Thursday, September 27, 2007

Extra! Extra! Part Deux

Look, I know it's been beaten to death how ugly Bill O'Reilly is. Doesn't mean m'boy's out of cheap laffs yet. These quotes could've populated an Onion article:

"He later added: "There wasn't one person in Sylvia's who was screaming, '[Expletive], I want some more ice tea.' It was like going into an Italian restaurant in an all-white suburb in the sense of people were sitting there ordering and having fun and there wasn't any craziness at all."

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

I can't decide

...whether "Like a Boy" or "All My Friends" is my song of the year, but I wish "Before He Cheats" was 2007 just to make it easier.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Can You Feel It?

Makes you feel gooood...

The Apples In Stereo + Aqueduct
World Cafe Live
Philadelphia, PA

Apples in Stereo were excellent; I could get used to this journalist thing (my first abuse of guest list privileges!). Band wisely chose inscrutable arena rock from their three most recent albums to kick off a surprisingly loud set that barely gave off a whiff of psychedelic like the Elephant 6 of olde (good riddance says I).

1-2-3-4-5: "Can You Feel It?" "Please," "Go," "Energy," "Do You Understand?" Every chorus singable, every hook, countermelody and keyb-augmenting-guitar arrangement perfect. One keyboardist (I'm really gonna have to learn the rest of these guys' names) wore a homemade silver spacesuit with (YES) a cape. "Go" horn problem (they're a big part of the song) solved flawlessly by a melodica (phew). "7 Stars" followed by all four movements of "Beautiful Machine" (the only four part suite I can remember wanting to hear by any band ever) a fucking revelation. Robert Schnieder looked actively surprised to see my front-row ass singing "Machine Pt. 1" and pointed at me (supposedly they've only played this seven times now?). "Skyway" and "Same Old Drag" begat me dancing. No "Sunndal Song" because it was a sausage fest. Next time I also wanna hear "Baroque," "Look Away" and "She's Telling Lies."

Schnieder also turned out to be the nicest human being I've ever met; first rock star to walk up to me after a show to meet/shake/thank for coming (not just me, anyone still in the room minutes after they left the stage). Then there was a conversation about crocs. Thanked him for making my second or third favorite record of 2007 and said not to make me wait too long for the next one (this band's records get better and better each time) and he said they've already begun it. I don't think he reads Lost at Sea but he made a solemn face and gave a serious additional thankyou when informed of the review. I like having (even just a little) power to help out great bands.

Shout-out: Liam, awesome kid to finally meet in person, and his friend Mike, likewise. Former's the lucky fuck who thought to bring a camera (also touched Schnieder's forbidden E6 tattoo). Latter came this close to requesting Schnieder reprise "Oh Steven" from his Colbert Report stint.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Tinkering with the Top 20

So I last left you folks like this:

1. Arcade Fire - Neon Bible
2. Apples in Stereo - New Magnetic Wonder
3. Travis Morrison Hellfighters - All Y'All
4. Miranda Lambert - Crazy Ex-Girlfriend
5. Maroon 5 - It Won't Be Soon Before Long
6. Against Me! - New Wave
7. Justice - †
8. Imperial Teen - The Hair, The TV, The Baby and the Band
9. Feist - The Reminder
10. Battles - Mirrored
11. LCD Soundsystem - Sound of Silver
12. Avril Lavigne - The Best Damn Thing
13. Drug Rug - Drug Rug
14. They Might Be Giants - The Else
15. Brakes - The Beatific Visions
16. Magik Markers - BOSS
17. Spoon - Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga
18. VHS Or Beta - Bring on the Comets
19. Dizzee Rascal - Maths & English
20. Bright Eyes - Cassadaga

As predicted, Kanye fucking killed and teenpop wore out its welcome a mite. Not so predicted: where art thou PJ Harvey?

