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Archive for October, 2006

Gem from the comment section

Thursday, October 26th, 2006

News flash: crazy corporate hack (Google “Andrew Langer” and you’ll see what I mean, and he links to corporate front group/hack scientists/global warming deniers/free-market fundamentalists the Competitive Enterprise Institute) posts comment at Ground & Sky! Re Conrad’s review of ELP’s Trilogy:

Nah, the best synth player ever is Pete Townshend. Emerson is into classical music and that’s just worthless music, has nothing over guitars. Also, Emerson and his pals never took a political stand and that’s what makes for vial music. Pete Seeger can’t play a million notes a second like these guys but he has something to say.

This isn’t even the kind of classical music girls like. Good thing we have prostitutes! I think guys who listen to this music spend a lot of time reading John Berlau who is a good friend of mine and an expert on prostitution. Music like this will never get you a girl but Jackson Browne will any day!


Look closely enough, and you will find a straw man argument (or maybe just a total nonsequitur), serious aesthetic self-righteousness, severe chauvinism, unintentional comedy, and complete insanity. If only all the comments on this site could be so entertaining on so many levels!

Three fantastic 9:30 Club shows

Monday, October 23rd, 2006

Thanks to the thoughtfulness of a friend (many thanks, Chris), I was, in the end, able to go to Wilco last Thursday despite striking out resoundingly in my earlier efforts to secure a ticket. The show sold out in minutes, so naturally the house was packed with plenty of enthusiastic and apparently experienced fans. Chris and I caught a decent chunk of Melomane, the opening band, whose set ranged from ordinary to awful. Their last song in particular sported some of the worst, most heavy-handed “political” lyrics ever penned — “you’re a pacifist/but sometimes you get pissed,” and something about assassinating the president and killing the people on the Hill. Right.

All was forgiven once Nels Cline and company, I mean Jeff Tweedy and company, took the stage. They chose a peculiar song to open with, “Radio Cure,” but overall played a great set with a good amount of energy. They didn’t come close to matching the show of theirs I saw last year, but that was also a show on a long tour and the second of two nights they played in DC. Then, they played for two and a half hour with a ton of interaction between Tweedy and the crowd; this time around, Tweedy was relatively quiet and the band played for a still-considerable two hours. Also, then was the first time I ever heard Cline with the band, and I was just blown away by his stuff; this time around I knew what to expect.

Oddly enough, the highlight of the show for me was a new song (probably called “Impossible Germany”) about which Chris said, “sounds like The Allman Brothers” with a somewhat incredulous look on his face. This song featured a three-guitar jam that was just beautiful, and was so unexpected that I was grinning through the whole thing. It was also at this point that I really realized, as if I hadn’t known before, that I am a total Nels Cline fanboy. He played beautifully on this song and pretty much every other one as well, for the most part adopting a smooth, high tone over which he had complete control. Of course, he was also quite adept at making a shitload of noise, but that should be no surprise to anyone.

Good show then, although I just ran across this great live review at PopMatters that makes this one pale in comparison.

Also, I failed to report on the two shows I saw a few weeks ago at the same place (the 9:30 Club, which has most remarkably clean and clear sound quality of any dingy club I’ve ever been to): Yo La Tengo and Massive Attack. They were both excellent, and the former was close to transcendent. Ira Kaplan has to be one of the absolute best in the business at making, as Robert Fripp would say, “a lot of noise with one guitar,” sounding like he’s always almost about to completely lose control, but always bringing it back down to earth and making his noise sound melodic and beautiful (I’ll stop short of “accessible,” but it’s close). His guitar work really made the Yo La Tengo show a visceral experience — their rhythm section is rather staid and static, but that’s always been their style.

Massive Attack was a completely different experience, a sensual concert with an elaborate light show that at times made me feel like I was at a dance club rather than a rock club. The band had their full complement of guest vocalists on tour with them, which was awesome, and their slow beats, gradual buildups, repetitive themes, and oppressive sexual tension translated really well into the live environment. It didn’t hurt that the inevitable rock-outs at strategic points in each song were invariably headbang-worthy. In particular, they really make “Safe From Harm” — my favorite Massive Attack song already — into a tour de force, stretching it out into the ten-minute territory with a long, loud, cleansing jam.

Musea now available at eMusic

Friday, October 13th, 2006

Alert for prog fans: albums on the prolific Musea label are beginning to show up at eMusic. There’s already some great stuff up, including both Carpe Diem albums, Weidorje’s only album, a couple Wapassou albums, and so on. If you haven’t taken the plunge, maybe now is the time. For me, the Musea catalog is a perfect match for my eMusic downloading habits, as many of their releases are albums I’d probably enjoy but would never spend a full $16-$18 on. Now everyone’s happy: Musea is getting a little bit of money from me, and I’m getting a bunch of music I would never have otherwise heard.

A little while ago there was a discussion on the ReRmegacorp Yahoo! group about the merits of electronic distribution. That Mike Borella was a proponent of releasing all future ReR releases electronically is no surprise to anyone who follows his Avant Music News blog — apparently he now buys all his music electronically and has not purchased a CD in two years. A few months ago, I made my first tentative steps into the world of downloading legal MP3s; now I’m pretty much sold. I still buy a lot of music on CD, but only music I can’t otherwise get online. I realized that when I get a CD, the first thing I do is rip it into a high-quality MP3 so I can listen at my computer (which I have hooked up to my stereo) or on my portable player. Most of the time I don’t even really look at the liner notes.

Besides, with eMusic so ridiculously cheap, why pay $15 for a CD when I can have it for less than a dollar? Under the iTunes model, buying CDs is still economically justifiable, but under the eMusic model it’s lunacy. Given how little the end user pays, I would be very, very interested to hear the details of how exactly the artists and labels make enough money to justify hosting their albums at eMusic.