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Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Video of the Week - Week 34

"Peacebone" by Animal Collective from the album "Strawberry Jam"

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Monday, August 27, 2007

Architecture in Helsinki: "Places Like This"

Call me crazy, but I was never that big of a fan of Architecture in Helsinki. I'm a pretty big fan of indie pop and all, but the group's approach to the genre was always very freeform and schizophrenic. In other words, their albums could always go in any direction at any time. While that can often lead to pleasant surprises, Architecture in Helsinki just never really pulled it off, in my opinion. Add in the fact that their music lacked structure and oftentimes seemed improvised (even if it wasn't), and I just couldn't help but be disappointed. Still, any self-respecting indie pop fan can find a gem or two hidden amongst the confusion. For me, "Imaginary Ordinary" and "The Owls Go" stood out as really solid tracks. More importantly, they gave me enough of a reason to check out "Places Like This," and much to my surprise, I'm thoroughly impressed with what I've heard.

The group takes a huge step forward in their sound on "Places Like This," no doubt in adjustment to the loss of two members. The sound is clear, it's more rock and less pop. That's not such a bad thing, however, as Architecture in Helsinki's crazy approach to making music is actually more suited to rock music than twee any day! The result is something that feels fresh and unexplored. Of course, the band still has a very improvisational sound. Lyrics are carelessly flung at the microphone and out of your speakers, layers upon layers of scattered guitars and keyboards rarely bond into a cohesive sound, but it all feels raw and exciting!

"Red Turned White" starts the album off with exactly that! Cameron Bird doesn't hesitate at delivering the vocals, clearly saying "I just don't give a f***" without ever actually saying it. "Debbie" and "Hold Music" take this and run with it, the latter being very reminiscent of Fred Schneider and the B-52s. It's actually pretty stifling to hear Architecture in Helsinki playing stuff that is this harsh, this in-your-face, and if you don't like it right off the bat, you may not like it at all.

Still, there are hints of the group's sugary sweet past here and there. "Heart it Races" is absolutely brilliant pop music, and one of my favorite songs of 2007! It's one of the few times on the album that Cameron tones his vocals down to blend with Jamie's, and the end result is something that's entirely endearing. If you don't smile from hearing "I bought it in a can and stirred it with my finger singing 'Boom-da-da-da-da-da-da-boom-da-da-da-da'" I'm not sure what to think of you. "Underwater" brings things to a much-needed halt midway through the album, and as its title suggests, the song has a very aquatic sound to it that really is better heard than explained.

"Places Like This" is one of those albums that needed to happen, even if it meant disappointing a few fans. Architechture in Helsinki has always been a talented group of individuals, but their music had progressed little over the course of their first two releases. "Places Like This" shows not only a gigantic step forward with their sound, but a band willing to go out on a limb and take a chance with their music rather than simply retread old paths. It is sure to alienate some of their more dedicated fans, but to those patient enough to give it a scrutinizing listen, you'll find that this band is just as carefree and insane as they've always been. "Places Like This" is more focused than "Fingers Crossed" and "In Case We Die," and in the end it winds up being a much better, more fulfilling experience.

Recommended for fans of Architecture in Helsinki and anyone willing to give schizophrenic, improvisational-esque rock music a chance.

Key Tracks:
1. "Heart It Races"
2. "Hold Music"
3. "Feather in a Baseball Cap"
4. "Debbie"
5. "Nothing's Wrong"

7 out of 10 Stars

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Saturday, August 25, 2007

Go News Go! - The Weekly News Recap

In Communist Russia, the news reads YOU!

In Communist North Korea the news STARVES you!

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Friday, August 24, 2007

Top 20 Songs About Love: Songs 10-6

I'm absolutely crazy about lists for some strange reason. I'm like John Cusak in "High Fidelity" I'm so crazy about lists. In case you haven't been keeping up, for the last few weeks I've been counting down the top 20 songs about love (that I have on my computer). Each Friday, 5 new songs are revealed until I finally reveal them all. Here are songs 20-16 and here are songs 15-11, just in case you weren't already caught up. Here are songs 10-6.

#10: Loney, Dear - "I Will Call You Lover Again" - Emil Svanängen is a really, really fragile male, in case you didn't know. Practically every song on 2007's Loney, Noir is about him feeling inferior or awkward. This song is no different. It's about him essentially ruining a perfectly good romantic evening with his self-doubt and perceived inferiority. My favorite line in the entire song is where he sings "I'll steal your photographs just to know that I was actually not dreaming this time, that I was for real this time." It's not your typical love song, that's for sure. But it's honest and I totally relate to it.

#9: Stars - "What I'm Trying to Say" - Stars have this unbelievable ability to craft these amazing love songs. This is one of their best. It deals with a couple being in love but not wanting to say "I love you," either because it's too cliche or it doesn't fit them. The chorus is so catchy and true that you can't help but fall in love with it. They sing "I am trying to say what I want to say without having to say 'I love you!'" It's possibly the most genius chorus ever written in pop music, and shows just how talented the band is.

#8: The Postal Service - "Brand New Colony" - There's really no denying that Ben Gibbard is a brilliant lyricist, especially when the subject matter of the song is love. This song is proof of that brilliance. He begins by singing about all the things he'll be for his lover, all the different ways he would be a part of her life. He sings, "I'll be the platform shoes, undo what heredity's done to you. You won't have to strain to look into my eyes," and you just think "Wow, that was awesome." Later in the song when he fantasizes about leaving the world they and starting a brand new colony, just the two of them, it is perhaps the most perfect example of love and devotion that one could paint in a pop song. But this is Ben Gibbard, and it just comes with the territory.

#7: Muse - "Blackout" - When I was compiling this list and shortening it down to 20 songs, this was a song that I knew had to be up towards the top. It's one of the most sobering songs about love ever! It's definitely not one of Muse's more rockin' songs, but it's one of my favorites nonetheless. It deals with two young lovers coming to terms with the fact that their love will probably not last. Matt sings, "Don't kid yourself and don't fool yourself. This love's too good to last, and I'm too young to care." The lush string instrumentation really carries this song and makes it as haunting as it is. If you've never heard it, rush out and pick up a copy of Absolution. It's one of the best rock albums of the last decade anyway, so you really have nothing to lose.

#6: Stars - "In Our Bedroom, After the War" - What? Two Stars songs in the same list? That's right folks. This one comes courtesy of their new album of the same name. It's about two lovers living in a post-war world, acknowledging the fact that life isn't perfect and that some things aren't the way you want them to be, "But at least the war is over." Like "Your Ex-Lover Is Dead," Stars' best song, this one builds slowly from the beginning before erupting with strings and vocals crying "Up in our bedroom after the war!" I get goosebumps every time I hear it, it's so good. Granted, I'm not the biggest fan of the new album, but this is more than enough reason to give it a purchase. It's an absolutely beautiful song. One filled with hope and love, and one that's worth being on this list.

