31 December, 2006

Happy New Year!!!

Check this out: http://music.aol.com/artist/o-zone/310147/main#

Watch the "Dragostea Din Tei" video and laugh your ass off!!


19 December, 2006

"The Best Way of Spreading Christmas Cheer, Is By Singing Loud For All To Hear!"

I’m a fan of Christmas music, mostly because, by and large, it’s happy music. People don’t usually write Christmas music about broken hearts, deceased family, and war (although it isn’t unheard of; “Happy Christmas (War is Over)” and “Last Christmas” are two popular examples.) The month of December is one time of year when you’re allowed to be silly and happy, instead of the usual required cultural attitude of jaded and ironic cynicism.

I do have Christmas music likes and dislikes. I’m a big fan of laid-back jazz Christmas music. The Vince Guaraldi Trio’s “A Charlie Brown Christmas” album is an example of one of my personal favorites, it’s classic without being kitschy, and it has the added benefit of being music that can be enjoyed throughout the year. I also like the standards, Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland, Ella Fitzgerald, Nat King Cole; all great voices with character. Stevie Wonder, lends a spiritual and soulful feeling to all of his music, so when he sings “What Christmas Means to Me” you know he’ll make it meaningful.

You’ll find a few oddities in my collection, but nothing less than genius. Take for example, “Christmas in Hollis” by Run-DMC. It’s the only holiday rap song that I know of, although I don’t pretend to know everything. Being punk (and Jewish) didn’t stop the Ramones from making a Christmas song, and “Merry Christmas (I Don’t Wanna Fight Tonight)” certainly takes three-chord punk to a different level. Also on my list is the classic “Father Christmas” by the Kinks, which is a rocking packet of holiday-flavored social commentary.

Of course, you can also find some closet Christmas music in my collection. I’m an unabashed fan of Mariah Carey’s “All I want for Christmas Is You”, Destiny’s Child’s “8 Days of Christmas”, and Jose Feliciano’s “Feliz Navidad.” My new favorite Christmas song is from The Polar Express soundtrack, “Believe” by Josh Groban, and I’m not sure if it’s the lyrics or Josh’s voice that make me tear up (from an overabundance of happiness) whenever I hear the song.

A couple of Christmas songs I dislike? Well, “Dominic the Donkey” is pretty annoying and “All I want for Christmas is my Two Front Teeth” gives me a headache. The worst Christmas song, in my humble opinion, is “The Christmas Shoes” by NewSong . I don’t dislike it because it’s country music, I dislike it because the story is sad, sappy, and contrived. Rudolph and Frosty don’t bother me in the least, but indie Christmas music kind of creeps me out. I don’t have any good reason for disliking indie Christmas music, it just gives me a weird feeling. I guess it’s like emo kids trying to be happy, it just feels wrong.

Merry Christmas to all my readers! Leave me your thoughts and personal Christmas favorites. If you don’t celebrate Christmas, pick another holiday themed song or even a song centered around the winter season and share with your favorite blogger (me)!

12 December, 2006

I Love Alliteration!!

Which makes me love Tally Hall's album, "Marvin's Marvelous Mechanical Museum" even more. Once in awhile, maybe every year, I come across an artist that just makes me think 'Wow, was I under a rock? How did I miss these guys?' Usually, I'm just a little bit ahead of the game and I get to watch (and sometimes help) these artists grow in popularity, spreading their beautiful music to the masses. Lately, it's been Apollo Sunshine, Zox, and Gogol Bordello and, I'm hoping it will now be Tally Hall.

"Marvin's Marvelous Mechanical Museum" reminds me quite a bit of Apollo Sunshine's "Katonah." I think this similarity is due to the fact that both bands experiment with their sound throughout the album. Tally Hall's opening tune, "Good Day" includes robotic/operatic vocals, piano, rock guitars, and some random blasting sound effects that caused me to believe my headphones were broken. Not to imply that it is anything but fun to listen to "Good Day", it initiates you in the odd Tally Hall world, while making your ears happy. The second song, "Greener", is almost more jolting than the opener, given it's tendency to sound "normal" at first listen. When you really listen to "Greener", it's becomes obvious that it's only normal in the world of Tally Hall where random instruments make unexpected appearances every day. By the time you reach the third song you know you've really found something different! "Welcome to Tally Hall" is a rap song, with horns, all kinds of percussion, and a carnivalesque atmosphere that surrounds your ears.

The whole album makes me happy, and at this time of year it's a nice alternative to, well, anything on the radio. I've been informed by a good source that their live show is amazing. I would definitely take a listen to these boys if I were you. They've been spinning non-stop in my CD player for the last week, and I only got their album a week ago.

05 December, 2006

The Many Faces of Modern Folk

Folk music is an interesting thing. You can trace it through the years; from campfire songs shared by tribes to ballads sung for kings. It stretches far and wide in music, influencing every genre imaginable and taking the form of musical poetry. Folk is the music of the storyteller, and the lyrics are generally more important than the instrumentals. Folk is very diverse, all of the songs take a similar form, but similarity is relative. Flowers are similar, but no one would say that an orchid and a dandelion are basically the same thing. Take a listen to the stories these musicians have to tell, they are the stories of our times and they are as similar to each other as orchids and dandelions.

“Fidelity” by Regina Spektor

From Regina’s latest masterpiece “Begin to Hope,” the melody is deceivingly simple. Lyrically, this song is about heartbreak, it’s about trying to hide yourself in music, trying to protect yourself, and failing miserably. In the event of real-life heartbreak, Regina’s voice is really all the music you need and her lyrics are comforting and genuine. Regina Spektor knows where you’re coming from.

“Moon Over the Freeway” by the Ditty Bops

Their ridiculously catchy music sounds like something that could’ve been played on the radio in the ‘40s, or earlier. Their new album is an escape from modern living. This song is extremely lighthearted, and although it may sometimes feel more like swing than folk it is so evocative of an era and a certain front porch feeling, that it pulls you into a different time and place, telling you a story.

“Weather Report” by Bright Eyes

It’s always a story you hear when Conor Oberst sings. I hate to commit musical sacrilege, but his lyrics in “Weather Report” remind me of Bob Dylan. It’s not just an overall revelatory story, it’s a story that shows you something about yourself, or about your culture, or about your world in every line. For example:

“And the time clocks keep waving their hands
Doin all that they can
To get our attention
But the days fly away down a clean interstate
I’m staring drunk at a map...”

It’s sad, funny, and true. How do we value our time? And, even when we’ve been told “time is of the essence” do we listen? It’s one small part of a song that can tell you a lot if you take the time to listen to the lyrics.

“Lullaby” by Jack Johnson & Matt Costa

From the most amazing “Curious George” soundtrack, Jack and Matt sing a lullaby. My favorite part of Elliott Smith’s music, will always be his ability to make the listener relax and let down their guard. Mr. Smith also crafted, beautiful and sometimes unbearably sad music. What Jack Johnson does is similar, but different. Johnson creates a song, like a lullaby, that lulls you into relaxation, then he peppers your daydreams with “Banana Pancakes” and “Constellations.” It’s really beautiful, and the fact that he can celebrate happiness and truth through folk music, easily sets him apart from his contemporaries.

28 November, 2006

The Innovators

In our computerized world, technology changes rapidly. Ten years ago, everyone used VHS tapes and CDs which have now gone the way of the 8-track, cassette tape, and vinyl record. The internet generation’s MP3s have created controversy in the music business. The industry first struck back by causing the fall of the giant free file-sharing services. “The innovators” who saw the potential for instant music access turned file-sharing into file-downloading, and the legal availability of instant access has recently caused multiple large music chain stores to shut their doors (as well as the small independents that are rarely mentioned.) The other reason these music superstores have fallen is that the freewheeling facade that has been the “face” of the music industry since the mid 20th century was finally destroyed. There is absolutely nothing “freewheeling” about rich men suing kids for stealing music, and many people just don’t feel comfortable buying music from “the man.” Unfortunately, people don’t seem to understand that the music business is a business. When iTunes has a total stranglehold on the market, then we’ll see who’s the new “man.”

Personally, I was an early adopter of legal downloading services and I understand the charm of immediate access and availability. You can log into iTunes and buy an album as soon as it’s available, and there is no possibility of it being sold out. You can also preview all of the tracks on the album, which is a giant step up from deciding to buy a CD based on the cover art. In my opinion though, in gaining immediate musical gratification, you lose some of the art. I still buy actual hardcopy CDs much more often than I download CDs, and the reason for this is that I miss the tangible object when I download. Besides just listening to a CD, I like to read the lyrics and thank yous from the band, and pour over the artwork. Maybe I’m old-fashioned, but I enjoy having a real case for my CDs, not a piece of computer paper folded into an envelope with poorly drawn hearts on the cover. I also like the idea of buying CDs at artist’s shows, where you can actually talk to the people who get your money. Despite the numerous reasons for buying hardcopy CDs, now that people have embraced the idea of downloading, there’s really no going back. Instant gratification is the catch-phrase of my generation, and iTunes has packaged that in a very attractive and sleek way.

