Thursday, March 27, 2008

i made your orange peel

Dean Wareham, the frontman for one of my all-time favorite bands, Luna, put out a memoir this month called Black Postcards: A Rock & Roll Romance, and it's fucking killer.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

despite all my rage i am still just pete townshend mark II

Oh, Billy. Always touching us with no-DUH asshole insights he can't hold onto for more than one question:

Corgan: The consumer's been telling them for ten years they don't want albums. So what do they do? They continue to try to sell them albums. The consumer says that they don't want to pay $15 for fifteen songs when they only want one song. What do they try to do? They try to shove albums down their throat.

Rolling Stone: A lot of artists love the album form or have some connection to it. Is it going to bother you to be more single-focused?

Corgan: No, we're still going to do albums.

Bravo, o clown prince of "alternative" thinking. And he really dodges the inevitable Reznor/Radiohead question. Why didn't you at least try an indie if Warner Bros. is "just as bad" as your former home? Are you too rich for your wannabe rhetoric? Or did the Pavement flap fifteen years ago bar you from all other options? Let me outttttttttttttttttt!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

open letter

Dear Neocon Cunttards at Universal,

Hypocrisy is poor form and won't bring your country houses back from Shawn Fanning's Revenge. The only thing music fans hate more than preemptive censorship is buying a good album three tracks short. Why not just scratch all the discs? Or isn't that rootkit business due for a comeback? Stop fucking it up.


see 'em jay

we shall all be healed

This always happens to me. Me and Tracy went to see Elliott Smith in Philly a few years back and the show was just awful. He took forever to hit the stage, allowing the crowd precious time to absorb three plays of Rubber Soul over the sound system in a row. And when he finally did, he sucked, with formless solo-acoustic obscurities slurred and moaned, maybe two recognizable, and all disappointing. Not long after, his death and substance abuse problems were public tragedy, and I felt like shit without an encouraging word.

I sincerely hope that John Darnielle gets well soon, as recent news of his medical woes hit I swear, immediately after I turned this piece in to LAS, or else I wouldn't have written the piece. Objective criticism or not, I talk a little about how smug and distracted he came off, and now I feel sorry upon learning his mind truly had a good reason to be elsewhere. I don't know the details of his condition or the severity, but canceling the Goats' Australian dates can't be a good sign.

I just want to underline the fact that I'm still a huge Mountain Goats fan, that of the six enjoyable-to-fantastic records he's released since 2002, three of them would be on my decade's shortlist without a second thought, and one, 4AD debut Tallahassee, could well top it altogether. I loved their jolly, off-the-cuff set at Pitchfork's 2006 Festival and I want this medical business to work itself out immediately so he can go back to wowing anyone with ears. And with all that said, I regret to unleash some tough love and add insult to injury during this already hard time for him. The Webster Hall show had its moments, believe me. I just hold geniuses to high, maybe impossible standards. Get well soon, John. And don't read this.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Fleet Foxes' Sun Giant EP

What they do is beat the shit outta Bears both Grizzly and Panda. Fox beats Bear. So now you know.

hold me, thrill me, kiss me, bore me

Weird. Ben Ratliff sums up both exactly what repulses me about the Kills and what makes their new album so slightly more palatable than the others in his New York Times review:

"...sounding bored and chic, simultaneous distancing and beckoning, creating revulsion and desire — seems to tilt, in the end, more toward fashion than music. Moving through one trashy-sexy texture after another, the album is much more carefully made than the band’s previous two; it’s minutely worked on, fussed over, thoroughly staged and blocked and lighted. It’s not natural. It doesn’t just tumble out."

Right. But shallow can be sexy, as Garbage's astounding (forgotten?) Version 2.0 proved a decade ago. And so he goes on to compare them to LCD like I did and grouse at their cheap array of sound effects...hold up, buster. The sound effects are the momentary distraction from their shitty, er, raw songwriting and laughable will-they-or-won't-they-sleep-together gimmick. The overrall effect is much closer to that of classic Beck than anything on the Why? record...all those dialtones and slamming garage doors and oddly placed (sampled) drumrolls and rusty 808 clicks fed through a cheap flanging device are what make these mannequins interesting at all.

and, what the hey,

2008 songs:

Be Your Own Pet - "Food Fight"
Ashlee Simpson - "Outta My Head (Ay Ya Ya)"
Mike Doughty - "Like a Luminous Girl"
Be Your Own Pet - "Becky"
We Are Scientists - "After Hours"
Hot Chip - "Made in the Dark"
Vampire Weekend - "Oxford Comma"
The Breeders - "We're Gonna Rise"
The-Dream feat. Rihanna - "Livin' a Lie"
Flo Rida feat. T-Pain - "Low"
R.E.M. - "I'm Gonna DJ"
Lil' Mama feat. T-Pain & Chris Brown - "Shawty Get Loose"

Saturday, March 22, 2008

on first listen

once in a while i check what the kids are fussin' about. occasionally one will be taken seriously. some first (maybe last) impressions youtube fed me:

dodos = zach condon + andrew bird + teensy, teensy, TEENSY specks of arcade fire and animal collective + CRUCIALLY this new indie-pop trend (i'm not saying it's a bad one) of nutting out for the hyperfied drummer (see also: vampire weekend and los campesinos!)

fleet foxes = romanticized version of that tinkly folk stuff on the fringes of the psyched-out 60s of whom i can name none but am sure exist + mamas and the papas and, i mean FREAKFOLK + no hint of my morning jacket whatsoever + black mountain forced to make a wall of (sometimes pretty) harmonies instead of guitars

the ruby suns = to os mutantes what king sunny ade was to vampire weekend + so yeah, pretty far off + hey, hooky

life without buildings = knew they were glaswegian before i even looked it up + sounds like every glaswegian band i've ever heard + take from that what you will + also rainer maria

santogold = rapper what? + dance what? + this sounds like tegan and sara

times new viking = danceable garage noise + old matador - minus riffs + kinda fun yet doesn't at all sound like the thermals or superchunk + yet "we got rocket" sounds exactly like "new wave" by against me! + what could that mean?

fuck buttons = i has a keyboard + classier sounding than most spoiled and coddled douche minimalist acts + yet called "fuck buttons" hmm + oh wait the noise part just kicked in + ...nvm + yeah, please stop enabling

no age = only the newest and most talented of the dozens of bands that make deerhunter irrelevant + on second thought, they made themselves irrelevant

mgmt = one-hit wonders, i agree + but for "kids," not "time to pretend"

Friday, March 21, 2008

Yeah, the tedious half of Hercules & Love Affair is beginning to bug me. Vampire Weekend and Hot Chip, skepticized (word?) by myself and consensus respectively, remain solvent as ever.

Here's my 2008 goody bag so far:

Be Your Own Pet - Get Awkward (import version, please)
Hot Chip - Made in the Dark
Dizzee Rascal - Maths & English (why not?)
R.E.M. - Accelerate (back in the saddle again)
Vampire Weekend (natch)
The Breeders - Mountain Battles
Akrobatik - Absolute Value
Kylie Minogue - X
Erykah Badu - New Amerykah: 4th World War
The Magnetic Fields - Distortion
Lil' Wayne - The Leak (if "Lollipop" is any indication, I'll stick with these I believe)
Hercules & Love Affair
The-Dream - Love/Hate
Why? - Alopecia
Los Campesinos! - Hold On Now, Youngster (thank you, Maytharz)

relative disappointments in order from mildest on down:

The Mountain Goats - Heretic Pride: diminishing returns, but more on that when my review of Tuesday's Webster Hall gig goes up on LAS.

Mike Doughty - Golden Delicious: Justin and Al are right, this is a little better than that first knee-jerk had me think. A little better.

Del the Funky Homosapien - Eleventh Hour: Sad to say, believe the hype. One of my favorite rappers finally succumbs the margins.

We Are Scientists - Brain Thrust Mastery: I'm pretty unaccustomed to agreeing with Ian Cohen, so I won't quite. This is a few points north of a 5.3, but rarely as high as "After Hours" or "Impatience" throughout. With Love and Squalor's "filler" improved with time. I don't suspect that will be the case here. And the Hot Hot Heat analogy only works if you skip right from Make Up the Breakdown to Happiness Ltd. Classic chicken/egg scenario: did the drummer leave because the new songs weren't all that? Or did his departure shock out the other dudes' songwriting?

