Wednesday, July 29, 2009
The always amazing Bill Simmons has cranked out another brilliant column where he uses quotations from one of my favorite movies, Almost Famous, to describe the NBA off-season. Doin' what he does best, the Sports Guy integrates pop-culture ravings and sports talk so seamlessly he is in some Twilight Zone of awesomeness (check when he calls the older sister in Dazed and Confused "Tim Lincecum's sister".) Sheer genius.."it's all happening"
Read "NBA always keeps you on your toes: Part 1"
Read "NBA always keeps you on your toes: Part 2"
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
When former guitarist/vocalist/lyricist Casey Crescenzo left Boston experimental post-hardcore band The Receiving End of Sirens in 2006 , he took with him a strong leading voice, elaborate concept-based lyrics, and a crunching heaviness musically.
With all that wind taken from their sails, TREOS ended up not pushed up against the rocks, but exploring new lands. Their first record without Crescenzo, 2007's The Earth Sings Mi Fa Mi, opens up to a more atmospheric and ambient sound. Although neither vocalist/guitarist Alex Bars nor vocalist/bassist Brendan Brown stand out, their vocals swirl together more smoothly provide a unified, equal sound. This blending balance plays out musically too, as effects-laden guitar lines and expertly-laided electronics that pulse, twinkle, and slither into an abstractly beautiful soundscape.
Much like the charging anthemic "Planning A Prison Break" set the course for their debut 2005's Between the Heart and the Synapse (a personal favorite), "Swallow People Whole" showcases this new musical approach. For people looking for BTHATS version 2.0, look no further than the audio beatdown of "Smoke and Mirrors", titling drive of "Oubliette (Disappear)" and colorful bleeping of "Saturnus".
But their venture into the dense waters of musical dreamscaping is where the true gems are. Begin with the aptly-titled "A Realization of the Ear" and "Music of the Spheres" that plays like an ethereal music box relation back to the albums loose basing on Johannes Kepler's theory of orbital music. Dual epic closers "Heir of Empty Breath" and "Pale Blue Dot" close out the album as the band leaves at the paramount of their potential.
In the end TREOS' farewell album (the band broke up in 2008) show a band who everyone told was done quietly prove the haters wrong. They maintained writing some of the best melodies out, while growing musically all without The Dear Hunter's braintrust. Good on 'em.
Buy The Earth Sings Mi Fa Mi
The Receiving End of Sirens MySpace
"They have my wool, they have my locks, my voice they cannot.."
Boys from Good Old War released a studio video of them performing a new song, "Sinking Ship". It's a really special song, reminded me of the first time I heard the studio demo of "Coney Island" and truly fell in love with the band. And nothing against Timmy Arnold's drumming skills, but there's something more full about the way their songs sound acoustic. Plus he's got some killer backing vocals...if you're one of the small minrity that hasn't grabbed Only Way To Be Alone stop kidding yaself.
Good Old War MySpace
So I was re-watching Neverender this week (seriously one of the best live DVDs I've ever seen) and I realized how little credit I have previously given their debut album Second Stage Turbine Blade. Although the most raw and least complicated of any of their efforts, Second Stage Turbine Blade also showcases the band's musicianship, lyrical prowess, and even concept story at it's most pure.
From "Devil In Jersey City", which flies around your ears like a Formula 1 qualifier, to the epic bombast of "Delirium Trigger", to the bouncy groove of "33", the Upstate New Yorkers show their mastery of their craft. Lead vocalist/guitarist Claudio Sanchez doesn't explore his range like later efforts, saving his voice to emote what he has put behind these songs. Although you can still somewhat follow the Amory Wars plot in other Coheed discs, songs like "Everything Evil" and "Junesong Provision" do the best job of explaining what the hell is going on in Claudio's muppet-like hair.
Although the band scales back their experimentation, the album maintains Coheed's core sound and also achieving a cohesive element not heard fully on a lot of their albums. Josh Eppard really stands out on a lot of tracks, pounding the backbone beats that guides bassist Michael Todd and guitarist Travis Stever and Claudio's riffs dance around.
Since there is a lot to digest musically, on later listens be sure to pull up the lyrics and read along and you'll see that Coheed truly are a complete band. So to Coheed, I'm sorry I overlooked Second Stage Turbine Blade. I should know better than to doubt you. With love from your adoring fan, David.
