Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Favorite Albums of 2006

A lot of these year-end lists lay claim that these are the 'best' albums of 2006. I am just going to list my favorites, since everyone hates what I listen to most of the time anyway, especially my parents. (post-rock is the new rock n roll or rap! As in, parents just don't understand!) (Listening to A silver Mt. Zion... "it just sounds like noise! how could you listen to this?!"-my mom)

I am trying to keep my comments to my gut reactions to the albums. And the general reasons I made these my favorites is because they were in the rotation the most or they are just solid albums innovators or I have a tough time skipping tracks.

These are probably not in a good order. But I'll start with Number 10!

10. TV on the Radio - Return to Cookie Mountain
Andddd they're back! With what I think is their best work. The first time I heard that dissonant beginning of "I Was a Lover," I knew that album was gong to be a great one. The layers of sound, the combinations of unlikely sonic forays, the amorphous vocals=the record doesn't so much touch me in the way that great albums should do. It just entertains me, like American Beauty. It's not gut-wrenching and epic--it just exists, it just is, it's life, it's living, it's an organism that wants to make me happy like a good, obedient dog and I love it for that.

9. Grizzly Bear - Yellow House
The album kicks off with this wonderful piano in an old western movie sound and then proceeds to politely dance around with banjos and quiet drum and then when the lyrics kick in I'm transported to Magical Mystery Tour or All Things Must Pass when George was having his way with atmospheric melodies from the heart. My favorite song on this album is "Plans." It sums up what I like about the whole thing. It's plodding and almost a little bit scary. And that whistling! You can't get it out of your head! The sound is organic and flowing and grandiose and simple in one bite. Sometimes, you can't really understand anything at all of what I'm saying unless you are currently listening to these songs. In fact, I would say, most times you will have no idea what I'm talking about unless you've heard the album.

8. Todosantos - Aeropuerto
Okay, so it may have been released in 2005 in Venezuela. And it may not ever be released in the US. But purchased my copy in June 2006 so it's going to be lumped on the 2006 list. How can I sum up my gut reactions to Todosantos? With one word: FUN! And schizophrenic in a really good way. "1999" screams 1999 to me, "Epica" sounds like my brain talking, "Ian Curtis" says more about Ian Curtis than any simple written word could say, "Atrapado en los 80" is hilarious and AWESOME. It is so cheesy and thus, SO EIGHTIES. Every time he says 'en los ochenta!!!!' in that terribly cheesy voice, I die. I wonder if this album is more exciting to me because I can understand it (it's in Spanish)., or if it truly is good. There's a certain amount of anything that's in a foreign language that's lost in translation, but I feel like I absorb the general attitude of the album and it's exciting mostly because I feel like this band has so much potential.

7. Cansei De Ser Sexy - Cansei De Ser Sexy
I don't care WHAT YOU SAY! This album is so awesome it's unstoppable. I am really glad that they included 'CSS Suxx' on the US version of the album because at the show, that was one of the most fun songs. This album stands alone. You could try to lump it in with indie pop. You could try to lump it in with girlie pop crap. You could also try to say it's terribly mediocre pop-rock from Brazil. The truth is that it's all of the above. But where is it written that it could not be equal parts FUN and NOTHING SPECIAL!?? In my opinion, "Alala" is one of the year's most perfect songs. It's a sonic assault from the start, sounding like someone dropped the mike and then picked it up and put it too close to the amp. Then the danceable little rhythm starts and there goes that catchy little chorus, it's tight, every sound is perfect and could never have been left out down to those ridiculous sounds in between verses. I can't tell you how any times I would just say out loud 'AM NOT STUPID!' even though I'm not sure whether she says "I'm not stupid 'or 'am not stupid.' But I would really like it better if she said 'am.' And thi s is before I can even mention what a perfect little gem 'Let's Make Love Listen to Death from Above' is. The only song that truly annoys me is 'Alcohol' because I think it's trying to capture a certain 'American-ness' surrounding booze and bar music and partying, but it just doesn't do it well enough, doesn't capture it, comes off sounding cheesy.

6. Joan as Police Woman - Real Life
If Antony and the Johnsons were to just become a woman group and be better than Antony and the Johnsons--it would be Joan as Police Woman. With good reason, considering the two are affiliated. Antony even shows up on one of the songs. The unlikely piano melodies, that meander in directions you couldn't predict and the lofty, beautiful vocals make this album completely velvet. I see this one being in my top rotation for many many years. It's like Cat Power, only---- it's actually good! Chan Marshall eat your freakin' heart out.

5. Lindstrom - It's a Feedelity Affair
I could try to put Lindstrom in the same category as Caribou/Manitoba, but he really just isn't. I say that because it's touching instrumentalist music, but on a different level. Plus, Caribou/Manitoba was using 987654 more sonic landscapes. But the picture Lindstrom paints here on this album is one of 'dance party on the moon' but not in a cheesy cliche way. It's more of a 'this is the future, get into it, or maybe not, if you like to eat your steak with potatoes this one is perhaps more for the ice cream for breakfast type crowd.' This album is unlike anything I've ever heard before and it is going to theme my outerspace party that i will throw in 2023. (When I'm 40?)

4. Peter Bjorn & John - Writer's Block
Dear Everybody,
Just try to not love this album.
Love, Lauren
From the lyrics, to the wall of guitars, to the U2 meets the Velvet Teen (RIP LOGAN WHITEHURST) military drums, to the Pulp meets Human League vocals!!!!!!!!! So unbelievably stellar. I can't even put it into words how much I love this album. Obviously. Hence my sentence fragments. Eff it who needs proper sentences anyway!These words are comin' straight from that fist-sized organ buried somewhere in my thoracic body cavity.

3. Cold War Kids - Robbers and Cowards
So they're from Los Angeles, which is fishy, because who's from Los Angeles? And their music is remarkably simple. But it's punchy, and the man has an unbearably catchy traditionally awesome singing voice. Try not to get hooked on it when he belts out 'now hang me up to dry! You wrang me out TOO TOO TOO many times." Their live show hammered this home with me. They have a remarkably spare stage setup, but manage to churn out a sound that just punches you in the face. "Red Wine Success" is another highlight on the album. Among others.