1. Kanye West - Graduation (finally, you fuckers! finally he makes my A of the Y! I think...)
2. Arcade Fire - Neon Bible
3. Apples in Stereo - New Magnetic Wonder
4. Travis Morrison Hellfighters - All Y'All
5. Miranda Lambert - Crazy Ex-Girlfriend
6. Against Me! - New Wave
7. Rilo Kiley - Under the Blacklight
8. Justice - †
9. Maroon 5 - It Won't Be Soon Before Long
10. Imperial Teen - The Hair, The TV, The Baby and the Band
11. Los Campesinos - Sticking Fingers Into Sockets
12. Feist - The Reminder
13. Battles - Mirrored
14. LCD Soundsystem - Sound of Silver
15. They Might Be Giants - The Else
16. Animal Collective - Strawberry Jam
17. Magik Markers - BOSS
18. Spoon - Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga
19. Drug Rug - Drug Rug
20. Nellie McKay - Obligatory Villagers
21. Amerie - Because I Love It
22. Bright Eyes - Cassadaga
23. Low - Drums & Guns
24. Avril Lavigne - The Best Damn Thing
25. tie: Dizzee Rascal - Maths & English
Jens Lekman - Night Falls Over Kortedala

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger

I'm really proud of my piece on 50 Cent and Kanye for Lost at Sea and my defense of Sonic Youth's NYC Ghosts & Flowers on Stylus this week, so check those out while I look for an apartment in North Jersey.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Extra! Extra!

New Dashboard record "acoustic-flavored!"

Lead the Revolt, Dusted

I'm beginning to blab about Travis Morrison the way Tom Breihan does Lil' Wayne, but Dusted put up a wonderful defense of All Y'All today that, while slightly picky (guy doesn't like the words "misstep" or "inadvisable" in record reviews; that's the breaks, kid), succeeds at cutting down the "Pitchfork mentality" that prevents kids from hearing a record for themselves, without vengeful zeal. I'm seriously elated at all these people coming out of the woodwork apologizing for tearing down great records by the most consistently inventive alt-rocker of all time. Just a reminder: of course I believe everyone's entitled to their opinion; I just wish I wouldn't have to suspect it's not their opinion. The All Y'All reviews aren't reactive either; I'm as big a Travistan fan as could be, even more than Anthony Miccio, and All Y'All is even better.

For the record, I have a love/hate relationship with the 'fork. I can't complain about yesterday's 9.3 for Strawberry Jam or last week's 9.0 for Jens Lekman one bit after a year of wrenching BNMs from Liars to Deerhunter to Menomena to Simian. Justice and Battles were OTM, too. But those are rarities. There's a kind of record I usually love that they always don't. And that's the transitional pop experiment: New Wave, Under the Blacklight/More Adventurous, Liz Phair/Somebody's Miracle, The Instigator, and arguably, Tallahassee. They also have a history of unnecessary harshness on lyrics that incorporate an awkwardly adult and unhip sense of humor: Clem Snide, Paul Barman, our boy Morrison. And it's bullshit they can't just enjoy Gogol Bordello already.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Kiss Out The Jams Podcast #1

If everyone else jumped off a bridge, I would; here's my first and possibly only podcast. It's mostly made up of defensive song choices, from albums that I feel deserve a better listen. It was kinda fun to make, though I probably sound awkward as fuck. I had to keep trying not to hiccup. Let me know if you guys want more.

Kiss Out The Jams Podcast #1

Against Me! - "Stop"
VHS or Beta - "She Says"
Animal Collective - "Peacebone"
Rilo Kiley - "15"
Wussy - "Jonah"
Hot Hot Heat - "5 Times out of 100"
99 Moons - "Every Shining Time You Arrive" (Sunny Day Real Estate cover)

Making the Grade

Rather appropriately after I slapped on a bunch of grades onto recent shit down below, Al Shipley's blog has an email exchange between us about rating records and the merits of unremarkable average records (insignificance purgatory for me) vs. truly good/bad ones.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Mini Consumer Guide #1

It's Christgau jackin' time.

