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Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Video of the Week - Week 43

Of Montreal - "Gronlandic Edit" from the album Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer?

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Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Guitar Hero III Review (Xbox 360)

What do you get when you take a series that is virtually flawless and endlessly addicting and combine it with a developer who is known for ruining a virtually flawless and endlessly addicting series? You get a recipe for disaster. Fortunately, Neversoft, the studio responsible for the rise and fall of the Tony Hawk's Pro Skater series, has decided to take that recipe and throw it out the window. Since acquiring the rights to the Guitar Hero name, Activision has seen to it that Neversoft be in charge of creating all future games in the franchise. And for a built-from-scratch first effort, they succeeded beyond my wildest expectations! Guitar Hero III not only continues the tradition of great music rhythm games, but it adds in some much needed features and game modes that really make it a must-own for any Xbox 360 owner!

First off, let's discuss the changes that Neversoft made to the game. The art direction in general takes a much more "hardcore" approach, as characters like Judy Nails go from being sweet little rocker chick to big-breasted, pierced alt rocker. Most of the other characters have undergone similar changes, most of which are for the worse. The original games had a very cartoony type of image to it, and Neversoft tries to recreate that with more edge, but they end up looking like they're trying too hard to make the game hardcore. Fortunately, this is a music game so graphics will ultimately take a back seat to the gameplay and music.

Gameplay-wise, Guitar Hero III picks up where II left off. New game modes have been introduced into the series, including Co-Op Career (a long-needed mode that features songs you can only unlock through it) and Battle Mode, which allows you to gain attacks (rather than star power) which you can then launch at your opponent to make them fail a song. The last person standing wins! The first time through this mode can be daunting, but after a while it quickly becomes a welcomed addition to the franchise! Also included this time around is full Xbox Live support for Face Off, Pro Face Off, Co-Op, and Battle Mode (unfortunately Co-Op career is not available for online play at this time). The system works great too, and in my dozens of matches online, I've only experienced brief lag once. There's something thrilling about going to battle with someone you've never met and throroughly embarassing them! This feature was well worth the wait, and will undoubtedly add hours upon hours of play to an already addicting game.

Of course, the real strength of a music rhythm game will always rest in its soundtrack. Fortunately for us, Guitar Hero III rocks one of the most comprehensive and diverse soundtracks ever put in a video game. Neversoft has finally figured out what Harmonix never could; you can have difficult songs on the game that aren't metal (i.e. Muse's "Knights of Cydonia" or QotSA's "3s and 7s")! Add in the fact that a large portion of these songs are master recordings, and the game's music just sky-rockets to a whole new level! And while Gutar Hero III's soundtrack is clearly the best in the series, it is not without it's missteps either. For example, "Sabotage" by the Beastie Boys is a great song, but it really doesn't belong here as there's very little guitaring going on in the song. Overall though, the diverse collection of songs in the game almost assures it's acceptance by those who may have been hesitant in the past, as there's definitely something for everyone!

My complaints with the game are few. My largest gripe is the new Red Octane wireless controller which is very pretty, but has given myself and other gamers some problems. For me specifically, some of the fret buttons will occasionally stop working during a song and you'll need to stop playing, disconnect the controller, and reconnect it for it to work again. This is a huge drawback, but hopefully they can get the bugs worked out in later models. Another small complaint is the lack of a matchmaking system for online play. I play on expert, but I'm more of a low-mid range expert who doesn't stand a chance versus someone who's been playing the game for a few years now. In the end, however, these complaints really overshadow what is a phenomenal game and a great first effort for Neversoft. I highly recommend it to anyone who may be on the fence about it. $99 for a video game is steep, but the hours and hours of enjoyment you'll undoubtedly get out of Guitar Hero III are well worth the price. Buy it now!

