Sep 30, 2003

np: cubs vs. braves, NLDS, game one

the eternal optimism of a die-hard fan strikes again as the Cubbies pull out a magical Septmeber, thanks mostly to Dusty's magic dust and the Brews knocking the shit out of the Astros in the last series of the season. it's an exciting time, to be sure, but one wracked with doubt. it's hard not to doubt a team that just barely squeaked into the post-season, but when the Cubs are on they are a force to be reckoned with. Kerry Wood and Mark Prior combine to help give the Cubs one of the best starting rotations that they have seen in years. and they've finally gotten some bats to back those on the mound up. i'm hyped as hell for this series and i wish i could have scored some tickets to the home game, but i'll stick with hoping for my threesome with Britney and Shakira - as that's more likely to happen. they did a story on the news that said it would be cheaper to buy a plane ticket, get a hotel room, and get a ticket down in Atlanta than it would be to just buy a ticket here in Chicago. doesn't really surprise me, but it sucks. all those rich North Shore Cubs fans and rapid fan base make it damn near impossible to score a seat without some real good connections. kinda funny compared to the relative apathy in Atlanta.

other than that, it's been a rough weekend sportswise for me. not only did the Beats get positively smoked in thier "new" Soldier Field debut by the hated Packers - but i also had to suffer my alma mater, the Fighting Illini, lose yet another one to those pesky Badgers. it's just hard to watch U of I suffer while seeing the NIU Huskies climb the polls to #17.

alright bck to the game, the Cubbies got two on.

Sep 26, 2003

marked like a wanted slab of beef, he slowly walked through the darkened hallway as if in a trance. his head hung slightly to the left, mouth agape. his dead, red eyes were fixed on the halo of green light surrounding the door fifty feet in front of him. a slow, low hum crept into his ears, keeping the time with his exhausted soul. his feet seemed to carry him forward with little regard to what the rest of his body was intent on doing. if he cared to explore it, he might have found the feeling a little exhilarating. but his mind was a blank canvas on which no one cared to paint anymore. including himself. deadened to the world, just the way he liked it. the way he trained it to become. no feeling, no pain, no anguish, no love. never caring for anything, never connecting with anything. that's why he normally would have found this journey towards the green light off-putting, since he never allowed himself to be distracted by feelings like curiosity. but his dead mind had been allowed to wallow undisturbed for so long now, that it had begun to make other plans. but all this was unknown to him as slowly continued towards the door. at the appropriate moment, his brain sent out the message to his muscles, causing his hand to reach out for the doorknob. sweat broke out on his brow as it touched the warm metal. this might have surprised him, but not this night. his hand twitched as his muscles forced up a rebellion against the brain, as they knew what was to come. but as per usual the brain quelled the revolution and forced the hand to turn the knob. instead of the door opening as one might have expected, it instead rippled and burst into shattering wood that went flying into his face and down the hallway. the sound would have deafened him if he had ever been inclined to listen to anything. suddenly his eyes regained their focus, watching the spinning projectile head towards his forehead in ever decreasing stop-motion. he realized what it was and suddenly his soul snapped to life and tried to overthrow the numbed brain. it was an intense struggle, but for once the brain was defeated. the soul screamed out in victory and redemption, but all the worn-out mouth could extract as the bullet tore through his forehead was a faint... "i want to feel"
np: "rise above" - black flag

so i'm reading one of the most enthralling books about music that i've read in a long time, Our Band Could Be Your Life: Scenes from the American Indie Underground 1981-1991. if you haven't read it, you should definately check it out if you have any interest at all in the independent music of the 1980's. each section is dedicated to one band, giving a detailed history of the band's indie years highlighted with thoughts from the members themselves and those dedicated to the scene. Black Flag, Sonic Youth, The Replacements, and Mission of Burma are just a few of the bands covered within.

while i'm at it, here's a few other music-related books i've read and enjoyed lately.

