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Sunday, April 30, 2006

(Music) Secret Machines: "Ten Silver Drops"

A few years ago, a little band names Secret Machines came out of nowhere and drew rave reviews from everywhere for their album "Now Here is Nowhere." They follow it up in 2006 with "Ten Silver Drops," a pretty good album. I say this having heard their first album. I say this having played that album on repeat for weeks. But I also say this as someone who hasn't even touched it since. "Now Here Is Nowhere" was an ambitious album, for sure. With that album, Secret Machines created a sound that was, in all accounts, uniquely them and tapped into the indie rock market like no one could have imagined. "Ten Silver Drops," though not as risky as their first, may very well be a better album.

When you pass this in the record store or your friendly neighborhood Best Buy, try your hardest not to flip the jewel case around and look at the track listing because you may be discouraged that it only has 8 silver drops (tracks). Don't fret, however, every single song on this album attempts to reach epic-proportions and, as a result, only one track clocks in at under 5 minutes.

What I really like about this album is it's un-flenching thirst to rock out. There aren't really any true soft ballads on this album, or anything that will keep your head from bouncing on your way to work. It's a nice change, as "NHIN" really went up and down from track to track. This album is much more focused and solid. At times, you'll probably wonder if you're listening to Secret Machines because the sound is very different from their previous efforts. On "All At Once (It's Not Important)" for example, the lead singer's voice grinds as his emotions flare, breaking from his usually clear throated assertions. Make no mistake, Secret Machines have definitely tried to redefine themselves on this album, and it shows.

In my opinion, the best track on the album is "Daddy's In the Doldrums," an 8 1/2 minute epic rock track with heavy 70's rock influence, straightforward guitar solos, and enough electronic ambience to make you think you were listening to The Flaming Lips. As is usually the case with a Secret Machines song, it slowly builds to its climax, exploding into something that you saw coming, but at the same time didn't expect at all.

Overall, this album is a huge accomplishment for this band. For only thier second album, they have created something that they can build their careers off of. However, with the exception of "Daddy's In the Doldrums" and "I Hate Pretending" there aren't really any songs that you'll remember and be craving more than a year from now. Though they have created a fairly solid album, it is nothing you'll be telling your kids about and nothing to really write home about. If you are a Secret Machines fan, without question pick this album up. You will most likely enjoy it. Personally, I enjoy it much more than "Now Here Is Nowhere" and plan on listening to it until something better comes along.

Recommended for Secret Machines fans and anyone who would like to hear an Indie take on arena rock.

Key Tracks:
1. "All At Once (It's Not Important)"
2. "Daddy's In The Doldrums"
3. "I Hate Pretending"
4. "1,000 Seconds"


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Thursday, April 27, 2006

(Games) Wii?

I don't think there's enough that can be said about my love for Nintendo. When I was 5 or 6 I got my first NES system and just tore the hell out of it. This was followed a few years later with my Super Nintendo and its predecessor, the Nintendo 64. In fact, the only non-Nintendo systems I have owned have been my Xboxs and my PSP. I love Nintendo and the franchises it represents, Mario, Mario Party, Super Smash Bros., and more of these titles come to mind. However, if you wanted to argue about who lost the console wars in the current generation of games, well it's undoubtedly be the GameCube. It's a powerful system, and anyone that has played Resident Evil 4 knows exactly what it's capable of. Unfortunately, Nintendo took a notoriously "kiddie" route with that system and, as a result, killed any chances of American domination.

Then comes the Revolution, the console I've been looking forward to for months even though virtually no information has been released on it. The controller is just amazing, it looks sleek and cool (unlike the GameCube), and it has major third party support. I am really excited aboutu this system. Already games like "Red Steel" have been announced, and I just see Nintendo realizing their mistakes with the last system and making significant changes in the upcoming generation.

Uhh....well, not exactly.

Nintendo dropped this bomb today:

    Introducing... Wii.

    As in "we."

    While the code-name Revolution expressed our direction, Wii represents the answer. Wii will break down that wall that seperates videogame players from everybody else. Wii will put people more in touch with their games... and each other. But you're probably asking: What does the name mean?