8 out of 10 Stars

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Monday, October 29, 2007

Britney Spears: "Blackout"

Don't call it a comeback. Call it a cash-in. Call it expected. Call it absurd. Just don't call it a comeback. When Britney first arrived on the scene nearly a decade ago, she had two main audiences: the prepubescent girl and the creepy old guy. But now Britney's much too raunchy for the younger audience and she's already given the old guys more than a glimpse of pretty much everything imaginable. Those who were fans have largely grown up or grown out of her. So you have to ask yourself, why does this album even exist? "Blackout" is the kind of album that exists for two purposes; to line the wallets of record executives and to boost the ego of Ms. Spears. The point of this album is not to give fans of Britney some new material, but to capitalize on the recent explosion of Britney in the tabloids and celebrity news media. Anyone who can't see that is probably the type of person that would buy this garbage.

"It's Britney, Bitch!" That's how she chooses to start the album, and my immediate response is, "I wish it wasn't." "Gimme More" has been a pretty big success for Britney, getting her the highest on the charts that she's been since "Hit Me Baby, One More Time" believe it or not. For what it's worth, it is the strongest song on "Blackout" and probably the only one that should actually exist. The production here is great, as it is through most of the album. Unfortunately for Britney, however, is the fact that the coolest part of the song are the pitch-shifted "mores" that follow her redundant "Gimme gimme gimme gimme gimmes."

Despite the production being through the roof, it's also the album's biggest flaw. Britney's voice (which has never been her strong point) doesn't even sound like itself half the time. Every trick that you could possibly come up with to disguise the fact that Britney can't carry a tune is employed here in the hopes that we won't actually notice. According to one critic, "In terms of studio trickery, Paris Hilton's album was practically 'unplugged' compared to this." Never is this more evident than on the song "Radar" where Britney sounds more like a robot than a human being. It's absolutely ridiculous!

Also ridiculous is Britney's insistence that she's still America's sweet, little seductress rather than America's punchline. She spends the majority of the album trying to sound sexy and convince us that she's so with such lines as: "If I get on top, you're gonna lose your mind," "Coming back looking delicious, yes I know they wanna kiss me," "I'm just a girl with the ability to drive a man crazy, Make him call me "mama," make him my new baby" "I can feel you on my lips, I can feel you deep inside," or my personal favorite, "Baby I’m just hot for taking, don’t you wanna see my body naked?" (Chances are, he probably already has Brit Brit). All this stuff might have been sexy 4 or 5 years ago, but after seeing Britney in every bad scenario possible, these lyrics are a joke! Every time I start to think that she sounds sexy, I have an image of a coked-out bald woman beating the hell out of a car with an umbrella, or a mentally unstable girl who can't keep her kids in her custody for more than a few hours and whose idea of a comeback is casually walking around on a stage lip-syncing in underwear on national television. Granted, Britney doesn't do much on this album besides provide vocals (she's only credited on two songs for co-writing), but you'd think someone who's been in the business as long as she has would have the good sense to know that the majority of the lyrics on "Blackout" are laughable. At one point, Britney's singing "I fall off the edge of my mind..." over and over again. What the hell does this even mean? Does anyone know?

In the end, "Blackout" is a misguided, rushed, and ultimately botched attempt at a comeback from an artist that desperately need to take her time making an album that wouldn't be added to her growing list of bad decisions. After all her time in the spotlight, what I wanted to hear most from Britney was something real, something personal that goes deeper than the stupid and overused "bump 'n' grind" lyrics that fill this album. "Blackout" just screams of a rushed job and in the ends, it fails as anything other than a mindless collection of songs with maybe one or two songs that you could dance to in a club. The production is incredible, and if they ever release an instrumental version of "Blackout," I might recommend it to someone. But as it stands, "Blackout" is nothing more than a blip on my radar that I'll forget about tomorrow. If the RIAA wonders why people download music illegally these days, look no further than this album. The American public is smart, and we know what good music sounds like. This ain't it! "Blackout" is a collection of mediocre songs, shoveled onto a CD in the hopes of making a quick buck on the tabloid adventures of Britney Spears. No more, no less.

