Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Meteor showers and Young Galaxies

A meteor shower has been easy to see the last few nights in New Hampshire, and somehow, I think it was all publicity for today's release of Young Galaxy's self-titled debut (buy it here). Young Galaxy is a b'girl band of Stephen Ramsay and Catherine McCandless, with both trading vocal roles. They show quite a bit of range from an almost shoegaze "The Sun Is Going Up and My Plane Is Going Down" to the quite folky "Embers". "Outside the City" is a bit more rocky and comes at a good time. The opener "Swing Your Heartache" has received a bit of press, and sounds like the 90s really influenced its sound. I'm a fan of these guys, especially when they sing together, thus showing the benefits of a b'girl band. My favorite song on the album has to be "Searchlight" though; its a short little drum-lead sing-a-long.

In other news, I rode on a motorcycle today for the first time since my aunt's accident. It was surprisingly nice to have the wind just blowing and feeling free. Back to the lab.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Breaking Up: Owen Styl

Breaking up sucks. You spend so much energy getting to know a person, finding things you really like about them, and then it just falls apart. Its even worse when you both fall in love and become so emotionally invested in each other. As a side note: I'm completely happy I did it; I just don't know what I'm supposed to do now.

Owen (Mike Kinsella) is a breakerupper's medication. He helps you wallow in self-pity (even when it was completely not your fault) while getting over the stupid person that broke your heart.

Here are three of his takes on breaking up:
Owen "Who Found Who's Hair in Who's Bed?" -Simply knowing that something is going on with someone else drops your heart down into your stomach. At first you try to tell yourself that its not happening, but then you realize that that's that. Its not your fault. People make really fucked up decisions, and this is the song I've been listening to repeat for the last few days. Its got a relaxed beat that calms me down and keeps me from getting riled up. Simple guitar picking and layering with a well-you-sure-messed-up tone are perfect balance that let you get on with your life.

Owen "The Ghost of What Should Have Been" - This is for all of those who keep getting reminded of that significant other. Its the little things that hurt the worst, and for Owen its an avacado pit. How someone can move on so quickly after a long relationship really suprises me sometimes, but it could be that they are just running away from it all. So when you feel haunted by the ghost....

Owen "The Sad Waltzes of Pietro Crespi" - It was just my luck that I first heard this song right as I was reading One Hundred Years of Solitude. Pietro Crespi is this incredibly beautiful, charming foreigner that comes to the town of Macondo and brings European novelties such as music boxes, movies, and harpsichords to this small jungle town. He goes through a lot of pain but is always there. It reminds me that life moves on and there is always someone better. I almost wish I could date Pietro Crespi and receive love notes.


Monday, April 09, 2007

Good Friends = Good Music

Yes, one of my best friends is coming out to Hanover this week. I'm super excited cause he is like the first friend to actually make the trek out east to see me. So much has gone on this weekend, but it ended nicely (me drinking Guiness in Boston with some cool people and napping the whole way home). My family also made a semi-suprise visit up to New Hampshire, so I was delighted in showing them the school and making my sister want to come here.

Anyhow, Jon and I have been friends since fourth grade. He's going to be a writer or soemthing like that some day. Anyhow, the first present I got him was Third Eye Blind's Self-Titled Album. It was our favorite and of course we didn't realize how bad the lyrics actually were (honestly, who thought "Doing crystal meth will lift you up until you break" was a drug reference?).

Third Eye Blind "Semi-Charmed Life" I should mention that they are coming to Dartmouth very soon.

And Jon's favorite band, I think, is Kings of Leon. He got me into liking them with this song off of Youth and Young Manhood. "Wasted Time" Oh yah, their ablum Because of the Times came out almost a week ago. I like it from few listens.

Thursday, April 05, 2007


Yah, I was in Mexico for the last few months and thus didn't post because my internet was the slowest thing ever. At home, I sat on top of my dresser to get the tiniest signal to check blitz. It was awesome. I'm glad to be back, but at the same time I miss so many things about our southern neighbor.

The Sun "Mexico" (buy Sun's Greatest Hits)

I lived in the wonderful city of Puebla, home of mole poblano, Cinco de Mayo, and of course, La Franja. In the family I lived with, my brother Chero played this professional soccer team. I would go to all the games and sing crazy songs like "Soy Poblano". I miss it a lot.