Let It Blurt: The Life and Times of Lester Bangs, America's Greatest Rock Critic
Old Gods Almost Dead: The 40-Year Odyssey of the Rolling Stones
Confusion Is Next: The Sonic Youth Story


Sep 22, 2003

np: "bowtie" - big boi

holy shit. this is album of the year worthy right here. this is most likely the most out there and best album i've heard all year, especially Andre 3000's disc. at first i was digging on Big Boi's half as my favorite, but suddenly in the middle of the instrumental cover of the jazz standard "My Favorite Things", it hit me how damn amazing Andre's side is. funk, soul, gospel, jazz, techno, rock... it's all here. i wish i had the words to do this thing justice, but i don't see either disc leaving my rotation for a long, long time. easily the hip-hop album of 2003.

Sep 20, 2003

np: "the ghost of a good thing" - dashboard confessional

i won't even get into the DC thing again. i like Chris and i don't feel guilty about it. because when it comes down to it, is it really any worse to like Chris Carraba for being cheesy and over-the-top than it is to like Andrew WK for the same reasons?
ranting aside, it is a beautiful fall day here in the northwest burbs. 70 degrees and sunny. i love autumn in this area, i'm going to have to make a trip down to Grant Park once the leaves change, i think it's beautiful to see the orange and red leaves framing the skyline. christ, maybe i shoudln't be listening to Dashboard now - i'm turning all emo and shit.
i made the trip to a local thrift shop this morning to dig through the vinyl crates. i didn't find anything too thrilling, but some things i couldn't pass up for 50 cents. ABBA's Voulez-Vous because... come on, it's ABBA and it was in really good shape. i also picked up a Dukes of Stratosphear album i had never heard, just because. and the other three i picked up mainly because the cover art is just so bloody awful that it rocks in a weird kinda way. the first two Boston albums, because those covers used to enthrall me as a child. and Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass' Whipped Cream and Other Delights. mostly because we just had a conversation at work about how this cover was the inspiration for the dude covered in clam dip on a Soul Asylum cover. take a look for youself. Herb Alpert and Soul Asylum. i love tribute covers like that.

Sep 19, 2003

np: "the aeroplane flies high (looks left, turns right)" - smashing pumpkins

in honor of the demise of Zwan, i'm listening to some of my favorite Corgan penned tunes of all time. i'm noticing i love the epics he's cranked out... "Drown", "TAFH", "Porcelina of the Vast Oceans", and the kick-ass live version of "Silverfuck" on Earphoria. but really, i want to talk about how fucking awesome the "Hey Ya" video is. seriously, that shit rocks my world. i don't know if it's the Love Haters, Dookie on the drums, or the girls shakin' it like a Polaroid picture... but definately one of the best hip-hop vids of the year. it's Outkast, should i expect anything less? i'm so hyped for the album, and i've been avoiding any of the leaked stuff until i can sit down and hold the actual album in my hot little hands. for now i'm plugged into Launch watching that video over and over and over again.... lend me some sugar, cuz i AM your neighbor. love it.

Sep 18, 2003

np: "dynamite" - ima robot

seriously, i've become addicted to this album in the last 48 hours. this is what this whole new wave of dancey/punk rock should sound like. catchy, funky, and fun as hell. i'm definately going to have to catch them live when i get a chance. on the other end of the spectrum, i gave the new Saves the Day album another chance, and i'll be damned if i don't hate it even more now. many of you would wonder what else i would expect, but it really is that horrible.

Sep 16, 2003

Ex-Girlfriends and Black Jettas
np: "12=3" - ima robot

alright, so it's been 2 weeks now without a reasonable update. and i'm not armed with a handful of excuses, i just have been struggling with where to go with this blog right now. i've been trying to keep it away from just being a journalish thing about my life, because honestly.. no one wants to read that all the time. i was kind of hoping to go with the music news and updates thing, but hell... this guy, this guy, and this dude all do it more often and far better than i have the time for right now. plus they got the hook-ups on those sweet looking designs that aren't blogger templates. so yeah, i'm kind of stuck as to where i can go with it. i kind of liked the review thing i had started, but i didn't feel they were in-depth enough to be worthwhile and i don't have the time to get that much more in-depth and update more than every week or so. and again, there are more sites out there that really do that reviewing thing pretty swanky.
but shit, i love music. i love thinking about it and it's always floating around in my brain. so i like the thought of having an outlet, but i'm stuck as to where to go right now.

and although i mentioned earlier that no one wants to read personal shit about me... here's a little bone for the old-school readers that sat through my bitching and moaning about being single posts. i'm actually seeing the most amazing girl right now, not too seriously yet - but it's been going strong long enough now that i feel pretty optimistic about things.

and to get back to the music, it was a decent little shopping spree for some new tunes today, so i'll share my thoughts on the things i picked up after the initial listens.

