Archive for February, 2007


George Harrison – All Things Must Pass

February 25, 2007

As I write this, it is very late on the birthday of one of my musical idols, former Beatles member and eternal angel George Harrison. The post may not say as much though, the clock is pretty screwed up. In any case, George has always been a very special person to me. Without a doubt, he is my favorite Beatle, and he has always been a source of spiritual and emotional inspiration. George died over five years ago and I miss him every day. He is truly a wonderful human being and worthy of more praise than can ever be given. I would just like to wish him a very happy birthday and a peaceful rest forever. I am sure he has found peace. His music lives on forever as priceless art and will forever be treasured.

I would like to take this very special day to aknowledge George’s first solo album, All Things Must Pass. I gave this album a very special listen today to commemorate him and it struck me more today than ever… This is one of the greatest albums ever made. Period. I don’t want to be too longwinded here because this album really doesn’t need anyone elses words to accompany it. I would say that this is by far the best double album ever, but it is in fact a triple album, and only double-CD. Every song is a handpicked work of art, and a perfect vessel for this mans brilliant talent. The general style is that of folk-rock, but there is a very big production here, all rooting back to the great slide guitar and wonderful wall of sound effect that is employed here, with myriads of shining acoustic guitars and strings. Without a doubt, this album has fantastic production. But production is almost negligible when you have already constructed a perfect album. Every song on this album shines with love honest feeling.

It is very rare that I ever talk about one of my absolute favorite records ever, but I guess today just felt like the right day to give this the attention it deserves. Get ready, because you’re about to see me in a vulnerable state. This album moves me on a wonderful emotional level. But the coherency of the album is one thing… The very tail end of the album consists of original jams, and while they aren’t really priceless songs, they are still nice. In any case, the album isn’t without it’s few weak tracks. It’s truly shocking how consistant All Things Must Pass is… When you listen to this, it’s not until you get to I Dig Love when you think, “oh man, finally, a track that might be weak. I was beginning to think this was the best damn thing I’ve ever heard!” Well shit, I Dig Love is fifteen tracks in, and when a great little pop gem is comparatively weak, you know you have something great on your hands.

To talk about standout tracks is absolutely ridiculous. Honestly. Almost every track here is freaking gorgeous, from the opening smooth folk love swirl of I’d Have You Anytime to the tough blues rock of Art of Dying and the wonderful pop stomp of Wah-Wah, a statement on the Beatles. Theres really no explaining it… On a twenty three track album, only five songs are really disposable, and they are those latter ones I mentioned. Chances are everyone has heard My Sweet Lord and If Not For You at some time in their lives, but just hasn’t known who it was. Listening to this album is like meeting an old friend for the first time in many years with just as much joy as when you really got to know them. A personal favorite song is Apple Scruffs, a guitar and harmonica duet with an absolutely heart melting hook.

George Harrison and also All Things Must Pass have always held very special places in my heart. This is without a doubt one of my absolute favorites and a true essential to absolutely everyone. The album is filled to brim with priceless melodies, every song as moving as the last. There is no doubt in my mind that All Things Must Pass is better than any other solo album of a Beatles member. In fact, when I think about it, it’s better than any Beatles album, and I say that with complete honesty. Happy Birthday George; we all love you and miss you very much.


My Bloody Valentine – You Made Me Realise [EP]

February 23, 2007

You Made Me Realise

You know what, fuck it. I do feel a bit silly and obsessive. I realize that most of what I listen to and talk about nowadays is My Bloody Valentine. But I honestly don’t care. They are already one of my absolute favorite bands, and if there was ever an EP that I have not given enough attention, it’s the You Made Me Realise EP, or for those of you who are just sticklers for American linguistics, the You Made Me Realize EP. Released at virtually the same time as Isn’t Anything, this EP was in the same way nothing short of a miracle. And by that I mean, during the recording of both this EP and Isn’t Anything, the band was frisked into the studio and cranked out solid gold in a matter of days. You Made Me Realise is a five song molotov of all the best aspects of MBV, from the jangley pop of their earlier days to the luscious mystery of the Isn’t Anything era and the etherealness of the Loveless era. It’s got everything. Loveless may be the best MBV album, but You Made Me Realise pulls no punches and ends up just as consistant as Loveless. The fact of the matter is, most of the stuff on this EP dwarfs the stuff on Isn’t Anything. Each track is a hand picked treat. You need this EP… It might just be the best EP ever.

The title track kicks of the disk, and rightfully so, because by this point it was the best damn thing the band ever wrote. YMMR is a chainsaw punk explosion more uptempo and full of energy than any of the bands other material. Colm’s drums are in full force and the guitars are rhythmic and exciting. The male/female vocals are as always perfect and the mood is very vital and momentous. When they scream “go go go,” you’d best be hauling ass. The solo kicks in at just the right time, with a spacey little portion leading into what the fans could only call “it” at live shows. “It” is also known as the “holocaust.” What it is is the band basically cranking up their amps as loud as possible and cranking out the same chords for as long as it would take to get the audience to respond positively. But this was a bit difficult, considering it was a deafening sound that probably shouldn’t have been legal at the time. It would, in fact, sometimes last for over a half hour and Mike McGonnigal likened it to sticking your head into a jet engine in 33 1/3. It may seem like a short outing on the record, but live, this was a force to be reconed with. I think the point of it was that when you listened to it live, it would just hurt like hell at first, but after a while your mind would almost make up some awesome melody and play it over in your head after a while, probably due to delirium. This is a choice song and one of MBVs best.

