May 24, 2006


On this blog, I attempt to merge two of my most passionate interests: music and comics. Often, this “blending” occurs with huge, jagged edges. Not today.

In the first few pages of Phonogram we get references to The Buzzcocks, Le Tigre, and Kula Shaker, and explanation of “what early 90s riot-grrrl grew up into,” and the breakdown of our young male hipster’s wardrobe, down to his (non)ironic Superman T.

Writer Kieron Gillen is a fellow music journalist, although of the more professional and active sort. And like all good prosaic purveyors of pop, Gillen does more than tell the story and sell the scene, he turns it into poetry. Jamie McKelvie, who handled artistic duties on the competent-but-soulless mod love story Long Hot Summer (also from Image), provides the gray-scaled characters and settings with a sharp wit and unique personality.

But Phonogram is not just another static hipster foray into sequential storytelling. In the world of Phonogram, music is magic, and I don’t mean metaphorically. I don’t know all the details so far, but from what I can figure Gillen has crafted a reality in which phonomancer’s alter physics or the other sciences using pop music. In the tradition of Hellblazer, our protagonist/narrator David Kohl is one of the magicians, although apparently not a great one.

But you don’t have to take any of my word on any of this. You can hop on over to the site and read a ten-page preview. I promise you won’t be disappointed. If you are, then you just suck.

May 16, 2006

The Best of 2001 - 2005

The other day, I realized that the decade is half over, that the first five years of the millennium had past us by, barely leaving a scent of knock-off Tommy Girl in the bathroom. Poor 2001-5, she was a manic girl, and I’ll always have these albums to remember her by

  1. The Shins Oh, Inverted World

  2. Spoon Girls Can Tell

  3. Sufjan Stevens Illinois

  4. Ted Leo & The Pharmacists Hearts of Oak

  5. Black Rebel Motorcycle Club Howl

  6. Neko Case Blacklisted

  7. The Decemberists Picaresque

  8. The Liars They Threw Us in a Trench and Stuck a Monument on Top

  9. Joanna Newsom The Milk-Eyed Mender

  10. TV on the Radio Young Liars

  11. Low Things We Lost in the Fire

  12. . . . And You Will You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead Source Tags & Codes

  13. Radiohead Amnesiac

  14. The Aracde Fire Funeral

  15. Regina Spektor Soviet Kitsch

  16. Party of Helicopters Please Believe It

  17. Whiskeytown Pneumonia

  18. Mogwai Rock Action

  19. Broken Social Scene You Forgot It In People

  20. Interpol Antics

  21. Yeah Yeah Yeahs Yeah Yeah Yeahs [Master EP]

  22. The Unicorns Who Will Cut Our Hair When We’re Gone

  23. Notwist Neon Golden

  24. Xiu Xiu Fabulous Muscles

  25. Fugazi The Argument

  26. The Faint Danse Macabre

  27. Anti-Pop Consortium Arrhymthmia

  28. Death Cab for Cutie The Photo Album

  29. Idlewild 100 Broken Windows

  30. Mos Def & Talib Kweli Black Star

  31. Elliott Smith From a Basement on the Hill

  32. Ghostface The Pretty Toney Album

  33. Antony & The Johnsons I Am a Bird Now

  34. Björk Vespertine

  35. Ugly Cassanova Sharpen Your Teeth

  36. Clinic Internal Wrangler

  37. Forget Cassettes Instruments of Action

  38. The Raveonettes Whip It On

  39. Le Tigre Feminist Sweepstakes

  40. Danger Doom The Mouse & the Mask

  41. Sonic Youth Murray Street

  42. Dresden Dolls Dresden Dolls

  43. cLOUDDEAD Ten

  44. Kanye West The College Dropout

  45. The Blood Brothers March On Electric Children

  46. The White Stripes White Blood Cells

  47. The Velvet Teen Out of the Fierce Parade

  48. Saul Williams Saul Williams

  49. The Kills No Wow Now

  50. Q & Not U No Kill No Beep Beep

  51. Cat Power You Are Free

  52. The Fiery Furnaces Blueberry Boat

  53. Hot Cross Cryonics

  54. Jose Gonzalez Veneer

  55. Cursive Burst & Bloom

  56. Red Sparowes At the Soundless Dawn

  57. Desparasidos Read Music Speak Spanish

  58. Koufax Social Life

  59. The Paper Chase God Bless Your Black Heart

  60. The Constantines Shine A Light

There you have it: one album for each month. I never used an artist more than once and did not include compilations, soundtracks, etc. These are mostly my personal favs, along with some I think deserve recognition. I may annotate this list later on.

Please leave your comments about your own favs, what I forgot, or suggestions for artists you’d like to know more about.

Coming Soon: Batman takes on the Man of Steel

May 8, 2006

I turn the radio off. World, I've had enough.

“The distribution system in this country is designed to turn every multiplex into an idiot convention.”

During this week’s Ebert & Roeper, Roger Ebert made this statement in reference to the unfortunate circumstances regarding many of the movies they recommend. They simply don’t get the wide releases they deserve.

I remember driving 2.5 hours to see City of God shortly after its original American release. It was originally re-released nationwide, but how was I to predict this? So in honor of this sad state of affairs, I’d like to discuss a couple bands you’re unlikely to hear on your local FM radio, unless your one of those lucky people close to a quality radio station.

Blonde Redhead

Has been recording quality records since 1993. Their debut, self-titled release was appropriately produced by Sonic Youth’s Steve Shelley. Blonde Redhead owe a lot of their sound to Sonic Youth, but also other No Wave acts (Their name is a reference to a DNA song.), Brit Pop (such as Pulp), and various alternative acts.

The band has released six full-lengths, including their most recent, Misery is a Butterfly (2004, 4AD). BR are somewhat theatrical, and many of their albums follow themes. Misery focuses much attention on founding member Kazu Makino’s accident involving a horse. The band’s previous album, Melody of Certain Damaged Lemons, like Misery, was produced by Fugazi/Rites of Spring juggernaut Guy Picciotto. I consider Melody (2000, Touch & Go) to be one of the greatest indie rock albums ever.

If you ever have to escape a serial killer or monster in a black-and-white horror film, “A Cure” from Melody will be your soundtrack as you sprint down the spiraling stairs of your dingy fifth-floor apartment.

Download “A Cure”


Hipsters who say, “I like everything except country and rap,” are idiots. First of all, if you don’t like Johnny Cash, you’re a soulless Philistine. Secondly, if you don’t like Wu-Tang, you’re a sucka. Thirdly, this imaginary person has obviously never heard the lo-fi, quirky goodness that is cLOUDDEAD.

Take “Bike, Pt. 2” the closing track from the group’s 2001 eponymous album (a collection of their singles, etc.). The “song” appears as a collection of freestyles over DJ Shadow-worthy samples between various found sounds and noise, culminating in a rap over a digital metronome, a simple drumbeat, and the guitar track from Townes Van Zant’s cover of “Dead Flowers.” (I’m guessing here.)

cLOUDDEAD is comprised of Doseone (Themselves, 13 and God), why?, and odd nosdam. This all-star collection of West Coast lap-hop artists from anticon. and Mush Records have a worthy back catalogue of solo material and other group projects, but together they’ve produced some of the most interesting and dynamic work indie rap has seen.

Download “Bike, Pt. 2”

So let me know: What do you think about your radio?

Blonde Redhead on Insound
cLOUDDEAD on Insound