Monday, May 30, 2005

Mercury Rev
The Secret Migration
release: May 17, 2005
rating: ****

Believe it or not, there were actually records released on September 11, 2001 (it was a Tuesday, afterall). Mercury Rev's last outing, All is Dream, just happen to meet that fate. Like many records released around that time, there was a double-edged sword involved. Some releases weren't given the attention they should have gotten, while others, released within the year before or after, were attributed with greater significance (it still doesn't make U2's All That You Can't Leave Behind an impressive piece of work). All is Dream sorta falls in between, in that it was greatly overlooked, yet is a powerful companion to the Fall of 2001. The Secret Migration, which follows the band's gorgeous chamber rock from Deserter's Songs and All is Dream, will likely not recieve the credit it deserves either. And this time, there's just no good reason as to why. Simply put, Migration is yet another beautiful, uplifting album from Mercury Rev. And though it may not exactly match the emotional highs and lows of Dream, it's still a touching affair. Everything here--and I do mean everything--is delicate, soaring and pretty, made possible by Jonathan Donahue's falsetto and the band's firm grasp on a variety of instruments (lots of piano, strings, et al). "Secret for a Song," "Across Yer Ocean" and "Black Forest" are just a few of the small masterpieces here that require at least a second listen to appreciate the songwriting. By the end of Migration, there does seem to be something missing. Perhaps it's missing that darker side of their music, which some other critics have pointed out. It could also be that the songs aren't quite as strong. Still, it's a big step above most other bands attempting rock on such a grand scale. -- Kenyon Hopkin

styles: Chamber Rock, Neo-Psychedelia
similar: The Flaming Lips, Deserter's Songs, All is Dream

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

i see the dustcloud disappear without a trace. (U2 setlist spoiler!) by Kenyon Hopkin

i got tickets the day before the show! holy wow! this is much better than star wars opening nite! this review is also at u2tours.com.

lots of great photos at INTERFERENCE

U2 at Continental Airlines Arena, the Meadowlands. May 18, 2005.

short version!

favorite moments were: obviously, the minute or so between when the lights went out and the band first came on, the lyrics from "stories for boys" during "vertigo", "zoo station" to start the first encore and "bad" closing the show. none of those i expected. "streets" was awesome too. anytime a band member was walking on the ramp on our side, we were pretty close. i would say those were the moments where i definitely had tears in my eyes i was so ecstatic. oh, and the people who actually sang "40" with me after the show. oh and our seats were freaking sweet!

least favorite moments: people around me not more excited just before the show was going to start, some guy dancing in the aisle to the music on the PA well before the show, holding a beer bottle which i was scared would fling from his hand and hit someone in the head, "elevation" which i don't like at all, very few peopel knowing "the ocean" and sitting down during slow songs, bono talking about social/political stuff, not enough people singing "40" during "bad," and the people who didn't sing it with me after the show.

wierd moments: the local band on stage for "still haven't found" and that deal with the cell phones.

unmoment: no "with or without you"

set list: City of Blinding Lights, Vertigo (snippets from Stories for Boys, Pump It Up), Elevation, Gloria, The Ocean, Beautiful Day, Miracle Drug, Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own, Love and Peace or Else, Sunday Bloody Sunday, Bullet the Blue Sky (snippet from When Johnny Comes Marching Home), Running to Stand Still, Pride, Where the Streets Have No Name,One

first encore:Zoo Station, The Fly, Mysterious Ways
second encore:All Because Of You, Yahweh, I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For, Bad (chorus from 40).

Monday, May 23, 2005

ready to let go of the steering wheel. (u2 set spoiler!) . long version. by Kenyon Hopkin

