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Sunday, September 30, 2007

Metric Plays Live on Myspace!

As part of Myspace's "Hey Play This..." series (which I'm only just now hearing about because I totally dig the Metric), Metric will play a live show on Myspace this coming Thursday, October 4th at 9pm ET/8pm CT.

The show will follow an all-request format, and requests will be taken via MyspaceIM before and during the show. So bust out the T1 internet connection, hook up the computer to the surround sound and prepare to be wowed by the limitations of streaming video.

That is all.

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Saturday, September 29, 2007

Go News Go! - The Weekly News Recap

Drinkin' water from a cup.

I added two new shows to Show Watch: Houston. Caribou and Smashing Pumpkins. Woo!

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Friday, September 28, 2007

Top 10 Indie Songs Under 2 Minutes: Songs 10-6

In today's fast-paced world, it's hard to devote a lot of time to good music. Sometimes I turn on my iPod but only have about 2 minutes to listen to music before I'm off to do some meaningless task or job. Sure, that may be an entire fabrication for the sake of this list, but it could happen. It's in times like this where you need a short burst of music to make you feel good, to lift your spirits, or to calm you down. That's where I come in. This week I'll kick off my Top 10 Indie Songs Under 2 Minutes list with songs 10-6. Tune in next Friday for the Top 5. Enjoy!

#10: The Boy Least Likely To - "Warm Panda Cola" - Let's say you're so busy that you can't even spare one whole minute to listen to great music. In this case, I recommend quitting your job or putting your children up for adoption. However, in case those two things don't appeal to you, you can always listen to "Warm Panda Cola" by The Boy Least Likely To. It clocks in at just under 1 minute but still manages to pack in guitars, sugary-sweet vocals, and even a harmonica! Hearing the boys sing "Warm panda cola butter melting in the sun..." has to make you smile. It's entirely whimsical and heartwarming, and sometimes that's all you really need.

#9: Of Montreal - "Go Call You Mine" - Whereas "Warm Panda Cola" only features a handful of instruments, "Go Call You Mine" from Of Montreal's 2001 album Coquelicot Asleep In the Poppies: A Variety of Whimsical Verse features, oh, every single instrument imaginable! Well, maybe not really, but there are at least a dozen. The song features a minute-thirty long introduction with a different instrument coming in every measure. By the time Kevin Barnes sings, you will have heard so many instruments that your head might explode. Literally. No, seriously. As for the lyrics, they're incredibly endearing ("Something compels me to say, 'How often are you this way?' If you're this charming all the time I'll be forced to tell you 'Darling, here's a dime, go call you mine.'" That's it. Short and sweet.) A lot of Of Montreal fans have yet to go back and hear this song or this album. Do yourself a favor and check it out. It is brilliant!

#8: Field Music - "Kingston" - With all the upbeat pop greatness going down on Field Music's 2007 album, Tones of Town, you may have overlooked a great song like "Kingston." It is not as instantly appealing as the rest of the album's tracks, but it is awesome in and of itself. The song's lush instrumentation and smooth vocals are exceptionally well executed, and the melody itself is captivating. It's brevity is part of it's strength too. Blowing in and away like a cool breeze, it leaves you wanting to experience it again and again. Maybe not the first time you hear it, but definitely later on.

#7: Tegan and Sara - "Hop a Plane" - A lot of people may not have liked this song. Truth be told, it's 2001-esque pop-punk execution might have turned a lot of people off. Personally, I found it to be my favorite track from The Con simply due to it's resemblance to Tegan and Sara's breakout album So Jealous. The song is quick and to the point, but features a wonderful vocal performance from the Quin sisters as well as some jam up drumming and bass guitaring. The guitar may be a bit too reminiscent of crappy punk music, but overall, the song works. So well, in fact, that it made it to #7 on some random list on some crappy blog. How cool is that?

#6: The Unicorns - "The Clap" - Quick! Name the #1 most heartbreaking band break up of the last decade (oh list idea)! If you named any other band besides The Unicorns, you're wrong. The band may have only been around for one album, but they left a notable mark on the lo-fi indie rock scene; one that won't be covered easily. "The Clap" is arguably the most rockin' song on the entire album too, with intense guitars and vocals that are all over the place. If you're feeling that mid-afternoon slump and you need a pick-me-up, put on this song and you'll be air-guitaring in no time! And who doesn't love air guitaring? Lucifer, the dark lord. That's who!

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Thursday, September 27, 2007

Ultimate Ears 3 Studio Earphones Review

"It's like hearing your music for the first time." That's the hook that the folks over at Ultimate Ears want you to bite. That's what they want you to believe, and in reality, it may be true for you. But for a person whose had these $129.99 in-ear studio monitors for just a few hours, I can safely say that if this is how music sounded the first time I heard it, I'm not sure I would've ever become a fan of it.

That's not to say that the 3 is a bad set of earphones. They aren't. Not really. These small little earphones pack a powerful punch, and exhibit such clarity that you may think for a second that you really are hearing all your music for the first time. But give it about 15-20 seconds, just enough time for that tight in-ear fit to come loose, and you'll find yourself listening to your music through what sounds like the earphones of that annoying person sitting next to you on an airplane. The sound is tinny, undramatic, and just flat-out bad.

Of course, this may just be for me. Each package of 3 Earphones comes complete with 5 distinct sets of tips so that getting the right fit may just be a matter of switching tips. For me though, I've found that the only tip that I have any luck with is the large tip. Of course, like I said, this only lasts for a few seconds at most. I've gone to the Ultimate Ears website where they have a video detailing how to properly insert the earphones, simply insert and twist (or "Rock and Roll"). You know you have the right fit when you feel a slight bit of suction, as this is how the earphones stay in place. For a few fleeting moments, the sound quality you get is great and rivals that of over-the-ear studio monitors. Then the seal breaks, and your quality is lost. The user manual recommends wetting the tip of the earphones before insertion, but there is still no difference in performance.

Many people may find the 3s to be to their liking. After all, it's really just a matter of finding the right fit, and if you do, you'll be in for a real treat. But for those of us whose ears are just unfit for this product, the Ultimate Ears 3 Studio Earphones are just a waste of a significant amount of money (for earphones, at least). At their current price, the 3s are just too much of a gamble for people who may fall into the same category as I do. For studio purposes, I find that my competitively-priced over-the-ear monitors work much better and offer a significantly richer sound. It's almost like hearing my music for the first time, but not really. That's all marketing nonsense.

