Friday, April 30, 2010

can't you see we're in a land of confusion?

i'm not going to bother linking anything to this post because i don't think any of the things i'm about to write about are worth promoting.

i have just had the misfortune of listening to the tank: we were lost, sky eats airplane: the sound of symmetry, the classic crime: vagabond and gyroscope: cohesion. i can say without a doubt that these are some of the most boring records i have ever heard. this makes phil collins solo stuff seem edgy and fresh.

the one stand out, and i say stand out because it at least tried to add something to an oversaturated, stale genre of music was sky eats airplane. make no mistake, this album is about as exciting as watching paint oxidize but it's technically not a bad album. they can play and sort of sing. the problem is if you've heard any screamy metal band in the last ten years, you've heard this record. there's nothing new at all on it. because i've seen and interviewed as many of these bands as i have, i know there are a lot of young musicians that make an album like this because they think that's what they're supposed to do. make an album that sounds like all the other bands out there and maybe you'll grab a few fans. it's not like main stream tastes fluctuate all that much and if you like band x with sound y it stands to reason you'll like band z with the exact same sound.

what i'd like to know about the sky album is, what the hell is with the synthesizer bits? they don't add anything interesting to the songs by randomly bleeping and sound like a gimmick because they pop in for a second to add a harmony when they are in time and then are gone again.

so this post is really just a warning. if you like goo goo dolls and similarly banal bands then you'll love everything but sky eats airplane. if you like generic metal that sounds like an atreyu cover band you might like sky. it's lose/lose for everyone.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

arrrgh it's the bats, run! get to the choppa!

Take Me to Your Leaderif you can tell me where that's from then i have a gift for you.

on to bigger and more exciting things though, and by bigger i mean a giant monster with three heads. no, not hydra but geedorah. he crushes houses, flies through space, fights godzilla and is actually just a six foot tall dude with a metal mask that has been dominating both mainstream and underground hip hop for longer than most people have been listening to it.

geedorah is one of the many personas that mf doom hides behind and is probably my favourite. while i like the other work he's done over the years the king geedorah album seems the most consistent throughout. and madvillainy are tied for a close second but that's a tough call since madlib had a hand in madvillainy.

geedorah is equal parts monster movie cheese and well timed lyrical bombs. doom has a signature style that doesn't change much from album to album and i've heard him say that he tries to tailor his ryhmes to each persona but i haven't heard it. they all have the same braggadocio found in the golden age of hip hop. rhyme for rhyme though, he's got better lines than almost anyone present or past.

some how jay-z, nas and lil wayne (wtf?) are consistently at the top of the list for greatest mc's of all times. doom is one of the few rappers that i would actually say deserves that title. is he "the" best? maybe not, but he's got to be tied for that spot with two or three other dudes at the very least.

Monday, April 26, 2010

don't be alarmed i fear we're falling back to ground...

Blue Sky Noise (Deluxe Edition)new circa survive! w00t! you may not know from them or may not care but this makes me happy on the inside.

now with 10% more rock, blue sky noise sees the lads of circa survive playing more of that odd mixture of washy, heartfelt, wall of sound thing that they do so well and it finally dawned on me that they are an instrumental rock band that had the sense to hire a singer. really. they play a somewhat similar style of music as godspeed or explosions in the sky but having a singer puts them over the top and grabs the listener firmly by the ears.

if you haven't listened to juturna or on letting go and you like bands like as tall as lions and the previous two mentioned, then you should have a listen at least. these albums are full of good solid song writing, brilliant musicianship and interesting lyrics.

