Archive for October, 2007

Band of the Week – Weezer

October 24th, 2007 | Uncategorized | 0 Comments

So this weeks band isnt the weathermaking challenge (sorry guys, eventually though, I promise!). It’s a band that we all know in one way or another. It’s a band that’s been there for me in good times. In bad times. In worse times. At any times. The band of the week is responsible for my current msn name:

WEEZER!!!

Why Weezer? Why not? They’ve actually been making some news lately because they’re either done or almost done their next album which might suck but it also might not…or maybe it will have just enough hooks and intelligent lyrics to bother checking out (ahem, Make Believe, ahem).

Who knows though, everyone thought Dylan was a poop who was just gonna make country albums after Blonde on Blonde-before Blood on the Tracks. Not to mention his comeback with Time out of Mind which NO-ONE could have expected. Can Rivers Cuomo come back in such grande style? I doubt it but whatever, maybe.

Also, Sony is going to release a collection of home demos that Rivers has made over the last couple years which I will definitly check out. AND if that wasn’t enough, I think Rivers is writing a book or two…which I might be interested in also…

ANYWAYS: Weezer. Great band. Made two amazing albums back in the 90’s. Made a 3 take-it-or-leave-it-or-hate-it albums since.

I first heard Weezer from that amazing video for Buddy Holly that they did with Spike Jonze back in the day (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FiIC5qcXeNU). I loved the song and the video is absolutely classic. If you’ve never seen it click that damn link right now.

So after digging Buddy Holly and maybe another song or two off the Blue Album, my musics tastes changed and I thought Weezer was overrated. The kids at my camp who covered Say it Aint So all the time contributed to this. It was only when I discovered Pinkerton that I realized how incredible Weezer really is.

Firstly, The Blue Album is decievingly amazing. With classics like Buddy Holly and Say it Aint So, it deserves a special place in our hearts no doubt, but it’s songs like In The Garage, In Dreams and No One Else that really display Cuomo’s fantastic songwriting chops. In The Garage’s portrait of teenage punks in a lame garage band in gorgeous in the most suburban way possible. In Dreams’ epic buildup towards the end conveys the enormity of the hopes and dreams of adolescense in all it’s pubescent glory. No One Else’s chorus of “I want a girl who will laugh for no one else” lets us into Rivers’ possesive psyche but his need to be loved and feel special is perfectly understandable.

Pinkerton is the band’s real masterpeice though. It’s heavier, heartier and just plain better. Sure, the subject is girls and such but it’s handled really well. Either Rivers is tired of meaningless sex (Tired of Sex), no sex at all (The Good Life) or he’s trying desperately to get with some girl (Getchoo) that he’s in love with (No Other One, Falling for You) but who’s going to hurt him (Why Bother) and lives in Japan (Across the Sea) and also happens to be a lesbian (Pink Triangle). How can anyone not relate to that?

Of course, in the end, he just blames himself for fucking everything up, as always, in the beautiful closer: Butterfly.

Rivers sounds angry and regretful. He screams, he croons, he lullabies and everything feels real, not forced or plastic like some of his singing on Make Believe and other albums. His melodies exorcize his pain in brilliant fashion, producing an excess of catchy choruses and emotional hooks.

His lyrics are often surprisingly clever and inventive, twisting lines and rhymes to produce great contrasts and paradoxes. One great example of this is the chorus of Pink Triangle in which Rivers sings “I’m dumb, she’s a lesbian/I thought I had found the one/ we were good as married in my mind/but married in my minds no good”. Lines like “I could never touch you/I think that would be wrong/I’ve got your letter/you’ve got my song” are achingly sad and beautiful as Rivers has to accept the sad reality of his situation. In “Why Bother” he sings “why bother?/ gonna hurt me/ gonna kill when you desert me/this happened to me twice before/ it wont happen to me anymore”. His reference to it happening to him “twice before” is unusual, because the listener has to imagine these events in Rivers’ life, which he has never mentioned before.

References like these make the songs seem more like musical diary entries than pop songs, this is something many Weezer fans (myself included) find endearing. Do any girls dream about getting with geeky little Rivers? I suppose there must be a couple out there. I hope so. Then maybe there’s hope for all us lame sensitive male songwriters who aren’t just strumming an acoustic hoping to get some (erm, Blunt, herm, Jack Johnson, cough, Harper).

Band of the Week – Still Life Still

October 15th, 2007 | Uncategorized | 0 Comments

This week the band is a local band that I’ve known for a long time. I’m friends with them and I try and see them every opportunity I get. Of course this band is none other than Toronto’s own Weathe-

STILL LIFE STILL!!!

:p

Still Life Still is made up of some folks I know only as Brendan, Eric, Aaron, Kyle and Derek. They despise all last names…but not really. They’ve been playing around Toronto for years, though the lineup has recently undergone some changes. I saw them one night when The Fancy Claps were on the same bill. I was just about ready to head home but I decided I had to give this band it’s chance before I went off. Best decision ever. They totally blew me away. They sounded like their own Broken Social Scene. Very similar, yet different. The guitars have generous amounts of echo applied and though the amount of members is very reasonable (5 at the moment), they fill up alot of space with wooshy synths, shaking devices and other cool stuff.

