Jun 12, 2004

np: "hong kong fury" - the datsuns

today has been a pretty eventful music day for me. i've been listening to probably two of the best rock albums of 2004. yes, i am aware it's only June, but these two are THAT fucking good. both albums are the bands' sophomore releases and i can honestly say that i wasn't expecting this much hotness out of either of them. the first, purchased on a whim with a Border's gift card this morning, was the jaw-droppingly good Penance Soiree by The Icarus Line. this is like the ultimate statement of where rock and roll should be at this point - i could taste the beer and sweat and heroin just seeping through my speakers. i don't know much about the band, but this just reeks of real rock and roll. its dirty, nasty, groovy, sweaty, stanky, and just plain rockin'. if i had to draw some sort of parallel for the unitiated, it would be to some celestial being throwing Brian Jone's era-Stones, Iggy and the Stooges, a young and hungry Guns N Roses, and a whole fucking lot of drugs into a giant blender and hitting 'puree' for about 3 minutes. this shit is absolutely album of the year worthy. check it.

the second album is another huge shocker... Outta Sight/Outta Mind by New Zealand rockers, The Datsuns. probably best known for "MF from Hell" which broke onto a lot of stations in the post-Strokes garage-rock feeding frenzy. they pretty much got ignored and lumped into the third-tier of garage bands with The D4. the debut album was pretty decent, with my personal favorite being "Harmonic Generator". the band didn't really click with me until i finally watched the bonus DVD that came with the American release of that album and saw the energy these guys brought across live. but this band did something right in between albums, as this new one finds them bringing some serious fucking rock. you can definitely smell the Zep influence all over the place, but on a much more subtle way than, say, the genre raping of Jet. guitars scream and squeal all over the place as the rhythm section nearly pounds you into submission. this album probably has some of the best drumming of any of the current garage rock bands. unfortunately we here in North America have to wait until September for the release, but those of you with ways of hunting it down - its well worth a listen.

well, thats enough of hyping the rock for me, i'm gonna wind down the night with the new Corporate Ghost Sonic Youth DVD.

Jun 8, 2004

np: "let them eat war" - bad religion f. sage francis

yeah, another band of mine managed to sneak up a new release on me completely unaware. i remembered hearing that Bad Religion was working on a new album, but i had forgotten about it until i saw it sitting on the rack today. i snagged that one with a quickness though, and i am glad i did. i've been loyal to BR even through some of the not-so-great albums of the late 1990's, but the joy i've gotten from them since i picked up Suffer over a decade(!) ago kept me loyal. the first time i saw them live was at Soldier Field in Chicago, opening for Pearl Jam. yeah, a strange place to see a punk band for the first time, but they did an excellent job considering the circumstances (i.e. the majority of fans not giving a fuck about them, the 95+ degree sun beating down on them while they played, etc). i was blown away, with "Fuck Armageddon, This is Hell" being a personal highlight. ANYWAY. the band suffered a slight decline in quality over the latter half of the '90's as they toiled away on a major label and the punk scene got overrun with poppier fare for the younger generation. but two little things brought this band raging back to life - the return to being solely distributed by the Epitaph label and said label's head Mr. Brett returning to the fold. the last album, The Process of Belief, was a pretty huge step up after the last two albums on Atlantic, both returning to their roots while still retaining some of the expanded repetoire that they had built over the years. the album combined their political ideology with that certain spark that had been eluding them, producing arguably their strongest album since Stranger Than Fiction. the latest, The Empire Strikes First, continues the groundwork laid on TPoB and proves that Bad Religion is one of the best twentysomething punk bands still in action. maybe it wasn't due so much to the return of Mr. Brett or the Epitaph logo, but more because the state of the world seems far more conducive to a Bad Religion album than the late 1990's did. obvious topics like the war in Iraq (the title track, "Let Them Eat War") and the decline of the social fabric ("Social Suicide", "All There Is") are present as expected, along with new attacks on the Catholic priest scandal ("Sinister Rouge") and reality television ("Los Angeles is Burning"). after a shaky start to the album, featuring a gothic choir snagged from Davey Havok's house, the album charges through the next 4 songs in less than 10 minutes while Greg Graffin spews his always intelligent poetry over some of the fastest drumming and guitar-shredding the band has done since the '80s. about halfway the band throws a slight curveball by adding an unexpected guest vocal shot by underground hip-hop phenom Sage Francis. while experimenting with huge guest stars isn't new to the band (remember Eddie Vedder on recipe for Hate?), its the first time a guest has fit so well with the band's sound. instead of opting to just quiet the guitars and pound out a hip-hop beat for Sage to drop his lines over, they band charges full speed ahead and moves over just enough to allow him to jump aboard. while a anti-war track from Bad Religion and Sage Francis isn't exactly the most shocking thing in the world, it's surprising just how well it works. the band continues to explore some new sonic textures towards the end of the album on tracks like "Beyond Electric Dreams", but the passion and fire never fades away. or maybe i'm just old and it's a comfort in these doubtful times to hear an old voice angered anew. nah, it really is a good fucking album.
i figured anybody reading this would probably be inundated with talk of the Sonic Youth, !!!, or Velvet Revolver albums this week, so i thought i should mention something that might easily get overlooked amongst this week's purchases. so yeah, if you've ever been a BR fan - check this out.

Jun 4, 2004

np: "learning from mistakes good (not fun)" - alejandra & aeron

a friend of mine sent me some tracks from this album tonight, with very little explanation of what it was. just that i would like it. he was right, but it wasn't until i did some research on the album to find out a little more about it. from what i could gather, its comprised mostly of field recordings of one of the guys' grandmother singing and other household noises mixed with various other sound effects and software tweaks. once i learned that, i approached listening to the songs much differently. it struck me as a deeply personal recording, the aural effects enticing you to the grandmother's voice at times and at other times reminding you that life is still going on around you. it almost makes you feel like you are sharing her life with her - from daily food preparation to an evening song on the back porch. it's truly an intimate experience that i would recommend to anyone fond of field recording/found sound type of "music". for anyone interested, these tracks i'm talking about come from the album Bousha Blue Blazes, on Orthlorng Musork.