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Saturday, July 28, 2007

Show Watch: Houston

NOTE: To avoid making a new post every week, I've added "Show Watch: Houston" to the side bar on the right. Check there regularly for updates on shows of note in the Houston area.

There are a few new shows to note this week. Those are all written in red. Enjoy.

  • Two Gallants @ Meridian – August 10, 2007
  • Eisley @ Meridian - August 16, 2007
  • Midlake @ Numbers - September 20, 2007
  • Bloc Party and Deerhoof @ Warehouse Live - September 21, 2007
  • Dan Deacon @ Walter’s on Washington – September 24, 2007
  • Rilo Kiley @ Warehouse Live - October 5, 2007
  • Okkervil River @ Walter’s on Washington – October 6, 2007
  • The Hives (with Maroon 5...ugh) @ Toyota Center - October 26, 2007
  • Spoon and The New Pornographers @ Warehouse Live - November 1, 2007
  • Of Montreal w/ Grand Buffet and MGMT @ Numbers - November 2, 2007

In case you haven't heard yet, you can now buy tickets to the Of Montreal show (and many others) at Ticket Web or Super Unison. They are $15.

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Go News Go! - The Weekly News Recap

Leather sofas, leather sofas.


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Friday, July 27, 2007

Top 5 Movie Soundtracks (That I Can Think of at the Moment)

A movie soundtrack can effectively make or break a movie. Even the most poignant and touching of movies can be shot to hell by a Britney Spears ballad over an Elton John one. I mean, all the great movies have great soundtracks, right? With that in mind, I thought I'd offer up a short list of the Top 5 movie soundtracks that I can think of at the moment (which is 8:18 am).

#5: Vanilla Sky - I would say that one of my biggest flaws as a movie-lover is that I'm pretty much infatuated with Cameron Crowe movies. Technically speaking, his writing is a bit on the cheesy side and his stories are mostly predictable. That doesn't really stop the man from being a genius at putting together a totally awesome soundtrack for each movie that he does. "Vanilla Sky" is no different. This soundtrack is packed with amazing artists like Sigur Ros, Radiohead, and the Beach Boys (not to mention Jeff Buckley and Bob Dylan). Crowe's knowledge of all things music is one of his greater strengths as a director. It's a talent that comes through in every film he does.

#4: Kill Bill Vol. 1 - Kill Bill Volume 1 would not have been near as cool if it weren't for the excellent sountrack that it contained. In addition to a classic song by Nancy Sinatra and now classic songs by The 5, 6, 7, 8s, the film contained some of the best original music of any movie in recent history. It was all done by The RZA of Wu Tang Clan fame, so you know it's good. Sure, movies like Harry Potter and The Lord of the Rings all have their 200-piece orchestral original music, but none of that stuff even compares to the coolness that seeps out of every second of this great film. Word.

#3: Forest Gump - This is the only great movie whose greatness is only rivaled by its soundtrack. Every song on this brilliant collection of pop and rock hits from the 60s and 70s is a perfect match to this quirky and unforgettable film. At two CDs and 35 songs, the soundtrack is a beast to tackle. Take it on a road trip with you and you won't be disappointed. It's great!

#2: Elizabethtown - Again, I'm madly in love with Cameron Crowe's movies; even this movie that everyone loved to hate. While the movie itself is big on cheese and little on substance (allegedly), the soundtrack is just packed with some of the best music ever made. Cameron Crowe's could've picked any song to go into Orland Bloom's "breakdown" scene, but he chose "My Father's Gun" by Elton John. Not only did it work, but it was perfect! I can't imagine any other song being there, and no other song could come close to accompany the movie's turning point. The whole soundtrack is perfect, as is usually the case with Crowe. This one just happens to be his best.

#1: Garden State - Was there ever a doubt in your mind as to what would make #1? There shouldn't have been. Zach Braff is a genius. Not only did he have the soundtrack planned out before the movie was even made, but he actually sent out little CD-Rs to everyone who read the script, so they'd have music to accompany their read. So while all the Hollywood suits are reading this charming script, they're listening to The Shins, Zero 7, Iron and Wine, and Frou Frou. No wonder this movie got made, and no wonder it was so perfect! Dozens of movies have tried to mimic the success of this soundtrack to no avail! You can shove all the hipsters' favorites on to a CD and call it a soundtrack, but it will never be the same. This one was created with care, and it shows! I won't say it will change your life...but it comes pretty damn close!

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Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Video of the Week - Week 29

Architecture In Helsinki - "Heart It Races" from the album "Places Like This"

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Monday, July 23, 2007

Tegan and Sara: "The Con"

How do you follow an album like "So Jealous," an album that not only helped solidify Tegan and Sara's place as one of the decade's most notable indie pop/rock acts, but also helped define their career? How do you follow the sheer, raw enjoyment that was found over every second of such a fantastic record? For the Quin sisters, the answer is "The Con," their newest and, in my opinion, best album.

