Sunday, June 26, 2005

Lost in the Shuffle in 2005:

Lou Barlow
released January 25, 2005
rating: ***

Emoh? No, Lou Barlow hasn't gone post-hardcore on us. No, no, Emoh is home spelled backwards. Oh Lou, so clever! Oh wait, why didn't anyone else think of this before? Record title analysis aside, this solo effort from one of indie rock's favorite songwriters is actually, well, impressive. Unfortunately, given all the attention to his participation in the reunion of Dinosaur Jr and their subsequent tour, Emoh could very well be overlooked instead of drooled over. The record is consistent, that's for sure: accompanied sporadically by cello, light percussion, et al, Barlow and his acoustic guitar work wonders on several numbers. "Caterpillar Girl" is among the highlights, skipping along with Barlow's comforting vocals, while "If I Could," in which he doubts a relationship, will have some critics swooning and comparing him to Elliott Smith. The unexpected cover of Ratt's "Round and Round" is likely one of the best acoustic covers of an '80s pop-metal song, ever, as Barlow brings out a desperately heartfelt side that we never knew was there. "Holding Back the Year," which could have folks wondering about a mid-life crisis based on song title alone, beckons to be examined. And that's enough emo for 30-something, longtime fans to last for months. -Kenyon Hopkin
Currently getting the most air-play on college radio stations nationwide (from CMJ).

1-SLEATER-KINNEY The Woods Sub Pop
2-GORILLAZ Demon Days Virgin
3-WHITE STRIPES Get Behind Me Satan V2
4-COLDPLAY X And Y Capitol
5-SPOON Gimme Fiction Merge
6-FOUR TET Everything Ecstatic Domino
7-STEPHEN MALKMUS Face The Truth Matador
8-DRESSY BESSY Electrified Transdreamer
9-BELLE AND SEBASTIAN Push Barman To Open Old Wounds Matador
10-SMOG A River Ain't Too Much To Love Drag City
11-MOTION CITY SOUNDTRACK Commit This To Memory Epitaph
12-ALKALINE TRIO Crimson Vagrant
13-WEEZER Make Believe Geffen-Interscope
14-NINE INCH NAILS With Teeth Interscope
15-DEAD 60'S The Dead 60's Deltasonic-Epic
16-AQUABATS! Charge!! Nitro
17-CARIBOU The Milk Of Human Kindness Domino
18-BECK Guero Interscope
20-TEAM SLEEP Team Sleep Maverick

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Sigur Ros. September 12, 13 @Beacon Theatre, New York.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Bass player from alt-rock band Soul Asylum (when the term "alt-rock" meant something) dead at 41.

NEW YORK (Billboard) -- Karl Mueller, bassist and founding member of the Minneapolis-based rock act Soul Asylum, died Friday at his home, according to the Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune. He was 41.

Diagnosed with throat cancer in May 2004, Mueller underwent radiation treatment and was said to have been in and out of the hospital in recent months.

In the early 1980s, Mueller formed Loud Fast Rules with singer/guitarist Dave Pirner and drummer Dan Murphy, a band that became Soul Asylum three years later. After a period of underground notoriety, the band achieved mainstream success with its 1992 breakthrough, "Grave Dancers Union" (Columbia).

The album peaked at No. 11 on The Billboard 200 and has sold 2.14 million copies in the United Stated, according to Nielsen SoundScan. The set featured the single "Runaway Train," which peaked at No. 5 on the Hot 100.
My Morning Jacket to release next record in September, 2-Cd collection of early work and rarities released by Darla still goes overlooked.

My Morning Jacket have announced the release of their upcoming album, Z, to be released September 20. The psychedelic country band from Louisville garnered acclaimed with 2003's It Still Moves, released on Dave Matthew's ATO records. Tour dates listed at ATO.

source: CMJ , ATO
Smashing Pumpkins may, just may, reform.

Billy Corgan, apparently not satisfied enough with his solo record, wants to reform a band that we pretty much figured he wasn't happy with. Full story at Billboard.
COLDPLAY'S X&Y DEBUTS AT #1 ON BILLBOARD 200 AND TOPS CHARTS IN 22 COUNTRIES TO DATE. (which means there's no escape from the band for the rest of 2005).

Sales of A Rush of Blood to the Head and Parachutes Top Catalog Chart (and people didn't previously buy the records because...?)

38-Date, 36-City North American Tour Launches August 2nd, including September 6, 7 at Madison Square Garden (where i will be seeing U2 October 10 and November 21)
I always think it's amusing when a TV show (comedy, drama, whatever) places music-related items or dialogue into the show. Like, posters of a band that you know the characters would never ever be listening to or probably never heard about. Or when characters are talking about going to see a band play. It's also slightly disturbing and surreal, because sometimes a band who you thought was far from the mainstream is mentioned. One time (don't know what program it was), a boy was upset with his dad because he felt he didn't know anything about his life. He asked his father, "what's my favorite band?" The kid was wearing an INTERPOL shirt. The father still didn't know. Then the boy said "INTERPOL, dad."