Yet, new innovators are always on the horizon, and the innovators in this case are the artists themselves. Harvey Danger, the band best known for their neurotic hit “Flagpole Sitta” has released their latest album “Little By Little” in stores and online, but not in the usual way. To get their music out in the world, Harvey Danger offers their latest album as a completely free download on their website, but also gives the music-lover a chance to purchase their album through their online store. The “physical version” includes a bonus disk and there are different level packages that include t-shirts, stickers, and buttons. In this way, Harvey Danger is giving their fans immediate access to excellent music and the ability to buy their CD straight from the source. You can read Harvey Danger’s well-written reasons for making their new CD free on the Harvey Danger website: http://www.harveydanger.com/press/why.php

Another extremely talented and innovative band has taken the reigns with its musical freedom, and this band’s name is Lucero. With their new CD “Rebels, Rogues & Sworn Brothers”, Lucero has been advertising a promo-special where you can buy a hard copy of their new CD through their website and receive an instant digital download. The cost of the CD is only slightly more than a download from iTunes, and you receive immediate access to very good music, a CD in the mail, some rad pins, and the good feeling you get when you do something worthwhile.

It’s always worthwhile to support great music, especially when you can cut out the middlemen who make the music less of an art. There is nothing wrong with making money from music if you’re distributing a good product and not taking advantage of people, and Harvey Danger and Lucero have enough faith in their product that they are willing to take chances. This is what innovators do, and, in my opinion, these artists are the next innovators in the flailing music business.

We Got the Beats

We music connoisseurs like to think that we’re always discerning when it comes to our musical choices, but loud music and the need to dance sometimes override our best efforts. We’ve all been in that position where our “closet music” starts playing on the radio and we just have to turn it up. Many of us have also been in a situation where a member of an older generation questions the propriety of a beat or lyric. Yet, despite the belief of much of the population over twenty, not all hip-hop is composed of breakneck beats and bad-ass lyrics (not that those songs aren’t fun too!) Like any musical genre, hip-hop has gone through many transitions and survived the power of many sub-genres. The most popular artists aren’t necessarily the best or the most interesting, but sometimes their music is fun. Like all music, hip-hop has a huge number of artists doing different things, and plenty of hip-hop music is worth listening to for more than just beats. The following artists are definitely worth your time:

Edan from Boston is a master of flow and sound. His music and lyrics are interesting, and they work well together, unlike some hip-hop music where the music and lyrics either battle for superiority or are both less than interesting. Beauty & The Beat showcases Edan’s rhythmic and lyrical prowess.

Lupe Fiasco is the skateboarding rapper of 2006, complete with a punk-rock name. Despite the fact that “Kick, Push”, the first single, talks about being a rebel on a board it showcases smooth horns more reminiscent of late-night jazz than ska. The rest of his album, Food & Liquor, is equally smooth with more R&B and neo-soul influences than hip-hop. Lupe Fiasco remains a rapper throughout the album, but keeps his hard edges smooth with an R&B sound.

Delinquent Habits make Latin rap that sounds very different from Daddy Yankee. The band rarely raps in Spanish for a whole song, yet their sound is very “south of the border.” Their music includes horns, guitars, drums, and the occasional well-crafted beat, and is reminiscent of laid back Ozomatli. Delinquent Habits’ lyrics are usually about partying, and their thick beats are perfect for a party soundtrack.

Psalm One is a female MC who celebrates her femininity. It’s a rare artist who understands that being female just comes down to being yourself, and equally rare are female rappers who feel comfortable dropping a rhyme without putting on a show. Psalm One seems both comfortable with herself and with her rhymes. She throws around tricky lyrics with power, and she throws them over interesting beats.

Atmosphere is the political rapper in this bunch. He can drop heavy lyrics over mad beats, like a hardcore kid can scream over shredded guitars. Besides his amazing flow, Atmosphere writes lyrics that mean something. He discusses hip-hop culture (“Trying to Find a Balance,”) life’s disappointments (“Pour Me Another,”) and just trying to make it (“The Arrival.”) Like every artist listed here, Atmosphere has a distinct sound that separates him from the popular rap crew. Atmosphere has a very even and exceptional sound, easily throwing around difficult lyrics over tight music.

21 November, 2006

...You Say You Want A Revolution

Some of the most powerful and empowering music discusses the idea of being trapped in your own or others' preconceived notions. Sociologically speaking, we live in a society that imposes boundaries and restrictions and some great music speaks of bumping against, and in some cases bursting through those barriers. Revolution can be both internal and external, and is more celebrated in contemporary music than you may realize. When you feel trapped, listen to the music and it will free your mind.

“To Have and Have Not” by Billy Bragg

This song addresses the separation of classes and the disconnect between people that results from this separation. The people who can “...afford to pick and choose...” have a greater advantage in the working world and do not always understand that everyone does not have this advantage. The most touching lyric: “...just because you’re better than me, doesn’t mean I’m lazy. Just because you’re going forward, doesn’t mean I’m going backwards.”

“Start Now” by Rancid

A call for unity to end war and violence. The chorus is clear, “I’m not looking for a fight now, and I don’t care who’s wrong or right now, so release the dove into flight now, so we can start right now...” Let’s get past our differing ideologies and work together for the common good.

“Video” by India Arie

Clearly about female body image and the struggles women go through to create a certain outer appearance or to combat that compulsion. India sings the age old question “Am I less of a lady if I don’t wear pantyhose?” and then counters with the thought that so many strong women share; “...my mama said a lady ain’t what she wears, but what she knows.” Beautiful, empowering, and spiritual.

“Waiting On the World to Change” by John Mayer

A song addressing our personal ability to change the world. John Mayer questions the apathetic title that has been placed on his generation, “ Me and all my friends we're all misunderstood. They say we stand for nothing. There's no way we ever could. Now we see everything is going wrong with the world and those who lead it. We just feel like we don't have the means to rise above and beat it.” He’s waiting, but when his time comes he’s ready to change the world.

“Won’t Get Fooled Again” by The Who

This song speaks of revolution, but takes a different view of the resulting change. The entire song is summed up in the last two lines, “Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.”

“Smells Like Teen Spirit” by Nirvana

Filled with teenage angst and sung in the mumbling tones of adolescence, Kurt Cobain uses the internal unease of that “most wonderful time of your life” as a metaphor for the feeling of not quite fitting the mold. This song truly showcases all of Cobain’s genius taking you into that world of boredom, apathy, and uncomfortable physical changes that make teenagers such a misunderstood creature. Cobain heightens this idea of differences by naming four odd things, things that seem very out of place, “a mulatto, an albino, a mosquito, my libido.”

“La Vie Boheme Pts. 1 and 2” by the Cast of RENT

A true celebration of differences and a grocery list of eclectic traits and nonconformist attitudes. “To going against the grain, going insane, going mad...to being an us for once, instead of a them!”

“Who’s Gonna Take the Weight?” by Gang Starr

Besides having impeccable flow, Gang Starr’s lyrics have a point. Another call for unity, but this time it’s especially directed towards the African American community; “... and just imagine if each one is teachin' one we'll come together so that we become a strong force, then we can stay on course. Find your direction through introspection and for my people out there I got a question, can we be the sole controllers of our fate? Now who's gonna take the weight?”

“Soar” by Christina Aguilera

Christina Aguilera belts a song about self-acceptance, independence, and strength in the face of major conformism. Again, the high school experience is the perfect setting to showcase differences, since changes and differences are always on center stage. The overwhelming moral is to believe in yourself, even if no one else does, because you’re the one that matters.

14 November, 2006

A Few of My Favorite Things, Vol. 2

The hills are alive with the sound of music, and I happen to be a big fan of musicals. I don’t understand what the big deal is anyway, in some ways showtunes are just the anti-hardcore; concise and understandable lyrics to beautiful music. Showtunes’ very structure is what makes them perfect for soundtracks, they’re music that furthers the story and entertains.

“Beauty & the Beast (Soundtrack to the Disney Motion Picture)” Composed by Alan Menken

Besides being just about the best animated Disney movie ever - obviously I’m quite a fan! - the music is also just amazing! In the style of the best Broadway shows, the music enchants while the lyrics entertain and all is made perfectly easy to understand so you can sing along, if you wish. The ensemble tunes are some of the best, while of course, Angela Lansbury outdoes herself with the big love-story number “Beauty & the Beast.” Personally, I enjoy Angela Lansbury’s version of the title-track much more than Celine Dion and Peabo Bryson’s, but at the end of the soundtrack even that unneeded cover is added on for good measure.

“RENT (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)” Composed by Jonathan Larson

I went to see this movie last year around Christmas time, and at first I thought ‘Wow, this is different.” For the next few weeks until Christmas I found myself humming the songs, even breaking into full-out vocals at times. I finally got the soundtrack and couldn’t get it out of my CD player for months, in fact I just started listening to it again after a month-long hiatus and the music is still amazing. The best thing about this musical is that the sentiment of the songs does not become dated, even if the constant references to AIDS get a little over the top. Also, the score is one of those rock scores that holds up. The music is layered and well-played and doesn’t sound like something out of a bad ‘80s movie, and the vocals never fail to bring tears to my eyes. It’s funny how you can fail to notice great music when it’s right under your ears.

“Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” Composed by Howard Shore

The best of the three movies, if only because of its emotionally cathartic ending, “The Return of the King” also has the best score. I’m assuming that it was Peter Jackson’s decision to leave the overlong “battle songs” that plagued Tolkien’s books out of the movies, but I applaud Howard Shore for backing up his decision. These soundtracks could have gone very wrong if we suddenly had Legolas and Gimli breaking into songs about slaying Orcs, but instead we have a very insidious and subtle score. The music really creeps up on you when you listen, sometimes everything sounds peachy and the heroes will save the day, and then slowly that doubt creeps in and you remember Golem and Sauron. Howard Shore had to really understand the feeling of the movie and have the ability to translate that feeling into a coherent score to create this beautiful music, and I think he pulled it off extremely well.

