Oct 28, 2003

np: "uncle mountain" - the fire theft

so it's been awhile without an update, i apologize for that. the weeks have been busy as hell with work and meetings and such, and the weekends have been spent mostly with the girl. i promise to be a little more regular with the updates now though, really. this past weekend was chock full of movie watching. not really planned that way, but that's how things worked out. Friday night started out with a viewing of The Italian Job, which was nowhere near as bad as i feared. Saturday night the girlfriend made me watch My Big Fat Greek Wedding since i had never seen it, and i have to say i wasn't really missing anything. it had its funny moments, but i don't get what all the hype was about. after watching her run a 5K Sunday morning, we spent most of the day avoiding the cold weather and watching even more movies. Not Another Teen Movie was stupidly funny and Bowling for Columbine was about what i expected from a Michael Moore film. i'm really torn on my feelings for him, especially with this movie. he is making some good points that need to be heard, but face it... he's just as good at spinning his side of the story as the White House is. you just need to think for yourself and get to the grey area between the two extremes. sounds pretty standard when i say it, but you'd be surprised at the people who eat up every work he says as gospel. later on Sunday night i finally broke down and watched The Matrix Reloaded. ignoring the annoying philosophizing and Reeves' horrible acting, it was a pretty good sci-fi action flick. the freeway chase scene was off the hook, but the hundred Smith brawl was weak. alright, enough inane blabbering about movies i finally saw about 6 months too late, onto the music. i decided to make up for lost time by putting up some capsule thoughts on some recent album purchases.

The Fire Theft - S/T yes it does get a little too proggy for my tastes, but about half the album actually works for me. it teeters on the thin edge between grandiose and ridiculous, and i have to credit him for actually giving it a shot. it's no Diary or LP2, but who would have wanted that?

Kill Hannah - For Never and Ever some of you might remember me hyping the shit out of this band after catching them live this summer. well, i still think this band has assloads of potential, but this album falls far short of showcasing it. the mixing is way off and the production seems a little too crisp most of the times. the biggest crime is the band leaving off some of the more rocking tunes they've perfected live in favor of dull also-rans. "Unwanted" and "Raining All the Time" are worth checking out, but please boys... put some "Hummingbirds..." or "Stunt Pilots" or "All That He Wants" on the next one. yes, they are old songs, but your major label debut should showcase the best of what you've perfected over the years.

The Shins - Chutes Too Narrow Oh, Inverted World was a complete surprise to me when i picked it up on a fluke late in 2001 and it became one of my most replayed albums of that year. the follow-up is just as sugary delicious and i don't think it's going to work it's way out of my changer for some time.

Oct 15, 2003

The Distillers - Coral Fang

So Brody Dalle (not Homme quite yet) jumps to the majors and decides she wants to be Courtney Love, exchanging the punk fury for a more polished sound this time around. The vocals are cranked way up in the mix and the grunge of the guitars is rubbed out in a nearly vomit-inducing studio sheen. This ain't the down and nasty Distillers you've grown to love. Song titles like "The Gallow is God" and "Drain the Blood" make you think Brody is up to the usual, but the anger and fury in her voice is replaced with a cliched wanna-be punk voice. Which is a shame, since her growling through songs like "Sick of It All" on the last album are what endeared her to the hearts of punk fans everywhere. Critics who bashed Brody for imitating Tim Armstrong's vocals in the past, may be heartened that she's changed her sound somewhat for this album - but for fans it's a disappoint to hear her croaking like a stoned Courtney Love. Girl, you had something going there. Did you want to sell out that bad? I normally hate using the term "sell out" in a review, but one can't escape the spectre of that idea running through this album - shimmering poduction, poppy melodies, and downtempo acoustic backed tracks lead one to believe she was shooting for a greater audience with this release. Not to mention the fact that the entire backing band has been replaced for the major label debut. The thing is, if she really is hoping for major stardom - few of these tracks are engaging enough to gain any momentum. Sure, some tracks like the title song and "Beat Your Heart Out" rock like the Distillers of old, but it's inconsitently enough to throw off the flow of the album. About the most engaging thing on the album is "Deathsex", the album closer - a 12 minute Sonic Youth styled distortion and volume exercise.
np: "the dream is over" - u2

and so the mantra of the lifelong Cubs fan comes around again, "wait 'til next year". meh. could i be anymore sick of saying that? it's so hard to watch them come this far and then choke like they always do, dropping a 3-1 lead in the NLCS. Farnsworth and Wood were both off their games tonight, and face it... the Marlins just played better ball. but the boys gave an exciting run at it and provided with some great reasons to tune into the playoffs. so now all i can do is root for the other cursed underdogs to beat the living shit out of the Marlins in the Series. i never thought i'd say it, but go BoSox.
np: "drain the blood" - the distillers

brody wants to be courtney? at least that's what the first couple tracks off of Coral Fang lead me to believe. crank up her vocals in the mix, add a little more melody, clean up the guitars. disappointing. but on to more important topics for now, ie - the Cubs.

what the fuck was that eighth inning last night? don't let the mindless morons lead you to believe it can be blamed on the fan who got in Alou's way of the foul ball. that was just the first in a series of blunders that buried the game for the Cubbies. Gonzo missing an easy grounder up the middle, Dusty intentionally walking TWO batters in the inning, or Farnsworth not being ready AT ALL to come into the game. it was just simply a horrid inning for the Cubs, and one that makes you wonder just how much truth there is to the curse of the billy goat. the Cubbies luck just turned so fast in that inning that it could have, and more than likely did, give fans the spins for hours. how could so much go so wrong in such a short amount of time? i wish i had the answers, but any of you out there who just started following Cubs baseball with this series can see just how much pain is involved in being a lifelong, die-hard fan. the fans out on Waveland were practically counting down the minutes until the celebration could begin, but maybe that's the problem. we're so desperate for the World Series to break the curse that we're beginning to count our chickens before they hatch. settle down and play the fucking game. don't worry about fan interference, don't worry about who's up to bat, just continue to play the excellent baseball you know you are capable of playing.

so i plea, Cubs players and fans alike, don't let this get you down. we aren't out of this thing yet. there's a game seven tonight and what could taste better than sweet victory served with a strong dish of revenge? we've got Wood on the mound, a rabid hometown crowd, and the motivation to kick some serious tonight. let's get it done.

