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Friday, October 27, 2006

The Dry Spell (Plus Recommendation!)

It's been ages since I've posted on this here thingamajigger they call a blog. Midterms have been keeping me down, so posting has taken a backseat as I focus on graduating and getting into some sort of teacher's certification program. But, as always, I have news to report and some new music recommendations that you should listen to! So pay attention!

  • Audio Overflow has officially been cancelled as a website. You may see this blog transformed into Audio Overflow, but don't expect a fully-featured website. Nobody was really caring about all that nonsense anyways, so I don't really expect any disappointment.
  • I've been working hard on Butt Nugget and the Silent Cane, and the new album should be released by the end of the year! Click here for more details!

And now for recommendations. These are albums that I've been listening to a lot lately, and I think you'd be doing yourself a disservice by not doing the same.

  • The Divine Comedy: "Victory for the Comic Muse" - "To Die A Virgin," the lead-off track for this fantastic foray into musical theatricism has been stuck in my head for weeks now, and the rest of the album ain't bad either. Check it out.
  • I'm From Barcelona: "Let Me Introduce You To My Friends" - It's like The Boy Least Likely To meets The Polyphonic Spree. One of the best indie pop albums of the year, and definitely the best album to feature more than 20 people in a band.
  • Tanya Donelly: "This Hungry Life" - A live album that's so good you can't tell it's live! You really need to give this one a listen.
  • Of Montreal: "Hissing Fauna...Are You the Destroyer?" - Normally, I don't advocate pirating music, but Of Montreal's latest album (which will release in January) is one of their best albums yet. It's a near-perfect blend of their new hipster disco sound and their old drug-enduced circus music! If you download it, you'll buy it. It's that good!
  • Sparta: "Threes" - More of the same from what's left of the sane part of At the Drive In, but that's not a bad thing at all. Threes is a great album!

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Friday, October 13, 2006

(Music) The Dears: "Gang of Losers"

After The Dears' 2004 masterpiece, "No Cities Left," many fans were left wondering if it could get any better. That album made The Dears into one of indie rock's biggest stars and one of Canada's most notable talents, so topping such a brilliant album would undoubtedly be a monumental task. Fortunately for the fans, The Dears have not let us down. "Gang of Losers" not only builds upon the fundamental sound of The Dears, but it also improves it.

The album begins with a somber, synth-driven, introduction (here known as "Synthro") which leads suddenly into "Ticket to Immortality," one of The Dears' finest songs to date. Murray Lightburn, the mastermind behind The Dears is in top form on this song, especially during the chorus, where he wails "I hang out with all the pariahs!" or at the coda where he declares "The world is really gonna love you!" And while these may not be the most poignant of lyrics, Lightburn presents them with such passion and honesty that it's hard not to enjoy every moment of the song.

The album then moves along rather nicely, with songs like "Hate Then Love" and "Bandwagoneers" standing out. The latter song begins rather simply, but then in typical Dears fashion, it explodes into an emotionally-charged coda where Lightburn exclaims "Heaven knows that I'm a fake! Heaven knows that we're all faking it!" Here, his enchanting voice breaks down and he shouts these lines with such animalistic sincerity that it's almost frightening, but undeniably moving. It is, by far, my favorite moment on the album.

"You and I are a Gang of Losers" is another fantastic song, and one of the most touching tracks on the album. However, the album reaches it's climax at "Ballad of Humankindness," where Lightburn laments "No one should have to live all of their life on their own." The song manages to capture Lightrburn's heart, or at least what he would have us to believe of it. More importantly, however, it is the best track on the album and, quite honestly, one of the year's best songs.

From there, the album closes nicely with "I Fell Deep" and "Find our Way to Freedom" (The U.S. Version has a few bonus tracks, but none are worthy of noting). By the time the album is finished, it's nearly impossible to not have affected in some way or another. The Dears are a band whose sound is so universally appealing that to call it anything but a masterpiece would be a travesty. "Gang of Losers" is beautiful, touching, powerful, and even fun at times. For an album that's almost entirely about not fitting in, that's quite an achievement.