    Wii sounds like "we," which emphasizes the console is for everyone. Wii can easily be remembered by people around the world, no matter what language they speak. No confusion. No need to abbreviate. Just Wii.

    Wii has a distinctive "ii" spelling that symbolizes both the unique controllers and the image of people playing it. And Wii, as a name and a console, brings something revolutionary to the world of videogames that sets it apart from the crowd.

    So that's Wii. But now Nintendo needs you. Because it's really not about you or me. It's about Wii. And together, Wii will change everything.

Seriously? That's how you wanna play it? Wii? Honestly? How did that board meeting go down?

"Revolution is a great name for our console. It really captures what we want to do in the next generation."

"No. Revolution is too gay. We need something that will stand out."

"Really? I thought Revolution was a cool, sleek name for our system."

"No. It's totally gay. We need something that will capture the essence of our console."

"And Revolution doesn't cut it? I think that it's the best word in the English language to describe our system."

"EXACTLY!! We need to create our own word that everyone will understand! Something that really speaks to everyone!"

"Uhhh....that's crazy talk."

"We're gonna call it 'Wii'"


"No....Wii. W-I-I."

"But Revolution is a great name that is cool and modern. It separates us from our kiddie image."

"No. It's Wii. We are naming our console Wii."

Honestly, I can't fathom a siuation where everyone agreed on this name. This is the worst name in the history of consoles. It's worse than neo-geo. It's worse than "Sega Master System," it's even worse than GameCube's codename "Dolphin!" Hell, I know what a Dolphin is! I can relate to a Dolphin! Wii? Come on!

So as Nintendo digs itself into that hole, I am left with a huge dilemna. Do I ignore this system that I've been craving for nearly a year? Or do I become the only adult on the block with a Wii? A Wii....dangit! I just can't see myself owning something called a Wii?

"Hey, do you wanna come over and play with my Wii?"

"You Pervert!"
What a mess! Listen to me Nintendo (I know you read my blog). It's not too late to go back to your code name "Revolution" at least until you figure out something that's less gay and *gulp* less kiddie. E3 is still a week and a half away. Just clear the website.

Pretend it never happened. When E3 comes, just laugh it off as a late April Fools joke. Please, do it for Thanks.


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Sunday, April 23, 2006

(Movies Blip) Thank You For Smoking

I don't have much time, so I'll make this quick.

Thank You For Smoking is a brilliantly clever comedy about a lobbyist representing big tobacco and his endless endeavor to fight for the bad guys. Aaron Eckhart plays Nick Naylor, the afformentioned word-smith/truth-spinner, and does an absolutely phenominal job.

The movie is filled with smart writing, perfect comedic timing, and clever satire. It's really hard to imagine someone not enjoying themselves in this movie. I highly recommend it to anyone looking for something to cure the spring movie duldrums.

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(Music) The Streets: "The Hardest Way to Make an Easy Living"

I was not a fan of The Streets. There's a good reason for everything, and I believe the reason for this is because I never really gave it a good listen. That all changed with "The Hardest Way to Make an Easy Living" because, quite simply, I can't stop listening! In my ADD-ridden life, it's tough for hip-hop to have any sort of lasting effect on me. Usually hip-hop albums get quite old, quite fast, at least for me. But I have been listening to this album for several weeks now and I plan to continue this for some time. Being a newcomer to The Streets, I am thoroughly amazed by how solid, clever, and brilliant this album is!

Solid: Song for song, this is a truly amazing album. It begins strongly with "Pranging Out," arguably the most accessible song on the album for casual listeners. This is how I was hooked in. The production values are top-notch and the lyrics are flawless. Honestly, my description for the opening track is really not all that different from the rest of the album. Each song, with the exception of 'Fake Street Hat' (maybe), is grade A quality. Forget about calling this a great hip-hop album. This is just a great album. Pure and simple.

