Friday, May 28, 2010

Things I learned today

1. After finally listening to Can's "Ege Bamyasi," the band is more accessible than I predicted, but I'm still not blown away.

2. The first leaked track from Kanye West's upcoming album (to be released some time near September, 2010) is pretty good:

3. The Specials are really fun.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010


Two tracks from the much-anticipated/hyped/salivated-for/dreamed-of/requested new record from the Arcade Fire are avilable for free download or listen, here:

UPDATE: The full album will be out Aug. 3, cover art to the left. It can be pre-ordered here:

New Music Watch: Grinderman, Ratatat

Electronic-dance duo Ratatat will return with a self-explanatory album named "LP4" on June 8. Hear a sample MP3, named "Party With Children," here:

Nick Lowe's grumpy-old-man outfit Grinderman also announced a new album, "Grinderman 2" via Anti- Records in the U.S. on September 14th.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Wye Oak

I completely missed this band last year even though (I now see) they made a lot of the writer's best-of lists. But I apparently over-looked them until they covered The Kink's "Strangers" today on the Web site's hit-or-miss "Undercover" series.

Check out Wye Oak do "Strangers":

Wye Oak covers The Kinks

Or some of their original indieAmericana here:

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Wasted Postage: Reports from the Netflix Theater

An Education (2009)
Breaking a movie's meaning down to a cliche can often be the best way to identify its theme, I learned durin' ma schoolin'. So here goes: "Struggle makes success sweeter," or "Success is a journey not a destination," (or whatever the correct version of one of those sentiments are). In An Education, Jenny [Carrie Mulligan, who deserves all the praise she received for her performance, and who may soon overtake Zooey Deschanel (aren't people tired of her yet?) as every music/art-inclined boy's fantasy] is a straight A-student in '60s London with dreams of Oxford. Her parents are square but loving, and they want the best for their little princess. All this changes when an older man, David (Peter Sarsgaard), strikes up a friendship with the sophisticated-beyond-her years, French-film and jazz loving teenager. Of course, his interest is less than platonic, as is hers. He woos her with trips to France, money and a lifestyle that would have taken her hard work and labor to achieve down the road. Of course she jumps at the chance to go to exciting upper-class restaurants and night spots, the race track and other place of wine, lobster and art. But, what about her own growth, and is all that really satisfying without the personal sense of accomplishment? The film's grace and elegance carries the more obvious plot points, at times (maybe this is just because it takes place in '60s Europe) reminding of French New Wave cinema's easy cool (without the creative editing). A final twist that still allows for a Hollywood ending may be too much for a film meant to educate its title character, but An Education still remains thoughtful. B+

Tuesday, May 11, 2010


If I list Elvis Costello's first four records in order of preference, it would be the exact same as if I listed them chronologically. Not to say I dislike any of them, and I know the critically fashionable thing to do would be to name any of them except the debut as the best, but what can I say, I love the sound of an American backing band playing pub rock. I acquired all the records at the same time, and the first listen of all them was within the same week, so it's not that I heard the first record first ...

A quick brain storm reveals Weezer to be another one for me, though everything after "Pinkerton" has been shite (with the exception of a few tracks), and I'd like to stick with groups where all the albums on the list are solid.

Cake would be one, though my album preferences for the group have slowly changed over the years (the debut was the third record I heard by the band), and though I rarely listen to the band anymore even though I still like it, the preference/chronological list is now identical all the way through 2004's "Pressure Chief."

Can you think of any others where the preference/chronology pairing applies?

The tired listener

I don't have the energy for "High Violet."

The National has never immediately grabbed me, they're subdued, low, dreary ... ruminating ... parts of "Alligator" and "Boxer" are tremendous, only parts, and after several listens of "High Violet" streaming over at NPR, I ask myself, "Why?"

Perhaps on the 20th listen it will finally, belatedly, painfully become my favorite record (and despite the defeatism of this post I'll probably give it at least that many more spins), and I suppose that's the answer to my question, but goddamn, I have too much to listen to, to many films to watch, too many books to read, and I'm feeling craggy and tired and lazy and ...

... then there are the records that should really attack and grab a hold immediately — I'm speaking of the Dead Weather's "Sea of Cowards." After picking up Jack White's 3rd band's debut "Horehound" about six months ago, it lasted in my car for about six weeks, and then retreated to the pile in the back seat, and I have had no inclination to go back to it. After hearing the first single from "Sea of Cowards," I'm picking up the same vibe — arena-blooze with a lot of bombast but no purpose, repetitive melodies, and ... it's not really that much fun. Where the hell is a new White Stripes record?

Am I entering that age when all you want to do is listen to the same old bands and records you've heard a thousand times, and new music just isn't that exciting? The number of records I'm buying this year would suggest "no," but then again all I really want to do is throw on "Boys and Girls in America," or "Being There," or "My Aim is True" and shred the debit card.


NPR has had a ridiculous number of highly-anticipated releases streaming for free, here's the latest (Sleigh Bells - "Treats"):

Monday, May 3, 2010

Dammit is shutting down.
The streaming music service was bought by Apple and is being discontinued. (If Apple is trying to be less loved and more tyrannical in its Web music machinations, job well done, uh, Jobs.)
Lala was great for several reasons: A) It let you listen to any song, album, etc once all the way though. No 30 second sample bullshit. B) You could pay just a few cents and be able to listen to that song(s) infinitely as a "Web song", or you could purchase the actual MP3. Also, you could tell Lala to scan yr hard drive and look for music files, which it would then let you listen to on its Web site, displayed in a similar fashion to itunes. In essence I had my entire itunes library any where I could log onto the internet.

Apple is giving itunes store credit for any "web songs" purchased. I had like 40 free Web song credits given to me by Lala for signing up that I didn't use and now can't be used. I was hoping I could cash them all in today and then receive them back in itunes store credits. I am now looking for more ways to abuse the system.

Found it: Mp3s on Lala are only 89 cents. Anything bought on Lala will be converted to itunes on May 31 when the service is shut down. Most MP3s on itunes are 99 cents. So, if you want, go get 10 percent off.

Lala is not allowing new users, so if you didn't sign up before, too bad.

P.S. Justin Bieber, Justin Bieber, Justin Bieber, Justin Bieber, Justin Bieber, Justin Bieber, Justin Bieber, Justin Bieber, Justin Bieber, Justin Bieber, Justin Bieber, Justin Bieber (Page hits!)