While their older material is very danceable and more accesible, their newer material is more experimental and intriguing. They’ve never released anything they’ve deemed an album or ep or such, they just record and post stuff on myspace despite the fact that they’ve actually recorded quite a bit of quality material.

Their current myspace songs include the high-pitched-synth-riff based “Knives in Cartoons”; “Can’t Decide on Birth”, which would sound like Stars if it weren’t so complex; the single-worthy “Dansecave” with lyrics like “I don’t wanna be like them/ when we don’t fuck just like them” and the sparse, drunken “Sizzors Losing Weight”. Lyricist Brendan writes beautifully about life as we live it, taking verbal snapshots of this world, this city and it’s nauseaus inhabitants in a way remiscent of Bright Eyes.

Still Life Still is playing The Drake Hotel with Boxes and Bags on October 29th. Be there, I know I will be.

check out their myspace: http://www.myspace.com/stilllifestill

THE NEW RADIOHEAD ALBUM SUCKS!!!

October 11th, 2007 | Uncategorized | 3 Comments

JUST KIDDING!!!

It obviously fucking rocks. No doubt I’ll only have to listen to it a million more times before I fully appreciate it but obviously it’s really really really good. My favorite msn name response to it (and there are several) was “Radiohead please stop being so good-it’s unfair to other bands”. Anyways, here’s my review of the album.

Album opens up with beat-based “15 Steps”. York’s falsetto is fully intact and melodically Michael Flatleys all over before it’s invaded by a haunted house-full of weird and wonderful sounds. Typically a-typical Radiohead and it’s great as the momentum builds up and the kaliedascope of weird sounds culminates in an ending to a great opener. Next song.

Bodysnatchers rides on the momentum build up by the first track and then runs with it. Yorks vocals take a backseat to fuzzy guitars and eerie keyboards which zip across the sonic landscape, riffing it up like a swarm of locusts. Again everything builds up until York takes it out screaming “I SEE IT COMIN’, I SEE IT COMIN'”

Nude is the comedown after the rush of the first two tracks. York’s auditorium-verb vocals are as ghostly as ever, singing “now that you’ve found it/it’s gone/now that you feel it/you don’t”. The cavernous strings that shine in like sunlight are so perfect it’s crazy. York then proceeds to ride the song to it’s gorgeous conclusion with some lovely “ooooooo”ing.

Weird Fishes/Arpeggi starts with a great drum beat and some lovely guitar before York gets in on the action. Again we see Radiohead’s incredible talent of building a song up slowly but super-steadily. And what’s more incredible is that it seems as though York’s vocals lead the way and everything just follows them.

Radiohead’s song construction is fantastic. Every song seems to build up to a point, then has it’s breakdown, then rides out a stunning climax. The mathematics of it are an absolute wonder to any composer.

All I Need is based around some very low keyboards giving York’s higher range vocals plenty of space-you can actually hear the vocals now without any effort. The lyrics metaphor it up as York lays it on thick with lines “I am all the days that you choose to ignore” and “I’m just an insect trying to get out of your eye”. Charming, no doubt the girl for whom it was written was thrilled (eerrrrrr….).

In Faust Arp a string crew (heavy on the chellos) chases Thom York’s vocals around. At 2 minutes it feels really short, still a nice little song.

Reckoner works around some shaking and banging things. York’s vocals dance around the soundscape before the shakers depart because it’s the strings’ turn to back up the man of the hour. York as always sounds fantastic. That’s kind of a waste of space in a Radiohead review though I suppose. At the end of the songs the strings and the shakers team up and all is groovy. Again, York leads the song out with some “awwwww”ing. This is probably one of the lesser songs on the album.

In House of Cards York sings “I don’t wanna be you’re friend/I just wanna be your lover”. Johnny’s guitar picks out “do do, do, do do” lazily while treble-heavy violins fill out the speakers. “Forget about your house of cards/ and I’ll do mine”, York repeats as a chorus. This song has a beautiful lazy feel to it. It’s probably the most chilled out Radiohead song ever. Almost like a Feel Good Lost-Broken Social Scene song but with Thom York singing over it and creepy strings in the background.

Jigsaw Falling into Place is a bit more of a rocker but nothing on this album approaches anything on the level of “Electioneering”. Thom’s ghostly vocals fill out the background before being replaced by a synth or something…it’s cool though. The changes in this song are often very awesome with crashes coming down at every one- just like a normal rock band!

The closer, Videotape, is a piano based ballad. The line that caught me was “You are my center when I spin away/out of control on videotape/on vide-o-tape…” The song fades away as the piano hits those same 3 notes, do, do do, do..do, do do, do…do, do do, do…A fittingly somber end to another great Radiohead album.

