Archive for the ‘Indie-Rock’ Category

Thurston Moore in the New York Times

Thursday, April 8th, 2004

Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth has an op-ed in the New York Times today. Interesting tidbit: Nirvana toured with The Boredoms? Really?

Headphone listening

Wednesday, March 24th, 2004

Some preliminary thoughts from my headphone listening the past couple days. Two surprising observations, in particular. First (brace yourselves all ye prog snobs :), “Get Mine, Get Yours” by Christina Aguilera sounds brilliant on the Sony V6s. There’s a separation of instruments I’d never heard before, particularly in the bass, that doesn’t come through in the Grados. Second, “The Package” by A Perfect Circle sounds similarly brilliant on the Grados - the dynamic range is fantastic for a rock recording, and - this is the surprising part - the Grados are well able to reproduce the incredible bone-jarringly deep bass in the early part of the song. It’s not boomy bass; it’s tight and controlled, but still powerful.

On the other hand, Kind of Blue is hiss-and-crackle central. It almost sounds worse on these headphones than on my crappy speakers, if only because I can hear how poorly it’s recorded. And I have the relatively new remastered version, too. Finally, Gorecki’s 3rd (I know, I know, but I like it) is gorgeous on the Grados. These phones do wonderful things with female vocals.

Great song: Beck’s “The Golden Age”

Monday, December 29th, 2003

I have a guilty pleasure of watching Alias, the TV show, on DVD. It arose from my fascination with the moral ambiguity of La Femme Nikita, the cult classic show that ran for five years. Alias is hardly of the same caliber - it replaces moral ambiguity with heavy-handed plot twisting and frankly absurd storylines - but it’s a lot of fun anyway.

In any case, the episode I’m watching now has Beck’s “The Golden Age” playing in the background of one of the scenes. I have no idea what happened in that scene because I was singing along. I might have to watch the whole episode over again, because I completely just shifted my attention to the song. That’s how good it is.

It’s a treacherous road
With a desolated view
There’s distant lights
But here they’re far and few
And the sun don’t shine
Even when its day
You gotta drive all night
Just to feel like you’re ok

Wilco @ Yale’s Spring Fling

Monday, April 28th, 2003

Is it just me, or does releasing a double live CD/DVD combo after only one studio album seem a bit… excessive? (I’m referring, of course, to the new live release from Star One, Arjen Lucassen’s latest project.)

I recently got back from a live show by Wilco, who played at Yale’s annual (and usually really lame) Spring Fling. They were pretty freakin great. I only have two of their albums, Being There and Yankee Hotel Foxtrot (well, and the new EP that they released on their website). I got the former many years ago and hated it, and haven’t listened to it since; but the latter was last year’s indie-critic darling, and with good reason. Wilco’s music is often termed “alt-country”, which I understand (possibly incorrectly) to mean that they have some roots in country music, but have extended their style to include rock and other elements. On Yankee Hotel Foxtrot their melancholy yet catchy tunes are offset by a fair amount of experimentation and even outright noise, so I was curious to see how the Yale crowd would react.

Well, there are a lot of indie-rockers at Yale (and all of them work at the radio station). So there was a sizable and fairly enthusiastic crowd. And even after some of the lengthier instrumental freakouts - some of which I thought were awesome, especially one particularly out-there guitar solo - there was a good amount of applause. I was moderately surprised, and glad that people seemed to be enjoying the show as much as I was. I liked the set a lot - they played for quite a while, almost two hours, and did most of the songs off of Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, a few from the new EP, and some older stuff that I didn’t recognize (except for the one song I seem to remember not disliking from Being There, “Misunderstood”). Good stuff.

A friend of mine here is a huge Wilco fan. She sent out some lyrics through e-mail before the show, and I’m glad she did. I’d never really heard them before, despite liking the song, which is a shame, because they’re beautiful -

don’t cry
you can rely on me honey
you can come by any time you want
i’ll be around
you were right about the stars
each one is a setting sun

tall buildings shake
voices escape singing sad sad songs
tuned to chords strung down your cheeks
bitter melodies turning your orbit around

Wilco, “Jesus, etc.”