4 out of 10 Stars

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800x600 Displays Get PWND!

If you're reading this entry, then you're undoubtedly aware of the most drastic change I've yet to make to Audio Overflow.

Today, I upgraded the site to a 3-column design. This allows more information to be displayed on your screen at one time and keeping everything of importance relatively close to the top of the page. Before you used to have to scroll down for what seemed like hours to read the ratings guide or what I'm listening to. Now it will only take seconds!

I know it looks cluttered and all right now, but give it some time and I'm sure you'll find it to your liking.

Unfortunately, those of you whose monitors are set at a Screen Resolution of 800x600, you'll have to do some side-scrolling to see all the great things on the right side of the page. However, of all the thousands of people who have visited this site since June 1, 2007, only 298 of them have a set resolution of 800x600 or lower.

That is all. Enjoy your day, and please leave any feedback about the new layout that you wish.

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Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Video of the Week - Week 38

Del the Funkee Homosapien - "If You Must" from the album Both Sides of the Brain.

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Tuesday, September 25, 2007

9/24/07: The Flaming Lips - San Antonio, TX

I woke up at around 8:30 am yesterday, excited about what was coming later that night. I was going to see The Flaming Lips for the very first time! I picked up a friend at 12:30 pm and we hit the road to San Antonio, a four-hour trip when you add in the mandatory stops at DQ and Buccees. We arrived at the venue, The Lonestar Pavillion @ Sunset Station, at around 4:45 pm and were pleased to see that we were 4th or 5th in line. The gates opened at 7 pm.

But 7 pm was not the joyous time that it should've been. To our surprise, the show was limited to those of us who were 18 and over. I bought my tickets at Ticketmaster and never once saw anything that would suggest an 18+ show. Of course, my friend and I are both over 18, but he forgot to bring along his Texas State Driver's Licence, and the security refused to let him in. But I was determined to see The Flaming Lips live, even if it meant seeing it by myself! I sadly went into the venue without him and obtained a pretty awesome spot at the very front, leaning against the guard rail. Sweet.

The opening band for the night was The Birds of Avalon from Raleigh, North Carolina. It's hard to tell if they were talented or not based on my ears alone. The speakers in the pavillion were maxed out all night, and most of what I heard sounded like someone putting their mouth around a $5 computer microphone and screaming at the top of their lungs. It was clear to me, though, that the band did have a suprising amount of talent at playing their instruments. Their two guitar players often had their instruments harmonizing with one another, and the girl guitarist's fingers were ablaze at all times.

The Birds of Avalon do their thing.

Halfway through their set, I feel a firm pinch on my behind. I turned around to find that it was not a beautiful naked woman, as it usually is, but my friend who was able to coerce a security guard to let him into the venue. No word yet on what, if any, sexual favors were performed in exchange for this deed.

There was about 30 minutes of downtime in between the sets. To my surprise, The Flaming Lips were on stage helping set up, waving to the fans and the like. It's the first time I've ever seen a group come out on stage before their set, and it was kind of cool to see. A few minutes later, the lights go dim and a group of Santa Clauses and Alien Space Nymphs walked on stage with flood lights and an excitement that was impenetrable. These two distinct groups were made up of a few lucky fans. They remained on stage for the entire show.

Santa Clauses

Alien Space Nymphs

Wayne entered the stage with his giant hands as per usual, and from there, the next few minutes were a big yellow mess. Confetti, giant ballons, Wayne shooting smoke at the audience, it was awesome!

It never really calmed down either. The band played "Free Radicals" and insisted that the audience scream "Fanatical, FUCK!" at the appropriate time. It was one of the more humorous moments of the show and Wayne was definitely getting a kick out of it. He also has a bad, but humorous habit of referring to the audience as "motherfuckers" and it was pretty funny to see him shooting us with smoke while clearly mouthing "Come on motherfuckas!"

The band was kind enough to play their more notable songs, including, "A Vein of Stars," "The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song," "The W.A.N.D.," "Fight Test," "Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots Pt. 1," "Do You Realize," and "She Don't Use Jelly." On the "Yeah Yeah Yeah Song" Wayne made sure that we had a good time with it, forcing us to shout out "yeahs" when it was appropriate, and ensuring that it was loud enough to piss off the residents of a nearby hotel. "The W.A.N.D." came complete with at least a dozen giant strobe lights, one of which was strapped around Wayne's neck. By the end of the song, I felt like my eyes were going to fall out of my head. Unfortunately, the band played "Yoshimi" very softly and ballad-like. No drums, no cool synths, or anything like that. It still sounded okay, but it gave one of the Alien Space Nymphs the chance to dance like a total ho-skank. And it definitely didn't help that she was the most unattractive of the bunch. Ugh.

The band ended the show proper with "Do You Realize?" before coming back out with a one-song encore, "She Don't Use Jelly." It was definitely nice not to see a band play a 4-6 song encore, because usually by that time I'm just ready to leave.

Overall, the show was amazing! Aside from the issue of the sound being way too loud and Wayne sounding like he did on pre-1998 Flaming Lips albums, the show was an absolute blast! I had to drive home afterwards and didn't get home until 3am, but it was all totally worth it.

For a ton of extra pictures, visit my Photobucket album.

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Saturday, September 22, 2007

Go News Go! - The Weekly News Recap

Sorry everyone, no Top 5 this week. I'm hella busy.

I'll be seeing the Flaming Lips Monday night, so check back Tuesday for a whole lot of pictures like this!

Image c/o Pitchfork Media

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Thursday, September 20, 2007

ContraNova: "Infinity In All Directions"

The concept album is a very difficult thing to pull off. The idea of taking a story or idea and writing an entire album based on it is awesome in theory, but hardly ever gets done right. Many artists will take all their songs, loosely piece them together with a vague theme, and call it a concept album. Others (*cough* Mars Volta) will write an album whose lyrics are so nonsensical that it's difficult to decipher what the hell is going on, so they leave it up to you to piece it all together. It's because of these poor examples that I'm generally turned off to the idea of concept albums. That's where ContraNova comes in. The brainchild of Sean Craypo of Austin, Texas, "Infinity In All Directions" tells the story of a man who travels back in time ten years to revisit his old self and must deal with the consequences of his actions. In doing so, the album takes an incredibly unique, inventive look at old themes (love, loss, fate, etc.) and sets itself apart as one of the more impressive albums I've heard all year!

