Thursday, July 19, 2007

Whathaveyou

  • I wish Radiohead wouldn't be so damned cryptic about their new album. I'm half expecting it to show up on shelves with no prior promotion. But it'd still debut at #1.
  • Really digging the new Spoon. Get it?
  • Richard Buckner is a new discovery of mine. Imagine Evan Dando with a folksy tumble in his voice. Check out the song "Ariel Ramirez" for some melancholy sundown folk that'll put a lump in your throat.
  • Very satisfied with Jason Isbell's debut, and I think he'll only get better. Look for a review in the days upcoming.
  • Ryan Adams' Easy Tiger is growing more disappointing by the day, unfortunately. First album of his on which I routinely skip tracks.
  • I'm not a huge fan of Jump Little Children, but "Cathedrals" is probably one of the best songs, lyrically or musically, I've ever heard. Please find this one if you've never heard it.
  • Finally picked up The Black Keys' 2006 release Magic Potion. What a cool band. Admittedly, the songs run together a tad at first listen, but as a genuine blues rock band, they're great for music.
  • South Carolina is suffering for live acts. Although the DBTs, Flaming Lips, and White Stripes all have or will have played Myrtle Beach this year. But, really, who wants to go to Myrtle Beach?
  • Speaking of suffering and live acts, I saw Maroon 5 is playing in Columbia. And the Hives are opening? Aroo?
  • Ben and I might be opening for my uncle in New York City. Book your flights.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

The Worst Song of the Year*

(*relative to artist expectations.)

Close the polls! Thanks for playing! All you other artists with records coming out in the last months of '07, relax a bit. Because there is no way any track could suck harder than the steamy pile of po(o)p that indie mainstays Rilo Kiley shat into the airwaves recently. This is a band that--because of its adorable lead singer, catchy indie-pop delivery, and "Ronnie-fuckin'-Pinsky-from-Salute-Your-Shorts" on guitar--has become one of the most well-known non-radio acts of the decade. Honestly I'm not a huge fan. I don't have any of their records, but I know a few songs and they're alright. I see the appeal and, certainly, consider them a viable indie act.

But, alas, things have gone sour. I have no evidence of that beyond the atrocious new single "Moneymaker", but frankly this is almost irredeemable. Even if the rest of the album was Pet Sounds, "Moneymaker" is all manure.

Is it the porn-star-studded video (an element apparently beloved by MTV audiences, as evinced by the likes of cock rockers Kid Rock, Lit, or even MTV-era Blink), the lyrics that are about on par with the Milkshake song, or the Maroon 5 guitar licks that bring this song to the forefront of modern sucksmanship? At least that much. You decide:



And of course the lyrics:

You've got the money maker
You've got the money maker
This is your chance to make it
Out out out oh yeah
Youll get out out out oh yeah

Youve got the money maker
They showed the money to you
You showed them what you can do
Showed them your money
Make you get out out out oh yeah
Youll get out out out oh yeah

You are the money maker
She wants to overtake you
You know you wanna make her
Show her your money maker
She said out out out oh yeah
She said out out out oh yeah
You get out out out oh yeah
You get out out out oh yeah

And deep in my hands
I will if you want me to

She is out out out oh yeah
She is out out out oh yeah
You get out out out oh yeah
You get out out out oh yeah


So congratulations to Jenny, Blake and company. And thanks for the laughs.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

United States of Americana

Happy Fourth of July...for your patriotic consumption, a list of songs that feature a state in their name or a lyric. Let's see if, among us, we can fill them all in. Bonus points for digging deeper. And try not to repeat but I think it's an inevitability:

Alabama - Neil Young, "Alabama"
Alaska - Soundgarden, "Outshined"
Arizona - Wilco, "Hotel Arizona"
Arkansas - The Avett Brothers, "Salina"
California - Led Zeppelin, "Going to California"
Colorado - Bob Dylan's version of "Man of Constant Sorrow"
Connecticut -
Delaware -
Florida - Lynyrd Skynyrd, "Walls of Raiford"
Georgia - Iron & Wine, "Sodom, South Georgia"
Hawaii -
Idaho - Josh Ritter, "Idaho"
Illinois - Sufjan Stevens, "Come On! Feel The Illinoise!"
Indiana - R. Dean Taylor, "Indiana Wants Me"
Iowa -
Kansas - Drive-By Truckers, "Tornadoes"
Kentucky - Ryan Adams, "Oh My Sweet Carolina"
Lousiana -
Maine -
Maryland - Avett Brothers, "Pretty Girl from Annapolis"
Massachusetts - The Bee Gees, "Massachusetts"
Michigan - Tom Waits, "Gun Street Girl"
Minnesota -
Mississippi - Conway Twitty and Loretta Lynn, "Lousiana Woman, Mississippi Man"
Missouri -
Montana - Manic Street Preachers, "Montana/Autumn/78"
Nebraska - Bruce Springsteen, "Nebraska"
Nevada - The Jaywaks, "Nevada, California"
New Hampshire - Bob Dylan, "Tangled Up In Blue"
New Jersey - Red House Painters, "New Jersey"
New Mexico - Neil Young, "Albuquerque"
New York - R.E.M., "Leaving New York"
North Carolina - Whiskeytown, "New York Angel"
North Dakota -
Ohio - Sun Kil Moon, "Carry Me Ohio"
Oklahoma - Whiskeytown, "Oklahoma"
Oregon - Brian Holbrook, "Hands To Work"
Pennsylvania -
Rhode Island -
South Carolina - Gram Parsons, "Hickory Wind"
South Dakota - Bruce Springsteen, "Badlands"
Tennessee - Old Crow Medicine Show, "Wagon Wheel"
Texas - George Strait, "All My Exes Live in Texas"
Utah - Grateful Dead, "Operator"
Vermont -
Virginia - The Everybodyfields, "So Good To Be Home"
Washington -
West Virginia - John Denver, "Country Roads"
Wisconsin -
Wyoming - Avett Brothers, "Traveling Song"


Thanks to the folks at alt-country.org for helping flesh this list out. What've ya got?

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Naive Discovery

Nothing excites me more in music than hearing a new style of music or an instrument played differently than I have heard before. Therefore I was pleasantly stunned behind the wheel when a story about the Mandolin played on The World, a radio show produced by PRI and broadcast daily on NPR.

In this part of the world, our view of the mandolin is shadowed only by that of Appalachia. And, in my naiveté, I hadn't given much thought to the origins of this bluegrass buoy and its transcontinental migration, not to mention the styles of music it has influenced. As The World's Marco Werman reminds us "The New World is two continents."

The radio story centers on Hamilton de Holanda, Latin Americas "mandolin virtuoso," who artfully navigates his bandolim like Magellan in his namesake Strait--with the gusto of Latin rhythms, conjuring images wholly different than the rolling hills, corn cobs and snake poison we associate with bluegrass and Dear Old Rocky Top.

The Portuguese are most likely responsible for the mandolin's transplantation into the New World by way of Naples, Italy--where the mandolin originated--through trades and conquests at the height of Portugal's empire.

The mandolin gets its name from its shape,
mandorla, or "almond" in Italian. Think about the musical sounds you might hear floating in a gondola along Venetian canals, and you'll get an idea of the mandolin's original context. A far cry from the fast-fingered, thick-pickin' mountain boys.

I won't say anymore because I want you to click the link above and listen to the article and music for yourself. As they say, "There's a whole world out there." The same can be said for music.

Check it out.


Sunday, July 1, 2007

Midway Through The Year Music Awards

It's July 1st. Although it doesn't technically divide the year in half (I don't think it does anyway...), it serves as a convenient date to plop down my 2nd annual midway through the year Music Awards. It's been a hell of a year for music so far (especially since I now have money to purchase it), so let's get to it:

ALBUMS OF THE YEAR


5. Fionn Regan - End of History - You probably read my review (if not, navigate biotch!) so I won't go on about this. But it's certainly a beautiful acoustic album, a blend the best qualities of the likes of Elliott Smith, Damien Rice and Bob Dylan. It'll be a great disc to revisit in fall/winter.

