hit counter code Discerning Taste

Monday, March 06, 2006

Amazing

Wow, two posts in one day? After not posting for a week? Am I OK?

Yes, I'm fine, thank you. I had to post something (almost as much for myself as for you guys).

I just heard an incredible new artist on the radio. Listen now! All I know is that he's young and British.

http://www.myspace.com/jeremywarmsley

This was just too mind blowingly good for me to not post it.

Enjoy!

Pitchfork

Inevitably, any music snob (and if you've read my blog at all I definitely fall in that category) has some opinion regarding Pitchfork magazine. There are whole blogs devoted to "the anti-Pitchfork" (see here for alternatives): http://stillepost.ca/boards/index.php?PHPSESSID=9ecec02a468ca8ecf8fac402742f38da&topic=13420.msg200871) and tons of individual bloggers discuss the latest Pitchfork reviews, either dismissing or agreeing with their tastes. Whatever your opinion may be, Pitchfork is certainly influencial, the equivalent of Rolling Stone from back in it's heydey.

Speaking of which, did any of you know that Rolling Stone has archives of EVERY one of their reviews on their website, available for free? If you want to read some real music journalism, check out their reviews of Yes, The Kinks, The Rolling Stones, etc. Amazing musical essays from some serious rock historians.

So, Pitchfork. I definitely fall in to the "influenced by" Pitchfork category. If it weren't for Pitchfork, I wouldn't have discovered XTC's classic Skylarking or Talk Talk's heartbreakingly beautiful avant garde masterpiece"Laughing Stock," both covered in their "Best of The 80's" feature. And for sheer comprehensiveness of new release reviews, Pitchfork is close to impossible to beat. However, their leanings towards anything Indie can be trying at times, as is their disdain of anything popular. Admit it: the Killers don't suck.

That being said, a good to great review from Pitchfork raises my eyebrows, so much so that I will get an album and listen to it at least four to five times before I form an opinion. Take Destroyer's latest album, "Destroyer's Rubies." (read the review here: http://www.pitchforkmedia.com/record-reviews/d/destroyer/destroyers-rubies.shtml)
The first time I listened to this, I thought Pitchfork had lost their marbles. Who is this moron saying esoteric things over, what I thought at the time, pretty uninteresting backgrounds? I was ready to dismiss it. However, this same album is now one of my very early contenders for album of the year. The anthemic "la la's" in the middle of the songs, usually approached in tandem with random "ragtime" piano riffts, topped off with a cherry by some beautiful bari sax and trumpet lines, is music that I'm really connecting with. And that annoying guy talking over the songs, much like The Hold Steady (please listen to them if you haven't already) sounds to me like a pained artist trying to get his story accross to anyone who will listen.

So I guess what I'm saying is, I'm much more influenced by Pitchfork than I would like to be. Their reviewers are so knowledgable and talented in their prose that I take their reviews extremely seriously. And that, my friends, is why the Pitchfork juggernaut will continue to roll through.

Next post: some more music that I've been listening to lately. For now, give the Destroyer album a try. I'm going to try and post more regularly, but I can't promise anything. Comments, as usual, are always welcome.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

More New Shtuff

Let me start off this post by saying I haven't actually listened to enough of this music yet to actually recommend it or not. So why am I writing about it? Call it the power of the press. These bands/singers are getting way much hype lately.

1) The Liars: Drum's Not Dead

Weird album, from what I've heard. However, I think it has growing power. Here's some reviews:

http://www.pitchforkmedia.com/record-reviews/l/liars/drums-not-dead.shtml
http://www.stylusmagazine.com/review.php?ID=3805
http://www.playlouder.co.uk/review/+drums-not-dead/

Just listen to the song "Let's Not Wrestle Mr. Heart Attack." Best use of didgeridoo since Aphex Twin in the mid 90's (and if you haven't heard THAT song, you're missing out.) Creative stuff.

2) Sway: This is My Demo

I like to call him the UK garage's version of Eminem. Dude is crazy good with the lyrics, and you feel like you're getting a little bit too much information on his psyche. Warning: not for the faint of heart, especially "Pretty Ugly Husband." That song is downright disturbing. I'm in to this stuff, but I also like Dizzee Rascal and Wylie and a whole bunch of other "rapping" brits (remember the brit obsession?)
Reviews:

http://www.stylusmagazine.com/review.php?ID=3793
http://www.bbc.co.uk/music/urban/reviews/sway_mydemo.shtml
http://www.guardian.co.uk/filmandmusic/story/0,,1700393,00.html