On "The Con," Tegan and Sara show that they've matured a lot since their last outing, not only musically, but lyrically as well. Whereas "So Jealous" was largely a fast-paced rock album, this one is much more balanced. There are clearly songs that sound like classic Tegan and Sara, but at the same time there are also some beautifully composed and executed songs. Almost every track on the album features multiple layers of guitars and synthesizers. "Relief Next To Me" showcases this addition quite nicely, as does "Knife Going In" and the absolutely awesome title track. "Are You Ten Years Ago" forgoes the typical drum set for an electronic drum track, and the end result is a more effective song than it would've been otherwise.

It's clear that the Quin sisters wanted to make an album that branches out from their previous sounds and explores new territory. For any artist, it is always a tricky path to walk. However, Tegan and Sara have achieved their goal flawlessly. They no longer sound like little girls but women. Every second of "The Con" showcases their maturity as musicians and as lyricists, and I couldn't be happier.

"So Jealous" was always sort of a guilty pleasure for me. As a grown male, you better believe I faced some opposition from friends when I tried to show them Tegan and Sara. No longer. "The Con" is an album that I'm not only proud to own, but I'm trilled to say that it's one of the best, most surprising records to release in 2007. If you've ever been a Tegan and Sara fan, you absolutely have to check this one out!

Key Tracks:
1. "The Con"
2. "Hop A Plane"
3. "Soil, Soil"
4. "Burn Your Life Down"
5. "Like O, Like H"

8 out of 10 Stars

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Saturday, July 21, 2007

Are You Going?

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Go News Go! - The Weekly News Recap


Don't forget to nominate your favorite video!


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Friday, July 20, 2007

Top 5 Songs by The Shins

Believe it or not, The Shins have only made three full-length albums. Doesn't it feel like there's more than that? Maybe it's because every one of their albums is packed with awesome song, twice as many as your average compact disc. As always, I'm here to whittle down all those great songs to the 5 that matter most. Here's hoping that they're not all off of "Chutes Too Narrow." That would be a very boring list.#5: "Sleeping Lessons" from the album "Wincing the Night Away" - Say what you want about The Shins, but they sure know how to open an album. Every LP they've put out has begun with a totally awesome song. This year's "Sleeping Lessons" is no exception, with it's bubbling synth and slowly-building energy. It's the kind of song you listen to at 4am when you're driving and you need a song to keep you going, singing at the top of your lungs. I know this because I've done this. It was kinda lame.

#4: "Kissing the Lipless" from the album "Chutes Too Narrow" - That whole thing about opening an album really applies here. "Kissing the Lipless" doesn't seem all that impressive, until James Mercer erupts with "You TOOOOOOOLLLLLD us of your new life..." It's pretty much apparent from then on out that you are not listening to just some random album, but one of the best albums ever made. This song is simply a standout on an otherwise flawless album.

#3: "Turn a Square" from the album "Chutes Too Narrow" - This song was my first introduction to The Shins. Believe it or not, I didn't like it at all when I first heard it. But for some strange reason, I listened to it again and again until it finally dawned on my just how great this song really is. I listen to it today and I still think "Wow." I can't say that about very many songs at all.

#2: "New Slang" from the album "Oh, Inverted World" - If a single song could ever propel a relatively unknown band like The Shins to the top of the Billboard charts, it'd have to be "New Slang." Go ahead and credit that to Zach Braff, whose 2004 film "Garden State" found Natalie Portman's character saying that this one song could change your life. It not only changed Braff's character's life, but the lives of The Shins and the millions of people who first heard The Shins because of this one scene. But "New Slang" is much more that some random endorsement from the guy from Scrubs. It's a beautiful song, and one of James Mercer's greatest conquests in songwriting.

#1: "Pink Bullets" from the album "Chutes Too Narrow" - If you've been reading this blog for any substantial period of time, or know me personally, then you probably are aware that this is my second favorite song of all time behind "Paranoid Android". That makes it my favorite indie rock song of all time by a long shot. Everything about this song is beautiful, and it's placement right in the midst of the otherwise rowdy and uptempo "Chutes Too Narrow" made it all the more poignant. Mercer has never written a better song than this one, and I doubt he ever could. The imagery in the lyrics is astounding (tangled kites, warm light on a winter day, etc.) and the delivery is flawless. Honestly, if you've never heard the song before go to iTunes and download it. It will change your life.

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Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Video of the Week - Week 28

"Yatta" by Happatai

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Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Show Watch: Houston

A few new shows to add this week (written in red), and they are doozies! Can I even get away with saying "doozies?"