I don’t have much to say about them, I just agree that they’re worth sharing…

Aw shit: The Dismemberment Plan is calling it quits

Tuesday, January 21st, 2003

I found out yesterday, and it’s reported on (the newly redesigned) Pitchfork today, that The Dismemberment Plan is breaking up. Fuck. It’s a damn good thing I have tickets to their show in NYC in February - it will probably be the last time I get to see them. They’re awesome live. And they’ve already written part of a new album, but those compositions will probably end up on a solo album of Travis Morrison’s. Fuck.

The full news can be found on the band’s website, along with the few remaining tour dates. Fuck.

Something a bit cheerier: I’ve been browsing the access logs for this site, particularly the hits off of search engine keywords. Here are some of my favorites -

  • 7 shittiest fucking website ever
  • 5 nude camel toes
  • 3 what is a good iq
  • 2 does lightning come from ground or the sky
  • 2 alex lifeson overrated
  • 1 men gone wild
  • 1 where can i find some art on bears
  • 1 is it ok to use the word enthused
  • 1 why is it hard to live in japan
  • 1 clitoris land

This tells that five (yes, five) searches for “nude camel toes” were made and hit G&S. What the fuck? And isn’t that an oxymoron anyway? And how exactly did “men gone wild” lead to G&S? Ah, the mysteries of search engines… actually, this says interesting things about the efficacy of different search engines. By far the most hits are from Google, and surprisingly, virtually all of them were quite topical. On the other hand, there were few hits from Ask Jeeves, and a lot of them were laughable (and many of them are listed above). This shouldn’t really be surprising, I suppose.

Massive Attack and Tom Waits collab?!

Wednesday, December 25th, 2002

Merry Christmas to everyone as I finish up my last paper of the semester :)

Massive Attack, after releasing their fourth album in February next year, is reportedly going to be doing a couple of collaborations, one with Mos Def and one with Tom Waits. The former will be awesome - they’ve worked together before and the result was “I Against I” on the Blade 2 soundtrack, a great song. Without the lyrical limitations of that song (since it was, after all, written for a soundtrack) holding them back, I expect really great things from this collaboration. The latter is just… kind of weird. I’m really looking forward to hearing it and seeing what the hell happens.

Oh yeah, and Opeth is touring the US and Canada, that’s pretty exciting. Just bought my ticket for the show at the Irving Plaza in NYC. It’ll be interesting to see what kind of crowd is there.

Slightly delirious random ramblings

Thursday, December 19th, 2002

Aaaaaargh, finals week is hell. Wish I could have worked on the site, but it hasn’t been possible. I wrote 40 pages in four days earlier this week. I still have an exam and a lengthy paper (20+ pages) left before I leave for home on Saturday. Gaaah.

Great paragraph from the liner notes of that Camper Van Beethoven box set I mentioned in the last entry:

Let’s admit this indie predilection: there is something so damn satisfying about liking a band that no one else has heard of. Mr. Indie doesn’t need the masses to tell him what to listen to, because he’s got taste, and he’s in the know. That’s right. If you don’t believe us when we tell you that Camper Van Beethoven is indeed obscure, go ask some guy on the street if he likes them. When he says, “Camper Who?” or better yet, looks at you like you are speaking a Germanic dialect, you’ll know it’s time to smile, because you are Indie with a capital I. You know something he doesn’t. Accordingly, you can just shake your head in disgust at his SUV-driving ass, and walk away.

I’ve been making a bunch of mix CDs for people lately. My CD-R drive was acting up and I couldn’t find a good CD burning package for Windows XP without dishing out a hundred bucks for some Adaptec program. Luckily my brother has been ripping MP3s and burning CDs a lot lately so he pointed me in the right direction. So I’m now happily ripping and burning away with Exact Audio Copy, LAME, and Nero. The first two are highly recommended for ripping tracks from CDs and encoding to MP3 without losing too much quality; the latter is just a pretty all-around solid CD burning program. And this is a great intro to it all.

It would be interesting to compare the mixes I make for other people with the mixes I make for myself. I tend to leave all the really weird shit off of mixes for other people. Maybe I should stop censoring myself like that. On the other hand, maybe I’m just being smart.

Oh yeah: the new Grey Eye Glances, A Little Voodoo, is growing on me. There are a couple of tracks that are just heinous, but some of them are pretty good. A lot poppier than the band used to be (well, circa Eventide anyway), but not bad. Oddly enough, two of the ten tracks on the album were produced by Jerry Marotta, and those two happen to be my favorite ones.

