Feb 26, 2007

"We're the new face of failure / Prettier and younger, but not any better off"

As much as I may hate to admit it, I just can't seem to get enough of this new Fall Out Boy record. I'm looking out onto the horizon and I'm not seeing many pop-punk albums coming out in 2007 that will top this and its' delicious hooks. So many potential singles, I could really see this thing taking off as the year progresses.

Anyway, just a short little update today, still trying to recover from a hectic weekend that involved a wedding, a casino, a poker tournament, a reception with lots of dancing, and a nasty snow/ice storm. For further goodness, take a gander at some of my more recent reviews over at Static.

The Bird and The Bee - The Bird and The Bee
Chin Up Chin Up - This Harness Can't Ride Anything
The Whigs - Give 'Em All A Big Fat Lip

Feb 22, 2007

Marie-Antoinette: "This is ridiculous."

Comtesse de Noailles: "This, Madame, is Versailles."

Throwback Thursday V

Both of tonight's throwback songs come from one of my favorite movies of 2006, Sofia Coppola's take on the tragic tale of Marie Antoinette. If you haven't seen it yet, I highly recommend you do so. Much like she managed to do with Tokyo in Lost In Translation, Coppola turns Versailles into her own canvas - retelling an old story in bold colors and larger than life decadence. Part of what made the movie jump to life was the perfect soundtrack. At first I wasn't sure how songs by artists like The Cure, Gang of Four, and The Strokes would possibly fit in with France in the 1700s, but they meshed perfectly with the feel of the film. Both of these songs soundtracked memorable scenes in the movie, but each are just as enjoyable as new wave classics in their own right.

Siouxsie and the Banshees - "Hong Kong Garden"
Bow Wow Wow - "Aphrodisiac"

(get the Marie Antoinette soundtrack here)

Feb 20, 2007

via//chicago hall of fame - "Freak Scene"

There are songs that brighten your day no matter how dark it may have been before you pressed 'play'. There are songs that immediately call to mind a smell, a touch, a feeling, a love - even if its painful. There are songs that changed the way you approached music forever. There are songs that remind you what it means to live. This is a celebration of those songs. The first ever inductee into the via//chicago hall of fame is:

Dinosaur Jr - "Freak Scene"

"Sometimes I don't thrill you Sometimes I think I'll kill you Just don't let me fuck up will you Cause when I need a friend it's still you"

Those four lines are the exact moment when everything great about this song all comes together in one spectacular couplet of awesomeness. Sure, the song has had this killer melody going all the way through, but there's just something about those earnest sentiments coming just after that killer guitar solo. And just before that other killer guitar solo. Even if Dinosaur Jr had never recorded another song after this one it wouldn't have mattered, because they'd have already justified their entire existence and guaranteed their place in the indie rock pantheon for all time. Thankfully they're still around (and back in the classic lineup that produced this gem!) and kicking out the jams for us to love. Play this one loud!

("Freak Scene" can be found on Bug)
(also watch for the forthcoming album Beyond on Fat Possum)

Feb 15, 2007

Throwback Thursday IV

For this week's Throwback Thursday we turn our dials back to 1993 and aim our time machine towards Chapel Hill, North Carolina - then a boon for classic indie rock. During that year Sooyoung Park and his band Seam headed up to Chicago to record their second album with legendary producer Brad Wood. The result was the immensely satisfying The Problem With Me, which remained arguably the band's greatest release. The two tracks below also serve as a nice introduction to the band, or just a drive down memory lane for the already familiar.

Seam - "Bunch" (taken from The Problem With Me)
Seam - "Sweet Pea" (taken from The Problem With Me)

Feb 14, 2007

"I am thinking it's a sign that the freckles
In our eyes are mirror images and when We kiss they're perfectly aligned"

It seems like lots of people are on the anti-Valentines Day tip this year, but not me. It may have something to do with being recently engaged, but I'm feeling the love. In that spirit, here's a pair of my all-time favorite love songs. Enjoy them with your sweetie tonight.

The Postal Service - "Such Great Heights"
(taken from Give Up)
Etta James - "At Last" (taken from At Last!)

Feb 13, 2007

"If I could do it again, I'd make more mistakes
I'd not be so scared of falling
If I could do it again, I'd climb more trees"

Aren't blizzards just wonderful? Of course not. At least not while you are stuck out in the mess, struggling to get home. The only way to truly enjoy a snowstorm is when you and all your loved ones are safe at home and bundled up to ward off the cold. So as a public service, here's a couple tunes I've been enjoying of late that will hopefully bring a little warmth into your evening.

Loney, Dear - "I Am John" (taken from Loney, Noir)
Loney, Dear is the recording name of one Emil Svanängen, a Swedish indie popster who's been recording densely layered tunes in his parents' basement for near four years now. "I Am John" comes from his first album to be released here in the States, thanks to the hip peeps over at Sub Pop. Sufjan Stevens is probably an easy comparison, but Loney, Dear seems a lot less dramatic but no less engaging.

Bloc Party - "Waiting For The 7.18" (taken from A Weekend In The City)
Bloc Party released my favorite album of 2005 and have just returned with an absolutely fantastic sophomore release that is sure to figure highly in this year's best-of lists. The entire album is a disquieting reflection of life in modern London, but the ennui and confusion are universally relatable in these uncertain times. "Waiting For The 7.18" turns those interminable morning commutes into a mournful plea for lost youth.