  • The Honorary Title @ Meridian - July 18, 2007
  • Bishop Allen @ The Proletariat - July 26, 2007
  • Midlake @ Numbers - September 20, 2007
  • Bloc Party and Deerhoof @ Warehouse Live - September 29, 2007
  • Rilo Kiley @ Warehouse Live - October 5, 2007
  • The Hives (with Maroon 5...ugh) @ Toyota Center - October 26, 2007
  • Spoon and The New Pornographers @ Warehouse Live - November 1, 2007
  • Of Montreal w/ Grand Buffet and MGMT @ Numbers - November 2, 2007
Tickets for the Rilo Kiley show go on sale this Saturday at 10am! Snatch them up while you can on Super Unison, and look out for their new album "Under the Blacklight," coming soon. No news yet on when the Of Montreal tickets go on sale yet, but as always, I'll keep you posted.

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St. Vincent: "Marry Me"

Before you sit down and listen to Annie Clark's (here known as St. Vincent) first solo album, "Marry Me," take a moment to look at the cover. Think to yourself, "What kind of music could this woman actually make?" Chances are, every answer that comes into your head is going to be somewhat accurate. "Marry Me" is filled with the kind of quirky pop music that helped Regina Spektor and My Brightest Diamond get noticed. As it turns out, Clark also has the distinction of being a member of The Polyphonic Spree on their most recent album as well as a member of Sufjan Stephens' touring band (much like My Brightest Diamond's Shara Worden). While all these credentials are well and good, it is the music that matters most. Fortunately, "Marry Me" is probably the strongest female solo album to debut in 2007!

The album starts off with the brilliantly composed "Now Now" in which a choir of childish vocals declare "You don't mean that, say you're sorry" just before Annie inserts "I'll make you sorry." Perhaps the most impressive aspect of the song is the mere fact that Clark took care of most of the instrumentation herself, as she does through most of the album. While multi-instrumentalists are a dime a dozen these days, few are able to blend the individual parts together in a way that seems so cohesive.

The humorously titled, "Jesus Saves, I Spend" features Christmas carol-esque "Bum bum bums" in the background, and even a few jingle bells for good measure. Here, Annie sings "While Jesus is saving, I'm spending all my grace on the rosy red power of lights on center stage" nonchalantly, adding to the carefree feel of the song almost as much as the floaty chipmunk vocals do (seriously). "Your Lips Are Red" takes a much more serious turn with a grinding guitar riff, haunting harp plucks and an incredibly eeire, yet undeniably cool string part. Clark's lyricism is once again displayed in full force as she near-growls "Your lips are red. My face is red from needing your red lips." Eventually, the song builds into a much brighter affair where Clark sounds almost identical to Shara Worden.

The title track "Marry Me" is another light pop song, this time sounding curiously like Feist. However, even amongst beat-keeping hand claps, the instrumentation is just as impressive as it has been. "Paris Is Burning" is absolutely amazing track, that finds Annie singing "I'm on your side where nobody is" over an almost waltz-like composition. The guitars here are absolutely brilliant, and the song is arguably one of the album's best. My personal favorite, however is the following track, "All My Stars Aligned." Listening to it, I imagine being completely weightless, blowing about in the clouds. The song is so dreamlike, so perfect, that it's hard to imagine Clark ever topping it. She asks, "What was your question?" before affirming "Love is the answer." Genius.

The second half of the album is just as beautiful as the first. "The Apocalypse Song" is an absolutely gorgeous pop song whose heavy orchestration is only overshadowed by it's WTF-inducing breakdown. But Clark doesn't disappoint, bringing the chorus back for another go before ending the song. Amidst the rest of "Marry Me," "We Put A Pearl In the Ground" seems entirely out of place. At just over a minute long, this simple, yet stunning piano solo doesn't really go with the string orchestration or guitars it follows. At the same time, however, it is undeniably charming, sounding like a heartbreaking lullaby. The song essentially serves as a prelude to "Land Mines," but it completely outshines that song, in my opinion.

The album wraps up with the quirky, yet catchy "Human Racing" and the completely charming "What Me Worry?" In it, Annie asks the question "Do I amuse you dear? Would you think me queer if while standing beside you, I opted instead to disappear?" It seems like no time at all before she does, and the album closes.

Annie Clark has completely blown me away with "Marry Me." This is not only the best female solo album of 2007, but one of the best I've heard in the last decade. At times she can sound like so many different artists (Norah Jones, Feist, My Brightest Diamond, Regina Spektor, etc.), but at the same time she maintains a uniqueness about her that is not only endearing, but entirely brilliant. St. Vincent is a name you'll want to remember, whether it's just a stage name or not. Listening to "Marry Me" is like opening your eyes to a brand new day and realizing that the world is full of possibilities. It is refreshing. It is amazing. It is completely and utterly unforgettable!

