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Posts Tagged ‘Dusted’

End of year shenanigans

Monday, December 18th, 2006

Late December means lots of good end-of-year reading on a bunch of the better independent music sites. My favorite of the bunch by far is Dusted, which runs a full two weeks of end-of-year ruminations, including your typical lists but also full-blown essays that are often well worth reading.

For DC, it apparently means unseasonably nice weather (it’s in the mid-60s today and I am working outside) and the beginnings of the 2007 concert schedule — just as I did for 2006, I have begun tracking all the concerts in the area that I am interested in going to in 2007. Might be of interest or use to some of you out there…

The Mars Volta, soaked in piss

Tuesday, September 12th, 2006

Surprise, surprise: Pitchfork’s favorite punching bag, The Mars Volta, get an over-the-top bad review for their new album, Amputechture! The first sentence alone contains the phrases “piss-soaked indulgence” (piss-soaked? really) and “bombastic, mouth-foaming performances.” Pitchfork’s attitude towards this band borders on the comical, and I’m happy to see that the tradition continues in fine form.

I’m pretty excited to hear Amputechture myself, having heard that it’s a long way from the, uh, piss-soaked indulgence of last year’s crappy live album.

On a more positive note, this Sunday’s New York Times had a long article about Mastodon, another exciting modern band with a new album coming out. There’s lots of name-dropping of 70s prog bands and early metal groups.

And finally (links galore today), Dusted just published a feature-length article about the This Heat box, Out of Cold Storage, that I still need to get my hands on.

Other music blogs

Friday, June 2nd, 2006

As I tend to post here rather sporadically, here are a couple other music blogs I like that are relatively new to me. First is one that’s even more sporadic than mine, but readers of this site should follow it with a lot of interest: ex-Progweed reviewer Alex Temple’s indelicately titled “Revisting all my CDs in alphabetical order,” in which he does just that, giving each CD a pretty in-depth treatment. So far he’s almost through the A’s but hasn’t updated for over a month. I’ll give him a little nudge soon because I find his perspective invariably interesting.

Second is something called Outer Space Gamelan, which has more to do with space rock than Indonesian classical music but most often has nothing to do with either. This is another pretty new blog, but so far it’s updated pretty much daily with a new CD review. The writer seems interested in the darker, heavier side of independent rock, up to and including post-rock and metal. For those of you down with this particular niche, the list of reviewed labels is indicative and includes labels like Ipecac, Staubgold, Hydra Head and alien8. All good stuff that sometimes get reviewed in the bigger indie-rock sites but just as often gets overlooked.

Finally, today’s trio of reviews at Dusted features a batch of CDs that should also be of serious interest to readers of this website: Cluster’s Cluster 71 (also reviewed onsite by Matt), the new Faun Fables album, The Transit Rider, and the new Zombi album, Surface to Air. This latter I have, and it’s pretty good, though Zombi live definitely dwarfs Zombi on record (as prog fans will soon find out, as they’re going to be touring with Guapo this summer!). The Transit Rider sounds great, considering how much I liked Family Album, and I’m going to have to pick it up sometime.

Do reviewers need to know a damn thing?

Wednesday, March 22nd, 2006

Right on cue, a review of Stórsveit Nix Noltes‘ debut album Orkídeur Hawaí (which I bought at the show last night) appears in Dusted today. It’s a bit of a cop-out review, as the writer pleads ignorance as to the band’s influences and thus excuses himself from having to try to describe the music:

“Rather than pretend that I know enough about folk traditions to judge whether or not Storsveit Nix Noltes perform with any kind of authenticity, I’ll merely note that to a casual listener it sounds almost exactly like the kind of thing you could expect to pick up in the world music aisle at your local record store, perhaps with a little more electric guitar.”

Suffice it to say that this stuff is a lot more rocked-up than straight-up Balkan folk music. I don’t know that much about Balkan and Eastern European folk either, aside from what I hear in postmodernist mish-mash folk-rock groups like Charming Hostess or Alamaailman Vasarat, but it’s probably safe to say that noisy electric rave-ups and questionably tonal guitar freakouts aren’t usually part of the equation. (Although admittedly these more “out” elements aren’t a central part of Stórsveit Nix Noltes‘ sound, they’re still definitely there and play an important role.)

The review does raise an interesting question, though:

“Most people who run across [this album] probably will not know enough about the source material to really develop a strong opinion. A record this far outside the box works primarily as a change of pace, and most people who listen to it, myself included, will notice it more for its novelty than for its quality.

I suppose this is true to an extent; the point being that a fan listening to a kind of music totally outside his sphere of experience has no basis by which to judge said music. I remember my initial forays into new genres like jazz and hip-hop (after being pretty exclusively a rock fan), and I couldn’t really tell what was “good” and what was “bad.” But on the other hand, I could tell what I liked and what I didn’t like. By the same token, I don’t know anything about most of Charming Hostess‘ source material on albums like Eat or Punch, but I can very easily say that I love their music and they’re very good at what they do.

In my opinion, that’s really what the job of the reviewer comes down to — being able to tell the reader where an album lies in a greater context is nice, but expressing a simple opinion is still the most important thing.

“Cataclysmic karaoke”

Thursday, September 22nd, 2005

Man, Stewart Voegtlin at Dusted is absolutely and hilariously spot-on here, re cello quartet Apocalyptica’s efforts to cover Metallica tunes:

Apocalyptica, looking more like a quartet of Vegas magicians than classical musicians, made the egregious mistake of reworking the majority of post-Cliff Burton Metallica into chamber music for high school band choads. Unfortunately, this misstep failed to call the process of “covering” into question. Ideally, “to cover” should not mean, “to shadow;” to lay a pale sheath of onionskin over an original. Covering should maintain some of the original tune’s integrity, but there’s got to be a contribution from artist to source material. Anything other than well-honed personal homage is cataclysmic karaoke.

Ha! This is from his review of Erik Hinds‘ recent album covering Slayer’s Reign in Blood. It’s a facinating work, since Hinds performs his cover renditions solo, on an acoustic instrument. I’m actually not familiar with the original, but I’m still getting some enjoyment out of this cover.