Friday, September 29, 2006

Album Review - The Lemonheads

Artist – The Lemonheads
Album – The Lemonheads

For those of you who were disappointed with Evan Dando’s solo album (and only 17,000 people even could have been), you may have been left with a feeling that the drug hazed days of the Lemonheads were forever gone. You would be wrong. So what does one do when most people in the music industry (the world?) hate you for what you let yourself become? You get two of the most prominent punk rockers to record and produce your next solo album and throw the Lemonheads name on it. Luckily for Dando, it worked.

The two punk rockers mentioned before would be Karl Alvarez and Bill Stevenson of All, The Descendents, and Black Flag (Stevenson). Not bad pickin's. The self titled disc starts off with a skipper, which is always a bummer. But the original Lemonheads slacker sound starts to creep in around track 2, “Become The Enemy”. “Pittsburg” fits right in with any song of off It’s A Shame About Ray, as does “Poughkeepsie”. There are a couple downer tracks, and “Let’s Just Laugh” is pretty boring, but for the most part the record is classic Lemonheads. All it is missing is Juliana Hatfield.

I have to admit that I never subscribed to the fanzine Die Evan Dando, Die. I know the guy missed a lot of shows and did a lot of drugs, but he pales in comparison to Axl Rose and Scott Stapp on the asshole meter, so give him a break. I am glad that the Lemonheads are back, and I hope their here to stay. I think that Alvarez and Stevenson are the best musicians Dando could work with for their sound (except Hatfield, of course) and they do an excellent job filling in. it may not be another It’s A Shame About Ray, but nothing ever will be. The Lemonheads is everything I expected, and hoped, that it would be.

7 out 10

If you like this album, try:

The Lemonheads – It’s A Shame About Ray
Pavement – Slanted & Enchanted
Dinosaur Jr. – Without A Sound

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

The Black Parade

I am uninspired. I have been focusing more on writing/playing music than writing, and I can not think of a single topic to talk about. So I leave the floor open. I need to write something, I got the itch. Send me your suggestions and I will write about one of them. It could be anything, nothing is too taboo. Well, almost nothing, I’m not going to spend hours writing about Ecuadorian Super Termites. Be creative.

A phantom to lead you in the summer, to join the Black Parade

Monday, September 25, 2006

Shit You Should Listen To! #1

Hello folks, its B here with your semi-annually 75th anniversary edition of Shit You Should Listen To! Today we have a tasty menu of treats to tingle your musical taste buds and delight your most delicate sensual receptors. For those of you who are new to this festival of music, here is how it works. I give you a list of shit you should be listening to, and you go out and buy, borrow, burn, rip, steal, or download it. This edition is dedicated to indie rockers of the past and boy do we have some great acts for your listening pleasure. Here they are, in no particular order:

Jawbreaker – Unfun:
While most people would choose 24 Hour Revenge Therapy as their pinnacle achievement, I prefer Unfun. It is chocked full of punk-grunge goodies such as “Want”, “Down”, and “Gutless”. This is a perfect record for anyone who needs a good musical history lesson into the influences of today’s current punk/emo bands.

Husker Du – Zen Arcade:
While it is hard to find a Husker Du record to determine as their best, I find this is a good starting point. This record includes “Never Talking To You”, which has recently been covered by the Foo Fighters. While New Day Rising and Flip Your Wig may include better singles, this record stays consistent throughout the whole album, which makes it my choice for today.

Pavement – Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain (L.A.’s Desert Origins):
This is by far the best album from these Modesto rockers. Hated by mainstream radio, the Smashing Pumpkins, and Stone Temple Pilots, CRCR has their only radio hit “Haircut” as well as their best song “Range Life”. While the band may be known as a bunch of punks who were generally pretty rude to everybody, they made some great music and this is a record that will stand the test of time.

Dinosaur Jr. – Without A Sound:
Ok, this one is kind of a cop out. Without A Sound is not known as their best record, but it holds a special place in my heart. It has the single “Feel The Pain”, but there is so much more that this record has to offer, such as “I Don’t Think So”, “Over Your Shoulder”, and “Get Out Of This”. Once again this is a good starting point for anyone looking to get into their back catalog, and thankfully I heard they are recording a new record. If you skip this one, then go for Bug, which is equally as good.