One of the great things about "Infinity In All Directions" is that it plays out like reading a book or watching a movie. The liner notes of the album come complete with lyrics and a brief explanation of what the song is about and what role it plays in the story. It's a great help when trying to unravel the tale. The story begins as our hero builds a time machine and decides to travel back in time 10 years, but in doing so he unwillingly leaves behind a life that he is happy with, and more importantly, a girlfriend named Andeline whom he loves dearly. Almost immediately after arriving in the past, he comes to the realization that the only way to get back to his future life is to relive the past 10 years of his life over again. The album chronicles his journey and the difficulties that come with it.

In writing, the story of "Infinity In All Directions" is very cool and gripping. The biggest hurdle to overcome is translating that story into an equally gripping album. But ContraNova does so flawlessly. The group masters a wide array of sounds on the album, ranging from Belle and Sebastian-esque chamber pop to solemn acoustic songs in the vein of Sun Kil Moon or Elliott Smith. Craypo's lyrics are haunting and earnest, and he sings them with such conviction that you would think he transforms himself into the album's protagonist at the start of every song. When he sings of Andeline, "As you become more opaque, I pray that I can make the same mistakes," it's as if he feels the pain of separation and the longing to recapture his love, himself. While his voice may not be as polished as other artists, it's hard not to become entranced by his execution.

In fact, it is Craypo's flawless execution that ultimately raises the album above the average and mundane. A lot of the songs on "Infinity In All Directions" are missing a definite structure or standard verse/chorus setup, and at times it can be difficult to follow. Also, percussion instruments are notably absent for the majority of the album, and the most we ever get is a hand clap or shaker here and there. In an album that features bassoon, trombone, guitar, harp, banjo, and even contrabassoon (which sounds great, by the way), it's a little surprising to not hear a more substantial role played by percussion instruments. In the end, however, these are all minor annoyances that are quickly swept aside when you really start to get into the album. My only major complaint with "Infinity In All Directions" is the song "Revolution 10 (Sound Collage #1)," an instrumental medley of songs performed by a variety of instruments. At over 7 minutes long, it is a major distraction in the album, especially since it comes at a pivotal moment in the story. It is not bad by any means, just jarring and seemingly inconsequential.

The first time I finished listening to "Infinity In All Directions," I had that same feeling I get when I finish a powerful movie or book; like I am just seeing everything for the first time, like I am finally alive. ContraNova has created a masterpiece beyond comparison, and a truly affecting piece of art. Captured in it's 53 minutes are exceptional musicianship, unparalleled lyricism, and beautiful, captivating storytelling. It is rare that an album contains such magic, but "Infinity In All Directions" is absolutely brilliant from almost every aspect imaginable. It is one of those few works that everyone should hear, and one that needs to be listened to in it's entirety to be fully appreciated. I will not be forgetting "Infinity In All Directions" any time soon, and that is something that I am thrilled to say.

Recommended for fans of Elliott Smith, Sun Kil Moon, and Sufjan Stevens.

Key Tracks:
1. "Slanted Light (My Mother Wakes Me)"
2. "Same Side of the Day"
3. "Avalanche of Days"
4. "In Disguise"
5. "Andeline"

9 out of 10 Stars
Buy "Infinity In All Directions" at

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Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Video of the Week - Week 37

"Publish my Love" by Rogue Wave from the album "Descended Like Vultures"

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Monday, September 17, 2007

Rogue Wave: "Asleep at Heaven's Gate"

Rogue Wave released their second album (and first as a true band), "Descended Like Vultures" in late 2005 to little fanfare or notoriety. It was a bit disheartening to me, because I was a huge fan of it as well as their debut. To see such a great album go by without anyone really making a fuss about it was a shame. In an interview with the band that was published around the same time, Zach Rogue acknowledged that some fans thought they had sold out because the album was harder, louder. But Zach defended the band by saying that the music was them, and just because it sounded different did not make them guilty of selling out. He even tossed out the idea of the band making an electronic or hip hop album, because it would be "exciting" and "challenging." Perhaps that's why it's so disappointing to concede that "Asleep at Heaven's Gate" is middle of the road indie rock from start to finish. The album is not bad by any means, it just hasn't met my expectations.

To be honest, I never expected to hear a Rogue Wave hip hop album. What I did expect was for the band to take some risks as they had done with "Descended Like Vultures." That album clearly showed a growth in the band from Zach's "Out of the Shadow" days. Songs like "10:1" and "Love's Lost Guarantee" were so perfectly constructed and executed, that it was hard not to be impressed. Though still well-written and decently composed, "Asleep at Heaven's Gate" shows a band that's either having trouble moving forward, or just playing it safe.

That's not to say that the album isn't worth listening to, however. Zach Rogue is still an excellent song writer and the band still works well together. "Lake Michigan," for example, is classic Rogue Wave; plastered with layers of lush guitar sounds. Zach's smooth vocals move in and out of coherency as they always have, and it all sounds great! Likewise, "Lullaby" may start out sounding like a 1950s love song, but it soon evolves into perfect piece of indie rock with infectious electric guitars complementing the steady strumming of an acoustic. As much as I criticize the band for not taking as many risks this time out, I must admit that it's nice to hear the band make a few throwbacks to their old sound. "Christians in Black" is another great song, sounding like it could've been a hidden track on "Out of the Shadow." It's a must-listen for any long time fan.

The album's second half has a few notable tracks, and shows the band trying a few new things here and there. "Missed" walks a fine line between "beautiful" and "boring," ultimately achieving neither. It's minimalistic composition is squandered by all the reverb the band insisted on throwing in, and I would've much preferred the song without it. "Fantasies" starts off sounding way too much like The Shins' "New Slang" for me to take it too seriously. The melody lacks any staying power and the hook of "Every day's a fantasy. Are you with me? Are you with me?" is truly forgettable. To be fair, it's one of the few places on the album where the band sounds like they are trying to branch out, it just doesn't work out the way it should have. "Phonytown" ends up sounding much better, and the band finally shows a little bit of progression from their last album.