2. Sunset Rubdown - Shutup I am Dreaming
My favorite if only for the last song and it's 78 different genres that it samples throughout it's seven minutes and 28 seconds. So, throw in the rest of the great album and we've got a winner!

1. Matthew Friedberger - Winter Women & Holy Ghost Language School

Obviously, my comments are getting more and more lazy as the numbers go lower, the greatness gets more difficult to describe, and I get bored of writing this list. But. There is too much going on in Matthew Friedberger's head for this not to be the year's best.
Pennsylvania rock oil company! I love the way he says that.

Honorable Mentionns!
The Blow - Paper Television
Shearwater - Palo Santo
Anna Ternheim - Seperation Road
Yo La Tengo - I Am Not Afraid of You and I Will Beat Your Ass
Sparklehorse - For Light Years In the Belly of a Mountain
Rick Ross - Port of Miami
(only because it's so summery and cheesy)(same goes for:)
T.I. - King
Pete Rock Underground Classics
(old songs, but the compilation released this year...... it's so solid, I don't know how anyone can not love it.)
Beirut - Gulag Orkestar
Cut Chemist - The Audience's Listening
The Mountain Goats - Get Lonely
Ray LaMontagne - Til the Sun Turns Black
("Within You" breaks my little stupid heart...ahh Josephine.)
Monster Movie - All Lost
Sway - This is My Demo
(I really loathe this album and love it at the same time)
Joanna Newsom - YS
(Bill Callahan and her are like ... going to have genius musical babies, I think. Why doesn't she do more on Smog's next album??? I think she's only ever played the cello or something like that on one of Bill's songs on like Red Apple Falls, I think. I could be making that up)
Final Fantasy - He Poos Clouds
Matmos - The Rose Has Teeth in the Mouth of a Beast
Mogwai - Mr. Beast
Damien Rice - 9
The Knife - Silent Shout
J Dilla - The Shining (rip jay dee)
Lily Allen - Alright Still
(I don't care what anyone says, these songs are awesome! She is a little bit of a scumbag, though, you gotta hand it to her.)

I'm sure I'm missing some. This year started out so uneventful, and now it's looking like there were 100 great albums. Although, I really wasn't blow away by too much this year. I feel like next year will be the year. Next year I'm going to be floored by something in the way I haven't been floored since Sigur Ros - Ageits Bryjun (I just butchered that spelling) or Gy!be's 'yanqui uxo" so. We Shall see.

And this concludes our broadcast day.
Stay Velvet, my readership, aka Tom and future Lauren.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Some dumb writing. I think it's fiction but maybe not?

When he walks out of the room, his bones make sounds. Little cracks and creaks, not like an old person but like someone strapping and young. Sinewy muscles and bones and ligaments adhering together so efficiently that they need to make small adjustments while in motion. These sounds remind me that he is the realest thing I know.

Looking at his hands and arms, I can see the starkness of his existence. He is a picture on a sunny spring day, every detail is rich and visible, somehow more formidable. Every crease and wrinkle of his ever-moving hands is another story he has to tell. How many bodies have those hands touched? How many souls have those arms held? Why is he so sad yet always smiling? His mouth says differently but his eyes tell me the truth. He is tired. Always tired. His eyes are big blue beautiful and despairing. They're glazed over. He's seen too much or not enough or not the right things and never true happiness or love.

Perhaps that is his failing--love. He did not choose to love the right person or didn't know how to love the right person. Practicality and his heart were saying two different things.

Everything he does is puncuated by exclamation points. He pulls out a cigarette and snaps the box shut and slaps it back on the awaiting surface--be it the bar, the coffee table or the bureau. He gets back in bed and shifts around quickly until he's comfortable. If he needs to get up for something--to ash his cigarette, find the remote--he pops up and does the action in one fluid motion. And then he flips right back down and throws his arm wildly behind his head.

And he grins so sheepishly when he's bad. He says something inappropriate but precious and his little smile says everything: "You know I'm bad but you love it don't you?" Of course I do, who wouldn't? And that scares me. He doesn't have a million suitors and it boggles the mind. Am I the only one who loves the way he throws his head back and laughs? Can I possibly be the only one who truly enjoys the way he talks and the way his eyes dance when he's happy and in the throes of telling a story? And when he sings how the words come out of nowhere? They sound rich and full of fire but he is not them. They sound happy and lively but he is not that.

His hands. His hands. His hands. They are. There. Like the sun. Just overpowering and alive. Though his eyes say different, his hands know. His hands are thinking breathing organisms. They know what to do when he doesn't. His one hand only physically reaches a few inches of my leg but in my mind I am huddled up inside his hand. I am stretched across his fingers. My face is pressed up against the inside of his thumb. My arms are wrapped around his pinky. His ring finger is cradling my entire back. The palm of his hand adheres to my legs like glue. I am swallowed up whole by his one hand.

And he doesn't know.

He thinks I am just oblivious. He thinks his hand on my leg rings inconspicuous in my head. If only he knew that I am clutching to his arm as if it's a lonely tree in a field in the middle of a blizzard. All around me the world swirls and I am holding fast to this tree so that I don't get swept up and taken away by a terrible evil calculating gust of wind that is time years and months and weeks days and hours of life that are rushing on plundering on like dinosaurs through mud in their last days.

His arm to me is magnetic. His chest is made of extremely strong adhesives. My skin and his are made of compounds that if left together too long will chemically react and mold together, impossible to seperate.

I crawl out of bed. I think he's sleeping. But I turn around anyway to watch him lie there. His eyes are open. He is watching me walk out of the room. I grin, he doesn't, only looks at me imploringly.

Maybe he does know.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Musical discourse of Mid December. Plus Damien Rice show review!

The new Menomena album is GREAT. Really great. Highly recommended. Every song is sonically pleasing because it's a little off-kilter, they are using a lot of unorthodox sounds on the songs, it's really lovely. Lot of faraway piano, good vocals. This review is extremely stream-of-consciousness so hopefully you will forgive me for the sentence fragments.

