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Friday, February 10, 2006

Twowaymonologues.com

Just a reminder if anybody stumbles upon this page and wonders what is going on?

We are still alive and well (in fact better than ever) over at our new location @ www.twowaymonologues.com

And we have added an interview section, forums, and still running the features. Our hit count is at an all time high right now and it is a very exciting time for us. Hope to see you over at TWM soon.

Cheers,

Dan

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Track-fu (Terri)

Back again. The list looks pretty good -- we've got a Bedouin song from Dan, and Ronan ("Job Song" by Nizlopi) and Brandon ("Take Off Your Clothes" by Morningwood) have thrown in their hats as well.

1. Shout Out Louds -- Shut Your Eyes

This song has some sweet guitar; it grabs you at the beginning of the song and sticks in your head. The Shout Out Louds are a power-indie-pop-rock outfit from Sweden; think of them, perhaps, as a poppier, less snotty counterpart to The Hives. They aren't breaking new ground with this song, but it's definitely a catchy, worthwhile pop tune.

2. Nizlopi -- JCB Song (Ronan)

This is a pretty song. It's very simple musically -- vocals, acoustic guitar, not much else -- but I think it works well that way. Throwing in some overwraught strings or something like that would cheese it up. I like the lead singer's voice quite a bit, especially with the hints of an accent that pop through (the band is from Leamington, UK). Singer-with-guitar songs can sometimes be boring, but I think this one is charming.

3. Seu Jorge -- Suffragette City

Jorge's contributions to the soundtrack of The Life Aquatic were apparently so well-received that somebody saw it fit to release all of the Bowie covers he did for the movie, including a bunch that didn't make it onto the original soundtrack -- six songs that were on the soundtrack, seven that weren't, and a Jorge original. This song is, of course, sung in Portuguese; where some of the Bowie covers added an island flavour to the Bowie songs, this one actually sounds a little moodier. The guitar sounds a bit sad. They sound good though, cause Bowie is good, and Seu Jorge is as well.

4. The Juliana Theory -- This is a Lovesong for the Loveless

I thought The Juliana Theory might be a band featuring solo artist and former Lemonheads member Juliana Hatfield. I guess not. Instead it's a kind-of-heavy alt-rock band; kind of reminds me of a former Canadian band, Econoline Crush. It doesn't really grab me; I tend to like my alt-rock geeky or British. A review I found referred to them as emo, and I don't really hear that here; maybe this is what qualifies as screamo?

5. Bedouin Soundclash -- New Year's Day (Dan)

A couple of short years ago Bedouin was a college band, albeit a very good one. Now they're covering U2. Well, la de da.

Seriously though, I like Bedouin quite a bit, and I'm glad to see that they've done so well for themselves this year. Unfortunately, our Canadian content rules sometimes mean that crappy Canuck versions of American bands are the ones that make it big (as big as you can get in Canada) while talented musicians toil in obscurity. Bedouin is actually good, as evidenced by the fact that they manage to cover an iconic song by an iconic band, bringing something of their own to it while still keeping the original spirit of the song intact. It's got a nice dub/reggae flavour, and they smartly don't try to copy U2's bombast; they go for their own vibe instead, which is nice. I think it works well.

It makes me a little sad for the days when U2 was making good music like this, or even taking a chance and making not-so-good music like Pop, instead of just rehashing the same album every two years. I mean, I don't remember those days, cause I was about five years old. But still.

6. Sarah Harmer -- Luther's Got the Blues

I quite like Sarah Harmer; she's got a lovely voice, but I think she's a sharp songwriter too. I haven't picked up her newest album though; it's inspired both by her love of bluegrass and her work towards preserving the Niagara Escarpment from development. I don't like this as much as I like Harmer's solo work, probably because of the bluegrass factor, but I do think it's well-done and I certainly don't hate it. Either way, Harmer's voice still sounds good. I would like to hear the cover of the song by Harmer's old band, Weeping Tile ("Goin' Out").

7. Awesome New Republic -- Going Down

This has an odd sort of sound -- electronic, but with some R&B-style soul influences thrown in (I hear it in the vocals occasionally, honest). I like it though -- I get the sense that the falsetto and some of the lyrics are a bit, say, ironic. Irony can be dangerous in the wrong hands, but the band manages to keep it in check. The way all the backing tracks meld together is pretty neat.

Well, the Pitchfork review tells me that this song is about blow jobs. Listening to the lyrics, I can see that.

8. Morningwood -- Take Off Your Clothes (Brandon)

Morningwood seems to have a bit of buzz going on; I've seen them popping up a fair bit lately. But honestly, they kind of bug me. If I remember correctly, their last effort to hit Track-fu didn't set me afire. The over-dramatic vocals on this song didn't really win my heart either, and they do the retro thing (new wave, 70s squealing) without bringing anything new to the table. They sound like they think they're really, really cool, and I find that really, really annoying.

Winner: I'll have to pick Bedouin, cause I think they did a good job with a cover that would be hard to pull off, and cause I like that thing they do as a general rule. Awesome New Republic and Nizlopi also performed well.

Loser: Morningwood, because I think they're probably kind of pretentious.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Track-fu (Terri)

I'm back, with the first Track-fu after the holiday break. We've got a little treat today -- a song picked by Eric of Raised By Swans. It's "Daughters of the Soho Riots" by The National. For our usual contributors, Dan's put in "" by Jens Lekman, and Brandon sent "" by Notorious B.I.G.

1. Alanis Morissette -- Wunderkind

This song is from the soundtrack to the first Narnia movie, featured in the most-recent Sabotage. Morissette has kind of fallen off a bit in the last few years -- too verbose, too obtuse, too earnest, maybe? I still think that she has a great voice, though. This song has a pretty melody, and Morissette keeps her voice well in check here. She's using it well but not letting it get all over the place; she can make it a bit histronic sometimes, I think.

I was kind of worried that this song would be all twee and fantasy-like, but fortunately it's not. Pretty good.

2. The National -- Daughters of the Soho Riots (Eric)

I'd heard of The National, but didn't really know anything about them; then they popped up on a ton of year-end lists, and I got more curious. Fortunately for me, Eric of Raised By Swans chose this song as his contribution for Track-fu, which he was nice enough to participate in. I still don't know much about the band, so I'm going in blind.

This song is very pretty and evocative; I like the little plunks of piano. I really love the lead singer's deep voice. Great atmosphere. I read a listener review on Amazon that compared The National to Antony and the Johnsons, and I can sort of see that. The music doesn't sound the same, but the mood is similar.

3. Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin -- Pangea

Well, that's quite the band name.

This has a nice indie-pop vibe. Very catchy. The production sounds pretty stripped-down, especially on the vocals. The singer is a little muffled sometimes, but it kind of works since the song sounds a bit off-the-cuff. The infectious guitar also helps.

4. Jens Lekman -- Maple Leaves (Dan)

Amazon classifies Jens Lekman as Swedish Pop Rock, and I guess that's sort of fitting. There's a retro sound, but it also comes across as rather modern. Lekman's got a smooth voice, for sure. The backing beats are very attention-grabbing -- it all seems a bit weird, the beats and Lekman's crooner voice and the effects that pop in and out, but it works together pretty well.

Okay, hold up? Lekman is 22? That's pretty impressive.

5. Nellie McKay -- The Big One

I heard lots about Nellie McKay when she first came out, including the inevitible Fiona Apple comparisons that come whenever a girl plunks at a piano and sings. I never actually heard her songs, though. Whenever I tried to download something, it failed. There was a vast Internet conspiracy against me hearing McKay's music without having to buy it first, it seemed.

Then she started to sound like she might be a bit pretentious, and I gave up.

Now she's got a new album out, and this song is from it. I'm not sure what I think of it yet. It sounds kind of like Fiona Apple meets...hip-hop. I know that sounds weird, and Nellie McKay doesn't really rap -- although her singing voice sounds like talking pretty often here. It's more the mood of the song, I think, and the odd sound effects. So I'm not sure what I think yet. I'm interested enough to hear more of the album. Maybe it's just not what I expected, which isn't necessarily a bad thing.

6. Notorious B.I.G. -- Wake Up Now (Brandon)

This song features Korn. I fucking hate Korn, so much.

Anyway, isn't Biggie dead? Didn't he die nearly ten years ago now? Don't we have new rappers out, ones that are currently living? Biggie had skills, but I hate this trotting out of the dead. It just seems cheap.

So far the song's pretty good -- Biggie's flow was certainly tight, and the beats are heavy. I'm sort of dreading when that douchebag from Korn shows up. Oh, here he is. It's not as bad as it could have been, actually. At least he's not screaming. This song's pretty good, but I have to hate on it a little for the Korn/trainwreck factor. You should be a little bit ashamed, P. Diddy.

7. Amadou and Mariam -- Senegal Fast Food

Apparently Amadou and Mariam have been around for quite some time. I have never heard of them; they met in Bamako in 1980 and have started to grown an audience outside of West Africa late in their career. I don't understand a word of this song other than "Senegal" -- it's in French -- but this is really catchy. The music and the vocals are great. It's got me dancing around in my chair. It's definitely accessible and worth downloading. I'd love to hear more of this album now.

8. Apollo Sunshine -- Phoney Marony

This sounds kind of like a combo of Jet and The Hives to me, with a bit of a Southern Rock vibe thrown in, albeit a more upbeat one than Kings of Leon generally work with. All that's to say is that they have the sort of garage rock sound that's been popular over the past few years. I like it, but it doesn't set me on fire. It does have good energy though.

Winner: I actually liked the song by Amadou and Mariam best, because it was so infectious and joyful. The National, Jens Lekman and Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin also performed well.

Loser: I'm going to have to go with Biggie -- I kind of liked the song, but it lost points for the post-mortem cash-grab aspect, and the presence of Korn. I didn't hate any of the songs, so that knocked it to the bottom.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Twowaymonologues.com is ready

My friends am I in an excellent mood this morning or what? I just stumbled out of bed at 11:15 and like I have every morning for the last month or so I checked my website immediately. But what do I find? I find that the prototype page isn't functional anymore. Which normally would piss me off except for I realized what that meant the NEW site is up!

Now don't get me wrong. The site is not entirely done, the best of section and the other section are still in development. We are going to eventually add a bad ass search function for all of you. And hot links to more of the recent reviews than what you currently see on the page. However, it is damn good enough for now!

