May 31, 2004

np: "a good man is hard to find" - sufjan stevens

so it's a little early to be a the true halfway point of the year, especially with the number of solid releases due out in June - !!!, Wilco, Sonic Youth, etc - but since i had some time this weekend i sat down and compiled my Top 25 albums of 2004 so far. the results:

1. Kanye West - College Dropout (Roc-a-fella)
2. Franz Ferdinand - S/T (Sony)
3. Modest Mouse - Good News For People Who Love Bad News (Epic)
4. Madvillain - Madvillainy (Stones Throw)
5. The Streets - A Grand Don't Come For Free (Vice/Atlantic)
6. TV on the Radio - Desperate Youth, Bloodthirsty Babes (Touch and Go)
7. Iron and Wine - Our Endless, Numbered Days (Sub Pop)
8. The Ponys - Laced with Romance (In the Red)
9. The Walkmen - Bows and Arrows (Record Collection)
10. Morrissey - You Are the Quarry (Attack)
11. Ambulance LTD - S/T (TVT)
12. Loretta Lynn - Van Lear Rose (Interscope)
13. The Hiss - Panic Movement (Sanctuary)
14. Mission of Burma - ONoffON (Matador)
15. Xiu Xiu - Fabulous Muscles (5 Rue Christine)
16. Seachange - Lay of the Land (Matador)
17. The Reputation - To Force a Fate (Lookout!)
18. Ghost - Hypnotic Underworld (Drag City)
19. Gift of Gab - Fourth Dimensional Rocketships (Quanuum)
20. Snow Patrol - Final Straw (Universal)
21. RJD2 - Since We Last Spoke (Def Jux)
22. Blonde Redhead - Misery is a Butterfly (4AD)
23. Sufjan Stevens - Seven Swans (Sounds Familyre)
24. All Night Radio - Spirit Stereo Frequency (Sub Pop)
25. The Beta Band - Heroes to Zeros (Astralwerks)

May 28, 2004

np: "it's all around you" - tortoise

so i've heard Tortoise referred to as "the band for hipsters who are afraid to like jazz", and whatever, that may not be far off the mark. but there's nothing better than dropping some Tortoise on in the middle of the week when you come home from a night out drinking with good friends and you have to work too early in the morning to rock the fuck out. the new album is no exception. not that i'm afraid to like jazz, i'm just too intimidated by it. i own a handful of Miles and 'Trane albums, and i enjoy them immensely, but whenever i step into the jazz section at Tower - i just get blown away. i suppose that's what it would feel like to step into the "rock" section if you've spent your entire life ignoring it. so many choices, so little time. so for now, i choose to mostly ignore jazz - not out of dislike, just that there's so much damn good rock music for me to choose from that i'm never left thirsting for something more. maybe that will change when i get older, but for now... when i need that downtempo "chill" shit, it's all about the Tortoise.

May 26, 2004

np: "slither" - velvet revolver

despite the worst band name i've heard in years, i'm very much looking forward to this album based on the two tracks i've heard. Weiland's always had an excellent "rock" voice and getting to hear Slash and Duff together at any time is a treat. the songs remind me a little of early STP, but with a guitarist that knows what the fuck he's doing. not that DeLeo was a bad guitarist by any means, he just can't shred like Slash. the album has to be better than Audioslave anyway.

May 22, 2004

np: "irish blood, english heart" - morrissey

for someone who's never heard much of Moz's solo work, i am really enjoying this album. just as overdramatic and over-the-top as i expected, but there's some very solid tunes on there. the clincher for me, though, was that killer first single. i didn't know he could put out such a, well, rocking single like that. boom, bam! and it's over in 2 and a half minutes before you even knew what hit you. yeah, the political Moz thing usually bores me, but if he could wrap it up in a killer riff like that more often i wouldn't even care. "First of the Gang to Die" is another catchy tune that took me by surprise and really helps keep the album from getting dragged down towards the end. but after several listens, i think "Let Me Kiss You" is sticking out as a personal favorite. "but then you open up your eyes / and you see someone that you physically despise / but my heart is open / my heart is open to you", i mean - who hasn't felt like that before. you know, sure i'm not your type.. just shut the fuck up for a minute and kiss me. who the hell knows, maybe it's just that ol' loneliness creeping up inside again thats turning me on to the Moz.
and in sad news, the day finally came. WOXY is now off the air and the net. i've come to find in the past week just how much of a blow that would really be when i couldn't stream it anymore. when i couldn't figure out what i wanted to listen to, it was just so easy to pop into the site and hear a lot of music i enjoy. yeah, there are a lot of other stations that play some of the same music, but i've yet to find a station with as high of a hit:miss ratio of my own tastes that was as high as WOXY's. let's hope something solid will come along and fill the void. speaking of radio stations, i know it's Clear Channel and all - but i am somewhat interested to having something like Indie 103.1 hit the waves here in Chicago. if you've gotta deal with them anyway, might as well pick the lesser of the evils.