“Fiddler on the Roof” Composed by Jerry Bock with Lyrics by Sheldon Harnick

One of my favorite musicals because of its exceptional use of the emotional bond between parents and their children. Tevye is a truly good man trying to care for his family in a time of extreme change. Out of this story line we get such gems as “Tradition”, “Sunrise, Sunset”, “Anatevka”, and my personal favorite “Far From the Home I Love.” It is an underrated masterpiece with amazing music.

“The Sound of Music” Composed by Rodgers & Hammerstein

Julie Andrews’ voice is amazing and anything she sings is beautiful, but this musical is really perfect for her voice. The story line is most definitely Rodgers & Hammerstein, a fairy tale worthy of Disney, but a musical or movie for that matter does not need an unhappy ending to be worth viewing. Sometimes it’s all right to like something because the music is good and the story is entertaining. I’m not endorsing the new Paris Hilton album, but I do think it’s a shame that more people can’t enjoy a good musical just because it’s fun. The story isn’t all rainbows and waterfalls anyway, I mean the Nazis are involved, and some of the music strikes a deeper chord. This isn’t a shallow musical, but it is a very good fairy tale.

07 November, 2006

...These Are a Few of My Favorite Things Volume 1

In some ways I think of all the music I listen to as a soundtrack; the soundtrack to my life. So, when choosing the music I listen to on a regular basis I can be very picky. If you are a true music-lover you know there is a time and place for every song, and sometimes finding the perfect song for the perfect moment takes a little searching. These following soundtracks are my personal favorites and make up the first volume of my Favorite Soundtracks list. The composer or compiler truly understood what it meant to need that perfect song and went out of his/her way to find music that fit a moment in time and on-screen. Here they are:

“Grosse Pointe Blank” Compiled by Joe Strummer

This, in my opinion, is one of the most finely crafted soundtracks I’ve ever had the pleasure of listening to. Joe Strummer outdid himself with these picks. There is not a bad song on the album! The late, great Mr. Strummer brings you back to the ‘80s for John Cusack’s high school reunion, but magically pulls together a baker’s dozen of authentically ‘80s songs that don’t suck. Actually, in all seriousness this album is excellent and underrated, the music is well-mixed, all of it is good, and the album includes a nice sprinkling of hits to keep you singing along.

“Garden State” Compiled by Zach Braff

I know, this album has received a ton of press backing and it probably doesn’t need my voice added to the collective cheer, but it really is good and I can’t leave a good soundtrack off this list. I was very slow to jump in, given all the hype surrounding the entire “Garden State” project and I wouldn’t touch the soundtrack with a ten-foot pole. I’ve obviously changed my mind about this album somewhere down the line and this is why: The movie made me sad, it really did, and I was afraid of watching it because I knew it was going to be sad, but the thing that really struck me as I watched was how seamlessly the music and the movie went together. It reminded me of a John Cusack movie because the music is always very important in his movies, but somehow the sound never supersedes the story. The story and the music flow.

“Pride and Prejudice” Composed by Jean-Yves Thibaudet

I’ve already written a fairly lengthy endorsement of this soundtrack in this blog, so suffice it to say that Jean-Yves Thibaudet creates music that at once evokes another time and connects to the time the listener inhabits. It’s gorgeous.

“Daredevil” Composed by Graeme Revell and Various Artists

This soundtrack that launched the Evanescence explosion is highly underrated as compared to some of its comic book contemporaries, but is certainly the cream of the crop. This not a smattering of disjointed hits like the Spiderman soundtrack, but a finely crafted hard-hitting rock album that fits the movie well. Even if you’re sick of hearing Amy Lee wail on “Bring Me To Life”, you’ll love her voice in this movie.

“Marie Antoinette” Compiled by Sophia Coppola

It’s funny how sometimes when you least expect it a soundtrack really surprises you. I was almost certain the music in “Marie Antoinette” would be well-crafted music of the period, but these 26 underground gems really flesh out the idea of the pouty princess. New Order, Gang of Four, and The Cure are not names you’d expect to find in Marie Antoinette’s repertoire, but find them you do on this soundtrack that very much evokes modern day royalty with a touch more class (Hilton + Princess Di = Kirsten Dunst.) Sophia Coppola had a vision and you can really tell by how well she compiled this music, it is most certainly a labor of love and a joyful experience for the ears.

31 October, 2006


HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

24 October, 2006

Falling for Fall Out Boy

I tried not to like them, believe me I did. It’s ridiculous how far I went to ignore their music. For at least two years I’ve been changing the station on the radio and ignoring Fall Out Boy, the band many music connoisseurs love to hate. I could lie to my readers and tell them I find Fall Out Boy’s music trite, their emotion false, and their love of incredibly long song titles lame, but alas I’m an honest person. I enjoy listening to Fall Out Boy. Finally it’s out, and the real question isn’t why do I like them, the real question is why do I feel so guilty about liking them? Peer pressure is many times more of a problem around indie music lovers than around their pop music counterparts. I know I’m personally guilty of laughing at other’s music choices, but I usually try to give everything a fair shot.

To elaborate on my point here’s a little personal anecdote: One day I was talking with a close friend about music. As we were discussing our feelings about Fall Out Boy another friend (an annoying one:) made the comment that “Fall Out Boy is the worst band ever!” Unfortunately, this friend will not listen to reason (it has been proven that the title of worst band ever goes to The Locust not Fall Out Boy, but I digress.) At a later date I had the pleasure of a good laugh when this same friend who claimed that “Fall Out Boy is the worst band ever!” revealed that he knows all the words to Warrant’s “Cherry Pie” which happens to be one of his favorite songs.

I guess the real point of this story is that music is what you make of it. Your musical tastes are built upon your personal interests, expectations, knowledge, and experience and in the end, it all comes down to what your ears like. There’s no point in trying to change your feelings about music because you believe others will perceive you in a certain way. Screw what others think! Put on your headphones and turn up your Fall Out Boy (or Warrant for that matter.) Keep your ears and mind open to different sounds and different opinions, but make up your own mind about the music you love.

Boo!: A Sort-Of Halloween Playlist

Despite the fact that I’m a giant baby when it comes to scary movies (I couldn’t sleep after watching “Signs”) I enjoy Halloween. Maybe I’m a masochist or maybe I just like the idea of changing yourself for one night. The possibilities are endless and you get free candy! In honor of this crazy holiday I’ve created a playlist of songs that remind me of Halloween. Not all of the songs are spooky and you won’t find most of them on a Halloween compilation cd, but they all remind me of the otherworldliness of that final night in October (MWAHAHAHAHA.)

“Evil” by Interpol: Maybe it’s just me, but everytime I here this song I can see zombies rocking out to that crazy steady bassline. Certainly evil.

“Dead Man’s Party” by Oingo Boingo: The title alone conjures pictures of skeletons in party hats. This song also makes me think of the Death Day party in “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets”. Quick trivia question: Which member of Oingo Boingo went on to spooky soundtrack fame? Danny Elfman of course!

“Teenagers from Mars” by the Misfits: The underrated horror-punk band of the ‘80s sing about teenagers from mars. Also check out the Network’s cover of this song.

“Supermodel Robots” by The Network: With sirens blasting in the background, what could be creepier than starving supermodel robots? The Network are the kings of dress up. It is rumored that three of the members are Green Day in disguise.

“Fashion Zombies!” by the Aquabats: A really weird and cool band singing extremely Halloween worthy tunes. This song is making fun of goth/emo kids everywhere with a thinly veiled (barely veiled) metaphor. Just check out some of the lyrics:
“...So lock those doors and windows
They crawl the malls to shop
For tight black jeans and spiky belts
and scissors for the Zelda cut
and there is no explanation
These creatures are just victims
Dressed in expensive fashions
To look like they crawled out of coffins...”

“Going Under” by Evanescence: This whole album freaks me out so much that I can only listen to it on sunny/extremely happy days. Don’t listen in the dark!

“Gone Daddy Gone” by Gnarls Barkley: These guys have a great love of Halloween masks which they seem to wear for every photo-shoot. This song was originally done by the Violent Femmes, and although it isn’t spooky per se, I find that everything Gnarls Barkley does scares me a little (in a good way!)

“Knights of Cydonia” by Muse: Starting off with the ominous sound of horse hooves and lasers (?) this song is pure eerie fun. Although it does remind me more of cowboys than knights, it definitely makes me pause and listen hard every time I hear it on the radio. Listen to the lyrics, they’re great.

“Dragostea Din Tei (Original Romanian)” by O-Zone: The only scary thing about this song is how much I enjoy listening to it! Oh yeah, and it’s in Romanian which, surprisingly, is not as scary as I had imagined.

“How Soon Is Now?” by The Smiths: Morrissey man, he used to be so weird now he’s just depressing, but that isn’t really the point. This song is great with a loooong intro. It always makes me think of that part in “The Wedding Singer” when Linda comes back, and that’s hands-down the creepiest part of that movie.

“Just Like Heaven” by Dinosaur Jr: They took an already eerie Cure song and made it weirder with all kinds of spooky distortion. I love it!

“Bat Country” by Avenged Sevenfold: This song is just so cool, and the drummer and guitarist are AMAZING. Even if you don’t want to listen because of the massive MTV video play check it out, I promise you won’t be disappointed.