So finally today, December 1st we have the site up and functional. What is new about it? Well for one we have everything nicely archived by letter. We also have seperate archives for all the different features. We have an interviews section of which our first interview is with Canadian hip-hop artist K'naan, and we have two more coming up with Martin Tielli (mostly known from Rheostatics), and a new Canadian act Raised By Swans. The comment feature is different now, so if you click a new review and you want to comment just scroll down click comment and it will bring you to the official twowaymonologues.com forums.

Now, let me take some time to thank the people who made this possible. Firstly, Cameron Tomsett. Cam is the artist behind all of the design and everything you see about the site that makes it look stylish. Many nights Cam stayed up very late working on stuff, and then thinking he was done only to have to go back and rework and change things to make it functional. I appreciate your help Cam and it would appear I am debt to you in some way shape or form.

Secondly, Chris mother fucking Richard. The dude found the time get this site up for me while he is working crazy days in Seattle at Microsoft. And I appreciate it. Chris is the technical side of things. He is the one who made Cam's design work, and without him our site would not have been anywhere near as advanced and as stylish as it turned out. I gave you a hard time, but you have no idea how thankful I am for the help.

So, the ribbon is cut bitches:) Enjoy. I'll keep posting here for a while but soon this thing is going to collect dust. Thanks blogger, you did me well.

Cheers,

Dan and the TWM Staff.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Walk The Line Original Soundtrack (Ronan)

Walk The Line Original Soundtrack

There are two main types of soundtracks. Firstly there are ones made up of many different artists – these albums often read like compilation albums and often don’t fit into the film at all (exceptions being Garden State and any Quentin Tarantino movie). Then there are soundtracks from just one artist, such as Badly Drawn Boy’s About A Boy soundtrack. Most of the time these are successful, but in some cases (Bjork’s latest atrocity) they don’t work at all. Then there are film scores, but they’re a different situation altogether. The Walk The Line soundtrack falls into none of these categories. You could say it’s like the I Am Sam soundtrack in the way that it’s all covers, but then again on the other hand it’s nothing like it. The album is all cover songs, but instead of being performed by popular artists, they’re performed by the actors themselves. No, don’t click onto another review, because this album works. Very well, in fact.

As you would expect most of the songs are Johnny Cash songs – the film is about Johnny Cash after all. And the actor playing him – that would be Academy Award nominee Joaquin Phoenix – does a fairly mean Johnny Cash impression. The album opens with ‘Get Rhythm’, a very upbeat country song which lets you immediately know what you’re in for with this album, and also shows that Phoenix does sound very, very good. You’d know it wasn’t Johnny himself, but you wouldn’t complain because Phoenix’s own voice is very good, and his JC impression is excellent. In places you’d know it was Phoenix, as his speaking voice is quite unique-sounding. The title track ‘I Walk The Line’, a more well known Cash song, is also done justice here. I won’t go into descriptions of the songs or their lyrics, because that is not what this album (or cover albums in general) are about. Heck, we all know the late Johnny Cash was a good tunesmith.

Cash’s second wife, June Carter Cash was an excellent artist in her own right, and she is played by Reese Witherspoon in the film. It originally seemed to me like a strange choice, but once you hear her voice, you understand why. Although it’s not a patch on June’s, Witherspoon does have a very country voice – and is a breath of fresh air compared to the usual actress-turned-singer crap (Nicole Kidman I look in your direction). ‘Wildwood Flower’ is not a song that I know very well, but from hearing this rendition I want to hear the original version – surely that’s a good thing!

The Jerry Lee Lewis cut ‘Louis Boogie’ has a start which sounds strangely like ‘Dogtanian and the Three Muskehounds’ (I don’t know if you got that over there, but here’s a link to it on IMDb) The actor playing the role, Waylon Payne pulls the song off very well, but it’s the only song on the album which has really dated – the genre sounds somewhat stale. This is followed by Phoenix again with the seminal ‘Ring of Fire’ – everybody knows this song, so does he bring anything new to it? (I usually try not to use Brandon’s catechism style when reviewing, so sorry for using it this time B) Well, no. But he doesn’t need to. He sings it as Cash intended i.e. the way Cash did himself – In preparing for the movie, Phoenix learned everything about Cash including the way he stood onstage, and even the way he held the guitar when playing, Now that’s method acting.

The next song ‘You’re My Baby’ is sung by singer-songwriter (but here actor) Jonathan Rice who is playing Roy Orbison. Rice is that bastard who gets more credit than he deserves and is dating Jenny Lewis from Rilo Kiley (I only call him a bastard because I’m jealous, on both accounts.) We all know Rice is a good songwriter and also a good singer, and here he proves that he is a good singer – although the song is perhaps a bit too short to show this fully. ‘Cry Cry Cry’ is Phoenix again, and could very well be the best cover on the album – he just works the song so well. This is followed by my favourite Cash song: ‘Folsom Prison Blues’ – it’s my favourite song because it contains the immortal line “I shot a man in Reno just to watch him die.” Phoenix doesn’t say it with the same animosity that Cash does, but how could he – he hasn’t had it as hard as Cash did – although his brother did burn out rather than fade away, so I suppose that’s where some of the emotion comes from. He probably can’t sing it like Cash because he wasn’t imprisoned like Cash was.

Track 9, ‘That’s Alright Mama’ is by the best singer on the album (or in the film if you will), Tyler Hilton who plays Elvis Presley. Although he doesn’t exactly sound all that much like Elvis, he sure is a good singer. Anyone who watches ‘One Tree Hill’ will tell you that. And don’t abuse me for watching it – it’s not a bad show, and the women in it are really fine – that and my ex got me watching it. ‘Juke Box Blues’ is Witherspoon again. My God, how much do I love her country voice. It’s just so refreshing. I’d love to hear a full album from her. ‘It Ain’t Me Babe’ is the first duet on the album – from Mr. And Mrs. Cash (Joaquin and Reese). Their voices don’t complement each other the way Johnny and June did – Phoenix overpowers the song somewhat, but in the end it still works magnificently. Like all of this album, it probably shouldn’t work, but it does, and so well too!

‘Home of the Blues’ is more from Phoenix, but this time there are no glimpses of his own voice, he just sounds out-and-out Cash. ‘Milkcow Blues Boogie’ sounds more like Elvis that ‘That’s Alright Mama’ but mainly it just showcases Hilton’s voice more 0 if his songwriting is good, he’s sure to be much better than Roy Orbison, sorry I mean Jonathan Rice. I’m just getting so carried away with it all. Sure in fact, Elvis was much better than Roy (he was much better than most everyone), so it will only reflect their characters. ‘I’m a Long Way From Home’ is Shooter Jennings’ take on his father Waylon’s excellent song, and his only contribution to the album. The song reminds me of Cash’s own ‘I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry’ though.

‘Cocaine Blues’ is good old Phoenix again – singing about two things stupid people love too much – drugs and guns. I usually don’t like dancing (to anything), but this is the kind of song which makes me want to dance (despite its lyrical content). That’s right – a country song with ‘pizzazz’ in it. (Yes, I said it, and now I can’t take it back: pizzazz, pizzazz, pizzazz.) The last track, ‘Jackson’ is the album’s other duet, and the final song on the album. Unfortunately it doesn’t have the same impact as the first duet, ‘It Ain’t Me Babe’ but that is a classic song after all. This sadly isn’t, but even so it works – how could it not with the magnificent Phoenix and the excellent Witherspoon?

Tracks to Download: Fuck it, download them all. And then go to the film, or vice versa. Do both anyway. Pity the film isn’t out until February 2006 here. Although if anyone wants to send it to me, feel free!

8.9 – I feel like I have given too many high ratings this year, but maybe that’s because albums this good keep being released. I expected it to be decent, maybe even a little fun. But I never thought it would be excellent and a lot of fun! A fitting tribute to a legend.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Sun Kill Moon: Tiny Cities

Sun Kill Moon frontman Mark Kozelek is a strange character. Without argument in listening to his music you can tell he is very talented, well trained, and has a ncie voice. Reading up on him tells me he also has had success writing his own music, and has covered such bands as Kiss, AC/DC, John Denver, and now Modest Mouse. "Tiny Cities" is an entire album devoted to covers of Modest Mouse songs. As a longtime Modest Mouse fan I actually was far more intrigued by this than I was offended. I don't blame you however if you feel the opposite. I think that is completely justifiable.

But what really created a genuine intrigue for me about "Tiny Cities" is the style of the album. Had these have been slight variations that reminded me of the original I would never have heard it. But instead, Sun Kill Moon takes these aggressive, frantic Modest Mouse songs and strips them down until they are essentially naked. Until what you are left with is gentle almost classical guitar mostly acoustic, and a touch of strings the rest of the work is left to Mark's vocals. Which remind me somewhat of Lou Barlow's 2005 solo record "Emoh".

The result isn't as exciting as the description. I wanted to love this album. I wanted to feel an urge to go out and buy this album. I had a huge bias going in expecting greatness. It didn't come close to delivering. I'm still happy I heard it. I have a new appeciation for Isaac Brock's song writing ability and it was definitely an experience hearing these songs in such a different context. But it is limited. Many of the songs are boring, or repetitive and quite frankly i'm not a big fan of the tracklist. A better tracklist would have helped but not saved this project. This album has been destroyed, and adored and everything in between by reviewers. So don't take my word as gospel. But enough already let's do the songs.

Rather than get into the negative part of this review I would prefer to start with the positive. "Dramamine" is one of the better covers on "Tiny Cities". I really adore the original and so I likely put this cover up against more scrutiny and yet it still held up better than some of the more obscure tracks. I like the subtle eerie nature of this cover. Rather than the much more pretty, asthetically pleasing covers that don't work as well this song manages to keep true to a key element to Modest Mouse music. This subtle change makes all the difference in the world to the cover. It sounds much more interesting. The trademark whining quick guitar riff from the middle is here too except toned down like everything is on this album. Turns out "Dramamine" is actually a rather pretty song in this context. I never would have thought.

My other favourite is "Convenient Parking". This is just a short cover tallying in just under 2 minutes. The original is a cult Modest Mouse classic. There are few songs that encompass exactly why it is I prefer older Modest Mouse to the new stuff better than "Convenient Parking". I am happy to see it made this tracklist. This is a spirited cover, does the original proud. The acoustic guitar is being strummed harder here than anywhere else and Mark's voice has some grit and passion in it. Agan the acoustic guitar has a darkness to it that is lacking more often than not on the album. He hardly breathes between sentences, just taking a quick gasp and making an acoustic pop cover of "Convenient Parking" about as manic as he knows how. My only beef is the chorus which needed to be jazzed up somehow. Still, I like this song a fair bit.