U2 at the meadowlands. may 18, 2005. =========================

before you read on, let me just say that U2 is one of my all time favorite bands, they were my ..1 for a few years, circa 1989-1992 or so. i have liked them pretty much since they first started, but really got into them seriously in between rattle and hum and zooTV tours. i saw them first in 1992 for zooTV at nassau coliseum on long island (most of which i hardly remember) and twice on popmart in 1997, also at the meadowlands, but giants stadium.anyway, i missed the last tour, i wasn't really interested because i didn't like the direction they were going. in fact, one nite they played madison square garden in oct 2001 i was in nyc seeing spiritualized (!). so by 2004 i was incredibly anxious to see them again, in a more stripped down, "intimate" setting. at the end of january, i basically let a ticket for the first show at MSG slip through my fingers, and i had been mad at myself ever since. (however i later got tickets for oct 10 and nov 21). still, i really didn't think i could handle waiting 6 months! so on tuesday (day before show) i get a call from my editor, saying there's two tickets for me, which i had asked about back in the first week of february, and never thought i had a chance. whoa. amazing. even better, the seats were in section 121, pretty damn close to the stage and catwalk.that all said, it really upsets me that people pay $60, $100, or even $170 (not to mention $10 for parking, etc) to drink beer, talk, play with their cell phone, not be totally focused on U2 the entire time, or even *walk out during a slow song you don't know to go pee or get a drink*! i mean, c'mon, this is one of the greatest rock bands ever playing one of the best shows you'll ever experience. you're ruining it for other people. but whatever, that's your loss. i know a lot of you serious fans on here agree with me, i read your posts.finally, the actual performance. yea yea, kings of leon were ok, whatever. the music on the PA was all like, on the fineline between hip and mainstream, i was surprised. 10 minutes before 9pm, i was getting really pumped. first the killers' "mr brightside", then coldplay "clocks." oh man. then just before 9, some other song which i didn't know, but i was just really feeling it and the music got louder so i stood right up and put my arms up before most, if not all the peopel in the rows right around me, because i knew u2 was about to go on. the lights went off and then of course everyone got excited. the edge appeared on stage playing guitar and then i guess it was a distraction or something because bono then just appeared out of nowhere at the end of the oval catwalk. at first i didn't think "city of blinding lights" was a good choice for an opener, but if they had to pick something to start with, i guess that's the best one. most of the crowd was actually into that song, that was a surprise. "vertigo" of course was next, i could see that coming. however, bono slipping in some lyrics from "stories for boys", which i'm sure not many people knew, was nice."elevation" i dont know why they played that, it seems like a weak pick and they played it enough on last tour. "gloria" definitely made up for that though. "the ocean" was like, wow, i can't believe they're playing this, but overall probably a bad idea because it's quiet and really obscure. "beautiful day" of course picked up the pace again and everyone was into that, no surprise. then three songs from the new album, kinda boring but i was just happy to be there. "sunday bloody sunday" and "bullet the blue sky" kept it going. "running to stand still" i was so into and most peopel in my area had sat down, i couldnt believe it. i was singing "hallelujah" like there was no tomorrow. again, they picked up the pace with "pride" and "streets", no shock there. "one" i don't feel much for, but at least they didn't do the boring "walk on" or "stuck in moment" thank goodness. the start of the first encore was probably the most exciting for me. before they came back on, there were images on the screen that were totally from the zooTV tour. so i got really psyched, yet had no idea what would be next (i never look up setlists before shows). they kick into "zoo station," and i was like yeaaaaaaa! i mean, it's not the best song in their catalog but i have watched the video for zooTV live in sydney like 1000 times and i so longed for that kind of experience. "the fly" was ok, don't like that song much, but again they did the zooTV thing with the "manipulative" words on the screen. "mysterious ways" rocked i guess, but i had my fill of that from last tour. second encore: two songs from new record, and then they brought this local band on stage to play "still haven't found." this was wierd, i didn't know what was happening. so they do the song, i'm not getting into detail about that, other people wrote about it. i didn't think it was the best idea though, honestly i'd rather see u2 do it for real, sorry guys (i actually met them after the show and told them to rock on though).finally, and something i was so much hoping for, was "bad". it was decent, but i needed bono to look more into it, like move around a lot more and seem passionate, walk around the ramp or something. plus it wasn't as long as it could have been. however, they did add the chorus to "40". i've been reading that they've ended previous shows on this tour with a full version of "40", it's too bad they didn't do that here. well maybe it's ok because the crowd just couldn't keep the sing-along going. i'm really glad they didn't do "vertigo" again, that's really dumb to play a song twice when they have so many others. myself and probably 5000 other peopel were waiting for "with or without you" towards the end, but strangely enough, they never played that. hmmm. so after the second encore, the lights stayed off for a few minutes, but then went on, and everyone got teased.i was still feeling the u2, but of course, hardly anyone else did. i'm talking outside leaving the arena. everyone just wanted to go home i guess, but i had to try and get a small group of people singing "40". i mean come on, how often am i gonna have that chance. why doesn't anyone do this? so i probably went up to like 15 different people/groups and just started singing "40". they probably thought i was nuts, half of them i'm sure didn't know the song, i really don't care. maybe you saw me or heard me. some peopel were just totally NOT into it, that's kinda sad (not as sad as t-shirts for $35 though). so i got a few different people to sing with me (you know, "how long to sing this song.") this one guy was actually really hip and he was into primal scream and stone roses, stuff like that, and we started singing songs by those bands, that was sweet, high five dude. so finally me and my friend (who was really awesome for putting up with me) left and drove back to long island. hallelujah!

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Goon Moon
I Got a Brand New Egg Layin' Machine
(Suicide Squeeze)
rating: *
released: June 7, 2005

New egg layin' machine? Oh man. But will Goon Moon actually use it? Hey, would you expect anything less from a band that's made up of members from such oddball acts as Marilyn Manson, Hella and Masters of Reality? No, of course not. Believe it or not, this actually sounds like all three of those bands combined--in a battle to determine which one is the most challenging. No one really wins here. Egg Layin' Machine is like scraps of ideas that were junked, then put together haphazardly for this short record (it's supposed to be a "mini-album," though there's ten tracks). For a while, it's closer to the noisy instrumentals of Hella, but then out of nowhere they add robotic vocals for "Rock Wierd," which is even too awful to be on the recent disappointment from Daft Punk. The last two "songs" attempt to be conventional with verses and choruses, practically transforming Goon Moon into a different (and better) band. At that point you might wonder why they just didn't go that route to begin with. If everyone can just go back to their respective groups now please. -- Kenyon Hopkin

style: Experimental
similar: Lightning Bolt, the Mae Shi, End., Vaz