Saves the Day - In Reverie
ok, so i wasn't expecting much from this one. i saw them live once and used to enjoy Can't Slow Down and Through Being Cool back in the day. but now, Chris is over-reaching for Johnny Rzeznik type pop-glory and falls flat on his ass. and the endearing glimpses of teenage love anxiety that used to creep into his lyrics are completely gone, replaced with pure drivel. this one truly sucks.

Thursday - War All the Time
so sue me, i enjoy this sort of stuff from time to time... angsty without being completely overbearing, traces of melody, and better than average songwriting for the genre. this album is basically more of the same from the band, but a couple songs manage to expand on the sound established on Full Collapse and make for a decent listening experience if you are into the band at all. but if you hate 'em, this surely ain't gonna be the one to change your mind.

Ima Robot - S/T
picked this one up on a fluke, based on the positive word of mouth floating around the web and the sub-$10 price tag. and surprisingly enough, the most enjoyable disc i bought all day. it's more of that danced up punk that the kids seem to be into these days - think Hot Hot Heat type of stuff, but more fun lyrically. and damn if "Black Jettas" doesn't end up as one of my favorite songs of the year. fun, fun album.

The Rolling Stones - Sympathy for the Devil Remixes
this was exactly what i expected, a very hit and miss single. the Neptunes do an excellent job of subtley spicing up the original, with a more orchaestral ending and a kick-ass breakdown. the Fatboy Slim mix is pure crap though. he threw in some of his trademark blips and whooses that you find in about every single one of his mixes. it may work for the big beat shit he's used to, but it don't fly with the Stones in the least. the Full Phatt mix falls somewhere between the first two versions, doing a better job of spicing things up than Norman but really failing to make it an enjoyable listen like the 'Tunes. and of course, the original in all its glory finishes off the disc.

phew, and with that i'm out.

Sep 12, 2003

np: "i walk the line" - johnny cash.

so long Johnny, you will be missed. thanks.

Sep 3, 2003

np: "the lbs." - the delta 72
and then there were 9....
Bright Eyes gets the boot from the 2003 Shotlist Music Prize finalist list. apparently the album just recently broke the 500,000 sales mark, which is the upper limit for eligible albums. cool for Conor and all, but i really would have thought Turn On the Bright Lights was outselling Lifted.

Eponymous 2: Da Return
when i heard that R.E.M. was going to be releasing a greatest hits package for the post 1988 Warner Brothers years, i wasn't all that excited. i have all the album from that time period, so i figured there'd be no reason to pick up In Time. sure, there would be that obligatory new track to try and sucker me into buying it, but i would hold steadfast. well, after seeing the final tracklist - i'll be picking it up. two, not just one new track and two tracks from soundtracks that i never got around to picking up. here's the list, thanks to the 'fork for the hookup.

01 Man on the Moon
02 The Great Beyond [from Man on the Moon soundtrack]
03 Bad Day [previously unreleased]
04 What's The Frequency, Kenneth?
05 All The Way To Reno (You're Gonna Be A Star)
06 Losing My Religion
07 E-Bow The Letter
08 Orange Crush
09 Imitation of Life
10 Daysleeper
11 Animal [previously unreleased]
12 The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonite
13 Stand
14 Electrolite
15 All The Right Friends [from Vanilla Sky soundtrack]
16 Everybody Hurts
17 At My Most Beautiful
18 Nightswimming

damn, yo. nice to see Up and Reveal getting some love, but one track from Monster? come on, it was a good album. they've probably got room for one more song, throw on either "Crush with Eyeliner" or "Strange Currencies" and i'd be happy with it.

Split Personality Crisis
Paul Westerberg is back with two new albums this October, both under his own name and the Grandpaboy alter ego. Come Feel Me Tremble, under his own name, is due out Oct. 21st but no exact date give on Grandpaboy's Dead Man Shake. maybe they'll slip some copies in the initial pressings of Come Feel, like they did with the Stereo/Mono package last time around.