So now on to the negative side of things. "Space Travel Is Boring" for instance. The word boring would be the most important part of that song name here. I wonder if Mark Kozelek believes in the concept so much that he just assumes all he has to do is slow down, acoustify and gently sing the lyrics to each song and it is bound to work. If so, he needs to go back to the drawing board. I could see people liking this song who dont' like Modest Mouse and just enjoy it for it being tranquil and because the lyrics are sweet. But, is that really the goal? I mean if Kozelek is making this album for non Modest Mouse fans then isn't he essentially ripping off Modest Mouse songs and trying to trick people? I would think he should want to make covers that Modest Mouse fans can appreciate as well. This song just drags and drags. The background is so minimal and repetitive that it is hard to make it to the ending. Unfortunately this isn't the only track with this problem.

When I saw this album "Grey Ice Water" stood out as a song I looked forward to hearing. This is another one of my all time picks by Modest Mouse. Now this isn't as bad the prior track. At least he incorporates a chill drum roll in the background that I like. But, this song suffers from high expectations. See.... if the original wasn't one of the best Modest Mouse songs then the cover wouldn't have to be one of the best you see where i'm going? I think that is fair of me to expect. The cover is to vanilla. That is my biggest bitch about this entire project. It is just too vanilla. You can experiment with these covers without abandoning the concept, and he does it from time to time. But why he only does it on three or four tunes is beyond me.

Last one. The only song he goes with off the last album is "Ocean Breathes Salty". And he does an adequate job with it. But here is my complaint. This song actually didn't really need to be toned down into this format. The original is actually one of the closest styles to what this album is all about anyhow. Don't get me wrong, he had to change it up to fit the format but why not pick one of the more crazy songs and do it? Oh well. I'm not sure if this is a good cover, or this song is just so good to begin with that it would sound great under almost any format. I tend to think the latter is more true.

I could tell you the same thing about most of these songs but by now you probably get the point. The best I can say about "Tiny Cities" is I think if you are a Modest Mouse fan of their entire catalogue that you should check this out at least once. It really will give you a new appreciation for the lyrics which nromally aren't the first part of a Modest Mouse song you focus on. Other than that if you never GOT Modest Mouse and always wanted too I think that you might be another person who would enjoy this. Otherwise, there are better artists writing their own music that sounds like this, or Modest Mouse themselves is far superior to this. Just my opinion.... but i'm right.

Songs to download: "Convenient Parking", "Ocean Breathes Salty" Dramamine"

SCORE: 6.0 (Had a tough time scoring this one, could have gone even lower but at least the concept was ambitious.)

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Track-fu (Terri)

Just got back from seeing Walk the Line, which I would recommend. Well-acted and better-done than Ray from last year.

This week we have tracks from Dan (Blockhead), Cam (King Biscuit Time) and Brandon (Death From Above 1979). Again, we'll be playing the list from Track-fu for a few hours at Two Way Monologues Radio (http://72.10.130.108:8000/) starting...now.

1. World Leaders Pretend -- Bang Theory

The music in this song reminds me a bit of Coldplay, but the lead singer's voice has a bit more nastiness in it than Chris Martin is capable of. There's something in here that reminds me a bit of U2 as well, but it sounds fresher than U2 and Coldplay are able to do. This is a bit rawer than their brand of slick rock-pop. Regardless of the comparisons, it's a catchy sound, with the rollicking guitar, violins and vocals all working well together. I really like the piano.

2. King Biscuit Time -- C I Am 15 (Cam)

The instrumentals in this song remind me a bit of those on the Gomez album In Our Gun. This is actually the new project of the lead singer of Beta Band -- I'm not familiar with the Beta Band, aside from the song featured in High Fidelity. This song has a neat vibe though, with the mellow vocals from Steve Mason and then a surprising rap near the end.

3. CunninLynguists -- Nothing To Give

I wasn't sure what to expect with this name. Turns out, it's hip hop. I like the beat; it's pretty dramatic (more piano). It's nice to hear a chorus with a male singer for once; the hook girls are getting a little old.

4. Blockhead -- The Art of Walking (Dan)

I guess hip hop collage would be the best way to describe this. It makes me think of Avalanches, a bit, with little bits of this and that popping in and out, tied together with the beat. As we've previously discussed, I never go in much for eletronica and/or music without lyrics, but this is pretty catchy. I like the little twinges of gospel.

5. Talib Kweli and Rakim -- Getting Up Anthem

This is from Kweli's new disc, which Dan wrote about recently in Tuesday Stroll. This song's got a great beat, gets in your head pretty quickly. I sometimes find it hard to write about hip hop -- I don't know a lot about it, and I don't have a very wide frame of reference for it. But I like this song, in any case.

6. Death From Above 1979 -- You're Lovely (But You've Got Lots of Problems) (Brandon)

I don't really get the point of a remix album, especially when you've only got one studio album under your belt. If I were a fan of this band, I think I'd rather that they release an album of new material.

Anyway, I don't like Death From Above 1979, at least not based on this song. I think it's atonal. Maybe that means I'm not cool; oh well.

7. The Airfields -- City-State

I will give full disclosure and say that my friend Ian is in this band, and that I am biased to like them because I like Ian so much. He's pretty awesome, let me tell you.

But as it turns out, the Airfields make pretty indie pop, and I like pretty indie pop. Everyone wins! You should go to their website and download this song, along with the other two on their EP.

(I swear, bias or not, I really do like this song. There are bells, or things that sound like bells. How can you not like that?)

8. Wilco -- Kicking Television

I like Wilco, paricularly their newer stuff, since that's what I'm most familiar with. This song is from their live album of the same name, and it appears they are a bit more revved up here than they seem to be on their last two albums. It's an entertaining performance that sounds like it was fun to hear live.

Winner: I pick the Airfields, and I know my pick will have lingering suspicions of favourtism following it for years to come, but I don't care because I like the song. I liked World Leaders Pretend and the Kweli song too.

Loser: Death From Above 1979. Noisy.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Lagwagon: Resolve (Brandon "The Destroyer")

Lagwagon - Resolve
Brought to you by: Brandon "the Destroyer"

I sometimes wish that I had stumbled upon my love of punk music earlier in my life. In fact it would have been nice that the second that I started liking music and buying it regularly I would have diverted those efforts to punk. Instead it took me until I'd reached University before I really got into the genre, which means that all throughout my youth I missed several opportunities to listen to some punk bands that withstood the test of time and are still releasing albums today. Lagwagon is one of these bands. They were one of the first bands to sign on with Fat Wreck Chords and as a result part of the companies success has been based on these bands that were initially were signed by the label. This is the seventh studio album by Lagwagon however this one was inspired by the loss of their longtime friend and original drummer for the band, Derrick Ploude, who passed away earlier in the year. Some of the songs are a dedication to him but such a huge event in the life of this band would have me only expecting them to do a tribute or two. The saga of Lagwagon began a long time ago and I'm only getting to it now, from listening to the album three or four times now I have a feeling that Lagwagon is a band who's saga I might have to check out from the start.

One thing that I enjoy about Lagwagon is that with them you are getting some true punk, its not often on Fat Wreck Chords do I find a rather undesirable band. So Fat Wreck Chords are a company that I trust to sign good people onto the label, I mean over the years they have done well for themselves. Since there are hundreds of bands on the label I won't name them, but I'm sure at one point or another you've heard someone that is associate with Fat. The first song on the album is called "Virus", it starts with a nice little guitar grind on the way in and its combined with some good punk drums. When the vocals are used in this song it appears as if they layer it a bit, either they add another version of the lead singer over top of himself or it’s just a back up singer. In either case the effect is the same and its worth hearing, I am pretty sure that the virus they are talking about could have been the thing that killed Derrick Ploude, they talk about it being unjustified and they didn't have enough time. I mean nowhere in the song do they put it out there for you to see easily so its something you have to grab out of the air.

All of the song names I have noticed are pretty short, letting us know that for the most part the song itself can be entirely accounted for within the one word they choose to title it with. Bands like Millencolin and The Soviettes I find I am comparing Lagwagon to the most. Since those are two of my favourite punk bands I'd say it’s a safe assumption that I like Lagwagon quite a bit. The third song is "The Contortionist", which is a really sad song when you listen to the words in the song. Like I said the band wasn't very happy when they created the album after the loss of their friend, well from track to track you can tell that is weighing on them, especially in some of the lyrics. In this song I would think that they are referring to Ploude as this contortionist who was able to do incredible things (on drums and in general) but not only that they say something about leaving a child behind. So the sad story continues, but the music around it is still something I can enjoy and not feel guilty about. I do wish that the songs weren't such a drag on my day but I can't justify not listening to a good album just because it’s sad. I will just reserve it for when I'm in a depressed mood or something.

I would imagine that this album is musically different to regulars of Lagwagon but to me I have no basis of comparison. But I'm sure that a talented punk band would take into account their fans wouldn't be happy if it was all that different, so its probably just the sad version of their regular music. "Resolve" is the sixth song on the album and it is my second favourite song on the album. The drums are really freaking good on this track, it’s my favourite part anyways. The chorus is a catchy part, the vocals are good and they combine well with the starts and stops that the music is doing. The song itself isn't that long, just over two minutes, but Lagwagon doesn't have any particular parameters to the song length it would seem. They are kind of all over the place with only one song that is ultra short at one minute and twenty seconds. This song was only beat out by one other in the race for my favourite and that was the seventh track, "Rager".

"Rager" is the kind of track that should play every morning in place of my alarm. If this song came on I would be up at attention and halfway through a shower before it was over, which would be convenient considering the fact that mornings are the worst part of the day for me. Now this is the shortest song on the CD and typically they aren't the best songs but I can't help it with this one its just so fucking wicked. Its like one minute and twenty seconds of all the punk I wanted them to mash into that span, basically this is the type of stuff that I get when I hear someone like The Suicide Machines because they are non stop energy for the whole album. I know that the circumstances are different here so taking that into account doesn't change the fact the song is kick ass. The guitar riff is the sickest part of the song, it starts in almost faded in the background and its pure drums and then the bass and guitar come in and start to wail. Here’s where the guitar starts to get wicked, right on the transitions, its some twangy punk guitar but whatever its still pretty bad ass if you ask me.