Recommended for the mindless, and anyone who wants to give Britney the resources needed to continue her depraved lifestyle.

Key Tracks:
1. "Gimme More"
2. "Hot as Ice"

3 out of 10 Stars

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myspace band monday: Sebastian Orre

Hello people. Welcome to week two of our new failure feature, myspace band monday. This week's artist hails from Askersund, Sweden. His name is Sebastian Orre.

Sebastian Orre

Sebastian is yet another one of those crazy Swedes whose music is light, seemingly carefree, and almost always perfect. To compare him directly, I'd have to say he sounds a lot like Loney, Dear though not as immediately endearing. He's got four songs on his myspace profile and only 258 friends. Who wants to be number 259?

The first song on Sebastian's page is called "You Were Sometimes," and right from the gate you pretty much know what you're getting into. There is a lot of sweet instrumentation going on here, including guitars, xylophones, banjos, and what sounds like a flute (though I'm not sure it's a real flute). Sebastian's voice is a bit strange to me. It sounds more Scottish than Sweden and I keep thinking of James Graham's voice (of The Twilight Sad). His lyrics are strange too, seemingly written in broken English ("Garden dig holes, hide things below/ you always fell asleep before we did'). I can't really decide if it was intentional or not. Overall though, the song isn't bad to listen to. It's composition is almost dreamlike, and I really enjoyed it.

Next up is "You Should Ask the Fishes" (the full title isn't displayed on the site) a song that really showcases Sebastian's voice well. I really can't spot anything to complain about as it's very clear and charming. He introduces what sounds like a harmonium on the song, as well as some harmony which he does himself. It is much simpler than "You Were Sometimes" and it's my favorite on his myspace page. If you can, listen to this one first. It is a beautiful track!

"Thoughts About Time" has more plays than any other song on the page, which leads me to believe that it's been on the site the longest. It's a fairly decent song, and very simple, though I found the bells in the background after the verses to be very distracting. Again, his lyrics don't make a lot of sense to me ("Red days are the bad ones/ Sundays were okay once", but he sings them well and that's what matters most I suppose.

The last song on the page is "House of Magic," which is mostly an instrumental track. It begins with a simply piano arpeggio, but eventually adds layers and layers of more instrumentation. Towards the end, Sebastian begins singing "House of magic" over and over again with female vocals harmonizing above him. It's a pretty forgettable song, I must say. It might have been better without the singing, but as it stands, it's the worst song on his page.

Sebastian Orre is not the greatest artist I've ever had the pleasure of listening to, but he's far from the worst. His charming compositions and voice really make it worth listening to, and if you're into bands like Loney, Dear then you might want to check him out. He has an EP or two out, though no mention of how to actually get a copy of one. I suppose if you want a copy, you'll have to ask him yourself by sending him a message through myspace. For what it's worth, I think he's a pretty talented guy and he's definitely getting a friend request from me.

Sebastian Orre's myspace Page
Sebastian's Page on (with an additional song)

Do you have a band in mind for myspace band monday? Send us a tip at or by leaving a comment in this post. See you next week!

All Sebastian Orre photos provided via

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Saturday, October 27, 2007

Go News Go! - The Weekly News Recap

Why do we all look like worms?

Is it because we are made of long, stringy, goo?

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Friday, October 26, 2007

Top 5 Songs to Fall Asleep To

Right now it's 6:50am and I've been up since 4:30am. All I want to do is go back to sleep (and I'm about halfway there right now), but work beckons, so sleeping is out of the question. If I were planning on falling asleep though, here are the Top 5 Songs that would do me in; not because they're bad, just because they're calm and soothing. Put them on your iPod ladies and gentlemen, and start them up right before you hit the bed tonight. You can thank me tomorrow.