17 October, 2006

Everything you need to know about...Lydia Vance

Lydia Vance is a new band from Las Vegas. I recently corresponded with lead guitarist Brendan and asked him a few questions about the band. These are definitely guys you should check out. In the short time they’ve been together they’ve written some very solid material, and they certainly have the talent to continue writing and growing as a band. Lydia Vance is:

Brendan on lead guitars & vocals
Travis on guitar & vocals
Jarred on bass
Aaron on drums

It was a pleasure interviewing Brendan. Here is the transcript for your entertainment; everything you need to know about Lydia Vance:

Music Snob: So, it’s great to be interviewing you! How long have you guys been playing music together?

Brendan (Lydia Vance): 4 months.

MS: I can definitely hear punk in your music, along with rebel country and grunge influences. These genres are known for their artist's scorn of fame and disinterest in money. What do you guys want from music? Would you like to “make it big”?

Brendan (Lydia Vance): All we want is to have a career and longevity. We want the band to be our full time job. If we make it big, that’s a huge plus.

MS: Besides the influences you mention on your site (Thin Lizzy, Squeeze, Elvis Costello, and Johnny Thunders) what artists, movies, books have influenced your music?

Brendan (Lydia Vance): Me personally, I'm a big fan of bukowski and jd salinger as far as books go. I love all kinds of movies, huge fan of christopher walken. He’s pretty much the greatest man alive.

MS: What is it like to be a band living in Sin city? Are you getting more attention with the recent fame of the Killers and Panic! at the Disco?

Brendan (Lydia Vance): Vegas is Vegas. There’s always been a lack of all age venues, something that makes it incredibly hard to thrive as an up and coming band. But somehow we always find a way to make do. Of course with the killers and panic's success it has had the industry buzzing quite a bit around here, but that has had no affect on how we do things.

MS: Any local band recommendations?

Brendan (Lydia Vance): Jr. Anti Sex league.

MS: Do you have a favorite venue in Las Vegas/the World? What do you like about it?

Brendan (Lydia Vance): There are no real venues left in vegas, besides say the house of blues or the joint. We have yet to play out of town, so as far as other clubs, I’ll keep you posted. haha.

MS: Will you be touring soon? Any plans for an album?

Brendan (Lydia Vance): We will probably be touring extensively in the months following the release of our ep. The ep comes out in November and is entitled "Fight Fire With Kids On Fire". Pick it up.

MS: How do you guys go about the song-writing process?

Brendan (Lydia Vance): I usually write all the songs, and then it builds from there.

MS: What are you trying to say with your music?

Brendan (Lydia Vance): That life is fucked up, and you’re not alone with your problems.

MS: If you could play any instrument other than your own, what would it be?

Brendan (Lydia Vance): Drums!

MS: The Stones or the Beatles? Why?

Brendan (Lydia Vance): Beatles, more hooks.

MS: Is there anything else the public should know about Lydia Vance?

Brendan (Lydia Vance): We make good house pets! Thank you to all our friends and fans, and anyone who supports us. And especially YOU for interviewing us!

Songs about Books

Music and literature have influenced each other for a long time. “The Odyssey” is one ancient example of how music has been used to spread classic stories. In the 20th century, music and literature began to grow apart, as the major art forms diverged and multiplied into many separate genres. Recently, there has been less celebration of classic literary works through song as musicians become more involved in their own stories (which are many times equally interesting.) Even poetry has lost its mainstream popularity, as the rich rock star became the preferred hero of teens and adults everywhere.

The classics of music and literature remain to be interpreted in interesting ways by both writers and musicians, and it is completely appropriate that celebrated contemporary literature be expressed through music. Some recent artists are taking part in the long history of telling classic tales through music. These musicians take the most celebrated and exciting literature of the last decade and express these timeless stories in song, and they do this with flare and originality.

Take, for example, the Gothic Archies. The Gothic Archies are best known by kids and their extremely fortunate parents who listen to Lemony Snicket’s “A Series of Unfortunate Events” on tape. The Archies are lead by Stephen Merrit of the 6ths and Magnetic Fields, but the Archies are somewhat more musically dark than these other bands. This is not to say that the Archies’ music is depressing, although that seems to be exactly the point of songs with titles like “Smile! No one cares how you feel”, “The World is A Very Scary Place”, and “Scream and Run Away.” These songs are actually filled with dark humor, like Lemony Snicket’s books. The monotone delivery and the echoing music recalls Joy Division and only adds to the creepy fun of the Gothic Archies’ songs. Most of the lyrics revolve around the trials and tribulations of the Baudelaire children, the heroes of “The Series of Unfortunate Events.” I would recommend that any fan of Lemony Snicket’s books listen to the Gothic Archies, and that anyone who isn’t a fan of “The Series of Unfortunate Events” buy the new album “The Tragic Treasury”. The music really does complement the books, but it is just as interesting on its own.

Another example of literary rock stars are local cult favorites, Harry & the Potters. As their name implies, the Potters sing about the magical adventures of one popular boy wizard. They’re surprisingly good at what they do, capturing the pressures of adolescence that are so prevalent in the Harry Potter books and turning them into finely crafted rock songs (including a lighter friendly ballad “Save Ginny Weasley.) The number of bands influenced by the “Harry Potter” books is immense and not surprising given the book’s popularity. A quick search of Myspace shows such wizard-worthy musicians as; Ginny & The Heartbreakers, The Whomping Willows, The Hungarian Horntails, The Parselmouths, Dobby & The House Elves, The Moaning Myrtles, Romilda Vane & The Chocolate Cauldrons, The Wands, The Bandon Banshees, and Hollow Godric among others. Harry & The Potters even have an evil nemesis band in Draco & The Malfoys who proclaim “Evil Wizard Rock Love!” on their Myspace homepage.

It is obvious from the sheer number of musicians interested in writing about contemporary classics that the interpretation of literature through music is not dead, and has even forged new territory with the celebration of excellent children’s books. People are still being effected everyday by stories told in books and in song, and music and literature continue to effect and influence each other greatly.

10 October, 2006

The Boston Dolls

The Dresden Dolls are not a new band, in fact they’ve been the underground darlings of the Boston alternative scene since at least 2004. Known for their niche market of German influenced punk cabaret, the Dolls put on an exciting live show and write interesting, humorous, and catchy rock songs. “Coin-Operated Boy”, “Girl Anachronism”, “Sing”, and “Backstabber” are played regularly on local radio stations, and the Dresden Dolls have won numerous BMAs, were mentioned in Rolling Stone magazine, and recently toured with the MTV love-boys Panic! At the Disco.

Despite their popularity in such a seemingly normal city as Boston, the Dresden Dolls consistently push the envelope with their songwriting. The Dresden Dolls combine the catchiness of Broadway with the nonconformist tendencies of punk rock, and a passion for thought-provoking lyrics with a certain flare for drama.

Amanda Palmer who’s in charge of piano, vocals, and lyrics, and Brian Viglione on drums are audacious and dramatic, crying out for your attention like a goth kid with food coloring blood stains painted under his eyes. Bold is a word that readily comes to mind when listening to the new single “Backstabber”, Amanda Palmer’s feminist anthem to the male chauvinists of the rock world that is as powerful and poignant as anything Kathleen Hanna (Le Tigre) has written. Yet, what really captures your attention as you listen to the Dresden Doll’s music isn’t the boldness of the songwriting and delivery, but the echoing emptiness between the loud statements. The staccato beats of the drums and the percussive use of the piano and vocals leave an emptiness around the music, and, like the best literature, the white space that surrounds the sentences is just as important as the written statement.

The Dresden Dolls do not create flavor of the moment music, they are serious and challenging and they have a message beyond the obvious dress in black and shave your eyebrows. The Dresden Dolls are trying to say something and they deserve your attention, so open your ears and listen to the whole song.

03 October, 2006

Welcome to the Circus

The musical circus that is. A place where vocal acrobats take hold of the microphone and everyone seems to be acting like a clown. Justin Timberlake is sounding more like Michael Jackson by the day (not necessarily a bad thing!) and The Killers have somehow turned their Las Vegas glam-rock into slightly harder glam arena-rock with lyrics about small-town life (not something I’m complaining about.) Even if you’re enjoying the recent carnivalesque musical landscape, it’s nice to know there are a few bands you can always count on to be weird.

The Lemonheads: These guys have been around for a long time, and the latest incarnation just dropped a self-titled album in September. Evan Dando writes pop-punk that is probably most reminiscent of the Smoking Popes; pretty, witty, and charming. This new incarnation is as good as the first. Dando delivers his lyrics with the sound of vocal boredom (perfected by NPR news anchors) and throws in a psychedelic riff or two. “The Lemonheads” sounds like the kind of album you’d listen to at a party in Munchkinland where everyone is pogoing and singing along in a high voice.

The Munchkin Party Anthem: “December”.

The Hold Steady: I’ve mentioned this band before, but they’re worth mentioning again. Craig Finn delivers his mostly spoken-word vocals with a certain anger and cynicism that pays homage to Jello Biafra, and although the lyrics are not as politically clever as the Dead Kennedys’ they are clever in their own way. The Hold Steady include minute details in their songs; old friend’s names, code-like references to personal incidents, things that I could never hope to fully understand. The truth in these songs; feelings of teenage angst, boredom, anger, and confusion, resonate loudly despite and perhaps because of these individualized tales of youth. The point of the album seems to be that despite the differences and the details, everyone feels these emotions when they’re growing up.