Rogue Wave is one of my favorite bands, and "Asleep at Heaven's Gate" was one of my most anticipated albums of 2007. Maybe that's why I'm so disappointed by what I've heard. The album seems incredibly front-heavy through track 6, and never really regains it's appeal until 11 or 12. For a band who has put out two relentlessly impressive albums, the fact that there are tracks here that I know I'll end up skipping in a few weeks is a bit saddening. If you're a long-time Rogue Wave fan, pick it up and decide for yourself. There are definitely enough good songs on this album to justify a purchase. If you're new to the band though, I highly recommend going back and checking out "Descended Like Vultures" or "Out of the Shadow" first. Rogue Wave was bound to slip up sooner or later. The fact that their "slip up" is still better than most run-of-the-mill indie rock bands out there today should tell you a lot about how great this band really is!

Key Tracks:
1. "Like I Needed"
2. "Chicago x 12"
3. "Lake Michigan"
4. "Lullaby"
5. "Christians in Black"

6 out of 10 Stars

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Saturday, September 15, 2007

Go News Go! - The Weekly News Recap

Eat the nut with the candy cane butter.


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Top 5 TV Theme Songs

This was a pretty rough list to assemble. For one thing, I don't watch much TV. There's 3 or 4 shows that I watch religiously, and beyond that I don't care at all. Secondly, how do you determine what a good theme song is? For this list, I decided that the songs had to be good then and good now. So sorry Friends. So here is the list I've come up with. There are probably better songs out there, but until I hear them, they don't really matter.

#5: Yo Gabba Gabba! - In case you're unacquainted, Yo Gabba Gabba is a brand new show on Nick Jr. that features 5 Teletubbies-esque characters and a flamboyantly homosexual host. It's also the single greatest kids show since Eureka's Castle! The show is all about singing and dancing and each episode features guest performers like the Shins or Smoosh as well as celebrity drop-ins like Maya or Elijah Wood. It's one of the most insane shows I've ever watched! The them song just sucks you in, with the flamboyantly gay DJ Lance waving his arms wildly, shouting "Yo Gabba Gabba! Yo Gabba Gabba!" It's awesome! If you get the chance, watch it. I guarantee you won't be disappointed.

#4: Grey's Anatomy - Would anyone have heard of Psapp if their song "Cosy in the Rocket" had not been selected to be the theme song for ABC's uber-popular Grey's Anatomy? Maybe like two people, I guess. Now, I have to admit that I'm a huge fan of Grey's Anatomy, even if the third season sucked hugely. The rest of the show is incredibly witty and endearing despite it's reliance on tried and true formulas. The theme song is just the icing on the cake. Psapp's unique style of electro pop is perfectly suited for the show, and the song's subtle sexiness mirrors that of the entire cast. Big ups to Shonda Rhimes for that one.

#3: The Adventures of Pete and Pete - I don't think any band captures the one-hit wonder nature of 90s alternative music better than Polaris, the band behind the theme song to Nickelodeon's brilliantly twisted mid-90s TV show, The Adventures of Pete and Pete. Maybe the Presidents of the United States of America, but not really. The band not only did the theme song for the show, but all the music for the show too. Yes, that includes the episode in which little Pete hears a band playing a song that he loves so much that he forms a band in order to just play that song. Hell, Polaris even released an album with all their Pete and Pete songs on it! Still, the theme song is the one that will always stand out, primarily because the lyrics are entirely indistinguishable. It sound's like he's saying "He shouldn't be. Catch a dog. Bayayaya!" In reality it's, "Hey Sandy, don't you talk back (ya ya ya)!" It's awesome. So awesome that I decided to cover it a little over a year ago. You can download that HERE.

#2: Freaks and Geeks - I'm just now getting into this short-lived but totally awesome show, but I can safely say that the decision to make "Bad Reputation" by Joan Jett and The Blackhearts the theme song was a good one. It's perfectly suited for the show's main characters, both the freaks and the geeks. Every time a new episode starts up and I hear the theme song play, I just want to rock out with my (socks) out. To my knowledge, the only time the song has been more perfectlty suited for something is when Julia Stiles' character is introduced in 10 Things I Hate About You. Other than that, though, this one takes the cake!

#1: Welcome Back, Kotter - Ha! You know I couldn't make a list about totally awesome theme songs without giving props to Kotter and the Sweathogs. Although I guess the real credit is due to John Sebastian, the guy who actually wrote and recorded the song. It's one of the few theme songs that have stood the test of time. It was a #1 hit back when it was released (no, literally), and it's still awesome today. Oh sure, there may be more memorable theme songs out there, like The Brady Bunch or The Addams Family, but those aren't good songs, just catchy jingles. This one is actually a pretty decent song, even if it is terribly dated. So sue me if I have this thing for the Welcom Back, Kotter theme song! You know what? Up your nose with a rubber hose! Yeah I went there.

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Friday, September 14, 2007

Jam Sessions Review (Nintendo DS)

I'm an amateur musician on my good days, but my music has always been synth and electronics-based. Despite all my attempts, I have never really been able to play guitar. I can play a chord here and there or figure out a riff or two, but putting everything together and making an actual song has always been a challenge I've been unable to overcome. I picked up Jam Sessions with the intention of adding a guitar sound to my music that sounds somewhat authentic.

Anyone expecting a Guitar Hero-like experience on their DS should turn away. Jam Sessions features no cover songs or master recordings that you play along with like you would in Guitar Hero. Instead, Jam Sessions aims to teach you how to actually play the guitar (albeit on your DS) to your favorite songs, while giving you all the tools you need to create your own.

The game controls rather simply. You strum up and down by moving the stylus in the same way. Chord changes are performed by pressing the D-pad in different directions. For a single song, you can program up to 16 different chords, so you're not really limited there. The game is also rich with extras like effects (distortion, delay, low cut, high cut, etc.) and palm muting. Plato have gone to great lengths not to limit your options when creating songs, and it does not go unappreciated.

Included in the game are 17 songs (with 3 bonus songs if you enter up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right in Free Play Mode). Essentially it's a chord chart that tells you when to strum up, down, or palm mute. There are midi demos of the song included, so if you get stuck on a certain part you can actually hear how it's supposed to sound.

Of course, the real meat and potatoes of Jam Sessions is the Free Play mode, in which you are able to write and record your own songs. Granted, you won't be able to record the whole thing unless it's 30 seconds long, but if you came up with a really cool riff that you need to remember, the feature is a blessing! All you have to do is select a few chords from a selection of hundreds and start playing. Microphone support is also added, but don't expect it to sound like anything more than the DS' built-in mic.