Clever: Oh where do I begin on this? It starts pretty early with "War of the Sexes," a song about the differences between men and women and the difficulties for men in picking up women. He especially pays close attention to how womens' intellect is "higher," saying, "She's calculating all of the mad facts and figures/while you're pretending to listen, staring at her t**ts." See what I mean? Clever. In fact, the album can really be seen as an assortment of funny-because-it's-true lines. Take, for example, the line "If you never tell a lie to her, you don't have to remember anything!" Gosh! How true, how clever. In the song "Two Nations," the differences between England and the United States are compared in a serious, yet quasi-funny manner ("I'm proud we gave you people like John Lennon....even though you shot him as well"). Make no mistake about it, this album does not suffer in the lyrics department. It excels.

Brilliant: "Can't Con an Honest Jon" is a song about pulling off a con. To be more precise, it is a song describing, in detail, how to pull off a con. Again, it's clever, but it really is just an awesome idea for a song. What's more brilliant about this album, however, is just the sheer awesomeness that is exhibits. Despite its humorous moments and pervasive non-consequential moments, "The Hardest Way to Make an Easy Living" still has its moments of sorrow and regret. "Never Went to Church" is a song about the memory of Mike Skinner's father and his search for God. It's wihout question, the most touching song on the album. In all it's honesty, it still remains a good quality song and you'll find yourself singing along with the chorus in no time. Amazing....brilliant....

To Americans, the idea of someone with a British accent rapping is really just a ludicrous idea. It's unfortunate, because American's could really be exposed to some of the greatest hip-hop available. Dizzee Rascal, The Streets, and others could really put Mike Jones and Paul Wall to shame. I guess that's what Mike means when he says "That's why I've sold 3 million albums and you've never heard of me." It's a shame, but for those of us who have heard...well we can brag about it.

Recommended to fans of Dizzee Rascal and The Streets and anyone who is tired of hearing songs about grills, rims, b**ches, hoes, being in the club, getting crunk, or anything else that makes you feel dumb for listening to it.

Key Tracks:
1. "Pranging Out"
2. "War of the Sexes"
3. "All Goes Out the Window"
4. "When You Wasn't Famous'
5. "Never Went To Church"

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Friday, April 21, 2006

(Misc.) Announcement: Soft Light Masquerade Live

Finally your dream has come true. In less than a month Soft Light Masquerade will perform two separate shows in the North Houston area.

Saturday May 13th @ Robinson Road Community Center--$6.00

Wednesday May 17th @ The Rockville at Javajazz Coffee House--$10.00

If you can, please come to these shows to support me in my musical endeavors. If you haven't yet heard Soft Light Masquerade, click here. For further information, feel free to drop me a line.

See you soon.


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Sunday, April 16, 2006

(Movies) Ice Age: The Meltdown

Movies nowadays are big. "Spiderman," "Lord of the Rings," and "The Matrix" are all phenomenal examples of big movies being really really good. But do you know what else was big? "Hulk." Do you know what was not good? "Hulk." Likewise, "Ice Age 2" is a really big movie that is flat out N.O.T. G.O.O.D.

There's so many things wrong with this movie that it's hard to find a good place to start my criticism. First off, the animation is lackluster at best. When we see huge chunks of iceberg fall from the sky, it doesn't look like ice. There is no powder trail and barely any change in its shape or form when it slams into the earth. It literally looks like a shard of glass falling from the sky and remaining whole as it strikes the ground. Though I am in no way an animator (unless anatomically correct stick figures count), I would be willing to bet that a little powder trail here and there wouldn't bee too extreme of a request.

In Ice Age 2, each of the main characters have some sort of challenge to overcome before the movie closes. According to my calculation, there are 5 main characters in this movie that are forced (note the deliberate use of that word) to solve their problems before its 90 minutes are up. As a result, it's no surprise that we don't really care about these supposed struggles and really don't have a chance to focus on one before another is shoved in our faces. In addition to this, the characters are dull and lifeless with hardly any convincing motivation or emotions. When the movie tries to be touching, it rarely succeeds, opting rather for unnecessary moments that are sure to bore the adult audience and confuse the young audience.

This brings me to my next point. "Ice Age: The Meltdown" is a movie that can't decdide what audience it wants to cater to. At times it seems unbearably kiddie, but when jokes are constantly dealing with mature subject matter like disease, extinction, and death, once can't help but wonder whether these jokes are necessary and what, if any, audience they were directed to. From the experience in my theater, on one seemed to enjoy these blunders of writing. Now that I think about it, "Ice Age 2" is essentially one big writing blunder. The dialogue is cheesy and predictable, the jokes are too often crude and less often humorous, and the unnecessary (yet obligatory) song in the middle of the movie just shows you how bad this movie really is.