Oct 13, 2003

np: "that young crazed peeling" - the distillers

this morning started off with a listen to Fever to Tell on the way to work, because yeah, i just missed Karen O a lot. still a strong album, one that grows more and more with each listen. work was largely a Mogwai kind of day, it just seemed to fit with the way i felt and the way the work day went... long hours of little to do, followed by short, massive bursts of rushing around the office like a madman. a friend hooked me up with a dope live show from 2001 last night, so i was all over that like stink of shit today, along with Young Team, Come On Die Young, and Rock Action. hey, whatever it takes to make it through a shitty monday after an extremely awesome weekend with the girl. the last three hours or work, all of it well past the 5 o'clock quitting time, forced me to break out the awesome Jet album on the way home. just perfect for rocking out with the windows down while speeding away from the shackles of the corporate world. but by the time i had gotten home the sniffling had turned into a full blown head cold, which was remedied by some medicine in the form of pills and Do Make Say Think's self-titled debut. it worked like a charm. after a quick dinner of Cinnamon Toast Crunch (THE dinner of champions) and a perusal of NME's review of the new Distillers album, i felt good enough to blast around the apartment to Brody's rantings and ravings. i would so marry that girl, if it weren't for that big and scary QOTSA dude. so here i sit rocking out to one of the last enjoyable punk bands, wondering what the jump to a major label will do to the band's sound on Coral Fang. in a bit i'm going to settle down for the night with a listen to the freshly burned installment of Pitchfork's We Are The World Mix Project 002.

Oct 8, 2003

np: "endlessly" - muse

it's not uncommon for a British band to proudly wear its influences on it's sleeve like this, but somehow Muse manages to go beyond the second-rate 1997-era Radiohead tag the band got slapped with after the debut album. it's big, boombastic, epic arena rock for the new decade and despite all that they aren't half bad. check out "Stockholm Syndrome" or "Sing for Absolution" off the new album, Absolution, and see for yourself. obviously someone thinks this band must be "too British" for America, as nothing since the debut album has been released domestically on this side of the pond. which is a shame, as they've improved leaps and bounds over the mostly tepid with flashes of brilliance debut. i caught them opening for the Foos and Red Hot Chili Peppers back during the Californication tour, but didn't really care for them all that much. i blame that mostly on being a poor choice to open for the Foos and Peppers, as both bands were out to rock that night and Muse was in more of an introspective kinda thing back then. i picked up the debut used for a couple bucks, and that was about all it was worth. i finally downloaded the follow-up, Origins of Symmetry, after seeing it hyped up by quite a few different people on varing message boards. i was pleasantly surprised by the growth of the band and grew to like that album. i've only heard the latest release once so far, but it's not a bad album by any means. kind of over-dramatic, but that's not always a bad thing. i doubt it will keep a hold on my like Symmetry did though. as for some stuff that IS available here in the States, i picked up some new releases i am looking forward to checking out....

Death Cab for Cutie - Transatlanticism: i've already heard this thanks to the leaked version, and so far i'm thinking it's one of the stronger albums by the band.
Jet - Get Born: i'm expecting this to be a fun little release based on what i've heard.
Hey Mercedes - Loses Control: i was a fanatic Braid fan, having gone to school in the band's homebase during their heydey, so i've been keeping up with Bob Nanna's progress over the years, but this one completely snuck up on me when i heard it was out. AMG says it's a wonderful pop-rock album on par with J.E.W.'s Bleed American and The Get-Up Kids' Something to Write Home About, and despite what the hipsters might say, i don't think that's a bad thing at all. i'm looking forward to checking this one out during tomorrow's commute.

Oct 6, 2003

np: "blue" - ryan adams

i'm going through one of my loving the shit out of Ryan Adams phases. i stumbled across several of his unreleased albums on soulseek tonight and i am taking full advantage of them. there's a lot of good stuff out there yet to be released, but hopefully the album and two EPs due out by the end of the year will rectify some of that. i know there seems to be a backlash against him in the indie community, but i don't get the whole thing. yeah, he can be a prick and he's VERY hit or miss with his tunes, but goddamn that's rock and roll for you. those are the things i love about him.... he's off some of the time, but when he's on - motherfucker is ON.

and in other news, GO CUBS!! first postseason series win since 1908, bring on the Marlins. Wood and Prior are both tearin' shit up this postseason and i am confident as hell in this team. Sosa hasn't been producing for shit yet, but the rest of the team is stepping up - and that's what makes a championship team.

and for those keeping score at home.. it's been over a month and things are going excellent with the girl i've been seeing. we had a great weekend, watching the Cubs and seeing the excellent School of Rock. (which i highly recommend, by the way) and she's actually excited about meeting my family next weekend. so i guess things are looking pretty good for now.

Oct 3, 2003

np: "me against the music" - britney spears f. madonna

should i feel ill for enjoying the hell out of this song? each one of Britney's singles just gets better and better, she really has a knack for picking top producers i guess. tha added cameo of Madonna just makes this one all the more sweet. seriously, i wanna feel dirty for liking this song, but i can't help it.