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Thursday, August 23, 2007

The Life and Accidntel Deth of Rilo Kiley

Did Rilo Kiley sell out?

That seems to be the question looming over the heads of every longtime Rilo Kiley fan out there this week. If you recall an editorial I wrote in June, I stated, "For me, an artist selling out means that they changed their sound, or who they are as a band for money, fame, or what have you." With this being my definition of a band selling out, it's time for me to examine the life and death of Rilo Kiley and answer the question that seems to be haunting us all.

Of course, when accusing a band of selling out on their most recent release, you have to be familiar with their back catalog. So this week I've been reacquainting myself with the Rilo Kiley of old, starting with Initial Friends and continuing through More Adventurous. As I was doing this, I literally felt saddened that this band that I've loved for years, will probably never be the same again.

Anyway, after listening through all of their albums multiple times, including Under the Blacklight, I've finally come up with an answer to that question. The answer is "yes." The following is my rationale as to why.


If you have the time, go back and listen to Rilo Kiley's albums in chronological order as I have done. What you'll notice is that each album sounds like the logical successor to album that preceded it. From Take Offs and Landings to The Execution of All Things to More Adventurous, each album sounds like the same band, only evolved, more focused, more polished than they sounded before.

Take Offs and Landings was a very raw piece of indie rock, flirting with country in the process. Listening to it, you can tell this is a band without a lot of mileage. They seem happy to be playing their instruments. There are numerous spots all over the album where Jenny misses a note or a guitar strum is a fraction of a second off, but they just leave it there because they're not trying to be perfect, just earnest. Jenny's lyrics don't always rhyme, but she delivers them with such conviction and passion that it doesn't even matter.

The Execution of All Things built upon the strengths of the first album and made the total package more polished. The band threw out most of the acoustic guitar driven country moments of their debut but built upon the more classic indie rock sounds of that album. Jenny's lyrics are still inventive and eccentric, but they rhyme more often than not and they are not delivered as brashly as they once were (with a few notable exceptions). More Adventurous again builds off of the momentum from Execution, the songs are even more polished, less country and more rockin'. Jenny Lewis' lyrics remain eccentric, but with more heart than ever. Songs like "Does He Love You?" or "I Never" show an artist who is not afraid to be vulnerable, one who has grown since the last time we heard from her.

Under the Blacklight shows no evolution in the band, but rather a devolution. The complex guitars of "The Absence of God" or "Portions for Foxes" are notably absent from the album. Listen to "The Moneymaker" and you'll hear what I mean. Perhaps worse is that for the first time in Rilo Kiley's history, guitars aren't driving the music, oftentimes taking a backseat to drums and synths. Of course, the big giveaway to the band's downward spiral is Jenny Lewis. Once a wordsmith beyond comparison, her lyrics are now mindnumbingly simplistic. Again, I cite "The Moneymaker" as a perfect example of this, but just look around elsewhere on the album as there's not really an example of Jenny's former lyrical prowess.

Practically, everything about Under the Blacklight screams "dumbed down," to the point where I can't pick out a single song on the album that is better or as good as any random song on any other of their albums. In a recent interview with Under the Radar, Blake Sennett is quoted as saying:
A lot of indie rockers come from a place where the premise of indie rock is deconstructing music and trying to do something not obvious or poppy. But as you go on in your career and make four or five records, you start running out of shit to deconstruct. So you start to say, 'What haven't I done? Well, what I haven't done is construct something satisfying.' That's a challenge in and of itself.
Personally, I can think of a million different types of directions that Rilo Kiley could've taken with their most recent album that would've been both satisfying and different. And for the record, since when was Rilo Kiley not obvious or poppy with their musical approach? They've always been one of the more accessible indie bands out there. That's why they're now with Warner Bros. Because people liked them.

Blake's explanation just reeks of bullshit. There is nothing challenging about making an album that's radio-friendly and poppy, especially when you're as talented of a band as Rilo Kiley. The fact of the matter is that their entire career, side-projects (Jenny Lewis and The Elected) included, the band as progressed in a clear-cut and certain direction. Under the Blacklight is not only a step away from that direction, but a complete reversal. Their music which was once earnest, sincere, and unique is now plastic, and utterly empty.

What musician makes music like this except for those who are only into making money? Name one pop act could be compared to the new Rilo Kiley that isn't in it for the money?

Also, let's not forget that Rilo Kiley is made up of not one, but two former child stars. Heck, Blake Sennett was on "Boy Meets World" and "Salute Your Shorts." Of course, after a while, you grow up and people stop paying attention to you. Who's to say that Blake and Jenny aren't just after the same fame and attention that has eluded them since puberty? I know, it's a long shot, but after hearing Under the Blacklight's desperate plea for attention and mainstream success, isn't it at least possible? You better believe it is.

Of course, the big test to see if Rilo Kiley sold out will be when The Elected releases their next album or when Jenny Lewis releases her second solo album. You'll know they sold out when they sound like their predecessors and nothing like Under the Blacklight. Granted, they're entirely different projects, but if Blake and Jenny are so tired of "deconstructing" music, then wouldn't these future albums be representative of that? I would imagine. If this does happen, it'll essentially mean that Rilo Kiley has turned into the moneymaker, while the side projects allow the artists to actually fulfill their musical desires and maintain their credibility.

Has my favorite band been reduced to a cash cow? Time will tell.

We can never know for sure if Rilo Kiley made the conscious effort to completely change their style for the sake of money or fame. However, another Blake Sennett definitely helps to clear things up. He says:

I personally, don't participate in music to get hipsters all stoked. That's not my scene. I do it because it's challenging and satisfying, and when that happens to be something that you think is more pop or appealing to a broader audience - ok, fair enough.
There's not a question in my mind as to whether Rilo Kiley has sold out, whether or not they've abandoned their long time fans and their musical integrity for the chance at the spotlight or a big house (in Coldwater Canyon). I don't throw the term around every time a band I like signs to a major label or creates something more accessible. In fact, I can't recall a time that I've used it before.

But Rilo Kiley has sold out.

Do you agree? Let me know by leaving a comment.

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Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Video of the Week - Week 33

The following video is nominated for an Anti-Video Awards Award. You can vote for it by clicking HERE. But you won't, because nobody does. *sigh*

Loney, Dear - "Saturdat Waits" from the album "Loney, Noir"

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Monday, August 20, 2007

The New Pornographers: "Challengers"

It's probably best to get it out of the way, so here it goes: the New Pornographers will probably never be able to create an album as good or better than "Twin Cinema." When "Twin Cinema" released around two years ago, I had never heard of this "supergroup" or any of the members to whom the label is attributed. But when I picked up the album on the insistence of several reviews and a preview listen, I knew that this was a band that was perfect for me. The power pop music that on that album was near-flawless and it remains just as exciting and powerful today as it was in 2005. So no, "Challengers" is not better or as good as "Twin Cinema." But once you get over that fact, you'll find an album that is great in its own right and definitely worth owning.