Lately, I have been listening to a lot of Otis Redding and Al Green due to the fact that at Lou's it's hard to find good current music in the jukebox, so I have to go to the classics and so I am revisiting a lot of old favorites. I've developed some new favorite songs. I always kind of liked Otis Redding more than Al Green but now that I have been listening to both of those guys a lot lately, I have realized they are not even really comparable, they have different ways of singing, and Al definitely has more of a focus on instrumentation and the melody than Otis. Otis is kind of ALLLLL voice. And holy lord is that voice VELVET or what??? I never really liked Al Green's 'Tired of Being Alone' and 'Belle' until recently. Now, if someone asked me what my favorite Al Green songs were I would spit out those two right off the bat.

My friend, Moe, and I have been discussing recently what songs we will play at our weddings. He claims that he is going to have Billy Joel's "Just the Way You Are." Personally, I think this is a terrible choice. There are so many songs in the world, and you're going to pick BILLY JOEL? He's out of his mind. This is the part in my internal dialogue about music with myself and nonexistent sentient beings on the interweb where I discuss the notion of Billy Joel being absolutely HORRIBLE. Why do people go to his concerts? Hasn't he sold out like one million shows in the US or something like that? What is his talent? I don't even think he writes good cheesy pop songs? Why don't I like Billy Joel at all? Is there something wrong with me? It proves difficult for me to wrap my head around Billy Joel's raging popularity. When we wanna talk about Piano-men who write good pop songs, aren't you going to mention Elton John before Billy Joel? Elton John=talented, Billy Joel=a hack. Maybe it's just me being snotty about tunes again, but Elton John is almost as popular but I don't hate him, so it must be something about Billy Joel. I still remember going to some religious retreat in high school and this one girl, Carissa, she was on her high horse because no one knew the words to "Piano Man," as if loving Billy Joel and knowing the words to one of the most popular songs of all time put her in some sort of higher class as far as being hip goes. If you're going to be in high school and get uppity about your musical tastes, don't put all your money on Billy Joel. He is terrible. At least try to claim you love the Beatles even if you have never even heard the white Album in its entirety. The point is, Moe is crazy. Billy Joel is a bad choice for wedding songs, especially because 1000 other scumbags before you have probably picked Billy Joel to play at their weddings. At this current date, I think my wedding song could very well be 'Belle' by Al Green. It's so nice to dance to and the lyrics aren't even really........ They don't even really apply to .... your beloved, but it doesn't matter, the mood of the song says I love you and you're the best and I'm glad I met you. Even if the words aren't saying exactly that. The way you hold your lady when you're dancing to it is enough to communicate that. There's just something about the way you have to sway to the beat and the melody, it's just sexy.

So anyway.

I like some pretty traditionally terrible music, sometimes. And I feel like it's okay because I like so much other traditionally GOOD music that it cancels out all my bad choices. I like some old Beasties Boys but it's okay cause I like Lords of the Underground and Cypress Hill. I have just been doing a lot of different things musically lately and I listen to Bargain Music and Sublime and don't have to always feel like a white-ass college idiot.

Speaking white-ass college idiots, I was surrounded by them at the Damien Rice show the other night at the Tower Theatre. That's okay, I don't make assumptions. People are generally really nice, especially white-asses, they tend to be very non-committal and glancingly friendly. But The Music! Damien Rice was really really good. I really don't like some of the songs when he just turns on the rock and distorts his voice with that effect pedal attached to his microphone. He is much better at the quieter stuff, I'm sure he knows that. And sometimes, the loud endings to songs are effective. Like on 'Elephant' and 'Eskimo.' Those two songs crescendo into some affecting sounds. And live they really tore out the audience's collective heart. That woman has one of the most beautiful voices on the planet. Moe had never heard of Damien Rice before I asked him to go to the show with me. (Personal sidebar: I bought the tickets a really long time ago, I had expected to go with my ex-boyfriend, he was a huge huge fan, we both were, I had thought it would be a nice Xmas present for him..... so I had to take a non-Damien Rice fan because you normally don't meet many people who are in-the-know about that sort of stuff. Anyway, Moe is the type of person who will check out anything musically. His tastes are far-ranging but being from an older crowd, I guess he normally doesn't collect the 'newmusic' tips that often come along to the younger, more internet-savvy generation. But the point was, even though he never heard Damien Rice before that night, he immediately picked up on the notion that I started mentioning to him after the show that yes, the woman has a very nice voice but she is used appropriately. Fans love those parts in the songs when she sings because she sings so beautifully, and you always have to wonder to yourself 'Why doesn't she do solo work, she has a glorious voice?' and then you sort of realize that she is used with restraint because you almost want to think that if she was all over everything and doing solo work, it wouldn't have the same sort of effect. The conflict of Damien's voice and hers is what really makes the songs special. 'The Blower's Daughter' is a perfect example of that as well as '9 Crimes.' So, in conclusion, I think the fact that Moe realized that same thing that I did proves that it's not just a theory, the use of the girl is appropriate and perfect in Damien's songs and anything more would be overkill) 'The Animals Were Gone' was another big highlight, Damien has a fabulous voice, obviously it's the thing that really makes you want to write home about him.

The coolest part was something unique to the Philadelphia show because at one point, Damien introduced a guy that worked at the Tower Theatre, Derek! He was apparently listening in on the soundcheck earlier that day while the cellist was rehearsing, and Derek thought it would be cool if he beatboxed in conjunction with her cello-playing. They threw a little number together that involved Derek beatboxing while she played the cello and did a little rap. It was amazing in it's organic formation. The magic of an non-professional from Philly completely falling in line with a professional cellist of a totally different creed was amazing. Derek was nervous and wasn't sure exactly how to work with the microphone and things like that, they were all sort of wondering how it was gonna work out, and it worked out beautifully. The rap was funny and sounded so cute coming from this little Irish girl and the beatbox sounded great over the cello. It wasn't the best beatboxing in the world but the circumstances in how it all came together so quickly is what made it so entertaining. It was my favorite part of the show by far.