So of course, is it Radiohead’s best? Another classic? Greatest album of the year? The decade? Our time? Who know. We’re all going to listen to it a million more times before we decide where it stands. It’s definitly no stinker though. We all just have to take the time now to determine exactly how great it is. Better get going.

Band of the Week – Young Galaxy

October 10th, 2007 | Uncategorized | 0 Comments

This is a band I’ve known about for a while but never really gotten into until this week. The band of the week is none other than…

YOUNG GALAXY!!!

You may have heard of this Arts and Crafts band. When they released their eponymous album, it was a free listen on myspace and it was hyped up just a little. I checked it out back then on myspace but didn’t really care for it. Felt it was just more of the same and the songs didn’t really catch on with me.

At some point I was on the arts and crafts myspace page and I was watching the videos. I checked out Young Galaxy’s “The Alchemy Between Us” and was very much impressed. A fantastic single with a great sound, progression, lyrics, etc. The whole shebang. My curiosity got the best of me eventually and I checked out the album despite nearly unanimous mediocre reviews. Sometimes, critics are stupid.Maybe they just given them the required time but the album is anything but bad.

Young Galaxy are often compared to Luna and Slowdive, some groovy Shoegaze-ish bands from back in the day (check out slowdive if you can, awesome bands, thank for that rec, vic). The sound is big and spacious. Some would say “space-y”. It’s not big in the U2 or Arcade Fire way, it’s the big that flows out from your speakers and fills the room. Atmospheric may be the correct word actually. The album is one to lie in bed and listen to, maybe late on a starry night or early on a spring morning. Hazy textures and airy sounds float ethereally in slow songs. Faster, poppier songs have hooks not unlike those on a Stars album (not surprising, as bandleader Stephen Ramsay was their touring guitarist for some time).

Lyrics range from bad to brilliant. The first song on the album, “Swing Your Heartache” does not benefit at all from the pseudo-intellectual paradoxes Ramsay reads off somewhere around the middle eight. Lines like “the only way to learn you’re not afraid to die/could very well involve risking your life/despite the contradictions that these words imply you’ve got to live on/live on” might make you want groan and shut off the damn album. However, “Lazy Religion” Ramsay’s commentary on religion (“I don’t mind/take what you want/it’s a lazy religion”), comes off as truthful and unpretensious. He sings it as though he could honestly care less, because that’s just the way things are. “Searchlights” images of innocence make me smile. When Ramsay says “I remember the feeling of your hands up under my jacket/it got cold out here at times” it’s just beautiful.

The highs on the album like the Stars-esque “Searchlight”, the surging “No Matter How Hard You Try”, the beautiful “Outside the City”, the uplifting “Come and See” and the Slowdive-prime beauty of “The Alchemy Between Us” more than make up for take-it-or-leave it slower tracks like “The Sun is Coming Up and My Plane’s Going Down” and the shitty spoken word part in “Swing Your Heartache”.

Check out the video for The Alchemy Between Us here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J8K24v72Mw0

Check out the album if you can. It’s really great. Recomended for fans of Stars, Slowdive and Arts and Crafts.

http://www.myspace.com/younggalaxy
For more info on Montreal concerts, visit Quality Plus Tickets.

Pussy Cats

October 7th, 2007 | Uncategorized | 0 Comments

No, this is not about actual feline animals. This is about the 1974 Harry Nilsson album Pussy Cats. I just got a hold of it and it’s awesome. Most awesome thing about it? Unfortunately for the talented Nilsson (he did the theme to 1969’s Best Picture Academy Award winning classic Midnight Cowboy), the most interesting thing about the album is it’s producer: one John Lennon. Uuuuuch, yes I know, my obsession with the Beatles is an unhealthy one but they seriously are the greatest.

In 1974 Lennon went on his infamous “lost weekend”. He said “So long Yoko” and went and partied his ass off with some friends in LA. Lennon loved Nilsson and knew he could do him no greater favour than to produce an album for him. They checked into the studio with their crew and their crew’s beer and booze and set about laying down some tracks.

I noticed immediately about this album: this is the sound of guys having a fucking awesome time. The Beatles loved to experiment in the studio and find new sounds and make everything interesting. That spirit lives on in this album as well.

It reminds me alot of The White Album. The cool thing about that album is that… it is what it is. It’s a double album and the Beatles just went all out. Blues jam? Fuck yeah! Obla-di-Obla-Da? Sure!

Pussy Cats has the same spirit. Stringsy Jimmy Cliff song here, lounge piano serenades there, wonky Dylan cover somewhere, etc. It’s just that same “all out” spirit, and when Lennon’s steering the ship high on who-knows-what, drunk off his ass and loving every second of it: you know it’s gonna be a fun ride:)

If you’re a Lennon fan you have to check out this album. It just feels like him. It smells like him. It tastes like him.

Also interesting: The Walkmen loved this album so much they did a complete remake of it which was released sometime last year or something. I haven’t heard but if I can, maybe I’ll check it out, let you know how it is.