Buy Second Stage Turbine Blade
Coheed and Cambria's MySpace
"Point your gun in another direction..."
Friday, July 24, 2009
The Gaslight Anthem singer/guitarist Brian Fallon went on a London radio station and debuted this random, but damn good cover. Fallon's weathered moan turns the Kelly Clarkson's power anthem into a somber love song. I swear this dude can make anything sound like a classic. Hit the link below to download his whole Live Lounge performance.
Download Live Lounge, London, UK
The Gaslight Anthem MySpace
"Girls will be girls, oh yes they will. And they don't wanna define it..."
The Devil's Backbone, The Orphanage...the Spanish can cook up some terrifying horror movies. Just checked out the 2007 film [REC] (it's the original version of Quarantine, the American re-make). Long story short, a cameraman and newswoman tag along with a group of firefighters to address a fire in an apartment complex. After a top-floor tenant infected with some kind of "hysteria" attacks a police officer and a fireman, the small group of people find themselves sealed off in the small area while more and more people become zombified. The whole film is shot through a hand-held cam, giving you the feeling as if you're in there with them. When people say thrill ride, they are talking about this shit. Haven't been this scared in awhile..I mean checking doors, turning on light freaked. Go peep this..just not in the dark by yourself BOO
"We have to tape everything, Pablo. For fuck's sake."
A "making of" video for Thrice's upcoming album Beggars. The Alchemy Index (especially II: Water) is still one of the best executed concepts I've heard in awhile. Wasn't exactly going bananas for this to drop, but now the hype is building and I really can't wait to hear this new record. Riley Breckinridge's, So-Cal band's drummer, idea of more "feel" and "groove" oriented album is awesome...and the direction of music my ears have floated off to hear as well. Can't wait! Beggars hit shelves/iTunes libraries August 11th.
The always clutch Absolutepunk.net got their hand on a new As Tall As Lions song, "In Case of Rapture". Dan Nigro's voice rises as billowy as ever, peaking in a sprawling soar. Musically, one of the more up-tempo tracks they've written, great drumming and grooving bass. Almost a U2 sound to it. Hands down one of the best groups making music so go check it. You Can't Take It With You drops Aug 18.
Listen to "In Case of Rapture"
"Can't you see it's better to die on your feet, than live down on your knees?"
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
Time to bust out the M-word. No, not mothafucka (that's copyrighted by Samuel L. Jackson), but matured. In their brand spankin new record, This Will Be The Death of Us, Set Your Goals have...gulp...grown up a little bit.
The first few tracks showcase much improved musicianship, especially an overall tightness, from 2005's Mutiny!. Vocally, dual front men Jordan Brown and Matt Wilson have maintained their signature sound while locking away their past tendency to come off really whiny in the past.
The real substance of the record emerges right where it should in any record: the middle. The aptly-titled "Summer Jam", a soon to be sing-a-long favorite, leads into the smoothly chugging "Like You To Me", the first great song on the album. Brown and Wilson really shine in "The Fallen", where the Bay Area sextet show that they're all about. (hardcore power, pop smarts, and gang vocals holla!) The true gem of the album is "The Few That Remain", a seemingly unfathomable step up from the previous song. Drummer Michael Ambrose's thumping provides the track's backbone where Brown and Wilson proclaim emphatically until Paramore's Hayley Williams makes a great cameo in the song's breakdown. Definitely up there for best song's I've heard so far this year.
Other highlights include "Gaia Bleeds (Make Way For Man), one of the heaviest songs the band have penned and the tandem of "Arrival Notes" and closer "Our Ethos: A Legacy To Pass On", a hushed acoustic sway into a solid closing track with a surprising A Capella ending. My only minor complaint are the lyrics: while criminal, some verses find the band taking their messages and, well, themselves a little too seriously.
I was really worried with all the hardcore-pop-punk bands (pop-core?) out now that Set Your Goals would just become run of the mill. Thankfully they show why they still shine above all the rest in their genre...releasing one of the best pop-punk albums I've heard in a long while. Definitely be seeing the year end's list...yup yup (hear it in gang vocals...)
Buy This Will Be The Death Of Us
Set Your Goals MySpace
I was ready to let me let go until I heard a shouting from you
Yeah, the very thing I had to keep me grounded when I fell through
When death comes for us…
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
With their magnum opus, 2006's Define The Great Line, I was introduced to how beautiful heavy music could be. With as much atmospheric and melodic fragility as crushing and crippling power...it's like Aaron Eckheart's character in that so-so movie movie last summer.
