Archive for April, 2008

TGMB – The Sleepy Jackson

April 19th, 2008 | Uncategorized | 0 Comments

Lame. It’s Saturday night and I’m stuck at home cuz it’s Passover. Tomorrow’s the second night of Passover and it’s also 4:20, how’s that for a high holiday (Hiyooooh!). Regardless, this weekend is uber lameness. I’m working during the day and pesach-ing at night. I might just kill something. That thing however, will not be my iPod, the beacon of hope in this dark, celibate time. On it are my sole providers of happiness. It’s like Kate Hudson says in Almost Famous, “if you ever get lonely, you can go to the record store and visit your friends”. So my friend/band for this week is…

THE SLEEPY JACKSON!!!
Hailing from Australia, The Sleepy Jackson is really Luke Steele and whoever he chosen to tag along with him in the creation of his huge Harrison/Wilson-esque sound. His high Bolan-esque tenor rides along the majestic waves of beautiful melodies and intricate George Harrison nicked chord changes. Two sentences in and we’ve already dropped “Harrison” twice, I know, but that’s because Steele is obsessed with the Beatles, particularly George Harrison. And with good reason.
Harrison’s solo output, though anything but consistent, was actually debatably the best of all the former Beatles’. How can I say such a thing? Easily. Sure Imagine and Plastic Ono Band are classic albums but their power lies in Lennon’s personal exposition, which is made more powerful by his incredible stature, both then and now. McCartney’s solo albums are great musically but they lack depth of thought and emotion. That’s why they made such a great combo; they had the opposite ends of the spectrum in full-force and, combined, were unstoppable. Separated they were still great, but lacking slightly in the department the other buoyed. Harrison, on the other hand, learned a great deal from both giants and battled to match them on his own, seemingly never being interested in intruding upon their duo-ness. By the end of the Beatles he seemed damn close to doing so, writing classics like While My Guitar Gently Weeps, Something and Here Comes the Sun.
Then the Beatles break up and everyone starts a successful solo career. It was Harrison, however, who was the most ambitious and successful with the release of the triple (fucking triple!) album All Things Must Pass (symbolic title, no?). It was on this album that all things Harrison reached their fruition and blossomed. His spirituality, masterful slide guitar, fantastic chord changes, interesting time signatures and depth of understanding are all displayed in their prime and if it weren’t for the third side of lame jams, the disc would probably be in more top ten greatest albums of all time lists. The album, produced by Phil Spectre (could it BE any more ambitious?) is seemingly the template upon which Luke Steele has decided to base all his music.
The Sleepy Jackson’s two albums, “Lovers” and “Personality. One Was a Spider. One Was a Bird.”, are both excellent albums, though it’s on “Personality…” that Steele seems to achieve his goal of recreating the best moments of All Things Must Pass when all the momentum is pushed to the forefront and gorgeous melodies and heavenly arrangements overtake the mind. If the album has one fault it’s for giving you pretty much exactly what you want, with variations on the same amazing sound from start to finish, whereas a truly classic album manages to sound completely different from song to song while maintaining the same top quality and artistic signature.
Regardless, the album is great, as is The Sleepy Jackson. The talent on display is really quite astounding when you pay attention to it, if you can keep my mind from blowing away. Unfortunately, that’s a task that proves extremely difficult when listening to The Sleepy Jackson.

www.myspace.com/thesleepyjackson

UNGDOMSKULEN!!!

April 13th, 2008 | Uncategorized | 0 Comments

This week’s band of the week already garnered a blog about their amazing video. They hail from Norway and it’s appropriate because these guys do indeed seem like the descendants of vikings. They perfectly embody all the cheesiest, geekiest and most fantastic elements or rock. And I mean ROCK!!! Think long hair, beards, V-neck guitars, shirtless drummers, drugs and sex. This week’s band of the week is what you get when you combine all of the above.

UNGDOMSKULEN!!!