Next up is Slow, and while it is clearly the EPs weakest track, it still ended up being a live staple until the bands lengthy demise. Mike McGonnigal interviews Kevin Shields about this song in 33 1/3, and he mentions, and you can clearly hear this, that the song is almost hip hop influenced. It moves along at a sexual chugalong pace and doesn’t really have a chorus or verse. The lyrics are very openly sexual and talk about licking and sucking and stuff. It’s actually an enjoyable track if you get to know it well enough. It just comes off as very boring, but this is one of the more odd tracks My Bloody Valentine ever did, as far as song construction goes, but the background wall of chords is really well built here. It’s true to it’s title; this is the slowest track on the EP, but it’s not quite boring. It just doesn’t go anywhere, that’s all. After three minutes, the track is awkwardly ended.

The third song, Thorn, is the exact opposite of Slow. It’s a conventional pop jangle that goes at a pretty quick pace, so putting it next to Slow was probably actually a good idea. I don’t know why this wasn’t played more live… It has one of the bands finest verses ever and it features Kevin Shields in his vocal prime. It is a very touching and romantic song that makes very good use of Colm’s fantastic underrated drumming style, specifically the mildly offbeat drumrolls which he utilizes every so often. This is sort of a middle ground between Ecstacy and Wine and Isn’t Anything. It has the Isn’t Anything chord wall but also the irresistable hook. You really have to hear this to believe it, it’s just a great sunny pop treasure.

But then there is Cigarette In Your Bed. Which is a huge contrast, as it is conversely very serious and easily the strangest thing the band wrote by that time. Colm’s Drums sound like a restless funeral march that then burst into hard hitting thrashes during the time where the guitars pick up and play out some really strong biting chords. The mood is melancholy and dreamy, the vocals bizaare and possibly referring to some odd fetish of sorts. It may be strange, but it ends perfectly, with the tempo really picking up and revealing a vocal hook that makes the listener kind of go “oh, now I get it.” Hynotic, insatiable, and washed in great sound, this is a wonderful MBV gem.

Thankfully it is followed up sucessfully, by a track that actually matches if not trumps the opener, Drive It All Over Me. This song, like Cigarette, features Belinda alone on vocals, and damn can she sing. This is easily my favorite MBV hook of all time, and the song is the most conventional yet irresistable. The lyrics are truly ingenious, and they speak of apathy, loneliness, and a cheery indifference; “Travel always gets me/Get in the car and drive it all over me.” The melodic vocals are totally put in the forefront, but the guitars are simple and nice while the bassline is one of Deb’s best. She is actually a very underrated bassist at all. Shit, everyone in MBV is underrated at their trades. Kevin Shields is a guitarist/musician that should be legendary, and the Googe/O’Ciosoig combo is just fantastic. Belinda is of course the icing on the cake, a decent guitarist, pretty face, and wonderful vocalist. This is essentially MBV going “fuck it, let’s just make some really great pop.” Simply wonderful.

I know I’m repetetive. I know this is short. But I always look for an excuse to whore off this band and talk about them, so I guess I’ll be content with doing this here.


Adam Jones is the hottest half-blood EVER

February 21, 2007

…Or perhaps Heromione is the hottest guitarist ever. I already posted this elsewhere, but whatever.

On the right is Adam Jones of Tool.

On the right is ADAM JONES OF TOOL

I’m not just fucking with you people. J.K. Rowling has kidnapped one of metals finest guitarists, and we need to rescue him. Get your guns and pack some sandwiches; we’re going to the UK.


Shuffle Time (the snow is shining)

February 19, 2007

I guess I’ll do another shuffle, as I really have nothing better to do at the moment (four day weekend!).

Gorillaz – M1A1

One of the more punky songs on Gorillaz 1. I’ve always been a huge fan of this album, it’s really an album from my childhood. I was in eighth grade or so when I got this album and I got really excited about it, so I listened to it constantly, and I realize now that I liked it so mich for a good reason. It’s a friggin awesome album. It shifts so wildly and spontaneously with so much skill, and it never bores you. M1A1 is an ass kicker, like Punk I suppose, but it take a while to get to it’s point because it has this creepy little atmosphere thing going on at the beginning. In it’s own little strange way, Gorillaz is a masterpiece, and even though some of the songs might be confusing or strange, the album only has one or two weak songs. This is not one of them.

Nick Drake – Hazey Jane 1

My favorite Nick Drake album has always been Pink Moon by a longshot, and Bryter Layter has always been my least favorite. I guess the production always just felt very lacking. The strings are pushed to the back and have this very repetetive almost sleazy feeling to them. Bryter Layter is a good album, no question, but it shows it’s age after a while when Five Leaves Left and Pink Moon still sound great today. I think it’s on At The Chime of a City Clock where there is this long elegant saxaphone solo that just annoys the shit out of me. It just screams seventies, and not the seventies I like either. If they haden’t put the sax so low in the mix it would have been fine too. It’s got that echo on it that just doesn’t sit well with me. This is a good song though. It is more reminiscent of Five Leaves Left. I just really wish that Nick Drake hadn’t subdued himself so much in his music. He broke free and did what he really wanted to do on Pink Moon and that is why it’s such a touching record, but Bryter Layter just doesn’t have what it takes to carry on.

