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Archive for October, 2001

Sean Malone’s real name

Tuesday, October 30th, 2001

Whoa, here’s some crazy shit about Sean Malone from his personal website:

My name, as it appears on my birth certificate is actually spelled ‘Shawn’. During high school and part of college a friend of mine and I not only shared classes, but the same exact name: Shawn Patrick Malone. Our grades and papers were forever being mixed up, and switching to “Sean” helped to clear that up, so I got used to it and kept it. My name appears as “Shawn” on the Cynic album because it was suggested that could keep things clearer in interviews because Reinert’s name is “Sean”, but it didn’t work.

New acquisitions from Other Music

Monday, October 29th, 2001

I was in New York on Saturday, so I stopped by Other Music and picked up Change as well as Born Into Trouble as the Sparks Fly Upward, the new Silver Mt. Zion. I can’t stop fucking listening to Change. To me, it’s far more immediately likable than Emergency & I was, perhaps because it’s a bit less hyperactive. Whether I like it more in the long run is up in the air, but man… I’m really digging it right now. Little bits of “Time Bomb” and “Ellen and Ben” keep getting stuck in my head. And I can’t help but smile to the lyrics of “The Face of the Earth”, which are just absurdly bizarre - telling the story of a girl who literally gets sucked off the face of the earth.

It does strike me that parts of the album, like some of the vocal melodies in “Following Through”, seem almost mainstream, and the album has definitely (as endless reviewers have already noted) moved away from the band’s pseudo-emo sound on Emergency & I. To a more “mature” sound, lots of people have said, but I don’t know what the hell that means. In any case, I think I like this move, and I have little fear of the band going too mainstream, because the vast majority of the album is just amazingly creative.

My one complaint: all those nifty keyboard oonts and groonts on Emergency & I are gone, for the most part. Oh, not entirely; for example, “Ellen and Ben” has some cool bleeping, but there’s nothing that compares to the bass-range belching from “A Life of Possibilities” or the depressing haze from “The City”. Oh well.

On a whim I picked up the soundtrack to Angels of the Universe, apparently one of the highest-praised Icelandic films from the past few years. It’s done by Hilmar Örn Hilmarsson, but Sigur Rós contributes two tracks at the end. My initial reaction is one of frustration; there are some really beautiful moments, and I really like the acoustic guitar tone that’s used on a few of the tracks, but all of the tracks are so damn short that it doesn’t allow for any melodic or compositional development. Grr. The Sigur Rós tracks, though, are fucking great, and are by far the best pieces on the album. Go figure.

On another soundtrack note, I got that Magna Carta Soundtrack for the Wheel of Time, which in all but name appears to be a Robert Berry solo album. I expected it to pretty much suck enormous balls… I basically got it because I used to be a huge Wheel of Time fan (until the last few books started, well, sucking enormous balls). The prospect of pseudo-Celtic-prog-metal-lite doesn’t sound all that appealing to me, especially with the huge potential for pretentiousness given the nature of the books. I was mildly surprised - there are parts that are, not surprisingly, really cheesy, but there are also some pleasant parts. There are also a lot of parts that are really “soundtrackey” - you know, they’re really dramatic and big (complete with tympani banging like distant thunder, blah blah blah), but at the same time sort of unobtrusive and clearly meant to be an accompaniment instead of the main attraction. Which is sort of weird, since this album isn’t really a soundtrack, unless you consider the idea of a soundtrack to a book to be equivalent to a soundtrack to a movie. I don’t.

Um, so, do I like it? Not really - the music avoids cheesiness for the most part, but it tends to be very bland - but nevertheless, I definitely like it more than I expected to.

I love the Alamaailman Vasarat T-shirt design. I’ve e-mailed the band for ordering info but they haven’t gotten back to me. Arg… I want one.

New Dismemberment Plan album!

Thursday, October 25th, 2001

The Pitchfork review of The Dismemberment Plan’s new one, Change, mentions “Time Bomb” as the best song. I have a dilemma. When I read that, I could have sworn that they played “Time Bomb” at the show of theirs I went to earlier this year. For the rest of the day, the only line I could remember the melody to - “I… I am a time bomb” - was running through my head, making me really wish I had the new album (it’s backordered at amazon and the local CD store doesn’t have it, grrr). Well, I was just poking around my computer tonight and I realized that some time ago I downloaded the MP3 of “Time Bomb” that’s available on the band’s website.

So here’s the thing: I can’t figure out anymore if my memory of “Time Bomb” was actually coming from the concert, or whether I’m just completely constructing my memory of having heard it at the concert, and I know the melody and words because of the MP3. This is seriously bothering me. I know, I know, it’s retarded.