When this Sunshine state sextet released Lost In The Sound of Separation in 2009, it planted it's roots in me, but didn't immediately flourish. I came close to calling it the most disappointed album of the year. My sheer respect for the band's talents kept me giving the record more spins. Then it finally clicked into place.
The band rarely takes their foot off the gas as opener "Breathing In a New Mentality" dropkicks you in the teeth harder then any track I've ever heard. Picking up where they left off, the group still slams you in the head with a sledgehammer of bashing guitars and pounding drums before falling away to shimmering delay-heavy guitar lines, textured electronic and catchy harmonies. ("A Fault Line. A Fault of Mine.", "The Only Survivor Was Miraculously Unharmed", and "Desperate Times, Desperate Measures") Vocalist Spencer Chamberlin's continually powerful screams are roaring, while drummer/singer Aaron Gillespie's Sting-esque vocals soften the brutality.
Also on the record, we hear Gillespie leaps his drumming skills from solid to impressive, throwing in machine gun beats and slow-mo skull-crushing breakdowns. This fact surfaces in industrial "Emergency Broadcast: The End is Near", as Gillespie showcases some brain-boggling talent. The song also shows what is most respectable about the band: their fearlessness in stepping out of their safety bubble. "Too Bright To See, Too Loud To Hear" is Underoath at their most abstract and experimental (Spencer singing???), but lodged itself among the top songs released all of 2009 and one of the best songs the band has ever written.
In the end, Define The Great Line will always be the shining star in Underoath's discography but man...is Lost In The Sound of Separation sky-rocketed from disappointment to snapping at a masterpiece's metaphorical heels.
Buy Lost In The Sound of Separation
Desperate Times Desperate Measures
"I’ve been crawling around in the dark for a while.
Sprawled out across the floor.
Not collecting dust anymore.
Define me a parasite. Define my host.
Trapped beneath the floor.
I slowly waste away.
Now I pull my frail body into the chair.
And look me in the face.
I'm disappointed, so disappointed.
This may be my last one.
It’s gonna be good and hard.
It might be a touch out of key.
When this thing breaks. I will be you, you will be me.
I’m afraid that this is really happening.
Let’s hope this is short lived and riddled with disease.
Oh, God the noise! Is ringing in my ear.
It’s so unclear. I hear them talking.
But can’t make out the words.
Speak up. Speak clear.
God, where have I been.
I’m terrible company. With zero apologies.
While I sink to the bottom.
I’ll sing out as it fills with water.
I hope I’ve done enough.
I’m worn out.
I’m worn thin.
I will never break through.
Let me out."
Monday, July 20, 2009
Yeah you got it right, fourth single off Never Better. You also gotta see a couple posts down that Never Better is also #1 on my mid-year Top 10. I'm gonna keep posting these videos until you pick up up! Ok...I would anyways, but get it. Go!
"So fuck it, back to the wall, crush it laugh at them all, hush, let them try and find the beauty in your face..."
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
Damn, this girl is moving up on Megan Fox (gasp) in the Future Mrs. Sabia competition. Just damn. And if you missed the premiere of Entourage's sixth season, you don't even know where I'm coming from (even though Vince needs to stop this "emo" act). Get at it and "Sloan" get at me, you've been my girl since Snow Day. Chyea!
All of ya'll out there spinning Dark Side of the Moon and watching Wizard of Oz, shut that shit off. Wish You Were Here, Floyd's 1975 follow-up to the aforementioned massive hit, is just as psychedelic, futuristic, and powerful as it's predecessors. "Shine on You Crazy Diamond (Pts. 1-5)" and "Shine on You Crazy Diamond (Pts. 6-9)" layer noodling synths and funky horns as seamlessly as they do bluesy guitar and soulful vocals (don't tell me you can't hear the base of "Comfortably Numb" forming in there). The emotional aspect of their tribute to former Pink Floyd frontman Syd Barret adds that extra dose of complexity to everything, evident as well in the country-tinged title track "Wish You Were Here". Throw in classic record industry jabs (the dark brooding of "Welcome to the Machine" and "Have A Cigar"), and you got yourself something to sit down with. So throw this on and go watch Gone With The Wind or some shit. Cool?
Buy Wish You Were Here
Pink Floyd MySpace (Huh?)
"So, so you think you can tell Heaven from Hell,
blue skies from pain.