The tenth song is called "Creepy" and it’s a short one too. This song is a bit more emotional than the other one, and contains a few more guitar interludes which let you get a feel for the style of the band. One thing I more or less overlooked throughout this review is the lead singers vocals, for a punk band that lasted this long I figured he would have a grittier voice or something, kind of like Tim Armstrong, but instead of that I get a rather talented singer. From track to track he has a lot of range and because the music is changing so often he adapts to that well, especially on this album which is obviously different from their run of the mill album. The best part of "Creepy" is that they seem to give the guitarist a bit of freedom to roam around when he is transistioning and whatever he plays there is sicke, the drums just kind of fill in the blanks on this one and the vocals are overall well done.

The only other thing that I want to mention is that the eleventh track (which is the second last track, not the last one) has a secret song attached to it, its called "Days Of New". Well I should say the whole song is called that and theres like a six minute gap before they chime in with the secret song. It starts with a nice little melody and soften spoken vocals by the lead singer. It starts all this arond the eight minute mark, this song is the saddest song on the whole disc. It's almost like they are trying to help guide their deceased friend into heaven at first, something like he should follow the sun to get there. Like I said this is the saddest part of the album, its really low key, nothing punk about it, in fact this is the type of song that I would think you could find on an Elliot Smith album....wait no its not that depressing. Its sad though, but one of those sad songs that could help you feel better about the person that you just lost, like it could assist you in moving on, which I imagine is part of the reason that it was written.

Tracks to Steal: "Rager", "Resolve", "Virus", "Creepy", "The Contortionist", "Automatic"

How did Lagwagon fair on my first experience with them?
Do sad albums make me sad?

Judgment Passed: 8.8 (This album is excellent, its almost like a band like Lagwagon was stunted into growing up and putting together this serious tribute to Derrick Ploude. I don't know that for certain though since I have no reference point for their earlier sound, I just assume that it wasn't this dark and upset with the loss of their drummer since he was still alive for the last album. There’s nothing wrong with this album I just found that sometimes it tugged on the ol' heartstrings and that doesn't sit great with me.)

Friday, November 25, 2005

Sabotage from Dan to Brandon: Scott Stapp - The Great Divide

Scott Stapp: Big Stinky (Expletive Deleted) An Autobiography

Scott Stapp the former lead singer of perhaps the greatest band of all-time, Creed. I was heartbroken to hear the news that they broke up and I would no longer be able to enjoy all that was the band Creed. But now that Stapp has released this solo album it is all much clearer to me now, Scott Stapp was Creed. Ok I have to be real for a moment, that was sarcasm and unfortunately for yours truly I can't hold on to this farce any longer, as we all know this is Sabotage and Scott Stapp is a total ass drip. I am infinitely annoyed by this album. Scott Stapp is fucking crazy, isn't Creed a Christian Rock band? Or I guess that’s past tense so weren't they one? I don't know but I seem to recall that they had some shit to do with religion. I don't know what’s a bigger joke, Stapp or religion. Ok that’s pushing the envelope enough in that direction, this is about how much the music of Scott Stapp makes me want to reach into the chest of Dan and remove something vital. You know that its really bad music when my threats are angry and directed at injuring or extinguishing the life of Dan. The other side of things is that I would want to take my own life or do something uncool to my balls, regardless Dan I'm so mad about this album. The music is pretty horrible and is something that seems very touched up in the production booth, and Stapp's voice is pretty annoying, but I think that might even have more to do with the lyrics that this fuck sings. Ok enough, I'm just going to get it over with because he makes me want to seek out his mother and slap her for squeezing that fucker out.

Perhaps one of the more hilarious songs is "Hard Way" which is the third track on this shit stain. His lyrics sing about him finding out something the hard way, and how much it stung or hurt to find out this news that way. What a fucking loser, its so broad and general, get specific you fucking idiot. I mean anyone can write a song about an experience that they could have had, its writing about the real experience that separates you from total posers. However I'm sure most of you know that Scott Stapp thinks he's a badass rock musician or someone that you could compare to lets say Pearl Jam (Stapp wishes). The truth of the matter is that this song is so shitty that I'm vomiting as I type this, serious, I'm up to my ankles in stomach bile because of this garbage that is filling my ears.

I forgot that Stapp is a fucking ninja, the second track is called "Fight Song". I know another track with the same name by Marilyn Manson and without even blinking will tell you that the more bad ass rock song of the two is Manson’s. Now why is this? Well that’s because all Stapp does to make his song bad ass is talk in a low tone of voice and makes it sound like he has some phlegm mixed in there. Regardless of what’s going on he pretends to put a lot more effort into the songs then I think he actually is. I don't buy anything this guy is selling because of musical interludes where he starts singing with a singing guitar riff and some low key drums that make it all the more intense and drawn out like Stapp is important. Every song is modeled pretty much that same, its like he is overcoming some great obstacle in his life in every song, which is totally corny because of his shitty title for the album "The Great Divide". I wonder if Stapp knows about the emotions that he is pretending to understand in his songs, I mean its hard to tell because he's so untalented but somewhere in this horrible world people actually buy this music.

"Surround Me" is the name of the sixth song on this fucking thing. If the title is any indication this is another shithole of a track. It starts off about as slow as you can go with this long ballad in filled with total cornball guitar by this fucking loser and a bunch of vocals that represent his soul. If I could see this fuckers soul I'd remove it from him in hopes of sending him to the fiery depths, I figure since he's so in love with Jesus that it'd be a bitch to never get to meet him. He keeps his lyrics at broad and general statements, stuff about being on his knees and how he is begging and stuff, but its because he needs that person to surround him or something. Anyways its really fucking stupid and it annoys me to no end, its shit like this that makes me understand why suicide is so popular. This dude wants to be rescued but he's down on his knees, hell in this song this guy keeps referring to being on his knees quite often. I think he's getting at something but I can't quite understand what. I mean we could probe the lyrics and ANALyse them but I don't know that we'd get anywhere because this dude is pretty subtle with his songs.

What could be better than the title track, "The Great Divide"? Everything. How can anyone enjoy this crap? Scott Stapp is a total asshole and has about eighty songs that sound exactly like this, I think I've heard him reinvent this track for every album that the sonuva bitch has layed his hands on. This song reminds me of that shitty Creed song that they played at least two hundred thousand times for WWE promos for pay per views. Bands like Creed go hand and hand with wrestling for whatever reason, I think it’s because there is so much unnecessary drama that is wrapped into the both of them. However if I had my choice I would rather get fucked up by any wrestlers in that fucking league than have to be forced to listen to Scott Stapp while chained down and unable to move and end his fucking life. This song is so lame, Stapp keeps talking about some person that fulfills his life and sets him free so I have no clue which boy from Creed he is talking about but I hope that their lifestyle choice makes them happy. I also hope that they bath thoroughly.

"You Will Soar" is a hilarious name for a song because if I was to only hear this song name I would just match it to Creed off that shitty name alone. Stapp has such a distinct sound to him that whenever I hear his music on radio or TV I know right away to change the fucking channel or else my ears will bleed. This song has you can imagine has a lot to do with picking yourself up after you have hit rock bottom. The reasons for doing this in Stapps probably have a lot to do with having no more money and wanting to suck some more out of his idiot fans that would pay to listen to him go on about how much of a big dick he is. While I've been listening to this music my rage bar has been slowly filling and I'm about to get to rampage level and start terrorizing the apartment building. I can't take this shit anymore man so I'm ending it all here and calling it a day, this Scott Stapp bullshit was pretty fucking bad, I need to get some weed in me to forget I heard it.

Sabotage Success: 9.0 (I was pretty disgusted with this music which is why I didn't have much to say about it. This was fucking terrible, I'm going to call your kids names and give them a friggin complex when they are like five man, have fun with the therapy bills.)

Sabotage to Dan from Brandon: Enya - Amarantine

So Brandon really didn't like the Scott Stapp record, it apparently has filled him with rage. I read the review and I swear that he is trying to make me feel bad for giving it to him. But you know as well I know after reading the title of this post that I should not have even the slightest bit of guilt for giving him the Stappster. Because Brandon gave me fucking Enya. There is no mercy for someone who just sabotaged me with Enya. That my friends means war.

Enya is music for parental units. Music for parents who like to put it on and sit in their living rooms on their pretty sofas and let the stress of their job go away. Canadians have a bizarre and unhealthy obsession with Enya. When I told Terri that Brandon has sabotaged me with Enya do you know what she told me? That she saw a stat to say that nearly 1 out of every 3 Canadians own an Enya album. That is mind blowing to me. I don't know any of my friends that own Enya albums. Although if I do remember Stormy (Brandon's mom) had Enya in her collection. So perhaps the seed for this sabotage was born many a years ago.

But the distinct difference between Enya and Scott Stapp is this. Enya is a talented band with an original sound. Like it, love it, or hate it the fact doesn't change that Enya does actually know what they are doing. My big issue with them is how everything is like spiritual, and about being at one with nature and shit like that. Other than that there isn't a massive difference between Enya and a lot of the bands I listen too. Basically if you take a lot of the experimental nature out of what I listen too, and also remove any semblance of power that might be in the music and you would be left with Enya. Enya is music for the weak. Which again has me wondering why Canada has such a fascination with them.

So it is a bit hard to talk about these songs because how do you describe them? Well i'll try. The title track "Amarantine" begins with what sounds like either a cello or some classical guitar against soe violins and a few piano keys. Vocally Enya reminds me of Annie Lennox hardcore. And Annie Lennox is rather annoying to me. Everything about it is very whimsical, light as a feather. If you dropped this music off your balcony it might not ever hit the ground. I wonder what seeing this live is like? An opportunity to glance around the room and see the crowd that would show up brings a smile to my face. I don't like this at all, but it isn't really phasing me. One thing it is, is very soothing. Much like that wilderness music that people shell out money for. I am agitated a bit due to it being rather bad, but I do like the violins. The vocals are brutal.

When the album really starts to get to me is near the end. Second time listening now and both times I found myself doing pretty well till track 8 "Someone Said Goodbye". This song is one of the few songs that is a lot more blatant. Less noises, and ambience more straight vocals against a really repetitive and way less entertaining violin part. The vocals just keep repeating about having to say goodbye. And considering how most of the songs of Enya seem to at least be about more bigger issues this song definitely seems to be about relationships. The lyrics are super cheese, "Is there a reason why your broken heart begins to cry. Is there a reason you were lose although you don't know a why. Give me a reason why you never want to say goodbye. If there's a reason I don't know why". So i'm sure you could argue this is supposed to be an impowering song about getting up the guts to leave a bad relationship. either way the lyrics are awful.