Best Teen Anthem: “The Swish”

The Go! Team: Combine spastic cheerleaders, cartoon theme songs, and the Supremes and you get The Go! Team. This band seems to be trying to convey the message of sunny, happy people chanting over backbeats everywhere. Basically, The Go! Team is the only band I’ve heard who can pull off such a quirky genre combination and not sound ridiculous. Not that ridiculous is necessarily bad, it’s just that these guys retain their street-cred while they’re screaming like cheerleaders. Now that’s talent.

Best Hip-Hop Cheerleader Anthem: “Ladyflash”

26 September, 2006

Rock Me Amadeus!

I can’t think of a time in my life when I didn’t know the name Mozart. Mozart is to classical music what Elvis Presley is to rock n’ roll, and yet for the longest time I knew next to nothing about the man and his music. His music is practically inescapable in our pop-culture world and I wouldn’t have been able to name one of his symphonies a year ago if you’d asked me. It’s sad, but although I’m a huge music fan I’ve never taken a real interest in composers until just recently. I think this is probably true of a lot of people in my generation, we can tell you the high school nickname of Kurt Cobain, but our musical knowledge of the time before the late 1950’s is seriously lacking. This is why I’m going to introduce you readers to the great composer, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

To fill in a few blanks Mozart was born in December of 1755 in Salzburg, Austria to extremely devoted parents. His father, Leopold, was a musician who worked for the archbishop of Salzburg and encouraged his son from an extremely young age to pursue a musical career. Amadeus was a child prodigy, a genius if you will, who composed from the age of five. In his short life-time (he only lived to 35) Mozart composed an astounding number of works large and small, including the famous operas Le Nozze di Figaro (the Marriage of Figaro) and Don Giovanni.

Musicians at the time were not expected to write music to express themselves, they were expected to write entertaining pieces that captured the spirit of emotion. I don’t believe that Mozart always wrote music coldly, as a way to capture emotion instead of expressing it, especially since his pieces can soar happily or be completely heart-wrenching, yet he was not expected by his peers to express his own emotions. We can never truly know what Mozart felt while he was writing, but it is fun to speculate as you listen to his music.

A few of my favorite Mozart pieces are:

Symphony No. 25 in G Minor, KV 183 (173 dB): Allegro con Brio

Figaros Hochzeit KV 492 (The Marriage of Figaro): Overture

Serenade No. 13 in G Major, KV 525

Symphony No. 40 in G Minor, KV 550: I. Allegro molto

Sonata for Piano No. 11 in A Major, KV 331: Alla Turca, Allegretto

Concerto for Piano and Orchestra No. 21 in C Major, KV 467

Sonata for Piano No. 16 KV 545: Allegro

These are all popular pieces and you might be surprised by how many you’ve heard before. If you’re really intrigued by Mozart’s music you should also watch the movie Amadeus. It’s a gorgeous movie and there is some truth to it, but much of the story told in the movie is unreliable as a biography. Just watch and listen for fun. Even if you aren’t a big classical music fan, I swear you’ll have fun listening to Mozart.

Brandi Carlile

With little originality in the singer-songwriter genre lately it is refreshing to hear Brandi Carlile, a musician who fits perfectly into the singer-songwriter category but has a raw sincerity that’s lacking in much of the genre.

On her self-titled debut, Brandi exhibits raw vocal talent, the product of self-training, and an emotional sincerity that lend truth to her music. Her songs are perfect for fall rides, full of country imagery of rolling prairies and tall green grass set to a soundtrack that would be welcome on any Prairie Home Companion. On standout songs like “Throw it All Away,” “Closer to You,” and “Tragedy,” Brandi’s voice brings to mind the late, great Johnny Cash, who seems to have influenced this beautiful collection of tracks. Though Brandi Carlile is a native of Washington state, her music lacks any hint of grunge influence, which bodes well for Brandi whose voice soars on the light sound of acoustic guitars and stringed instruments.

The 23 year old is finishing up a tour and may be in the studio now recording her follow-up album. Miss Carlile holds much promise as a new artist, and will hopefully continue to make great music for years to come. You can listen to tracks from Brandi Carlile’s debut and read more about Brandi here: Brandi Carlile.

19 September, 2006

Teenage Rock Gods

Listening to Gone By Daylight's 2005 record "Love Grooves" for the first time you can't help but think that Blink-182 influenced these boys in a big way. The pop-punk catchiness and the lyrics about love, lust, and broken hearts seem trite on the first listen, a pity because the true strength of the album lies in the band's ability to quilt songs from different types of rock including pop-punk. But behind the catchiness is a depth of songwriting that can only be found in a band that knows its music history. The seemingly simple blues guitar sound in a live set or the crackling riff that finishes off "Girl Without A Soul" are rock staples that harken back to the kings of blues (Muddy Waters, Robert Johnson) whose music influenced the guitar gods (Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Page) whose influence, in turn, can be heard in the music of Gone By Daylight.

The most endearing thing about Gone By Daylight isn't their ability to craft these songs that are so comfortable (like your favorite jeans!) No, the thing that really makes you love these boys is their ability to carry this history lesson live, and make it incredibly fun to participate in. Live Gone By Daylight not only pays homage to rock gods, but also to all the kids who ever wanted (are wanting now) to be rock stars when they grow up. There's something about these guys that instantly makes you think of the 10 year old doing Pete Townshend windmills in his bedroom mirror and every 14 year old boy who ever said to himself 'what would Eddie Van Halen do?' These things make Gone By Daylight a fun band live and I'm sure an excellent party band. They have the humor and the class to match their stage antics and a knowledge of music history that adds depth to their songs, plus who doesn't like a little old-school rock charm mixed with their punk? It makes live shows that much more interesting.

Interactive Reviews

Just a little update for anyone who's noticed the recent changes in this blog!

I've been working on an idea for awhile to create more of a local online music community that doesn't revolve around Myspace. It will include interactive reviews which are comments on this blog, comments on my reviewing prowess, recommendations from peer readers, etc. It should make things more fun around here.

This blog has evolved so much in a year, from open pour-your-heart-out diary (most of those posts are deleted) to a music review/recommendation site, and now it will be more interactive.

Watch for updates in the future and thanks for reading!!

-Music Snob

12 September, 2006

Boss Volenti & my new LOVE

I was cruising Myspace and I found this Dublin band that sounds like it should come from Cali or Washington, but definitely not Dublin. They just sound like Dublin (I don't really know what that is, but I suspect Irish accents are involved.) Check 'em out! They have a cool sound, pretty straight-forward rock 'n' roll, but something you can shake your ass to. Listen Here: http://www.myspace.com/bossvolenti

I guess I'm slow on the uptake or something, because I finally found THE SHINS!!!

I've known about them forever (it seems), but I've been kind of slow to jump into that soft, creepy-like-a-ghost-town sound that they have going on. Now, I want all of their albums including the one they're releasing in January. "New Slang" is obviously an amazing song, and I've heard it for years, but it never really struck me until I watched "Garden State."

Zach Braff changes things I guess...so I have a little crush, so what? Let me get back to my Shins, and if you haven't REALLY listened yet, go out and buy the album (Oh, Inverted World.) Wicked awesome.

- Music Snob

02 September, 2006

29 August, 2006


Every once in awhile you hear that song where the vocals stay with you. The singer doesn't have to have the best voice, in fact classically trained voices rarely make me feel that rawness. You know the ones I'm talking about. You save them for rainy days and broken hearts. They send shivers down your spine and make you cry.

"Kozmic Blues" by Janis Joplin
I had to start the playlist with Janis, for raw vocal emotion there is no one to match. "Kozmic Blues" is a gem, take a listen.

"Your Eyes" by Adam Pascal (RENT)
This song never fails to make me cry. You think I'm a baby? Listen to the damn track.

"Don't Think Twice It's Alright" by Bob Dylan
Out of all the amazing material Dylan writes this simple song makes me feel more than anything else. Maybe the man let his guard down just a little bit, just enough for him to seem human instead of an immortal legend.

"Hurt" by Johnny Cash
The Man in Black put so much of himself into this cover, when I listen to it I always forget it's a cover.

"Everything Reminds Me of Her" by Elliott Smith
Intensity is a word that always comes up when Elliott Smith is mentioned and this song is very intense. Elliott's voice cracks with the intensity.

"Hallelujah" by Jeff Buckley
Lush, gorgeous. I love Leonard Cohen for writing this song and I love Jeff Buckley for immortalizing it.

"Will You Love Me Tomorrow" by Carole King
Tapestry is an amazing album, Carole King's masterpiece. Although this song became cheezified in Dirty Dancing the sentiment and feeling are strong enough to overcome anything that threatens its beauty.

"The Needle and the Damage Done" by Neil Young
It speaks for itself.

"The Prayer" by Charlotte Church & Josh Groban
Two of the few classically trained vocalists who can really stir emotion. This song is just amazing.

"Dandelion" by Antje Duvekot
"You were looking for an orchid and I will always be a dandelion."

"Mrs. Potter's Lullaby" by Counting Crows
"If dreams are like movies, then memories are films about ghosts." I LOVE ADAM DURITZ!

"Radio" by Rancid
Some will say that Tim Armstrong has a bad voice, I say think about the years of long nights of cigarrettes and alcohol and then listen to "Radio" Raw punk angst.

