Wednesday, December 31, 2008

a short break from writing about the year 2008

i absolutely adore aaron from de la hoya/marathon/attica! attica!, and i am listening to his version of "no children" by the mountain goats, and i am struck by a couple of things.

a) i really do like this song, regardless of how many other people are obsessed with it. it is one of the first mountain goats songs i've heard, and though i immediately applied it to my life(a bad move when you're 17, trying to direct your first play, and starting to be really interested in girls. all i listened to that summer was "tallahassee" and "jane doe" by converge. neither of these albums have positive portrayals of the romancing. this might explain a lot about the whole 'running away to alaska, listening to too much black metal' business, but then again, it might not.)

b) aaron sings a "whoa-oh" at the same time I ALWAYS DO TOO and goodness, i am glad i'm not the only person who thinks it belongs there.

you can find his version of "no children" on a specially limited 10' record from red leader records. it's a birthday thing, and nakatomi plaza, the new dress, and scream hello also contribute covers(of built to spill, the carter family, and superchunk, in order.) it's a good release. i don't know if they have sold out or not yet.

while we're on the subject of covers, and the mountain goats, mr. darnielle's version of "When I Get Home"(originally by baby dee) is really fantastic. he removes some of the vocal fanciness that baby dee uses, and instead focuses on the stark lyrics of abuse, over a harshly strummed guitar. eventually his voice fades, and is replaced by a xylophone(or a glockenspiel) playing the melody. i think it's from a john peel session. it's worth seeking out.

goddamn. just when you think you get out, they suck you back in. fuckin' john darnielle.

reasons 1967 was a sweet year #1



this fucking rules.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

our city is burning, '2008, fuck that noise' edition

the protomen - father of death
lemuria - lipstick
los campesinos! - it's never that easy though, is it?(song for the other kurt)
max tundra - will get fooled again

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shorebirds - it's gonna get ugly
office - not her style
two cow garage - bastards and bridesmaids
wale - the crazy

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the gaslight anthem - great expectations
imadethismistake - ocd is bs!
fall out boy - america's suitehearts
okkervil river - lost coastlines

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blacklisted - i am weighing me down
convincted - unconquered
gridlink - stake knife
nachtmystium - your true enemy

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misery index - traitors
birdflesh - the triumph of grind
black ships - no eulogy
cancer bats - regret

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kill the client - 99 percent turnover
keep of kalessin - against the gods
the carrier - hello uncertainty
origin - consuming misery

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pharaoh - rats and rope
septicflesh - lovecraft's death
the berzerker - evolution of agression
trap them - day twenty four: gutterbomb heaven on the grid

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defeater - the city by dawn
harm's way - delusion
transistor transistor - irreversible

bands that should have been played tonight, but we ran out of time:
good luck
cynic
the hold steady
wetnurse
harvey milk
deathcycle
o'death
narrows
prostitute disfigurement

Saturday, December 27, 2008

reasons why this was a sweet year #3: imadethismistake - it's okay

imadethismistake used to just be kylewilliam campol and it was charming. he played anxious, earnest folk-punk that would have fit right in with the majority of the plan-it x roster(especially chris clavin). on his latest album, "it's okay", he's enlisted the help of evan mclaughlin(on bass) and codee vinegar(on drums), and while the album still heavily features kylewilliam's fast-paced nasally vocals(sometimes it feels like he's going to run out of song), there's a fullness and a completeness that his previous releases lacked. the lyrics still tread the line between earnest and cliche, but fall mostly on the side of earnest and charming, and the music is somewhere between cap'n jazz and against me! with a healthy dose of the gainsville sound. the subject matter is shockingly down for a record called "it's okay", but there is always a glimmer of hope. the song "ocd is bs" sums this kind of attitude up really with with it's oft-repeated gang-vocal line "life won't get any easier, so live it while you can." it's one of the stand out moments of the album, where evan and codee almost chant this refrain over a kinsella-esque bass/drum line(with twinkly guitar, natch), and you understand exactly what they mean.

it's gonna be okay.

reasons why this was a sweet year, #2: protestant - the hate, the hollow

fuck, man.

