May 13, 2011
Several months ago, I planned to do a podcast commentary with some friends for the Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World DVD. Those plans fell through, but I did come away with a sweet, "overclocked" remix of "Threshhold" from video-game enthusiast and electronic artist Mainfinger. Now it's my ringtone!
Feb 14, 2011
Amidst recovering from a long, hazy weekend full of pizza and sugar and C2H5OH, I rediscovered Hail to the Thief, the only of Radiohead's four full-length releases (Yes, Com Lag, the In Rainbows b-sides, etc. are all good as well.) over the past decade that I wouldn't have previously labeled "a classic." I'm not sure why, but I'd never really fully understood the album, however enjoyable and punctuated with genius moments, specifically the shift in "2 + 2 = 5" and the opening riff of "There There."
I'm not sure if it was the post-bender glaze of a Monday-morning commute or the new lens I see all music through as I age and become a more knowledgeable musician myself, but for the maybe the first time ever, I completely consumed and absorbed and swam through the clicks and sighs and breathes of HttT. My recent discovery of their "secret playlist" hasn't hurt my renewed enthusiasm for the band in general either.
Radiohead is a band that have become so ubiquitous in the minds of anyone with even the slightest interest in music that it's hard to say much about them. Whether ambitious young musicians are referencing influences or Kid Rock is trying to carve out his cultural significance, the band cannot be ignored when analyzing the first decade of the 21st century.
Kid A was a kind of wake-up call to labels and bands and whoever else cared that a bar had been set, and (along with Nine Inch Nails and a few others) In Rainbows recalibrated the distribution dial. So it's fitting that this decade, still fresh in every way, will see Radiohead's newest effort released this weekend. You can pre-order now.
Everyone: take note.
Feb 11, 2011
Remember, if you can, Dear Reader, the first time you heard that one album. That one time it took only the first few seconds for you to fall in love? A love so deep and painful that the only way you could express it would be to rip your skin off with pliers or at least bloody your hand on some rusty guitar strings.
Maybe you've never had this experience, Dear Reader. In that case, I mourn for you. You've never had your Keep On Your Mean Side.
2003: It was a late night after a few rounds at the bar. Maybe we'd stopped at a gas station for cigarettes or beer or both. Maybe we'd been playing pool or talking poetry. I don't recall. For the first and only time, I sat in the spacious, thrift-furnitured living room of the house he shared with some roommate or three. As usual, we talked music with semi-automatics, blasting names and songs and labels back and forth with sharp precision.
At some point, he changed the record and then . . .
. . . the faint, lo-fi clicks of some rescued beat box rolling around my skull. Then—
—that guitar. That. Guitar. Like a hobble-legged demon growling from down the hall. "I will rip you." Just three notes and lots of space, but that was enough. And always will be. Forever.
There was that voice, too. The demon's ghostly familiar. But it really only took that 10 seconds—not too change my life, for sure—to change everything I ever thought music and bands and rock and energy and love and lust and cool could be.
Jan 26, 2011
Last year, Spoon and Joanna Newsom (among others) received heaps of praise for albums that—at least when compared to their previous work—were pedestrian, uninspiring, and, well, boring. Meanwhile, Broken Social Scene released yet another masterpiece, Forgiveness Rock Record. How this band isn't on the tip of everyone's tongue, I'll never understand.
Perhaps I could write their lack of overwhelming success of to being Canadian, but who isn't (or doesn't want to be) these days. SS is, however, convinced that the under-appreciation of Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World was partially due to it's "tragically Canadian sensibility." Not only did an older BSS track appear on the soundtrack, but members Kevin Drew and Emily Haines also contributed original songs to the movie.
Scott Pilgrim has birthed no fewer than 3 albums at this point: the film's OST, the videogame's score (by Anamanaguchi), and the film's score, primarily composed by famed producer Nigel Godrich. Every minute of SP-related music is worth your time, but "Threshhold" and "Garbage Truck," written by Godrich and Beck, and performed on the soundtrack by the cast (as Sex Bob-omb), are two of SS's favorites.
Beck also collaborated with Black Moth Super Rainbow's Tom Fec on one of his TOBACCO releases, Maniac Meat. On a few songs, Beck adds his "It's in the Becktionary" hip-hoppish lyrics to Fec's fuzzy beats and mosquito vocals. SS is a sucker for fuzz . . .
But we think you should give it a shot anyway.
Watch videos from Forgiveness Rock Record on Broken Social Scene's site. (And say that 5 times fast.)
As always, if you like something: buy it!
Jan 25, 2011
Seems like we only pop up when it's time to look back at some unit of time. Well, let's jump into it regardless. To start off our look back at the year, taste these succulent appetizers.
"USA Boys" by Health
When Health released "Die Slow" before their second album, the reaction was instant adoration, but when the rest of Get Color was less poppy overall, the feedback was mixed. In one interview, the band reported that fans had asked them to do more like "Die Slow." Enter their second remix album and the opening track, the brand-new single, "USA Boys." Although it's the most upbeat track of their originals, it still contains the band's trademark delayed ring modulation, subdued vocals, and beats driven by the Boss Slicer pedal.
"Lights" by Interpol
Music media: So Interpol's got a new album coming out. You like those dudes, right?
Stoplight Sleep: Yeah, they're great.
MM: You don't think they're too derivative of Joy Division.
SS: Oh, stop it. Pop music is an evolution. Do you have a point?
MM: So are you excited?
SS: Meh, they keep getting more produced and less dynamic. The lyrics are always acrobatic, though. We'll see.
MM: Well, maybe you should watch this video before you decide:
SS: Wow. The slow build, the driving riff, the moody vocals, now that's the dynamic Interpol we've missed.