Recommended for fans of My Brightest Diamond, Sufjan Stevens, and anyone who is ready to be blown away!

Key Tracks:
1. "Your Lips Are Red"
2. "Paris Is Burning"
3. "All My Stars Aligned"
4. "The Apocalypse Song"
5. "We Put A Pearl In The Ground"

9 out of 10 Stars
(Original 10 Retracted)

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Of Montreal Completes the Best Two Days of Your Life!

Just in case last week's bombshell that Spoon and The New Pornographers would not only be playing together live, but in Houston, comes this news!

The unstoppable force that is Of Montreal will be in Houston the next day, November 2, and they'll be bringing along their old touring buddies Grand Buffet and MGMT. The last time the band strolled through town with these guys in tow, it was an absolute blast! Tickets aren't on sale yet, but keep checking back with Audio Overflow to see when they do.

As a reminder;

  • Spoon and The New Pornographers - Thursday, November 1 @ Warehouse Live
  • Of Montreal w/ Grand Buffet and MGMT - Friday, November 2 @ Numbers
Prepared to be wowed!

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Saturday, July 14, 2007

Nominate Your Favorite Video! - Anti-Video Awards Awards

Do you ever watch the MTV Video Music Awards on TV with complete disdain? I know I do. Every year, the rich and famous come out for an evening of self-indulgence as MTV and its viewers decide which overrated artist's music video was the most extravagant. Meanwhile, indie acts are left with their low-budget videos with little more than user comments on YouTube to commend them for their efforts.

Not anymore!
This year, I've decided to take it upon myself to give these hard-working, underappreciated videos the credit they deserve! On Wednesday September 5, 2007, the winners of the 1st Annual Anti-Video Awards Awards will be announced. Starting today, I'll be accepting nominations from all users for their favorite videos. Here are the rules:
  1. Video must have been released after August 1, 2006 but before July 31, 2007. You can often check the release date of the video by visiting the label's website, or YouTube Profile.
  2. Nominate as many videos as you like, just be sure to keep the categories in mind (listed below).
  3. Simply leave the artist and song name (or a link) for the video you wish to nominate as a comment in this post, or email to

The process will take place over 3 phases:

Phase 1 - Nominations: July 14 through July 31

Phase 2 - Voting: August 1 through August 31

Phase 3 - Winners Announced: September 5, 2007

Once all nominations have been submitted, I will personally decide on which 5 videos (per category) will make it to the voting phase. From there, you will be able to cast your vote for a video in each category. On September 5, 2007, I will announce all the winners. Simple right. Here are the categories you should keep in mind when nominating and voting.

  • Best Male Video - The best video from a male solo artist.
  • Best Female Video - The best video from a female solo artist.
  • Best Editing - Which video made the best use of its editing time?
  • Best Art Direction - Sets, costumes, makeup, all falls into this category.
  • Best Rock Video - The best video featuring a rockin' song!
  • Best Electronic Video - The best video from a primarily electronic/dance artist.
  • Best Group Video - The best video from a group with 2 or more people.
  • Best Direction - The director brought his/her A-game.
  • Video of the Year - Far and away, the best video of the past year.

You can nominate any video you feel is worthy to win a completely uncoveted jpeg of a trophy, even if it's by a mainstream artist. Just head over to YouTube or your favorite video site and start watching those videos with a critical eye. Or you could scour through Audio Overflow's Video of the Week collection if you're short on ideas. It's all up to you! Get those nominations in and recruit your friends to do the same. You have until the end of the month to nominate your faves!

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Go News Go! - The Weekly News Recap

We eat all the grass. We make milk. We are cows.

We are actually space elves.

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Friday, July 13, 2007

Top 5 Worst Musical Trends

The music industry is a constantly evolving business. What's hot today, may be tomorrow's joke. So before you tease your hair or rush out and buy some ankle warmers, just think about how you'll reflect upon this moment 5 years from now. That's kinda what this week's Top 5 is about. What are the Top 5 worst musical trends of all time? Read and find out!

#5: Grunge Rock - Grunge rock originated in the late 80s and early 90s and died out a few years later. Catapulted to the forefront of mainstream rock, due in large part to Nirvana, grunge was the new metal. Overnight, kids were wearing flannel sweaters around their waists and refusing to shower all in the name of rock n roll. Yet while all this was going on, the music itself was almost unbearingly drab. Now, any nobody could throw together 4-bars of power chords, sing like a jackass, and make millions of dollars. Like most musical trends, it began with someone doing something that was unique and ended with lots of copycats and bored fans. The flannel business will never be the same.