#5: The American Analog Set - "Born On the Cusp" - Generally speaking, I'm not a huge fan of this Austin band. Although, the only thing I've ever listened to was their 2005 album, Set Free. It was good, just not my style. That being said, if you need some sleepytime music, it just may be the perfect album. This track just so happens to be the most soothing among a whole bunch of soothing songs. Guitars are quiet, drums are soft, and singer Andrew Kenny never raises his voice above a few decibels. It's the perfect song to get you well on your way to nighttime bliss.

#4: Sun Kil Moon - "Gentle Moon" - Like The American Analog Set, Sun Kil Moon's Ghosts of the Great Highway is a really great album to put you to sleep. I know this because I used it for this exact purpose on more than one occasion while in college. "Gentle Moon" is the obvious choice for the most sleep-inducing song on the album if for it's title alone. First, it's gentle, which is exactly what you need. And then it's got "moon" right in there! It's a total bedtime song before it even starts playing. Once it does, it only gets better. Mark Kozelek's voice is smooth as all hell, and he never really enunciates as you think he should, slurring line after line. It may be a bit off-putting in the daytime, but after a few minutes of it while you rest, you'll be dreaming in no time!

#3: The Notwist - "Consequence" - This song off of The Notwist's brilliant 2002 album, Neon Golden, is perhaps the most chill. Markus Acher's soft crooning of "Fade with consequence, lose with eloquence and smile" is all the more effective as you're drifting off to dreamworld (or Imaginationland if you watch South Park). Though the band has a clear electronica influence, they never let their glitchy compositions be jolting or obscenely loud. It is a nice change of pace from the other songs on this list, and definitely worth putting on your nap time playlist (or, you know, buying).

#2: The Shins - "Those To Come" - I wasn't entirely sure if I should put this song on the list or not. Being a song by The Shins, I'm much more likely to sing along to it than fall asleep. But after giving "Those to Come" a few extra listens, I'm convinced that this would be a completely awesome song to fall asleep to. James Mercer's vocals are soft and constrained, and the guitar part is simple and hypnotizing. It's basically the same thing repeating for the length of the song, and it's beautiful. As it slowly fades out, you'll fade out with it. And just in case you don't, there's always song #1.

#1: Sigur Rós - "Untitled Song 3" - Holy crap, did you guys just see that totally awesome segue? Go ahead and chalk that one up as the greatest of all time! Back to the song though. This instrumental track from Sigur Rós' now legendary untitled album (aka "( )") is the absolute best song to fall asleep to. First of all, it's instrumental, so you don't have to worry about having lyrics stuck in your head while listening to it. Secondly, it's rather repetitive (or hypnotic) while remaining entirely beautiful. Lastly, it's Sigur Rós, perhaps the greatest sleepytime artist of all time! Of all the tracks on ( ), this one is the clear choice for this list. I guarantee it! I do, however, have a quick caution. Do not, under any circumstance, attempt to listen to all of ( ) while sleeping. I did so once during my college years and awoke halfway through through the album shaking and scared out of my mind. I have no idea why, but I remember feeling unsafe and paranoid. So take my advice and just listen to track 3 while falling asleep. It's a much better experience (though not nearly as memorable).

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Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Video of the Week - Week 42

!!! - "Yadnus" from the album Myth Takes

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Monday, October 22, 2007

myspace band monday: ContraNova

Hey everyone, and welcome to the very first myspace band monday! Starting this week, and lasting until I get bored with it, myspace band monday is a new feature on Audio Overflow that will introduce you to some talented up and coming artists out there (on myspace).

This week, I chose to kick things off with a not-so-old friend.


If you think back about a month or so, then you'll remember I reviewed ContraNova's debut album, "Infinity In All Directions," and gave it a near-perfect score! It's beauty, musicianship, and storytelling are pretty much unparalleled this year, especially when you put it up against other bands on myspace. Of course, calling ContraNova a band is kind of deceptive. The only member that appears in every song is Sean Craypo, who does most of the singing, guitaring, and writing on the album. The other peripheral members are essentially just friends and family of Craypo who lend their skills when necessary. Though their role is small, it is important, as ContraNova would not be near as effective without them.