Another thing not to expect is miracles. I could never play an instrument and sing at the same time, my brain just doesn't work that way, and it's no different with Jam Sessions. But the fact that I can play an entire song on guitar without messing up is a feat in and of itself! The default acoustic guitar sound that the game presents doesn't sound entirely real, but still more realistic than any other guitar simulator I've ever heard. If you have the time and equipment, I'd recommend buying an adapter to hook your DS into a guitar amp or external effects processor. I've already done so, and I'm impressed with the quality and variety of sounds that can be produced!

In the end, Jam Sessions is a pretty terrible game. There's really no gaming to be found here at all. What it is though, is an incredibly handy tool for musicians and aspiring musicians to have at their disposal. The developers have put a lot of work and thought into Jam Sessions, and I am grateful for that. I can't even begin to list the times that I've had inspiration for a song pop into my head, only to have it evaporate before I could write it out. Jam Sessions gives me everything I need to make sure that never happens again.

8 out of 10 Stars

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Thursday, September 13, 2007

Animal Collective: "Strawberry Jam"

I can remember when Animal Collective's 2005 album, "Feels," came out. I remember reading Rolling Stone calling them an "Artist to watch" or something similar to that, no doubt about 2 pages away from them ranting about the genius of Christina Aguilera or Pink. I recall being entirely confused by this article, mostly because this was Animal Collective, a band that has traditionally taken the non-Rolling Stone route of creating music. To see the one magazine that represents everything that is wrong with the music industry even acknowledging the band's existence was surprising to say the least. As it turns out though, my initial fear that Animal Collective had put aside their experimental rock sound in favor of a more Rolling Stone-friendly style was premature. "Feels" was a great album that showed a clear progression from "Sung Tongs," and I generally enjoyed what I heard.

"Strawberry Jam" also shows the band growing and expanding on their sound. The most notable change is that the album is strangely devoid of any significant downtime. Whereas their past two albums (the only two that I am familiar with) had upbeat, fast songs like "Who Could Win a Rabbit" grouped with dreamy, slow songs like "Bees," "Strawberry Jam" is exciting and upbeat for the majority of it's 43 minutes. In addition, the album also utilizes electronic instrumentation and effects more than their other works. It helps give "Strawberry Jam" a fresher sound and separates it from their previous records.

"Peacebone" gets thing started on a good note, as it's one of my favorite Animal Collective songs ever, blending electronic flutters with sing-along vocals and syncopated guitars. It sounds great! Of course, like most Animal Collective songs, it really needs to be heard in order to be understood. The album continues to spiral in and out of control, each song taking seemingly incompatible sounds and mashing them together to form something that is entirely unique. "For Reverend Green" is another brilliant song, and hearing Avey Tare (I think) scream out the song's title repeatedly at the end is a small joy that everyone should experience. That song fades into "Fireworks," a 7-minute song that utilizes every second to the fullest; never wasting a single moment with trivial instrumentation or lyrics.

"Strawberry Jam" isn't about the songs, though. It's about the album as a whole. Sure, you could pick out your favorites, put them on your iPod, and call it a day, but you'd be missing out on a truly memorable experience. I must admit that on their previous albums, I did just that. But "Strawberry Jam" is definitely something that needs to be listened to in its entirety. It's definitely not going to be for everyone, but that's to be expected. Animal Collective's music may be cursed to being viewed as either complete amateurism or complete genius, but absolutely no one could say that it's ordinary. Not even Rolling Stone. Of course, my biggest complaint with the album is the same as my complaints with their past works. "Strawberry Jam" is definitely a great record, but it's not something I can listen to with consistency week after week. However, I look forward to spending time with the album here and there, knowing that when I do, I'll be treated to something new and exciting every time!

Key Tracks:
1. "Peacebone"
2. "For Reverend Green"
3. "Fireworks"
4. "Winter Wonder Land"
5. "Derek"

7 out of 10 Stars

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Video of the Week - Week 36

Thanks for watching the VMAs. I hear they got great ratings. Here's more for you.

"Umbrella" by Rihanna from the album "Hot, but Very Overrated"

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Sunday, September 09, 2007

Top 10 Reasons to Not Watch the 2007 VMAs

I shouldn't have to write this blog. I really shouldn't. But I want to be 100% sure that none of you cave in and watch the Video Music Awards tonight on MTV. In the last few years, ratings for the show have dropped tremendously and so producers have been scrambling to find something to boost ratings. They found it in a bipolar has-been who is under investigation for child abuse. I know it'll be tempting to tune in and watch Britney Spears embarrass herself, but you'll be able to find videos of it tomorrow all over the place. If that's not enough of a reason for you, here are a few more that should make you rethink your decision.

#10: Diddy Will Be There - The only thing cool Diddy has ever done was make a bunch of high school drop-outs walk for 3 hours to get him a cheesecake. That's it! Everything else the man has ever done has been for publicity or self-promotion. He's a no-talent assclown of unfathomable proportions, proven by the fact that he changes his name every 3 years and each time they get increasingly ridiculous. Supporting the 2007 VMAs is like supporting Diddy which is like supporting Nazis. If you can't make the connection on your own, tough luck. I'm not going to explain it to you.

#9: You didn't support the Anti-Video Awards Awards, you shouldn't support this! - I know you may not realize this, but in an attempt to give actual artists a chance to win awards for their videos, I created the Anti-Video Awards Awards. The winners wouldn't be chosen by some anonymous panel of record label execs and MTV producers but by YOU. But YOU didn't vote and so nobody won! Chances are, if you're reading this blog, we share the same musical tastes. If you can't support artists that you actually like, why the hell would you support this garbage? Besides, it's a known fact that the VMAs are the world's largest concentrated source of methane gas, thus contributing to global warming. I don't know about you, but I think polar bears kick ass! Just think about it, k?

#8: There is a Most Earth-Shattering Collaboration award - Everyone knows that mainstream artists collaborate with other mainstream artists to sell more records. It typically has very little to do with one artist complementing another one's talents, but usually two megastars fighting for time on a 3 1/2 minute track. To make matters worth, the nominated videos aren't even that earth shattering. Akon and Eminem for "Smack That?" How could you nominate the one video that single-handedly proved that Eminem is no longer the great rapper he once was, especially when his collaborator is Akon? AKON!? More like A-KONundrum as to why he's actually famous. Am I right?