i am not sure i can come up with a better summation of this album. protestant were cool enough when i saw them a couple of years ago, but they have matured into a fierce animal that conjures up the best moments of planes mistaken for stars, converge, and the hope conspiracy. you remember losing your shit over how furious "endnote" was? yeah, get ready for that same sort of rush. i swear, this band sounds positively apocalyptic for most of this disc. tempo changes and tension passages keep shit from getting boring, and the right touch of scuzz in the production makes this release one of the most impressive hardcore records released this year. between protestant, get rad, harm's way, and convicted, the midwest is running hardcore these days. get stoked.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

reasons why this was a sweet year: #1, pharaoh - be gone

i'm gonna write about albums that ruled this year, because i feel like looking back and appreciating a span of time is a worthwhile practice, but i'm not ranking. i'm going to try to write more than i did last year, as i feel sometimes i shortchanged the albums in questions with pithy descriptions.

we're also going to try to focus on some albums i feel didn't make as much of an impact as they could have.(though, i love 'the stage names' so much that i'm probably going to make an effort at communicating that to you folks at some point. also, see: the hold steady, the gaslight anthem, etc.)

i'll be honest, power metal got dealt a huge blow in recent times with the advent of guitar-wankery wizards "Dragonforce", and a huge influx of posers.(i mean, not that i demand you wear gauntlets and play d&d, but no fucking trucker hats, assholes. keep your threadless tees away from my nerd metal.) luckily, for the true believers, there is pharaoh.

fronted by that guy from control denied(you know, chuck schuldiner's other band? anyway, he was the vocalist there, and his name is tim aymar), pharaoh plays some heavily-NWOBHM-influenced power metal, and they play it straight. there is no winking at the camera, no half-nods during sixminute dueling guitar solos, just reminders that everyone liked iron maiden because they fucking ruled, not because they were great to play in 'guitar hero'. tim's vocals are passionate without sacrificing technique, and matt johnsen's guitar work is epic without coming off as masturbatory. it's also worth noting that there isn't a single song that drags. even the slower "buried at sea" is more of a march than a real ballad. it's an album of anthems, for the jean-jacket set.

fuck the thrash revival, this is where it's at.

Monday, December 22, 2008

fuck you, growin' up edition of this city is burning.

7 seconds - young 'til i die(live)

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ifihadahifi - we need this noise to live
minor threat vs. holocaust - don't step
black sabbath - die young
scream! hello - this long night

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angel eyes - two
arsis - the sadastic motives behind berevement letters
barrit - the funeral
lost horizon - welcome back

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genghis tron - board up the house(danny lohner remix)
i have dreams - three days til' christmas
intronaut - cavernous den of shame
the descendents - i don't want to grow up

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the sass dragons - the fifth
creation is crucifixtion - burn the churches - a manifesto
malady - the world is a tomb
one reason - dirge for 95 and 10

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nachtmystium - worldfall
oathbreaker - shelter
harm's way - repression
with honor - milwaukee

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majority rule - at 3 am
vinterland - a castle so crystal clear
the berzerker - evolution of aggression
embrace - end of a year
unbroken - love will tear us apart(joy division cover)

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shipwreck - destined for failure

Saturday, December 20, 2008

i know that it's home because that's where the stereo sings

http://hardtofindafriend.blogspot.com/2008/11/peace-on-earth-vol-ii-now-available.html

i just had a conversation about how i am trying to write music and how goddamn frustrating it is to not be able to craft something beautiful and subtle, and how all my attempts are childish and hamfisted.

the prayers and tears of arthur digby sellers have a song on that comp linked above, and it is a response song to "christmas card from a hooker in minneapolis" by tom waits, and it is stunningly beautiful and more than a proper companion to the original tune. honestly, i might just hang up my voice. bastards. it starts with a simple picked guitar melody, and then the lead singer's voice joins and it hangs in the air, like hot breath on a cold day, like a question, and fuck, it's really one of the best songs i've heard this year.

the comp itself is varied, and overwhelmingly charming, and worth buying on the strength on the many songs included, but to be honest, i bought the thing for the one song by the prayers and tears, and it is worth every penny of the seven-fifty.

oh my god! an ill reindeer!

