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I wanted to say something about Rhode Island

August 10, 2010

Welp, I haven’t updated in a while and wanted to put something up, so here it goes…

Just got back from Rhode Island on Saturday…always a great trip. We stayed in this little house that wasn’t really near anything, except this little dock that went into a bay where you could go clamming

The dock at sunset...

The dock at sunset...

Needless to say, I spent a good amount of time at this picturesque dock taking pictures, talking on the phone and just relaxing…

While that’s what I thought to do, my parents and brother had a different idea…

The clams they were able to pick up

And this is only from one day...

So, needless to say, we ate lunch like kings that day…well, kings that eat clams…

Steamed in a whole hell of a lot of white wine and butter

Steamed in a whole hell of a lot of white wine and butter

Baked with breadcrumbs, garlic, grated parmesan and lemon juice

Baked with breadcrumbs, garlic, grated parmesan and lemon juice

Oh, and let me tell you…they were good…

Now, to discuss the actual purpose of this blog (supposedly it’s music, not clams), I was able to do a little bit of music shopping while I was on vacation…

Arcade Fire - The Suburbs (2010, Merge)

Arcade Fire - The Suburbs (2010, Merge)

Yes…the story alone of how I acquired this album is entertaining enough, let alone the actual quality of the album (spoiler alert, it’s incredible). So, on tuesday, I walked into a record store in Newport called the Music Box. After browsing around for a while, I went to the counter in the back of the store and asked the gentleman if they had the new Arcade Fire album that came out today. He asked his partner to open up the shipping box that JUST CAME IN to check for me…there must have been 50-100 copies of this CD in that one box, not to mention the other dozen boxes that were there (note: I am fully aware that all of those boxes did not like contain Arcade Fire CDs).

Now, onto the actual album itself…WOW. Of course, a certain level of “wow” is expected from the Arcade Fire, Montreal’s latest valuable contribution to the indie-rock scene. But this album goes above and beyond anything I could have imagined. Lyrically, Win Butler is nothing special. Yes, he’s brilliant and yes, his lyrics capture the listener in ways they never knew possible, entrancing them in the music that they are listening to. But this album is about more than Win Butler’s outstanding poetry. The aesthetic presence of this album is just astounding. It is sad and thoughtful without being morose, hopeful without being optimistic and amazing without being, well, shit. Although it’s just a little more than halfway through the year, I’m ready to say that The Suburbs is easily in contention for Album of the Year…but only time will tell.

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Musically Coming Full Circle

July 15, 2010

Everyone goes through musical phases…innocent, non-threatening rock, angry punk, bizzarre indie, Weird Al…I’ve been through more phases more times than I can count. Yet, it’s still very strange when I stumble back onto one that I haven’t done in a while. It’s kind of like meeting up with an old friend that you haven’t seen in years. What’s truly strange, however, is when you break the familiar cycle and tread into some uncharted territory. For example, I’ve been on a pretty steady cycle of going from Indie-folk (Weepies, Bright Eyes, Rilo Kelly, Bon iver) to more “straight forward” indie music (MGMT, Arcade Fire, Phoenix) and then completely shift gears and go into a very mainstream music phase (Green Day, My Chemical Romance) and then ease myself back into the indie with some nostalgic music (Blink-182, Less than Jake, Weezer, Yellowcard) and then repeat. This cycle is starting to be broken as I completely jump around on the list and add various genres in there.

One look on my itunes play history will show Against Me! (Who I will get into very shortly, the new album is amazing), Nick Drake, Angels and Airwaves, IYAZ, The Weepies, Lady Gaga, Motion City Soundtrack, Sum 41 and Jimi Hendrix. Not that I mind any of this, it just makes for a troubling answer to the question “So, what have you been listening to lately?” because, quite frankly, I’m not even sure anymore.

Something patriotic…and almost 2 days late

July 5, 2010

Alright, figured I should post something about the 4th of July (seeing how it is often to most important “4th” of any month)…

I wasn’t really too sure what to write about the 4th of July, seeing as I usually write about music and writing about anything else seems a little strange to me. But then I realized that I could do both by discussing something musical about the 4th of July. 1812 Overture? Nope. Ives’ “Variations on America”? Not quite. George Carlin’s rendition of “America the Beautiful”? Nuh-uh. Instead, i’m going to talk a little bit about country music.

Every 4th of July for the past million years, my parents, my brother and I have been going up to Poughkeepsie to some friends’ house for a 4th of July party. The day also just happens to coincide with this couple’s younger daughter’s birthday. So, this turns into a yearly BBQ/party for both Julia and America. There is always inevitably some radio at this shin-dig (is that supposed to be hyphenated?) playing the local country music station and I would always inevitable turn up my nose and comment  (in my head) about the music that we were listening to, whether it be “uneducated”, “delivering the wrong message”, “uncivilized” or just plain “crappy”. But this year, something was different.

My freshman year of college (2009-10) I wound up rooming with a friend of mine who had three musical vices: Bon Jovi (and anything associated with them), Disney music and Country. Now, this took a little bit of getting used to, seeing as I had a total of 5 Bon Jovi songs on my computer and was too pretentious for country music. This all changed over the course of the semester, however, and while I wouldn’t say that I’m the biggest Garth Brook’s fan, I not know that he is a Country musician and I can appreciate his music.

