Thursday, April 30, 2009

My Life, As Told By U2

I've seen this in a couple of places (listed below for varying opinions) so I thought I would take a whirl at it. The rules are simple; answer the questions using only the songs from your favorite band...

1. Are you a male or female:

2. Describe yourself:

3. How do you feel about yourself:

4. Describe your ex boyfriend/girlfriend:

5. Describe your current boy/girl situation:

6. Describe your current location:

7. Describe where you want to be:

8. Your best friend(s) is:

9. Your favourite colour is:

10. You know that:

11. If your life was a television show what would it be called:

12. What is life to you:

13. What is the best advice you have to give:

Other Blogs of interest in this experiment:

17 Seconds (The Cure)
The Vinyl Villian (Morrissey)
Sunset over Slawit (Bruce Springsteen)
Acid Ted (Orbital)

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

VIVA!! Viva Voce!

Every night before I go to sleep I take a few moments to tool around listening to music. Some nights it leads me back to old favorites, other times it takes me to new discoveries. I had not heard much from the band VIVA Voce other than they are releasing a new record in the next couple of weeks and have a very loyal fan base. So when I heard the first track off their new record entitled "Rose City" I was amazed and floored by the potential this band has. "Devotion" starts with a slow guitar slide then leaps out of the speakers with a fierce burst of drums and a killer bass line. It keeps a great groove alive over the top of the song's chorus. It has a nice male/female vocal interplay and a simple signature line that will definitely get stuck in your head immediately. I haven't yet digested the rest of the record that is out there but if it is half as good as this one song, it is worth your time...

Monday, April 27, 2009

Hitting Shuffle (Episode 3)

There are those songs that just strike a chord. You can't really put your finger on it. They just have a way of making us feel better. It can be the lyrical content or the melody of the chorus that we respond to. Often it is a feeling or a moment that we associate the song with that gives us that good sense. I have always found that "Always The Sun" by THE STRANGLERS has that effect on me. It is a song about hope and contentment in times of trouble but it has such a sparkling quality to it that it has long been a favorite on the old iPod. Whenever I feel a little stressed or overwhelmed it's song that make me just a little sunnier. I am always looking for others so if you have any suggestions let me know.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Buy This Band's Record NOW!!!!

I love when I find a small band that I can champion (to be fair I found this one on a couple of other blogs but I want to do my part). The wife wrote a piece on her blog and God bless them the band wrote back to thank her. That is just awesome!!

I AM NOT LEFTHANDED is an Irish band that plays simple, beautiful songs with melodies that will break your heart. They are everything I love about music; unassuming, passionate and thought provoking. They are a band that deserves your attention and your support. You need to go to their site and buy their record like today. It's not fair to make any comparisons to other bands because it wouldn't do them justice. I have probably played "Long Goodbyes" 50 times in the past two weeks. It's the kind of song that creeps into your brain and you spend the rest of the day humming the chorus to the point where your co-workers start to wonder if you are okay. If you like this song you will enjoy the rest of the record.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Cleaning out the InBox

I have been inundated with bands lately (which for a small time blog like this is very neat to have people actually care what I think.) As is always the case whether it is positive or negative I will always listen and give it a review. So here we go;

ACIDIC are an LA band that have the hint of punk and a hint of old fashioned rock to go with their emo angst. Would this be something I would listen to, probably not. But if you are a fan of early GREEN DAY or BLINK 182 you might enjoy this.

DIALTONE are a slight upgrade in the sound quality and have a little more hipster attitude to the lyrics on songs such as "Do You Love Your Cell Phone" or "Emo T Shirt". You can hear elements of REM in the bass lines and the guitar work. The voice of the lead singer is a bit off putting at first but it gets better the more you listen. I was very ready to dismiss this but the more I take it in the more I think they might have something. With some more time they will eventually find their own sound that will suit them.

ADAM BALBO is a singer songwriter from San Francisco who has the ARLO GUTHRIE/BOB DYLAN vibe about his stuff. Singing alone with just an acoustic guitar means that the lyrics better be good since they will stand out. Most of the songs check in at under 2 minutes. One gets the impression that if he couldn't release these songs on the net he would be singing in some bohemian coffee house where people sip lattes and read Kerouac. It's decent folk music but not really my cup of low fat vanilla chai.

Friday, April 10, 2009

A recommendation from The Wife

I mock my wife for her taste in music. Her love of Country music and Jimmy Buffett can be somewhat perplexing at times. I rarely understand why she has five singers on her iPod all named Kate (or some version thereof) and they all have the same mopey, chick folk sound. There are times when her sense of the sheer cheesiness of a song can be a bit overwhelming. For a self appointed musical snob such as I the mere fact that she and I have co-existed (and flourished) for the past five years of marriage (as celebrated TODAY!!) is a testament to whatever higher being you believe in.

So every once and awhile she will shock me. Something will come across her iPod (which is always the musical delivery device of choice in the car) that simply floors me. How is it that you can like that and all the other stuff that clutters your iPod? How can you reconcile this band which is extraordinary with the flotsam that normally comes out of the speakers? She simply smiles, tolerating my boorish behavior as she is often forced to do, and says, "because I have more evolved musical tastes than you."