Rammstein – Mein Herz Brennt

This is a choice Rammstein song that makes use of great strings and some crunching guitars, yadadadadada. I’ve gotta tell you guys this story… I was down in Chicago one day around Christmas and a friend and I were sort of going record store hopping. We stopped at this small place called Rock Records because it looked like it would have the more obscure stuff we wanted. It didn’t have anything we wanted, and what few things appealed to us were way too expensive. So we sucked it up and walked into Virgin, and they had everything. It was ridiculous… I was specifically looking for some Mudhoney and Screaming Trees and they had pretty much everything by both bands, not to mention everything I would have ever wanted by Meat Puppets and everything else that was on my wishlist. I was fucking impressed. It’s my new favorite record store, I think. One of my friends is a huge Rammstein freak and he saw a Rammstein box set that came out last year I believe to accompany their tour on a shelf, that I believe contains a cd and a dvd. It’s called Volkerball, and it’s a rare import that usually runs for fifty bucks, sometimes even more. He found it on the shelf for thirty five bucks. I was about to smack him on the backside of the head for considering it because I wasn’t sure of it’s real value, but in any case he took it up to the counter and they had some trouble with it because it’s a rare import and shit… He ended up getting it for five dollars. I nearly crapped my pants. Depending on how you look at it, that’s a huge value. Easily the best deal on music I’ve ever seen. The cashiers looked so weirded out. He doesn’t have a region free DVD player which is I guess the only problem, but he still loves it and it is a choice live album. I’ve heard most all of it and it’s great, very crisp heavy sound quality.

Smashing Pumpkins – Tonight, Tonight

Goddam, I just keep getting songs with strings today. Another great use of an orchestra. For the most part, the strings are out in front in this song and the guitars are more subdued, making the feeling very momentous and special. It’s really a song that you have to crank the volume to get the best out of, but it is classic Pumpkins for sure. It is probably the most pretty thing they ever wrote that made it to the radio, and this is one of the openers to the bands sprawling double disk Mellon Collie for a reason. The lyrics are pretty wonderful too “The indescribeable moments of your life (tonight, tonight)/The impossible is possible (tonight, tonight).” It’s just great. The ending is a nice explosion of energy and the song ends on the subtle note that it started out on.

Pia Fraus – No Need For Sanity

For as much as Pia Fraus rips on a lot of other shoegaze bands, In Solarium is still a great album. For sure this is one of it’s more individual and unique songs. It goes at a very slow pace. The bassline is cool and the guitars mimic Lush and MV at times but it is a nice song noetheless. One problem it does have is that it has problems really going anywhere. The long guitar solo instrumental parts are very nice though and give the rest of the song a lot of meaning. It’s probably what you would want to hear if you were on a beautiful tropical beach and you wanted it to snow just for five minutes.

Led Zeppelin – Friends

One of Zeps more underrated songs, and it’s on my favorite Zep album too. It starts off with a fairly simple guitar strum, but the indian influences come in full force very quickly a solo guitar playing very distinct little ditties and then the addition of (holy shit) some very soaring strings and Robert Plants voice when it was in it’s prime. I’ve learned something about eastern scales lately; most indian music uses it’s own modified scales for ragas and such, but a lot of times indian music is variation on the harmonic minor scale, and the varient is specifically the minor second. You may say, but Alex, isn’t the minor second the same as the major second? Actually, no. A minor second is just a chromatic, or a half step. It’s not the way it works in the normal minor scale but it is still called a minor seond for some reason. So you get that really rich indian sound by digging that second a half step lower so it’s just next to the first, specifically on the descending scale and not so much on the ascending. You can hear it here pretty distinctly as it really gives shape to the indian sound.

The Barenaked Ladies – Alcohol

Eh. There is a fine line between sleazy 90s rock and simply apathetic 90s rock. It’s not that great. When it goes off into the annoying little anthem at 1:45 it’s practically asking me to skip the rest of the song. You could do better for drinking songs. Mostly those should be more testosterome fueled than this, which ends up being pretty repetetive and boring. Whatever.

Elvis Presley – A Little Less Conversation (Radio Edit)

There is no reason this wasn’t featured on the Oceans 11 soundtrack. Period. It was released on an Elvis greatest hits compilation at almost the exact same time, and it’s a great remix. The movie instead settled for the original version. Stupid stupid stupid. I can just picture Andy Garcia flipping a shit at his realization of the heist at one of the songs great chorus transitions. It has a great bassline and the mood is well improved over the original while not sacrificing any of the Kings charm. It’s got trend and some great horns and energy highs. If you were ever to crank an Elvis song, this would be it. Yes, it may be a radio edit but even the original is extremely cool. I got no problems with the king and this is a great song no matter how it’s sliced.