#7: Fergie is Nominated for Female Artist of the Year - It's bad enough for Fergie to be nominated for anything. The fact that she's nominated for artist of the year would be like MTV giving an award to Jill Sobule for "I Kissed A Girl" back in 1995. But they didn't because they had some sort of credibility back then! The only award Fergie should ever be nominated for is Best Kirstie Allie on Methamphetamines After Being a Victim of Domestic Abuse Impersonation. She'd win that one hands down!

#6: Justice and Peter, Bjorn and John are nominated but will lose to artists less worthy - I'm a fan of both of these artists, so it's clear to me that their nominations are really just MTV desperately searching for some credibility. Hell, Justice is nominated for video of the year for "D.A.N.C.E.," which they should totally win by the way. Of course, if they did win, the stage would be rushed by a sobbing Kanye West, whining about how he didn't win because MTV is racist and how he spent 20 million dollars producing the video. You know what, THAT you should tune in for, because there's nothing more entertaining than a Kanye West meltdown.

#5: MTV DOESN'T PLAY VIDEOS!!!! - I know it's cliché to say "MTV doesn't play videos" but come on! I went to and checked to see how many videos MTV has played in the last 48 hours. Guess how many. NONE! Not a single music video! Oh sure, they play music videos on TRL and in a one-hour block at 5am, but that'd be like Nickelodeon giving out the Fairly Odd-Parents Awards to characters that have appeared in the show. It's a ridiculous idea. Give me the real MTV Awards! Who wouldn't want to see L.C. and that girl from that one episode of "Next" battle it out for the Vapid Whore of the Year Award?

#4: Have you seen who's performing? - Britney Spears, Foo Fighters, Fall Out Boy, Rihanna, Nelly Furtado, 50 Cent, Gym Class Heroes, Chris Brown, Kanye West, Akon, Lil' Wayne, Maroon 5, etc. No thank you!

#3: The Quadruple Threat of the Year Award - Here's an award that doesn't even have anything to do with music videos. Instead, it's the who can do the most things halfway decent award. Beyonce as a quadruple threat? Please! Did anyone see "Dreamgirls?" I haven't seen worse overacting in a movie since Bruce Campbell in "Army of Darkness"...and that was supposed to be bad! Giving her an award for it would be like giving Paris Hilton an award for making an album. Both are bad ideas and whoever thought of this dumb award should be reprimanded, and by reprimanded I mean murdered.

#2: Stereogum will be live blogging the whole event - If you absolutely have to know what's happening when it's happening, go to and read their live blog. They'll be updating it every time something of note happens, so you'll be able to stay with all of your loser friends tomorrow at school when they're slapping each others' asses and talking about how Britney Spears is "hot" again.

#1: "This Is Why I'm Hot" is nominated for Monster Single of the Year - Surely you've heard this song by MIMS where a bunch of "rappers" say "This is why I'm hot" to no end! I know that the term "monster" is supposed to be hip and cool, but in this case I think it should be taken literally. No longer is MIMS' single hip, but an actual monster, roaming the country and single-handedly setting African Americans back a good decade or so. To think that hip hop has come so far only to have "This Is Why I'm Hot" nominated for Single of the Year. Tupac would be rolling over in his grave if he weren't still alive. No seriously...he's on some island in the South Pacific, laying low for a while. Just wait.

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Saturday, September 08, 2007

Go News Go! - The Weekly News Recap

Today is going to be a bad day... vehicle was parked under a tree that leaks brownish liquid all over the place, so I went to the car wash, but while I was in there the brush thingy hit my antenna and bent it all the way back, so I leaned out of my passenger side window when the brushes passed and unscrewed my antenna only to get black stuff ALL OVER my shirt, so when I arrived at work I was wearing a white shirt with black crap all over it so I had to go buy a new shirt from the shop and now I smell like new shirt and have fold lines all over my shirt! And I still have 7 1/2 hours to go.

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Friday, September 07, 2007

Top 5 Stars Songs

I figured since I already posted a review and a video of Stars this week, I might as well make this week's Top 5 Friday Stars-related. So here are my Top 5 Stars Songs.

#5: "Romantic Comedy" from Heart- It's cheesy, somewhat predictable, but utterly charming, just like every good romantic comedy should be! Torquil and Amy do a great job of trading lines back and forth as they always do, but here they tell the fictional tale of two lovers caught up in the most unlikely of scenarios. Amy sings, "You pick the curtains and I'll pick the sheets. Our silver anniversary will be the next time we meet." Yeah right! You just gotta love the carefree nature of this song.

#4: "What I'm Trying to Say" from Set Yourself on Fire - This was recently featured in my Top 20 Love Songs of all time, so it's really no surprise to find it here too right? It deals with two people, obviously in love with one another, but not willing to say it. The chorus goes a little something like this: "I am trying to say what I want to say without having to say 'I Love you!'" How could you not love that? No seriously, do you kick puppies or something?

#3: "The Woods" from Heart - I'm all for Stars' poppy, lovey-dovey approach to writing songs, but I'm also a huge fan of when the slow things down and write stuff that's a little more poignant. "The Woods" is a perfect example of this and is one of the simplest Stars songs to date. Torquil sings, "Take me to the woods to show me something but I turn my face away" with such passion that you'd think he was living out the story over and over again with ever syllable spoken. It's a truly beautiful song, and one of the most underappreciated of all Stars songs. Well, I think so...

#2: "In Our Bedroom After the War" from In Our Bedroom After the War - *sigh* I'm so tired of writing about this song. {begin copy and paste} 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. It's an absolutely beautiful song. One filled with hope and love, and one that's worth being on this list. {end copy and paste}

#1: "Your Ex-Lover Is Dead" from Set Yourself on Fire - Still one of my favorite songs of all time, "Your Ex-Lover Is Dead" is beautiful from start to finish and a great example of a perfect song. The vocals are spot on, sweet but unmistaken. The insturmentation is gorgeous, complete with strings and brass instruments. The lyrics are some of the best of the last decade, telling the story of two lovers who accidentally meet again and are forced to spend the evening together with friends, reliving their old love in their minds the entire time. In the end though, they're not sad of their lost love, but happy that it was good while it lasted. When they sing, "I'm not sorry I left you. I'm not sorry it's over. I'm not sorry there's nothing to save," it's both saddening and uplifting at the same time. This is a brilliant song and if you don't like it you punch peoples' grandmothers. That's a FACT!

