Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Michael Jackson's Best

Q's comments made me realize that maybe not everyone here is as super familiar with Michael Jackson's music, and so I present to you, in my humble opinion, Michael Jackson's bets song ever, again accompanied by a creepy fan montage:

Seriously, how is the end to that not one of the greatest things ever?

Friday, June 26, 2009

Wilco and Feist in LA

D, were you at this show?
Say what you want, haters, these two got chemistry...

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Fuck. Michael Jackson died.

It was insane to watch this go from a TMZ rumor passed to me via gchat to most-twittered about subject to confirmed by the LATimes in about ten minutes. As I write this, the NY Times still hasn't confirmed (they're saying "hospitalized"). But again, that isn't stopping literally (no, seriously, literally) tens of thousands of people per minute from tweeting "RIP Michael Jackson." I wonder what the death of John Lennon would have been like (since that was even more shocking) in the twitter era.

Anyway, that said, go listen to Off the Wall if you haven't in a while. It's a fucking awesome album. .(So is Thriller, of course-- I'm not being contrarian by picking the lesser known one. It's just that we all know all the songs (or at least 7 out of 9) from Thriller-- Off the Wall is more of a revelation). Check this out-- if you take away the lead vocal and just listen to the backing track it sounds like it could be off of Remain in Light:

(BTW, the video above is one of those creepy "tribute" videos that are mostly useful to get an embeddable version of a song. But, of note, it's from two years ago!)

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Best Band in America Right Now

Forget your Dirty Projectors (although I have to say I'm fucking loving that album now) and your Grizzly Bears-- the best band right now is the PS22 Chorus. I first learned about them when this video of them covering "Eye of the Tiger" was posted on a bunch of blogs.

They're a fifth grade chorus in the Bronx apparently. Read more here: http://ps22chorus.blogspot.com/

Apparently Perez Hilton has been all over this and they've made various tv appearances and were part of American Idol 3 last year, so I'm late to the game on this. But recently their videos (esp. the one above and the Lady Gaga one) have been going semi-viral and making the rounds. And the're all amazing! Little Kids + Two Part Harmony + Passionate Singing + Cavernous Auditorium Reverb + Ponytail = Magic!

A selection of favorites:

Lady Gaga:

Viva La Vida

Don't Stop Believin'

And holy shit, I'll Be Your Mirror! Gorgeous!

I'll Be Your Mirror:

The Reunion Train Rolls On

I was never a huge Sunny Day Real Estate fan, though I appreciate their return, and most defintely will go see them if the opportunity comes my way. I'm more excited by the news of Living Colour's reunion, which is pretty exciting.

But neither of those hold a candle to the real reunion news - Faith No More. It's slightly old news by this point, but man am I happy about this. These guys were huge favorites of mine back in the day, and while I've liked some of Patton's solo/side stuff, none of it is up to FNM's catalogue. Purists will complain about the lack of Jim Martin, but the last two Martin-less FNM albums are great as well, so I'm fine with that. No news yet on a North American tour or album, which kind of sucks, but at least we get stuff like this piece of vintage Faith:

And this cover, which some may scoff at, but I think is totally amazing and actually quite powerful for the Faith No More, uh, faithful:

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Breakfast at Sulimay's

If you want to know what the geezer set thinks about Wilco, Dirty Projectors, Common, Bon Iver... the list goes on, you have to watch Breakfast at Sulimay's on YouTube.

It's basically these 3 old-timers from Philadelphia who meet at a restaurant, listen to music provided by a hipster, and offer their American Idol-style criticism of it. Of the episodes I've seen, they haven't once been in consensus about liking a song. There are some songs they unanimously agree they don't like (Common's "Universal Mind Control" comes to mind), but the whole thing is pretty entertaining.

Here's the latest episode...

Phish and Prog Rock

A few nights ago I saw Phish. First time in 9 years since seeing them with Tex at the Allstate Arena and (to give some perspective on my Phish nerd-dom) my 23rd (!) Phish show. Not sure if any of you will ever take me seriously after that, but there you have it. Anyway, as I mentioned I’ve been listening to an awful lot of these guys in anticipation and have discovered an interesting new development in my appreciation for this band.

The way I see it, Phish’s songs break down into 3 basic groups: more traditional “pop” songs (think Farmhouse or Cavern); songs with minimal structure that are just excuses to jam away (Tweezer, David Bowie); and songs that have some room for jam, but are largely composed (You Enjoy Myself being the king here, but also Fluffhead, Divided Sky, Guyute, Reba…) On recent listens it’s these highly precise epics that I am drawn to. Tex and I not too long ago discussed the way Steely Dan is music that gets more appealing with age – and I think the same is true here. I have less of an inclination to hear Phish play a 45 minute Tweezer than to hear them play these, dare I say, prog rock pieces.

Because when you get right down to it, isn’t You Enjoy Myself an extension of prog rock? Phish always draws the Dead comparison (for understandable reasons), but these songs seem to be more from the catalog of a group like Yes or early Genesis. Evidence: complex time changes, super precise and high level playing, distinct segments. The best of these are highly composed pieces, where if there is a jam, it is built into one specific segment of the song. And like Steely Dan, as a slightly older Phish fan, and a fan of more complex prog type music than I used to be, this is what draws me in.