Recommended for fans of The Dears, and anyone who's interested in hearing one of the best bands in indie rock today.

Key Tracks:
1. "Ticket to Immortality"
2. "There Goes My Outfit"
3. "Bandwagoneers"
4. "You and I are a Gang of Losers"
5. "Ballad of Humankindness"

4 out of 5 Stars

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Saturday, October 07, 2006

(Music) The Decemberists: "The Crane Wife"

The Decemberists' fourth full-length album, and their first for a major record label, is, in my opinion, their best album to date. What's great about "The Crane Wife" is that it has a major record label sound without sacrificing the style that made The Decemberists the great, unique band that they are.

The album begins slowly, with the haunting acoustic ballad turned full-speed solemn sing-along, "The Crane Wife, Pt. 3." The song is classic Decemberists, but accessible enough that you'll undoubtedly find yourself singing "I will hang my head, hang my head low" with Colin, even if it's only your first time listening to the song. It's a great lead-off track, and really builds the momentum that lasts through most of the album. That momentum runs head-on into "The Island," a three-part 12 1/2 minute epic that instantly captivating and enjoyable.

"Yankee Bayonet (I Will Be Home Then)" is one of my favorite tracks on the album, as it features a beautiful duet between Colin and Laura Veirs. Of course, when I say beautiful, I'm not speaking of an R&B/Whitney Houston type of duet. Despite what many will undoubtedly say of them, The Decemberists have not "sold out" on this album. They've simply refined their sound, and made it more pleasant, with the help of Death Cab for Cutie guitarist Chris Walla, who serves as producer on this album. But I digress...

Moving along, the next two tracks on the album have a great chance of launching The Decemberists into levels of fame that they have not yet experienced. The first of these, "O Valencia!" is an upbeat, love song that features a nice Meloyian twist. Colin laments "O Valencia with your blood still warm on the ground, Valencia! And I swear to the stars I'll burn this whole city down!" It's initially a fun song, but after taking a look at the lyrics, you realize that it's actually quite sad. Regardless, it's fantastic. The next song, "The Perfect Crime No. 2" is by far my favorite track on the album. In it, Meloy discusses, as the tile suggests, "The Perfect Crime" over an almost funk-ish bassline. Then new Decemberist sound is in full-force here, and it's an absolute joy to listen to.

"When the War Came" is the next track, and it will blow you away with the sheer amount of energy that it forces out in its 5 minutes. Unlike most songs by The Decemberists, this one features an incredibly angry sounding electric guitar and equally as aggressive drumming. At the end of the song, they syncopate as Colin echoes forcefully "With all the grain of Babylon..." It is without a doubt the most angry song to come from the band, but it's also one of the best.

For classic Decemberists fans, "The Shankhill Butchers" will be a favorite. It's really the only time that the album dies down for an entire track, but it is still a really great song. Like almost all of the band's songs, it tells a story. In this case, it takes the form of an English murder ballad. If any song on the album could be considered a "shout out" to the band's longtime fans, its this one.

The album wraps up fairly nicely. "Summersong" once again picks things up a notch, but the real standout is "The Crane Wife, Pts. 1 & 2," which obviously tell the first two parts of the story of The Crane Wife. Pt. 1 is more of a celebration over the crane whom the narrator marries, while Pt. 2 laments his treatment of her. Each part is brilliant in its own right, but Pt. 2 stands out as the most beautiful part of the album and poignantly renders the last song on the album, "Sons & Daughters" negligible. It's a great track, and well suited as a closing song, but it's place as a follow-up to "The Crane Wife, Pt. 2" is a tough one.

Overall, I'd say that The Decemberists have really made the transition onto a major record label quite flawlessly. They have crafted an album that stands out as one of the best albums of the year and probably their own personal best. For Decemberists fans who are a bit worried about what kind of difference the leap has made, stop. The fantastic storytelling is still here, only with more heart, and Colin Meloy's unique form of sensationalist lyrics are still here as well. This is, after all, an album by The Decemberists. Only now, more people will know that. And I couldn't be happier!