The original "Ice Age" was tolerable. Though not the most memorable computer animated film of all time, it was not the worst (remember "Antz"?). "Ice Age: The Meltdown" is the worst full-length feature computer-animated film I've ever seen. It is a studio's attempt to milk a typically bone-dry movie season for all it is worth and, from the looks of it, they have succeeded. If anything can be said about this movie, it is that it feels forced. The dialogue is forced, the motivations are forced, the animation appears to have been forced, and everything about this movie screams "Leave the theatre while you still can!!" (Oddly enough, a fire alarm went off during my viewing...but I returned, not taking the opportunity.)

I do not recommend this movie to anyone. Not parents. Not kids. No one.

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Friday, April 14, 2006

(Music) Built to Spill: "You In Reverse"

The men of Built to Spill have taken 5 years to create an album. After such an extended haitus, we should expect nothing less than brilliance...right? Right. Well thankfully, we have not been let down. Built to Spill's latest album, "You In Reverse" is an amazing display of talent and guitar "goddotry." From start to finish, the album grabs you by whatever spare appendage you have and pretty much forces you to listen.

As the album unfolds, you realize something: there's not a whole lot different on this album than other Built to Spill albums. Yeah, pretty much. However, this should not discredit the album at all. Any hardcore Built to Spill fan (they exist) will not be disappointed by "You In Reverse." On that same note, any casual Built to Spill listener may be a bit upset that the formula has remained essentially the same. Regardless, it would be insane to just brush this album off as a death rattle from a band that, by all logic, should have died years ago. This is a solid, solid album!!

Everything you've grown to love about Built to Spill is here. The guitar-driven songs are all here, the "how-do-you-do-that-on-a-guitar" guitar riffs are still here, Doug Martsch's poignant lyrics and strangely gratifying vocals are still here. This IS a Built to Spill album. So now that that's out of the way, let's talk about the tracks. They are amazing. They are brilliant. The album begins with the near-9-minute "Goin' Against Your Mind," which, if anything, proves that Built to Spill is far from dead. The album then careens in and out of composition and composition, giving you the aforementioned familiarities and a huge chunk of creativity and musical genius.

The song "Mess With Time" is particularly enchanting and is definitely a standout track. It begins very heavily, with one of the coolest guitar riffs of recent memory with a latin flair and what I can only describe as a "Secret Samadhi" influence. It then slowly builds and, for lack of a better word, spills into a heavily Santana-ish latin outro that both surprises and delights. It is the perfect example of what this band is capable of and how much work they put into this album.

This album very well could be Built to Spill's best album yet. It is solid, inspiring, and worth dozens of repeat listens. Sure, "You In Reverse" isn't a revolutionary album. It will not redefine Built to Spill or bring them to new levels of rock and roll stardom. However, at 7 albums and 13 years into their career, this album is an amazing statement and showing from the little band that could. And make no mistake about it, Built to Spill definitely can.

Recommended for Built to Spill fans and anyone who needs guitar inspiration .

Key Tracks:
1. "Goin' Against Your Mind"
2. "Traces"
3. "Wherever You Go"
4. "Conventional Wisdom"
5. "Mess with Time"

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Wednesday, April 12, 2006

(Music) The Boy Least Likely To: "The Best Party Ever"

Take 1 part Animal Collective, 1 part Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, and 1 part The Shins and mix it up and cook on "fun" for about 40 minutes. This is the recipe for England's own, The Boy Least Likely To, perhaps England's greatest export since Oasis. I've been stuck on this album for the last week or so, listening to it non-stop, and I honestly have no idea why. I mean, it's good music, it's very poppy-rock music, and it's fun. Maybe that's it. Maybe this is one of the most fun albums I've heard in a while. Actually, forget maybe....this IS the most fun album I've heard since Of Montreal's "The Sunlandic Twins."

