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Posts Tagged ‘The Dismemberment Plan’

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.

Dismemberment Plan @ The Bowery Ballroom

Monday, November 19th, 2001

So last Wednesday night I went once more to the Bowery Ballroom, this time to see The Dismemberment Plan. This was one of those shows that I’d been anticipating so greatly that I almost managed to be disappointed just because my expectations were so high. Nevertheless, they put on a fantastic show and I left quite satisfied. They played a ton of stuff from Change - all of the last four songs, which all kick ass, as well as “Superpowers” and “Come Home”; and a lot from Emergency & I - all of the last six songs except “8 1/2 Minutes”, plus “What Do You Want Me To Say”. They also played a bit of earlier stuff - “The Ice of Boston”, “Bra”, “OK, Joke’s Over”, “Onward, Fat Girl”, as well as “The Dismemberment Plan Gets Rich”. Good stuff.

The crowd seemed to be much more satisfied with the earlier, more punk-ish pieces - the reaction to “Bra” was astonishing - but I was particularly taken with the new stuff from Change. “Following Through” and especially “The Other Side” were really high-powered and well-played. The band was clearly having a great time, with bassist Eric grinning foolishly for half the show and frontman Travis joking with the crowd between songs. A fabulous show, marred only by the terrible opening band (Need New Body, who seemed to be more about gimmicks than music) and a second act that I was rather disappointed by (Ted Leo and the Pharmacists).

I’ve seized with the ice cold rage of a lover betrayed, half a million miles away
I’ve cried so hard for hours and not known why, I never do
I’ve been knocked down flat by joy that makes my face pulse like a sugar high
I’ve been cornered by the screams of a body as it freed itself of its mind
Dismemberment Plan, “Superpowers”

Of course I made my standard stop by Other Music, intending only to pick up the Múm album, Yesterday Was Dramatic - Today is OK; I did, but I also ran across the new Present (which is on a Belgian label! - bless Other Music) and convinced myself to also drop eight bucks on eight minutes of Magma - the single, Floe Essi / Ektah.

The Múm I got because it’s been getting insanely high praise and has been recommended widely to fans of Sigur Rós. I think the latter is just because they’re also from Iceland, because aside from the pretty melodies I can’t see any relation at all, musically. Múm plays a very sparse form of electronica, and have a pretty neat knack for making very brittle rhythms sound soothing and attractive. It’s not at all what I was expecting, but I quite like it. But of the three purchases, the new Present, High Infidelity, is definitely my favorite. I’ve only heard the Cuneiform twofer that has Triskaidekaphobie and Le Poison, so I was quite surprised by the very different feeling of this new one. It’s moved away from the “Univers Zero with guitar” style of those early albums, and has a much more aggressive sound to it now, helped on by some loud bass and Dave Kerman’s drumming, which is less atmospheric and more tear-your-head-off than Daniel Denis’ ever was. I dig it.

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 Dismemberment Plan in New Haven

Friday, January 26th, 2001

Well, I got those CDs from Greg Walker (except the Dün, damn), and having given each of them a very cursory listen each, I think I can safely say that I like them all so far. Score!

I went to see Dismemberment Plan play last night, at the Tune Inn Cafe, a club no more than three or four blocks from where I live. Solid show. I had some issues with the sound - the guitars sounded rather wall-of-noisish, without much definition (very, very different from the clear sound on the album I have, Emergency & I), and the keys were mixed too low, and the vocal mic was pretty shitty-sounding. But the band managed to do a good show even despite these problems. “A Life of Possibilities” shredded. They also did, from Emergency & I, “What Do You Want Me to Say”, “You are Invited”, “Gyroscope”, “The City”, “8 1/2 Minutes” (which apparently they rarely do live), and “Back and Forth”. There were some older songs I didn’t recognize and wasn’t that keen on, but they also did three new songs that were very good.

The opening bands were two I’d never heard of; one was tolerable, the other was absolutely fucking terrible. I mean, as in one of the worst bands I’ve ever had the displeasure of seeing live. Mother of God, it was bad. For their opening number, which was four or five minutes long, the drummer literally played the same beat on the same drum at the same tempo for the entire song, without playing a single fill, roll, or anything of the sort. The guitarist and bassist were doing similar things, playing the same chord really fast over and over again. But that doesn’t even scratch the surface of why they sucked… I’m afraid words can’t describe.

Kid Koala’s scratch-fest Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is intruiging me. At first it struck me as rather… irritating, but it doesn’t really annoy me that much any more. I’ll have to give it another few spins (so to speak) before I figure out exactly what the hell I think about it. It doesn’t help that I have absolutely no familiarity with this type of music. And how exactly do you categorize the sound of a guy fucking around with a couple of turntables? It was in the “dance” section of Cutler’s, but whoever dances to this shit is seriously messed up.

I’m learning about world music

Monday, September 11th, 2000

As a nice counterpoint to my recent review of Discus1st, we are currently studying Indonesian gamelan music in my music class (entitled “Musical Cultures of the World”). The text, Worlds of Music by Jeff Todd Titon (ed.), is a great book, providing a satisfying in-depth overview of various world musics - Indonesian, Japanese, West African, Native American, Eastern European, etc. Some of it is actually rather too technical for me, but I enjoy wading through and decoding musical terminology, which is a real challenge for me given my complete lack of background in music theory. is up for auction on eBay. As of this writing, though, you’d have to be willing to part with $10 million if you want it.

I’m really digging Josh’s suggestion of The Dismemberment Plan’s Emergency & I. I don’t feel like describing the music, but suffice it to say that it’s very inventive, very cool, very effective pop/emo/whateverthehellyouwanttocallit kind of stuff. Lots of keyboards used quite creatively, as a bonus for proggers.

A night of techno

Sunday, July 30th, 2000

Last night for a friend’s birthday I allowed myself to be taken to the N Club in nearby Greensboro, NC. Some interesting beats mixed in with mostly lame beats made up the music. They played nothing but techno. I don’t think I heard a single melody of any sort all night. Which is fine, given what the music was there for, but I just don’t understand how people can grind to that all night. Dance clubs that play R&B and rap mixed in with the pure drum-n-bass stuff are somewhat more comprehensible, but the concept of dancing to very slightly different beats for five hours is beyond me. The three hours we spent there was way more than enough for me anyway.

Keith Jarrett is da man.

Josh Kortbein recently recommended to me Emergency & I by Dismemberment Plan, saying that since I like Sunny Day Real Estate I might like it. “They also boast all sorts of prog-happy things like polyrhythms, genre blending (very faint, so these labels are inappropriate, but: hip-hop, drum n bass, disco - mostly in the rhythm section, who are amazing), on-a-dime musical turns.” Oh, and he also says this rather amusing bit in today’s entry in josh blog:

Also, I found my high school diploma. How useless is that? My kitchen table’s been wobbling a little, though, so maybe… hmmm… or, I can just wait to get my MS and then use all four to elevate the table, to make it easier to sit at while I work on my next degree.