Ungdomskulen translates to the super hard rock “Middle School” in norse or norwegian or whatever they speak there. They’ve released one album called Cry-Baby and it rocks. Kristian Stockhause sings in a hilarious yet awesome falsetto (think Neil Young being tortured over a volcano) or mid-register baritone that usually gets pushed into the falsetto while his guitar playing sounds like pure electricity, as he bangs out awesomely angular chords. Drummer Oyvind Solheim lives by the creed “MORE COWBELL!!!!!!!!!” and rightly so. All the while Frode Flatland keeps everything crowded with his solid basswork.

Ok, so they sound hilarious, but they also have great kick-ass songs that are as rocktastic as they are tuneful. This band never lets style take precedent over substance and each song on the album is catchy, funny and explosively awesome. Think Weezer if they were bigger, hairier and on acid or Tenacious D at their best (like the two epics on The Pick of Destiny album), Ungdomskulen is a band you dont judge on the basis of intelligence but on awesomeness. And they’ve got enough of that to kick your skull-wizard back to level 3, bitch!

http://www.myspace.com/ungdomskulen

Consolers of the Lonely Review

April 10th, 2008 | Uncategorized | 0 Comments

The Raconteurs

Consolers Of The Lonely

8.6/10

For some reason, the first time I heard Consolers of the Lonely, I was disappointed. It seemed as though the brilliant hooks and cutting intelligence of Broken Boy Soldiers (or at least it’s first half) had been replaced by louder guitars and “rock-on!”-rudimentary. Still, I couldn’t believe that Jack White was capable of letting me down, so I kept coming back to it. I’m glad I kept the faith.

Consolers of the Lonely sees The Raconteurs going from an intriguing experiment to a fully-fledged band that rocks…hard. Unfortunately, it further confirms what everyone thought right from the beginning: this is Jack’s band. White’s magnetism and unwavering energy propels everything forward like a mad shot of adrenaline into the Raconteurs’ collective arm. That being said, he does have a crack band backing him. Patrick Keeler and “Little” Jack Lawrence make a fantastic rhythm section and Benson deserves his due for writing and singing many of the albums best tunes as well as providing a bit of sensitivity (but not too much) to contrast with White’s bravado. “Shades of Black” in particular is a shiner for him, where he bellows beautifully over soaring horns. He tries his best to keep up with White’s explosive persona but who can blame him for just not being up to the task?

In fact, the album seems to have been hijacked by White, as it leans way more towards his blues and country tendencies. This time round there’s less of Benson’s synthizers and colorful arrangements and more fiddle (the back-porch-y “Old Enough), mariachi horns (“Shades of Black”, the dramatic western “The Switch and The Spur”) and some nice slide guitar (the stylish “Top Yourself” and the lazy-day “Pull this Blanket Off”). What probably happened was everyone would throw in their ideas and they just kept saying, “damn Jack, that is a kick ass idea.” Or he just threatened to kick their asses if they dared argue (watch your back, little Jack). Or worse, he’d challenge them to a guitar duel…to the death! Which would basically mean suicide because White’s guitar playing on the album is a wonder. On no White Stripes album does he sound so frighteningly corrosive. It sounds like a wild-bolt of electricity just looking for something to fry. At this point I’d say it’s justifiable to call him this generation’s premier guitar hero. While Benson’s shtick peeks through at times, White’s dominance ultimately serves to bring both the band and the album a much greater focus than heard on Soldiers.

Ultimately, as kick-ass as a band can be, they’re nothing without kick-ass tunes. It took me a while to realize it but there’s plenty of ‘em on Consolers. While there’s no trace of the power pop of “Together”, “Hands” and “Intimate Secretary” from the first album, between the rave ups (“Consolers of the Lonely“), ballads (“You Don’t Understand Me“), 70’s covers (“Rich Kid Blues”) and southern gothic tales (“Carolina Drama”) you’d be hard pressed to not find something to love about this album. On Consolers of the Lonely, The Raconteurs have taken a great undeniable step forward and Jack White continues to prove that there’s nothing he can’t do.

http://www.myspace.com/theraconteurs

Plants and Animals

April 7th, 2008 | Uncategorized | 0 Comments

This week’s band of the week entry is being written at 2:40 am. I’m reaallly tired, moreso than usual. Anyways, I’m just getting this done with cause I’m so tired but for some reason just want to do something before I sleep the deepest sleep ever. This week’s band of the week is from Montreal, where, hopefully, I’ll be heading next year. Just gotta get into McGill….Anyways…the band of the week is…

PLANTS AND ANIMALS!!!