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Thursday, September 06, 2007

Video of the Week - Week 35

Stars - "Take Me to the Riot" from the album In Our Bedroom After the War

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Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Stars: "In Our Bedroom After the War"

I can remember where I was the first time I heard Stars. I was at my mundane little office job enjoying some internet radio when suddenly, amongst the typical and expected, came a song that immediately distracted me from the job I was supposed to be doing. It was not only beautiful, but touching, catchy, and - dare i say - perfect. The song was "Heart," the title track from Stars' 2003 breakout album. The song stuck with me, but I never really pursued my interest in the band. One day, about a year and a half later, I was in my local record store looking for something to buy. For some reason (providence, really), I thought of Stars, a band I hadn't heard in months. But the store didn't have any copies of "Heart," only their new album, "Set Yourself On Fire." Hmm? I wasn't sure. I scanned the barcode on the CD and previewed the first song on the album, "Your Ex-Lover Is Dead." I've been a Stars fan ever since. Their entire catalog is filled with effortless pop masterpieces, featuring brilliant songwriting, poignant imagery, and stellar production. Needless to say, my expectations for "In Our Bedroom After the War" were high. I am thrilled to say that I am not disappointed.

Stars albums have the habit of starting things off with an audio sample of a quote that typically reflects the title and mood of the album to follow. This one is no different. After a 2-minute synth introduction (reminiscent of "What the Snowman Learned About Death"), the voice of a older woman, audibly weathered by the years of her life, rises. She asks, "All the blood and the treasure and the losing it all, the time that we wasted and the place where we fall; will we wake in the morning and know what it was for up in our bedroom after the war?" It soon becomes clear that this is different than the typical carefree Stars album, and a far cry from their "Romantic Comedy" days.

The album hits its stride right out of the gate with "The Night Starts Here," a synth-heavy pop song with Amy and Torquil trading lyrics. It's sound is extremely reminiscent of the music off of "Heart," and for that I can't help but love it. The lack of a big, strong, satisfying hook is a bit disheartening, but this is a Stars album so you know that one is coming. As it turns out, we don't have to wait very long at all. "Take Me to the Riot" is one of the album's better tracks, and features Torquil shouting "Take me, take me to the riot" over guitars, strings, synths, and some surprisingly intense drumming. Of course, Amy is there softly singing along, adding a nice touch without overpowering. It's the album's first truly impressive track.

And boy do they keep piling them on! The next track, "My Favourite Book" is the first song that Amy takes charge of, pouring out her gorgeous vocals like honey (or, you know, something else that's sweet). They're accented by the excellent use of woodwinds and "do do dos" in the background. It's jazzy stylings are perfectly suited to the band, and I'm really surprised this is the first time that I've heard them play anything like this. The song is a gem that doesn't reveal it's true beauty at first, but grows on you over time. The same cannot be said for "Midnight Coward," an upbeat, yet poignant duet between Torquil and Amy. The two harmonize with one another, singing, "I can't see what's coming, but I'm not staying in." Later in the song, when all the guitars and synths have gone, the two vocalists are left with only a piano to accompany their words. It is a highlight of the album and one of it's most beautiful moments.

"The Ghost of Genova Heights" is perhaps the most peculiar song I've ever heard from the band. It's verses are shoddily crafted, offering nothing really memorable musically or lyrically. In the chorus, however, the band takes a clear turn towards Michael Jackson-esque 80s pop. Torquil begins singing in an awesome falsetto, "I always see you when I never should. Now you're back in the neighborhood." I can't get it out of my head. Ultimately though, the song suffers because there's really not much to remember aside from the chorus. The band can't really even find a decent way to end the song. Fortunately, it's followed by "Personal," a "too-good-to-be-true" love song told through the communication of two singles through personal ads. I won't give away the ending, but it should be noted that this is without a doubt the saddest Stars song to date. The first time I heard it, I was visibly upset by what happens in the story. It is a powerful song, to be sure.

Unfortunately, the album really starts to struggle from there. "Barricade" is a simple piano ballad with a respectable performance from Torquil, but for some reason it doesn't feel very authentic to me. One of the signs of a good pop artist is that they can make anything sound real and true, but to me this song sounds manufactured and false. When Torquil sings "Meet me at the barricade, the love died but the hate can't fade," he's singing it well, but without true conviction. For a song that is so somber and emotional, Toquil is noticeably distant. "Window Bird" sounds like your run-of-the-mill indie rock song sung by a female, and Amy is completely underutilized. The same can be said for "B*tches in Tokyo," whose rockin' chorus is overshadowed by a complete lack of anything affecting or catchy.

"Life 2: The Unhappy Ending" is a step in the right direction, with Torquil and Amy contemplating the reality that life is not always as happy as it is in the films. Amy sings "Here's the part where you save me. Here is the scene where you save the day. Why can't the ending be happy? Why must it always resolve this way?" The song's lyrics and instrumentation are it's saving grace, as unlike most Stars songs, it's hook is far from memorable. "Today Will Be Better, I Swear!" is about what you would expect; reassurance that yesterday might have been good but today will be better. Again, the group struggles to find a reason for the song's existence as its lyrics and hook are poorly executed. Still, there is something admirable in the song's instrumental second half, if only for the fact that it reminds me of "The Big Fight."

For so many middle-of-the-road songs in the album's second half, "In Our Bedroom After the War" ends with what is arguably the best song the group has ever made and the album's title track. It tells the story of two lovers adjusting to life with each other in a post-war world, trying to capture the beauty in every second and remind themselves that they have each other. Torquil sings"Lift your head and look out the window. Stay that way for the rest of the day and watch the time go," before crying "The war is over and we are beginning!" The song ends with an eruption of instrumentation and vocals proclaiming "It starts up in our bedroom after the war! After the war!" It is simply stunning. I've listened to it over a dozen times now and I still get goosebumps every time. Personally, "Your Ex-Lover is Dead" is still my favorite Stars song, but this one comes in a close second.