The Beta Band @ The Roxy

Friday, April 12th, 2002

Two prog fans I know have now fessed up to liking a Linkin Park song. Well… three, if you count me. Having heard the whole album, though, their whole hip-hop/rock meshing seems rather less creative (and interesting) when they follow the same formula for virtually every song. Oh well.

I saw The Beta Band again in New York last Thursday. It wasn’t as good as the last time they were in the city. Not as much energy, I thought. I do really like how they completely fuck with their songs live, though - some of them have long ass-kicking sections that just don’t exist on the albums. And I’m a sucker for any time they go with multiple percussionists - there’s a section of “The House Song” where they’ve got two drummers, the keyboardist scratching on a turntable, and the bassist snaking his lines through it all, and it’s just awesome.

It is interesting, though, that the extremely contemplative quality of Hot Shots II gets entirely lost in the translation to the live show. The rock elements are turned WAY up… and, in the club last Thursday, The Roxy - a dance club more or less - it almost seemed that with all the percussion, they could have been playing dance or rave music part of the time. Which isn’t necessarily bad, just incredibly different from the studio album.

Dream Theater cover Master of Puppets!

Friday, March 29th, 2002

Last night I went to see Dream Theater in New York. It was their second show in the city, and was promised to have a “very special” setlist. If I’d been following Ytsejam or alt.music.dream-theater, I would have know what was so special about it, but I hadn’t been, so I didn’t. Anyway, it was a pretty good show. LONG. They went on promptly at 8:00 and I didn’t get out of the theater until nearly midnight… and there was only one 15-minute intermission in the middle.

I wasn’t really blown away by the first set. I’m not nearly as big a Dream Theater fan as I used to be, and the last couple of albums never really impressed me. Thankfully, the band played a set that spanned all of their albums, which was cool - my favorite part was when the noisy finale of “Misunderstood” transitioned into the heavy riffing of “Lie”. It was also interesting to hear James LaBrie try to sound like Charlie Dominici when the band did “The Killing Hand”. And “Take The Time” really reminded me of how much more I like the band’s early material. At about 9:45 the band went offstage for the intermission; fifteen minutes later they were back and they settled into the rather tedious “Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence” - the 40-minute-long “song” that makes up the entire second disc of the latest album. To my surprise, it went by pretty fast, and parts of it were pretty powerful live. Not as bad as I expected.

Then the band went offstage again. Clearly, something weird was about to happen. The opening of “Pull Me Under” started all of a sudden, and then disintegrated with a screech. The group came back onstage and Petrucci started playing what I immediately recognized as the opening guitar part to Metallica’s “Battery”. Sweet, I thought - a great song to cover. The band crunched through “Battery” convincingly - more than convincingly, it was fucking awesome - and then went straight into “Master of Puppets”. Even better! Turns out they covered the entire Master of Puppets album from start to finish. Now, I like Master of Puppets better than I like Dream Theater’s own recent work, so I was pretty damned happy. They did a great job with it - I was particularly impressed by Petrucci, who pulled off all the solos really well. After that, there were a couple encore songs (ending, of course, with “Pull Me Under”), and then it was over.

Master of Puppets was definitely the highlight of the show for me. “Take The Time” and “Lie” were pretty good too, but otherwise I wasn’t all that impressed. I was definitely much more affected by the Dream Theater show I saw two years ago on the Metropolis tour; probably just because I was a much bigger fan back then. Still, it was worth the trip.

Oh yeah, a couple weeks ago I saw The Dismemberment Plan live, for the third time, this time back home in North Carolina. It was a great show marred by really bad sound. I also really liked one of the other bands, Death Cab for Cutie, and just recently downloaded mp3s of their latest album, The Photo Album - really good, laid-back, melodic indie-pop.

Maybe some reviews will be up soon. Between work and Ultimate I’m struggling to find time for things like eating, sleeping, and breathing, but what the hell.

The Dismemberment Plan have an impressively broad appeal

Friday, February 22nd, 2002

This year alone (as in, the two months of 2002), I think I’ve introduced them to at least five people. Given my “strange” taste in music (latest roommate comment: “your music’s on crack” regarding the new French TV), this is a pretty damn high figure.