#4: Hair Metal - In many ways, grunge rock originated out of rebellion to what was then the norm for rock music; hair metal. The 80s definitely had its share of terrible music trends, but this despicable genre pretty much owns them all. Bands like Guns N Roses were not too terrible, and in many cases were actually talented. The real travesty of hair metal was the musicians themselves, as people. If the "Sex, Drugs, and Rock N Roll" thing holds up, hair metal was 95% drugs and sex, 5% rock n roll. Everything about the trend was fueld by the desire to "get chicks." You had your completely ludicrous hair, your junk-flattering spandex or leather, and perhaps most importantly, your completely out of place ballad in the vein of Mr. Big's "To Be With You." There's nothing wrong with getting women as a result of your musical prowess, but when your music and style is entirely formulated for that purpose, you're just a tool.

#3: Post Tupac/Biggie Hip Hop - After the death of the 1990s most prolific rappers, the hip hop community was left in shambles. Hip hop began as a real, raw form of music; a way to express the struggles way of life in urban America. By the turn of the century, hip hop was the exact opposite. No longer is hip hop about what you don't have, it's about what you do or would like to have. It's no longer considered appropriate to rap about things that are real. Shiny things; that's what folks rap about now. Whether it's the chain on your neck, the rims on your wheels, your vehicle, or even your teeth; if it's shiny it's fair game. Case in point, 50 Cent has been shot nine times, but you're more likely to hear him rap about being in the club than that. Hip hop is no longer about the struggles of life, it's about it's excesses. Eminem kept it real for a while, but hasn't really put out an authentic album in years. True hip-hop is hard to find these day, so you're better off listening to the old stuff.

#2: Pop Punk - I've referenced it a lot on this site, but I can't repeat myself enough. Pop punk music is the single worst genre of my generation! I suppose it really started with bands like Green Day, but the explosion of untalented boy rock bands didn't really come into full force until Blink 182 started selling millions upon millions of albums. A year later you had crap like Sum 41 and Avril Lavigne flooding the airwaves like a plague. It's still around today in bits and pieces, but it's clear that a lot of these bands are trying to change their sound to distance themselves from yesterday's coolness (Yellowcard anyone?). The important thing to remember is that if you ever bought into any of this, you're entirely to blame and I hate you. Seriously.

#1: Disco - It's tough for me to make any deep commentary on Disco, as it is the only one of these trends that occurred before I was born. But from what I've seen, and from what I've heard, Disco is the worst thing to ever happen to the mainstream music industry. It was abnoxious, it was loud, it was annoying, and thanks to a few disco acts, it was vaguely homosexual. The fact that I couldn't go to a junior high dance growing up without hearing "Y.M.C.A." at least twice was enough to deter me from ever delving too deep into the genre. Unfortunately, it was not enough to deter me from dancing to it. As long as there is no photographic evidence to prove it, I should be in the clear.

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Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Video of the Week - Week 27

"Direct Hit" by Art Brut from the album "It's A Bit Complicated"

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Monday, July 09, 2007

AO Exclusive*: Spoon + New Pornographers in Houston!!

While scouring the interweb for some updated shows in the Houston area, I came across this hot mama!

If you're too lazy to click, it essentially is proof that Spoon and The New Pornographers will be gracing Houston, TX together at Warehouse Live on November 1st! So I did some more scouring, and discovered I am the very first person to break this new story!** There is no mention of it on either band's site, nor has Pitchfork made any mention of it.

Tickets will go on sale for this monumental event THIS FRIDAY, July 13th at 10AM. So get logged in to Ticketmaster right now and bookmark THIS PAGE. I'm scooping up a few tickets, myself so you can bet on seeing me there!

Here are more shows of note in the Houston area:

  • Eisley @ The Woodlands Pavilion - July 13, 2007
  • The Honorary Title @ Meridian - July 18, 2007
  • Bishop Allen @ The Proletariat - July 26, 2007
  • Midlake @ Numbers - September 20, 2007
  • Bloc Party and Deerhoof @ Warehouse Live - September 29, 2007
  • The Hives (with Maroon 5...ugh) @ Toyota Center - October 26, 2007
  • Spoon and The New Pornographers @ Warehouse Live - November 1, 2007
Keep checking back for more news and show updates, catered to the Houston area!

UPDATE: I emailed Pitchfork to inform them of the show. It has now been posted. Seriously. Get some tickets. Shows like this don't come to Houston everyday (as evidenced by the above list).

* Not really.
** Maybe.