It starts off with the first single, "My Rights Versus Yours." I have to be honest, when I first listened to the song a few months ago I was not a fan. The song lacked the powerful hooks and grandiose climaxes that "Twin Cinema" flaunted on pretty much every song. Of course, since then I've been able to appreciate the song for it's absolutely beautiful lyrics, and relentless drive. Carl Newman's delivery is flawless as he sings "We hang suspended from the heights until it's safer to walk here." The hook is a bit weak in my opinion("The truth in one free afternoon"), but it really doesn't distract from this great song. "All the Old Showstoppers" continues the fantastic songwriting from the first track. It really feels like a group effort, especially by the time the bridge rolls around.

It runs head-on into the title track, "Challengers." It's not only one of my favorite tracks on the album, but probably one of my favorites of 2007. Neko Case takes over the vocals here, and she once again nails it. Each line, each note is sung perfectly with Carl harmonizing gently in the background. Everything about the song is beautiful, from Neko's declaration that "We are the challengers of the unknown!" to simple "Nah nah nahs" on the bridge. The song succeeds in being moving and poignant without the help of a chorus or any sort of climax. In my opinion, the song is just like one big climax, it starts off strong and never falters. Without a doubt, it is one of the most beautiful songs I've ever had the pleasure of listening to.

Dan Bejar's next up with his almost humorous, "Myriad Harbor." As he nonchalantly notes, "I took a plane, I took a train..." the rest of the band cuts him off with "Ah! Who cares? You always end up in the city!" By the time they're all singing "Look out upon the Myriad Harbor," chances are you're singing along right with them. The steady drumming and infectious guitars are complimented by some string instruments here, and it sounds awesome. Speaking of things sounding awesome, "All of the Things that Go to Make Heaven and Earth" is one of the few times on the album that The New Pornographers revert back to their wilder days. This up tempo power pop opus is quite an accomplishment, even for this band! The song sounds like it could've fit perfectly on Carl Newman's solo album, "The Slow Wonder," but the background vocals clearly make it a good fit here too.

The energy built up by that song is almost immediately brought to a halt by "Failsafe" in which Kathryn Calder finally makes her debut on a Pornographers record. Unfortunately, the song is pretty unmemorable. Her vocals aren't really the problem, as they're near-Neko quality and impressive. But the melody and the music surrounding it are misguided at best. I can't help but think that the song made the final cut simply because of Calder's notable presence. "Unguided" is also a song that seems out of place. At 6 1/2 minutes, it progresses slowly and really never pays off the way one would expect it to. There is definitely something at work here, especially when Neko Case finds her way into the song, but it still seems like it's missing something. In the end, it's lyrics are its only saving grace and it's worth listening to if only for that.

"Entering White Cecilia" is another song that is fronted by Bejar, but it sounds more like his main project, Destroyer, than The New Pornographers. Anyone who is familiar with Bejar's solo work knows that he loves to half-talk and rush a lot of his lines. In the context of Destroyer, it works well, but here it just sound like he's taking his fellow bandmates on a ride that they weren't totally down for. This is evidenced by the background vocalists awkwardly struggling to keep up with his erratic delivery. Even though the album takes a dip in quality for those three songs, the remainder of "Challengers" is great!

"Go Places" is a Case-fronted song in which she asserts "Yes, a heart will always stay one day too long, always hoping for the hot flashes to come." Again, she does a perfect job of delivering the vocals. The song climaxes at around the 2:30 mark, as Neko sings the chorus with passion and conviction. She continues to amaze me. "Mutiny, I Promise You" is an upbeat group effort whose woodwinds give it a very cool late-60s pop sound, at least for the song's introduction. In the chorus, the members ask "What's the weight of the world worth to ya'?" in traditional Pornographers form. It's a very cool song.

"Adventures In Solitude" is another Newman-fronted balled, whose beauty and poignancy rivals "Challengers." Newman's subdued singing of "We thought we lost you...welcome back," is countered beautifully in the bridge as the song picks up and Neko takes over the vocal duties. Violins are added here, and they once again integrate perfectly with the band. The album ends with "The Spirit of Giving," in which Bejar makes his third appearance on the album, singing "I'll give you something to be sad about. It's your turn to go down now!" The song features everything from a trumpet to an accordion, and it ends the album in an almost triumphant way. It leaves you feeling good about what you just listened to, and gives you a reason to listen to it all over again.

Perhaps my biggest complaint about "Challengers" is that many of the songs sound like they are not group efforts. In many cases it sounds like Neko wrote a few Neko Case Songs, Carl wrote a few A.C. Newman songs, and Dan wrote a few Destroyer songs and then everybody added background vocals, a little bit of drums, some guitars, and then called it a day. "Challengers" is nowhere near as cohesive, focused, or exciting as it's predecessors. At the same time, however, it is more creative and risky than any of the group's other three albums. Like I said, once you get over the fact that it's no "Twin Cinema," "Challengers" reveals itself for what it truly is; another great album from The New Pornographers and one of 2007's best!

Key Tracks:
1. "My Rights Versus Yours"
2. "Challengers"
3. "Myriad Harbor"
4. "All of the Things that Go to Make Heaven and Earth"
5. "Adventures in Solitude"

7 out of 10 Stars

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Rilo Kiley: "Under the Blacklight"

Three years.

Three years ago, I walked out of my local record store with a brand new CD in my hands. Having been a fan of Rilo Kiley's first two albums for a while, I knew that I had no choice but to buy "More Adventurous" and support one of my favorite bands. I was instantly captivated by the more polished sound that the band presented on that album. Songs like "Does He Love You?" and "More Adventurous" have become all-time favorites for me. To say the very least, it was an impressive album. It has been three years, and like most Rilo Kiley fans, I have been eagerly anticipating the return of Rilo Kiley. At last, it's finally come with "Under the Blacklight," an album in which Rilo Kiley tries to expand their sound further into the pop realm.

The album begins on a high note, with the beautifully crafted "Silver Lining." More than any other song on "Under the Blacklight," this one captures the essence of classic Rilo Kiley. There is a catchy hook, a little bit of country flare, and everybody in the band seems to blend well with one another. There is no part of the song that feels out of place or unnecessary. Of course, it's also immediately noticeable that Jenny Lewis has toned down her typically eccentric writing for a more accessible alternative. Still, the song manages to satisfy and is sure to keep even the most skeptical of Rilo Kiley fans happy. For the time being, at least.

"Close Call" finds Jenny Lewis overpowering the rest of the band with unnecessary and obnoxious "oohs and ahhs." On any other Rilo Kiley album, she'd be obnoxious by writing long, intricate lines and trying to squeeze them into a single phrase, but that was always part of her appeal. Here, she's just flat out not trying as hard (or perhaps too hard to be something she's not), and it shows.