Can you tell a green field from a cold steel rail?
A smile from a veil?
Do you think you can tell?
And did they get you to trade your heroes for ghosts?
Hot ashes for trees?
Hot air for a cool breeze?
Cold comfort for change?
And did you exchange a walk on part in the war for a lead role in a cage?
How I wish, how I wish you were here.
We're just two lost souls swimming in a fish bowl, year after year,
Running over the same old ground.
What have you found? The same old fears.
Wish you were here."
Man you know I love everything Atmosphere. Looked over this song, but it's Slug at his game: self-deprecating, sarcastic, metaphorical, and insightful. Not one of those you can bump bass rollin' down the street or crank in the club, but maybe that's better. Trying to break down some walls, ya dig?
"Scared love don't make none
If these walls could speak, they would peep about the fake ones
Watching this man, falling off of his plan-
Underachievin' just so he can understand."
1. P.O.S.- Never Better
2. Manchester Orchestra- Mean Everything To Nothing
3. Mansions- New Best Friend
4. Alexisonfire- Old Crows/Young Cardinals
5. Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band- Outer South
6. The Mars Volta- Ochtedron
7. As Cities Burn- Hell or High Water
8. The Working Title- Bone Island
9. K-os- Yes
10.Moving Mountains- Foreword
- The Dear Hunter- Act III: Life and Death
-Animal Collective- Merriweather Post Pavilion
-The Dream- Love vs. Money
-Kevin Devine- Brothers Blood
-U2- No Line on the Horizon
Still got albums to drop from some of my favorite artists too. Cage in a couple weeks and As Tall As Lions in August. Still got Wale in September..as is new Brand New and you know I need that.
Still obsessed with Old Crows/Young Cardinals...
"I've lost all direction/I've lost all my direction"
Sunday, July 12, 2009
Saturday, July 11, 2009
Never seem to hear about this film much, it's a shame. Jude Law's breakout role, Matt Damon at his absolute best, and Gwyneth Paltrow finally showing some emotion. Thrilling story and beautiful shots of Mediterranean Europe. Tom Ripley (Matt Damon) confuses the audience, leaving them not sure whether to justify their sympathy for his genuine love or run like hell from his twisted mind and deadly temper. Mr. Ripley provides of the most challenging and conflicted characters of recent memory and Damon plays it to a T. Yeah and he can sing a little jazz. Get at it if you haven't seen it yet or else "I hope the next boy that you kiss has something terribly contagious on his lips"...
"Good things about Mr. Ripley? Could take some time. Tom is talented. Tom is tender... Tom is beautiful... Tom is a mystery. Tom is not a nobody. Tom has secrets he doesn't want to tell me, and I wish he would. Tom has nightmares. That's not a good thing. Tom has someone to love him. That is a good thing. Tom is crushing me."
Friday, July 10, 2009
Don't always agree with Jason Whitlock, but this is one hell of an interesting article. Through his analysis of the murder of former Tennessee Titan quarterback Steve McNair, Whitlock dives into death's effect on one's memory and the role of father in modern America. All-in-all at least raises some excellent questions.
No matter what varying degrees of God complexes each person possesses, in the end, we are, in fact, human. No one is perfect, mistakes are inevitable. However, there is a large difference between forgiving the dead of their pass transgressions and building them up to be martyrs. No matter how untimely and tragic your death is, there is no reason to make that person into a saint if they didn't deserve to be (and I think very few are). We are not saints...we are human...and that is a two-way street. Check it.
"It's not a black or white thing. It's not an athlete thing. It's a man thing we haven't been able to shake since Eve gave us an apple."
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
Watch Out! still is one of my favorite post-hardcore records, so when Crisis came out in 2006 I was stoked. Too bad after a couple listens it just mentally faded into dust and blew away.
Thankfully Alexisonfire's latest album Old Crows/Young Cardinals returns to the sound we all love. While Dallas Green continues to prove he has one of the best pipes in music (period), George Pettit has traded in his injured howl for a demanding bark. Listen as he carries "Old Crows" all by himself, not relenquishing the vocal spotlight to Green until the smooth chorus of following track "Young Cardinals". The bands heaviness remains intact (shown off here with better production), pushing the noise to the brink until Green's soulful vocals soar stratospherically. ("Born and Raised" and "Midnight Regulations") These boys from Ontario even get down and dirty in good ol' Southern rock, sludging through "The Northern". See, Canada's got more that just hockey and universal health care...