Anyway, end result: it was a good show. Damien Rice is a talented dude, I was not thrilled with the new album at first and I still am not, I think parts of it are really weak and I think the first part is amazing and the second part really dies off. I sometimes think that about 'O' too. Some of the songs are genius while others are barely a blip on the radar. I find it amazing that I always regard 'O' as a "classic" album yet there are songs on there that I skip always! I really don't like Volcano, I really don't like Cannonball. And I sometimes don't like 'Amie' ... but I think that's because it's so direct at one person. I normally don't like 'name' songs like that because they cancel out 99% of the population because you're not named Amie.

The farther I go with this analysis, the less sense I make, and the more my grammar fails, so I'm going to quit while I'm ahead and tell ya'll to stay velvet and pick up the new Menomena album. It probably isn't out yet. But you all know of ways to hear this stuff before it drops. Pigs Pigs Pigs! Seeking of Souls! You know it.

Comment here if you are feeling the new Damien Rice album or if you were at the concert or if you heard the Menomena or any general comments like how awesome today's Eagles game was!

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Some new developments

I have upgraded my piece of crap computer. I installed a new cd burner, and one whole gigabyte of memory!!! You would not even believe the difference. My computer actually functions when there's all my regular programs open. (Azureus, Windows Media Player, Nero Express, AIM, Mozilla, 2 folders [my external hard drive and the my music file]) My computer is like God now. And I have that Lightscribe technology on my drive so that's kind of interesting. Hopefully it doesn't prematurely end my drive's life. I bought a ton of CDS while I was out getting the RAM today. I did a lot of perusing since there is a limited selection at such stores........ (Best Buy and Circuit City) but I managed to find some gems!!!!!!!

Pete Rock - Underground Classics
Pete Rock & CL Smooth - Mecca and the Soul Brother
Cypress Hill - Black Sunday
Digable Planets - Reachin' (a new refutation of time and space)
Cypress Hill - Self Titled
Lords of the Underground - Here Come the Lords
Dr Who Dat? - Beat Journey

Altogether, a productive day! I really hope I get paid soon to cover these extravagant purchases. I am vowing to not purchase another thing until December 15th. I have been spending money like I grow it like pot plants in my basement.

Also. I saw Last Emperor last night at Liquid Charm. He is so much fun to watch. His voice is so smooth, I'm amazed he's not more ridic than he is. I guess his subject matter is a little....... far out for a lot of people to get down with.

This blog entry sucks. I am just waiting for my Lightscribe thing to be done printing up a label for this Thievery Corporation CD that I'm burning for my boy Moses. Also, work is awesome!

Stay velvet, kiddies. Feel free to comment on this new technology I've acquired.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Sufjan at the Tower Theatre 9/28/2006

I've seen Sufjan before, it was extremely interesting--an experience that I can't really explain--but last night was different. Before I even say anything, let me reiterate the fact that I am sort of numbed by the greatness of Sufjan and a little put off by his pseudopsycho lyrics half the time. Like an Irvine Welsh novel, parts of Illinoise were just TOO MUCH to swallow in one bite. However, my love for Sufjan's tunes was renewed last night by his desire for perfection.

I feel like going to so many shows is fun because you get to see the band performing live similar versions of their recorded songs, but if you had never heard the band before it probably wouldn't have been that interesting. I think I can say that the opposite is true for only four bands that I've witnessed live: Sufjan, A Silver Mt. Zion, Mogwai, and Sigur Ros. Now, Sufjan is the odd man out in that list because he is the only one doing quasi-traditional music (the rest are postrockish). At one point he told this story about how he lived in a trailer when he was younger and one day his dad wanted to start a bonfire but the bonfire got so huge they had to call the fire dept... and somehow he segued into 'Seven Swans' which I guess was written about the event now that I pay more attention to the lyrics. But everyone was held rapt while he was speaking, he told it in such a dramatic fashion, and then he played the song. Ya know most shows sometimes by the end of it, even if I absolutely love the band, I just really can't wait to get outta there (I'll use Built to Spill as an example there). But Sufjan, I never wanted him to stop playing. He played a new song 'Majesty Snowbird' ???? It was fantastic! albeit off the wall! I really can't wait to hear that one in a studio version.

Basically what it comes down to is that Sufjan does a lot of ridiculous things on record, it seems impossible for him to match up to that in a live setting--- but he did! He really did--and beyond!

Monday, August 21, 2006

So you think you can get a Wild Card playoff berth?

The Philadelphia Phillies are the cause of and solution to all of life's problems. There are the headaches--why can't Brett Myers pitch great on a consistent basis? Why does Charlie Manuel let young pitchers flounder in important games? Why does Pat Burrell pull an MLS ("Mike Lieberthal Special" aka an infield or shallow center field fly ball) every time the game is on the line? Why can't Aaron Rowand hit better than .260? He has the skills he just doesn't remain consistent, I don't understand the reason for that. At least Abraham Nunez has placed himself back in my good graces, his batting average is just south of the Mendoza Line at .198. But, the Phillies are the cure-all for all my frustrations sometimes. There is nothing like working hard all day long and then coming home and flipping on the game. Missing the game makes me feel like an alien. Every time I can't be around to catch at least a few innnings of the game, I feel so out-of-sorts it's as if I'm living in bizarro world. There's something inhumane about missing the Phils game. And going to the game! Now that is a treat! It's so special there. And there is truly something about experiencing and talking to another TRUE Phillies fan who actually KNOWS baseball and knows full well that Bobby Abreu is a fantastic ballplayer, one of the best in the game, but not a good fit for our team. I only know a handful of true baseball fans and I really treasure their knowledge. Baseball is a forgotten sport by a lot of people. There's so many games it's just a part of life in the summer, going to a game is normal for most people even if they don't know how much Pat Burrell sucks in the clutch despite having the skills to come through. Everyone is surrounded by the Phils in the summer in one way or another but only a few really pay attention.

So. That said. Do you really think the Phils have a shot at the Wild Card? As it stands tonight, they are 2 and a half games back from the Reds, but tied with Arizona and San Diego in that position. There are still a good amount of games left. (Thirty-five? Or something) And in that span, about a million things can happen. Ryan Howard will almost certainly break the franchise record held by Mike Schmidt for homers in a single-season. Schmidt hit 48, Howard's on pace to hit about 55. That is extremely impressive for a sophomore season. Which leads me to another thing that boils me about the Phillies--so much talent but it never really comes together for them on a consistent basis at the right times. They go through stretches where they can absolutely dominate their opponents ... good formidable opponents like the Mets... and then all of a sudden have it all fall apart, unable to score a single run or something like that.