3) Mountains: Sewn

Haven't heard this one at all, but I will be on the lookout. Stylusmagazine approved (I lurve them, if you couldn't tell)

http://www.stylusmagazine.com/review.php?ID=3813

Hope that's enough music to tide you guys over until Wednesday. I'm off to the nation's capital for a technology conference. I know I couldn't be cooler.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Heavy Rotation

Music listening is a fickle thing. I can never really figure out why certain music makes it on to my heavy rotation list, and why other music languishes unplayed for months on end. For example, I know that Wolf Parade's "Apologies..." is a good album. The melodies are tight, the music is engaging, etc. But I think I've listened to it a total of three times. It never grabbed me in with that feeling that I have to listen to it RIGHT NOW or God will striketh me down with His mighty sword. (Alright, I'm not one for religious metaphors) However, recently I've been listening to The Boy Least Likely To - The Best Party Ever once every couple of days. This shouldn't be the case. The album sounds like something the Wiggles would listen to while smoking a huge joint. Basically, it's children's music on crack. There are recorder duos, banjo solos, 80's synths, and the singer sounds like he's a child molestor in waiting. And yet, I am completely addicted. Granted, I'm sure it will be stashed away with the countless other albums in the category of "addicted to but gave up because I wore it out." For now, take a listen and see what you think. Here's some links to find out something about the actual band:

Pitchfork approved:
http://pitchforkmedia.com/record-reviews/b/boy-least-likely-to/best-party-ever.shtml

Samples:
www.myspace.com/theboyleastlikelytouk

Monday, February 20, 2006

Some of that random stuff

Sorry, been a while since I've posted. I've been strugging with some ideas what to write about, but I decided I would just write about something and hope that it would turn out well.

The title of the post refers to some of the random music that I listen to (and referred to in my first post) of music that a prototypical Indie snob like myself wouldn't listen to. Two examples: Swedish death metal and British girl pop. Or maybe I just want to be a 16 year old teeny bopper/goth rocker. You decide for yourself.

So yes. Swedish death metal. Granted, I only know one album, by a group called Opeth, titled Ghost Reveries. And I must say, if there is other examples of death metal this good, please let me know. Opeth is really death metal's answer to Mahler (I have often said that Mahler symphonies were the death metal of their time. No, seriously.) in the fact that it is seriously schizophrenic, but in a good way. At one moment, the dude will be screaming at the top of his lungs something (probably killing little bunnies) and at the next, he'll be strumming his solo guitar with his best impression of Nirvana unplugged. "Atonement" is all 7/8 rhythms with Eastern scale patterns (translation: think of the last time you ate at a middle Eastern restaurant). I wish that people would give this music a try without automatically categorizing it as "hard metal." Opeth has clearly educated themselves in the ways of the Western masters (Bach, Beethoven, et al), integrating complex chord changes and counterpoint melodies in their own style, hard arse music. The Thinking Man's Metal (tm). Need I say more? Listen to it more than once before you make an opinion.
www.myspace.com/opeth

OK, I can't say that my girl pop fetish has much relation to Bach, Mahler or even Haydn (ich). It probably started with my guilty pleasure of watching old episodes of S Club 7. I admit it...I'm a sucker for anything British, even their crapola. However, I know that the next statement is going to get some eyebrows raised: Girl's Aloud's Chemistry was one of the best albums of 2005. Phew, I feel better for getting that one off my chest. Just so you think I haven't gone completely mad, here are some links to reviews to back up my opinion:
http://www.stylusmagazine.com/review.php?ID=3621
http://www.bbc.co.uk/music/pop/reviews/girlsaloud_chemistry.shtml
http://www.guardian.co.uk/arts/critic/review/0,,1655236,00.html

I really don't have much to add to these reviews. The music is fresh, alive, sassy, and plain fun. Granted, I don't give much of the credit to the girls themselves. It's their producers that are doing all the work. That being said, I still love Girl's Aloud. Again, I don't ask you to like it, just give it a chance.

I also like the Sugababes, Rachel Stevens, and Robyn. I'm done with the confessionals now. Please don't make me do that again.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Getting Old

I know this might seem cliche (and to those who are actually closer in years to death than they are to living might want to club me over the head), but as I was taking the train home yesterday I finally realized I'm getting old. That song by the LCD Soundsystem, "Losing My Edge," is becoming my motto. Every concert I go to, I feel like I'm chapperoning the little kiddies in their 80's faux hawks and mod style shaggy hair cuts. It's sad. Since when did listening to cutting edge good new music become the domain of the really young? So for all the over the hill approaching 30 year olds out there, I must continue to represent.