Key Tracks:
1. "The Island"
2. "Yankee Bayonet (I Will Be Home Then)"
3. "O Valencia!"
4. "The Perfect Crime"
5. "The Crane Wife, Pts. 1 &2"

5 out of 5 Stars

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Tuesday, October 03, 2006

(Music) September Wrap-Up

I've never done one of these before, but I've been hella busy with school these days, so here it is.

Justin Timberlake: "Futuresex/Lovesounds" - Apparently, Justin Timberlake thinks about sex more than a 12-year-old boy. I'm just assuming this because nearly every song on this album is about sex in some form or fashion, or at least something that will undoubtedly lead to sex. Also frustrating is the fact that Timbaland, T.I., Three Six Mafia, and Will.I.Am. just seem like Justin is searching for credibility. You had it. It was called "Justified." But now it's gone forever.

2 out of 5 Stars

Mastodon: "Blood Mountain"
- Admittedly, I'm not really a metal fan. But I have to say that this album thoroughly gave my balls a good rocking, and I will continue coming back to this one for a good couple of months if I feel that they could use even more razor blade hugs! Definitely an album to give to the sissy kid down the street who's still playing with micro machines instead of big kid guns.

4 out of 5 Stars

Bonnie "Prince" Billy: "The Letting Go" - I've let go. This album is awesome, featuring some of the best songwriting that I've heard in 2006 and probably one of the most honest vocal performances as well. If you're unfamiliar with Bonnie "Prince" Billy, this is a great place to start. I know, because I've just started. I have too much to get caught up on, so I'll just pretend that the rest of the albums don't exist. "The Letting Go" is a phenomenal debut album!

4 out of 5 Stars

Yo La Tengo: "I Am Not Afraid of You and I Will Beat Your Ass" - Not the greatest album in the world, but it's still a pretty good one. It's your standard indie rock album. The lyrics are, at times, moving and the melodies are often enchanting. My only complaint about the album is that the vocal performances are lackluster, probably due to lack of skill than anything else, but still aggravating nonetheless. Don't let that discourage you though, this is good stuff, even if it comes off as a bit careless, but then again, they aren't afraid of us.

3 out of 5 Stars

Jedi Mind Tricks: "Servants In Heaven, Kings In Hell" - As far as rap albums go, this one is pretty solid. Indie rap albums are over the place, but Jedi Mind Tricks have always been a little ahead of the curve. Sure, there a emcees that do it better, there are better producers, but if you're looking for the one thing that's missing in hip-hop nowadays (honesty), then you should look no further than this album. Listen to "Razorblade Salvation" featuring Shara Worden of My Brightest Diamond, and you'll suddenly understand of what rap music should sound like...even if the song kind comes off as a "Stan" rip-off.

3 out of 5 Stars

Xiu Xiu: "The Air Force" - I don't think there's an album to come out in 2006 that has frustrated me more than this one. I want to like it, I really do, but when I really be honest with myself it's damn-near one of the most pathetic excuses for music I've ever heard. Don't get me wrong, the actual instrumentations and stuff are great, but the vocals are horrendous and, from what I can tell, purposefully difficult. Listen to "Vulture Piano" and hear great music and horrible vocals, then realize that this is what the album is like. I don't like it, and I don't think I can.

2 out of 5 Stars

TV on the Radio: "Return to Cookie Mountain" - I've never really considered myself a TV on the Radio fan. I bought their first album and quickly gave it away to the first unsuspecting victim I could find. This album will undoubtedly continue that trend. At times, their music is fairly decent and it can even rock out at times, but the overall package is completely unappealing to me and will remain so for now.

1 out of 5 Stars

John Mayer: "Continuum" - If you've heard "Room for Squares" or "Heavier Things" then you should have no logical reason to listen to "Continuum." Maybe it's just that I've grown tired of John Mayer (which I don't believe) or maybe it's just that I'm tired of every single artist that I've grown to admire criticize politics and war(that's a bit more likely), but one thing's for sure, "Continuum" just isn't doing it for me. I've always like John Mayer, and I've defended him on several occasions, but there isn't a single song on here that can compete with a song from his other works. When "Waiting on the World to Change" is the best song you can pull out...don't.