Now Enya has some great negative momentum going bleeding right into the next song "A Moment Lost". This music is so much better when they spruce it up as opposed to stripping it back with just the vocals against the smaller string arrangements. Those other songs like I said have a calming influence but this is just sad. That song never has any sort of release, it is 120 percent sad full throttle coming at you the entire time and then it stops. No release, nothing. And Enya is supposed to be soothing from what I always heard, strange.

Enya completes the trifecta of sucktitude commencing with "Drifting". Three strikes and you are out so Enya though it hasn't been as brutal as I expected it to be certainly is going to get a decently bad score. So this song doesn't even have any vocals at all. Which you might think would be a good thing since I think that her vocals suck. But it isn't. Because rather than taking the chance to make an advanced instrumental track this is just a slow motion snooze fest. I am fairly sure it is supposed to signify the release, or the conquering of the sadness displayed in the previous two songs. Which on an artistical level I can get behind, but on an enjoyment level this song sucks just as much if not worse than the prior two.

I do feel obligated to mention "The River Sings" because low and behold I actually somewhat liked this song. It opens with a total chant, and not like the weak type of chant you would expect this is actually energized. Against some heavy bass, almost making it like a dance track the singer goes with some gibberish I can't understand layered and fast chanting it over the bass. This is essentially the entire song. Three minutes of a spirited chant. It isn't something I am going to keep on my harddrive, and it wouldn't be something I strongly recommend. But for a song I found on a sabotage i'm impressed.

So "Amarantine" ends up being a dreaded sabotage that doesn't quite deliver the amount of pain and discomfort that I had anticipated it would. Meanwhile last sabotage Robbie Williams was a swift kick in the junk when I expected a light jab to the face. Amusing how this shit plays out sometimes. Enya you certainly suck, and there is no way 1 out of 3 Canadians should own an Enya album. But do you suck as bad as Scott Stapp? I think not.

Sabotage Success: 8.00 (Sabotage moves in mysterious ways. I'm sure Brandon thought he had me nailed with this and I would have agreed. Let's hear what Brandon has to say about the Stappinator.)

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Strangely's Bazaar 12 (Ronan)

Strangely’s Bazaar: 12

For the next few weeks (from now until Christmas) I will be recollecting and reminiscing on the past year, and highlight what 2005 will be remembered for in music terms. In 2055 hopefully somebody will look back on that outdated piece of junk, the internet, and come across this article and remember what music used to be like once upon a time. To keep you interested I’m not going to tell you what the rest of the articles deal with, so you’ll have to come back and check every week. Mwahaha!

2005: The Year of...
Part II: The Double Album

As well as being the year of the “returning legend”, 2005 will be remembered for being the year of the double album. Double albums are always difficult prospects – some work, and a lot fail. But there have been many good ones, for example The Beatles’ White Album, Pink Floyd’s The Wall, Smashing Pumpkins’ Mellon Collie & The Infinite Sadness, Cody ChestnuTT’s The Headphone Masterpiece, and rock’s first double album, Blonde on Blonde by Bob Dylan. Although some older double albums (e.g. The Who’s Tommy, and The Rolling Stones’ Exile on Main Street) have since become single albums. Then there’s some albums incorrectly labelled as double albums – greatest hits packages for example – these are box sets rather than proper albums.

There’s always a certain difficulty in making double albums. Listeners and also critics usually tend to prefer one part to the other, and thus one disc gets much more play, and more exposure than the other. This makes a lot of people split the album in two and release them as two separate parts and release them a few months apart. This usually allows the record company to make more money as well, so they probably encourage the artists to do this. So, what I’m trying to say is that some albums can be double albums, but in two parts. A bit like...

System of a Down’s Mezmerize and Hypnotize. Instead of releasing them as one album, the band decided to release them separately. Hypnotize has just come out (November 2005), but Mezmerize has been out since May. As you may recall, our Brandon didn’t rate Mezmerize highly, but while he may view it as rubbish, I thought it was pretty good. And I hated System of a Down before it – and I do mean ‘hate’, ask any of my friends. But Mezmerize was more than just being heavy for the sake of it; the music was actually that – music. Both parts of the double album were recorded last year – at the same time, and were originally planned to be released as a double – thus it fits the requirements.

Part I of this feature discussed the return of that legend – Kate Bush. This long awaited return was topped off with a double album. Aerial, her eight studio album, and first in twelve years, marked a supreme return to form for Bush. And features a song called ‘Pi’ (I don’t know where to get the symbol on my keyboard, and it mightn’t show up in your web browser anyway, even if I could). ‘Pi’ is one of the most innovative songs of the year – not bad for a woman who has been out of the business for more than a decade. But I won’t go into too much detail here, because, after all, I am going to review Aerial in the very near future. But it did feature the world’s best guest musician – Rolf Harris playing the didgeridoo and performing spoken word duties a la William Shatner on ‘The Painter’.

Everybody’s favourite former Nirvana drummer also released a double album this year. No not Dan Peters. Foo Fighters own Dave Grohl. The album, In Your Honor, was very much a two-part affair – much like Outkast’s Speakerboxxx/The Love Below double album. One of the discs on In Your Honor is a full-on rock disc, and the other is a stripped-down acoustic disc. Grohl said the double album was “really amazing. The good thing about doing it is that you split it up so that there's no middle ground. So the rock stuff is the most rocking stuff we've ever worked on, ever.” Probably the most talked about thing about the album, however, was that track about Kurt Cobain – “Friend of a Friend”. Too much has been said about it already, so I’m not going to bother.

But the king of the double album for 2005 has to be Canada’s own Bryan Adams. Not content with being mainly known for ‘Everything I Do (I Do It For You)’ and ‘Summer of ‘69’, Adams came out of the pop wilderness and released three albums in 2005. Two of which were country or quasi-country albums. One of these, Cold Roses, was a double album. The albums are much more acoustic than his earlier albums, for example his 1983 album Cuts Like A Knife. There are no really radio-friendly songs here, you would never hear any of them in a club the same way as you might hear “I got my first real six string...”

Alright, alright, that joke’s been done many times before, but I couldn’t help myself. And now if I actually ever get to meet Ryan Adams, he’s going to punch me in the face. Oh well, it will be something to tell the grandkids. But the double album, Cold Roses is one of my favourite albums of the year. Both discs are excellent (although the first one is a little more excellent), and judging by my positive review for Jacksonville City Nights, his next album, 29, due out in December, should be something to really look forward to.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Trey Anastasio: Shine (Ronan)

Trey Anastasio – Shine

I first came across Trey Anastasio from his involvement in the Dave Matthews & Friends Winter Tour of 2003/04, and from his playing on Matthews’ first solo album, Some Devil. Like Matthews, Trey Anastasio is used to playing in a band – a band who have no problem jamming onstage for extended periods of time. Unlike Matthews, Anastasio’s band is no longer making music. Shine is Anastasio’s first mainstream solo album. Seis De Mayo, and some of his other albums aren’t treated as proper solo albums, because they mainly feature his work as a composer and with his Trio and Sextet, rather than as a solo guitarist and vocalist. This album should immediately appeal to Phish fans (or should that be ‘phans’?), but the first thing you’ll notice is a lack of jamming on the album. There is some, but not enough to please those hardcore jam-band fans. The album is more polished, it’s more produced than his work with Phish, maybe even too much.

Through his work with Dave Matthews I have developed a liking for Anastasio. For one thing, he has a pretty cool beard, and since my beard-growing skills aren’t the best, this bodes well for me. Another thing is that he is a great guitarist (Voted #73 in Rolling Stones’ Top 100 Guitarists of All Time in 2003), and also a pretty good singer – in fact he’s a better singer than Matthews is. (But in my opinion, not as talented as a musician, but what do I know, I’m only a music critic.)
Shine opens with the title-track – what better way in fact? ‘Shine’ reminds me very much so of Phish’s Farmhouse album. Yeah, just because I didn’t get into Phish when they were together doesn’t mean that I don’t know their music. Well, I do, a bit. Okay, okay, I only have three of their albums, but it’s enough to get me by, right? ‘Shine’ is a good song, and it’s an awful pity the same can’t be said for the utterly annoying ‘Tuesday’ – I just can’t stand the way he sings ‘Tuesday’: it sounds like he’s trying to say both ‘today’ and ‘Tuesday’ at the same time. The song is also over-produced – it doesn’t have that same spontaneous element that made Phish great. It does have a guitar solo, but not a very interesting one. ‘Invisible’ sounds too much like ‘Tuesday’ to have a good impact on me. Although the guitar does show glimpses of being good, but only glimpses.

Track 4 ‘Come as Melody’ on the other hand, is an excellent song. The erses build up into a rousing chorus, with some great trashy guitar. You know there’s some times when you want trashy guitar – when you’re listening to Anastasio you’re expecting it, and when it does come, it’s excellent. ‘Come as Melody’ is a really powerful song – one which I hope becomes part of the next Dave Matthews & Friends tour, the way ‘Bathtub Gin’ did in the last tour. Unfortunately, there aren’t any songs as good as ‘Bathtub Gin’ on this album.

‘Air Said To Me’ continues this trashiness – and in places the vocal sounds like the loudspeaker parts of Neil Young’s Greendale. Although that’s not a bad thing, because as you may know Greendale is loved here at TwoWayMonologues. There’s also a wonderful solo at the end of the song, to lead out of it and into… ‘Wherever You Find It’ which starts off with a simple piano intro. Maybe Anastasio got the idea from ‘Out of My Hands’ from the so-so Dave Matthews Band album Stand Up. The thing is, this works well on both albums – so it must be a good technique to use. Remember this for the future guys. Strangely enough, the first guitar solo herer reminds me of Europe’s ‘A Final Countdown’ – weird. That’s right, I said “first solo” – this song is a six-minuter – and if you know me, I do have a love for long songs.

‘Sweet Dreams Melinda’ is pure radio-fodder, but Anastasio makes it work quite well. I think the song would have been better if Matthews had appeared as a guest vocalist on this song. Their voices complement each other perfectly, and it would have added an extra dimension to the chorus. As well as made it more accessible for certain radio stations. ‘Love Is Freedom’ starts off slow before going into what sounds like a phone ringing. This can get quite confusing, as I’m always looking for my phone when this part comes on. The chorus has a great sing-along quality to it, and is sure to please Anastasio fans everywhere (i.e. in colleges throughout the world half-baked or fully-baked as the case may be).