Radiohead – Paranoid Android

Some people call this the modern day Bohemian Rhapsody, but that’s actually an insult. To Radiohead, I mean. Queen never meant much of anything, and I could never take them seriously. This is one of OKCs more serious songs and it is very rhythmic and reminiscent of everyday modern life, which is very much what this album is all about. Not a lot can be said about this album that hasn’t been said before, but I do still discover new things about this album every so often. As a friend pointed out to me, there is some nice foreshadowing in the song with the Apple robot sounds in the background forecasting what is to come on the great filler Fitter Happier. What is really strange about this song is that it sort of comes in distinct movements, the one at 3:32 being the most developing and poignant. When the vocals start to triple up the effect is hauntingly beautiful. I have some great memories of listening to this album a few years ago. I know it’s nerdy, but I associate a lot of music with video games, and OKC is totally perfect for Final Fantasy VIII. The huge open plains for Airbag, the nighttime city for Exit Music, and the wonderful technological Garden for Let Down. It’s a choice song from a perfect album.

Xymox – Spiritual High

One of the two good songs off of Headclouds, the other being A Single Day. The fact of the matter is that most people would buy headclouds just for the club hit A Single Day which is very good, but the rest of the album isn’t that great. I guess I haven’t given this band enough attension, as they are a pretty big deal in the electronica genre. They usually go under the name “The Clan of Xymox,” so I guess the career of “Xymox” is pretty mediocre while The Clan has had some pretty monumental albums since ’85 up until today. They aren’t small time, that’s for sure. But they aren’t exactly my favorite of their genre but I sure as hell won’t turn them off if they squeeze into any of my industrial/electronica/club loving friends mix CDs. Club hits, not too much more.

I guess that was ten. That’s all for now.


My Bloody Valentine's Loveless 33 1/3

February 15, 2007

For those of you who don’t know, the 33 1/3 series is a successful line of short books devoted to the making of certain popular and acclaimed albums. Considering almost nothing significant has come out of the My Bloody Valentine front in the past ten years or so and close to no news on Kevin Shields has surfaced in months (save an interview in Magnet earlier in the year), this is news, and I picked it up without exactly knowing what the series had to offer. I will say that for fans, this is a must have. What the book does is outline what went on with the making of Loveless, a classic album that broke a ton of ground and ended up being a staple of popular music. If you haven’t heard it, you really need to. Like it or hate it, I really do believe it is essential listening. The book is nice, but to be honest it wasn’t exactly what I was expecting. I guess I was expecting a full length book when in fact the 33 1/3 series is comprised of fairly small coffee-table books a little over one hundred small pages in length. I was also expecting the book to be filled with stuff that mostly audiophiles would be interested in, like production techniques and effects and stuff. I was also surprised in that area, as the book ended up being less technical stuff and more technique, ideas, and principles involved with the record. That may have not been the goldmine that more avid and knowledgeable fans were expecting, but I’m honestly not an audiophile so I do feel like my time wasn’t wasted. Where would I be able to learn more about sound quality and technique and such? I have no idea.

It was Valentine’s Day a few days ago and I actually woke up to this present on my kitchen table. My mother got it for me as a present (AAAAWWWWWW), and it was Valentine’s Day after all, so I decided to read it when I got back from school and then give Loveless another listen for it’s special day. After reading the book, the sound seemed to make more sense, which may be good or very, very bad. Part of what makes Loveless so enjoyable is how big of a mystery it is, not so much in production but in it’s subtleties and wonderful details. Every time you listen to that record, be it in a new place or not, you learn something new about it, even moreso if you really crank the volume. But it is kind of better to not think about it so much, so it’s one thing to not be educated enough about it and something else to go “hey, that’s that certain effect.” Luckily, the book doesn’t suck the life out of the album. It does reveal some certain effects, a comfortable amount. It does clear up a lot of the myth around the album and seperates truth from fiction once and for all. The biggest fiction that has surrounded the album for fifteen years is that Loveless bankrupt Creation and cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to make. The truth is that Creation was already broke and strung out on drugs by the time Loveless got started. Loveless may have cost a lot of money, but really it wasn’t as much as people usually think, and a lot of the problems arose from Creation sending them to different studios at a really fast pace so that it just took a lot of time to get settled and get things done comfortably.

Another myth is that any given track on Loveless has tons of guitars, and this just isn’t true. Most songs on Loveless only have two guitars on them. What makes them sound so huge and wonderful is the technique employed by Shields and the awesome use of the tremelo arm, which by no means is easy to use. Only Shields and Butcher could really get the hang of it. And it’s true, Shields was a perfectionist in the sound quality department, but honestly, the album came out close to perfect and no doubt extremely close to what Shields wanted, so it’s all good. The book elaborates on the studio experience pretty vaguely, actually, because it is extremely hard to judge where the recordings took place because they were bouncing around too much. But all the difficulties are made clear, and all the people credited to production get a little bit of light shed on them, which is nice. And all of it is reliable too, as the writer actually got in contact with three out of four members of the band. There are a few strange little mistakes though. There seems to be some confusion on Dave Conway’s name, as well as sequence involved with certain tracks and the EPs. Tiny little things. Chapters are divided up nicely, with each chapter being devoted to certain topics like vocals, guitar effects, sleep deprivation, and the state of the band members. A lot of background information is provided too, so it’s not just all Loveless but also other information from the preceeding and following eras that bring lots of stuff out of obscurity. He could have easily screwed that up by not giving adequate background information, but the scene is set pretty well here.

