Thursday, May 24, 2007

'Battles' Worth Choosing

don't talk politics and don't throw stones

Battles - Mirrored (Warp)

A prog/avant-garde record whose longest track is its most exciting? That's new. Yeah, there was "Shine On You Crazy Diamond," back in 1975, the last time this kind of stuff crossed paths with pop culture until the Mars Volta exhumed it and stole Tool's Latin dictionary. But now we get "Rainbow," eight minutes of drumrolls and engine revs and shiny little scales of synth candy dropped in, before it all crashes down around 4:50 with a few seconds of actual silence before bringing everything but the prog-kitchen sink for a final bow. All of it glorious, all of it resembling Animal Collective on Red Bull, if they had taken their acid to Glenn Branca instead of Vashti Bunyan. Already impressive for not ignoring the "rock" in "post-rock," they don't just stop at guitar-drum heroics. There's "Leyendecker" with jerky rhythms and twisty vocoder hook that Timbaland and Andre 3000 could appreciate, respectively. There's the marching single "Atlas," whose description officially endorsed by the band is "fascist Smurf society" and actually sounds like the Munchkins making fun of the Flying Monkeys. . . over Gary Glitter's "Rock And Roll Part 2." There's the buzzing Kokono No. 1-for-dummies chillout "Bad Trails" which varies the pace because it really does sound like Animal Collective. Because they think in loops, the five- and seven- and eight-minute tracks stay tuneful all the way to the very last processed bloop. And then there's the amazing "Snare Hanger," which propels like a homing missile and makes confusion sound euphoric, even melodic, with sweet-and-sour guitar snakes, desperate electric piano plunks and backward, dying synth pads. All under two minutes. When's the last time a prog/avant-garde record did that? A-

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

KOTJ Sells The Fuck Out

MaRC 8988 (12:02:29 PM): who the fuck cares what emo is
dan ex machina (12:02:46 PM): yeah, like thats the kind of argument i had when i was in 9th grade
dan ex machina (12:03:09 PM): whether you like emo or not i think the one thing people can agree on is that no one cares who is and who isn't
MaRC 8988 (12:03:17 PM): yes
dan ex machina (12:03:29 PM): like no one ever went "nirvana's not real grunge" when they got famous
MaRC 8988 (12:03:58 PM): ahaha
dan ex machina (12:04:06 PM): lol
dan ex machina (12:04:14 PM): but seriously, they came out of a scene just as underground
dan ex machina (12:04:22 PM): and none of their peers got pissed and defensive
MaRC 8988 (12:04:25 PM): exactly
dan ex machina (12:05:01 PM): and in another thread [the dumbass who caused this whole rant] was like "i can't believe rock n roll is your favorite ryan adams album...the general consensus is that it's his worst"
dan ex machina (12:05:10 PM): and i'm like "wtf would i care about the general concensus"
MaRC 8988 (12:05:44 PM): seriously, the general concensus right now likes shitty music
dan ex machina (12:06:51 PM): yeah i tend to deviate from the general consensus on most picks
dan ex machina (12:07:08 PM): otherwise there wouldn't be a need for the group if we all had the same list
MaRC 8988 (12:07:19 PM): seriously
dan ex machina (12:07:28 PM): so many people love to just name-drop the same albums and hear them validated by other people but no one likes having their oh-so-good taste challenged
MaRC 8988 (12:08:11 PM): yeah, it gets boring when every best album list ever has the same damn albums. not that those albums arent good, but we get the point.
dan ex machina (12:08:13 PM): i don't replay everything people tell me to, but something like tv on the radio, who i really don't like, made enough of an impact with serious music fans that i couldn't just ignore them and had to at least give a few tries
dan ex machina (12:08:20 PM): yeah, exactly
dan ex machina (12:08:42 PM): did you see his list of 90s sellouts? like who was listening to green day "before" they were famous
MaRC 8988 (12:08:59 PM): haha i know
MaRC 8988 (12:09:40 PM): kids in san francisco where the band was from and it was the only place to get their records. same with pretty much every band before they get somewhat famous
dan ex machina (12:10:09 PM): i despise the term sellout in general because it's very narrow-minded to think pop music can't be good...people in there praise prince and stuff now but i don't know what they thought prince was during his heyday. most of these people would've been like "what a sellout"
dan ex machina (12:10:16 PM): or the beatles
dan ex machina (12:10:28 PM): too many people can only like pop in retrospect or ironically
MaRC 8988 (12:11:07 PM): sell-out shouldnt be a term used by actual fans of music. people who listen to music, not just bands they like, but music.
dan ex machina (12:11:49 PM): it's an excuse for everything...a band makes a softer album and people go sellout...a band tries something new...sellout
MaRC 8988 (12:11:54 PM): selling out is someone becoming successful in their field. that would make bill gates and steve jobs sellout
dan ex machina (12:12:44 PM): yeah, music is seriously the only field that people are derided almost automatically for their success. like did people call steven spielberg a sellout because jurassic park broke box office records like crazy?
MaRC 8988 (12:13:02 PM): no
MaRC 8988 (12:13:19 PM): he was a hero and new cinema god
dan ex machina (12:13:34 PM): he mentioned liz phair but she's always said in interviews and lyrics from the start that she hated the male-dominated and insular indie scene there and always wanted to be like madonna, she just made "indie" music because she didnt have the money
dan ex machina (12:13:51 PM): so how can it be selling out if you were never claiming otherwise
MaRC 8988 (12:13:56 PM): but green day releases the best selling "punk" album of the decade and they get hated by their fans. most of whom probably got them album
MaRC 8988 (12:14:18 PM): yeah i dont know
MaRC 8988 (12:14:23 PM): were on the same page here
dan ex machina (12:14:31 PM): yeah i don't even understand dookie was just as huge as american idiot is, the only difference is there's less competition now because it's harder to sell records
dan ex machina (12:14:49 PM): and they never really claimed they were punk
dan ex machina (12:15:04 PM): i consider them punk cuz my definition's real simple: punk = short, fast, catchy
dan ex machina (12:15:17 PM): but i know most people think they're too poppy
MaRC 8988 (12:15:26 PM): and honestly when someone starts a band, do they not want to get famous?
dan ex machina (12:15:52 PM): yeah who'd rather work in an office or something than you know, make money and live leisurely
dan ex machina (12:16:25 PM): i always consider music a job. art and film are jobs, no one considers people in those fields to be "just doing it for the money". everyone has to eat
dan ex machina (12:16:52 PM): there's definitely a healthy balance between wanting to please an audience and challenge them by trying new things at the same time