‘Sleep Again’ can get quite repetitive if you were to listen to the album a lot – if you had it “on and on / on and on / you will live again / you will live again”. Come on Trey, even you can afford to buy a rhyming dictionary. Come on, seriously, the same line five times in a row is not clever, you can do better! And I know I said that I liked long songs, but only when they’re not repetitive, this one is torture at almost five minutes. ‘Spin’ does go some way to appeasing me, but unfortunately isn’t enough. I do quite like the fast pace of the chorus and bridge, but the verses don’t do much for me. At this point you just hope the album didn’t peak in the middle, and it’s only gonna get worse from here.

‘Black’ unfortunately is not a Metallica cover. Instead it’s a slow-piano-led-ballad-as-you-may-notice-I-like-putting-hyphens-in-the-middle-of-words-where-they-are-not-needed. In fact, it couldn’t be more unlike the Metallica song of the same name. It’s actually very boring, even when it gets going it’s still dull. The final song is not the Redemption Song we were looking for, and once again proves to be a bit of a bore. Oh well, I think I’ll turn off this CD now, and from now on, only listen to the middle of it. That’s an awful pity – I expected a lot more from the sevety-third best guitarist of all time.

Tracks to Download: Love Is Freedom, Come As Melody, Air Said To Me, Sweet Dreams Melinda

6.0 – Although there are a few good songs here, the album will leave Phish fans wanting them to reunite, and leave me wanting to hear Trey Anastasio go back on tour with Dave Matthews. Whatever, it won’t leave you wanting more solo Trey.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Silver Jews: Tanglewood Numbers

What originally began as a fascination with a band name -- being a quasi-Jew myself -- has developed into so much more. It began when I was searching for torrents and I found one for this album in August. Seeing the band name flickered a memory of a track being reviewed on Pitchfork; that track ended up being entered into Track-fu. (It didn't win, and that is a shame.) After a few listens it was obvious to me that I had to own the album. Only then did I realize I had somehow found a leak for it nearly two full months before the actual release date.

I must have heard that album 20 times before I ever had a chance to own it. The Silver Jews are a quaint little band. A handful of musicians show up throughout, including the extremely talented Stephen Malkmus, but for the most part the band is a husband-and-wife duo of Dave and Cassie Berman.

They don't tour at all, having only played a handful of lives shows in spite of a career spanning six albums and more than ten years. They don't shoot videos. They just record music and get it out and let the rest work itself out. And even though this has to be the worst marketing technique ever, it does work itself out for one reason, and one reason alone: they make fucking good music.

Four years have passed since the last album was released, and during that time Dave Berman attempted to commit suicide. That's something that no matter how hard you try to find out about it, you can't really get many details. All you can find out is that Berman is doing better now and doesn't really want to talk about it. "Tanglewood Numbers" sounds like someone who is doing better. It has a dry humour about it, and some optimism if you search for it. It isn't the type of album you might expect from someone who has been through what he has, although it might also be. If he really is doing better, like he says he is, maybe it is exactly the type of album to expect. The music kind of reminds me of a far more grungey, folkified version of R.E.M. from back when they were actually pretty good. The most popular comparison you'll find online is to Bob Dylan, which is an even loftier comparison, one that isn't, and shouldn't be, bandied around lightly.

The album commences with the impeccable "Punks In The Beerlight," a spirited, tongue-in-cheek folky rock/punk song that is highly addictive. The song is a playful anthem for burnouts in love who are constantly re-assuring the other how much they love the other but meanwhile are talking about their addictions and the massive problems that they encounter on a regular basis. As dark as the topic is, if you don't pay attention you'll just find yourself gleefully bobbing your head and enjoying the moment because this song has high leechability. My favourite part has to be the repeated times when Berman chants out "I love you to the max, I love you to the max." The vocals play back and forth off Bermand and his wife Cassie at times. This is the hardest rocking song on "Tanglewood Numbers" and probably the only one with any commercial potential (not that they care). I'll break the suspense, there is no way this won't have a prominent spot on my year end CD. It is probably in my top five songs overall for the year.

"Animal Shapes" opens with some awesome fiddle and cracking drumsticks, and breaks down into a full-on hoedown jig-style countrified jangle. Cassie and Dave again split the vocals up, singing simultaneously, one with the soprano and the other with the falsetto. The combination is very pleasing. You could put this song on an album for kids and I guarantee they would love it. It has that innocent playful quality to it, and yet it also totally appeals to a 24-year-music critic like me. I think the major difference is that I appreciate the intricacies in the background: the banjo, the strings, the twangy guitar (which is really low), and everything else going on here. A kid would just love the slightly hoakey but oh-so-loveable chorus "Animal Shapes, Animal Shapes, God must be carving the clouds into animal shapes."

Again it has to be said -- what I might love most about the Silver Jews is the dark humour or the tongue-in-cheek sarcasm that Dave Berman uses throughout the songs. "I'm Getting Back Into Getting Back Into You" is a sad tale about a guy who has fallen onto some tough times and finds himself drifting back to an ex-girl of his. The song finds Berman morosely singing about wanting this girl back with the simple yet snazzy chorus "I'm getting back into, getting back, getting back into you." This is one of those albums you can't fully appeciate without getting to know the lyrics. Take this one for instance: "Now my ex-wife's living in the suburbs with her guru and her mom/Now she finds her consolation in the stardust of a bong/You can call it a spinoff, say it's a knockoff, title it part two/But i'm getting back into getting back into getting back into you." There are a lot more where that came from.

That dry wit is back at it again with "How Can I Love You If You Won't Lie Down." The song has less than 75 words and it doesn't matter; each word carries important significance. This song has a bit more playfulness and less of the dry Mark Lanegan style of the prior song. Cassie's role here is to whimsically echo the last word on Berman's sentences. This is a short song running just two minutes, but you will cherish every second. Imagine a band that is known as having a heavy jangle like Kings Of Leon, but remove all influences of rock, add in a heavy dose of folk and a side of extra talent, and that is the best way I can describe this tune. Gotta give you another lyric: "Fast cars/Fine ass/These things will pass/And it won't get more profound/Time is a game only children play well/How can I love you if you won't lie down?"

We finish with the end of the album and a gentler, more obviously emotional song, "This Is A Place." It finds Berman singing about the place past the blues that he never wants to see again, and also features an instrumental interlude over what is blacked out and referred to as a police conversation. This is basically the only time during the entire album that Berman even refers to the times he had when he almost took his own life. After the extended instrumental part Berman comes in with a refound vigour in the most rocking part of the album since "Punks In The Beerlight," breaking into a full on chant that goes like this:

I saw God's shadow on this world.
I saw God's shadow on this world.
I saw God's shadow on this world.

I could not love the world entire.
There grew a desert in my mind.
I took a hammer to it all
Like an insane medieval king

I saw God's shadow on this world.
I saw God's shadow on this world.
I saw God's shadow on this world.
I saw God's shadow on this world.

I could not love the world entire.
There grew a desert in my mind.
I took a hammer to it all.
I took a hammer to it all.

I saw God's shadow on this world.
I saw God's shadow on this world.
I saw God's shadow on this world.
I saw God's shadow on this world.

All the while it gains in intensity and in the speed of delivery. The album ends on that note, and hearing Berman sing what clearly most be uncomfortable for him leaves you with a powerful feeling. You always hear people complaining about angst or getting too involved in singing about relationships, but you will never hear people complain about lyrics like this. This is what songwriting is all about.

"Tanglewood Numbers" is an album that needs to be heard by more people. Not just the indie kids, or the music-obsessed fools like Ronan, Terri, Cameron, and myself (Brandon not a knock or anything but this just isn't close to Destroyer music and I respect that.) I urge you to find a way to experience it. I don't think I have heard better songwriting on any album I have had the pleasure to listen to in 2005. I've heard better albums perhaps, but the songwriting on this is almost unmatched. Do yourself a favour and find out for yourself.

Songs to download: Anything I mentioned sure and "Punks In The Beerlight" especially, but this truly deserves to be heard in its entirety. It will only cost you 34 minutes.

SCORE: 9.30 (Where will it end up ranking on the year end list? Well my friends, I already know that answer. You'll just have to wait and find out.)

Monday, November 21, 2005

Tuesday Stroll

The Elite 5

1. Talib Kweli: Right About Now The Official Sucka Free CD

I really like Talib's work up to "Quality". His most recent album "The BeautifuL Struggle" just didn't do it for me. If you would have told me Talib would put out an album and I would not buy it I would have been shocked. But that is in fact what happened. However, this release sounds a lot more like what i've come to expect from Talib. If sound quality is your thing then this might not be for you. This is a raw recording, essentially almost like a mixtape. Kweli describes the music as being where he is at right now. Rather than taking a year to mix it and perfect it, he is releasing it as is. This is how hip-hop was when it first exploded onto the scene. Perhaps by going back to his roots, Kweli will regain his form. I'm looking forward to finding out.

2. Queens Of The Stone Age: Over The Years And Through The Woods

Xmas season is always the time for live albums to come out. Now why this album gets a 7.6 and the Green Day album of essentially the same format scores a 3 on pitchfork is beyond me. However, I am about eagerly as excited to hear this as I was the Green Day live album from last week. In terms of expectations against results "Lullabies To Paralyze" was one of the most disappointing albums I heard in 2005. Still, i'm not near ready to write this band off. Known as having a tremendous highly energized live show I have no doubt this cd should deliver. Packed in with the solid tracklist is a new song "Fun Machine" and a previously unreleased track. You also get a bonus DVD. Criticize the band for releasing this if you will but the bottom line is you the fan get a great value for the price of this one album.

3. System Of A Down: Hypnotize

Second album of 2005 for S.O.A.D. Brandon tried the first one and didn't score it very well resulting in backlash on our comments. He is also going to be reviewing this album so I expect more of the same. It just made sense for Brandon to review the next album and who knows mabye it will surprise him and us. In a normal week of cd releases this wouldn't excite me all that much but this isn't a fruitful week and so I am including it. I had a chance to finally hear some System in 2005 and liked what I heard. They are a ver innovative, and powerful band. Are they talented enough to pull off two stellar albums in 2005? You can be the judge.

4. Pursuit Of Happiness: When We Ruled

A greatest hits pack from one of the most quintessentially Canadian pop/rock bands from the 80's and early 90's. The band even reunited to record two new songs a cover of Prince's "When Doves Cry", and a brand new song "Hey Mary Anne". In addition you have the hits and a few previously unreleased songs. This is a band that will come up in any debate over the music in Canada in the last twenty years and while they weren't perhaps musical rocker scientists they definitely influenced many of the current bands on our airwaves. Want a slice of nostalgia? This will do the trick just fine.