The album's first single, "The Moneymaker" has already drawn mixed reviews from Rilo Kiley fans. Some praise it for it's sharp contrast to their established sound, while others criticize it for the exact same reason. While I'm still not entirely sold on the song, it has grown on me over the last month or so. My biggest complaint with it is not the simple riffs, but the completely unsatisfying lyrics. I read an interview a few days ago where the band stated that they pretty much wrote the whole song in 30 minutes. That's not surprising, considering that in a Rilo Kiley song about porn stars, the best hook they could come up with was "She says ow, ow, ow...hell yeah!"

"Breakin' Up" is my favorite song on the album despite the fact that it's plagued with an overabundance of fake-sounding background vocals. It's disco-esque guitars and synths really prove that Rilo Kiley is capable of branching out and making a real solid pop song, even if the rest of the album is evidence to the contrary. When Jenny Lewis sings "Ooh, it feels good to be free," I just imagine the song being performed live and think about how cool it could be. Of course, when I hear the background vocals repeating the same line without Jenny's assistance, I gag a bit. Oh well, fair trade.

You'd expect a song called "Under the Blacklight" to be an unapologetic dance track, but it's surprisingly one of the most toned down songs on the album. The song fuses an almost 90s alternative rock sound with a twangy country vibe to form what is a respectable ballad. Blake Sennett takes over the vocal duties on "Dreamworld." A throwback to old Fleetwood Mac, it has a definitive 70s pop rock sound to it. I've always favored Blake Sennett's songwriting and singing more than Jenny's for some reason, and this song just seals the deal for me. It's a nice break from Jenny's vocals, which tend to wear thin on my ears on this album.

Never fear though, Jenny fans, she's back on "Dejalo." However, her vocals are noticeably out of place on this funky pop song, and once again the background choir vocals are just entirely unnecessary. Her lyrics are also inexplicably terrible here ("My mom is an atheist. If I stay out late, she don't get pissed"). "15" tells the story that never needed to be told; that of a 25 year old boy being seduced by a 15 year old girl who is "down for almost anything" and "ripe like a cherry, bruised like a peach." The music itself isn't bad at all, even though Jenny is a bit overpowering, but the lyrics are really untouched territory in pop music (for good reason). Whether that's genius or just dumb, I have yet to decide. But it's disturbing either way.

"Smoke Detector" has a very distorted California beach rock feel to it, and I can imagine a bunch of people in one-piece swimsuits hula hooping and doing the twist to this one at some 1960s beach party. It's a very different sound for Rilo Kiley, but that's pretty much par for the course. "The Angels Hung Around" sounds like it could've been featured on "More Adventurous" until it comes to the repetitive chorus where Jenny simply repeats the title a few time. But it's clear-cut country sound is enough to save it from the skip button, as it's one of the few reminders of what Rilo Kiley used to sound like. The album closes with "Give a Little Love," a song that utilizes simple electronic drums, handclaps, and synths. Jenny sings "You've got to give a little love to get a little love" in the chorus. Though the song may not "hit all the right notes" the first time through, I've found it to be a fairly decent song after a few listens.

As I'm sure you can deduce from reading, I have very mixed feelings for "Under the Blacklight." In my mind, that makes it a disappointment, as Rilo Kiley has never gotten mixed reactions from me in the past. In an interview I read with Blake Sennett, he said that the band has played pretty much everything they could except for straightforward pop music. Being fans of the genre, themselves, the opted to give it a try and this album is the result of their efforts. After giving "Under the Blacklight" several listens, I think it's safe to say that Rilo Kiley is better at what they used to play than what is presented here. The band's creativity has been stunted by the petty demands of a genre whose fans offer little to no loyalty to the creators of their cheap thrills. Jenny Lewis in particular has sacrificed a lot of her creative and charming lyrics in favor of repetitive and easy lyrical hooks ("It's gonna be a close call - Repeat," "She says ow, ow, ow...hell yeah - Repeat," "Dejalo, nuestra cosa - Repeat," "Ready to go - Repeat," "Danger, do the smoke detector - Repeat," "The angels hung around - Repeat," "Give a little love - Repeat, repeat, repeat!")

"Under the Blacklight" is a disappointment in comparison to every other Rilo Kiley album to date. While the band is still better than 99% of the people who will now undoubtedly play beside them on the radio, for Rilo Kiley, it just seems like they took the easy way out. While I'm sure the term "sold out" will be thrown around by long time fans, I have no idea what the intentions of the band were when they recorded "Under the Blacklight." All I know is that the Rilo Kiley I fell in love with barely makes an appearance on this album. While the album may grow on me over time, right now, it's just not doing it. For me, "Under the Blacklight" is a disappointment three years in the making.

Recommended for fans of pop music and Rilo Kiley. Decide for yourself.

Key Tracks:
1. "Silver Lining"
2. "The Moneymaker"
3. "Breakin' Up"
4. "Dreamworld"

5 out of 10 Stars

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Saturday, August 18, 2007

Go News Go! - The Weekly News Recap

Another week, another recap. Here's all the news that mattered this week:

Have a totally mondo weekend, man!

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Friday, August 17, 2007

Holy Balls! The Flaming Lips Come To Texas!

Don't think about it! Don't keep reading this. Just go HERE and buy tickets to see The Flaming Lips in San Antonio. They are also playing in Austin, too.

Monday, September 24th - San Antonio, TX - Sunset Station Lonestar Pavilion
Tuesday, September 25th - Austin, TX - La Zona Rosa

Just go and buy tickets! Don't ask questions! Just go! They're only $20! Hurry, the fate of the world is in your hands!

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Top 20 Songs About Love: Songs 15-11

Now for week two of this four-week series. In case you missed it, here's last week's list. This week's list contains some classic songs about love that even the old folks will enjoy (not to mention one or two that they used to stone people for). That's really all the introduction that I care to write, so let's get on with the list!

#15: Bright Eyes - "Kathy with a K's Song" - This seldom heard song by Conor Oberst has to be one of my favorites of his. Featured only on two EPs (one of which never saw the light of day in the US), the artist's assertion that "Love is real" is made all the more powerful by his trademarked half-crying, half-singing voice. Oberst sings, "Love is real. It is not just in long distance commercials" and by the end of the song he's screaming "I can hear it now" at the top of his lungs with every bit of humanity inside of him. It's a touching song, but one that's tough to listen to because of the raw earnesty that it presents. Still, if you've got 6 minutes to waste, you could spend it listening to something worse (like every other song on the EP, for example).