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Spoon: "Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga"

There are very few bands around today that can consistently put out decent album after decent album. Spoon is one of the bands that can. "Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga" is the band's follow-up to 2005's stellar "Gimme Fiction." With a band like Spoon, you have to be expecting a lot, especially after such a great album. So does "Ga x5" live up to the expectations? You'll have to keep reading to figure out my verdict (or just scroll down to the bottom).

The album begins with the inexplicably infectious "Don't Make Me a Target," in which Britt Daniel simply sings the song's title as the chorus. With such a simple hook, one would think that the song would not be as memorable as it actually is. However, the song is a great lead-off track, and definitely gets the listener hooked immediately. It is a perfect showcase for the album's two greatest assets: Daniel's voice and flawless production. Unfortunately, any momentum that was started by the lead-off track is immediately squandered by the song that follows it. "The Ghost of You Lingers" is a shockingly plain song, with only repetitive 8th-note piano phrases and vocals to show. The song seems to exist for the sole purpose allowing the band to say "Hey, listen to all the cool things we did to this song in the studio! Hear that? That's called reverb!" It is a distraction, and just plain not worth listening to.

"You Got Yr. Cherry Bomb" picks up the pace and helps you forget what just happened. The song features some extra instrumentation courtesy of a saxophone and finds Britt singing "Life could be so fair, let it go on along" in a beautiful falsetto. The song is a fun affair and sure to be a hit at the band's live shows. It's followed by my favorite track on "Ga x5," the funky and soulful "Don't You Evah" that utilizes an awesome bass line to keep the groove going for the song's entirety.

"Rhythm and Soul" is a fairly decent pop rock song, but at the same time it seems utterly throwaway. It's fragile and utterly unmemorable vocal melody is really only bolstered by the band's instrumentation, but even then I only got a few good listens out of it before skipping over it. "Eddie's Ragga" is in a similar predicament. While it's not necessarily a bad song, it just gets lost in the rest of the album.

Fortunately, Spoon is smart enough to pick the pace back up, and they do so flawlessly with "Underdog," arguably the strongest song on the album. The song is truly one of Spoon's all-time best, complete with trumpets and off-beat hand claps. Again, Britt's vocals are unbelievably effective when he sings "You aren't here for the messenger. Don't want to know 'bout something that you don't understand. You got no fear of the underdog, that's why you will not survive!" Everything about this one is great and "Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga" really climaxes here.

"My Little Japanese Cigarette Case" is another song that could get lumped into the "forgettable" category. It has a pretty solid guitar part and a chorus that is almost there, bordering on greatness. "Finer Feelings" once again brings things back to a respectable level, with some catchy "do do doos," another great guitar part, and a spot-on vocal melody. "Black Like Me" is exceptionally well produced and it ends the album on a positive note. Though the song may start out sounding like your standard end-of-album ballad, it soon builds into a welcomed upbeat closer.

"Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga" is a fairly decent accomplishment from a band like Spoon. There are truly a few moments on the album that are "wow" inducing. At the same time, there are other times where you're bound to be scratching your head. While none of the songs on
"Ga x5" are downright terrible, the album as a whole is incredibly hit and miss. It's amazing highs are weakened only by it's forgettable lows. Expect the album to be really great the first time through, only to slowly fade away from your good graces after several listens. "Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga" is a good, fun album, but the fun won't last forever. Enjoy it while you can, for there are truly some awesome songs on it.

Key Track:
1. "Don't Make Me a Target"
2. "You Got Yr. Cherry Bomb"
3. "Don't You Evah"
4. "The Underdog"
5. "Finer Feelings"

6 out of 10 Stars

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Saturday, July 07, 2007

Go News Go! - The Weekly News Recap

Limes look like watermelons when you put them close to your head.

The lack of news this week is saddening. Go throw a baseball.

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Friday, July 06, 2007

Top 5 Album Artwork of 2007 (So Far)

The artwork of an album is pretty important. That old adage of "Never judge a book by its cover" is true, but rarely adhered to. Back in the day when I had money to blow, I'd walk through the record store looking for a CD to buy, and I would decide which random CD to buy solely by its album cover. It worked well once or twice, but it had disastrous results on more numerous occasions. Nowadays, I've stopped my random CD buying ways and I stick to buying what I know will be good. But still, the artwork of an album is pretty important to me and one of the main reasons why I still buy hard copies of music rather than download it all through iTunes. With that in mind, please enjoy my list of the Top 5 Album Artwork of 2007 (So Far).

#5: Cocorosie: "The Adventures of Ghosthorse and Stillborn" - Sure, not the most complicated or gimmicky artwork of the year, but highly effective. This creepy portrait really captures the essence of some of the album's darker moments ("Werewolf"). The blood-written text in the top corner really just seals the deal.