Highlights: Hey Rabbit, Black Water Child


4. Bright Eyes - Cassadaga - Despite a few overwrought moments (I always cringe when I hear him sing "From the madness of the governments!" in "No One Would Riot For Less"), here's a gorgeous, meticulously layered and textured album that is a fine example of why Oberst is one of the best things going for songwriting today. And I'm so glad he's abandoned his eye-lined buttboy look for the creepy cult-leader look...sadly, it's an improvement.

Highlights: Four Winds, Middleman


3. The Avett Brothers - Emotionalism - What a great fucking disc from a great fucking band. As much as I loved Four Thieves Gone, this one is a step in the absolute right direction. Two of the best singers in Americana churn out 14 scant, rusty beauties that should thrill any folksy southerner with an penchant for the rock and roll.

Highlights: Weight of Lies, Salina


2. The White Stripes - Icky Thump - Rock and roll kept afloat by Meg's churning bass drum allowing Jack's searing vocals and guitar to weave one of the best straight rock records I've heard in a while. I love the ethereal movement that divides the album, comprised of the (mandolin or bouzoki?)-driven "Prickly Thorn, But Sweetly Worn" and capped by the Anglo-trance-folk finale, "St. Andrew (This Battle Is In the Air)".

Highlights: You Don't Know What Love Is (You Just Do As You're Told); Prickly Thorn, But Sweetly Worn

*
*This is not the US cover, but it's the one allmusic.com provides.

1. The National - Boxer - Dark and gorgeous, The Nationals' Boxer is unequivocally tops for me this year. It's a classic nighttime album: Very subtle, textured by glints of moonlight rather than glaring sunshine. It's certainly one of the most atmospheric and moody albums I've heard in a while, and worthy of the top spot thus far.

Highlights: Start A War, Ada


Honorable Mention: Wilco, Sky Blue Sky; Modest Mouse, We Were Dead...; Andrew Bird, Armchair Apocrypha; Elliott Smith, New Moon

Disappointment of the Year:


Arcade Fire - Neon Bible - It's important to distinguish "disappointing" from "bad". Lucinda Williams? Just plain bad. Menomena? I didn't know shit about them, bought their record, and didn't like it. But it wasn't really disappointing because I had no expectations. But with the Arcade Fire, we had 3 years to absorb Funeral, one of the finest records I've heard in the past five years or so. And Neon Bible, unfortunately, just didn't blow me away. It was OK...but perhaps the layoff inflated my expectations to an insatiable degree. I think this will be an album I'll come to appreciate down the line. But for now, Neon Bible still leaves something to be desired as far as I'm concerned.

Dishonorable Mention: BRMC, Baby 81; The Shins, Wincing The Night Away

Best Live Experience:

*
I took this photo. Use it and I keel you. Totally kidding...anyone can use it for whatever.

The Decemberists, Atlanta

This is kind of cheating, because it was October of 2006 that I saw 'em. But what with senior semester and all the rest, live shows (besides my own) have been few and far between. But my Decemberists' experience was one for the ages and certainly worthy of an award. As expected, they played one of the most satisfying live sets I've ever been privy to. But tack on getting to meet Colin and dip Decemberist Lisa (who'd made her way into the audience) during the last song of the night, it was an interactive concert experience like no other.

Honorable Mention: Wilco, Charlotte

The New To George Award:

Drive-By Truckers

Why it took me so long to discover this band, I don't know. Everyone told me about them. Drew in particular. But I never did buy a record. Finally found the Dirty South used (for some reason) and...well, Jesus. Have since accrued their three strongest (so I hear) discs, Southern Rock Opera, The Dirty South, and Decoration Day. I love to see a band representing the South as they do; proud to be Southern and just as proud to shatter the stereotypes that have been ingrained by the likes of pop Nashville.

The "Most Likely To Crack The Top 3 Before 2006 is Over" Award:



Iron and Wine and Band of Horses (two S.C. acts who gained popularity via the Pacific Northwest) both have announced fall releases, the former of which has already been leaked. Haven't heard it, will probably wait til the release. My darkhorse candidate is Jason Isbell, formerly of the Drive-By Truckers, who has a solo album coming out in a little over a week. I quickly gravitated towards his DBT songs, so I don't think it's a stretch to imagine I'll eat up his solo stuff.

Well, that does it. Lemme know what you think and certainly post your lists as you see fit.