Monday, May 21, 2007

five records i'm pretty sure are gonna be on my year-end


year's about half over. whatcha got?

1. the arcade fire - neon bible

no surprise. officially better than funeral, and a lot less easy to get sick of (i tried). i don't think it's going to be my album of the year, but peoples better step their game up if they don't wanna be squashed by a pitchfork group from three years ago.

2. they might be giants - the else

while the fountains of wayne album wasn't as shitty as everyone's making it out to be, the lyrics really were name-droppy and embarassing in that uncool-dad-trying-to-reference-pop-culture kinda way. no problem here. way more consistent, catchy, back up to their a-game, when's the last time these dudes streamlined a record this filler-free, like factory showroom, in 1997? took some of the novelty off, fine with me. this is going to be in my top 15 and i'll bet a sack of nuts pitchfork doesn't give it higher than a 5.8 when it's officially released.

3. maroon 5 - it won't be soon before long

i dare you haters to say a fucking thing after actually PLAYING the record. this is straight up 100% unbiased. i hated that "this love" shit. i had not a cent of care for these pop tarts until i heard "makes me wonder." then i got curious. now i think they topped futuresex/lovesounds on its prince game. i'll be bold and call top 20 of 2007 even though i may get sick of it (they are still pop tarts).

4. coconut records - nighttiming

even if scarjo's tom waits album really does fall through or flat-out blow, we always have jason schwartzmann to be our Token Hollywood Musician Who Succeeds. recalls ben kweller's sha sha if that album was as perfect for you guys as it was for me as a modest pop tour de force. only ben didn't pull off disco. bonus points: kirsten dunst guests and doesn't embarass herself either! the maroon 5's more exciting but will flame out easier, this is more comforting to return to, so i'll say top 15.