What I did have a problem with was some of the personal opinions of the author. It’s not like it’s their job to agree with me, but on some levels I felt like my own opinions were being encroached upon. Especially with the short outline of the album he gives early on. It’s not like I disagree with most of the stuff he says, but he does kind of dismiss “I Only Said” as a weaker track, which is totally not true. And he kind of injects his own life and experiences into the book a bit much, interjecting now and then with his own anecdotes. But that is probably good, as he is a veteran of the time who saw the band live on numerous times, making his vivid description of some certain live aspects all the more real. Another problem I had was the post script. The last part makes a fair bit of sense, but for the most part it’s an advertisement for Rafael Toral’s album Wave Field. Which I guess is alright and I won’t complain because it is a post script, after all, and not really part of the book. It just seemed a bit unnecessary. But very few stones are left unturned in this book and I really appreciate that, as there is just so much myth surrounding the record.

Almost all of that myth is cleared up here, and for those of you who think you know enough anyway, a lot of the book is scattered excerpts of a recent interview with Shields, so that and the cheap price should be enough to secure the purchase. This is probably the most definitive and well compiled source of reliable information that you can get on Loveless, and fans will love it. It’s a quick but informative read that reveals a lot in the way of production, musical theory, and personal affairs of the band. And yes, it does shed quite a bit more light on the futures of the band members, in a fairly positive way too. Loveless is an album that really needs this kind of book, and it’s already helping me to appreciate the album more because I do feel a lot more knowledgeable about one of my favorite albums. Which by the way really does sound completely different at full blast, which I learned not too long ago. This book is nice and fun to read, but don’t let it make you sit by your hi-fi studiously analyzing anything. That’s totally missing the point. It just gives you quite a bit more to dabble in, presents a tidal wave of great facts, and significantly eases the pain of the abscence of any follow-ups.


The Hold Steady – Boys and Girls in America

February 12, 2007

I don’t know why it has taken me so long to give this a legitament review. I think the only reason I kept it sitting around was because I wanted to review it. And I had never really given it a completely fair listen because I wanted to wait until I really felt motivated to listen to it, which took a long time to happen. I guess I was interested not just because someone gave it to me but also because it got pretty close to the top of a lot of top album lists of last year, mostly in indie magazines and stuff. I’m listening to it now and I honestly can’t figure out why. Just look at the cover. That about explains it. This isn’t the men and women of America. This is the boys and girls of America, and it contains just enough naughty words to not be on Disney Radio and yet it just doesn’t try enough exciting to distance itself from that…adorable cursive handwriting. It’s not like the only reason I listened to this was so that I could bash it here, but to be honest I wasn’t exactly expecting too much even before I listened. In essence, this album is pop rock, and it’s even good pop rock, but it’s nothing that you haven’t heard and probably nothing you would feel bad about missing. It does what it tries to do very well, I just really dislike what it tries to do.

The songwriting here isn’t so bad. They know how to make an effective yet charmingly predictable hook. But the execution is just so mediocre and already played out. Most of the songs are dressed up with organ solos that would make even the sleaziest listener a fair bit bored, and the production is bad. It sounds too glossy and dressed up, even when you crank it pretty loud. There is no substance here, even when the guitars are at their hardest. And the organs and pianos get very trying as the album goes along. The home stretch of Same Kooks kind of sounds like some mediocre eighties lite metal group getting ahold of some organs and uninteresting guitar pedals. It’s really quite embarassing. The vocalist sucks too, I really don’t like him. He can’t sing, so he tries the Bright Eyes approach. Which is fine; I have nothing against Bright Eyes, but he really can’t sing at all so he uses a roundabout style where he essentially says the lyrics loudly with a bit of rhythm and spontaneity. But this guy, he just bumbles about with lyrics of sleazy high school fantasies, probably stuff that even the most fortunate of kids wish they could live, and without any real substance or meaning.

That is pretty much the soul of the album. It’s about as stress-free and unrealistic as you ever wished your high school experience could have been. The name “You Can Make Him Like You” pretty much sums that up. It’s juvenile. If you don’t like that word, it’s naive. Almost every song is handpicked to describe some kind of typical naive teenage situation, hence all the overly unrealistic happy jokes on the cover. First Night probably could have been good if it were a bit more interesting in it’s instrumentation (it’s that damn piano again, do something more interesting with it), but it’s just too much of a drunken singalong to really accomplish anything. Chips Ahoy! is another one of these such songs. It’s totally nothing you haven’t heard before. If you graduated middle school, you need not bother seeking anything fun here. This line is great. “He came out six lengths ahead/we spent the whole next weekend high.” If you grew up fifteen years ago and you were a careless valueless C student who might write “hobbies: smoking pot” on a job application, then this song might mean something. That just doesn’t apply to any listener. I really think this album tried to relate to peoples childhood experiences, and it just doesn’t. I know I sure as hell can’t relate to this album, and I’d be surprised if anyone could.