#14: Frankie Valli - "Can't Take My Eyes Off You" - This classic love song has been featured in just about every fictional love story caught on film that happened to take place in the 1960s. Of course, that type of movie isn't really my thing and it wasn't until I saw "10 Things I Hate About You" that I realized what an awesome song it was. And then a few years later I hear a version of the song that Muse did, and I finally fell in love with it. Unsurprisingly, the Muse cover is my favorite version of the song, but I have to give credit where credit's due. The fact of the matter is that the song may never have been a classic if it weren't for Frankie Valli. So for that, I commend him with the honor of being #14 on a list on some random blog. You're welcome!

#13: The Flamingos - "I Only Have Eyes For You" - Like the previous song, this one is featured in almost every romantic movie that was made before 1970. When you hear them singing "Are the stars out tonight? I don't know if it's cloudy or bright" the first thing that pops into your head is a sky blue Pontiac parked at make-out point. After that, one of two things happens. One, the couple make out, or two, they get murdered by some psycho with a machete. Maybe that's just what I think of. All that aside, you have to give it up to the Flamingos. This song is timeless, and just as cool today as it was back in 1959. Word.

#12: Eagles - "Wasted Time" - This classic song by Eagles was featured on the "Hotel California" EP. Of course with such awesome songs like the title track and "Life in the Fast Lane," it's often overlooked. Not by me. When I was younger my mother had a copy of this record, and I used to listen to this song over and over again. It deals with two ex-lovers, one of which is trying to make himself believe that all the time spent with the other wasn't wasted, but that it meant something. Of course, if the song itself doesn't get you all teary-eyed and emotional, then the string reprise that follows it sure will. It's one of the most under-appreciated Eagles songs of all time, and if you haven't heard it, do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of "Hotel California." It's one of the greatest rock albums ever made anyways, so you really have nothing to lose.

#11: Sufjan Stevens - "The Predatory Wasp of the Palisades is Out to Get Us!" - Ahh, here we are back at the indie songs. Of course, when you think of indie love songs, you don't necessarily think of Sufjan Stevens singing about a wasp stinging his best friend. But wrapped up inside of all the typical Sufjan Stevens nonsense is a song about loving a friend. Sure, this isn't exactly romantic love, but it's still love. You're instantly captured as Sufjan reminisces about a time that his best friend was bit by a wasp while swimming. At the end of the song when he sings "My friend his gone. He ran away. I can tell you, I love him each day" it just breaks your heart because we all know what it's like to say goodbye to a friend you'll never see again. So what if it's not the standard boy meets girl, boy falls in love with girl formula? It's an amazing song anyway, and one everyone should hear.

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Wednesday, August 15, 2007

M.I.A.: "Kala"

A few years ago, a friend introduced me to M.I.A. He gives me a copy of "Arular" and says, "You have to hear this!" Now, more often than not I value this person's opinion. After all, he's introduced me to tons of music that I now love. So when I first put M.I.A. into my CD player and heard "Pull Up the People" I was a little surprised that what I was listening to was...well, terrible! I listened to the song for a few minutes before coming to the admittedly abrupt conclusion that this is something that I could never get into. A few months later, M.I.A. was turning up on nearly every top 10 list that I came across and I was even more confused. If everybody loves it, maybe I made my decision a bit prematurely. So I go out of my way to pick up a copy of "Arular" and I listen to it a few times. Surely this is enough time to make an informed decision about M.I.A. I was finally ready to lay down my final opinion; it's really, really terrible. "Kala" only helps solidify my opinion.

Now don't get me wrong. On any given M.I.A. song, there's at least one thing that will make you say "Wow, that was cool" or "That's really good," the problem is that very little of that has to do with Maya Arulpragasam. Following in the tradition of "Arular," "Kala" is a brilliantly produced album and one of the most unique visions of hip-hop and grime available! True, Maya plays a small role in that, but go ahead and credit most of that to the uber-talented Switch, who is responsible for most of the production of both albums. While he's busy slaving away making some of the most inventive songs in hip-hop today, M.I.A., herself, is hard at work yelping repetitive and simplistic rhymes into the microphone. There, I said it.

The sad thing is that M.I.A. is at her best when she's at her most repetitive. A song like "Bird Flu" or "Bamboo Banger" where she's left to repeat "I'm a road runner" to no end is much more appealing than when she actually sits down and tries to write something meaningful. ""Paper Planes," for example, is an absolute chore to listen to, and really shows just how untalented she really is as a vocalist and as a writer. She might as well be singing "Please press the eject button."

While most of the songs on "Kala" have the potential to be decent, say, in a club or live setting, I can't see myself enjoying this nonsense in any other environment. Is the music unique? Yes! Is it creative? Absolutely! Does it have it's moments? For sure! But when it's all said and done, Maya Arulpragasam is an absolutely terrible excuse for an artist whose appeal has more to do with her back story and her producers than herself. I don't expect a lot of positive feedback from this review, but I'm not really concerned about that. The fact of the matter is that I just didn't understand why "Arular" was such a critical success. Now that I've had the chance to listen to "Kala," it's safe to say that I still don't quite get it.

Recommended for fans of "Arular" and repetitive dog yelps.

Key Tracks:
1. "Bird Flu"
2. "Boyz"
3. "Hussel (f/ Afrikan Boy)"
4. "Down River"

4 out of 10 Stars

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Video of the Week - Week 32

The following video is nominated for Best Rock Video in the Anti-Video Awards Awards.

Mastodon - "The Wolf is Loose" from the album "Blood Mountain"


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Monday, August 13, 2007

Eisley: "Combinations"

The first time I heard of Eisley was at least four or five years ago. I remember watching MTV and seeing them featured on "You Hear It First." At that time, this underdog band from Texas had little to show for their efforts except for an EP and a tour with Coldplay. Still, the band aroused my interest, and I kept them on my radar. It wasn't until I saw them live in January of 2005 that I finally fell in love with them. Their debut full-length album was released just a few weeks later, and I can remember rushing into my local store minutes after they opened so that I could get a copy. "Room Noises" was a marvelous and wonderful album. It is one of the few albums that you can listen and just drift off to. The DuPree sisters were able to craft stories and imagery that was simply beyond their years, and the music they created was absolutely dreamy. It's been about 2 1/2 years since then and my hopes have been high for another brilliant album for some time. The question is, "Does 'Combinations' live up to it's predecessor?"

When you hit "Play" on your CD player, it's immediately clear that what you are about to hear will sound very little like "Room Noises." The lead-off track, "Many Funerals" is a very straight-forward rock track, completely unlike anything we've heard from the band before. In the chorus, the sisters sing "Break, break down!" over an aggressive guitar and bass. Is this really Eisley? Indeed, it is. While the song isn't bad by any means, it can definitely catch you off guard if you're not anticipating it.

Get used to it though. Eisley takes a much more traditional approach to making music this time around. Their lyrics are much more straightforward now, often singing about things that are relatable rather than fairies and forests. At the same time though, their sound is more polished and they sound more cohesive as a band than they ever have before. Their hooks are stronger, and they play their instruments with confidence. It's a trade off, because even though they sound much more talented on "Combinations," they don't sound as dreamy and innocent as they once did.