5. Death From Above 1979: Romance, Bloody, Romance

A remix and B side album from the ever gaining in popularity DFA 1979. It wasn't more than a year and a few months ago that I heard their video on muchloud and Brandon and I almost went to see this show for like 10 bucks. In that short time that has passed they have gained enough momentum to release a remix album. Tis the season to grab cash from your loyal fans and this is again another attempt at doing that. The reason I am interested in this is because I actually really think DFA 1979's music will lend itself well to some intriguing remixes. I know Brandon has their last studio album at his place so maybe i'll get him to review this as he would be most fitting to make the comparisons.

Remember Me?

1. Scott Stapp: The Great Divide

It remains to be seen if the music world will embrance the ex-leader singer of Creed with arms wide open. Haha, i'm sorry I really am but I had to do it. This guy is a total douchebag. He was such a douchebag that his band basically divorced him and started a new band with a different lead singer. Then Stapp had nice things to say about his bandmates but they just had nothing but shit to say about him. It got so bad that he was sued by fans wo attended a show for how much it sucked. I'm serious it happened. Anyhow this is Stapp's return and Brandon's sabotage for the week. And let me tell you it FUCKING blows. It sounds like a cross between Creed/Nickelback and Christian rock. Please tell me that this doesn't become popular. I'm begging society to shun this piece of shit.

2. Ginuwine: Back II Basics

Ginwuine is still living off ridin' his pony and still some people must buy his albums because he keeps on releasing them. Here Ginuwine is offering up 15 songs that apparently go back to what made him big in the first place. But one problem exists. Ginuwine wasn't any good in the first place so what does this matter? This album is getting panned. I haven't heard one good word about it. Yet, something tells me some people will buy it and his feeble career will sputter along. Why can't someone funnier like Montell Jordan have his career continue rather than this guy?

3. Billy Joel: My Lives (box set)

In between drinking and driving Billy Joel has had a long and distinguished career. Yet it appears even he would agree that if you base his entire career off his top 40 hits that there is a good chance you would think he is lame. He has said as much in hyping the release of this box set of B sides, rarities, and songs that weren't hits. Rare is it you find an artist who basically admits that his hits are cheese and insists that listening to a rarities box set might give you a better impression of him and yet now I am intrigued. Weird how that works eh? I won't buy this but i'll give the guy a chance. I must admit though i still love "Uptown Girl".

Not My Bag, But Maybe Yours

1. Kardinal Offishall: Fire And Glory

Is Kardinal finally ready to make a splash in the mainstream music industry perhaps even outside of the comfy confines of Canada? Maybe, just maybe. His lead single is getting huge airplay and if there was ever a time to make a move in hip-hop in our country K-OS has paved the way for it to happen. Terri had me download the new song for this the other day which is a great sig for Kardinal that he is making significant progress. Club rap isn't how I role and I doubt it ever will be but if it is something you like then you may want to investigate.

2. Alexisonfire / Moneen: Switcheroo Series

This is neat. Two artists putting out an album consisting of alternating tracks of the one and then the other. Be interesting to see what other bands decide to part in this series. Now the only problem I can see is what if you don't like both bands? Take for instance Moneen who I think suck. But these are likely to be cheap and for those who find they like both bands or love one band so much that they will deal with the other this could be a sweet release. I wonder if it will work out?

3. Sugababes: Taller In More Ways Than One

So Ronan told me this girl band was huge in Europe and I thought thank god they aren't over here. Surprise! Now they are, and I am not impressed about it. So what we have here is untalented bubblegum pop bullshit that reminds me of S Club 7, Spice Girls and so on and so forth. The kinda shit I wish we could eliminate from the industry entirely. Like i said nowhere near how I role but I wanted to slander them somewhere so this is where they fell.

Beastie Boys: Solid Gold Hits (Brandon "The Destroyer")

Beastie Boys - Solid Gold Hits
Brought to you by: Brandon "the Destroyer"

For those of you who have heard me talk about the Beastie Boys before know that they are amongst one of my favourite hip hop groups. These guys have been at it for almost twenty years, and if you are a caucasion in hip hop that is freaking incredible. I just hope that Eminem doesn't last twenty years so that people go on like he has talent or something, I mean all he does is complain and bitch about his life and how he loves his daughter. Eminem is a wad. The Beastie Boys have released their greatest hits, which I would like to think doesn't mean they are done producing new music. I think that I would really enjoy seeing these guys in concert, usually they end up playing with some pretty respectable hip hop or rock artist, so I can't imagine that wouldn't be a killer concert. The tracklist that they went with for this disc seems to be alright. I only own the newest album and their first album so really I am missing a bit of the hits that fall inbetween. Despite the fact I only have the two albums I have heard pretty much every song on the disc with the exception of "Root Down". This album features only fifteen of their greatest hits from over the years, I would say that is probably too short and that’s just because in twenty years of music you should have one song per year, it just makes sense if your that popular. As I'm sure your already well aware the Beasties are going to be a saga because they are always one with me, I probably won't buy the album but for anyone that likes the Beastie Boys and owns nothing buy them then this could be the album for you.

"So What'cha Want" is the first song on the album, and I would say that’s an acceptable way to start this album. The beat that starts off is one that is almost mixed with a church organ, or at least something that sounds a lot like an organ. The Beastie Boys use a fair bit of actual instruments within the beats that they mix, in this song you get a really cool guitar riff and some sicke drums to compliment it. On the chorus they don't even sing really, they just loop that wicked guitar riff which is good because this is a part of the song that you can rock out. This is actually a song that doesn't have much structure to it, the verses don't have a set amount of length to them and the chorus that has no lyrics is really the only consistent part of the song as far as the music is concerned. The Beasties took this style right here and made it fairly popular, it helped that someone like Run D.M.C. was there to assist them with influence, but they definitely added something to that style to help make it unique to them.

I have another concern with this greatest hits, there are three songs from the new album on it and well I find that a bit much since it came out in 2004 which wasn't that long ago. I think the other reason that I don't necessarily agree with them using songs from this album is because they choose poorly, they went with "Ch-Check It Out", "Triple Trouble", and "An Open Letter to NYC". I suppose my favourites are totally different then that but they just threw the singles from that album onto the greatest hits since that was what more people were exposed to. It’s kind of sad and lets me know they are doing a bit more marketing then is probably necessary for this album. Of the three songs I probably like "Triple Trouble" the most. You'll find it near the end of the album, track thirteen, the biggest reason for my like of this song is the beat. I think that I can always count on the Beastie Boys throwing me a sweet catchy beat that is layered with loads of production. And I don't care who you are you have to love it when they throw in the classic stuff like record scratches or they rewind a segment of the beat and then play it back, how old school is that shit?

The fourth song is "No Sleep 'Til Brooklyn" and this is one of the better songs on the disc that you'll get from the first album 'Licensed To Ill'. I can't stress enough that if you want to hear a sicke old school hip hop album you will get out to any used CD store and find 'Licensed To Ill'. My favourites from that album aren't actually on the greatest hits so you can imagine that for a second time I am fairly disappointed because if its a greatest hits that I want from the Beastie Boys then I might have to make the list myself. Now on "No Sleep 'Til Brooklyn" you get one of the catchiest guitar riffs to exist, I am pretty sure that the Beastie boys stole this from someone and remixed it, I just can't think of the name of the original song. Near the end of the track they bust out this wicked guitar solo and fade off into the distance with it, I think thats a neat way to end a song if you are supposed to be a hip hop group. I suppose the fact that the Beastie Boys actually can play guitar, bass and drums factors into my like for them because they don't rely on anonymous third parties to complete their albums.

I'm going to talk about "Root Down" because I hadn't heard this song prior to getting this album on my computer. It starts off with a funky beat with a stupid amount of bass, it grooves along until they start singing about root down. I don't really know what root down is but it doesn't matter because this is probably my favourite song on the album, half because its new and also because its pretty good. It seems like the beat goes all over the place but always has that same bassline that I love. They keep talking about kicking it root down and putting their root down, so I don't know what the hell is going on. I want to know what album this song is on, so after some research I have found out that it is on the "Ill Communication" CD. I know that I will probably buy some of these older Beasties discs, and thats just because I always get a lot of use from them, I can listen to the albums from front to back and not get annoyed with any songs, well except that stupid song "Girls" from the first album, if you like that song your a douche.

Does anyone remember the 'Hello Nasty' album? I don't know that I will buy that album, I don't even like the first or second singles from that album. Sadly they include both of them on this greatest hits, so I'm forced to hear "Intergalatic" which is a lame and cheesey space song, and then theres "Body Movin'" but this one is remixed by Fat Boy Slim. I'm not a huge Fat Boy Slim fan so I can't say that I super excited to hear him make a bad song even worse. I think my problem is in the song "Body Movin'" there is really only one set of lyrics: "body movin', body movin', body movin', we be body movin'...", and thats just part of the problem because they don't add much to the song in the ways of music either, it really loops over and over as you hear these repetitive lyrics. The Fat Boy Slim version doesn't excite me any more than the original, so to be honest I don't really care. The only good thing that I can say about the other song, "Intergalatic" is that the video is pretty entertaining with that huge robot, I actually remember that in grade twelve art I made a replica sculpture of that robot for a project, it was sicke.
I guess I'm going to mention one last song and thats just because its one of the biggest and most recognizable songs by the Beasties from all of their music. "Fight For Your Right" is the last song on the disc and how can you argue with the lyrics that are offered up on this song? I suppose that this is the type of song that I wish appeared more on the album, a pretty kick as combination of rock and rap that is fuse together to create the style that the Beasties deliver. If I could make the greatest hits of the Beastie Boys I know that I would create a better and more legit one but I don't know that it would sell more copies then the one that they suggested. Regardless I'm pretty disappointed with the album, it has a few songs here and there I will keep because I don't currently own them, but I'm more than one hundred percent sure that I won't be purchasing this album anytime soon. The saga of the Beasties is best left to albums, so I hope that they keep heading down that path and creating more hip hop for me to listen to.

Tracks to Steal: "Fight For Your Right", "Root Down", "So What'cha Want", "Triple Trouble", "No Sleep 'Til
Brooklyn", "Sabotage", "Brass Monkey"

Did they select their greatest songs for their greatest hits?
Are the Beastie Boys done putting out new music?

Judgment Passed: 7.1 (Like I said its a decent greatest hits that casual fans should enjoy or get a good mix of songs that they may have not heard before. If you are someone like me that listens to them often then you could be in for some disappointment because the tracklist is lackluster.)