So here is the latest jaw dropping, knee bending discovery from my wife (who also counts MOGWAI, IRON AND WINE, and CASSETTES WON'T LISTEN among her favorites). Minneapolis has brought many great acts throughout American Rock History but nothing that sounds like CLOUD CULT. At times they sound like ARCADE FIRE mixed with THE FLAMING LIPS at then there are times when they sound like nothing out now. They employ odd sounds and unusual instrumentation to project stories of flaw, pain and despair. On other songs from their latest, "Feel Good Ghosts", they reach astronomical heights with sing along choruses and stomping bass and drum lines. For a record that is about loss (the lead singer lost his four year old child recently) it has a subdued yet celebratory feel to it.

I hate to admit when she is right (which is usually all the time), but she is right. In this case her tastes are better than mine. And as is the case for the past five years, her guidance has made me a better person (and not just in a musical sense.)

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

New Phoenix!!

Phoenix is a french band responsible for one of the catchiest songs of all time, "If I Ever Feel Better", from the debut record back in 2000. Since then I haven't paid them much mind. Singles acts often disappear quickly leaving only the slightest of footprints. So imagine my shock when I started listening to their latest, "Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix", on how mature and detailed the songs have become and yet have not lost any of their signature dance rock sound. The only strike against the record is that it was leaked around the same time as the YEAH YEAH YEAHS and U2 so it gotten little press. This should change with the official release in May.

The first couple of songs, "Lisztomania" and "1901" fall close to the sound from their previous records with a little crunchier guitar on the second track. Things take a more orchestral approach with the seven minute "Love Like A Sunset" which takes a slow building synth line that sounds like a lost ORBITAL song before hitting it's stride. The second half of the record allows the band to start tinkering with their sound, adding overdub effects to the vocals and a nice guitar pick effect on the gorgeous "Rome".

The more you listen the more you fall in love with each song. "Countdown" originally had a throwaway feel to it but after several listens it has slowly crept into my subconscious. Which is the whole feel of the record; slight at first listen but with each pass there is more going on that leads to greater involvement by the listener. I have no doubt this will be in my top records for the year.

p.s. for sheer absurdity check out the lead singer's one off band with members of Daft Punk called DARLIN'. Fuzzed out Beach Boys is not what I would have expected...

Monday, April 06, 2009


There is nothing better than Opening Day of the baseball season. Writer George Will once said that the year can be split into two seasons, baseball season and "the long, dark void." As an avid sports fan, something my wife refers to as an addiction, I watch all types of events. I spent a good portion of Saturday afternoon watching the Men's basketball FINAL FOUR even though I had absolutely no rooting interest. I have watched college football games between schools that not only have I not attended but I couldn't find on a map with a compass.

But with baseball it's a whole other level. There is a certain rhythm to a baseball game. It has a pace to it that lends itself to conversation. I can sit and watch a game and carry on a dialogue with another person and still know what is going on. I can also watch a game with focused intensity, emotions rising and falling with every at bat. It helps to have a rooting interest in a given team. Long time readers already know of my allegiance to THE LOS ANGELES ANGELS, who have had a good few years in a row and are poised for another playoff run (which, knowing the team as well as I do, will surely end with a loss to the BOSTON RED SOX in the playoffs).

So another season is upon us. Another chance to soak in the summer sun, a hot dog and the ballpark. Another opportunity to lose sleepless nights over a heartbreaking ninth inning defeat. Another set of memories of game winning hits and three run home runs. Another collection of thoughts on the state of the middle relief and the role of the fifth outfielder.

Another Opening Day to enjoy.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

San Diego was once a cool place

In the late 90's, while I was running a dinky college radio station, we kept hearing how the San Diego music scene was about to explode right beneath us. San Diego is about four hours from where I lived at the time so it made sense for us to at least pay a little attention. It helped that at the time we could get the local alternative station, 91X, better than we could the radio behemoth out of LA that was KROQ. It is important to understand the impact of radio at the time. In an era prior to MP3 and blogs, radio was really the only avenue new bands could get music out to the masses. Also, alternative radio hadn't been co-opted by the large commercial conglomerates like it is today so Music and Programming directors had a lot more freedom to take chances on relatively unheard of bands. So when 91x started playing ROCKET FROM THE CRYPT, it was a shot of adrenaline that I was looking for.

Rocket had a sound that was tailor made for the radio. Enough of a pop edge to catch you with a hooky chorus but enough bite to make them hip for the indie kids. Kind of a cross between the REVEREND HORTON HEAT and SUPERCHUNK, with some surf guitar and horns thrown in for good measure, Rocket led the San Diego scene charge out into the mainstream. The band hit it big with the "Circa:Now!" record and got signed to a major label soon after. The next album, "Scream Dracula, Scream", had a major label shine to it that was good but lost some of the urgency of the previous albums.

Needless to say, the San Diego Scene never really broke out. Most of the acts that were finding some love locally never translated nationally and even Rocket From The Crypt fell about by the early 2000's. San Diego is still a beautiful city with a nice laid back attitude so I imagine no one really cared that their scene never got the same publicity as Seattle, Manchester or Detroit and 91x lost some of it's cache (it has since adopted a playlist that mirrors KROQ, which is sad). But after all these years, the sound is still the sound of summer for me.

(mp3) Rocket From The Crypt -- On A Rope (from Scream Dracula, Scream)