And I fell in love with Mexican food and culture. Here are a few songs that played on heavy roation:
Julieta Venegas "Eres Para Mi" (buy Limon y Sol)- This is latin pop with North American and Brit influences. It translates to you are for me. Yah, cheezy but the video is just as tongue in cheek.
Nikki Clan "No Me Digas Que No" (buy Nikki Clan)- We rocked out to this song quite often and for most of the time we didn't bother with any lyrics but "NO ME DIGAS QUE NOOOOOOOOOOOO". Yes, we were the easy to spot drunk Americans, but hey, at least when we were on break in Acapulco we could get the people to give us discounts cause we weren't that gringo.

BONUS: Cause I know y'all aren't all fans of Spanish language music, here is a little Iron & Wine "Jesus, the Mexican Boy". Its my favorite Sam Beam song and it reminds me of some of the countryside we saw.

Sunday, December 31, 2006

Best Music of 2006

Album of the Year -Floating World by Anathallo

The famous wood block prints of the Edo period in Japan are called ukiyo-e (it translates to pictures of the floating world) and depict landscapes, samurai, theatre, and other forms of entertainment. Upon listening to Floating World, one can see that Anathallo tried to stay true to this when they made the album.

Japanese culture greatly influenced the band as the core of the album is four songs; Hanasakajijii (parts 1 through 4) tells the folktale of a farmer that owns a dog and how his neighbor steals the dog in a fit of jealousy and is punished by karma. Two other songs are old Japanese singsongs.
Instrumentation throughout the song is grand and extravagant. After listening to all of Floating World, you feel as though you accomplished something. Not that it is difficult to listen to, but because it is an epic. Moods change throughout different songs, and at one moment a faint whisper turns into a massive emotional wall of sound. Every single note of Floating World seems intentional, and I am glad.
If one does not immediately fall in love with Floating World, it is understandable. It is a lot, and it doesn't quite fit into any genre. Yet, it has something for everyone, and after a few listens, one can understand the bedtime story quality of it to truly let the fable take over.
Listen to "Hanasakajijii (Four: A Great Wind, More Ash)" - the star of this amazing work

Song of the Year that Is Probably Disqualified Due to Technicalities - Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin "House Fire"
There is debate whether this one counts because Broom was released widespread in 2005, but it was remastered and released by Polyvinyl Records late this year. Nonetheless, this is one of my favorite songs of all time (as noted by iTunes). Why? Because this song has amazing metaphors, repetition of key lines, and a weird sense of optimism. Add to this mix minimal subtle female vocal backing against John Robert Cardwell and Philip Dickey with interesting guitar work. I read somewhere that SSLYBY sounds like that local band that should have, but never actually, got big. Its true, and that's why this song seems so honest. Its a great pick for any time and any mood.

Video of the Year - Danielson "Did I Step On Your Trumpet"
Its innovative and catchy. Simple, yet very organized. Watch, you won't be disappointed.

Band of the Year - Bishop Allen
It was such an ambitious project to release an EP every month this year (buy any or all of them them here). They somehow succeeded with great songs on every album. Did I mention they were on tour for part of the year? Seriously, through hard work and dedication, these guys rocked this year.
Listen to "The Same Fire" off June and a year ending appropriate "Calendar" off December

Best Song by a Woman-lead Band - Headlights "Owl Eyes"
Man this song drives. I always start off tapping my heel to the "boom boom boom" bass drum that opens this gem. By the two minute mark, I'm slamming my foot up and down to the beat. Sure, you think this song is cute, but it also rocks. Not in that heavy metal hard rock stuff, but like true old rock and roll. The piano adds a little, but its the basic drums that carry "Owl Eyes" and Erin Fein's gorgeous voice that hovers over the music that make it so great. (buy Kill Them with Kindness)

Best Song by a Wolf Band (and we thought we got done with them on last year's lists...) or Best Song by a Side Project - Sea Wolf "Middle Distance Runner"
Alex Church has a side project that I love even better than his other band Irving. The song is uses metaphors of track to describe his inability to really get into a relationship. Awww... Guitar picking is phenomenal. Raspy lyrics feel intimate. And you know what, I may only be a middle distance runner myself.
BONUS (because I love Sea Wolf so much): "You're A Wolf" and "Black Dirt"

Hottest Track of the Year - Justin Timberlake "My Love"
JT's newest album FutureSex /Love Sounds really is pure aural sex. "My Love" is no exception, but the lyrics actually show that it is romantic, consensual, and really loving. He wants to marry this girl, not just use her as an object. Oh the ex-boybander really has a soft-side, how cute. Joking aside, this is a standout on a truly amazing record. I have a lot of respect for Justin Timberlake and the way he's been able to reinvent himself and try to really be a tiny bit experimental. Yeah, its produced like crazy, but its done well and makes me dance. Can you ask for anything more? Oh yeah, a hot video, but he gave us that too...