Country music is all about keeping it simple: simple topics (love, work, life), simple melodies, simple musicians. But simple does not mean plain or boring. Country musicians, notorious for twangy voices and out-of-tuned instruments truly do know how to write music that appeals to an audience. Now, maybe this isn’t the audience you associate with, but the audience does exist regardless. And you know what? These people are passionate about their music.

I’m back, bitches

June 28, 2010

So, I know I originally said that this would be a blog about music and whatnot. And it still may be. But I’m honestly finding it difficult to keep up with actually writing reviews for albums that I want to, between school and my 40 hour workweeks this summer.

So how about this…I’ll update this when I feel like it with what I feel like…I feel an update coming up possibly tonight or tomorrow about some trumpet pieces I’ve been listening to and will be playing through…and if I hear an album that I really want to review, I will. But I can’t actually stick to what I had said I would.

Yeah…I’m tired.

Joy

September 28, 2009

Joy is on it’s way…review will be up by the end of the week along with some other new albums from this year…I wonder if anyone actually reads this blog…

So, it’s been a while

July 7, 2009

Hey, I’m here.
Sorry, I’ve just gotten incredibly lazy with this whole thing. I promise I will do some stuff eventually. New Phish album is coming out in a few weeks, expect a review on that. Other than that, if you have any requests, let me know, I’ll review anything.

Flaming Lips – The Soft Bulletin

May 16, 2009

I told you I’d have a new post up eventually…sorry about the breif hiatus, had a bunch of APs and other stressful stuff going on. But now I’m back, so here it goes…

Mr. Wayne Michael Coyne

Mr. Wayne Michael Coyne

The Flaming Lips were always known as a band that was a little ahead of their time. Beginning by making noise-rock and lo-fi music, akin to the Sonic Youth and Pavement, more accessible to the general listening public, Wayne Michael Coyne and crew lead a revolution in music.
Starting out by self-releasing several albums, The Flaming Lips were signed to Warner Bros. records after a Warner Bros. executive witnessed a club burning down as a result of the Lips pyrotechnics. Following up this signing, The Flaming Lips would go on to put out three albums and have one hit single (“She Don’t Use Jelly”, 1993) before the next major turning point in their career.
Zaireeka. The word won’t be found in any work by Webster or Merriam-Webster. What is actually a portmanteau of Zaire (a nation now known as the Democratic Republic of the Congo, used as a symbol of anarchy) and Eureka (an exclamation of joy) was used in an attempt to describe how exactly the Flaming Lips’ new album sounded and felt.
They got it half right.
Zaireeka, the Flaming Lips’ 1997 effort, was definitely anarchical; however, there was very little joyous about it. A vain attempt at creating a surround-sound album, Zaireeka was released as a four-disc album with one catch: each disc had the exact same track listing. Listeners were directed to hook up four CD players, boom-boxes, computers or whatever they used to listen to CDs, and put one CD in each, positioning the CD players in such a way as to achieve “full” surround-sound.
It did not work all that well.
So, what is a band to do after releasing one of the largest critical and commercial failures in the history of rock music? Well, the Lips picked themselves up, dusted themselves off and, without missing a beat, would put out the album that would, once again, redefine the Lips’ career and the style of music at the time.

1999's "The Soft Bulletin" (Warner)

1999's "The Soft Bulletin" (Warner)

The Soft Bulletin led the Lips (and the rest of the music world) out of the period of extreme decay, disgust and evil that we now refer to as “the ‘90s”. The music of the ‘90s was filled with two things: the overly infectious, bubble-gum pop of teen pop-stars and the overly morose groaning of the grunge kings. Coyne & co. took elements of both of these styles into account on the recording of their magnum opus, The Soft Bulletin.
Opening with “Race for the Prize”, it is clear exactly how this album was made. While the lyrics present are not always the happiest or most joyous “I accidentally touched my head/and I noticed I was bleeding/for how long, I didn’t know” and the music varies from giddy to depressing, something in the delivery of Wayne Coyne ensures that, while the message of the album is not lost, no one walks away feeling that this album has ruined their day.
Now, you want a song analysis? Well, here it goes.
The songs on The Soft Bulletin discuss a variety of topics, ranging from spider bites (“The Spider Bite Song”), head trauma (“The Spark That Bled” (“The Softest Bullet Ever Shot”)), superheroes and every-day citizens (“Waitin’ for a Superman”) and, of course, love (“”What Is the Light?” (“An Untested Hypothesis Suggesting That the Chemical (In Our Brains) by Which We Are Able to Experience the Sensation of Being in Love Is the Same Chemical That Caused the “Big Bang” That Was the Birth of the Accelerating Universe”)). And, as clearly shown here, the Lips’ aren’t running out of creative titles any time soon.

Wayne Coyne Live

Wayne Coyne Live

The Flaming Lips would go on to continue their pop success with albums such as “Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots” and “At War With Mystics” (the latter of which was a commercial success but a musical failure). However, the Lips try to stray as little as they can from their lo-fi, garage rock roots. But, then again, how normal can your music be when one of your more recent pop-hits is titled “Free Radicals (A Hallucination of the Christmas Skeleton Pleading with a Suicide Bomber)”.