2 out of 5 Stars

So there you have it. The rest of September wrapped up into a neat little package for your reading enjoyment. And let's not forget that T.V. on the Radio did really just get a 1 out of 5 Stars, which makes them officially worse than Paris Hilton. Lesson? Quit making music if you suck at making music.


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Monday, October 02, 2006

(Music) Weird Al: "Straight Outta Lynwood"

Maybe I don't get out enough, or maybe I'm just naive, but I don't know of anyone who has actually listened to Weird Al from the very beginning of his career to the very end. Don't get me wrong, the guy has fans, hardcore fans, but has anyone actually been purchasing this guy's albums for 25 years? I'm sure there are a few, and in reality, they are completely justified in their actions. Weird Al's career has been one of ups and downs, but it has never really stalled. Every couple of years, Al spits out an album full of great parodies of today's best (worst) music and it still manages to be funny! You gotta hand it to the guy.

"Straight Outta Lynwood" is Al's latest album, the title of which is an obvious jab at "Straight Outta Compton," the classic N.W.A. album. As it turns out, perhaps there's good reason for the name, as Weird Al focuses a lot of his attention on the rap and r&b genres this time out. There's "White and Nerdy," a parody of Chamillionaire's "Ridin'" (and possibly one of Yankovic's bests!), a brief take on 50 Cent and the Black Eyed Peas, "Confessions Pt. 3," the all-too obvious parody of Usher's "Confessions Pt. 2," and the song that was just begging for it, R Kelly's "Trapped In the Closet," now has a parody of its own...clocking it at about 11 minutes! In addition to that, there's also some quality parodies of Green Day and James Blunt, both of which are okay in their own right.

As is the case with any Weird Al album, the true value in the CD lies in the parodies. That being said, "Straight Outta Lynwood" also contains some of Al's best original songs in years. Sure, while "Pancreas" may not be anything special, it's still quirky enough to warrant multiple listens. Aut let's not forget "I'll Sue Ya," a nice bit of social commentary (Weird Al style) in the form of a Kid Rock-esque jam. For me though, the biggest laugh-out-loud moment of the album was "Weasel Stomping Day," a song that is completely ludicrous and bears a few similarities to "Harvey the Wonder Hampster." Laughter is almost guaranteed on this one.

Overall, "Straight Outta Lynwood" is a pretty decent album, and one of Weird Al's bests. It's really the first album of his I've listened to in a decade, and I'm glad I did. There's definitely enough humor on here to hold you over for until the next Weird Al album. With a career that has lasted longer than most "legitimate" artists, Yankovic has clearly made a name for himself. As long as he keeps in touch with pop culture, I doubt the spotlight will ever leave him.

Key Tracks:
1. "Whit and Nerdy"
2. "I'll Sue Ya"
3. "Confessions, Pt.3"
4. "Weasel Stomping Day"
5. "Trapped In the Drive-Thru"

3 out of 5 Stars

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Sunday, October 01, 2006

(Announcement) Introducing

That's right ladies and gentlemen. On January 1, 2007, Cale Is The Balls!!! will officially change its name to Audio Overflow and be located at

What does this mean for you, the faithful reader? Not a whole lot. You will still get great reviews, lists, and what not from the greatest person in the world (me), but you'll also get a bunch of additional features like:

  • An easy layout
  • An easy-to-remember web address
  • Interviews
  • Editorials
  • Regular news updates and articles
  • And full coverage of the annual Cale Awards!
It's really a no-brainer, and this is a time to be excited!

For the rest of 2006, this blog will be my priority, even as I get everything set up at the new site. As of January 1st, however, this blog will no longer be updated as a source of reviews. Expect the randomness that comes with Cale, but not a whole lot else.

Thanks to the two of you who have been faithful readers of Cale Is The Balls!!! I'm looking forward to seeing you at the new site.

If anyone has any questions or comments. Let me know....please....


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