Friday, April 23, 2010

livin' in america

saying "suck my dickies" might be a crude way to start this post but having just heard that the work clothing icon is pricing it's "1922 collection" at $200 for a pair of work pants and $175 for a shirt had me laughing so hard i almost fell off my chair.

the last piece of dickies clothing i purchased was their standard cotton work jacket. it was good enough for everyone from postal workers to dock workers and i loved it. when it fell apart and i had to get a new one i was unhappy with the $60 price tag that came with it. that was ten years ago. maybe my math is rusty or i don't quite have a proper grasp on how inflation works, but this strikes me as being about the worst thing a company like this could do.

making "work clothes" that the average worker can't afford is not only a slap in the face of the hard working people that made dickies the name it is today but eveyone that proudly wore their brand over the years while doing some of the dirtiest most thankless jobs around.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

they might say we're a menace to society, but at the time i say, "why is it me?"

Hard to Earncode of the streets was the first track i actually remember listening to from gang starr. what i liked about it was that it somehow split the difference between west coast gangster rap and east coast conscious rap. i have to admit that i wrote the rest of the album off because i pigeon holed guru as another want to be tough guy before i had a chance to really listen to what he was saying. then i heard the first jazzamatazz album and i was sold.

guru passed away from "complications due to cancer" yesterday and while i'm not normally one to think much about celebrities passing away (elliott smith is the only other one that honestly hurt to hear about), i find it hard not to be sad. guru put so much effort and love into his work and you could see it on stage and hear it in his music. with dj premier backing him up, guru could do no wrong. they constantly tried to out do themselves. guru influenced so many people and pushed hip hop farther than most. he'll be missed.

i wish this post was a more eloquent eulogy but it's hard to find the words to describe what this man did for music and how amazing he was as a person. you don't find many entertainers that live what they preach but guru was solid that way. he spoke his mind and did what he said. no bullshit. that's becoming more and more rare these days and without the influence of good people to show a younger generation the right path, how long will it be until everyone becomes hollow?

gotta make moves.

Monday, April 19, 2010

plastic tubes and pots and pans

the funny thing about noise music albums is that when you happen to find one with tracks on it that sound more like what we typically consider "music" you want to know why the artist only put one or two "songs" on their album and made the rest drones. they obviously have the talent and creativity to make interesting music so why would you make noise instead?

biosphere is one of those acts. i have only heard a handful of tracks that i would consider a proper "song" the rest of dropsonde (which you can buy directly from the artist here, just scroll down) is pads, drones, layered harmonics and occasionally percussive one-shots and loops. it's lush and full of sound that just rolls in and out with hints of samples from time to time that work really well and then vanish without a trace. it's almost as if he's not sure which way he wanted to go with this album. slow, lovely soundscape or mellow jazz inspired dance tracks. whichever it was, the thing works.

the tracks that are just soundscape make you sit back and relax but there's always an anxiety of what's about to appear. bioshpere foils expectations consistently (which is what a good noise album should do) by lulling you into a sedated soundscape then throws a 3/4 120bpm break beat at you. it should be more jarring but it seems to work so effortlessly.

this type of album/artist isn't for everyone. listening to six minutes of a handful of layered synth pads isn't very exciting to most people. for those of you that are still trying to figure out what i mean, it's kind of like listening to just the intro or refrain from an 80s prog rock song on repeat. i would suggest having a good listen or two to this album before picking it up because it might not be your cup of motor oil.

Friday, April 16, 2010

this human form where i was born i now repent...

caribou. you know him. you love him. you've never heard of him?

caribou continues to craft quirky compositions with class (ha! sober this time too. put that in your literary device and smoke it!) on his album swim. i remember hearing long ago that young master caribou tries to take a completely different approach to recording each album and in the process has made dancy, rocky, flat out strange albums. swim follows this trend but veers back towards disco type dance. it's light and bouncy with simple lyrics. it sounds more  milk of human kindness than andorra which i actually prefer. andorra was a good album but it was a little to 90s alternative rock for me.

i've only had a listen or two of this album so far and i really like it but i have to have a few more listens before i make a final judgement.

have a listen for yourself and let me know what you think

woe to you oh earth and sea for the devil sends the beast...