What? Who? Yes, you’ve never heard of them and definitly won’t hear their stuff on the radio (songs are all too long, too oddly-constructed) but no doubt their name has been and will continue popping up in blogs and articles and the like. And with good reason. These guys are making “new” music, taking the influences of their past and just running with them. First song on their album “Park Avenue” sounds like a glorious parade that begins with falsetto sung over a lone-piano hitting some chords out not unlike a lost cut from After the Gold Rush. Five seconds late there’s some huge Arcade Fire-esque “LA LA LAAAAA”s echoing out of the speakers along with great, pounding drums.

Every song on Park Avenue is different. The band travels through a kaleidascope of sounds and styles, often within the same song. Their songs don’t bother even considering the verse chorse verse bit but have a couple verses and then some other parts. Alot of it is almost classical. And the greatest bit is not the introduction of new parts, so much as the extreme innovations made upon previous parts which are then swelled to grandiosity and broken down again.

So what do they actually sound like? Well, their songs can be characterized by alot of fine pop hooks, a wide variety of instruments intricately arranged as well as lovely, lovely vocals. Their sound is playful yet they mean to be taken seriously…but not too seriously. Like I said before, they’re making “new” music, and their influences are so many and so well melted that it’s hard to pick them out of the end product.

Look, just check Park Avenue, it’s not the same old bs, this band is really making great music that is new but not innaccesible nor alienating. Think about it this way…do you like plants? why not? they give you air, look nice, smell nice, give fruit sometime, sure, you gotta like plants. How about animals? You gotta like animals, common. Well that settles it, you like Plants and Animals. Now check out their album…now…

http://www.myspace.com/plantsandanimals

For more info on Montreal concerts, visit Quality Plus Tickets.

Record Review: Heroes and Villains

April 3rd, 2008 | Uncategorized | 0 Comments

What Keeps Us From Sleeping At Night
Heroes and Villains
Self-Released, 2008

7.6/10

Heroes and Villains are not an insanely original or challenging band, though they are an incredibly solid and well-rounded one. On WKUFSAN, HaV combine those brilliantly bright, scratchy Strokes guitars with Beatle-esque catchiness to land resolutely on a sound that would be hard not to enjoy.

Though the album opens with the solid Stranger on A Plane, it’s clear that the hit single is second song Val Kilmer. It’s fuzzy sound effects, minor keyboard flourishes and relentless barrage of hooks result in an almost-perfect pop song for the 2008 indie kid. For the next 30 minutes or so, the album runs through a series of similar pop songs that are nearly just as exciting and enjoyable.

Singer C.P. Megardbane’s cushioned baritone seems modeled after 80’s British pop singers if they didn’t sound cheesed on reverb. That’s a good thing. Though his lyrics are often clever (“With a persistent flow/ might get to HBO”) with inspired and cutting phrases, his vocals often get left behind, unable to cut through the guitars. This might even be intentional, but maybe a little more forceful and exciting singing on future projects wouldn’t be such a bad thing either.

Their album What Keeps Us From Sleeping At Night, could also use a bit more variety. Though the quality of the songs never waver, the sound remains a little too consistent, only interrupted by the two “Segue” noise instrumentals which suggests some My Bloody Valentine on their iPods.

While these Heroes might make a good living selling their songs off for video games, T.V. shows and commercials (like more and more bands are doing), indulging in their villainous side – only hinted at in the segues and some of the more interesting arrangements on songs like Val Kilmer and Black Iceberg – is what will take this band from another Two Hours Traffic to a Wintersleep.