Amerie - Because I Love It

You know how R&B singles divas will make one really awesome hit and give no thought to its context on the album or in their career or anything? The next record they're doing something in a totally different style because they have to use Hot Producer B to reinvent their image? Well, Amerie's deviating from that annoyingly transient formula, which is probably why it's not out in the U.S. (yet). For once, we get an album that sounds like the Good Song, including tons more awesome drum breaks where it came from. Mostly sticks to scratchy 70s funk production with all the cushion-sugar of 80s pop candy. I don't care if "1 Thing" was on the last album, I have it in the bonus cuts of this one, and that's where it belongs. For once, a delivery on a promise, in a genre of broken promises (see also Ciara's mighty fine The Evolution). A-

T-Pain - Epiphany

So much more likable than Akon, and with a better gimmick and less annoying hits, is this sex-clown. The vocoder makes everything a bit samey, and is so upfront you barely notice the backup music. But the backup music is what solidifies the vocoder, from the organ fills on "69" to the Incubus-like stutter guitar on "Church." He deserves to spin another few singles off here. A-

Aesop Rock - None Shall Pass

I've stopped trying to understand the words, which fly by like polysyllabic nets trying to catch your brain and stall it, and spent close-listening time more wisely, listening to the buried, buried hooks beneath the mix of his usual logorrhea and a new old-school fetish (someone's been listening to Nas). I hear springy guitar on one that could've been sampled from Ali Farka Toure, and tacking an operatic John Darnielle onto the finish is a stroke. Logorrheics gotta stick together. A-

1990s - Cookies

Inject the ragged-glory of the Libertines with the pogo-stick partyfuck of Franz Ferdinand and you get the hundredth garage/dancepunk/retro wave band to grace Blender and RS profiles and the fifteenth or sixteenth to impress me. Obnoxious sense of humor helps, like the obnoxious paean to their "cult status." Shallower than thou, catchier than the Libertines. B+

Kanye West - Graduation

It's no secret that I prefer hot third albums to hot debuts. A great artist who makes it to three has usually filed down all his excesses and with nothing left to prove, shoots for the gut, which never goes over as well as when he shot for the heart. Just ask Mike Skinner. This is almost a concept album about how modest our man secretly is, confessing even the greatest has to fight his weaknesses on "Stronger" and "Can't Tell Me Nothin'," bitch about his benefactors on "Big Brother," and preaching his hubris lessons to a minimized Chris Martin and neutralized Lil' Wayne. Even the boasts sound modest and stately rather than indignantly regal like the last one...try the Steely Dan-hooked "Champion." Late Registration tried to touch the sky, and here's a followup with its feet very much on the ground. 50 Cent doesn't have a fraction of his stability, his jokes-within-jokes, his complex humanhood. And that's why he will lose. A

Honorable Mention

Low - Drums and Guns
Singin' the blues ("Dragonfly," "Pretty People")

Galactic - From the Corner to the Block
Rare jam band makes good on the jams ("...And I'm Out," "The Corner")

Knobody - Tha Clean Up
Fresh new smartass ("Supa," "What U Think")

50 Cent - Curtis
Taken all at once, a factory of beats so Dre-dull they're hypnotic and rhymes dependably arrogant as a lovable movie villain ("All of Me," "Come and Go")

UGK - Underground Kingz
Easy listening for pimps ("Int'l Players Anthem," "Two Types of Bitches")

The Go! Team - Proof of Youth
Who let in all the vocalists? ("Flashlight Fight," "Grip Like A Vice")

Dud of the Month:

Rufus Wainwright - Release the Stars

Too intelligent for pop cliche, he insists. "Please look in my direction, I have an orchestra! I'm not disposable like that crass American pop." At least he knows his rhythms are too clumsy for guitar-bass-drums...just try dancing to the galloping new wave stab "Between My Legs." So he sticks to Warren Zevon-perfected clumping 4/4 and oversung symphonics. But beyond fleeting moments like the sitar(theremin?) that announces "Rules & Regulations," we have to put up with the songs, trainwreck casinos every one. His dad supposedly hates making records. Why couldn't he inherit the same? If not, you know, the songs? C+

Choice Cuts:

"Let Me In," "5 Times Out of 100," "Give Up?"
Hot Hot Heat - Happiness Ltd.