The first single, "Invasion," is really the closest that the DuPrees come to capturing the wanderlust of "Room Noises." Here, the sisters sing "Ooh, something's not right" in a wavy vocal style that sounds very familiar, very comforting. The next song, "Taking Control" is my personal favorite on the album. It sounds like nothing that they've done before, but the chorus is unbelievably infectious. The pianos, guitars, drums, and vocals blend perfectly to form a truly memorable pop rock song.

The band slows down a bit on "Go Away," the album's first real ballad, and a showcase for the group's unparalleled ability to harmonize with one another. When they sing "Go away, go away and leave me on my own" it moved me in a way that few songs have been able to this year, and as such, it stands out on the album. "Come Clean" is another ballad, but this time the vocals are not as much of a group effort. At the same time, however, the band shows off their talent on their respective instruments. Gentle guitar plucks and the frantic strums of a mandolin form the backdrop for this very soothing song. The song ends with the band singing "Come clean all around me" together before fading into the sounds of children playing. Beautiful.

"Ten Cent Blues" takes a very real look at relationships and the feeling of not being able to compete with someone to whom you feel you are physically inferior to. She sings about how the other girl is cheesy, and has no wit before conceding "I'm sorry I don't have her face, and I'm probably gonna lose this race." It's a far cry from Eisley of old, but it's nice to hear the earnest words of an artist every now and then rather than just fictional tales. "Combinations" wraps up with the bizarre, yet impressive "A Sight To Behold," the cutesy, yet dull title track, and the undeniably gorgeous and lullabye-like "If You're Wondering." It's a brief, but welcomed trip back to the fantasy world of earlier Eisley albums.

When it's all said and done, I can't help but have mixed feelings about "Combinations." It's obvious to me that the DuPrees have grown substantially as musicians since I first saw them play live several years ago, and their music has become more solid because of it. However, I miss the fantasy and wanderlust of "Room Noises" and their earlier EPs very much. I suppose it's just something I'll have to get over, because at it's core "Combinations" is a very impressive album. It's a work that can stand on it's own, apart from their past recordings. It may not be as immediately endearing, but Eisley has not let us down.

Recommended for fans of Eisley, Sixpence None the Richer, and anyone who wants to hear the best Tyler, Texas has to offer.

Key Tracks:
1. "Many Funerals"
2. "Taking Control"
3. "Go Away"
4. "Come Clean"
5. "If You're Wondering"

7 out of 10 Stars

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Saturday, August 11, 2007

Go News Go! - The Weekly News Recap

Baseball is outrageous!

Football is outrageous!

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Friday, August 10, 2007

Top 20 Songs About Love: Songs 20-16

Ahh, the love song. It's without a doubt the most common of all songs in popular music, and yet a good one can still feel fresh and poignant. That's because love is so complex that it can take on many forms. One love song could be about how blissful life is with your loved one at your side, another could be about how much pain and sorrow is involved in loving another person. The love song is so often defined as the former, with complete disregard to the latter. So today, I'm introducing a new series which will last the next four weeks. Every Friday, I'll reveal to you my Top 20 Songs About Love. Because there are so many love songs out there, I had to find some way to narrow it down. Therefore, only songs on my computer will be eligible. Granted, there are a lot on there (around 6,000 or so, I believe), so while not completely comprehensive, it's at least a good starting point. Here are songs 20-16:

#20: Tegan and Sara - "I Know, I Know, I Know" - This song was one of the few on "So Jealous" that toned down the fast-paced chick rock. It was all the more effective because of it. It tells the story of two lovers, one moving away and the other staying behind. Or at least that's how it's supposed to go. As they're driving to the one's new destination, one trys to convince the other to stick around and vice versa. They argue, cry, laugh, scream...and it's all out of love. The sisters sing, "The same as I love you, you'll always love me too. This love isn't good unless it's me and you." I'm down with that. This is a great song, and one of Tegan and Sara's best.

#19: Buddy Holly - "Everyday" - This is one of those carefree lovesongs, the kind that infect your soul and force you to inexplicably whistle it's tune to no end. Buddy Holly doesn't get as much love these days as he used to, but this song is one that everyone should listen to. It's not complex or deep, but a short, simple pop song. As such, it's one of the most enjoyable on this list, even if it is towards the bottom.

#18: Incubus - "I Miss You" - Before it was every 15-year-old girl's Myspace profile song, "I Miss You" was just a sidenote on Incubus' 1999 album, "Make Yourself." Then the band blew up, and before you know it, every dumb, aviator-wearing girl was blaring this out of their Mercury Cougars. Brandon Boyd is no lyrical genius, to be sure, and this song is evidence of that. However, he has never sounded more passionate or earnest than he does here. We all know what it's like to have someone we love leave for a prolonged period of time, and Boyd captures it almost perfectly here ("You have only been gone ten days, but already I'm wasting away"). In the end, it's an absolutely beautiful song; one that is universally relatable and timeless in it's presentation.

#17: Rilo Kiley - "Rest of My Life" - I believe it's safe to say that while many people heard Rilo Kiley's "Takeoffs and Landings," very few people paid much attention to this song. After all, it's been Jenny Lewis who has always had the spotlight pointed at her, so this short little song by Blake Sennett at the end of the album was rarely noted by critics or fans. Truth be told, I've always preferred Blake Sennett to Jenny Lewis, and this song is a large part of that. It's about being in love with someone that you can't have. Blake sings, "There are worse ways for a guy to spend his time than to sit and think of you. I think I'd marry you. Just your smile leaves me satisfied, though you're not mine. So for the rest of my life, I'm gonna search for someone just like you." It's an absolutelty heartbreaking song, but one of my favorite Rilo Kiley songs of all time. You should hear it.

#16: My Brightest Diamond - "Gone Away" - Like Incubus' "I Miss You," this song is about being in love with someone who has gone away. However, unlike that song, this one shows almost no hope of seeing that person again. Shara Worden sings, "You've gone away where there isn't a telephone wire, still I wait by the phone. You don't even write to say goodbye." I guess that really makes it a song about loving someone who doesn't love you anymore, and in that sense it's really one of the more depressing songs on the list. Still, you can't really go wrong having this song (or album, for that matter) on your iPod or computer. Sure, it may make you want to sit in a corner and cry, but that's part of what makes it a great love song.

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Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Video of the Week - Week 31

The following video is nominated for two Anti-Video Awards Awards.

Feist - "1234" from the album "The Reminder"

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Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Rebel! MTV Announces Nominees for 2007 VMAs...

So as you all should probably know by now, I'm not a huge fan of MTV or the garbage they promote. Their annual Video Music Awards are usually a joke, this year evidenced by the fact that both Justin Timberlake and Beyonce are nominated seven times...each! Come on! Is MTV even trying anymore? You know you're not dipping too far down in the well when a single artist gets nominated for seven awards.