#4: Metric: "Grow Up and Blow Away" - When I first saw the artwork to this album, I thought it was perfect. The combination of photography and toddler hand-drawn people is pretty brilliant, if not just really cute. The rest of the artwork with the album is pretty lackluster, however and it comes packaged in one of those non-jewel case cardboard thing (which I hate). Still, the cover is enough to win me over.

#3: "Bright Eyes: Cassadaga" - The artwork for "Cassadaga" was really not there. Peel off the plastic wrapper with the cool logo on it and what you're left with is an incomprehensibly gray album. What? That's when you discover the decoder that, when placed against the album reveals hidden pictures and messages. Very cool, but entirely gimmicky. My only complaint is that I now have to keep an eye on that decoder for the rest of my life or else the whole package is worthless. Thanks Conor!

#2: Boddicker: "Big Lionhearted and the Gallant Man" - For as much as I absolutely hated Boddicker's album (I gave it a 1 out of 10, if you recall), the artwork on the album was entirely cool. Not only were the samurais on the front cover neat, but everything from the type of paper it was printed on to the font used was really perfect. But I swear, if there was ever a deceiving piece of album art, this would be it. The only thing worse than Boddicker is death by drowning.

#1: Of Montreal: "Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer?" - After 2005's pitiful artwork for "The Sunlandic Twins," the other Barnes brother came through big time with this beautiful piece of CD art. While the image itself may not be David Barnes' crowning achievement, the packaging is flawless. The shiny plastic slip case, the four-fold design, the glossy insert; everything about this one was perfect. You can judge this book by its cover, and chances are you'll hit the nail on the head. The music contained within is exactly what you'd expect from such a weird, yet awesome package.

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Thursday, July 05, 2007

Smashing Pumpkins: "Zeitgeist"

On December 2, 2000, I threw my hands into the air triumphantly. I jumped up and down, shouted, cheered, and I even danced a little. On that day, Smashing Pumpkins played their farewell show at The Metro. Despite the band having helped define my early adolescence, they haunted my ears during the last few years of the 20th century. Over the years, I had grown less enchanted with the band's music and more frustrated with front man Billy Corgan's vocal stylings. So on that glorious winter day in 2000, I celebrated the fact that the band would no longer be around to destroy my memories. I could now remember my pre-1996 Pumpkins without the constant distraction of new albums and singles. Then on June 21, 2005, Mr. Corgan unofficially announced that he planned on reuniting the band to create a new album and I could feel myself dying a little inside. So now, after 7 years of silence, Smashing Pumpkins are back. And not only has their lineup changed, but my opinion of them as well.

As expected, the Pumpkins have undergone a major change in their sound. Their strong alt-rock sound of the early 90s that I cherished is long gone, replaced now with a heavier, progressive feel. This is most clearly evidenced by "Zeitgeist's" centerpiece, "United States," a sprawling 10-minute epic that would be a dead-ringer for Tool if it weren't for Corgan's nasally vocals. Even the album's softer, more poignant moments are almost insultingly loud. Drummer Jimmy Chamberlin sounds better on this album than he ever has before, perhaps unleashed by the band's new direction.

Since the band's breakup in 2000, my dislike of Billy Corgan's voice has only been reinforced by his solo album and the forgettable Zwan. So I wasn't expected to be wowed by Corgan when I began listening to "Zeitgeist," and unsurprisingly they're still not that impressive. Oftentimes, it sounds as if his vocals are on a completely different plane from the rest of the band. Take, for example, "Doomsday Clock," in which the disparity between the vocals and the band are at their most notable. At the same time, however, Corgan's vocals have a peculiar appeal to them that only reveals itself as the album progresses. I was surprised to find that even though Corgan's vocals bothered me as the album began, I was completely fine with them by the time the album finished. They hardly perturb me at all now.

The album begins with the highly-impressive "Doomsday Clock" in which Corgan foretells the downfall of the civilized world, singing "Kafka would be proud to find out I'm certain of the end, it's the means that has me spooked!" Chamberlin's excellent drumming not only gets the song off to a great start, but it carries it throughout it's length. "That's the Way (My Love Is)" is less impressive, all around. Billy's vocal performance is lackluster at best, and his melody is forgettable. There is some redemption to be found in the synth-heavy instrumentation, however, though it's not enough to save the song in my opinion.

Fortunately, the next two tracks, "Tarantula" and "Starz" are enough to take your mind off of it. "Tarantula" is an unrelenting rock song that features a truly impressive guitar performance (seriously, someone make a phone call and get this song on the next Guitar Hero) and finds Billy singing "We are the real if real ever was. And just because we are the ruin of every living soul, we are surreal cause someone gave us up." The first time I heard it, I didn't care for it. Since then, it's become one of my favorites on the album. Moving on, despite the fact that "Starz" shares the name of a television network, it has quickly become my favorite song on "Zeitgeist." The part of the song when Billy sings "We are stars, we are," is so excellently produced that it quickly becomes ingrained in your memory. Add that to the undeniably awesome last 30-seconds of the song, and you have yourself one of the better Pumpkins songs of the last 15 years or so.