5. battles - mirrored

even more suprising than the maroon 5 record, since i don't really like arty or pretentious music. most people describe this kind of stuff as way more exciting and eventful than it actually is, only this time it is. the interplay with the drummer (remember, post-rockers? DRUMMER) is tight as hell and rocks it up, and they trump deerhoof or olivia tremor control by keeping oddball consistency rather than random-noise copout annoyance. the one thing that could seriously knock this down to a B+ for me is if the chipmunk vocal bullshit really starts to get on my nerves (why the fuck do non-kanyes feel the need??). this really would've been great as an instrumental thing. nonetheless, the first "post-rock" record since tortoise's standards (and even that, really, with it's lounge-dub bullshit) that balances the rock with the post. gonna be at the bottom of my a-list if it survives.

lcd soundsystem - sound of silver
bright eyes - cassadaga (this is a big year for people whose hype used to disgust me)
spoon - ga ga ga ga ga
hyphy hitz
art brut - it's a bit complicated
lil' wayne - da drought 3

lcd soundsystem - all my friends
arcade fire - black wave (just black wave)
mistah fab - ghost ride it
ted leo/pharmacists - bomb.repeat.bomb
the shins - australia
shop boyz - party like a rockstar
rihanna - umbrella
the white stripes - icky thump
maroon 5 - makes me wonder
travis morrison - snacktime
swizz beatz - it's me, snitches!
amy winehouse - you know i'm no good

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Taking Back Dipset To Tour With Dipset Park and My Dipset Romance!

Fucking visionary, maan.

Aww. This is going to sound so mean. But here's what you get when three or four different teen phenoms from vaguely different eras join forces to Not Go Bankrupt. HIM has their own thing. I don't know how they did it undetected, but those crazy heartagrammos got their logo and horrible singles ("Wings of a Butterfly!" "Wicked Game!" /wtfbbq) on every hoodie/iPod of the misunderstood. I don't pay attention to this kind of thing, but they're probably still making money. My Chemical Romance definitely are, though I'd give them another album or two, maybe even throw in one of those Unplugged Lives where the crowd sings along with every single syllable and drowns out the singer with their EMOTION (why isn't Dashboard on this tour?). Placebo never sold any records to this crowd and never will, probably because they're actually OK. 2006 collab with Michael Stipe isn't gonna land them a headlining slot in the U.S. though (why isn't R.E.M. on this tour? they could perform Around The Sun in its conjunction with All Tomorrow's Parties of course). Taking Back Sunday never were. For a split second it looked like Brand New, Hawthorne Heights and all that shit was gonna take over and then. . .oh shit, remember Finch? No? What about Slipknot? They've stuck it out for awhile, though; it must be that Victory Records lifer complex. Hatebreed's gonna do a reunion tour when they all have new livers and hip replacements. But kidding aside, TBS was at least big enough to pull one of those Box Car Racer-style side-project coups with Straylight Run, so they must've been cared about at some point. And then you have Linkin Park. Here's a weird level of deluded-fame obnoxiousness. The big finishers on Last Rap-Metal Band Standing don't curse (amplified by forerunners Korn and Limp Bizkit f-bombing their way to the top), don't have much of a sound (like also-rans Papa Roach, they're so embarrassed about rapping to get to where they are that they abandon it like it's nothing) and have no real personality (Linkin Park is such a meaningful band name that they changed it from Hybrid Theory so they could have a dotcom, and "Everything you say to me/brings me one step closer to the edge/and I'm about to break," really speaks to me). LP embodies the strangest paradox of the post-3 Doors Down/Nickelback age: people so retarded they mistake their insincere arena-bang for craft. I don't expect a musician to fucking hate himself, but why can't these utilitarians just treat their gig as a job? I'd at least like to know that LP's love of hiphop keeps them hurt that they have to cross over to the MCR crowd to stay rich; the fans are cheesed-out by rapping now but they still love it. Except that's not the case. Basically acknowledging they got rich off of trend-hopping they seek the Big Maturity with Rick Rubin producing for credbility and will probably sound like Hawthorne Heights. Minutes To Midnight leaked; I didn't care. What interests me is if the crowd claiming they seriously find catharsis in My Chemical Romance and not ridiculously entertaining Queen parodies is going to embrace former mook-rockers with the same naivete. Yeah, I'm an asshole. Fuck teenagers. They don't know shit.

Unrelated: the Jim Jones/Cam'ron beef is hilarious. I don't think there's ever been a single Cam'ron beef that isn't hilarious. Jim Jones' Jay-Z feud was pretty classic, too, but I don't think there's ever been a more unintentionally hilarious rapper than Cam'ron in history--who was actually good.