That, ladies and gentlemen, is precisely why I started the Anti-Video Awards Awards. So far, there hasn't been a lot of excitement over on the voting page but hopefully you'll be energized (and pissed off) when you read the following list of Nominations for the 2007 VMAs.

Best Group:
Fall Out Boy
Gym Class Heroes
Linkin Park
Maroon 5
The White Stripes

Best New Artist:
Lily Allen
Gym Class Heroes
Peter, Bjorn and John (A desperate attempt at credibility)
Carrie Underwood
Amy Winehouse

Female Artist of the Year:
Nelly Furtado
Amy Winehouse

Male Artist of the Year:
Robin Thicke
Justin Timberlake
Kanye West

Monster Single of the Year:
Daughtry - "Home"
Fall Out Boy - "Thnks Fr Th Mmrs" (Example of Bad Grammar #1)
Avril Lavigne - "Girlfriend"
Lil Mama - "Lip Gloss" (Example of Bad Grammar #2)
Mims - "This Is Why I'm Hot"
Plain White T's - "Hey There Delilah" (Example of Bad Grammar #3)
Rihanna - "Umbrella"
Shop Boyz - "Party Like a Rock Star" (Example of Bad Grammar #4)
T-Pain - "Buy You a Drank" (Example of Bad Grammar #5)
Timbaland - "The Way I Are" (Example of Bad Grammar #6)

Most Earth-Shattering Collaboration:
Akon f/ Eminem - "Smack That"
Beyonce f/ Shakira - "Beautiful Liar"
Gwen Stefani f/ Akon - "The Sweet Escape"
Justin Timberlake f/ Timbaland - "SexyBack"
U2 f/ Green Day - "The Saints Are Coming"

Quadruple Threat of the Year:
Justin Timberlake
Kanye West

Video of the Year:
Beyonce - "Irreplaceable"
Justice - "D.A.N.C.E." (Also nominated for an Anti-Video Awards Award)
Rihanna f/ Jay Z - "Umbrella"
Justin Timberlake - "What Goes Around Comes Around"
Kanye West - "Stronger"
Amy Winehouse - "Rehab"

Have you stopped caring yet? I mean, I stopped caring when I read "Gym Class Heroes." When I saw "Daughtry" I started searching my house for rope and by the time I got to Mims my noose was ready to go. Do the world a favor and try not to support this crap.

Instead, support me and the Anti-Video Awards Awards! All the nominations can be read here and YOU get to decide who wins what! You have until August 31st to vote! What are you waiting for?

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Monday, August 06, 2007

Okkervil River: "The Stage Names"

One of the great joys of being a music fan is being able to hear the progression of a band or artist. Many bands continually redefine their sounds. Some get progressively worse, others better. Okkervil River is a band that consistently improves. With each album that they put out, this great band from New Hampshire via Austin strengthens their sound and finds new ways to impress their audience. Like their previous releases, "The Stage Names" is influenced by several genres without fully committing to a single style. Sometimes folky, sometimes rocky, sometimes emo, sometimes poppy; Okkervil River is always worth listening too!

Will Sheff's emotionally wrought wails and painfully insightful lyrics begin the album off on "Our Life Is Not a Movie or Maybe." The song is about how everyday life is nowhere as exciting (or contrived) as a major movie, yet the song itself is more exciting than most. You can almost imagine the band playing this song live, flailing their bodies about with all the energy that they can muster. "Unless It Kicks" keeps the energy from the opening track, but channels it into a more traditional rock sound. It continually builds throughout, before finally climaxing at around 3:35 with the band rocking out as hard as they ever do!

Though the music itself is brilliant throughout "The Stage Names," it is Will Sheff's songwriting skills that have impressed me most about the album. Every song gives the impression that Sheff spent hours slaving over each song, writing intricate stories and reflections. Take, for example, the clever, yet brilliant, "Plus Ones" in which Sheff weaves the titles of songs with numbers into the lyrics (adding 1 to the original). When he sings "No one wants to hear about your 97th tear" it's a direct reference to the classic song "96 tears" by ? and the Mysterians. When he sings "51st way to leave your lover, admittedly it doesn't seem to be as gentle or as clean as all the others," he's referencing "50 Ways to Leave Your Lover" by Paul Simon. While it's impressive that he could even weave so many song titles into the lyrics, it's even more impressive that the song itself is more than just a catchy gimmick but an extremely well-written piece of music.

Though "The Stage Names" is an absolute blast to listen to when the band is playing fast, energetic songs, it's when they calm things down that Okkervil River truly shines. On the stunning, "A Girl In Port," Sheff sings "These several years out on the sea made me empty, poor, and clear...pour yourself into me" over a shamelessly country arrangement. Soon after the song climaxes with a full brass section and guitar solo that is just as beautiful as it is entertaining. The title track, cleverly titled "Title Track," features minimal instrumentation from the band and only utilizes their talents when it's absolutely necessary. Sheff sings over the ambient guitars, saying, "The break dancers all broken down in their beds, are now intreveniously fed from a bag hanging over their heads." Again, his lyricism is unparalleled here, and it's especially apparent due to the lack of distraction from the rest of the band. The album wraps up with "John Allyn Smith Sails," in which Sheff asserts, "This is the worst trip I've ever been on" before following it with "I wanna go home." Nice.

In the end, "The Stage Names" is yet another fantastic album from Okkervil River. I had my doubts that the band would be able to top 2005's "Black Sheep Boy," but I can say with no doubt that this one tops it in almost every way. It's energetic moments are more powerful, and it's soft, reflective songs are more poignant. Simply put, "The Stage Names" is Okkervil River's best album to date and much more accessible than their previous releases. I would've liked for the album to be a song or two longer, but I'm still thrilled with what is presented here. If you're a fan of Okkervil River (which you totally should be), you absolutely need to hear "The Stage Names!" It will not be easily forgotten.

Recommended for fans of Okkervil River, The Honorary Title, and Two Gallants.

Key Tracks:
1. "Our Life Is Not a Movie Or Maybe"
2. "Unless It Kicks"
3. "Plus Ones"
4. "A Girl In Port"
5. "Title Track"

8 out of 10 Stars

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Saturday, August 04, 2007

Go News Go! - The Weekly News Recap

This is the weekly news recap. This is where I recap all the stuff that happened this week that I deem newsworthy.

That's how I relay news from Pitchfork as if it was my own. This is how I plug my own site:

Voting is going on now through August 31st. Please vote for your favorite videos and help your favorite artist receive a lovely homemade JPEG!