Here's one involving Alternative Press magazine that's notable. Someone pretending to write for them is introduced in this clip from the WB's One Tree Hill. It's all just clever marketing, I know. But it's like, worlds colliding!

Friday, June 17, 2005

Let's Have a Ball (based on coolness factor alone).
Pixies/Interpol/LCD Soundsystem @ Jones Beach, Long Island June 14, 2005
by Shannon Ronan

Okay, so I probably shouldn't have shunned those extra squirts of bug spray. And I shouldn't have assumed that the breeze off the water might create enough of a chill to make dragging around a sweaty cardigan sweater seem practical. And surely, I should have spent less time leisurely sipping vanilla vodka and cola in the parking lot and more time rocking out to the seemingly dance-worthy beats of LCD Soundsystem.

Still, after making my way through the obnoxious barrage of gigantic Tommy Hilfiger logos and the masses of red and black clad pre-teens, I reached my seat just as Interpol had taken the stage, easing me gently into my summer concert life with a delicate yet heartfelt rendition of "Next Exit". Honestly, they pretty immediately garnered my undivided attention based on coolness factor alone, failing to miss a single note while at least three band members simultaneously smoked cigarettes mid-song. It was more likely the hypnotic effect of the nostalgic but never overly sappy nature of the songs themselves that truly won me over. Having never before seen the band perform, I was thrilled to indulge in personal favorites such as "Obstacle 1" and "Leif Erikson" and though I may have rolled my eyes ever so slightly, I even secretly enjoyed "Slow Hands" and "Evil". The thing is, that when the opening band, primarily made up of a bunch of baby-faced scenesters possesses more stage presence than the headlining act, you realize Interpol is probably too good to be opening for anyone (even the Pixies!), and when they left the stage I'm sure I wasn't the only left feeling disappointed.

Allowing for just the right amount of anticipation to build, the Pixies finally appeared, boasting the sort of calm confidence that can only be acquired over time. But they only showed their years in terms of focus, playing straight through almost thirty songs, never stopping to chat and rarely stopping to breathe in between tunes. True, they lacked enthusiasm at first, but after just a few songs, their looks of boredom faded and Frank Black began delivering guttural screams with ease, Kim Deal gave a smile or two, David Loverling led the band into the super cute "La La Love You" and guitarist Joey Santiago (if for one night only) dethroned Thurston Moore and became the reigning king of reverb. Mixing a heavy handful of well-known classics (i.e. "Monkey Gone To Heaven," "Here Comes Your Man," "Gigantic") with a few surprises (Kim Deal's melodic version of "In Heaven") and downright hard rock breakdowns (during "Tame" and "Something Against You"), the Pixies managed to appease their diverse audience of both diehard fans and more inexperienced ones. Let me assure you, even if the nosebleed seats were empty, the Pixies are still deserving of all the increasing hype which has surrounded them since their original break-up in 1992.

While nothing can quite compare to indulging in semi-sweet harmonies and crude bass lines while the sun sinks into the ocean, Jones Beach (excuse me, Tommy Hilfiger) Amphitheater is unfortunately just large and conveniently located enough to draw entirely too many ambiance-wreckers (i.e. girls in skin-tight camisoles dancing drunkenly and screaming "I love you" to the angelically indifferent Carlos D. and Frank Black). Still, I'd be a liar to suggest that the lack of seats combined with the familiarly sticky feel of city floorboards beneath my aching feet could have made this show any cooler.


Interpol: Next Exit, Slowhands, Say Hello To Angels, Narc, Not Even Jail, Leif Erikson, Evil, Take You On A Cruise, Obstacle 1, PDA.

Pixies: Is She Weird?, Subbacultcha, Dead, Wave of Mutilation, I Bleed, Broken Face, Monkey Gone to Heaven, #13 Baby, In Heaven, Where is my Mind?, La la love you, Nimrod's Son, Mr. Grieves, The Holiday Song, Vamos, Here Comes Your Man, Bone Machine, Stormy Weather, The Sad Punk, Something Against You, Isla De Encanta, Allison, Cactus, Gouge Away, Tame, Debaser, Hey, Gigantic, Encore: Caribou.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Gouge Away (anti-review)
Pixies/Interpol/LCD Soundsystem @jones beach, June 14
by Kenyon

I didn't go because:

1- don't need to go to something (concert) just because it's there.
2-it was hot and humid. about 85 degrees.
3-already saw interpol twice.
4-not buying into hype of pixies. (hell, i even saw them in 1991 opening for U2!)
5-seats. which means there's no escape from someone annoying you.

notes: the show wasn't even sold out. whoa! and people on craigslist were desperately trying to sell them, tickets were down to $25. (yea maybe cause pixies just played 10 shows last december in new york, and like i said, interpol plays too many shows, check my song out about that) prolly could have gotten in for like $5 if i went down there, but didn't because of above reasons.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Memory Column: Early Works and Rarities 1996-2004
released: May 16, 2005
rating: ****

Auburn Lull
Regions Less Parallel: Early Works and Rarities 1996-2004
released: May 16, 2005

Two stellar, dreamy bands. Each with a compilation of their impossible to find, non-album tracks released by Darla. A cause for a double review? You're darn right.