i kind of feel like i've hopped in bed with the devil here but i've added something called amazon associate somethingsomething. the basic gist is that i can now post stuff directly from amazon's site on my blog with pictures and all that fancy stuff and if you see something you like then you can purchase it which is kind of the reason that i started this in the first place. (i feel i need to clarify this point. i started this blog so people could find out about cool stuff and go out and support the artists. i did not start this blog to help amazon sell more stuff. somehow the two managed to fall hand in hand with each other though and i'm all about finding people deals too.)

i'm not going to pretend that everyone is climbing over every obstacle in their path to find the new shai hulud record for cheap, or at all for that matter, but if you do decide to pick it you can just click on the link and there it is. there are links for mp3s as well so maybe i'll talk about single songs from time to time now, who knows.

i do get the tiniest of kickbacks off of this thing, and i mean tiny. 4% up to a maximum of 15% if people buy things through the links i post. it's enough to keep me in short pants i suppose. more than anything i think it's a decent little thing because you will find stupid prices on some of the stuff i've posted. that better than a thousand record for instance is $3.49. i paid five at a show for it.

let me know if you think it's a good idea or if you hate it. has anyone been trying to find anything that i've posted up till now anyway? i would love to hear some feedback. there's also a little search box that i've tried to keep as small as possible and tucked out of the way. i'm not big on intrusive crap and i wish i could pick what it decides to show as a default but no such luck.

changed my mind about the widget. the garbage that it shows as a default can't be changed and i'll be damned if i'm going to give trash novels free press of any kind.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

but probably she don't...probably she don't...

you may not recall but i wrote a blurb about scott pilgrim a while back and shortly afterward heard they were developing it into a movie. i was ecstatic. really. i loved these books and now some brave genius was going to turn them into a live action film. sweet.

then they cast this douche bag. there's no point in even pretending i like him. michael cera is what's wrong with acting these days although it's not entirely his fault. he has a long line of douche bag actors footsteps to follow in like tom cruise, john travolta and al pacino to name a few that are really just hacks that play themselves or caracitures of themselves. it will be argued that sometimes one of these folks pull an interesting performance out of their ass but the law of averages states that if you keep trying something, eventually you will do a brilliant job, you just might not live long enough to get to that random convergence of probabilities, but the point is that cera is a pussy and plays nothing but pussies. why he keeps speaking like a four year old girl after being scolded in the trailer is beyond me but he does and the film will suffer immensely because of it.

my point is, i'm going to hate this movie. i accept that in advance because i have never liked a film with actors in it that i would rather see vanish without a trace. my friends tell me, "just watch it. it's better than you think." and i always tell them the same thing, "no it's not. (insert actor's name here) is annoying and painful to watch. that's more than enough reason to not like it." then we watch it. then i tell them i hated it and why. would you go see a live band play that was fronted by someone you thought couldn't sing or play their instrument? well you would if you're a lou reed fan but otherwise no.

in summation there are exactly two reasons why i am going to see this film first, my friend ker hewitt (no that's not him in the screen cap at the top) is in it and second, aubrey plaza whom i do not know but would love to change that situation. i can't help it. i'm all about seemingly neurotic thin brunettes.

Monday, April 5, 2010

personality can't be purchased in a skateboard store...

i've mentioned my years spent in dank basements screaming, sweating, punching, kicking more than a handful of times but i haven't said much about the bands that i was inspired by at the time. i have posted even fewer. while i find it hard to find time to give each one a post of their own it seems a shame to not at least try.

better than a thousand were one of those bands that you might have easily missed. fronted by ray "of today" cappo, graham land and ken olden from battery this band tried to split the difference between youthcrew and krishnacore. yes, there was a sub-genre of hardcore music called krishnacore. shelter was the only other band i listened to that fell into that category (unless you count the cro-mags and texas is the reason like some people do) but btat was an interesting mixed bag of social, religious and political beliefs all rolled into one loud, in your face package.