This Ain't a Scene

I don't speak much of my current tenure doing bits and pieces for the Cleveland Scene because I'm not all that jazzed about the results. My editor seems like a cool guy, and his Pazz & Jop ballot was uncannily similar to mine, but he really tends to put my voice on the chopping block in a much less satisfying way than T-Pain's autotuner. I don't consider myself too proud for touchy-feely editorship (ooh, that tickles), but it can be frustrating when the actual opinion gets chopped along with it.

So let it be known that while I continue to disagree with pretty much any crit or fan who hears or sees a sexy molecule in Hotel or VV, the cutting room floor would have you know that I like their new Midnight Boom a little bit more than is indicated here.

Monday, March 17, 2008

happy st. paddy's

I rode a green train line today.

Patrick: I'm going to be in Ireland at the time, I'll have something for you by April 1.
Me: Oh, excellent. What's going on in Ireland?

Well, I walked right into that one.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

grahams, man he had a whole lot of these

Impoverishing one's self generally guarantees a) thinking some crazy thoughts and b) eating a lot of cereal.

I'm thinking Golden Grahams, which are delicious, are an improvement on actual graham crackers, which are kind of disgusting. How many other cereals inadvertantly improve on what they're imitating?

This flowchart came to mind:

"Kim and Cookie" sketch on Stankonia > Coooookie Crisp > Cookie Monster > Cookie Dough > actual chocolate chip cookies*

*except for the complimentary ones you get at Doubletrees of course.


Friday, March 14, 2008

American Idol

I got dissed on Idolator by an award-winning writer, which was pretty cool.

But if they think that's specious, just wait 'til they really get a load of my ephemeral reasoning, not to mention my Christgau whoring.

EDIT: They didn't even mention the real crime on display, using the word "anchor" twice in one review!

come to think of it, the loudest anything in brooklyn would be a close contest

So, where is the best place to bury a stranger?

Depends if you want them to be found or not - could be in their own yard.

I've been eagerly awaiting my friend Ari Shapiro's interview with A Place to Bury Strangers, who you know are good because both me and P4K endorse them like a hype-antihype solar eclipse. It sounds like it went pretty great. Extremely jealous of the excellent quality therein, I link you, humbled.

P.S. Lost at Sea, who as you know I humbly staff, has been on a damn roll lately with these features...some newb Patrick Sullivan's Gallows show review. What the hell was that??

P.P.S. Not to mention yours truly on my favorite album of 2008's first quarter.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

why, oh why

I don't think I can deny any longer that Why?'s Alopecia is a major step. This Yoni Wolf character capitalizes on a gap that thousands of shitty alt-"rappers" have ignored altogether and succeeds on two numbingly obvious fronts: he's a nerd who commands melodies! and details! Alopecia is so stuffed with striking, visual non-sequiturs and phrases turning one another inside out that in structure it resembles a damn Hold Steady record. Don't let anyone feed you that Odelay garbage. Like Against Me!'s equally image-shattering New Wave, this couldn't have been made in an emo-free existence, and I'd like to forward Wolf a Clem Snide album, too. And excepting "As a kid I didn't shit my pants much/ why start now," "By Torpedo or Crohn's" has so many strokes redolent of Buck 65 it has me working up some prayers for a cross-country jaunt in the future.

Maybe even more than The Big Dough Rehab, Wolf's can't-stop-won't-stop phlegm-phlow paints every last breath with a correctly pitched syllable, enunciated with only the finest of post-Weakerthans nerdcore dialects. I don't see myself ever giving a shit about Anticon as a rap stronghold. But pop? If they keep putting out such winning resemblances to say, an alt-country They Might Be Giants ("Fatalist Palmistry") or P.Diddy's idea of Steve Reich ("A Sky For Shoeing Horses Under") I might have to take their mailing list seriously. The cLOUD is dead, long live the cLOUD. A-
As usual, Dan Savage warms my damn heart.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

I <3 P4K

What, me diss Pitchfork? Not when we pretty much feel the same way about Hercules & Love Affair, of course (though we will have to agree to disagree about Antony & the Johnsons). Dudes ain't altogether shooting blanks this year, between Magnetic Fields and Vampire Weekend, though I vowed never to ever play that Atlas Sound record so I'll never know just how off the MARC they were (tee hee). What's with all these quality self-titled hypes?

