Posts Tagged ‘The Mars Volta’

Amazon Prime: uh oh

Thursday, September 14th, 2006

Today I got in a small order from amazon.com. They have offered me a free three-month Amazon Prime trial, under which anything I buy gets shipped to me by two-day UPS for free. This is normally a $79/year service. I never understood why someone would pay that much, but now that I have it, it makes a lot of sense and is really a prety brilliant marketing move. Now that I don’t have shipping charges to worry about, I can order from Amazon almost at will, even if it’s just one puny CD, and it shows up at my door two days (sometimes only one day) later. The only problem is that I feel slightly dirty for doing so knowing that this is exactly the kind of thing that could put the final nail in the coffin of independent and brick-and-mortar music and bookstores.

Anyway, today I got the new CDs by The Mars Volta, Mastodon and Yo La Tengo. First impressions of each: The Mars Volta’s Amputechture sounds, well, whiny. Nothing particularly stuck in my head, but then again I’m listening at work and not really focusing on the music. Too early to tell even whether I’ll like this or hate it. Mastodon’s new one sounds way more straightforward, especially in the vocal department, than their previous stuff. At some points I was shocked to find myself drawing comparisons to Dream Theater (though, thankfully, not James LaBrie). Uh oh! Last, Yo La Tengo’s new one is, first of all, the best-titled new release in years: I Am Not Afraid of You and I Will Beat Your Ass. This would be an awful name if it were an album by a punk or a metal band. But a Yo La Tengo album? Hilarious. And it’s good, too, reminding me more of the heyday of, say, I Can Hear the Heart Beating As One instead of the super-slow droney pop of their more recent work. The first and last tracks especially are classic feedback-drenched epics.

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.

The New York Times on prog

Sunday, February 27th, 2005

There’s a great article in the Sunday New York Times this week about The Mars Volta’s upcoming Frances the Mute, and about prog in general. The author name-drops the usual groups like Dream Theater and Rush, but also mentions Cuneiform Records as well as post-rockers Mogwai and Sigur Rós. The review of Frances the Mute itself is very positive — I’m going to have to check this thing out; I was reasonably impressed by the band’s debut full-length, De-Loused in the Comatorium, though I didn’t think as highly of it as a lot of folks — but the comments on prog in a broader sense are also great. For instance:

Until recently, neither fans nor mockers admitted that progressive rock could also provide some of the same thrills - speed, whipsaw changes, sheer pummeling impact - as punk. That’s why many of prog’s musical twists migrated elsewhere in the 1980’s and 1990’s: the odd meters to hardcore and thrash metal, the dissonance to primitivist art rock, the convoluted song structures to indie rock and its proud subset of math rock.Prog may have been hopelessly uncool, but it was nothing if not alternative. Despite its brainy reputation, at its core it was a rebellion against ordinary pop. By any objective reckoning, it was also deeply demented. Who, after all, would labor over a suite in 13/4 time pondering the meaning of free will when the way to gigs and hits was with catchy love songs?

Nice to see prog not only not get a bad rap, but even actually garner praise, even if indirect, in a (very) mainstream publication.