Buy Old Crows/Young Cardinals
"Oh, young cardinals,
nesting in the trees
Oh, hear our song,
And reign your innocence on me."
Damn I love this song. Carries an innate heaviness to it not found in most DMB songs. Paced with Carter Beauford's smooth drumming and punctuating horn blasts, Dave Matthews unique vocals croons lustfully ("I just wanna eat you up). Has one of the best choruses the gang from Charlottlesville (reppin' my birthplace) has ever written. Just throw it on and get at all of Big Whiskey and the GrooGrux King while you're at it.
"Do you know what it is to feel the light of love inside you when all the darkness falls away? If you feel the way I feel then I believe we have the answer that I have been searching for tonight."
Buy Big Whiskey and the GrooGrux King
Dave Matthews Band MySpace
Tuesday, July 7, 2009
When troubled cult folk singer Townes Van Zandt died in 1997, his close friend and "apprentice" Steve Earle vowed to honor his memory. 2009's Townes is an artistic representation of this promise, as Earle tenderly covers some of the late singer's greatest tones. Infecting them with the woozy blues and country zing, Earle makes Townes words about hard-living and even harder drinking ring as true as ever. Great tribute and hell...just great music.
Steve Earle MySpace
When I re-discovered Say Anything's brilliant ...Is A Real Boy, I realized a lot of the songs I originally overlooked had a subtle genius to it that was lost in the grandiose bombast of the record's gems. "Belt" is one of these. A bit restrained, but every bit chaotic, passionate, pleading, and brutally honest as any Max Bemis tune. When the tunes hits a halt, the track slams into one of the best outros you'll ever hear. You know how I feel about gang vocals...WOAH
"What say you (WHAT SAY YOU!) and all your friends (AND ALL YOUR FRIENDS!) step up to my friends (STEP UP TO MY FRIENDS!) in the alley tonight (IN THE ALLEY TONIGHT!)?"
Say Anything MySpace
Sad to see that former Secretary of Defense, Robert McNamara died yesterday at the age of 93. In honor of McNamara, who served under JFK and Lyndon B. Johnson, go check out his fascinating documentary The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons From The Life of Robert S. McNamara. Within the Academy-Award documentary, McNamara shares his perspective on many decisions he made throughout his life, both professionally and privately. Well-known for his hand in Vietnam, McNamara poignantly points out what he regrets and what he steadfastly believed was the right thing to do. Although he made some critical mistakes, he is clearly a man with vast wisdom, intelligence, and strength. Most importantly, McNamara emerges from this film as one thing: human. Go peep this great film and think maybe the world has lost someone more culturally important than Michael Jackson these last few days (gasp!). RIP.
"LeMay said if we lost the war that we would have all been prosecuted as war criminals. and I think he's right. He... and I'd say I... were behaving as war criminals. LeMay recognized that what he was doing would be thought immoral if his side has lost. But what makes it immoral if you lose and not immoral if you win?"
Thursday, July 2, 2009
Underwater. Radiohead's In Rainbows (2007) mimics the sensation of floating gracefully from the surface of the ocean down to it's dark, silent floor. It could be the idea of a liquid rainbow in the art, but everything about this collection of songs holds an distinct aquatic quality (see: "Weird Fishes/Arpeggi"). The fluid rushing guitar lines ("Reckoner"), the bubbling key tones ("Faust Arp"), or distorted bass lines ("All I Need")flood out of the speakers. Thom Yorke's silky falsetto also floats supernaturally ("Nude") over the other-worldly crescendos. For all of us who can't afford deep-sea diving, put on your imagination caps and let Radiohead say "Shorty I can take you there"...but seriously..get at it!
One of their best non-singles with some fuzzed out guitars, pounding drums, and urgent vocals. Arguably the most punk these Nor-Cal dudes have ever been. Stephen Jenkins emotive, borderline over-share lyrics show off some beef with someone across the pond that rivals Jesse Lacey's (And even if her plane...) Always high-energy...give it an ear and if you're born before the 90s and don't have their self-titled...I'm not gonna even say anything, but damn...Ursa Minor drops August 18th.
Third Eye Blind MySpace
"I'm tired of chasing after you
The residue is jealous,
See me on the dark side of your mind,
I wanna get my hands on him,
To a club that's pounding in the London rain,
The world could end We won't hear it."