Rave On
picked up the new BRMC and Raveonettes discs yesterday. haven't gotten to dig into BRMC yet, but took the Raves for a couple of spins last night. nice, very nice. hoepfully more later tonight though.

Sep 2, 2003

Vendetta Red - Between the Never and the Now
Epic, 2003
buy it here

Seattle transplants Vendetta Red come with the goods on their major-label debut, combining the best parts of hardcore and (gasp!) emo to pack a pretty decent wallop. Obviously haters of the whole screamo tip will be biased from the start, but for a genre overloaded with crap – this is a pretty solid release. Lead vocalist Zach Davidson and company boil down the essence of hardcore and combine it with some mighty guitar workouts, and thankfully avoid the most clich├ęd of emo lyrics. A little darker and harder than your standard TRL punk fare, Vendetta Red proves the genre isn’t a complete dead horse just yet.

NOFX - The War on Errorism
Fat Wreck Chords, 2003
buy it here

NOFX goes political? Not quite, although Fat Mike acknowledges America’s sad state of affairs as a motivator for some of the lyrics on the new album. Despite the Bush-provoking artwork and liner notes, the good time elder statesmen of punk haven’t gone all Anti-Flag on the latest release. The boys manage to protest American politics, while gently swiping at the angry left at the same time. Throw in some classic NOFX tracks like “Whoops, I OD’d” and “She’s Nubs”, and a hilarious take on aging punks, the boys put out one of their more solid albums of the past few years.
10 Finalists named for 2003 Shortlist Music Prize:
Interpol - Turn on the Bright Lights
Bright Eyes - Lifted or the Story is in the Soil, Keep Your Ear to the Ground
Cat Power - You Are Free
Floetry - Floetic
Black Keys - Thickfreakness
Cody Chestnutt - The Headphone Masterpiece
Damien Rice - O
Sigur Ros - ( )
The Streets - Original Pirate Material
Yeah Yeah Yeah's - Fever to Tell

let's explore the process of elimination.

- Floetry, haven't heard this, so it's out.

- Cody Chestnutt, see above.

- Bright Eyes, i don't get this inclusion at all - and i'm a big Conor fan. but truthfully, this is one of his weaker releases. hell, i'd rather have seen the Desaparecidos up there.

- Damien Rice, a couple good songs - but mainly a slightly-better David Gray. meh.

- Black Keys, decent album - but just because it's a white duo, that doesn't make it groundbreaking blues.

- Cat Power, yawn. ok, that's a little harsh, but the more i (try to) listen to this album the more i scratch my head over the hype. girl can write a decent tune, but how about performing them like she cares?

- The Streets, the album was nowhere near as solid as it could have been. any album with filler should simply not be appearing on this list, and there's a fair share of crap layered between the great songs.

- Yeah Yeah Yeahs, another album that could have been much better. one of the minor letdowns of the past year, that's for sure.

and that leaves Sigur Ros and Interpol. i could argue the merits of either album deserving the $5000 prize, but in my mind it comes down to the album that is continually crawling back into my mind and my rotation. Interpol. yes doubters, it is that damn good. sounds like i'll have to get MTV2 before October 5th so i can watch the concert/award presentation.

thanks to Billboard for the 411.
np: "thunder" - wayne county & the electric chairs
a co-worker gave me a copy of the 10th Anniversary 1979-1989 of I.R.S. Records compilation today, and it's got some pretty cool shit on it. very early Police, John Cale, Cramps, English Beat, Magazine - neat little sampler.
i'm back after a little unexpected hiatus over the birthday/holiday weekend, and hopefully ready with more regular updates at this point. reviews of Vendetta Red, NOFX, Brian Jonestown Massacre, BRMC, and an expanded look at The Neptunes all hopefully to come within the next week.
for those that were wondering, it was a very good birthday weekend. had two most excellent nights of partying with the friends, a relaxing day with the family on Sunday, and i used the extra day to catch up on some housework and enjoy some new albums and quality bonding time with NCAA Football 2004 on my PS2.