Lemonheads – It’s A Shame About Ray:
Last but certainly not least, we have the Lemonheads. This is the record that features their cover of “Mrs. Robinson”. It also has my personal favorite Lemonheads song “Confetti”, as well as “My Drug Buddy”. Also playing bass on this record with Evan Dando is one of my all time favorite musicians, Juliana Hatfield. She alone makes this record worth checking out. Also, look for the new Lemonheads record coming out tomorrow, and I will have a review of it up in a day or two.

Well that does it for this session of Shit You Should Listen To! Let me know if you experience any of these records or artist and tell me what you think. And if they make you hate me, that’s ok too. As always, stay sexy America.

He kinda shoulda sorta woulda loved her if he could’ve, he’d rather be alone than pretend

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Album Review - Plain White T's

Artist – Plain White T’s
Album – Every Second Counts

I always like the Plain White T’s. Their first record was a fun party record, and they put on a good live show. They have that pop-punk sound that is always great for a party or camping, but musically it was amateur. With Every Second Counts, they try to take themselves a little more seriously, and it works, kind of. What Every Second Counts lacks in snappy songs and pop catchiness, it makes up for in a little experimentation. Plus, it’s hard to deny the first single “Hate (I Really Don’t Like You)”, which tried to explain the difference between hate and disgust.

I like that PWT’s have tried to expand on their music and add some musical elements that were lacking in their first record, but when they try to mimic Fall Out Boy the songs lose their originality and, lets face it, their dignity. Thankfully that only happens two or three times at most, as the rest of the record keeps it interesting with tracks like “You and Me”. The lyrics may be a little uncreative (“you and me make a good you and me”?) but the guitars deliver a catchy riff. The PWT’s then get all serious on us with “Friends Don’t Let Friends Dial Drunk”, which will probably be the next single.

I like that they don’t play the emo card, but that also limits them. While emo may be a small field of sounds to work with, pop-punk is an even smaller field. It gets hard to distinguish one song from another when they are all pulled from the same chord structure, and Every Second Counts does suffer a little from that. All in all though they kept me as a fan, but they can’t hold this pattern forever. Next time, they need to give the songs more time to grow before they put them down on tape.

5 out of 10

If you like this record, try:

Plain White T’s – All That We Needed
The Matches – Decomposer
The Academy Is… - Almost Here

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Album Review - Dropping Daylight

Artist – Dropping Daylight
Album – Brace Yourself

Emo is the new pop. Bands like Dropping Daylight and My Chemical Romance are the new Backstreet Boys and N'sync (they may even have a gay member to back up my claim). All you need is a voice from News Jersey or Ohio (or at least someone that sounds like they're from New Jersey or Ohio) and the music of Hoobastank played at faster RPM’s. Add a little mascara and some bad clothes, and you have an emo band. Never is this more obvious than with Dropping Daylight’s debut Brace Yourself.

Now I have been known to praise some emo records, and I admit that there is some emo I actually enjoy. I may snicker at the clothes, but the riffs are hard to ignore. That is not the case this time. Its not that Brace Yourself is bad, its just all been done before. The first single, the title track, calls upon Taking Back Sunday vocals over Hoobastank’s music, which works better than it sounds but still can’t hold itself up on its own. “Apologies” sounds like the forced token sympathetic song, and “War Song” doesn’t stand out among the anti-war songs we have been barraged with lately.

There aren’t any tracks that really stand out, which makes the record sound forced and hurried. It could be that Dropping Daylight just hasn’t had time to evolve, but the more likely scenario is that this is the sound of a dying genre. Let’s face it, emo has lasted longer than grunge and pop, and now we have hit the bottom of the barrel. This record reminds me that emo’s days are numbered and I am glad. It is time for something new. A grunge comeback, maybe?

2 out of 10

If you like this record, try:

Taking Back Sunday – Louder Now
Hoobastank – The Reason
Lostprophets – Start Something

Friday, September 22, 2006

Lushus Nectareen

It has come to my attention that Tom Hanks has been in a lot of movies. Seeing as how I just watched Dragnet, I am now going to list his top 5 movies. Why? Because I am bored and sick and I don’t have any candy or cookies to cheer me up. So there.

1 – Big
2 – Dragnet
3 – Road to Perdition
4 – The ‘burbs
5 – Forrest Gump

Who’s gonna ride your wild horses?