My hope. My one and only hope. Is for the Phils... to get the Wild Card--- face the Mets in the first round and knock them out of the playoffs. If they advance farther, it would just be a bonus. Deflating all New York's hopes would please me more than anything I can imagine. It would be like how happy I'd be if the New Jersey Devils folded and were no longer a franchise.

Anyway. Here's hopin'! There's a lot of baseball left!!!!

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

I wish I could put a disclaimer in here every time I talk about Tunes...

...Because of course when you think about it, in the grand scheme of things, the novelty of music is intangible and it's difficult for everyone to agree on the qualitative nature of certain albums or songs or artists. The disclaimer would say something about how I do understand all this and that I hope other folks understand it, too. Music is pretty much a luxury and to me it is my most treasured luxury along with literature.

I was talking about the film, 'The Pianist,' yesterday and was discussing how it was hardly just a 'Holocaust' film and that was the reason I loved it so much. I often think that people of color or religion use that as a crutch in art. I cannot tell you how many books, short stories and essays I've read that were put in compilations or given some unworthy credit just because they were about a hardship. Non-fiction-writing is an exception. People who write memoirs to tell the history of and the battles of a particular hardship such as the Holocaust is perfectly normal to me even if the writing is sub-par, because it's all about getting the story out there. Half the reason I love writing so much is because words fill in the gaps that the human mind forgets. On a personal basis, writing fills that need to REMEMBER. Writing about true events that happen to me, or odd stories that I made up throughout the day, or even dreams that I've had can put layers on my consciousness that would not otherwise be there had I not picked up a pen or sat down at the keyboard. Not a day goes by where I don't scribble a little story synopsis in my brainstorm book or write a journal entry about something funny that happened that day or even something completely mundane. In informal venues such as my written journal and this blog, I write quite, you know, informally, I try to take on a conversational tone. I try not to order my thoughts in essay fashion because it's simply not natural to me. I remember learning in freshman year English at McDevitt that the human brain does not think in sentences. It thinks in stops and starts of information. The problem is that the complexity and quickness of the human brain could not possibly communicate the true meaning of what it was trying to say to another human brain in that fractured fashion. That is why there is ordered sentence structure in speech and in writing--so that we can understand each other.

I have no idea where I was going with all that. But I had started out talking about how 'The Pianist' was a great film because it was great ART and did not use the Holocaust experience as a 'crutch,' rather it based its greatness around that terrible experience and a masterful and cathartic rendering of what the Holocaust was for one particular individual. The end result was a fairly accurate depiction of the history of that event, coupled with the basic desperate struggle of humans to simply survive even in the face of such a dim future, all the while familial and romantic relationships are still a part of the equation and the whole, long, plodding, yet highly suspenseful film is crystallized by Szpilman's (Adrien Brody's charcter) love of music. His love for the sound of the piano---the 'magic' of the sounds that would come out of that piano--gave him something to hold onto faced with the knowledge that every family member and friend could be dead and that his own death could have been around any corner.

End result, as evidenced in that perhaps slightly fictionalized film, music holds a power and value for humans that I still have not really comprehended, despite my unheard of dedication to it. Ever since I was young, I had an obsession with the intangible and the abstract. 'Intangible' is probably one of my top ten most used words (other than the normal conversational words of course). The value of music is complete baseless. Factoring into just one record's particular worth are about a thousand things, 995 of them pertaining to the person who is listening to it's background and disposition. I don't know how to go one day without listening to music, yet I understand how very uneccessary it tends to be.

In recent months, my musical tastes have been all over the map and haven't really been taken by storm by any new music coming out. I sometimes wonder if my days of being 'taken by storm' are over when it comes to music. There are things I REALLY LIKE, for instance, the new Cut Chemist album 'the Audience's Listening,' but am not researching every one of Cut Chemist's last moves withing the last nine years with Jurassic 5 and any other possible collaborations and releases. (Like I may have done with Radiohead or Yo La Tengo or Sigur Ros in the past). No, I'm just content to really enjoy this album and if I stumble across some tidbits about future Cut Chemist solo releases or Cut Chemist collaborating with Rick Ross (hahahaha) than so that will be............ I am spoiled by past years of music that seemed impossibly powerful. Radiohead's "Kid A" still has a hold on me that I simply cannot fathom or explicate. 'Motion Picture Soundtrack' is connected to so many different parts of my life that I feel about 1000 different emotions when I hear it, but I've since come to grips with the majesty of the song and don't have to hold my breath and scream and shout when the thing comes on.

Sometimes, though, music does take my breath away. One such artist that can do this is 'Godspeed You! Black Emperor'. I was listening to the 'Yanqui U.X.O' album while I was in N. Wildwood and just could not believe how I've heard the songs at least 50 times, AT LEAST, yet I was still getting chills. Also, I was getting visuals of things that are not even said in the songs, since they're instrumental. How does 'Motherfucker=redeemer' somehow translate into visions of a triumphant rise out of the apocalypse for the human race? There are things about Godspeed as well as A Silver Mt. Zion that just put a stranglehold on my heart. At some times I consider if the best music that was ever invented, because it says so many things at once, all the while remaining beautiful, and hardly saying any words.

Speaking of A Silver Mt. Zion, the show at the Church a couple of Mondays ago was absolutely gripping. The harmony that they churned out was out of control, and the acoustics in the sanctuary were so solid and resounding and glorious. I don't know how they create the kind of beauty that they do on record, let alone live, it was fascinating to watch and hear. I read, I think on Pitchfork, that they are supposed to release a live album called 'Fuck You Drakulas' and if that is indeed the case, than I will be in absolute musical heaven. They were amazing, I would love to see them again. The thing was on a whole different level than humans, seriously.