I don't know much about The Boy Least Likely To, other than that I read about them a few months ago in my Under the Radar magazine and have been trying to get my hands on their album since then. Unfortunately, until recently "The Best Party Ever" has only been available to the United States through import. So when Best Buy lists it as being $26.98 on their website, well...I lose interest. But now it's available to everyone. Yay!

Like so many other bands I've reviewed as of late, The Boy Least Likely To is, in fact, two boys. Given the recipe for their sound which I've already described, all you need to know is that this album is fresh, original, The first song on the album begins with a one-bar xylophone solo, which just reminded me of Schatzi's "Death of the Alphabet," which I still love. The xylophone continues through the songs but the group adds in some mandolin, some steady drums, and light-hearted vocals. It's a phenominal start to an album and immediately hooks you in.

The great thing about this album is that it's almost always upbeat. Lines like "I can't sleep cause I see spiders when I close my eyes" absolutely fill the album, and it's kind of hard not to instantly fall in love with it. Even when it slows down for more serious tracks ("The Battle of the Boy Least Likely To" or "My Tiger My Heart"), you still feel as if you're listening to a carefree song because the band's style is so enchanting, and you know that one is always waiting for you on the next track.

Though I'd love to say more, it would really be fruitless. All I can say is that I'm in love with this band, and you should be too. Is this The Best Party Ever? Maybe...just maybe.

Recommended to fans of The Shins, Animal Collective, and Clap Your Hands and Say Yeah (of course), and anyone who would like to smile for a prolonged period of time.

Key Tracks:
1. Be Gentle With Me
2. Monsters
3. I'm Glad I Hitched My Apple Wagon To Your Star
4. Sleeping With a Gun Under My Pillow

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Sunday, April 09, 2006

(Movies) Lucky Number Slevin

If most con movies are smart, "Lucky Number Slevin" is remedial. What starts off as a touching, smart, and funny movie quickly dissolves into all-out chaos. And not like a "Fight Club-part of the movie" chaos, but more like a "What Dreams May Come-wow we totally butchered this" kind of chaos. Like a slow kid trying to wow his classmates with his algebra skills, the movie falls apart in an attempt to prove just how smart it is.

It starts out nicely. In the 70's a man and his young son have a day out at the race track, the man having gotten the all-too-cliched "sure thing" tip on the horse race. As the chiche goes, he bets a lot of money on this "sure thing" and soon loses it as the horse "Lucky Number Slevin" falls down right before the finish line. As a result, the man, his wife, and his son are all murdered by some bad men and bookies who know that he cannot repay his debt. Fair enough.

As the story progresses, we entern modern day Chicago (I think) where we meet Josh Hartnett as the hunky Slevin Kelevra (coincidence? hmmm....) who, while staying at his friend Nick Fisher's apartment, meets the adorable Lucy Liu. As it turns out, a couple of rival mob bosses confuse Slevin for Nick Fisher and begin using him for their own gain. From there, as most con movies go, the story get deeper and more complex. It also gets very confusing. Of course this isn't a bad thing. I like to be confused only to be surprised by the truth and explanation at the end of the movie. Well, most of the time...

"Lucky Number Slevin" is an example of a movie where I don't like the truth and explanation. This is primarly because the movie reveals who's who about 45 minutes before the end. So what happens in that 45 minutes? The long, drawn-out, boring details of how the con was pulled off. "Confidence," my favorite con movie, does this in a good 2 minutes and lets you figure out all the details on your own. That's part of the fun. "Lucky Number Slevin" kills that fun. I am seriously not kidding when I say it takes 45 minutes for them to explain the con and tie up loose-ends. This is where the movie goes wrong. It's painful to sit in the theatre for 45 minutes and watch Josh Hartnett explain what you already know. It's painful to watch 20 places where the movie had a great opportunity to end peaceful but then have it say "Oh well did I mention how we pulled this off?" It's not good.

Though that really sucks, I can honestly say I enjoyed the rest of the movie. Josh Hartnett gives, in my opinion, his best performance yet and I don't think I'd be stretching to say that Lucy Liu also gives one of her best performances as well. She's way too cute in this movie. Like Natalie Portman from "Garden State" cute.