Of course, it’s a double edged sword where the live shows are concerned. Their 03/04 run was marred by brutally sloppy playing, and as a result any of these numbers sound absolutely terrible. On this run, from what I’ve heard (both live and from shows I’ve downloaded) they seem to be able to hit all of these complexities pretty well. Trey is not quite as skilled as he was in the band’s peak (93-95 by my watch), but he’s vastly improved from his 98-04 drugged out days.

My point? I guess just to say that if, like me, you have any appreciation for the complexities of this kind of sound, I think you should set aside 30 minutes and give You Enjoy Myself a whirl. Because really, when was the last time you listened to it?

Monday, June 22, 2009

Sunny Day Real Estate reunites!

hooray! read about it here.

You Know What Song Rules?

This one right here...

Seriously, I always hated this song as a kid, then just heard it recently, and man does it rule in it's timeless 70s groove. If I told you it was from the soundtrack to some obscure Pam Grier movie you wouldn't doubt it for a second.

P.S. - Been a busy spring, plus I wasn't sure how much everyone wanted to hear me talk about Phish, since I listened to nothing else for about 4 months, but screw it, you all are going to hear me talk about Phish and like it!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Pitchfork Endorses Farm

Pitchfork just gave Farm, the new Dinosaur Jr. album, a glowing review. They rated it an 8.5, yet the prose is far more laudatory than a certain 9.0 review that Eric dissected so brilliantly a few weeks back.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Entirely Random Observation

Just because I hadn't listened to it in a long while, I decided to throw on Speakerboxxx/The Love Below as background noise while I did some work this afternoon. And DAMN it sounds good. It inspired a lot of backlash in some corners after it came out, but I think it's aging really well...if anything I was more impressed listening to it this afternoon than I was when it first came out. It just has everything...it's as lush and impeccably produced as an early Kanye West album, as weird and uninhibited as Lil' Wayne (in all the best ways, and almost none of the worst), and as unexpected and artistically fearless as any mainstream album of the past 10 years.

It's well worth revisting!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Getting Pumped for Dinosaur Jr.

I have to pinch myself to think that the band I fell in love with at 13-- over half a lifetime ago-- still sounds this awesome in 2009.

Bonus points if you catch the Mike Watt cameo.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Mos Def

One of these days, if Mos Def ever decides he wants to be a musician again and not a movie star, I'm confident he could put together another great album. For the moment, all I can picture is this:

Mos Def is in his trailer on the set of Next Day Air. There's a simple little song written by a friend playing on his iPod. To pass the time, he begins to spit short raps off the top of his head, or shout out short phrases referencing classic rap songs, or simply dance in his chair going "check one, check two, check it out". Unfortunately that guy from "Scrubs" who is co-starring is in the next room, and he gets the whole thing on tape and forwards it to Mos Def's record company, which accidentally includes this tossed off melange of sounds on Mos' new album The Ecstatic. How embarrassing!

I'm not sure how else to account for a song like this, which would never, ever have seen the light of day 10 years ago, when Mos Def was an extremely hard working rapper, clearly agonizing over every phrase of every song, to get every last word exactly right, adding layers of meaning to his songs that most of his contemporaries couldn't even touch. And actually, the really annoying thing about this song is that, around the 2 minute mark, he really gets going for about 30 seconds, and gives you a glimpse of his old self, making it clear that if he'd wanted to spend the time writing a full length rap for this song, he probably could have done a good job. This song, like much of The Ecstatic, was just sort of half-assed.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Brett Michaels Gets Crushed By a Giant Tony Awards Prop

I think this is particularly funny because they cut away as it's happening. Take note, all ye comedy directors.

But seriously... Poison playing the Tonys? Anyone else think that's just a little absurd?

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

The New Radiohead - Bitte Orca Streaming Now


I like tracks 1 and 2 so far, though I still think Kid A is their best.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Eric Matthews - "Fanfare"

I don't know why reading about Jeremy Enigk made me think about this song and the album it's from. This is an amazing song, though, featuring Jason Falkner (another personal fave) on a few instruments. And he plays his own trumpet, folks!

Major changes at eMusic



D, i'm wondering what you think of the big changes at emusic that are going on. As far as I can tell, and they are being a little cryptic, the changes are thus:

- the long battle to get a major label on the site has apparently been won: Sony's back catalog (though new releases seem unlikely to my cynical mind) is about to be available, meaning things like Springsteen, MJ, Miles Davis, the Clash, Tribe, Wu-Tang, Beyonce and a ton more will be on tap.

- prices have gone UP. my downloads are going from 50 to 37.

- "album pricing" - albums with more than 12 tracks can be downloaded for 12 credits

- did i mention prices are going up?

Jeremy Enigk Has Still Got It

As far as I know, I'm the only member of this here Collective that really loved Sunny Day Real Estate-- although I did note the presence of Jeremy Enigk's emo-prog record World Waits in Tex Plush's iTunes library last summer.

Anyway, Enigk is back with a new solo album that's a big rebound from World Waits, which sounded more like late-period Peter Gabriel than Sunny Day Real Estate. The new record, called OK Bear, has a lot in common with the last SDRE album and the Fire Theft album Enigk released during a transition period.

It doesn't quite reach the high points of SDRE/Enigk's career (How It Feels to Be Something On, Return of the Frog Queen), but that's an extremely high bar in my opinion.

Either way, it's just nice to recall a time when "emo" referred to dynamic, musically progressive acts like Enigk instead of Conor Oberst or Dashboard Confessional sounding like they're about to pass a kidney stone.