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Friday, August 03, 2007

Top 5 Things to Leave Out of Your Band Name (Unless You Want Your Band to Suck)

Have you ever noticed that some of the worst music out there today is created by people who have some of the worst band names? It's true. In fact, here in the last week or so, I've noticed a surprising trend. As it turns out, there are 5 things that, if featured in a band or artist name, pretty much guarantee that the music will be terrible. If you're on the verge of starting a band, or already have, I urge you to read the following list and make any changes necessary to ensure that your band isn't cursed to a career of suckage.

#5: Parts of your poem - For the most part, and band name should be simple and easily remembered. You don't want your potential audience to cry every time they say your name. Sure, it may sound really good as you're sitting upstairs in your bedroom self-mutilating, but it's almost guaranteed to make your band suck. Here are some terrible examples of band names that have undoubtedly been spawned after a good cry: From Ashes Rise, Modern Life Is War, My Chemical Romance, From First to Last, Futher Seems Forever, and We Tread This Troubled Past. Ok, well the last one was completely fabricated by me, but you believed it and you immediately thought "Wow, that band must really suck" right? Exactly. Leave your poetry in the book next to the razor blades and come up with something a little less retarded.

#4: Combined words - If you absolutely can't stand your multiple-word band name, it's best to just scrap it and start over. Do not, under any circumstances, combine the words to form one uber-word. It's not cool and it makes you sound like a tool, and an illiterate one at that! Examples include: LoveHateHero, mewithoutyou, Axlexisonfire, boysetsfire, and underoath. Serioiusly, I can't stress this enough. Just don't do it.

#3: The word "boy" - Fall Out Boy, boysetsfire, Badly Drawn Boy, Boy Kill Boy, etc. The word boy (not to be confused with the plural, "boys") is music kryptonite. I have this couisin who knew this guy whose sister's boyfriend's dad was in this band once called "Strong Arm Man." Their record label thought the name was too aggressive, so they changed it to "Strong Arm Boy" and their music immediately suffered. As it turns out though, they made a lot of fans from the (like OMG!) female 13-17 demographic. Personally, I liked "Strong Arm Man" better. It sounded like a ZZ Top you know it's good.

#2: A number - Quick, off the top of your head, name a band with a number in their name that is good. Can you do it? I sure can't. In fact, when I attempt it I involuntarily gag from all the thoughts of Blink 182, Sum 41, and Matchbox Twenty. Seriously, putting a number in your band name has never sounded cool and the results are always less than favorable. Just because you're not satisfied with your band name doesn't mean you can add a random number on the end of it and have it be acceptable. What if everything in the world was like that? Oh, I really want to call this item a refrigerator, but the name is so stale. It needs more zing! I've got it! I'll call it a Refrigerator 75! That's the ticket! No, it isn't! Can you imagine a world where I woke up in the morning 6, walked to the bathroom 683, and took a 2? (See what I did there?) That world would be retarded and not worth living in, much like your band is not worth listening to.

#1: The name Avril Lavigne - If you really want to give your band's integrity a good kick in the balls, call your band "Avril Lavigne" and make sure that you play the most god-awful music that has ever been spawned. Write all these crappy lyrics about how your ex is a total loser and then brag to every media outlet willing to give you the time of day about how you wrote it all yourself, as if it's not expected of you but you did it anyway. Then go on tour and charge exorbitant prices so that people can wallow in all your mediocrity. Oh, and if your album sales start to dip a little bit, it's okay to go all Kelly Clarkson for a song or two. Most people won't care at all. I'm not bitter or anything, it's just...why can't she be ugly too?

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Album of the Month: July 2007

July was packed full of amazing releases. With Spoon, Justice, Tegan and Sara, and St. VIncent all releasing quality collections, choosing a winner for the month is much difficult than it should have been. In the end, though, one album stands above them all.
St. Vincent: "Marry Me"
Annie Clark's debut album is absolutely phenomenal from start to finish. Though at times she can sound like many similar artists, it is her superior songwriting skills and the album's relentlessly complex instrumentation that sets St. Vincent apart from her contemporaries. If I were a true music writer, and not just a humble blogger, I'd be throwing out the adjectives right now. However, describing the magic of "Marry Me" is fruitless unless the party you're describing it to has a sample to listen to. Buy this album! I can't make that clear enough! As of right now, this is the most impressive album of 2007 and I don't anticipate any album topping it this year.

Tegan and Sara: "The Con"

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Thursday, August 02, 2007

Playing Catch-Up

Sometimes there is just not enough time in a day. Here are some albums that were released in July that I never got around to reviewing, along (very) brief reviews.

Interpol: "Our Love to Admire"
Interpol's first album, "Turn On the Bright Lights" was an amazing debut album. Their next album was unfortunately the bearer of the "sophomore slump" label. If "Our Love to Admire" is any indication of what any future records will sound like, perhaps it's best to just label their first as "The One They Got Lucky On." This album is full of your standard Interpol instrumentation and rock-centric songs, but it lacks the passion and drive of their debut and can't even compare to their mediocre second. Paul Banks' voice is robotic and unaffecting throughout every second of this poor effort. There are very few redeeming qualities about it, and I have trouble recommending it to anyone who isn't a die hard Interpol fan.

4 out of 10 Stars

Gogol Bordello: "Super Taranta!"
Let's be honest. No one actually listens to Gogol Bordello because they genuinely dig the music. Sure, the gypsy-punk sound of this band of misfits is cool at first but it's been about a decade since they burst onto the scene. It's just annoying now. Granted, the band is talented and the music is cool to show off to your friends every now and then. But in the end, Gogol Bordello is just a flat-out chore to listen to because you're just not that into the music. I'm sure there is 1% of the population out there that can actually get into an album like "Super Taranta!" But for the rest of society, the album and the band can really only serve as an occasional diversion from the most boring of days.

5 out of 10 Stars

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Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Please Write for Audio Overflow!

Hey everyone! If you remember, at the beginning of last month I listed seven albums that I planned on reviewing for the month of July. Today, I have reviewed four of those.
This is a picture of my desk... "where the magic happens," so to speak. Each yellow post-it note has a different album listed on it that will release in August and that I wish to review. Needless to say, if I couldn't do it last month, I probably can't do it this month. Keeping up with a blog is rough when you work two jobs and have a new nephew to gawk at!

I'm looking for one of two things:

  1. Someone to become a permanent addition to the Audio Overflow staff. You wouldn't get paid, but occasionally you may get some free CDs and interest from various media outlets (as I have in recent months). Nothing too serious, just blog when you can and let me know what you plan on writing in advance.
  2. Someone to outsource a few of these reviews to. Again, no money is involved, but it sure does save me hassle.
If either of these things interest you, please contact me at and let me know. I'll email you back promptly and see what I can do for you (or what you can do for me). Please!


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The Nominations Are In! VOTE NOW!

CLICK HERE to check out all the nominated videos for the 1st Annual Anti-Video Awards Awards.

You have until August 31, to vote for your favorite videos.

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Video of the Week - Week 30

Rilo Kiley - "The Moneymaker" from the album "Under the Blacklight"

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