Feb 11, 2007

via//chicago mix 001

I've been M.I.A. for the past couple of days for two good reasons. First of all, I've been struggling through a rather nasty cold all week and what little free time I had over the past week was spent sleeping or otherwise trying to coax the sickness out of me. Secondly, and of more import to you the via//chicago loyal, I've been putting the finishing touches on the first in a continuing series of mixes for you to discover even more new music. So, without further ado, here is via//chicago mix 001. Click on the title below to download the zip file. Most of these are very recent/upcoming 2007 releases, but a couple old favorites are tossed in for good measure. Enjoy.

via//chicago mix 001
1. "Flathead" - The Fratellis
2. "Australia" - The Shins
3. "Golden Skans" - Klaxons
4. "National Anthem of Nowhere" - Apostle of Hustle
5. "Conductor 71" - Fujiya & Miyagi
6. "Young Folks" - Peter, Bkorn, & John
7. "Wet and Rusting" - Menomena
8. "Kingdom of Doom" - The Good, The Bad, & The Queen
9. "Leave Before The Lights Come On" - Arctic Monkeys
10. "You Broke My Heart" - Lavender Diamond
11. "Old School Reasons" - Alkaline Trio
12. "Same Jeans" - The View
13. "Hotel Riverview" - Vietnam
14. "You! Me! Dancing!" - Los Campesinos!
15. "She Sends Kisses" - The Wrens
16. "Start Today Tomorrow" - Youth Group
17. "Heretic" - Andrew Bird

Feb 6, 2007

"Spring, summer, and fall fill us with hope; winter alone reminds us of the human condition."

- Mignon McLaughlin, The Second Neurotic's Notebook

I figured that was a good quote for today, what with the somewhat unexpected snowfall making my day four different shades of pain in the ass. The commute home turned into an epic journey of suck, pushing well past the two hour mark as I slowly crawled through the not-quite-so bad streets. The fun part came in when the salt piled up on my windshield and my frozen wiper fluid could do nothing to alleviate my vision problems. Anyway I made it home safely and with sanity intact, mostly thanks to some incredibly relaxing music courtesy of Ben Chasny and his Six Organs of Admittance project. I've been a fan of Comets of Fire, another group that Chasny's been involved with, for some time but I've only recently begun to dig into his other work. During my lengthy drive home tonight I popped in The Sun Awakens, hoping for something with some energy to keep me going. Instead I was greeted with something that calmed me very nicely. But enough about how it made me feel, take a listen for yourself.

Six Organs of Admittance - "The Desert is a Circle"
(taken from The Sun Awakens)

Feb 4, 2007

And so we turn back to music in seek of consolation and as a way to forget the disappointing end to a great football season. One of the best reasons to look forward to the next week of music? Lifetime, the melodic hardcore band out of New Jersey, returns with their first album in a full decade. The band originally disbanded back in 1997, but after a successful one-off reunion for charity back in 2005 they felt a spark reignite and eventually headed back into the studio. Instead of returning to Jade Tree, their former label, their self-titled new album will be coming out on Decaydance, the vanity label of one Mr. Pete Wentz (Fall Out Boy). I suppose this sort of makes up for foisting Panic! at the Disco on the world. At least this attachment to Wentz will help get more copies into more stores, in turn showing the young kids what real sing-along punk rock sounds like. If you've never had the pleasure of checking out Lifetime, take a listen to the songs below.

Lifetime - "25 Cent Giraffes" (taken from Jersey's Best Dancers)
Lifetime - "Myself" (taken from Somewhere In the Swamps of Jersey)

"Put up a fight with a might so fearlessly!"

We are just two plus hours away from kick-off and I couldn't be more excited. Official via//chicago prediction: Bears 34, Colts 28. In the meantime, psyche yourself up with the stirring Chicago Bears fight song. The editing on this one is a little wonky, but it's better than being forwarded that opera singer's version yet again, right?

Feb 2, 2007

Clap Your Hands Say Disappointment

Remember way back in early December when I was talking about how excited I was for the second album from blog darlings Clap Your Hands Say Yeah? Yeah, me too. Unfortunately the album ended up being a pretty significant disappointment, a sprawling mess of a record that lacks much of the spark and fire that I liked so much about them the first time around. Sure "Satan Said Dance" is still great fun and I love a couple of the other tracks, it seems like there are far more duds than there should be. I think much of this stems from the band trying way too hard to swing things in a new direction to avoid being flattened by the indie backlash, but instead of taking things in an interesting new place they kinda seem to be flailing all over the place. Another disappointment, for me anyway, was the sub-par production by Dave Fridmann. Normally I'm a big fan of his work (including Fridmann produced faves like Soft Bulletin, Strangest Things, The Woods), but this time around he seems to just bury the thing in unnecessary overdubs and effects that just don't work with this band. But I do have to give CYHSY credit for trying to keep things interesting this time around and not just rehashing the debut, I'm not ready to write them off quite yet.

Feb 1, 2007

Throwback Thursday III

This week we again find ourselves in the late 1990's, but this time we're going to dig a little bit deeper to dredge up a couple of songs that deserved to be a lot more popular than they were.

"Perfect Lines" - The Promise Ring (taken from Nothing Feels Good)
These guys were one of my favorite bands for a good chunk of my college career after I discovered them on a fluke when I decided that the cover art for this album was in and of itself enough reason for me to buy it completely unheard. They'll probably be forever thrown into the "emo" ghetto, but few people realize just how great this band was at writing catchy pop tunes as well. This is one of my very favorites off the album.

"Heartcatchthump" - Chainsaw Kittens
(taken from Chainsaw Kittens)
I only ever really got to here one album by this seemingly forgotten '90s band, but I really loved it. They got a decent boost in publicity when Scratchie Records (founded by James and D'arcy of my beloved Pumpkins) signed them up in time for this album, but it apparently wasn't enough and they quickly slid off the scene. Until these guys get the critical reappraisal they so deserve, enjoy this tune and tell me this shouldn't have been a huge hit in a perfect world.