Well, at least I have that MP3 so I can learn the melody to more than just one of the lines.

Okay, so that was bothering me so much that I looked around on the Web, and I found that in their tour early in 2001, Dismemberment Plan played “Time Bomb” at virtually every one of their shows. Whew… that makes me feel better. It was sort of scary to think of how convincingly my brain might have just constructed a false memory. In any case, I’ve already listened to the song way too much - it’s awesome.

Ah-ha - so I’m not the only one:

Fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck there’s some kind of problem with the distributor I think so none of the stores I checked in the Twin Cities got their new Dismemberment Plan CDs on time. Fuck fuck fuck. Why do there have to be release dates? I always get upset when CDs I really really want are not available. Fuck.

That was Josh Kortbein if you were wondering. I laugh, but I also feel his pain.

Does classical music make you smarter, or help you concentrate, or any of that bullshit? I don’t know, but I listened to Ceux du Dehors over and over again a few nights ago while I was working on a midterm, and let me tell ya - I kicked the shit out of that exam. Clearly, neoclassical prog helps you concentrate.

The Beta Band were FUCKING AMAZING live

Friday, October 19th, 2001

I just got back from a show in New York by The Beta Band, which KICKED MY ASS. I mean, wow - they were awesome. Their album Hot Shots II is pretty muted and laid-back, but their live show really ripped. For those of you not in the know, I’m not really sure if these guys would have much appeal to the usual prog audience - they use a lot of hip-hop-ish beats, dreamy multitracked vocals, and electronics that range from spacy to grandly symphonic to just plain weird. In general they’re one of the more difficult bands to categorize that I’ve come across lately.

If you’re familiar with Hot Shots II, the band closed their main set with “Squares” and “Broke”, and they turned both of them into full-out rockers. They opened their encore with “Al Sharp”, which was as beautiful in concert as it is on record.

One of the neat things about this group is their versatility: while ostensibly the group consists of a keyboardist, a drummer, a bassist, and a guitarist/vocalist, all four musicians jumped around to different instruments numerous times. One of my favorite moments was in the third and final song of the encore, in which the guitarist played a second drum set so that the music consisted of a really intricate percussion tour de force, with weird, almost Ozrics-like electronics issuing from the keyboardist’s position and agile bass lines snaking through it all.

So, yeah. A damn good show. I’d like to say that The Beta Band is one of the more creative indie-rock groups out there today, but then, I’m not real familiar with a very wide range of indie-rock, and also, I don’t even know if they’re really “indie-rock”. I guess that probably means they’re pretty damn creative, in any case. Yeah.

Upcoming releases & other miscellany

Wednesday, October 17th, 2001

Next week is gonna be huge for new releases. Check it out:

  • A Silver Mt. Zion - Born Into Trouble as the Sparks Fly Upward
  • Miles Davis - In a Silent Way: The Complete Sessions [3CD]
  • Dismemberment Plan - Change
  • Einstürzende Neubauten - Strategies Against Architecture III
  • Mogwai - My Father, My King [EP]

The few albums that have been dominating my CD player - mostly Grand Opening and Closing, Rishad Shafi Presents Gunesh, and Mekano - are in the process of getting booted by a few new acquisitions I recently got that are a bit more mainstream. In anticipation of the new Coup album, I got Genocide and Juice, and along a similarly left-wing vein, I also just got Michael Franti’s latest one, Stay Human. Both are growing on me; the latter is taking time, as it meshes so many styles, many of which strike me as a bit cheesy. I also got that Lumen album with the absurdly long name that was mentioned on - so far it seems pretty mediocre to me. The drums are waaaaay too dominant for this sort of music.

In The Album Leaf’s “The Audio Pool”, from their latest release, there’s this tinny metallic sound that carries really well into adjacent rooms. My suitemate noticed it and mentioned that it’s beating out a pretty interesting, rather unconventional rhythm. So it is - I never noticed, but it was the sound that he heard best since it carries so well. Little things… oh, there’s an MP3 of this track on the group’s website, so listen if you’re curious.

What is it with traveling that makes certain types of music seem so appropriate? Why can’t I resist listening to stuff like Godspeed You Black Emperor! or A Silver Mt. Zion or similar depressing, sparse post-rock type stuff when I’m riding on the train staring out the window at dusk? Why do I get such strong emotional reactions when I do so, emotions that I can’t even really identify? There’s just something appropriate about listening to lonely, desolate music while staring out at lonely, desolate stretches of land in the middle of nowhere, I guess…