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Track-fu (Terri)

A treat, especially for those of you who have trouble downloading some of the songs in Track-fu -- thanks to the wonders of modern technology and SHOUTcast, we'll be streaming a mini radio show of sorts. The songs from this week's Track-fu will be playing on repeat for a couple of hours tonight (starting now) on Two Way Monologues radio (http://72.10.130.108:8000/).

Open the URL (File/Open URL) in Winamp or Windows Media Player, although you'll only see the song names in the former. You can also tune in at other times -- Dan will be streaming playlists regularly and we'll stream Track-fu weekly. We're also looking at other things we could do -- a Christmas playlist and a playlist for our end-of-the-year pics are a couple of ideas. Hope you enjoy it.

1. Mars -- Helen Forsdale

This is from a CD called No New York, a CD featuring NYC underground acts that was released in 1978 and has now been rereleased. I can't say that it's my thing -- it's arty noise rock -- but it's interesting to hear some of the influences and does sound current, so I think it's worth listening to for that.

2. Eminem -- When I'm Gone

I like Eminem more than I should, really. I'm entirely sick of his joke rap tracks. I'm not a big fan of the sexism. But every once in a while he brings out a really good track and I like him again.

This track isn't among Eminem's top five, but it has me on his good side -- I like the violins, and it's nice to hear rap that's not about loose women and big freakin' necklaces. It's a bit maudlin, and the end gets rather melodramatic, but I enjoy it anyway.

3. Fire Engines -- Candyskin

This is a really catchy song -- I like the off-beat drums a lot. The lead singer's voice reminds me a bit of Gord Downie's, for some reason. Apparently Fire Engines were an integral part of the Scottish post-punk scene in the 80s; I was not aware that such a scene existed, but considering that I enjoy this song and work by their scene compatriots, Orange Juice, I might look into them further.

4. Mike Ladd -- Barney's Girl

There's a fair bit of hip hop influence in this list. I like this song better than the Eminem track; it's got a good hook, and the instrumentals are pretty original. It's got an old school feel, but not in a conventional way, and it sounds almost ambient at times while also managing to remind me of funk/soul. It's got a very original sound.

5. Bright Eyes -- Mushaboom

This is a cover of the Feist song, which I'm really fond of. I like hearing it stipped down a bit with acoustic guitar, which lets the melody pop through really nicely. Bright Eyes' voice, while good, doesn't work as well here though. I like the pretty but strange, broken quality Feist's voice has (she actually did break it, in a way, which is part of why it sounds so different). But this is a nice interpretation of the song anyway.

6. DJ Muggs vs. GZA The Genius -- Smothered Mate (Brandon)

This is a more straight-up rap track than Mike Ladd's song (or Eminem's, but not as strikingly). It's got a good beat though; it's a forceful song. It's catchy and I like it, but it's a little harder than the rap I usually listen to (because, by my admission, I usually listen to sort-of lame rap).

7. Martha Wainwright -- I Will Internalize

Man, I can't find my Martha Wainwright CD. I need to look for it; it was pretty good. I didn't rave over it like many reviewers did, but it was definitely a worthwhile debut -- assured, pretty.

This song would fit it fine with that set of recordings -- for the most part it's Martha and her guitar, which works pretty well. It's got a lovely melody. (I do feel that occasionally Martha overuses her voice -- which is fantastic, but why the hollering? Every once in a while I just want her to sing the lyrics without bellowing out random syllables.)

8. Ninja High School -- Jam Band Death Cult (Dan)

This sounds a bit like the Beastie Boys mixed with the Go! Team. They're clearly having a lot of fun here -- lots of shouting, occasional shouts of spontaneous joy popping out of nowhere. I enjoy it; it's nice to hear something that sounds very uncalculated. I bet they're a lot of fun live.

9. Joaquin Phoenix -- Ring of Fire (Ronan)

I never really know if I should be impressed when actors sing their own songs for a movie, or if I should be a little horrified (especially when I hear that they had to learn to sing). It would be an unwise choice to do so, sometimes; Jamie Foxx actually can sing, but he was smart to lip-synch for Ray. He wouldn't have been able to approximate Charles' voice, and it would have taken away from the movie (which was middling anyway, outstanding performances aside).

Joaquin Phoenix does a better job of getting Johnny Cash; his voice is surprisingly strong and deep. He doesn't quite have the same force that Cash's voice did, even in his last years, but it's good work nonetheless. Aside from the vocals, the song is good, of course. Classic. I'll still listen to Cash's version over this given the choice, especially since the goal was to approximate Cash, not to reinterpret it differently. I'd be fine with listening to this version too, though. But I want to see Walk the Line, and I'm glad to know that I won't end up sitting there hating Phoenix for ruining Johnny's songs.

Winner: I'm going to go with Ring of Fire, actually, because it managed to leave me pleasantly surprised where I was apprehensive. It's a solid song under any circumstances. I also enjoyed Mike Ladd, Fire Engines, and Ninja High School.

Loser: Mars, because I just didn't like it, history aside.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Various Artists: Tony Hawk's American Wasteland (Brandon)

Tony Hawk's American Wasteland
Brought to you by: Brandon "the Destroyer"

I used to play the Tony Hawk video games back when they were first invented, then I met Peter Lumsden of Ottawa fame and I quickly realised that this game blows. Now thats a lie, just when you play against a guy who can score like over ten million points on one trick then there is really no hope of beating him in the game. The single player was cool though, I liked the missions, not that I could ever reach the point totals or anything. It seems like a very natural thing that Tony Hawk's Underground would have a bitchin' soundtrack since the entire game your a skater and skaters like good music...well at least most of them do. Regardless this is one of the better punk compilations that I have seen thrown together, one of the major draws to me was the theme of the album, which is essentially all punk covers of older punk songs. The bands range anywhere from My Chemical Romance, Thrice, Dropkick Murphys, Hot Snakes, Rise Against, and thats just a few. I nominated another neighbourhood loser of Track Fu Emanuel who do an excellent cover of "Search And Destroy" which is an Iggy Pop cover. To be honest when I first looked at this album I had my doubts that I would enjoy it because I had written off most things that have the name Tony Hawk on it, but at this point I've heard this album plenty and got it the first week it came out while I was in Toronto, it was sicke cheap, like eight bucks used, but since that was the first week it was out I would just guess it was stolen.

Ok I'm starting with the My Chemical Romance song, its called "Astro Zombie" and I have no idea who did the original, hell I don't know who did most of the originals, but thats because all it does is tell me the writer of the song original, not the band...unless they all wrote it. So it’s the third song, and as you can imagine its pretty good, as most My Chemical Romance music is. One thing that I really like about the album is the vocals, which is probably the thing that I just like the most about the band. There was a rumour this band was in danger of breaking up due to a record dispute. If that is the case this song could be the last released material that I will be able to listen to of there’s unless by some miracle they reconcile and everything good as new. I have my doubts. The song is an ok track, as I said the vocals are worth a listen, however I won't go on about the music, its ok just I'm not that attached to it. In the end if this is my last MCR song then I might be disappointed.

The fifth track is "Sonic Reducer" and its done by Saves The Day. I don't know anything about this band at all so I can't really have an opinion on their other music. I don't mind this cover, I like it better than "Astro Zombies" anyways. The Beastie Boys sampled the guitar riff for one of the songs on their The Five Burroughs, the track was "An Open Letter To NYC". The chorus of "Sonic Reducer" is the second best part of the track, the sicke guitar riff is the first. When I refer to the chorus I think that the vocals are well done, which is weird because the lead singers voice isn't really that good on the verses. As confusing as all that is I still like the song, its one of the longer songs on the album and every once and a while a punk song needs to breach that three minute mark in order to show they have some talent. There is a pretty good guitar solo at about the minute thirty mark and it probably ends at two minutes, this is probably my second favourite song.

I love the Dropkicks Murphys, they fucking rock. I also like that they are on this album with a particular hardcore song, the one thing that I don't like about the song though is they don't have the familiar bagpipe sound I had got rather used to. The song is called "Who Is Who" and it is the sixth song on the disc. This song is neat, the lyrics are anyways, because this is kind of the song that promotes distrust of authority by adolescents. It mentions all sorts of things that happen, like police coming because their buddy ratted him out and that is how he got caught. Really the whole song is kind of like a blame game where on the chorus the lead singer is shouting: 'please tell me it was you!'. This is surprisingly not my favourite song but its up there as you can imagine, its definitely worth hearing once to see if you like it because its only one minute and twenty seconds.

Hot Snakes are also another band that has recently fallen victim to the break up, so as a result this might also be the last 'new' stuff that I hear by them. I say new because they have loads of older stuff from the eighties that I haven't heard and I know that I would like to hear it and thus there is material that is out there new to me. I think you get the idea. Anyways, as I was saying Hot Snakes are bitchin, they do the nineth track "Time To Escape". This song is in typical Hot Snakes fashion, the guitar has that familiar ring that you only get when you hear the Hot Snakes. I like the music of this song an incredible amount, one thing that I can always count on when I listen to Hot Snakes is that the guitar is sicke and the drums are ridiculous, now if I could only talk them into selling their albums for cheaper so that I could force myself to buy them. I don't know that I have seen one for less than $24.99 and you can go fuck yourself for that price. The lyrics are alright but the chorus is easily the better part of the song, but all in all this is still my favourite song on the CD.

Lastly I will talk about the Rise Against song, I know that a lot of people out their don't like Rise Against and thats ok, you can leave for a bit and join us at the bottom. This song is fifty four seconds and every second of it is really filthy. I don't really like it at all and thats why I wanted to mention it, for some reason the lead singer decides to take a shit in his mouth and chew it while singing.

I would recommend just listening to the first song on the disc if you want to hear a randomly crazy song. Senses Fall is the band and the track is called "Institutionalized", its totally fuckered. The lead singer sings the song basically as if he is talking to his parents and they have decided to put him in a rehab institute so that he can get over his drug problem. As I listen to this song there is no chorus, understand that all the singer does is blather on about how he needs more drugs and thats not going to happen due to the fact he is off the rehab. Its a strange song but its interesting to say the least, I like it but its not my favourite.

Tracks to Steal: "Institutionalized", "Time To Escape", "Sonic Reducer", "Who Is Who", "Search And Destroy", "Astro Zombies"

How did this compilation hold up?
When are they going to bring out a second CD?

Judgment Passed: 8.4 (At first I thought that this CD had some serious potential, maybe I just need to hear it more before I score it higher, but at the moment I think this suits it. Some of the songs I don't enjoy, but for the most part I can listen to this album straight through since even the songs I don't like are pretty fast.)