better than a thousand put together great mature hardcore records that threw down bullshit scenester ideals and politics but at the same time tried to bring those communities together to become something more than they were. it wasn't hard to be more considering most of the people in those (and all other art scenes for that matter) are there to be seen and have something cool to drop into conversations when they're with people that aren't connected to it.

this was one of the first hardcore records i bought and i'm glad to see that it's still in print. check out equal vision and revelation records if this kind of thing speaks to you but you've never been able to find it.

little bunny foo foo hoppin through the forest...

it's easter monday and i am one of the lucky few that have the day off. my day will be packed with all of the things i don't have time to do during a normal week. yeaaaay me!

i did something i haven't done in a long long time yesterday and that was sit in bed and watch movies. it was mostly great because i finally got around to watching a few thing that have been staring at me for a while now.

i've loved robert siodmark's "killers" for a good long time now and it's the kind of film i keep watching over and over. the acting is top shelf, the costumes are amazing, the music, sets, everything are just so well put together that you can't help but be a little awe struck from time to time. the killers is 1940s hollywood film making at it's finest.

the killers is a film noir about a couple of hired guns that shoot a nobody in the middle of nowhere. enter insurance agent reardon to figure out whodunnit. classic. who knew that insurance agents had that kind of power though? this guy is running around shooting at people imagine the deductible that company would have to charge. 

a friend of mine told me about pusher right after the remake of casino royale came out. mads mikkelsen played the villain and it was a surprise to some because he was best known for his performances in the danish crime series pusher. the pusher trilogy has been sitting on my shelf now for a couple of years and i finally cracked it open. it's a crime story like any other. it's got a little trainspotting, layer cake and reservoir dogs all mixed into one. the main character just can't win for trying and it's mostly his own fault for how he treats the people around him.

pusher is cheaply made and it shows. i wasn't paying complete attention to it but it seemed like the whole thing was shot hand held which was about as gritty as you got in 96. now everything is shot hand held and it looks boring. pusher is worth taking a look at if you like crime films though.

moon was fantastic but what else would you expect from david bowie's son? i mean come on. it's eclectic and strange and has a retro mise en scene (wow, i never thought i'd use that term outside of a critical analysis paper) that tries to marry 2001 with waking life and fight club (all from the context of questioning one's own existance). i might be in the minority but i think it worked beautifully.

moon sees sam rockwell as a lonely miner on the moon harvesting H3 (helium 3) which is the new source of clean power that runs 70% of the world. he's on a three year contract and his only company is "gerty", an all purpose robot/companion/thing (think HAL) who prepares meals and fixes up and bumps or scrapes sam might have. it's lonely and maddening and you can see where this is going already. the twist is pulled off well because we're not immediately sure if what's happening is in sam's mind or not.

it's another great film. the moon has it's own stark and terrible personality as do the mining drones that comb it's surface. everything looks like you would expect a single outpost in the middle of nowhere to look. things are kind of dirty and run down but everything works just fine. they put a lot of work into the look and feel of this film and it shows. if you haven't seen it i think you should. it's a sad one though.

i don't really need to spend any time on ichi because i haven't finished it and i probably won't. it looks like a very pretty student film. it feels like a student film and only the acting makes me think that it isn't a student film.

long story short, ichi is a re-telling/re-imagining of the original story "zatoichi monogatari" or "the tale of zatoichi". this new version turns ichi into a blind traveling shamisen player (kind of like a three stringed guitar) looking for her...father...master...uncle? they don't really say but it's hinted that she's looking for the ichi from the original series.

i couldn't get through the whole thing because it just doesn't feel right. there's something really off about it and i think it's the fact that it's playing off the borrowed nostalgia of the original that bothers me. i'm all for retelling a story and updating it or just keeping the story alive like takeshi kitano did for zatoichi in 2003 but this new ichi just wasn't done nearly as well as kitano's. meh, no point stewing on it.

if you're looking for a few good things to watch when you have some free time i would highly recommend that you check out pusher and the killers if you're into crime films and moon if you're looking for something a little deeper.