Overall, however, I'd be lying if I said I didn't exit the theatre a little disappointed with my experience. I don't think I'll be enticed to watch it agian, but Lucy Liu makes it tempting.

See at your own risk.

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Saturday, April 08, 2006

(Music) Sia: "Colour the Small One"

You always feel a little behind-the-pack when you first hear an album 2 years after it's intial release. Concordantly, you feel like a bigger tool when you review an album 2 years after it's initial release. That, however, is precisely what I am doing. In my defense, the album wasn't released in the United States until January 10, 2006. I think there's a good 4 month window where it is appropriate to review a piece of work and I generally follow that rule of thumb. So, seeing as how I have never been outside of the United States of America, I finde it more than appropriate to review Sia's 2004 album "Colour the Small One."

Disclaimers aside, this is a beautiful album. Being, as the Europeans would say, a narrow-minded American, you have probably never become acquainted with Sia, at least in the personal sense. Fans of the group Zero 7 can immediately distinguish her voice as a frequent guest vocalist for the group, including the song "In the Waiting Line" from the Garden State soundtrack. Her voice is soft, intimate, and painful. A random assortment of adjectives, yes, but it accurately depicts the heart and soul of this album.

At first listen, you'll love it. This is not a stretch. But listen to it again, focus on the lyrics and you'll be entering Sia's world, where her most intimate thoughts and emotions are revealed. It's a refreshing experience, but at the same time, a frightening one. So rarely does an artist open up and become frank with her audience. It's as if Fiona Apple softened her voice and made an entire album of the song "Parting Gift."

Sia begins the album by proclaiming "You don't know me/You can't hold me/I'll slip through your hands/I am one single grain of sand." However, by the end of the album you'll feel as if you know her better than herself, and in truth, you just might. Indeed, with tracks like "Natale's Song," it's hard not to feel like you've known this girl for years ("She barely speaks/But I hear her breathing/That's all I need...Momentarily, she brings peace to me").

"Colour the Small One" is best summed up as Sia beautifully sings "I can't detach from the past and all of the pain/I need to learn, start from scratch begin again." As you listen to this album you realize what a cathartic experience this must have been for the artist. Though she makes herself immensly vulnerable, it is particularly comforting to know that when it's all said and done, she has grown as a person and as an artist. As listeners, we can only thank her for letting us all partake in that experience.

Recommended for fans of Tori Amos and Feist. Don't pass up this album.

Key Tracks:

1. "The Bully"
2. "Natale's Song"
3. "The Church of What's Happening Now"
4. "Where I Belong"

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Tuesday, April 04, 2006

(Music) The Yeah Yeah Yeahs: "Show Your Bones"

The Yeah Yeah Yeahs second LP, “Show Your Bones” is a beautiful mess of an album. What is immediately noticeable on this album is the influx of acoustic guitars that flood and fill out the album quite nicely. But though it’s a welcome addition to the electric-guitar madness that has become the Yeah Yeah Yeahs signature, it’s still a flood. And floods are bad.

“Show Your Bones” begins as a heavily produced piece of rock greatness. The band manages to play as a unit without one member out-shining the other. It’s great! It’s a band working as a band, not relying on a sole-member. As a result, Karen O just seems to fit into the music that her bandmates have created, like the missing piece to a puzzle. It’s a beautiful chunk of music.

However, as the album progresses, this all falls apart. When Karen O sings “I think I’m bigger than the sound,” well, she is. The second half of the album is largely underproduced and features O’s vocals becoming harsher, tougher to deal with. While she is capable of singing at the level of Metric’s Emily Haines, she opts to screech her way through many of the album’s later tracks over minimal instrumentation. By the way, the songs “The Sweets” “Warrior” and “Turn Into” are back to back to back near clones of each other. Like a bad Linkin Park song, they all follow the same formula: start of with soft acoustics, end the song in blazing electric and insane drums. And while it works once, it is excused when done twice, and garbage the third time through, especially when done back to back to back. Despite these drawbacks the album ends in a blaze of hell fire with the song “Déjà vu,” a song that can only be described with the word “wow.”