Other notable tracks on the album are "United States" (of course) and "Bring the Light" a blatantly religious song in which Billy sings "You'd spit upon my dust and mix my ash with your blood" just before revealing his subject as "Son of God." If the Tool inspiration wasn't clear to you on "United States," it should be apparent by the time the breakdown of this one comes around.

So what have I learned from "Zeitgeist?" I've learned that just because an artist or a band hasn't put out a respectable album in over a decade does not mean that they have "lost it." I've learned that I can actually handle Billy Corgan's vocals, even if it requires that I saturate my head with them. Most importantly, however, I've learned that Smashing Pumpkins are absolutely back! The band may have lost two very important members, but under the guidance of Billy Corgan and Jimmy Chamberlin, I'd say that Jeff Schroeder and Ginger Reyes are doing just fine. Despite the fact that "Zeitgeist" may be a few tracks too long (depending on which version of it you ultimately end up buying), it is without a doubt the best pure rock album of 2007 so far. This declaration comes to you courtesy of someone who wasn't expecting much of "Zeitgest" and ended up getting something great. For Smashing Pumpkins fans, it is a must-buy!

Recommended for fans of Smashing Pumpkins, even those who became disenchanted with the band after "Adore" and "Machina."

Key Tracks:
1. "Doomsday Clock"
2. "Tarantula"
3. "Starz"
4. "United States"
5. "Bring the Light"

7 out of 10 Stars

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Wednesday, July 04, 2007

On the Schedule: July 2007

Just as a heads-up, here's a list of albums that I plan on reviewing for the month of July.

  • Smashing Pumpkins: "Zeitgeist"
  • Spoon: "Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga"
  • Interpol: "Our Love to Admire"
  • Gogol Bordello: "Super Taranta!"
  • St. Vincent: "Marry Me"
  • Tegan and Sara: "The Con"
  • Bishop Allen: "The Broken String"
Needless to say, that's a pretty packed month. To make matters worse, the first five of those come out next Tuesday, July 10. So I'll be busy. I'll try to get the higher profile ones out of the way first, but I can't guarantee when any of these will be finished. I guess you'll just have to keep checking back to see when they go up.

Have a swell day!

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Video of the Week - Week 26

"Suffer for Fashion" by Of Montreal from the album "Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer?"

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Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Show Watch: Houston

So, despite the fact that I'm pulling in readers from all across the globe now (including Slovakia), it would appear that my main reader base is still in my hometown of Houston, TX. With that in mind, here's a heads-up to all the readers in the area to shows that you should definitely go check out! Who knows? You may even catch me there! I'll be the freakishly tall redhead. You know what? I'll even let you punch me in the face if you see me. See, I'm not such a bad guy.

  • Eisley @ The Woodlands Pavilion - July 13, 2007: OK, so they're with The Fray and the pavilion has a terrible habit of charging ludicrous prices, but it's Eisley! They're absolutely enchanting live! It may not be the venue of choice, but if you have nothing else to do you might as well, right?
  • The Honorary Title @ Meridian - July 18, 2007: A really underrated band. I've been listening to their debut album for a few years now, and it never really gets old. Neither does the cover art of a panda bear eating a human being. Mmmm...classic.
  • Bishop Allen @ The Proletariat - July 26, 2007: Their album drops around the same time as this show, so this show would be a complement to that release. Not the best band in the world, but talented and worth seeing.
  • Midlake @ Numbers - September 20, 2007: I only recently started getting into Midlake, so you better believe that I'm going to be at this one.

Elsewhere in Texas, look out for My Brightest Diamond and The Wrens this month, and Muse coming in September! I don't get out much, so you'll have to punch someone else in the face in my place. Also, if you're aware of any other shows that should be on this list, please leave a comment with the information. I'm always down for more shows.

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Monday, July 02, 2007

Album of the Month: June 2007

Metric: "Grow Up and Blow Away"

When you hear that an album is unreleased, your immediate thought is that the reasoning behind this must be because the album is terrible. However, in the case of Metric, their long-lost debut album is the exact opposite. If you've read this blog in the last week or so, you surely know the back story by now so there's really no need for me to retell it. The important thing to do is just to listen to "Grow Up and Blow Away." It may not be the Metric we all know and love now, but it is still a fabulous edition to their catalog and one that should never go forgotten again.

Runner-Up - The Aliens: "Astronomy for Dogs"

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