Album Review - Heavens

Artist – Heavens
Album – Patent Pending

I would like to start off by stating that I am a huge fan of Matt Skiba. One might even make the claim that my fandom borderlines the status of, ahem, “hardcore”. I love everything Alkaline Trio has done, as well as Skiba’s solo efforts. Having said that, I am trying really hard to make myself like Heavens. It’s hard. Don’t get me wrong, the tunes are decent, they just don’t go anywhere. All the songs seem to flow together like one long drone, with no ups or downs. Patent Pending reeks of Sisters of Mercy, which contributes to the dull song structure, but that doesn’t mean it’s all bad.

The new single “Patent Pending” is pretty catchy; almost like a punk rock Strokes. Come to think of it, take the strokes second album and remove the flair and pop, break it down to revolving riffs and drum machine beats, and you have Heavens. “Dead End Girl” is pretty smooth and catchy, but the track still suffers from the dull drone of the rest of the album. I know it sounds like I am being harsh, and I admit that I am, but I was just really disappointed. I had a lot of hopes for this record when I first heard of it, and it’s not living up to my expectations.

I will give the band credit for doing it all on their own, with not much of a backing band. Heavens essentially is Matt Skiba from Alkaline Trio, and Josiah Steinbrick from F-Minus; both great bands, but together it just gets boring. It is nice and smooth and polished, so I expect the Depeche Mode kids to dig it, but don’t expect it to be anything like either of the two bands previous work. Let’s just hope that there is a follow up album to improve on.

3 out of 10

If you like this record, try:

Sisters of Mercy – First and Last and Always
The Strokes – Room on Fire
Depeche Mode - Violator

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Album Review - Sirens Sister

Artist – Sirens Sister
Album – Echoes from the Ocean Floor

I was quite upset when I had heard the news that one of my favorite bands, Vendetta Red, broke up. They were one of the few emo bands that went a different route (read: good) and their second major label record, Sisters of the Red Death, is a great record. Thankfully, we have Sirens Sister, which includes three members of Vendetta Red. Their debut Echoes from the Ocean Floor could be classified as the third Vendetta Red record, but Sirens Sister gets a little more experimental in its sound while maintaining Vendetta’s grunge riffs and dark lyrics.

The first single “Hold On” is just now getting some airplay, and it is a good tune, but the record has so much more to offer that it makes me wonder why they chose it as their first single. The songs seem like their more fun to listen to than Vendetta, even if their not quite as good. “Closer & Closer” would fit right in at a bar in New York, mixing their emo sound with a more upbeat tempo. It’s Jimmy Buffet as a 20 year old in today’s world. The real joy of the album is “So Long”, a song about being forgotten by that one you can’t forget. It pulls from the Beatles slower stuff with a piano line that you’re sure you have heard before even though you can’t place it. It drove me nuts until I realized I haven’t actually heard it before.

The record rounds out pretty good. With a lot of these emo bands releasing albums with only one or two tracks worth listening to, it’s nice to see one that has long term playability. Echoes… is not released on a major record label, so maybe we’ll see a re-issue with some other tracks, but for now its definitely worth your $10, if you can find it. I had to go to a local independent record store to find it, so forget Best Buy. But trust me, it’s worth the search.

7 out of 10

If you like this record, try:

Vendetta Red – Sisters of the Red Death
Finch – What It Is To Burn
Matchbook Romance – Stories & Alibis

The Hamburglar

I would tell you all where I have been, but that information might compromise our agents in the field. I can understand how you would worry about me and assume only the worst when not having heard from me in the past couple of weeks, seeing as how I lead such a dangerous double life as a secret agent for the CI…I’ve said too much. Let’s just say that I have been struggling to survive through one hell of a head cold/sinus infection/plague. This thing is kicking my ass, but god dammit, it will be defeated. Victory will be mine, but at what cost? Is it too high a price to pay? I am willing to take that chance. This is the kind of shit I do for you people, and nobody ever sends me a thank you or some cookies. I feel so unappreciated.

Every time I call you’re running out the door

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

The Wickerman

The Wickerman.

I’m going to let that title sink in for a few moments…

Got it? Ok, now here’s the hard part; will somebody tell me what the fucking purpose of this movie is? I mean I enjoyed the movie, don’t get me wrong. But it just feels like Silent Hill without the blood and freakiness. Did I learn something from this film? Yes, I learned that if I ever meet a girl in a bar and she wants me to take her home she is probably part of a cul…I’ve said too much.

If you want to find out what’s behind these cold eyes, you’ll just have to claw your way through this disguise