"Sweet Jane" by the Cowboy Junkies
Another cover that changes the entire feeling of the song and makes it their own.

"Fuck and Run" by Liz Phair
Liz Phair when she was good. Liz Phair when she was raw and edgy. Liz Phair before she sold out.

"Within Your Reach" by The Replacements
Watch Say Anything and then tell me this song isn't great. I love how they make the guitars sound like airplanes.

26 August, 2006


Rancid was in my area the other day and I'd planned to see them (why not, they're like an old friend! hahaha) Why don't plans work out when you really want them to?

Now, I'm walking that thin rope between letting things happen to me and planning out my time on this earth. It's tough to do, because it always seems like everyone else is doing the opposite. But why not do the opposite of everyone else?

Sometimes the hardest road on your feet ends up being the easiest on your soul.

And I always have my constant companion and comfort, music!

If you're feeling semi out of touch or just confused by the rotation of the world check out these tracks:

"Communist Love Son" by Soltero

This song is cool because it's ultra low-key, like early Elliott Smith. The sentiment is real and the ideas aren't cliched which is always a plus, in fact the sentiment works perfectly with the quiet guitar strumming. Also, the lyrics are pretty awesome because you can take them seriously (seriously sad) or you can laugh at them (seriously funny.)

"...and if you're ever less than certain, I will be your Iron Curtain. I will be your Berlin Wall and I will never fall."

"Light The Sky" by Liqdzunshine

I like this band because the singer has kind of a hard funky voice that's juxtaposed over soft R&B beats or harder rock/hip-hop beats that sound like Rage Against the Machine. Also, you can't go wrong with these lyrics, they fluctuate from fun and groovy to hard-hitting political ideas.

"...I can blow the sun off his axis and get rich people to pay taxes..."

"Right Where It Belongs" by NIN

My brother turned me onto this track. I listen to a ton of NIN, but usually early stuff and I haven't listened to all of With Teeth yet. This song is really pretty in a hauntingly creepy way. The piano sounds like it's climbing. I'd love to hear it live.

"...What if everything around you,
Isn't quite as it seems?
What if all the world you used to know,
Is an elaborate dream?
And if you look at your reflection,
Is it all you want it to be?
What if you could look right through the cracks,
Would you find yourself...find yourself afraid to see?"

"Subbacultcha" by the Pixies

Off Trompe Le Monde (that freaky Pixies album none of your friends own with the claymation eyeballs on the front. Yeah, you know the one.) "Subbacultcha" what a freakin' awesome song. It's like the Pixies said we're so freaking cool without trying to be that we're gonna make fun of all the people who try to be cool like us, and then they did it.

"...i was all dressed in black
she was all dressed up in black
every thing was fine down here
what you call it here
call it what you will here
way down in this

"Too Drunk to Fuck" by Nouvelle Vague

A cover of the psycho spazzy song originally done by the Dead Kennedys. When the DK's do it, it's hilarious, when Nouvelle Vague does it, it's sweet and bubbly and very very French pop sounding.

"...I like your stories
I love your gun
Shooting out truck tires
Sounds like loads and loads of fun..."

"Sink, Florida, Sink (LIVE)" by Against Me!

There's nothing like this song live with drunken fans screaming the "Whoa whoa oh oh oh oh oh" in the background. Live Against Me! in the dark lonely night is priceless.

"...and we sink and we drown
and what is lost can never be found..."

"We Care A Lot" by Faith No More

This '80s hit couldn't get any better. Big bass, funky vocals, punky lyrics. It should be on the soundtrack to a John Cusac movie, actually I think it already is.

"...oh it's a dirty job, but someone's gotta do it.."

"I'll Take You There" by The Staple Singers

You know you've heard it a zillion times, maybe when doing something cool (or maybe just when watching one of the plethora of commercials that use it to sell shit.) Even if you heard it on a commercial for erectile disfunction meds it's still a killer song. This is the kind of music that makes me want to go to church, real, gospel singing church, not stuffy clothes incredibly uptight and uncomfortable people church.

"...Oh, oh, mercy
(I'll take you there)
Oh, let me take you there
(I'll take you there)..."

28 July, 2006

So I know this girl...

...And she's pretty freakin' cool. I expect to hear about obscure/cutting edge (not to mention excellent) music when I talk to her. She told me about this dude, Mason Jennings, who writes these amazing amazing songs. I happened to be in a bit of a sad/contemplative/evolving mood and I needed to hear something beautiful, so I threw this guy's album, Boneclouds, in my CD player and quickly listened to the beginnings of 11 songs (all of which rock, btw.) One intro really struck me, and I'm still trying to figure out if some of the chords are directly from "Stairway to Heaven", but basically that's not the point. Basically this song, "Which Way Your Heart Will Go" spoke to me directly and totally fit the situation and mood I'm in.

Isn't it weird how things work out that way?

23 July, 2006

All I wanna do is write a stupid song...

My All-time favorite Stupid Songs (a list to laugh at)

"Chewing Gum" by Annie
"Cherry Pie" by Warrant
"Apache" by Sugarhill Gang
"Dragostea Din Tei" by O-ZONE
"She's Tight" by Cheap Trick
"Sugar Sugar" by The Archies
"Dirty Little Secret" by All-American Rejects

^fun, fun, fun...closet classics, anyone?

08 July, 2006


My all-time favorite band plays an awesome song while acting like fools...What more can you ask for?

Videos by vMix Member:

07 July, 2006


I just found a gem of a video while searching for old Weezer mp3s. Check out the video for "Buddy Holly" on www.aolmusic.com

Weezer is a band that is not necessarily reliable musically, but some of their stuff rocks. My all-time favorite Weezer tune is "El Scorcho." I love the lyric about the Green Day concert...

10 June, 2006

Pride & Prejudice by Jean-Yves Thibaudet

The soundtrack to the latest rendition of Jane Austen's book Pride & Prejudice is as gorgeous as the movie. If that statement seems ambiguous watch the movie (and by the way it's GORGEOUS!) The soundtrack builds off haunting piano tracks and tunes perfect for holding grande balls, and creates a world that threatens to wrap you up and consume you within its reality. It excites all the right emotions for the movie at exactly the right moments, and besides being completely wonderful soundtrack music, it is also gorgeous on its own. Striking all the right chords (literally), creating the perfect dramatic tension, rising to the occasion, ending with catharsis, and in between being just amazingly beautiful, this is the soundtrack for rainy days and solemn nights, for sunny mornings and long summers, the falling of autumn leaves and mid-afternoon naps, this is the soundtrack for life!

02 June, 2006

Survey Time, baby!


1. Pixies
2. ZOX
3. Apollo Sunshine
4. Green Day
5. Rancid
6. Led Zeppelin
7. The Specials
8. Operation Ivy
9. Cast Of Rent
10. Bob Dylan

What was the first song you ever heard by 6?
The first one I remember was "Communication Breakdown" one night driving with my dad at like 1 am. There's nothing better than loud Led in the middle of the night in a fast car, these things are what rock 'n' roll's about.

What is your favorite album of 2?
Take Me Home.

What is your favorite lyric that 5 has sung?
Toughy, but it would have to be "you can take my money, you can take my time, but you can't take my heart it's in the city behind."

How many times have you seen 4 live?

What is your favorite song by 7?
"Little Bitch".

What is a good memory you have involving the music of 10?
Watching the rockumentary on PBS and realizing how much I love the music and how annoyed I am by the man.

Is there a song of 3 that makes you sad?
"Fear Of Heights", but it's more of a happy/sad feeling that cannot be described in words.

What is your favorite lyric that 2 has sung?
"I know if I fall I'll call out to you."

What is your favorite song by 9?
"Another Day." It's just amazing the way the song climaxes with all of the music and feeling and the voices battling in unison (if that makes sense?). Amazing.

How did you get into 3?
I heard them on the radio, and then this guy I liked wore their t-shirt.

What was the first song you heard by 1?
"Where Is My Mind?" at the end of Fight Club. Mind-blowing.

What is your favorite song by 4?
"She", the percussion rocks.

How many time have you seen 9 live?
Well I've never seen the play, but I've seen the movie twice.

What is a good memory you have involving 2?
Seeing them live (which you can read about in this journal btw ;) My favorite part of the show was when Spencer dedicated a song to "All the people who thought the only way in this place was up all those FUCKIN' STAIRS!!" You kinda had to be there to get the joke.

Is there a song of 8 that makes you sad?
No. Op Ivy is pretty much celebratory/angry music, not sad music.

What is your favorite album of 5?
Nevermind. I know it's a cliche, but I love that album.

What is your favorite lyric that 3 has sung?
"not like the green so high above and below, now I am an airplane, am an airplane, oo-ee-oo-ee-oo!"

What is your favorite song of 1?
Hey/Debaser/Where Is My Mind?

What is your favorite song of 10?
Don't Think Twice It's Alright

How many times have you seen 8 live?
They broke up in the late '80s! So I guess the answer to your question would be zero. Zero times, baby!

What is your favorite album of 1?
Surfer Rosa.

What is a great memory you have concerning 7?
Playing DDR with my cousin to Little Bitch.

What was the first song you heard by 8?
Knowledge. But I actually heard the cover by Green Day.

What is your favorite cover by 2?
Where Is My Mind? by the Pixies. I wish I had written that song, freakin' amazing!

