Sunday, August 31, 2008

Thank God for Sarah Palin!!!

No, I haven't fallen off the face of the planet (just consumed by the first of many 65 hour work weeks in the coming year). I have every intention of resuming my semi-regualr schedule of music related posts tomorrow.

It's hard to believe that since my last post the Democrats nominated the first ever minority for President and the Republicans selected someone even less qualified than former VP Dan Quail for their ticket. Isn't progress grand? Seriously after the week I had I needed a good laugh and god bless the GOP for giving me a good one. Now before being accused of being a sexist let me be clear, I fully believe that a smart woman can one day be president. And I admit I know very little about Mrs. Palin (seems more appropriate to call her this so as to go with her whole hot librarian vibe - to steal a line from about 10,000 comedians in the last week!) but is running the state of Alaska for less than two years really enough of a resume for the second most powerful person in the US. I mean, Jesus it's FREAKIN ALASKA!! What's her primary constituency...moose and geese? So maybe I'm being a wee bit harsh. After all, she is probably smarter than me (Dear God let's hope so or we are all doomed.) But just think one should have logged more than 1 and 1/2 baseball seasons as a leader of people in order to be allowed to chair the Senate.

I think this video is the perfect intro to the woman who may be VP

Well, at least the next two months aren't going to be boring. Hold on to your hats's gonna get a bit bumpy.

More tomorrow...I hope.

Friday, August 22, 2008

New Bloc Party

I have made no secret of my disdain (or perhaps apathy is a better word) for the last BLOC PARTY album " A Weekend in the City". Maybe it's because "Silent Alarm" was so good and so polished for a debut that I raised the bar on the band too high. Maybe it was that I had a poor digital download of the album which made the nuances harder to appreciate. Maybe the darker feel wasn't where I was at the time, but the whole album left me wanting more. Anyone can see these guys could very well be a great band and make great music for a long time. But with the surprise release of their third album "Intimacy" we might be seeing a full fledged band emerge with the kind of adventurous spirit of RADIOHEAD or U2.

"Intimacy" a record that is all over the place. The lead single, the horn and back beat infected "Mercury" recalls early CURE with it's cacophony of sounds and lyrical nonsense. "Ares" has the feel of an anti-war rant (still digesting the lyrics) when it suddenly softens in the middle. "Halo" could be a Silent Alarm outtake with it's driving guitar/bass combo. But it's when the band unleashes "Biko" that we see something totally different. Here the band writes the closest thing they have to a ballad but full of longing and suffering that makes it an extraordinary listen. The second half of the album has an anthemic feel of a band writing for arenas and large concert venues. Clearly the band has big ideas of it's mind for the immediate future.

"Intimacy" is not as fresh as the debut or a nuanced as the second album, but the entirety is a wonderful listening experience and the sign of a huge leap forward for the band. In a year full of great albums this one is in the running for top honors.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Zencast #15 (The Indie Cast - B)

Being the attention whore that I am, I looked at the stats for all of my podcasts and found that the most successful one, based on listener downloads, was the so called "Indie Cast" I did about 5 months ago. So I threw together some random new indie rock and ,VOILA!, a podcast was born. Hidden gems here include the latest from MOGWAI and THE AIRBORNE TOXIC EVENT as well as a great new single from RA RA RIOT. Enjoy these 49 minutes of fun and, as always, feedback is appreciated.


Mogwai -- The Sun Smells Too Loud
Working For A Nuclear Free City -- Kingdom
The Airborne Toxic Event -- Sometime Around Midnight
A Classic Education -- Badlands and Owls
Anthem In -- Down
Cerulean -- Quiet Release
Alexi Murdoch -- Home
Lackthereof -- Last November
The Little Ones -- Boracay
Ra Ra Riot -- Dying is Fine

Friday, August 15, 2008

Lost Bands of Britpop (Part Four)

THE BLUETONES were supposed to be a big deal - at least, that's what the PR guy from their US label said to me in line one night at the annual CMJ festival in New York. CMJ was a magazine/charting service for College radio that was my personal bible while in college. When I was in the industry, these charts were the make or break for a new band because it told the world whether or not a band had indie cred. This is an antiquated notion these days, but a fair analogy would be a hit record today on about a thousand blogs would be the same as getting played on a thousand college stations back then. So, when you went to CMJ, you would be seeing the hippest and coolest of the music industry at that time. Each night was a collection of showcases for different bands trying to sway stations to play them on the air. Each night there was that one band that was the big ticket that every radio and industry type wanted to see. For one night in New York, The Bluetones were that band.