When it's all said and done, I can't help but be happy with "In Our Bedroom After the War." While it's true that I could have done without 3 or 4 tracks, the album's highs brilliantly mask it's lows. "In Our Bedroom After the War" portrays a band coming to terms with the bleak and sorrowful world that we live in today; acknowledging that life and love is not always as bright and sunny as their past music would suggest. At the same time, however, the album is inexplicably hopeful despite the band's noticeable turn towards the dark side of life. If anything, "In Our Bedroom After the War" is a testament to the band's faith in humanity, in love. It leaves you feeling safe in a world of chaos, knowing that when it's all over there will still be love and we will still have each other.

Recommended for fans of Stars and anyone who needs hope.

Key Tracks:
1. "Take Me to the Riot"
2. "My Favourite Book"
3. "Midnight Coward"
4. "Personal"
5. "In Our Bedroom After the War"

7 out of 10 Stars

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Album of the Month: August 2007

The New Pornographers: "Challengers"

August was a huge month for music, seeing releases from Rilo Kiley, Okkervil River, M.I.A., Caribou, and much more! However, over all these releases, The New Pornographer's return to greatness stood out. Unlike every other album from the band, this one took some time to grow on me as noted by the 7 out of 10 that it received from me. Since then though, the album has consistently been playing in my CD player. I just can't get enough of this brilliant release! If you have yet to hear it, you need to go ahead and get on it before I get angry. You wouldn't like me when I'm angry.

Okkervil River: "The Stage Names"

Coming in September:
New Albums From...
Animal Collective
Kevin Drew
Jose Gonzalez
Shout Out Louds
and more!

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Saturday, September 01, 2007

Go News Go! - The Weekly News Recap

It's like drinking water...

...only more refreshing.

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1,216 People Just Don't Care + I Still Need a Writer!

What you're looking at is the traffic report for Audio Overflow in the month of August. As you can see, we had 1,220 unique visitors and just under 1,500 visits this month, making it the best month ever!

Of course, this high volume (for Audio Overflow, at least) of visitors was not reflected in my failed attepmpt at creating a sense of community here, as clearly demonstrated by the voting results for the Anti-Video Awards Awards voting page. The most popular category, video of the year, only received 4 votes and they were each for different videos. Needless to say, my neat little experiment failed miserably. As such, there will be no winners announced this coming Wednesday as previously planned, and you won't be hearing about the Anti-Video Awards next year.

Thanks to those of you who voted. To those of you who didn't, thanks for visiting.

Also, September is packed with a bunch of new releases. If you'd like to help out, I could use someone to help share the load of reviews. There are 11 to choose from. Leave a comment here to let me know if you're interested, or send me an email at

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Top 20 Songs About Love: The Top 5!

It may be a day later than usual, but this week's Top 5 will conclude my forgettable list of the top 20 songs about love (on my computer). You can find the other 15 songs on this list here. I now present to you the Top 5 Songs About Love!

#5: The Cardigans - "Lovefool" - It's really no secret that The Cardigans are one of my more guilty pleasures. Hell, a few months back I even crowned Nina Persson as my favorite female frontwoman! She beat out Jenny Lewis and Neko Case! But as good as Nina is, she's never been better than on the band's breakout 1990's pop song, "Lovefool." Nina's sugary vocals croon over the band's perfect arrangement, pleading, "Love me, love me! Say that you'll love me." Your heart would break if the song weren't so catchy and poppy, because at it's core, "Lovefool" is really a song about being madly in love with someone who doesn't love you anymore. Not really the type of song you typically sing along to wildly, but that's part of what makes it such a timeless song.

#4: Death Cab for Cutie - "I Will Follow You Into the Dark" - I'm still pissed that this lost the Grammy to "My Humps" by The Black-Eyed Peas, for Best Pop Songwriting no less!! But that is the type of world we live in, ladies and gentlemen; a world where Bin Gibbard, and already accomplished writer, writes his most poignant of love songs and it gets beat out by an ex-crack whore singing about her "lady lumps." The fact of the matter is that there are very few love songs, on or off my computer, that can compare to this gem. It's about loving a person so much, that when they die you'll have nothing left to do but die as well. Gibbard sings, "Love of mine, someday you will die but I'll be close behind. I'll follow you into the dark." He expresses his lack of confidence that heaven or hell will greet them, but knows that as long as they have each other in the afterlife, they'll be happy. It is one of the most selfless portraits of love ever created, and one that you'll remember for your entire life.

#3: The Wrens - "She Sends Kisses" - Honestly, I'm a little upset that more people don't know this song. Hopefully it's placement at #3 will encourage all of you to go download it or something. The song is uber-depressing. It tells the story of a guy who's just lost the love of his life, describing it as "ten tons against me." He spends his days looking at old photographs, listening to their favorite records, trying to replace her with other women ("I put your face on her all year"), but ultimately never forgetting the one that got away. That's probably her fault too though, she keeps writing him. And every time she writes he gets his hopes up, he starts remembering, but it never amounts to much. It's not a beautiful song by any means, but it's touching, brutally honest, and it rocks! This isn't so much a love song as it is a song that portrays love as is sometimes is; painful and depressing. But it is brilliant, and everyone needs to hear this one.

#2: The Dears - "22: The Death of All the Romance" - Of all the songs on this list, this is the only one that I can't analyze and tell you what it's about. I just don't know. I know it's a duet, and I know it deals with love and romance, but that's all I can decipher. Really though, is that such a bad thing? I mean, sometimes love is so complicated, so unexplainable that you just accept it for what it is and deal with it. The bottom line is, I may not know what this song is about specifically, but I know that is one of the most beautiful songs I've ever heard and one of the best duets of the last 20 years. If that's not enough of a reason to listen to it, I don't know what is.

#1: The Postal Service - "Such Great Heights" - As I was compiling this list, this song kept moving up and down the list until I finally just decided to place it at number one. It's the third Ben Gibbard song on this list, and though not as well written as "I Will Follow You Into the Dark," it is a much better love song. Unlike so many love songs on this list, "Such Great Heights" is not drowning in melancholy or about a subject that is less than preferable. Like Buddy Holly's "Everyday," this is a song that's about the blissfulness that we all hope that love could be like. It's about being a perfect match for someone ("I am thinking it's a sign that the freckles in our eyes are mirror images and when we kiss they are perfectly aligned"), missing them when they're gone, and loving every minute of when they're around. It is not the most realistic of love songs, to be sure, but it is everything that we all hope to one day attain. For that, "Such Great Heights" is not only perfect, but entirely worthy of the top spot on this list.

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