23 May, 2006

April showers bring May flowers, what do May flowers bring...Apollo Sunshine

The concert started off with a rainbow. I guess that's a good sign. I've heard that some awesome Grateful Dead concerts started with a rainbow. But, even with the rainbow, Apollo Sunshine didn't have the electric energy I've usually found in them live. Yes, they were missing their 4th member (Sean Aylward) and yes, they'd just finished up a bunch of cross-country touring, but this Apollo wasn't the spirited band I love.

The music was amazing, as always. They started with "Today Is The Day", a staple that could get any crowd movin', and progressed through many songs from their first album "Katonah" and their latest, "Apollo Sunshine."

"Flip!" was a big hit, along with "Phony Marony", "Lord", "Phyllis", "Bed", "You and I", "Fear of Heights", and "I Was On The Moon." They played a few lesser known songs from "Katonah", but always kept the energy up with the audience (including a frosh-mosh pit.) The energy in Apollo's music is so tangible, it was sometimes a bit of a shock to the crowd to pass from "fast-upbeat" to "slow-melodic." Even some longtime fans felt these quick changes. I saw one guy rockin' out one second (singing all the words) and then looking confused a minute later.

The room was cramped, and hard to dance in, but that didn't stop anyone, and a couple of fights arose because of the lack of space. Jesse Gallagher, usually the ring-leader of Apollo Sunshine, seemed completely oblivious to the scuffles. In fact, the whole band acted as if the audience wasn't even there. Jesse spoke only a handful of times during the entire performance, mumbling song names, and half-heartedly showing us how to do the "Phony Marony."

Where were the stage antics? Where was the energy? The band looked tired when they came back for an encore. I was upset at first, hadn't I only seen them last fall, swinging their guitars (drum-sticks) with intense energy? I'd been so impressed, realizing it was probably the best performance I'd seen in the last year. This performance in comparison was horrible, maybe understandable for other bands, but not for my Apollo Sunshine. Of course I'll give them the benefit of the doubt and I'll be back at the next show they play.

08 May, 2006


The other day I had a conversation with some friends about all-girl bands. After much discussion and debate we could think of only a few great all-girl bands and a few really bad all-girl bands. Why is the all-girl band so uncommon? There are a ton of amazing female artists. Here's the list of the good, the bad, and the ugly...


The Supremes
Le Tigre
Indigo Girls
The Runaways (Joan Jett..."Cherry Bomb" anyone?)
Obviously Aretha, Janis, Chrissie, Bonnie Raitt, Brodie of the Distillers, Patti Smith, Liz Phair (early stuff), Mazzy Star, that girl who sings "Sweet Jane" for the cowboy junkies, Kim Deal, Alanis, various other amazing female artists, but where are the all-girl bands?


The Donnas (Meh...I DO enjoy them.)
Spice Girls
The Pussycat Dolls
Destiny's Child
Obviously Lindsay, Hillary, Gwen Stefani (solo), Britany Spears, Madonna (pisses me off), Dixie Chicks, Macy Gray, Avril, etc.

Any of your own additions? Leave me a comment!

05 May, 2006

Cruisin' down the street in my 6-fo...

Dynamite Hack have been around for awhile. You need to keep this in mind as you read the next paragraph. They aren't the NEW thing. Oh, no.

For the last few nights I've been hearing Dynamite Hack's song "Boyz-N-The Hood" on the radio. I guess it was requested a ton last week (weird how things happen like that...) Here's the thing, IT'S HILARIOUS! Everytime I hear it (middle of the night!) I have to stifle intense fits of laughter. What's really weird is these people I hang with (some would call them "friends") have been quoting lines from this song all week long. Maybe there are Aliens messing with our minds, or maybe everyone just has their radios tuned to the same station. I guess I'll have to investigate further...

02 May, 2006

Soldiers...not what you're thinking

I've got a few band recommendations today.

The Rock "N" Roll Soldiers:

They've been on the scene for a while now, rockin' alt radio. Last year when I heard they were playing nearby my reaction was "mehh" (Do I really care? Kinda the way I feel about the Strokes.) Anyhoo, I decided to give their music another shot when I surfed by them on Myspace. "Anthem" is catchy, if not substantial, but there is an actual guitar solo in the middle. The vocals get a little grating, but sometimes they make me nostalgic for the days when production on Indie albums was shit (oh wait, for many it still is.) Wow, the sarcasm in this section is biting. I guess my main recommendation is that you check them out if, like me, you thought "mehh" when you first heard them playing on your radio. They're better than "mehh"...if only slightly.


Yes, more white-boy hip-hop (BUT IT'S SOOO GOOD.) I'm long-overdue reviewing this boy. What can I say? He makes great music. Check out the albums, Magnificent City Instrumentals and Deadringer. Very good instrumental hip-hop.


I try not to buy into hype, and these guys have received a ton of it (Not Arctic Monkeys ton. More like White Stripes ton.) I just listened to "Dimensions" and I must say that I like the music. It reminds me of Led Zeppelin through a pile of guitar mud. I'm a self-proclaimed "led-head", but Wolfmother pulls off the Zeppelin sound without being too good. What I mean is, they definitely don't have Jimmy Page's guitar, and although the vocals sound somewhat like Robert Plant, they never reach his intensity. Lyrically, Wolfmother is kind of boring. Their music is catchy and sometimes you get a glimps of Led Zeppelin through the muck, but otherwise stick to the real deal!!

11 April, 2006

Warped Tour Preview '06

Who else is excited about Warped Tour '06? If you aren't apparently you haven't seen the tentative line-up on the Warped Tour site.

Here are some of my personal highlight bands:
Against Me!
Bouncing Souls
Buzzcocks (?!)
Gym Class Heroes
Joan Jett & The Blackhearts (again, ?!)
Less Than Jake
The Living End
The Pink Spiders
Plain White T's (Thanks to my friend for "tuning me in" to these guys early!)
Rise Against
State Radio
and potentially Gogol Bordello & Flogging Molly!!

The only thing that could make this better is if Rancid makes a special guest appearance (unlikely. I can wish, can't I?)
Actually there are quite a few things that could make it better (like the resurrection of Jimi Hendrix) but we'll let that slide for now.

14 March, 2006

Strive Roots

I was going through my early morning iTunes New Music Tuesday routine, reading through the celebrity playlists and checking out the new albums. I was more than pleasantly surprised to find that Hannah Teter's (!) playlist included this band, Strive Roots. I can't believe I'd never heard of them before. They literally rock in a very funky way.

I immediately Googled and Myspaced them followed by a frantic download of their new album, Bio Resonance Therapy. It's all very good, a nice mix of reggae, funk and rock (think Chili Peppers with slightly better lyrics and a lighter sound.) Really, the only thing to say is that you should check them out and they should be touring pretty soon!

"Nolite bastardes te carborundorum!"


05 March, 2006

A New Movement

From Oakland to San Francisco the Bay Area of California has long been a musical mecca. A place of new musical movements where everyone from the Grateful Dead to Green Day got their start. About a month ago while I was band surfing on Myspace I came across a band called Street To Nowhere from Oakland, CA. Their Myspace homepage was nothing special, but the music I heard while reading their bio was an intriguing blend of punk rock attitude and strong musicianship with a decidedly indie lo-fi sound (Elliott Smithish.) This style was both strange to hear and strangely refreshing, a far cry from the emo-punk and pop-punk that has lately been monopolizing the alternative radio stations. Skimming over Street To Nowhere’s bio I came across this message “There’s something going on in the Bay Area” followed by a list of local bands that are pushing the boundaries of punk music. True, Street To Nowhere may not be the next Green Day and their indie lo-fi/instrumental punk may not be the next pop-punk, but they are certainly creating a sound of their own along with some of their Bay Area friends:

Two Gallants: A little awesome, a little country, completely interesting. These men are creating a unique sound with their folk-with-a-punk-edge lyrics and country instrumentals. Think The Clash meets Old 97’s.

The Matches: This band succeeds in being both completely hilarious and completely cliched. Very straightforward pop-punk.

Audrye Sessions: Punk rock for the Coldplay generation. Quiet, pretty, and yet lyrically challenging. In the words of the prophet Jello Biafra “Punk’s about thinking for yourself.”

Push to Talk: Bringing in The Cars new wave punk attitude, this band screams ‘80s. Yet, as you listen their music it grabs you like Chicago’s Smoking Popes. Fluffy on the outside but with an edge.


20 February, 2006

The Hate Game, Pennyred, Scars Like Ours, Eulogy XL

The large room stuffed with comfy couches and tables slowly filled with goth and emo kids dressed in black and ready for some head-banging.
The Hate Game played first, starting off a little hesitantly, but quickly launching into their fun and fast catalogue of tunes. What they lacked in popularity they quickly made up for with stage presence and spunk, and the dance floor soon had small crowds of dark-clothed teens nodding their heads in approval. The first act is always a tough one, but the Hate Game did an excellent job revving up the crowd for the rest of the show.
Pennyred was on second, playing from their 2005 CD The Citystate Falls, a conceptual album following the Greek myth of the gods Apollo and Saturn. Although the concept is a little over the top it works for the band, who took their melodic punk-rock to an intellectual high as they played out the Greek dramas.
Scars Like Ours the locally well-known hardcore band played third. Everyone found a place on the small dance-floor to watch Max (guitarist) play barefoot, Glen (vocals/bass) smash around and jump on tables, Chuck (vocals/guitar) scream into the mic, and Gabe (drums) smash out some excellent rhythms. The boys put on quite a show creating an atmosphere dark, angry, and sarcastic and reminding me more than a little of the Alkaline Trio. The highlight of the show was definitely the end of Scars Like Ours set where all hell broke loose, the mic Chuck was singing in died and Glen threw his bass to the floor and dove into the drum set while Gabe was still playing the drums. Talking to Glen and Max after the show I found out that they’re working on their second album right now (they played a few new songs during the show) and won’t be playing shows regularly until about April.
Euology XL put on quite a good set too, slowing the music down a little after all the excitement of the Scars Like Ours set. The band has an album out now with a dark sound that reminds me of Nine Inch Nails. Ironically (or appropriately) enough the best song in their set was a cover of “Terrible Lie.”
Altogether an excellent show where four local bands showcased their talents and proved that punk rock is certainly not dead.