"Mutiny, I Promise You," "My Rights Versus Yours"
The New Pornographers - Challengers

"That's What You Get"
Paramore - Riot!

"If You Keep Losing Sleep"
Silverchair - Young Modern

"Fans," "Knocked Up"
Kings of Leon - Because of the Times

"I Hope I Become A Ghost"
The Deadly Syndrome - The Ortolan


Band of Horses - Cease to Begin

Cloud Cult - The Meaning of 8

Josh Ritter - The Historical Conquests of Josh Ritter

This entry was made possible by Facebook's CDs application, officially an improvement over MS Word for cataloguing every CD I've heard this year and sticking on a rating. I've now heard about 120 CDs from 2007 at least once and there's about 20 I own that I haven't gotten to yet. The thing would be perfect, though, if it had the option to organize them alphabetically and/or by rating.

Also, I'm thinking about doing some podcasts? Would anyone listen to these?

Monday, September 03, 2007

Justin Timberlake Goes Through The Motions

More like FutureSucks/Love...No

I don't remember what I was expecting from JT's HBO concert special tonight, but I'm pretty sure it wasn't this. Quibbles:

1. Hair metal guitar solo was cute at the end of "FutureSex/LoveSounds," but not at the end of every single damn song

2. No shots of said soloist because there were too many damn shots of JT playing an instrument. Christ, we get it already, you're a legitmate musician. Now do what we paid you for and dance...

3. ...or sing. On how many did he cede the best parts (the hooks) to his bored-looking backups?

4. But he did do plenty of talking. I wanted to kill myself during one intro where he did a big ol' itssogoodtobehereatmadisonsquaregarden dealie. But it didn't stop there: had to get his 21 on and do a shot with everyone in the band onstage. Only it backfired and he scrunched up his face and gagged "get this out of my face" under his breath, chasing it with some bottled water. He didn't look ready to steal beers from his dad's private stash, much less collaborate with Three 6 Mafia.

Timberlake's stage presence is tediously, tediously awkward. I wanted to compare him to Prince, but even his moments of documented cleverness ("Senorita," "Like I Love You") sounded only half as professional as they do in their tightly mechanized recorded versions. His all-black backing band serves a weird function for him; He wants the credibility of the R&B audience, but he didn't write the other players enough parts to establish anything other than, at best, a joyous mess. The backup singers were mostly buried, and a lot of those parts he DAT'd right from the CD anyway. I get this idea that he really, really does fake that accent. The best moment of what I watched (I cut out after "Rock Your Body" began the second set), was a synchronized keytar dance with two sidemen on "Sexy Ladies," the most Prince-ly jam of the night (Mom, looking up from her computer: "What kind of music is this? Is this world music?"). It was closer to The Time. But by the time Timbaland came out to do "Chop Me Up" (Mom: "This sounds like something from a Broadway musical"), I was already bored to tears and that was before the (natch) dueling beatboxes ending.

I don't know what I was expecting him to do, honestly. "What Goes Around" on piano, like at the Grammys makes sense, and so does "My Love" with a power-ballad intro. I should've expected he'd learned the three chords of "Like I Love You" himself, too. I just know Prince or Janet Jackson at the peak of their critical and commcercial powers would've done everything I expected and a lot more. There's something winning about the stiffness of LoveSounds' electronic muscle that Timberlake obviously wanted to destroy completely onstage with his barrage of live-ness. But he seemed way too impressed with his own ability to switch from piano to guitar and whatnot. Maybe he really just wishes he was a singer-songwriter. It's possible I missed a dynamite finish with "LoveStoned" and "SexyBack" and "Cry Me A River," and maybe even "Give It To Me," but that first set was putting me to sleep and I really couldn't take any more interview breaks shot in arty black and white. He didn't look very in control of his stage or his songs, but like a kid zealous to win a talent show or trying on his dad's clothes. Which is disappointing coming from a great singles artist who finally made the transition to solid album artist. Maybe next time out he'll work the transition to stage artist.