Repeated listens only make me question more and more how this got to the top of all those lists. It’s totally something you would hear on the weekly Top 40. In fact, if you flipped it on a few months ago, you probably would have heard it. I don’t feel bad that I have nothing to say about this except that it’s boring and hard to relate to. It’s too simple. You’ll get to about track five and feel satisfied enough to just shut it off it’s so naive. Most of the songs are wasted potential, but there are a few good ones, namely Citrus. If your high school years were the best years of your life and you like simple guitar driven pop rock, I guess go for it. But even then you could do a little better. It’s not a good sign when I can comfortably say without feeling like an elitist prick that I’m beyond this kind of stuff. Very few annoying teenagers have “massive nights,” or at least anything that this album would suggest. In a word, this is completely disposable. It’s a good album for it’s kind, that is, a completely childish naive rocker, but you’ve heard better, and this would never be anywhere close to memorable.


Youtube Corner Pt. 5: Does anyone remember the glory days?

February 7, 2007

The glory days when Chicago really did have a team that could be considered the undeniable greatest in their sport? It’s hard to believe. I have many memories of exiting my den flailing my arms and swearing because the Cubs just can’t seem to get some freaking runs, god bless them. Football I’m just hard pressed to get excited about. But basketball, now THAT is a spectator sport. You can get bored with everything else easily, but basketball is where it’s at. And believe it or not, I do remember staying up late watching basketball when I was a kid. I had a Jordan poster in my room, and I always looked for them on the court, the dynamic trio of Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, and Dennis Rodman, of course with all the rest such as personal favorite Tony Cucoach to make the team as truly special as it was. When Jordan wasn’t on the court, my immediate reaction was always, “why the hell not?” I remember being told one morning by my dad that I had gotten up in the middle of the night to watch The Bulls play, and I held up a conversation with him even though he knew I was really asleep. That always stuck with me for some reason as a very special memory. When a sports team can conjure a memory that poignant, that special, you know you have something cool on your hands.

So even though this is pretty irrelevant, this is worth it’s own corner. It’s from a DVD from a while ago about Michael Jordan, and it’s his ten best slam dunks. All of them are very cool. Just watch him tear through that defense. Sometimes it’s just ridiculous, and that’s coming from a guy who isn’t even that big of a sports fan. It’s just crazy to watch him annihilate so much.

In addition to this, I have a couple of other music related tidbits to share.  I’m not a fantastic source for this kind of news though, so don’t depend on me every time you want to know something about a band I just happen to like.  Anyway, Nine Inch Nails new album is called Year Zero and it’s out on April 17.  There is also finally a release date on the new Smashing Pumpkins album.  It will be released on July 7 (7/7/07) and it will be named “Zeitgeist,” a german word that refers to the state of a culture at any particular time.  Thank you Billy Corgan for finally divulging us with information that isn’t half assed.  I pretty much won’t talk about it until it’s out, because that’s the information I wanted and that’s all I need at the moment, save the lineup which I will talk about once I actually get the album and review it.  It should also be noted that Smashing Pumpkins are booked for four European festivals.  I know someone who is going to Germany just for the occasion, so he will tell me all about it.


Brian Eno – Apollo: Atmospheres & Soundtracks

February 5, 2007


Space travel has never really interested me, for numerous reasons including how boring it must be to just go out into outer space and sit in a space station or something. If I want to see the stars or nebulaes or whatever, I’ll just go out in the middle of Montana or something and lie on the ground and watch the stars. Going on a shuttle and out of our earths atmosphere doesn’t really get you any closer to the stars that you dream of. The fact that Brian Eno’s Apollo: Atmospheres and Soundtracks gets past these realities make it just as essential as some of Eno’s other popular pieces. The problem is that one needs to treat it in the right light and let it take you away.

I say that because it is extremely easy to listen to Brian Eno and just think about whatever the title tells you. It’s easy to imagine an airport during Music For Airports, and a plateau in The Plateaux of Mirrors. It is simmilarly easy for one to imagine the moon or outer space when listening to Apollo, and by outer space I mean the real outer space, and how truly boring it is. If you are floating in outer space, you are kind of close to weightless so that is pretty cool. But you are also lonely, probably close to death, bored out of your mind, and worried. What Apollo does is sort of transcend any images we can already recognize as reality, and in that sense it is the true victory of Eno’s ambient catalogue. It is evocative of outer space, but not an outer space we know. Picture if looking out into the night sky was more interesting, and everything in the universe was a tad closer together, and there were more nebulaes and planets and moons and shooting stars and such to see in the night sky; a more colorful night. And now don’t restrict yourself necessarily to floating out in the middle of space. You can if you want, but you could also be watching from earth too. And you don’t have to be all deep about looking out into space, and you don’t have to think about whether or not we are alone or if there is a meaning to life. Are you relaxed yet?

This is not my favorite Eno album, and it does have it’s problems. The cover art sucks, for one thing. Of all the things to put on an album that shouldn’t be associated with the moon… How silly. The moon, while beautiful in it’s own way, is desolate, grey, lonely, and in the middle of nowhere. Once again, this album is not the night sky you know. Other problems I have are with a few individual songs. One of those is The Secret Place, and while it was a good enough idea, it’s not a priceless track like the rest. It has important ideas and details like the other songs, but not ideas that meld extremely well. The drums are discreet and cool, and the almost ocean-like synthesizers make sense in the context of an underwater setting, but it’s not an enjoyable listen, as being in a dark underwater expanse is NOT FUN. Or maybe just not for me. At least in outer space I can turn my head and not see a giant sea monster swallow me up. In the ocean you don’t know what the hell is going on. But the songs follower Matta sort of does the same thing better, more like feeling like you are on a quiet eerie dock, all dressed up with whale sounds and deep echoes. And what a comparison that is; the depths of space to a deep ocean! To have the universe be filled withouter space animals would be interesting. Just picture whales in the sky, just for a moment. Eno’s goal with ambient music was always to create an environment without images or words in conjunction with the listeners imagination. On all of the songs here he does the job well. But quite simply, some songs are more enjoyable than others to listen to, as effective as most of them are.