Anyway, I could talk about all this abstract musical stuff for seven aeons, so. Stay velvet, friends.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Some helpful information/Some thoughts

If you like great tunes, don't forget that Diplo and Bonde Do Role are doing up the Mummer's Museum on July 21st. I would suggest grabbing advance tickets from r5 since I think only about 250 people will get in. It's 22 bucks, which is kind of steep, but that's because it's 8-12 open bar and then I think there's an afterparty where the open bar continues or maybe there are just drink specials. DJ Panek told me that Diplo and Lowbudget always used to do this type of madness at the Ukranian Club a couple of years ago and it is what kind of put those guys on the map as well as their 'Never Scared' mixtape (2003). I think Cliff (Panek) was saying that he attended a party of the same nature at the Met in New York and everything was well-lit because it was a museum and colorful and stuff and it was a unique experience. I honestly can't remember whether he said he experienced that or just heard about it. I was mangled at the time. I feel like I should be hired to do promoting for r5, but here's the info:

Diplo/CSS(Cansei De Ser Sexy)/Bonde Do Role
At The Mummers Museum
2nd and Washington Ave (almost South Philly)
Philadelphia, PA
$22 / Includes Full Real Deal Four Hour Open Bar (all you can drink - beers, wine, mixed drinks etc)
All Ages To Enter / 21+ To Drink

I already have tickets and I am really excited, except, I feel like I am going to have the highest expectations ever and it's going to suck or I'm going to have low expectations due to trying not to have high expectations so that I'm not dissappointed and it will completely blow my mind. Either way, I predict the most ridiculous dancing you will ever see from me.

ALSO..... A Silver Mt. Zion is playing in the church sanctuary on July 31st. This is pretty much going to be the show that makes me want to kill myself afterwards so that I can die happy. The show is going to be some OTHER LEVEL type shit and I will probably die.

Silver Mt. Zion
At The First Unitarian Church's Sanctuary
2125 Chestnut Street (22nd and Chestnut)
Philadelphia, PA
Take A Look Of The Room : HERE and HERE
$12 / All Ages

Anyway, Dave Ott lent me this book by Henry Rollins who was the lead singer for Black Flag throughout a whole bunch of years in the 80s. To say the least, the book is highly entertaining simply for its view of Rollins as complete dickbag/true artist. There is a fine line between the two parts of Rollins and I think mostly he is a product of the 'punk/hardcore' scene at the time and his writings from that time are completely reflective of how the times have changed. In the beginning of the book, Rollins is writing as and older, more mature person reflecting on what he can remember about the early tour dates. Towards the middle of the book, the writings are from a journal that Rollins actually wrote in while on tour and they are considerably more immediate and disturbed. Rollins writes as if he planned on releasing the journal one day to impress. He complains about how other people complain that 'Flag' has sold out and they're such rock stars but all the while the band hardly has money for food and constantly goes through hardship after hardship but still goes out and DESTROYS every night which I guess is the general essence of hardcore. The more I read, though, the more I get annoyed at how much he gets annoyed at fans. He was once as big a fan of Black Flag as the people who were seeing them at shows in '83, but it is like he forgets what it is like to be pissed when the band doesn't do what you want to hear or not give what you think is their best performance.

The most awesome thing about the Henry Rollins book is that it makes me want to listen to Black Flag (and subsequently Minor Threat and Nick Cave, because the two are present throughout a lot of the book) all day every day.

Anyway, stay velvet, friends.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Addictive album: Jim Noir - Tower of Love/Flyers Thoughts

The first time I spun this disc I thought "instant classic." Every song is so catchy and listenable but not in a hooky terrible saccharin way. I think that some of it is derivative--very derivative---of both the Beatles and the Beach Boys for odd, conflicting reasons. The first song "My Patch" reminds me of "For You Blue" by the Beatles, but somewhere near the middle morphs into Beach Boys-style harmony. Also, "I Wanna Be in the Key of C" sounds like "Octupus' Garden" for some reason. Maybe because of the "I wanna be..." phrasing that it shares with "I wanna be under the sea in an Octupus' Garden, in the shade." Or perhaps after the first song, I was just locked in to hearing Beatles' similarities. If it is intentional, awesome! But if it's unintentional, it's still awesome because it's not like the Beatles at all. Difficult to categorize, "Tower of Love" is going to be one of my favorites for a really, really, really, really long time. Download "I wanna be in the key of C" and try to NOT GET ADDICTED. It is pure cocaine for the ears.

On a Philadelphia Flyers note, I don't want to make any outlandish predictions--> but if we play even better on Friday than we did last night, we should have no problem winning. I have heard a lot of talk, saying Buffalo is clearly the better team, which I think is a completley unfounded statement. They have had more success with special teams in the regular season, and they had a lot of success in Game 2, but honestly the Flyers killed a lot of penalties in Game 1 and some extremely pivotal penalties in Game 3. Aside from Game 2, the Flyers and Sabres look to compliment each other in terms of who is the better team. They are both bringing different styles of play to the table and on any given night the game could go either way, but I feel like the Flyers have a bead on what's happening now, I think a lot of the veteran experience on the Flyers is going to win out over the rather young Buffalo squad. Of course, there are young kids on the Flyers as well, but it's not as widespread as Buffalo, not to mention, all our guys were on the Phantoms when they won the Calder Cup, they've got sort of an idea of what playoff hockey is like.

Anyway, I have a lot of confidence in the Flyers, I think they just were shocked into responding in Game 2, and before you knew it, they were down a ridiculous amount of goals and throwing the game away.

With that said, here are the top five most repeated phrases heard while Lauren is watching a Flyers playoff game:

1. "ATTACK THE PUCK! ATTACK THE PUCK!! ATTACK THE PUCK!" (screamed mostly while the Flyers are trying to kill a penalty and just standing around in their own zone waiting for Buffalo to make a move)
2. "Nice facial hair, Lindy, really, I like it."
3. "SAL FA SA NO!" (It works for every occasion)

Also, the ridiculous nicknames that I shout at regular intervals: Fors, Gahn, Hatch, Um, Rich, Jay-Z or Jeff, Rath, Kanub, Freddy, Pit, Desj, Eschey, Neds, Aaron's brother(Brian Savage, since Aaron Rowand and him are brothers), Kap, Niko, Han, Brank...