Now, it is never fair to raise expectations on any band to the height that they were at that night. I walked into the club expecting a band on par with OASIS, BLUR or THE CHARLATANS. What I got was an average sounding Britpop band with a couple of strong songs. I left disappointed, and turned to my PR friend and said, "So what else you got going tonight?". To a PR guy working a radio Music Director, this statement was akin to shooting his dog. Upon my return to California, I never even took the time to buy the full album. I had enjoyed the ep they had sent me and at the time that was enough for me.

About a year ago, I found "Expecting To Fly" online and downloaded it. I was surprised at the quality of the record. "Slight Return" has a nice sing-songy feel to it that never translated well live. "Bluetonic" is textbook britpop (as if recycled out of The La's leftovers), while "Talking to Clarry" has that open the show slow build to a somewhat majestic anthem feel that shows off some above average guitar work. It's a nice record and one I should have not dismissed. Were they the second coming? NO! But I was glad to see that they have carried on and I might just see what they have done since their debut. I guess the lesson here is that some bands just aren't good live (at least the night I saw them), but that shouldn't be the kiss of death. Who knows, maybe the pressure was to much for them and they were tight? Maybe a few more shows would have benefited them and given them a greater presence in the US. Still, for a britpop nugget they feel like a nice addition to the Lost Bands Catalogue.

I had the whole album on my computer but apparently deleted it to save room!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Plugging back into the Matrix

It's amazing how reliant I have become on technology. Now, I have always been relatively in tune with the latest gadgets and advances. But over time I have become more and more attached to the notion that I can get information any time I want via the Internet. For many of us who lived prior to the Internet days, this development has changed how we act when we go on vacation. I recently spent 10 days on a ranch in Southern Oregon where I had no cell-phone reception (thereby slicing me away from being able to check my blackberry for e-mail), a computer with a dial-up modem (which makes getting information off the net next to impossible) and a local paper that was 14 pages total (mostly about local news which has no bearing on my life). Add to this the fact that, even though there was cable TV, it was in another state so forget trying to keep up on local baseball teams and their games. I was reduced to checking the ESPN crawl at the bottom of the screen over and over to see if the Angels were winning or losing. For someone who has a information addiction this is some form of sadistic torture.

(NOTE: I did have a very nice time and actually spent quite a bit in a wonderful hammock between two shade trees with a nice breeze blowing. So don't get the idea that I am ungrateful bastard who can't appreciate a little R and R)

So obviously my wife and I fought tooth and nail to see who got to the computer first upon our return home to check e-mail, facebook, websites, and other Internet related gobbledy gook (I lost which is why this is being written today instead of yesterday). So now I'm plugged back in and ready to go. Now excuse me I have to go refresh my e-mail... it's been two whole minutes.

Computer Club is a great new electronic act which seemed to fit with the theme today. All song links courtesy of I Heart Comix

(mp3) Computer Club -- Bizarre Love Triangle (yes, another version of the New Order Classic)

Friday, August 01, 2008

Hitting the Open Road

Summer school is at an end so it's time to pack the family up in the car and head North to the great state of Oregon for our annual family trip. This year we decided to try to minimize the pain on the boys and drive through the night rather than wasting an entire day. This does mean, however, that I will have to pull an all nighter to accomplish this feat. So given the fact that I have to rest up and that I will be on vacation for the next 10 days I leave you with a couple of parting gestures. See you in a couple of weeks...