goodness, have things been hectic around here lately. it is, of course, the holiday season, and that means a) i have to buy people presents, and b) i have to make a christmas mix.

a) is complete! success! things are not mailed, but oh well, things can be late. life will go on.

b) also complete.

http://www.mediafire.com/?nuz2izm4bmz

tracklisting:

1. hank thompson - it's christmas everyday in alaska
2. ludacris - ludachrismas
3. the hives and cyndi lauper - christmas duel
4. the one-ups - super mario's sleigh ride
5. glam chops - countdown to christmas
6. the waitresses - christmas wrapping
7. star wars holiday - what can you get a wookie for christmas(when he already has a comb?)
8. the mountain goats - run run rudolph(live, chuck berry cover)
9. ghostface killah - ghostface xmas
10. PAS/CAL - last christmas(wham! cover)
11. vince guaraldi - skating
12. jens lekman - run away with me
13. quiet company - have yourself a merry little christmas
14. the dismemberment plan - this christmas
15. the royal guardsmen- snoopy's christmas
16. bruce springsteen - merry christmas, baby!

now to finish christmas cards. merry holidays, folks.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

i don't know a thing about this band

but apparently they are ex-ambitions(you know, the melodic hardcore band from CT with ex-members of shai hulud? yeah, i wasn't a huge fan either. they weren't bad, but even seeing them live, i felt like their songs lacked something. it didn't help that i keep confusing them with attitude, who i love a whole bunch.)

anyway.

the band is called drive all night, and their music can be found at http://www.myspace.com/driveallnightmusic. they play a sort of folksy alt-country mix that reminds me of older joseph plunkett tunes, which a little less twang, and a little more indie-rock polish. "summer nights" is clearly the standout, with the fiddle and the catchy chorus, but "stay gone" ain't no slouch either.

check 'em out!

our city is burning post office christmas party edition

dead hearts - burning/bright lights, burnt city

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harvey milk - death goes to the winner
colin of arabia - kiss me goodbye
threadbare - hoover
eyelid - forward to death(dead kennedys cover)

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amon amarth - tattered banners and bloody flags
die hoffnung - lady, killer
blood for blood - anywhere but here
mental - hate me now

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the hope conspiracy - defiant hearts
in my eyes - welcome to boston
indecision - falling in love is like setting yourself on fire and hoping you won't get burned
tuesday - so awake

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avail - clone
the movielife - self-destruct
nickxfury - teenage straightedge
outlaw order - alcohol tobacco firearms

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off with their heads - s.o.s.
white york - very hi-fi devices
reach the sky - so far from home
the red chord - upper decker

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the dedication - this poison
austrian death machine - get to the choppa
reversal of man - get the kid with the sideburns
bad brains - sailin' on
birdflesh - cake full of maggots

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olehole - gunslinger
canadian rifle - cider block/creep
finntroll - nattfodd
get rad - stop the puppy holocaust
giant haystacks - the scar that will never heal

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red roses for a blue lady - it doesn't make me 10 again(cut off wtf?)
hail of bullets - the crucial offensive(19-11=1942, 7:30 am)
coliseum - am i demon(danzig cover)
finger print - my innocent lips

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lair of the minotaur - horde of undead vengeance
can we take a quick, quiet moment to appreciate the crushing awesomeness that is the last breakdown in "upper decker" by the red chord?

fuckin' awesome.

goddamn, son.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

forest city lovers pt. 2

So here's another song/video from that album, and god, this band is a) amazingly sweet and talented, and b) adorable.

tonight i got my picture taken with sarah palin!

thankfully, fall out boy found all of kanye's lost swagger, and have no problem taking over as chicago's overly bombastic pop superstars. fuck, the hooks on this album are incredible. there are some missteps in the middle of the album(namely, "the (shipped) gold standard"), but overall this is a natural and seamless progression from their last album, and they've found a new maturity and comfort level, easing from the southern rock stomp of "i don't care" to channeling bowie on "america's suitehearts" with abandon and skill. also, can we take a moment to appreciate how fucking awesome "20 Dollar Nose Bleed" is? fuck, the trumpet licks! the piano part! the weird spoken word part at the end that rips off glassjaw? god. tremendous. don't sleep on this.