This is actually probably the most structured and melodic of all of Eno’s ambient works. Not that every song is structured, because about half the album is complex chord tones and discreet atmospheres. But there are few tracks that could actually be considered songs, much in the wake of Another Green World’s instrumentals. Right about when the album hits Silver Morning it starts getting very accessible and song based, up until the last song Stars which is sort of a combination. Silver Morning is actually more of a big relaxing almost southern American guitar solo, all dressed up in down home slides. That sort of twang carries through the pseudo lullaby Deep Blue Day, and it almost contradicts itself. It has a chugalong pace and a relaxing centerpiece melody, but the synthesizers are too vast to truly be relaxing or sleep-inducing. The effect isn’t by any means failed or anything, but are very interesting, almost too interesting to be discreet like ambient music should be and conversely too non-intrusive to hold ones ear for too long. Consequently this music is very much an album you want to give a full listen and understand fully, but it really takes a while, because this is by no means the epitomy of ambient music. It has more feeling, that much is for sure. It just doesn’t hit all the right qualifications.

The moodier pieces are probably the better ones though. Always Returning is sort of a combination of melody and atmosphere. It has a repeating synth line that gets closer to a flat out lullaby, and it is tired and flexible enough to represent a number of things to the listener, including a weary city and it’s weary people at very late hours. One clear winner is An Ending (Ascent) in all of it’s shifting beauty and subtlety. Another is Under Stars II, but it’s less of a touching piece and more of a mellow outing.

This is really not an album that my words can do justice to. And I don’t mean to say that with an air of pretentiousness that this album is ingenious or perfect. It’s not. It’s not even my favorite of Eno’s ambient pieces. But it is very good for those who chose to understand it in their own ways. And for gods sake don’t think about the goddam moon when you listen to this, unless you really want to. I reiterate; Eno’s music was never meant to paint a specific picture so much as a tangible feeling that the listener can latch on to subconciously. You aren’t supposed to listen to this album feverishly pointing out to yourself what you do and don’t like, because it is supposed to be in the background. Like every ambient album, there will be songs you do and don’t like, that work and don’t work, and that is fine. Ambient music doesn’t work at it’s best on an album basis, like other music does, if you would even call this music. But for all intents and purposes, Apollo: Atmospheres & Soundtracks is Ambient V, and it should be treated in the same way as all of Eno’s other ambient albums.


The Greatest Popup Ever

February 1, 2007

I stared at my computer screen, almost a little unsure of how to respond to the question that was just thrown at me. It was a popup. I’ve never really understood why people still find this form of advertising effective. We are not in the year 1997 anymore. The internet is not “the future” anymore. The entire thought of an international worldwide connection like the internet probably would have seemed quite silly to people one hundred years ago, and I’m sure these people would wonder why we waste so much time setting up advertisements when such infinite knowledge and opporotunity are within less than a hundred keystrokes away. It is ridiculous to be advertising your product in this day and age in such a way that only angers most internet users. Even on computers that don’t have popup blockers, these things only come around once in a blue moon. But I never really considered how strange some of these popups have gotten to be, shaped by the obscure logic of our society.

The very headline of the popup on my task bar almost brands it as a popup, because it starts with the standard “http://” address. I already know it’s trash. I already know someone wants to give me a free ringtone, or give me a free Playstation 3, or sell me porn, or something. It’s almost an invitation for the right click close maneuver that has been programmed into my fingers. But if every popup started on the task bar, their lifespan might be a little bit longer, because we don’t always immediately notice an addition to the curious little thought organizer on the bottom of our screens. Hell, many of us may blink while the popup would rear it’s ugly rectangle, not even noticing it appeared. But if that happened, popups would be much more sinister, hiding behind your current window, so when you quit the current application when you were tired and ready to shut down the machine, it would be there for the pounce. But that is just way too sinister, even for corporate America.

So it just kind of pounced at me straight off, when I was already engrossed in the bright screen, so I wasn’t going to let myself be phased by a popup as poorly constructed as this was. But I guess I was. I don’t know why I didn’t just click the X and end the poor things tiny lifespan right away. I mean, this thing was just abysmal, partly because the popup itself was poor, and partly because of the way society as molded it. And I’m not just using the word abysmal because it is one of my favorite words. If there was ever a time to use this word or a situation to justify my love for it, it was this time and situation.

The first thing that struck me was George Bush’s face. It is already an image that is burned into every Americans mind, so that is exactly the reason why it would be the ideal image to present on a popup. Because a day doesn’t go by in this country when millions of people don’t argue with one another over the effectiveness of the presidents strategy, even if his popularity is at an all time low. So when you really think into this, it isn’t such a bad idea to put our presidents somewhat skewed mug on an advertisement. At least he attracts attension, right?