P.S. the talented Jayson Greene has given up one of his best pieces ever in this week's Voice as well, putting the unwitting Play-Doh of Rick Ross through the analytical fun factory.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

as usual, title inspired by sonic youth

death poems for the living gods of america
by dan weiss

cc's barbeque pit

torture my weekend
with promises of bbq'd,
ribbed delights
closed mondays
you disgust me

metroview grille

six dollar steak!
be still my heart:
the little cup of A-1
was a grand nightcap
you have yourself
a merry little christmas

tommy cheng's

i like to call you uncle chang's
in the privacy of
the girlfriend's dorm
bribe me with
teasing promises
of black bean sauce
you can have my body
no vegetables


i do not appreciate
raw chicken
in my shawerma
you need to fire that asshole!
i used to enjoy :-/


veal piccata please
hold the maggots

wo lee

oh mr. lee,
what won't you do for $5?
right, that

tony's campus cafe

vile institution
comparable to mengele
$27 is a bit steep

brother bruno's

more like 'not' wings
cluck-u, too

big jim's

more like garlic 'nots'
jk you guys
they're pretty good

belmont grill

more like
you know where this is going

Monday, March 10, 2008

what, you mean like, every restaurant in mississipi?


If I hate nearly every album listed in this article, what does that make me?

Sunday, March 09, 2008

"hmmm" or "slippery slopes"

What do you guys think about this? I'm really not a Jim DeRogatis fan, but I'm happy he stepped up to the plate to ask a lot of the questions that disturb me about I'll be honest, though, the whole thing still weirds me out. Especially this:

DeRogatis: Are you concerned at all that this could undermine what’s been Pitchfork’s main claim to fame: rock criticism? I’m thinking of a scenario where Pitchfork gives a band a rating of 2.0 or less, and yet 100,000 people click on it that day and love the video. And at the same time, a band that Pitchfork gives a 9.4, nobody likes or watches.

Schreiber: I don’t know, I think we have a little more confidence in how it’s going to work than that. I mean, for one thing, we’re being pretty selective about the videos we’re showing; we’re not just putting up any old thing. So if there’s something that we actively dislike, it’s probably not going to show up on That’s not to say that if an album gets a negative rating, that there’s not a really good song on that record that might get played a lot. But it’s a different thing, because you’re talking about individual songs versus full-length albums, and those two things are very different.

It doesn't help that a lot of Schreiber's answers are "I don't know." I don't know exactly why this bothers me, other than the basic and personal bitch that I think Pitchfork frequently gets it wrong, even that a fair amount of their reviewers look for the wrong things in a record, and that they claim to be fostering a kind of independence but their favorites usually boil down to types. I've said this before, but most of the records they dislike that are worth investigating don't easily fit into one box and the low rating seems to represent their frustration at pinning it down rather than the actual quality of what it's doing. End rant.

But as a business, something disturbs me greatly about the prospect of essentially being a YouTube for cool kids with all the questionable content filtered out. My friend Jonathan Bradley has doubts it'll last; I most certainly don't. DeRogatis really hits the nail on the head about journalistic integrity, but (and I swear this isn't an insult) I've never felt that was something P4k held in the highest regard. Not that they don't have journalistic integrity, but that the Object of the Game seemed to be to push as much DIY content as they could. Which is fine! But the actions they've taken have always been more akin to a mouthy, small-time record label, like a Matador or Sub Pop at the head of the 90s, relentlessly promoting and posting about the 12 bands of the year that you Need to Know. I've never thought it made for good credibility as critics. This is mostly speaking of Schreiber, of course, who has stated that he barely writes reviews anymore and obviously takes more active enjoyment in promoting bands he loves rather than placing them up against an objective rubric.

Ironically, this TV venture could be great: Pitchfork's greatest contributions to this century mostly have to do with the quickness of their multimedia content, the blur of news, videos and new singles they make available quickly and daily. And it could also ruin them as a critical powerhouse. But more likely it will make them Rolling Stone; this is the best case scenario, because someone else may start up a Pitchfork alternative for the readers fed up with the complacency. Though they have an advantage that Rolling Stone didn't in 1996: Rolling Stone was easier for Schreiber to chuck because he only had to cancel his subscription; they didn't give it away for free. And what sap turns down free? If I was Barry Schwartz (or at least feeling sly), I might expound on the similiarities between Pitchfork and the free stress tests I'm offered in the subway.