this almost makes up for how annoyed i am with '808's and heartbreak'.

i recently got a sansa 4 gig clip mp3 player, and it is charming, and adorable, and makes my walk to work so much better. i spent this afternoon walking around and kicking snow into the nearby man-made freshwater lake(which they stock with fish so people can fish for them), and listening to the "black pear tree" ep from the mountain goats and kaki king. like i've mentioned, i'm slowly falling out of love with that band, as they morph farther and farther away from what attracted me to them in the first place. most of that ep is skippable, if you ask me RIGHT NOW(which, of course, will probably change as i listen to it more), but the last two songs are fucking amazing, and rival anything else john darnielle has done. "roger patterson van" is based on a kaki king guitar piece(apparently originally written for a japanese anime according to a live clip on youtube), with john's lyrics and vocal melody over it. as a result, it has an entirely unique feel in the mountain goats canon, seeming jauntier and more foreign influenced(i hear a lot of french guitar stylings, but maybe that's just me) than most of his work, and as a result, it's insanely catchy, and genuinely feels like a collaboration between the two instead kaki king playing john's guitar parts or john singing ms. king's lyrics. i'm also curious as to which roger patterson john meant. there's roger patterson, the bigfoot enthusiast(which, 'heritic pride' was an album about monsters), or roger patterson, the bass player for atheist, who was tragically killed in a car accident. the van leads me to believe it's a reference to the bass player, but i like the double possibilities of musician and monster-hunter.(edit: upon further reflection, the lyrics about two young men clearing out the wreck seems to point to the member of atheist. ah well, it was an interesting idea while it lasted.) the last song is written from the point of view of toad, from super mario brothers, and is a painful ode to his savior who only comes after seasons of trembling and hiding in the corners of basements while "guys dressed up like sorcerers" patrol the halls of the castle. it's a touching reminder that you can add depth and beauty to even the most simple of narratives. (which is one of the reasons i fell in love with the mountain goats to begin with.)

hey, here's one of the best songs released in 2008(though this version is from 2007):

Sunday, December 7, 2008

dec. 6th, 2008

judas priest - breakin' the law
gwar - school's out(alice cooper cover)
the dillinger escape plan - 43% burnt
diecast - peacemaker

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the copyrights - kids of the black hole
saves the day - always ten feet tall
against me - pints of guinness make you strong(live)
weston - just like kurt

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fordirelifesake - never isn't something for everyone
cave in - moral eclipse
refused - summerholidays vs. punkroutine
converge - disintegration(the cure cover)

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emtombed - wolverine blues
the chuck dukowski sextet - my war(black flag cover)
the gaslight anthem - the '59 sound
i hate myself - destroy all monsters

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jawbreaker - p.s. new york is burning
lost horizon - world through my fateless eyes
the scorpions - hurricane 2000
murder by death - comin' home

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pig destroyer - girl in the slayer jacket
propaghandi - letter of resignation
the carrier - hello uncertainty
my summer as a salvation soldier - stagedives and highfives

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one king down - god loves, man kills
total fucking destruction - seth putnam is wrong about a lot of things, but seth putnam is right about you
necrophagist - mutilate the stillborn
the faceless - coldly calculated design

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piebald - grace kelly with wings(live)

Saturday, December 6, 2008

and boston is the reason that i'm feeling so blue



goddamn, i miss when piebald was around and awesome. except i didn't listen to them then.

uh.

i wish i hadn't spent so much time in high school listening to kmfdm.(i mean, i do still love the kmfdm, i just wish i'd spent more time taking advantage of the tremendous amount of amazing bands performing on a regular basis around me.)

ignore the fact that they talk for like, three years before the song starts. the crowd is totally into them, and the band fucking kills it. i wish more bands around now had this sort of post-hardcore indie rock sound that was super prevalent around this time. stuff like small brown bike, the national blue, etc. luckily, able baker fox is kind of rocking this sound(which is unsurprising, given that they're ex-casket lottery and ex-small brown bike.) they just put out an album called 'voices', and it's one of the better cds released this year. apparently they wrote the whole thing over the internet, trading riffs over the e-mail and suchlike, and it's shockingly cohesive for something created in such a disjointed manner. i saw one of their first shows(it actually might have been their first one) in early spring in chicago, and while i was one of ten people there, and one of their singers was sick that night, it was a pretty great time.

tonight's show should be a good time. i've been working hard all morning on it. tune in, but don't tune out. the revolution will not be televised.