Biggest Secret Pleasure - Fergie "Fergalicious"
Fergie makes my day with this song. Its sugary sweet, and its saccharine character is evident in the lyrics she chooses. She plays the sexy vixen, but she's great. I especially love the ^^Fergalicious def-^^ breaks, and of course, check out the Willy-Wonka-esque music video. (buy The Dutchess)

Best Ballad - Owen "The Sad Waltzes of Pietro Crespi"
At Home with Owen was a huge leap of progress for Mike Kinsella, and its my favorite work by him thus far. The help he enlisted and professional recording made such a difference, the piano work is wonderful. Kinsella's voice still has its trademark imperfections, but would I want them changed? NO! Pietro Crespi is a character from One Hundred Years of Solitude, and this song inspired me to pick up Gabriel Garcia Marquez's work. This song might not be as good as this book, but its a great love song.

Best Dance Song - Cansei de Ser Sexy "Lets Make Love and Listen to Death From Above"
Lovefoxxx and the rest of this Brazilian getup might be the coolest hipsters alive, especially because they shout out to the now defunct Death From Above 1979. I feel like they are just a bunch of fun loving musicians that make music for all the right reasons. Karma's rewarded these guys, and I can't wait for more stuff to dance to. (buy Cansei de Ser Sexy)

Best New Sound - Beirut
Who would have guessed that the indie scene would fall in love with the gypsy folk influenced music of Zach Condon? The new sound was a breath of fresh air. Gulag Orkestar, with light sounds and traditional sounds, made music fun to listen to again. Listen to "Postcards from Italy" and "Mount Worclai (Idle Days)"
Simplest Song of the Year - Matt & Kim "Yea Yeah" off Matt and Kim
A little guy/girl group that makes drum and keyboard music. I love 'em, and you will too.
Check out their funny music video:

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Sunday, December 24, 2006

Cantique de Noël, or The Best Christmas Song Ever

We didn't sing my favorite Christmas song at church today. O Holy Night is such a beautiful classic. The range required is difficult, and if done right, the carol is haunting. No version is nearly as good as a congregation singing it with few instruments backing a multitude of voices, but a man's voice is critical.

Sufjan Stevens "O Holy Night" - Sufjan, I really have mixed opinions about this song. There are parts I love, and then there are parts that grate my ears. I guess that is how holy night was when Christ born, it wasn't all halos and a beautiful baby in a suprisingly clean stable with hay underfoot. Its how Christmas ends up at my house, its happy, then the afternoon is wierd, and then its happy as everyone leaves. The highlight of this song is when the little drummer boy type drums come in to bring this folky song back home. (buy Songs for Christmas)

Anathallo "O Holy Night" - This is one of the only versions of the song that I like that isn't traditional. I especially commend the way they chose to switch between a more rock sound and a more hushed familiar coral voice. One of this band's greatest quality is their ability to make any song an epic, and this is no exception. The trumpet and the rest of the brass add a texture matched by very few innovative versions of Christmas songs. Sure to put any music snob in the holiday spirit. (buy Anathallogy) Ps. they have a funny video on their website...

And because everyone likes it: Rockapella "Carol of the Bells"
(if you look closely, Mary and Joseph are really David and Victoria Beckahm, with Kylie Minouge overhead and others...)

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Saturday, December 23, 2006

Happy Festivus

Happy Festivus (the holiday for the rest-of-us)!

This holiday was created by Frank Costanza in opposition to the commercialism of Christmas. Let me familiarize you with some events of this wonderful and bizzare holiday.
Snowden "Anti-Anti" (buy Anti-Anti)

The Festivus Pole (buy one here) - Normally, an unadorned alumnium pole is set up in a family room, much like a Christmas tree. Alumnium is used because of its high "strength-to-weight ratio." Some people have begun adding tinsel and garland to their poles in order to make it more cheery, but the more orthodox followers refuse to add anything. Yes, that is the Wisconsin governor with a pole...
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah "Heavy Metal" (buy Clap Your Hands Say Yeah)

The Airing of Greivances is a time of reflection. Starting with the eldest person or host, each person at the table gets to tell their fellow celebrants what they did not approve of since the previous Airing of Greivances.
TV on the Radio "Mr. Greives (Pixies cover)" (buy Young Liars)

After the feast, comes the Feats of Strength ceremony. The host normally challenges one in a display of great honor. When the host is pinned, Festivus ends. As a Festivus gift to you, I give you the most Festivus song I made this year: "Sirens"

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