Ah, but what the point?! Groups starring teenagers who aren't even legally able to drink (in the U.S.) are sounding fresher, newer and (gasp) more mature than their older counterparts. Take The Subways, for example. The album "Young From Eternity" from the trio, starring a dude, his girlfriend, and another dude, might seem to you to be typical snarling "wankah" punks. But dig deeper. Songs like "No Goodbyes" and "With You" dabble in seven chords and rhythmically contrary middling guitar sections. Pretty crazy for a bunch of kids.

And of course, there's the Arctic Monkeys, who are poised to be the 2006 version of Franz Ferdinand...or maybe 1964's The Beatles. Their album sold, get this, 360,000 albums in the U.K. in January. In their first day out, the group sold more records then the rest of the top 20...combined. Purty nuts. Apparently, the only group to get those kind of sales in their first month was the aforementioned Beatles. (I'd just like to give myself a shout out for listening to them starting July 2005. I'm too cool for school). Anyways the whole point of this is that they're still teenagers. And they're good, too. My goodness.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Snow Times

Ah, the wonders of snow storms. Because the masses were locked inside this weekend, people finally got to catch up on all those things "they've been meaning to do." My dad went on a cleaning spree, something he hasn't done in about...never. Being stuck inside will drive people to extremes. And me? Well, got to spend more quality time with my iPod and fabuloso new music.

I think it's fair to say that I'm going to get obsessed (you will notice me use this verb quite often...I don't think it's far from the truth) with a band you might not have heard much about: The Shortwave Set. Listen to them here: http://www.myspace.com/theshortwaveset. They're getting big in their native England with their signature self referenced sound of "Victorian Funk." Yeah, I have no idea what that means either. The single "Is It Any Wonder" cracked the charts this week for the first time. I'd describe their sound as Postal Service, the Go!Team and the Avalanches rolled in to one, but with more of a typical pop song structure. Any band that uses french horn samples as drum hits is cool-i-o in my book. Anyways, do yourself a favor and listen to them. You will love.

I also got to check out the winner of Gilles Peterson's best band of the year award. Gilles has his own show on BBC Radio 1, and has spent the last 20 years championing all that is "soul music."
Here's a link to the awards: http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio1/urban/peterson/wwawards05/ If you have a hankerin' for good soul music that you might have overlooked in 2005, look no further.

The septet from New Zealand (clearly the first place that you think of when you think of soul music) Fat Freddy's Drop (http://www.fatfreddysdrop.com/home.html) won best artist, and I can see why. Their sound is part reggae, part Theivery Corporation (a.k.a "Dub") with a healthy dab of classic soul vocals thrown in. Pretty unique stuff. As with all the stuff I talk about on my blog, they'll be getting a lot more listens in the future.

I haven't gotten any comments yet. How sad. Please leave me a comment on what you think so far. Any ideas? Hatemail welcomed too.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

New Music

OK, so I start a music blog...and there's no music. Not even a discussion about the 90 year old tastemakers that decide who wins Grammy awards. Clearly Perry Como is due for a comeback.

Now where was I? Oh yes. I went crazy last night in my search for hidden musical gems and got to hear lots of new stuff that, as promised in my first post, crosses lots of genres. So let me just plunge headfirst in.

Sergio Mendes: Timeless

I have to say that I'm getting slightly obsessed with Brazillian music lately. There's something about the complex polyrhythms and harmonies that meld together in a giant mixing pot that gets me shakin' my bootay every time (for those who know me, try and get the mental thought out of your head as quickly as possible). So clearly, mashing up classic Brazilian tunes with some of the biggest names and faces in modern "Urban" American music makes perfect sense.

Or...it just sounds like one big brainstorming session at a Big 4 designed to "maximize profits along multi generational platforms." Or something. But surprisingly, it works. Sergio Mendes, for those who are new to this sort of stuff, in an International Brazilian icon who has himself done some mashups of our biggest recording artists, such as Otis Redding and Simon and Garfunkel. The Frog, featuring Q Tip and will.i.am of Black Eyed Peas, is an awesome high energy mash up of horns and bossa nova rhythms. Granted, "this heat" sounds like "my humps" with some ethereal Brazilian singer in the background, but we can forgive this. I'll get back to more about this when I've listened to it more thoroughly.

Other stuff I listened to
Boris - Pink: loud Japanese hard core with guitars that will split your ears in half...in a good way.
Gelbison: Great new Australian band with catchy jingles
Shortwave Set: British electronic band with echoes of the Go! Team. I really really like.
Stephen Duffy: Former Duran Duran member (similar situation to Pete Best of the Beatles) who came out with some solo stuff in the late 90's. All the really good elements of brit pop rolled in to one. Not to be confused with The Devils, his collaboration with another Duran Duran member. I think that work kind of sucks.
Superaquello: Cracked out music from Puerto Rico that sounds like hispanic pop gone IDM.