Friday, December 5, 2008

a punk rock song won't ever change the world, but i can tell you about a couple that changed me

so, today, i think i managed to get a couple of records i've always really wanted:

starkweather - croatoan(scored this on ebay for $14 shipped. i think this might be cheaper than it was originally priced for, but hey, this album is criminally slept on. metalcore that appeals directly to the lizard part of mine brain.)
the ergs - dorkrockcorkrod(apparently crafty records had a couple of these left? i paypaled with a quickness. hopefully this is true, and not an interweb lie. i eventually will get "upstairs/downstairs" but "jersey's best prancers" and "dorkrockcorkrod" are where it's at.)

i also picked up another avail re-issue(4 AM Friday), "hot damn" by every time i die, and "speaking in cursive" by two cow garage. the last two were $5 new.

oh, and the wingnut dishwashers union have a split out with james k. polk and the family of friends have a split out(i bought this too, today.) listen to it here: http://www.myspace.com/triumphofliferecords . pat the bunny(the fellow behind WDU) is one of the more charming people i've met, and i still feel a little bad about dragging him to go see wolves in the throne room. "fuck shit up" is charming, simple, and a little naive, but worth screaming along to anyway. it's punk rock, man, hearts before brains and music before money.(though, this seven-inch is costing me $7. fucking alaskan shipping.)

Thursday, December 4, 2008

despite today being a really good day for the most part(snow! sass! craziness! etc.)

this song kept running through my head on the way home:



i love this bass line, and the sudden explosion into pixies-esque squall and screams. archers of loaf are really great, and it is still kind of a bummer how "ok" crooked fingers are.(though he does have a couple of songs that are really lovely.)

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

the protomen - father of death 7-in

the protomen are one of the best bands in the united states right now. they are as much a product of springsteen worship as the gaslight anthem or the hold steady, but instead of incorporating punk or the blue-collar rock of thin lizzy or cheap trick, the protomen use jim steinmen's over-the-top operatic rock as a starting point. their one cd so far is a rock opera, and the seven inch continues the story started there. set in a dystopian future-city, the story deals with two brothers, two rivals, and a girl and her affections. standard rock opera fair, for the most part.

except the two rivals are dr. wily, and dr. light, and the two brothers are protoman and megaman.

this is where you ignore everything i wrote up there, and write off the protomen as nerd-rock. don't be a fool. like harry and the potters before them, the protomen manage to throw off the nerd-rock ghetto trappings, and write songs that fucking rule on all counts.

don't believe me? they wrote a song about how awesome beards are, and it's fucking phenominal.(http://www.protomen.com/beardsgoingnowhere/)

their new seven-inch is as good, if not better as their self-titled cd. the a-side, "father of death" opens with a music-box-esque tinkly melody, and quickly builds into a western-styled epic with three main vocal parts, choral backing, church bell-style percussion, and trumpet lines lifted directly from a spaghetti western. starting out as a rumination by dr. light about the possible nefarious uses of his creation, protoman, the song crescendos into a bid for emily's affections by dr. wily, finally ending with the chorus(with emily accompaning them) proclaiming "THERE WILL BE LIGHT".

the b-side finds the protomen adding their own touch to "no easy way out", the song from rocky IV. eschewing the original's synths for trumpet lines, and driving guitars, this cover is played for keeps. the protomen work as a group because they play songs with no trace of irony, just a brazen ernestness that overcomes any snobbery, and this cover is no different. to be honest, if they hadn't placed a songwriter credit on the sleeve, i may not have noticed it wasn't an original. the lyrics also mirror the themes approached in "Breaking Out"(the demo released from their upcoming cd), so while the song isn't canon per se, it also doesn't NOT fit in with their oveure.

basically, this is an essential. copies are still available at the protomen's website, but i dunno for how long. i think this is limited to 1000.

long live the protomen, long live rock 'n roll.