact. Also here is an old clip to satisfy your desire of early 90s FNM. You also get a clip of the Arsenio Hall Show and Mike Patton dressed as Axl Rose as a possible reference to the tour where FNM opened for Guns n Roses and I think were either booted from our quit due to their fueding with the band. I think Mike Patton may have complained about and/or made fun of the headlining band during their opening performances.

Either way, old or new, Mike Patton's voice is pretty incredible and used like instrument with a large range of variety. In fact, if you have seen the new I Am Legend, with Will Smith, you probably did not recognize, but possibly wondered, who provided the screams of the sick zombie-esque characters - that is Mr Mike Patton himself. Mike Patton is a madman when it comes to music, changing his voices from extreme highs to lows, from intense screams to rather soft melodic singing (thinking mainly of FNM's cover of Easy), and performing in a multitude of bands, Mr. Bungle, Faith No More, Tomahawk, Fantomas, and Peeping Tom, to name a few.

Though I just went off on a Mike Patton rant, it is important to note that this album was done without much or any musical input from Patton besides the vocals. In fact, I believe the band wrote and recorded the whole album post Chuck Mosley's firing prior to bringing Patton onboard, who then wrote lyrics/melodies. While I love the diversity of Mike Patton, and even of this band, I think the reason I prefer this album above others is the cohesiveness of the whole thing. This album still has a wide range of styles, but I feel like it is tied together perfectly, whereas Angel Dust, for example, seems to jump genres too much and not as seamlessly. If you listen to Patton's other bands, you can see where this influence comes from. Looking at Zombie Eaters, you see the song do a slow build with jazz influences to their incredible hard funk metal. The song is awesome. The title track, The Real Thing, is an epic (pun intended) track that is once again all over the place but tightly together at the same time. Watching these videos is getting me even more depressed about not going to Coachella to see these guys. Fingers crossed that they announce more US dates. They have to. I am not even sure where to go from here. As I said originally, this album is filled with incredible song after incredible song. As I have said numerous times already, it is tightly bound by their trademark funk metal, but mixes in so many different sounds/genres/emotions it always remains fresh. I guess the one argument against this album that I could possibly understand, is that it sounds a little dated. It has a little bit of an 80s cheese production feel to it. I don't think this is true and it takes nothing away from the album in my mind, but that is the only possible negative thing I could think of. Here is a video of Surpise! You're Dead! to end off this review. This is from a reunion show, and shows that they still have it 100%. Watch that video. Did I mention how incredible this album/band is?

brixton

Faith No More - Live at the Brixton Academy - Stops the Weakness

Album Review- 4.10.10

After reading my review of The Real Thing, it is no surprise that I think this album stops the weakness of the world dead in its tracks as well. This is a live album from a 1990 show in support of the Real Thing at the Brixton Academy in London. This cd does not contain the full setlist of the show, and heavily pulls from the Real Thing, which is fine by me as it's my favorite FNM album. In fact, besides We Care A Lot, their cover of War Pigs (which is actually on cd version of The Real Thing), and the demos at the end, the rest of the songs are all from The Real Thing. We Care A Lot is an awesome song and a very welcome addition. It was released on Introduce Yourself, which pre-dates the addition of Mike Patton to the band. Even with the outdated lyrics, this song is still one of my favorites.

A great thing about doing the review for this album is that the album was originally released as a VHS, and therefore live clips from the actual cd can be included in here. As stated, this album is basically The Real Thing live, so it must include something special in order to make it necessary and worth listening to....and it does. This bands energy live is great. The sound quality isn't great and it could use a remastering and it is missing a few songs, but otherwise it could almost replace the need for the studio version of The Real Thing. The album has incredible energy and it's hard to think of them taking that to a higher level, but they do. They also add little references of New Kids on the Block's You Got It (the Right Stuff) during We Care A Lot (above) and Technotronic's Pump Up the Jam during The Real Thing, which is both a funny trip down memory lane and a display of the bands odd quirkyness. I could go on, but there is not much more to say - check out some videos: Epic, Falling to Pieces, From Out of Nowhere, Zombie Eaters. This album needs to be remastered. Maybe even do a dvd and include the rest of the show. That would be awesome.

The Dirty Projectors - Bitte Orca - Not Weak

Album Review- 4.13.10

As I stated in my St. Vincent review, this album was recommended by a friend and I really ended up liking it, which is nice. This album takes a little bit of patience and buying it alongside the St. Vincent album may be a little much as, while they are different, they share some basic similarities. They both are hard to decipher the instruments, which seem like it could take 30 people to perform the songs, sort of like Talking Heads in a way, and they have odd singing, but at the same time the weirdness is tamed by pretty, catchy, poppy melodies. As I said before, this album takes a little bit of an investment to get into. I was talking to my friend who recommended this yesterday and she said she was happy that I liked this album because most people she recommended it to didn't get into it, mainly because they didn't take the time to.

Like St. Vincent, you have heavy effects here, looped instruments, and a good amount of synth usage. So, how does it all come together? Take a listen to No Intention. This is maybe the most straight forward of the songs, and is my favorite. It has a good heavy beat which drives the song, the cool looped, doubled, delayed guitar part, and fairly straight forward catchy vocals. Here is an acoustic studio live version of the song, which shows a break down of it all, and there are actually no loops, and the singer plays that guitar line while singing.