Sunday, April 02, 2006

I turn my camera on........

I was watching a show, recently, about 40 minutes ago, in fact. The show was called 'Grey's Anatomy' and this show is one I watch quite frequently, due to the faint hint of a good show lurking somewhere beneath and showing its face from time to time. The vague traces include but are not limited to: a decent soundtrack (i.e. The Boy Least Likely To, Wilco, Al Green), Patrick Dempsey's sometimes inspired and realistic acting, the intriguing medical scenarios (of which the various legitimacy issues are ignored for the sake of entertainment) and some really intriguing life scenarios and relationship scenarios (for example, George loves Meredith but she's just not that into him, which is one of the most terrible ordeals humans can get themselves into).

However, a few minutes ago, I mulled the show over while I was in the shower. I was wondering why shows on TV can only be about 11% realistic when it comes to portraying relationships. There is zero chemistry between any of these people on the show. Why is it so difficult to get actors to act like they really love this character that they are supposed to love? Is it because only people who are really in love can showcase that to the world enough to make it believable? Do I just want perfection from film and television? The complete false tv love is not limited to low-rate network television. Even on shows that are critically agreed to be 'good' ... the relationships are hardly 100% believable or even 65% believable. The Sopranos??? I apoligize to the masses who consume this fluff like it is cocaine but seriously, you expect me to believe that stuff? Is that the point? Do they not want me to believe it?

I just do not think it is that difficult to write a plot and write dialogue that is believable and I don't understand why these people who get paid 100,000 dollars a day to write this stuff can't make it at least 40% believeable (instead of the aforementioned 11%). Or! Do they purposefully write it in this diluted fashion because the standard average person watching ABC on a Sunday night doesn't know what a real emotion is anyway? Do they water it down for a reason so that the people who don't know how to properly feel (which is probably 85% of the country) will be entertained and enjoy their 42 minutes of television without thinking too hard about what love SHOULD BE?

Damn it. This is why the few realistic portrayals of relationships and emotions that I have seen in film, I truly treasure. For example, how about in American Beauty when Annette Bening collapses into Lester's clothes at the end? I don't think any scene in any movie ever got to me as much as that one did. There are other examples, but this is one that most people have seen.

Well, hopefully someone can answer my questions or set me straight and tell me I am a pretentious piece of junk!

Stay velvet, kiddies.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

The Philadelphia Flyers

Okay. What's up with four ridiculous wins in a row, two of them over division rivals, and one over the best team in the eastern conference and then a terrible loss to the shitty Toronto Maple Leafs. Why can Derian Hatcher not skate to save his life?

Friday, March 03, 2006

Of Montreal - 3/03/2006

I went to see Of Montreal play at the Starlight Ballroom last night with conflicted expectations. Two trusted friends gave me their divergent opinions on the Of Montreal live show. Tom! Trusted Friend # 1 seemed a bit disenchanted with the whole Of Montreal sound as of late. He caught them last time they came to Philly which was also the time I drove all the way down to the Church and paid 12 dollars to park and the show ended up being terribly sold-out. Kathy! Trusted Friend #2 just saw Of Montreal not too long ago in St. Louis. She revealed the information to me that Kevin Barnes (the lead singer of this superpopgroup) cheats on his wife! Is in the middle of a messy divorce! And slept with some freshman chic at Kathy's school. BUT! Kathy enjoyed herself to a ridiculous degree. She enjoyed Kevin dancing in a wedding dress and the whole show and being outrageous and partygirlish and rubbing glitter off Kevin's face and on to hers. I so cannot picture her in this situation, but if she says it's true, it must be true!

So, the opening bands were terribly mediocre. (this "terribly" word is running rampant through my spoken and written communication, it's gotta go) The Lilys - I only caught half their set because I was trying to catch my mom opening her birthday presents before I headed down to the Starlight Ballroom. Which, by the way, is a really nice venue, I hope r5 continues to put more and more shows on there. It's almost as intimate as the Church except ... Pabst ON TAP! (sike, I don't know if they have Pabst but definitely a bar).

To say the very least, the performance turned into an all out dance party. I am assuming it is more advantageous for Of Montreal to play a place like the STarlight, because of all the disco lights and such as opposed to the Church where it's just plain old lights and faux wood paneling. They closed with "The Party's Crashing Us Now" and the place was more insane than Dance Club # 8762 on any random weekend. Everyone was dancing, even the kids with arms crossed were bobbing their heads a bit. It was cool.

So, who cares how their muscianship was, they had fun and I had fun and I think 75% of the audience had fun, so, mission accomplished.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Country music?

I am by no means proficient in the study of country music. But in my experience, when citizens say 'I like everything but country,' they are really referring to popcountry--WHICH EFFING SUCKS if you didn't know this by now. However, I like anything that has that country feel. I want to say country but it's not really country, it's just the plains, cowboys, the south, beautiful two lane roads where you won't see a car for 100 miles. However, I've never been to the south or met a real cowboy or driven on the type of road where you don't see a car for 100 miles. Again however, out near the middle of Pennsylvania I pick up this type of feeling, like this is what it might feel like in desolate areas in the south or the midwest, and this is what country music was made for. Basically what good country music is good at is picking up the loneliness of being out in the country or any place. Because--WHAT THE EFF IS THE COUNTRY? Do we have a country any more? There's desolate reaches of most of these United States and this is where country music comes in. And when I say 'country music' it has this odd connotation like Garth Brooks or Faith Hill is going to stumble out of your speakers. But really I mean Neko Case, Bonnie 'Prince' Billy, Dirty Three, Neil Young, Johnny Cash, Robert Johnson... a million others. So, really, I don't mean country music at all. I mean the lonely person's music. A perfect example of this is Bonnie 'Prince' Billy's (AKA WILL OLDHAM) "I See A Darkness." It is a ridiculous album and Johnny Cash did a cover of the title song. You know the guy has to be pretty effing outrageous when JOHNNY EFFING CASH is doing covers of the stuff.