Though it really falls apart towards the end, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs “Show Your Bones” is a fairly decent showing from a band that is sure to have many good years ahead of ‘em. When they are good, they are really good. They capture rock music at it’s core, choke it, and leave it beat up in the street. The Yeah Yeah Yeahs may very well be the future of mainstream rock…well, we can only hope so.

Recommended for fans of rock music, especially chick rock. Oh, and Yeah Yeah Yeahs fans too.

Key Tracks:

1. Gold Lion
2. Fancy
3. Mysteries
4. Déjà vu

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Monday, April 03, 2006

(Music) The Flaming Lips: "At War With The Mystics"

"At War with the Mystics" is the second great album of the year. If The Flaming Lips were Michelangelo, "Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots" would be the statue of David and "At War with the Mystics" would be the Sistine Chapel. Simply put, The Flaming Lips have crafted their best, most solid, album to date.

The Flaming Lips have created their masterpiece.

The first listen through AWWTM is a journey from up tempo "Yeah Yeah Yeahs" to the slow, atmospheric songs that have made them famous, back to psychadelic-funk-Prince-ish songs, and then once more to the huge atmospheric productions. With the exception of "Free Radical," there's not really a song on the album that differs hugely from the types of music the Lips have made since 1999's "The Soft Bulletin." However, what The Flamings Lips do on this album is build on the formula that has risen them to the heights of rock stardom over their 21-year career.

Song for song, "At War with the Mystics" is the most solid Flaming Lips album I've ever heard. It starts of strong and it doesn't let up....ever! Whereas "Yoshimi" hit's its climax at about song 5 and then putters out, this album does so at about song 10 but manages to close the album out strong. The standout song on the album is without question "The W.A.N.D." which blends an unquestionably rocking guitar riff with so many cool electronic vocal effects and solid drumming that you will be dancing in no time....or at the very least banging your head or tapping your foot.

Of course it would be foolish to overlook the obvious symbolism in the album regarding the War in Iraq and other modern issues, considering the title and all. And though the Lips come of strong at points with lines like "You think you're radical, but you're not so radical. In fact, you're fanatical!" or "Everytime you state your case the more I'd like to punch your face in," they still manage to shake off all their strong emotions with amazingly crafted music that will allow you to overlook their lyrical blunders and overstatements.

As I stated before, this album is pretty much flawless. I've listened to it about 10 times or so, and I still love it and find new things to love every time I pop it in the ol' CD Player. I will be listening to this one for a very long time.

I strongly recommend this title to anyone who loves The Flaming Lips (especially the album "The Soft Bulletin") or anyone who is tired of hearing Nickelback songs.

Key Tracks:
1. "Yeah Yeah Yeah Song"
2. "The Sound of Failure"
3. "The Wizard Turns On"
4. "Haven't Got A Clue"
5. "The W.A.N.D."

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Saturday, April 01, 2006

(Music) Pink: "I'm Not Dead"

Pink's new album "I'm Not Dead" is without a doubt her most accomplished album to date. To be honest, it quite possibly could be the best album to have released thus far in 2006. For serious! This album has it all. In addition to Pink's soulful voice, you also get insightful lyrics, amazing melodies, and top-of-the line production and music.

If you've been watching MTV like I have, you know her first single "Stupid Girls" is funny because it's true, and great because it rocks! But that song doesn't even compare to great songs like "U + Ur Hand" or "Conversations with my 13 year old self." Those songs contain both the heart and soul of Pink, a side we've all grown to embrace over the years. The album also features some great collaborations with the Indigo Girls and even Pink's father, which I thought was a particularly touching moment. In fact, if you are going to listen to a song on the album, make it be that one ("I Have Seen the Rain"). It is beautiful.

The lowest point on the album is a song called "Dear Mr. President" which I'm sure you can all guess isn't thanking President Bush for his tax cuts or Patriot Act. Though I don't agree with the message, it is still a top notch song, much like Stars' "He Lied About Death" or Bright Eyes' "When The President Talks to God." Needless to say, I love this album and it deserves to be listened to by everyone who isn't deaf (because deaf people can't hear). Do yourself a favor and buy it without listening to it. If there's one review you can take me for my word at, it's this one

Key Tracks:

1. Nobody Knows
2. U + Ur Hand
3. Runaway
4. I Have Seen the Rain

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