May 12, 2004

np: "fit but you know it" - the streets

i'm loving the hell out of this new single. catchy as all hell and some pretty funny lyrics that seem to ring out very true for some girls i've known. i'm just sitting through my first listen of A Grand Don't Come For Free, and so far i'm enjoying it. there aren't as many great songs that jump out at you right away like there were on Original Pirate Material, but i have a feeling this is a grower. the storyline is a nice touch, it's cool to hear an album that tackles a tale over its entire length without resorting to skits to push it along. Mike Skinner is a wonderful lyricist, that's for sure.

May 10, 2004

np: "spaceboy (alternate version)" - smashing pumpkins

so yeah, most people that know me know that the Pumpkins are my all-time favorite band. awhile back i was hooked up with a download of the ultra-rare Mashed Potatoes boxed set that Billy put together years ago. i've been hooked on it all day, and this track in particular reminds me what i love about this band. this version is a little more country and a little more psychedelic than the original version. if i was one of those cool mp3 bloggers, i'd hook y'all up with a download but i'm not that awesome. but yeah, this box set is full of live stuff, demos, alternate versions, and just a lot of Pumpkins goodness from about '89-'94. the era that i still consider to be when the Pumpkins were at their creative peak. it's just sinking in to how obsessive i've been about this band at various points in time. probably the only band that i've gone to such great lengths in order to get new shit to listen to. it seems that at some points Billy almost reached a Bob Pollard-like level of output with great music. it's a shame to see how much he's tapered off in the last few years. Zwan was an amazing live band, but the bald one was never able to capture that energy in the studio, resulting in a mediocre disc that i can't even remember the last time i pulled it out. yeah, you may remember me hyping it up back when it came out, but i think that was more from the excitement of seeing them live so much then. my liking for that album has diminished quite a bit in the past 16 months. and from what i've heard of his recent solo performance, i'm not going to be too terribly excited about what's coming next either.

May 6, 2004

np: "lady godiva's operation" - velvet underground

man, this is one fucked up and creepy song - even by VU standards. but i like it. the VU love today has been inspired by the newest book i've been reading, Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk. it took me some time to get into it, but its turning out to be a fascinating read. early on there was a little too much "who slept with who" gossipy shit for my liking, but it's really quite an interesting document of the early days of punk. much love for detailing the early years of VU, the Stooges, and the MC5 and for not starting at the obvious 76-77 era. it really gives you a feeling about the true dirty, nasty roots of what was to become punk rock. i'm also really looking forward to delving more into the Heartbreakers and New York Dolls after reading this. definately worth a read if you come across it.

May 5, 2004

np: "glitterball" - seachange

tonight's now playing song comes courtesy of WOXY, a great station out of Ohio that sadly seems on the verge of going away for good. sure it's not as indie or eclectic as most of the college stations out there, but i've always found it to be pretty dependable whenever i tune it in. i'm really going to miss it if they do end up shutting down internet broadcasting as well.
just got done watching the season finale of The OC, and i have to admit i'm going to miss my regular dose of drama every Wednesday night until Season 2 rolls around. blatantly obvious ending to anyone that's seen the last couple eps, but it was still pretty well done for a FOX teen drama. i think the last 10 minutes were an example of the strong suits of the show - knowing when to have the characters just shut the fuck up and let the images and a well-chosen song tell the story. sure, the musical interludes are nothing new on prime time soaps, but tonight's really managed to help move the story along and provided a fitting ending to the season. probably helps that they chose Jeff Buckley's "Hallelujah", rather than another poorly done Rooney tie-in. so now my Wednesday evenings are completely freed up once again, to join every other night of the week.

May 4, 2004

np: "big sur (live at SXSW)" - the thrills

i found this little EP for cheap when i went to Tower, so i snagged it as i seem to be one of the few people to openly express a love for their California-sunshine pop. the music's stands up pretty well live, but it doesn't really offer many surprises from the album versions. still a decent little EP. i had planned on picking up the new Beta Band and the new Mission of Burma while i was there, but i balked at ONOffON when i saw the "sale" price of $16.99, considering it's going for 10 bucks on Matador's website right now. so it looks like i'll have to be doing some e-shopping a little later tonight.
while i was running tonight i was listening to one of my two favorite recent releases by a Chicago band, this one being the debut from The Ponys - Laced with Romance. it's a great little garage rock album, from a band that knows just how to meld their influences into a unique overall sound. check out "Chemical Imbalance" or "Let's Kill Ourselves" if you wanna get a taste for the rock action coming out of the Windy City right now. the other recent Chicago release that i've been digging on comes courtesy of one of the nicest and cutest girls in the indie rock world these days, Elizabeth Elmore. you might remember her from her days in the mega-hyped Champaign band Sarge, which sadly split up in 1998 after starting to generate a really strong buzz. these days she's fronting a new band, The Reputation, who just dropped their second album To Force a Fate on Lookout! Records. it's a great album, full of Elmore's brilliant lyrics and just the right balance of jaded and lovelorn imagery. but i highly recommend you check the band out live if you get a chance, they put on a hell of a show and they manage to rock the fuck out. i've been fortunate enough to see them several times so far, and i've yet to leave a show without a huge smile on my face. although the last time that might have come more from my conversation with the lovely Ms. Elmore than anything else. hopefully they'll be heading back out on the road shortly, but for now they've got a handful of dates here in Illinois, ending in Champaign where they will team up with Braid in their first reunion gig. god, that takes me right back to Champaign house parties in 1996.