Wrong. Very wrong. I’d say a good half (if not more) of the US doesn’t care or even want to deal with politics, so the popup has already pissed them off enough to make the measley program dead. Like an ant that is on the dinner table, but not quite at your food yet. It’s in the way, and if it’s not in the way, it’s going to be soon, so it must leave. Beyond this demographic, the other half of the US that does actually have an opinion on George W. Bush is most likely not going to take part in this “opinion poll” anyway. Mostly because they subconciously know that actually contributing to the survey would actually not distinguish them in any way as a good republican/democratic member of the community. It’s a random “opinion poll,” so no point is really proved to anyone. This may seem like a stretch, but it honestly seems true to me. That sure as hell went through my mind when the advertisement appeared. And if that wouldn’t make the viewer decide, than drifting your pointer across the advertisement would make them realize that even not choosing an actual answer would take them to the same page that answering either option would. The ad has already been destroyed.

But if that wasn’t enough to convince you to just kill the thing and put it out of it’s misery, the poor construction of the actual popup would be enough to do that anyway. There is a blue outline. And it is bland enough to make anyone disappointed. And probably left wing enough to anger any self respecting republican to the point where the border would be burning in popup hell within seconds. Not to make any generalizations, but red seems to be the color of the republicans, while blue is the color for the democrats, in this day and age. Mr. Bush is wearing a red tie for christs sake. This blue is not the color of the proud liberal, but more the color of the shirt that you found some classmate wearing passed out in your hallway when you woke up with a hangover. It doesn’t matter what your political affiliation is. This thing is dead.

George Bush’s face might be the only mildly smart move on the marketing boards part. His face is thought provoking. It is sinister. It is proud. It is stupid. It is happy go lucky. You might as well be staring at a blank piece of paper, because this mans face can mean anything to you. One second, he looks like a dignified lawyer. Given a half minute, he looks like the spawn of satan, and in the next ten seconds, he has transformed into a freedom fighter, and twenty two short increments of time later, he resembles someone you may or may not have met at work one day. It’s ingenious. He hypnotizes you. I have to say, even if I don’t like Mr. Bush, I DO like his smile. It makes me chortle whenever I see it. It’s just really funny to me, for whatever reason. This particular shot is very versatile, but usually when I see him, I think about his slightly tilted head and his less than perfect teeth, and his eyes. He looks exactly like the average male second grader would look like if he were to be fourty years older and still seven years old at heart. And what would I be doing if I was seven years old? Eating the candy bar that ws concealed in the wrapper that is now on my closet door, with Mr. Bush’s brilliant face on it. Apparently, our president contains a suprising amount of saturated fat and is segmented into tiny squares made so that you can break them apart with ease.

The actually text is pretty pathetic too. The words “Opinion Poll” are underlined and are in a font that is usually reserved for messages in all caps that you would want to ignore anyway. I guess I haven’t actually said the question.

Do You Like George W. Bush?

Just look at him. You know he likes you. He’s smiling at you. He wants to be your friend, and if he could get to your house right now, you know he would play mancala with you.

Just look at him. That kiniving pig. He isn’t taking you seriously, and he doesn’t care about you. You are just another chance for a vote for him. He wants to skin you alive.

See how motivated you are to make an answer? I doubt you fall into either of these categories, but probably somewhere in between, in the demographic that knows that that picture is not actually the president. It’s pixels. So his feelings won’t get hurt no matter what the hell you think of him.

Some other text says:

Answer For A FREE Dinner For Two at Olive Garden!

Or at least that is what it wants to say, but the asterisk after the FREE and the rare symbol after the Garden are undeniable. That asterisk is always there, and it’s evil. I know I could have my FREE Dinner for Two at Olive Garden if it weren’t for this asterisk. Because you know it is going to involve me donating some kind of money or reading some kind of fine print that I just don’t feel like reading. It does not even ask me to answer the question correctly. If there was a “correctly” pushed into there, I would at least be confused enough to try to see which answer would earn me my FREE* Dinner, and when I would win that FREE* Dinner, I would feel happy enough with my good decision to try to claim it. However, this is not the case, because I am not a fool, nor does the word correctly ever make an appearance. And sure enough, that asterisk leads me to a message that says “see offer details.” There we go.

The rest of this sentence is pretty much bull. Both average, under average, and above average citizens alike have been put off for any of the previous reasons. But the fact that Olive Garden isn’t exactly a fancy restaurant probably crossed their minds too. I could just go to Olive Garden if I wanted to. I could even take someone else with me. What, are you saying I’m poor? Are you saying that I’m so poor that I need to answer a survery to go to frickin Olive Garden? Is that what you’re saying? Yeah, that’s right. What if I don’t even like olives? Then what?

Wait, why is Olive Garden interested in whether or not the American people like George W. Bush?

Wait… Does George W. Bush want to go to Olive Garden with me?

I…I don’t know what to say.

The only comfort in this entire popup comes with the copyright information, which is copyrighted 2006, so at least you don’t feel like you are still in 1997 when this message looks like it was made.

Upon answering the question, I was directed to a blank page. Then I noticed a message at the top of my screen dictating that Mozilla Firefox had just blocked a popup. I proceeded to wonder how the original popup got there. I allowed another popup to open. It was almost as bad as the last one, and I could probably explain why in three pages or more, but I have better stuff to do.