17 February, 2006


Hey people who read this blog!!

Check out MC Lars if you want a good time. I meant a musical good time, but you guys knew that...lol.

Anyhoo, I think I shall go buy his album...RIGHT NOW!!!! This very very second, because it is that good.

Peace love & all that jazz!

"Nolite bastardes te carborundorum"

Time For Biting by The Dents

The Dents are a female fronted Boston punk band known for their excellent live performances and their scathing commentary on love, friendship, and “the scene”. The Dents’ first full-length album, Time For Biting, is a whirlwind of punk rock music that is both extremely catchy and well-polished for such a young group of musicians.
The Dents, like Social Distortion before them, are straddling the fence between all-out rock ‘n’ roll and punk music. Songs like the bouncing opener “One More Time” show the punkiness of The Dents, almost leaning towards a California hardcore sound with the opening guitar riffs. The Dents real punk attitude shines on “Too Late”, an angry DIY anthem aimed at the conformists and nay sayers of punk music. Yet, it is on the fun, almost Guns ‘n’ Roses sounding “Not Through With You” that The Dents begin to embrace their total rock ‘n’ roll side complete with a guitar solo.
Although musically the songs are interesting and well-polished the lyrics are rather trite and most stick to the formula of an angry breakup album. The few songs that move away from the angry breakup formula are some of the most interesting on the album, including the aforementioned “Too Late” aimed at punk-poseurs, and the almost pretty sounding “Goodbye” that talks about a friendship gone bad. “Better Off” is one of the breakup songs that shines on Time For Biting, bringing a Riot Grrrl “I don’t care about him” attitude to the lyrics that makes it all the more powerful. Frontwomen Jennifer D’Angora and Michelle Paulhus alternately share vocals and bring a slurred anger to the music that adds a much needed bite to the overall sound of the music.
The Dents have an extreme amount of potential, with a tight rhythm section, good vocalists, and a powerful, angry sound, making Time For Biting a good start to what will hopefully become a long and interesting career in Boston’s music community. With a little lyrical fine-tuning, the Dents should be well on their way to underground success.

"Nolite bastardes te carborundorum"

11 February, 2006

I'm Not Okay (I Promise)

Sorry for the lack of updates as of late. I've had very little to report, although the music community is as alive as ever.

If you guys need a good laugh check out Butch Walker's Cover Me Badd-EP. He does a live cover of Since U Been Gone which is slightly hilarious while also savoring all the yummy pop goodness of the Kelly original (yes, I like it. Sue ME!)

I think I should probably plug Scars Like Ours, 1. Because they freakin' rock! and 2. Because two people I know, know Max (the guitarist with a mohawk.) They're definitely fun.

If you want something weird and oddly danceable check out Gogol Bordello. I'm officially in love with Eugene Hutz (AMAZING) and the rest of the band's unique, Eastern European/Dub/Punk/GYPSY flavored music.

"Nolite bastardes te carborundorum"

23 January, 2006

Stoodio53 - Mixtapes

The other day I was on iTunes randomly searching for free music in the form of podcasts (yay podcasts!) and I came across Stoodio53 mixtapes. There are about 9 of them that you can download off iTunes right now, and as I said they're free (premixed) music. The mixtapes vary, because they're mixed by different DJs, but generally stick to pretty straightforward underground punk, rock and pop. You can also find information about some of the artists, DJs, and setlists on the website linked above. I've listened to three so far, and my personal favorite was #7 (mixed by djMoo.) It's an eclectic mix including a song by Ween called "Push th' Little Daisies" that sounds like a breakup song sung by Cartman of South Park. Yeah, that weird, in fact so weird and ridiculous that it's also hilarious.


22 January, 2006

Lights & Sounds - Yellowcard

I began streaming this album off Myspace with low expectations. It seemed to me that the success of "Ocean Avenue" had propelled Yellowcard to heights undeserved. The album Ocean Avenue was a lackluster effort that didn't do justice to the energy found in the single. I was very pleasantly surprised when this latest endeavor proved to be a much more cohesive and interesting group of songs than those found on Ocean Avenue. To me, Lights & Sounds realizes all of the potential I'd heard from Yellowcard when listening to their last single "Ocean Avenue". The band has tightened their sound while also opening up to the insanely catchy melodies that make their singles such hits. The first few songs are a whirlwind of sound and pattern that blend nicely together while still remaining individually recognizable. "Down on My Head" is an excellent segue into the album after the crashing "Lights and Sounds". Yellowcard then lightens the sound a little with the nice "Sure Thing Falling", and embraces a soft melodic country twang with "City of Devils". "City of Devils" is one of the highlights of the album, with it's gorgeous sound and brokenhearted lyrics it resonates clearly with the feeling of loss that drives the album. Everything on the album runs smoothly until Yellowcard hits a speed bump with the seemingly well-meaning but underwhelming antiwar song "Two Weeks From Twenty". The lyrics on “Two Weeks from Twenty” are below the standard set by the rest of the album, and sound childish in comparison. Luckily, after this speed-bump the album jumps back up to the upbeat melodic pop-punk that makes Yellowcard so hard to ignore. Lights & Sounds is definitely a fun album, and in my humble opinion a huge step up from Ocean Avenue, both lyrically and musically.

19 January, 2006

"For every prohibition you create, you also create an underground" -Jello Biafra

"The Manifesto:

Music isn't about what shirt you wear or how ripped your pants are. Music isn't about the pins and patches you wear on your designer messenger bag. Music isn't about proving how much cooler the bands you like are to other people. Music isn't about a certain body type. Music isn't about being fat or thin. Music isn't about how many friends you have or the large crowd you hang out with. Music isn't about censorship. Music isn't about headlines and the cover of Rolling Stone magazine. Music isn't about being signed to a major label and getting a million dollar advance. Music isn't about different hair colors and different shades of eyeliner. Music isn't about social status or standing. Music isn't about being intimidated by what other people think. Music isn't about press shots and planned photo shoots and lead articles in Alternative Press.

Music is about being yourself. Music is about the visceral feeling you have that can't be summed up by anything but the butterflies in your stomach. Music is about finding a way to connect people with thousands of different backgrounds with one note or word. Music is about combining the mental, aural and visual. Music is about being eclectic and open-minded. Music is about growing and being experimental and different with the next note that comes out. Music is about the first amendment. Music is about screaming along with your favorite band from the first row. Music is about not giving a fuck what other people think. Music is about being both influenced and influential. Music is about standing for something you believe in. Music is about saying something, anything meaningful. Music is about connections. Music is everything."

-Stolen Bike Crusade

Does anyone else think this ^ is AMAZING??!!! I do. Friend Stolen Bike Crusade now, and you will not be disappointed.

18 January, 2006

Vampire playlist

Yeah, so I just read this sweet book by Robin McKinley called Sunshine. It's all about vampires and the supernatural and kinda pulls apart the whole idea of good and evil and in between. The main character Sunshine ends up falling in love with a vampire and he sort of falls in love with her too. So I've been thinking a lot about Vampires and stakes and coffins, etc. I don't really believe in vampires, but if they did exist I think this is the kind of music they'd listen to:

"Heart-Shaped Box" by Nirvana
"Crown of Love" by Arcade Fire
"The Man Without Fear" by Drowning Pool & Rob Zombie
"Stained Silver" by Cave In
"Lost in the Supermarket" by the Clash
"The Suffering" by Coheed & Cambria
"Zombie" by the Cranberries
"Lovesong" by the Cure
"Going Under" by Evanescence
"Absurd (White Wash Edit)" by Fluke
"Everlong" by Foo Fighters
"Thirteen" by Johnny Cash
"Black Dog" by Led Zeppelin
"Extreme Ways" by Moby
"Helena" by My Chemical Romance
"Hey Hey My My (Into the Black)" by Neil Young

03 January, 2006

New Year!

HAPPY 2006!!!!

So, yes I know it's been 3 days since it became the New Year, but I was busy doing New Year's things.

Surprising news of the New Year:

Weathermen are wrong (why is this surprising? I don't know. Yet we continue to plan our lives around false forecasts.)

The new Strokes album doesn't suck. It's not really my thing, but it doesn't suck like I thought it would. Given the suckiness (IMHO) of their last two albums this is probably one of the most surprising surprises of the New Year.

I still like the Spice Girls. I know, slightly lame since I listened to them when I was (what?) eight. Their music isn't bad, it's kinda catchy. Almost makes me wish I hadn't thrown away their albums....almost....

Anyway here are all the confessions of the New Year you guys need to hear. I hope you had an excellent celebration (even the lurkers.)