Now, I really just have to express my undying devotion to Dirty Three. Even though "Ocean Songs" is entitled "OCEAN SONGS," I still pick up the countryish feel. "Restless Waves," also known as Track 2 to those who can't tell instrumental songs apart, is one of my favorite songs of all time. Also, "Deep Waters" is sixteen minutes and twentyseven seconds of slowburning sick-in-the-head-ness and the payoff is one of the most enveloping things the band has ever done. "Ocean Songs" is my favorite album of theirs because it has such a definitive storyline. It doesn't have a story that is explicitly described. On the contrary, it is a fill-in-the-blanks storyline. Also, if I go back to "Restless Waves" for a second, at about four minutes and 20 seconds the most ridiculous use of muted drums in recorded history ensues. It ACTUALLY SOUNDS LIKE CRASHING RESTLESS WAVES. This is not because I know the title of the song, it is really the impression you will be left with even without having previously know the song title.

So basically, what I was originally saying about country music really has nothing to do with Dirty Three except that their songs are lonely and the country is lonely and I also have just been into a lot of lonely countryish music lately. OH MAN! John Rae-Fletcher and the River... he does this song called "Two Hands." I'm pretty sure the guy is from Canada. I don't think he's really achieved any notoriety at all outside of Canada, I could be wrong, but a friend I have in Montreal made it sound like he was just a local guy. But the song is so sick in the head you wouldn't even believe it if you heard it. I am not sure if it is a cover or not. It's extremely COUNTRY like John Darnielle of the Mountain Goats type of stuff. JOhn's voice is so nasal but ... ahhhh ... Jesus, I want to play this song on 48000 decibels every time it comes on. Near the end it really hits its stride and absolutely murders you with its frenzied jubilant finish. I'm going to post a link here for you to download it from but it will probably expire in a couple of days so dont blame me if you weren't the early bird who caught the worm!!! You missed out, sucka! Ah sike just im me you can getfile it. soijumpedit.

download: John Rae-Fletcher - Two Hands

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Edan/Diplo/Some Musical Reminisence

Edan--who is he? Where does he come from? How come I don't know anything about him? Is he really good or do I just like him for some ridiculously dumb reason. Track 13 of 2005's "The Beauty and the Beat" which is entitled "Promised Land" is the dopest track of the week. And why? Because of this:

I slapped a 40 oz
out of a young man's hand
and fed him lessons
of life to formulate a plan
I wore the Prime Meridian as a wristband!
I gave away my riches but still remained a rich man.

Two albums that have no history to me are Edan's "The Beauty and the Beat" and Diplo's "Florida." I don't have the energy to look them up really. Diplo I know is at least from somewhere in or around Philly. He is half of the mixtape master duo that likes to call themselves Hollertronix. (the other half is DJ Low Budget) Oh yeah and Diplo earned himself a namecheck from every big gun critic in the business (pretentious business anyway) by dating the one, the only, M.I.A., who, by the way, if you've been keeping score--EATS DOG DIRT DAILY. Don't even get me started! Don't EVEN GET ME STARTED! The ensuing tirade would just lead inevitably to the age-old discussion of opinion vs. seemingly factual evidence of certain artists SUCKING THE BIG ONE. I would like to quote some of my favorite musical critics on that debate tip, especially one IAN MATHERS of Stylus Magazine, but I have neither the time nor the energy.

Lately I haven't been floored by anything and I need to be floored. I was listening to the Arcade Fire and thinking of all the grandiose statements I've made in reference to "Funeral" in the past and realizing I was probably wrong but still feel as though most people don't give them a chance because they can't see past the hype. Hype can be legitimate, you know, they don't call it hype for nothin'. People gather 'round and get hype about a new record there's a reason for that. Sometimes that hype is inflated by many varying factors like musical trends at the time, venue trends, city trends, culture trends in general or whathaveyou. In my OPINION, however, there's unfounded hype and founded hype. (If founded is even a word) In the Arcade Fire's sense, I think the hype was again, inflated, especially by 40-somethings in the wine-tasting crowd, wanting something more than the regular WXPN fare. However, the hype was legit, the record is solid, and I still listen to it and get chills. The album is POP, it's a pop masterpiece. Melody, harmony, rhythm paired with heart-killing tip-toeing string sections at certain parts. AND THE GLOCKENSPIEL??? WHERE DID THAT COME FROM?

Anyway, I'm starting to ramble, but what I originally started saying was that I put down a lot of records because the hype gets overwhelming. People are buying the thing in Best Buy in droves and suddenly it loses its magic to me (see also: Clap Your Hands Say Yeah). But that's an ill-made choice on my part, as "Funeral" is a fantastic pop masterpiece and so is CYHSY's self-titled. They are fun and great to listen to and make me want to dance and drive my car fast down an imaginary highway to Salt Lake City or a quaint farm town in France. I don't know! I like it and what's the problem with that! Of course, I am stating this more than a year after I used to pee my pants daily about the Arcade Fire. I remember that time and it was a great time, and it was, I believe, the last time I was absolutely floored by an album the first time I heard it. (I was also killed by CYHSY but for different reasons, really, more of a fun album then a I want the apocalypse now type of album.)

Anyway, where was I even going? Edan "The Beauty and the Beat" and Diplo "Florida" = two albums that are spinning like crazy in the varying players this week so hook it up. AND DON'T FORGET. TRACK 13 of Edan's crap. "Promised Land" is the name and it sounds like he rapped to a completely different track and then they took out that other track and filled it in with this other weird synthesized string track. And what are the lyrics about? They're awesome, I'm in 2001: A Space Odyssey's deleted scenes from the year 2221.

That was after the world tour
when I traveled through gravel
and battled matter at the earth's core
I did the show on a fireball
a pioneer
ran into the jungle and jetted
wearin' a lion's ear
i fought fear with the hammer Thor lent me
and tangled with the angel of death for four centuries
put a nameplate on the asteroid belt
and ran through the future with an android's help
that's when civilians were made of metal

He just has a true appreciation for good old-fashioned wordplay, so highly evolved it is poetry in the truest sense of the word. One drawback: He's from Boston. The Red Sox play there. VOMIT!!!! Okay so there's your homework, check out Edan and Diplo and get back to me. Right then. Stay velvet, friends.