Tracks 5 through 7 are probably my favorite tunes on this album. 7 is the aforementioned No Intention and 6 is Useful Chamber. The posted video gives a good idea of this band. You get the weird spacey harmonies, the laid back intro, then the harder upbeat portion, the driving beat, though a sloppy recording you see the musicianship, and Williamsburg. These guys have a lot to offer, and a lot to process. They have the hipster factor, which could be a turn off, but overall these guys mash a lot together and are pretty good at their instruments. If you are down to take the time, I would suggest getting this album. Not my favorite album ever, but definitely something different to put on, which is always welcome.

dirty
les

Les Claypool's Frog Brigade - Live Frogs 1&2 - Stops Weakness

Album Review- 4.13.10

Ok, I hate to be deceiving, because if you are at Coachella and checking out Les Claypool, you will not get what you hear on this album. You will get something pretty different. His solo band has evolved a lot from 2001/2002 when they had 2 guitars and keyboardists, a drummer and a percussionist, a sax and Les. The guitar players, Eenor being one, were nasty too, and are probably missed the most. I am not even sure who is in the current band. I would check them out, because I always like to check out Les in any lineup, but I was disappointed last time I saw him. The guitars were replaced by sitar, and while that may be cool for a song or two, the guitars really helped the rock. Therefore, I am posting what is probably the best of Les' solo bands since 2000. Here you have Live Frogs 1 & 2. The first disc is mainly songs from Les' 90s outfits' albums(excluding Primus) Sausage and Highball with the Devil. Sausage was an album done with the original members of Primus, and Highball with the Devil was a solo album. These songs rock straight through. You start to see a more jam oriented Les, but it is still very tight here and not very spacey as he had increasingly become over the years. The second disc is Animals live. That's right, only the best Pink Floyd album ever recorded, played in its entirety. And yes, I listen to this version over the actual Pink Floyd version all the time. It is so ill it is tough to describe.

If you like Animals, go out and buy both of these albums. Listen to the Animals disc (Live Frogs 2) and get a feel for the band. Then when you are wanting more, put on the second disc and get into the world of Les. I was a big Primus fan growing up, but pretty much stopped listening after Tales from the Punchbowl. Then around 2001 I picked up these Live Frogs discs and it completely brought me back around. If you don't know anything about Les or Primus....well....you need to go out and buy some. I don't have time to really go into it all now, because to describe how good he is would take forever. He is my favortie bassist of all time, and one of his shows with the Frog Brigade was one of my favorite concerts ever. If not the best show I have ever seen. It was at the Stone Pony in 2003 and it blew me and my friend, who wasn't a huge fan, away.

Here check out some for yourself: Pigs on the Wing, Sheep, Dogs Pt 1, Thela Hun Ginjeet, Hendershot

Alright, that should be enough.....

MGMT - Oracular Spectacular - Not Weak

Album Review- 4.14.10

Alright, everyone knows this album, or at least the hits off this album. You couldn't escape it. These guys were everywhere, and with the release of their new album it seems like they may continue keep the focus on them for a little while longer. The issue with music these days is that it is largely based on hype, and looking for the next big thing. There is so much music out there, and MTV and radio no longer tell people what to listen to, so you have a lot of bands that stick around for their 15 mins (i.e. first album) and then go away. I think the biggest reason for this is that music is written about way more than it is heard, and people who search out music end up reading about new hyped bands, not follow ups from last years old news. That is a pretty weakly supported argument, and I have a lot more to say on the subject, but this is about Oracular Spectacular, so I am leaving it at that. This album is old news, but is pretty great in my book. It seems like they may have found a way to stick around for longer than 15 mins as well. Honestly, I am not even really sick of hearing the album, even a bunch of the hits. Weekend Wars? This is probably my favorite song and I am definitely not sick of hearing it.

MGMT

This album is a mix of tight electro psychadelic pop songs, and longer electro prog songs. The electro throughout comes from David Fridmann. If you don't know who that is, he is the longtime Flaming Lips producer, and, based on his work here, seemingly a big part of their sound collage approach. Everything here has that Soft Bulletin on sound. A big mess of synths and subtle sounds over standard rock instrumentation. He is not back producing their follow up album, so I am pretty excited to hear what it sounds like.

I will say though, I am very much sick of this song, Electric Feels. Actually, I am not sick of hearing it, I just hate the fucking song. I think it sucks. It's trying to be way too bee gees for me. Its just a shit song.

Time to Pretend and Kids are the two songs that seemed to be in every tv show, commercial, movie, whatever. They are both good tunes as well. Real electro pop. They are both drive by synth riffs sort of like the hits of The Killers' debut album that were also inescapable. I am not going into this album anymore, but I would like to check them out at Coachella if I were there. They seem a bit wobbly onstage, but whatever. I think their songs are pretty strong, they are fun and definitely catchy. I will say though, watching those live clips and seeing that they just sing along to the music in Kids, it is kind of depressing. I don't know. I wish they played something on that track live and it wasn't a sing along. Its like watching shitty rap shows where they sing along to the cd with no improv at all. What can you do. I hear this new album was sort of their In Utero, trying to bite the pop hand, but we will see how that works out.

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