Mahogany, the more pop-oriented of the two, is probably one of the prettiest things you'll hear. Like, ever. Their control of spacious guitar effects and synthesizer, blended with cutesy, high-octave girl vocals is a lost art. And the fact that they're from New York City (originally Michigan) is reason to appreciate them even more, given the enormous number of rock bands from NYC that play, well, just plain rock. The only problem with Mahogany is that they haven't released a full-length since 1999's Dream of a Modern Day, a wondrous work that's still a highlight in the wave of recent shoegaze and dreampop bands. We still have to be patient while they put the finishing touches on their next proper album, so thank goodness that at least Memory Column became a reality. This two-disc collection, all 20 tracks of it, is just as brilliant as anything on Dream. Enveloping you like a warm, soft blanket, the pieces are too soothing to even bother wondering what the hazy lyrics are or when a verse starts and a chorus ends. All you can really do is lay back, look through a kaleidoscope and take in its rapturous beauty.

After the absolutely gorgeous Alone I Admire, Auburn Lull had a lot to live up to. As a result, follow-up Cast from the Platform couldn't match its predecessor, nor take the band in any new directions. Regions Less Parallel, a collection of non-LP work, is, well, more of the same: quiet vocals, guitars drenched in atmospherics and gentle (REALLY gentle) percussion. Don't get the wrong idea, it'll be perfect for meditation and yoga. It's just that we've already heard this, and with better dynamics, on Alone I Admire. -- Kenyon Hopkin

similar: Lush, Flowchart, Saloon, All Natural Lemon and Lime Flavors, Lali Puna, Flying Saucer Attack, Transient Waves
styles: Dream Pop, Ambient Pop, Indie Electronic
Buy directly from Darla.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Smashing Orange
1991 [reissue]
(Elephant Stone)
released: May 31, 2005. originally released in, yep, 1991.
rating: **1/2

We all know about pumpkin smashing. But Smashing ORANGE? They were never on 120 minutes, so where were they hiding? Well, there's good reason why the band fell under the radar. 1991 (great year in music, by the way) compiles swirly, guitar-effects rock that's too lo-fi, too conventional and too disconnected to compete with such dreampop greats as Swervedriver or Ride (the Orange even had the same equipment as them!). Lots of psychedelic noise attacks like "Only Complete in You" and "Sugar" have the right idea, but aren't able to flesh out something that would go well enough with a multi-colored light show. Still, Smashing Orange should feel lucky that they were a part of that era, playing in the U.K. and opening for Lush in New York. Hell, what kid into shoegaze wouldn't be happy with that? - Kenyon Hopkin

styles: Dream Pop, Shoegaze, Noise Pop
similar: (early) Brian Jonestown Massacre, Pale Saints, (early) My Bloody Valentine, Skywave

Monday, June 06, 2005

White Stripes
"Blue Orchid"
from the album Get Behind Me Satan, out June 7, 2005
rating: *

Did anyone else hate this first single on first listen as much as I did? "Seven Nation Army" didn't hit me right away, likely due to its minimalism and non-immediate hook. Eventually I learned to like it. Not love it, just like it. After about four listens to "Blue Orchid," it still comes across as unfinished, empty and pretty much annoying. It's not just because Jack White sings in a falsetto. Or because the guitar is heavily processed. There's just not much to grasp onto, especially at 2.5 minutes. Fortunately, I've heard another song from the record that ensures the band can at least redeem themselves a little. And while I'm willing to bet my red and white shoes that the critics are going to once again go ga-ga over the Stripes, this song is still less appealing than the worn-out socks in those shoes. -- Kenyon Hopkin

Sunday, June 05, 2005

And Everything Else...
(Plug Research)
released: May 17, 2005
rating: **

C'mon Nobody. You're somebody. Even if, in the press photo, you need to cover half your face with your fully tattooed hand to prove it. Really, though, maybe Nobody (Elvin Estela) isn't sure who he is on And Everything Else. I mean, first he covers the Flaming Lips' "What is the Light" and a little later he includes a snippet of (I'm pretty sure) a song by Brian Jonestown Massacre. Oh, he does originals too, exploring his Spanish influences, hip-hop beats and sampling, while collaborating with the likes of Prefuse 73, among others. Still, it ends up a tad confusing. To his credit, Estela does some sorta interesting things here, just sorta. It's mostly that sleepy electronic experimental stuff that you can leave for the background while you're writing some emails, cause it sure isn't noticeable enough to distract you from any deep thought. -- Kenyon Hopkin

styles: post-rock, experimental, bedroom, laptop