The band's myspace page is pretty basic, nothing flashy at all, but it feature four of the stronger tracks from "Infinity In All Directions." If at all possible, I recommend listening to the album as a whole, but these tracks should give you a pretty good idea of what the band is capable of.

The first song listed on the band's page is "In Disguise," possibly the most upbeat song on the album. It features bouncy piano and bassoon and Sean Craypo singing, "Look over your shoulder, uncover your eyes. Around the corner, it's me in disguise." Soon after it deconstructs into something completely different, sounding unbelievably like Sufjan Stevens, complete with banjos and muted trumpets. Here, Craypo shouts "Get Up! Get Up! Show Yourself!" with about as much enthusiasm as he ever does on the album, and certainly on the myspace page. It's a wonderful song that doesn't make a lot of sense when taken out of it's place on the album, but still succeeds as a fun listen.

Song number two is "Slanted Light," arguably the strongest song on the album with really vivid imagery and a melody that you can sing along to after just a listen or two. Here Craypo (or rather, his protagonist) sings about being transported back in time and arriving back at home during his teens. He says, "I arrive to slanted light, old homework on green carpet. I'm here again. This house is smaller than I remember," and you immediately picture the scene in your mind. This happens again and again as the song continues, and it really shows Craypo's strength as a lyricist.

"Follow Through" is a song that I initially didn't give a lot of credit to, but since then it has quickly become my favorite track on the album. Craypo's lyrics are once again flawless as he sings, "I have been told God hears all my prayers. God must be lonely to listen to me." It's my favorite line on the whole album and when accented by fluttering bells and a perfect bassoon line, it really comes to life. His vocals start to wear a little thin towards the end as he enters into a falsetto tone, but the song is not really hindered by it all that much. It is a beautiful and passionate track. You may want to listen to it first.

"Andeline" is a beautiful track, and one of my favorites on the album, but when separated from the rest of the album as it is here, it really loses its power. Still, it does display some of the cooler instrumentation on the album with the addition of the haunting contrabassoon line under Craypo's voice. In fact, of all the songs on the band's myspace page, this one probably displays the group's talent the most, making it a worthy addition to the page even if the meaning of the song is entirely lost.

ContraNova is a fantastic group who could have a bright future ahead of them if they so desire one. "Infinity In All Directions" is pretty much assured to have a spot in my Top 20 Albums of 2007, and if the world were a decent place they'd end up on even more Best Of lists. Considering that the band is not backed by a notable record label, the chances of that happening are slim. That is kind of why I chose to make them my first featured myspace band; because I want to do my part to spread the word.

Do yourself a favor. Go to ContraNova's myspace page and listen to the tracks that they have available. If you like what you hear, add them as a friend and tell your friends about them. Or better yet, pick up a copy of "Infinity In All Directions" and prepare to be moved! ContraNova is awesome, and I don't think I can say anymore without being redundant.

ContraNova's MySpace Page
Buy "Infinity In All Directions" on
Diabolical Genius

Do you have a band in mind for myspace band monday? Send us a tip at or by leaving a comment in this post. See you next week!

All ContraNova photos provided via

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Saturday, October 20, 2007

(The Heroic Return Of...) Go News Go - The Weekly News Recap!

Back after what feels like ages, it's the heroic return of Go News Go!; the one feature of Audio Overflow that virtually no one bothers to read. You can thank me later.

In site news, this Monday, October 22, I will launch an all new feature on Audio Overflow that showcases up and coming bands that you may or may not have heard of. Where will I find said bands? MySpace, of course! So tune in Monday for the Monday MySpace Band Feature where I will review all streaming tracks on their page, give you links and information, and maybe even get in a few words with the band. It will be an interesting failure feature to read.

That's all for this week!

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Friday, October 19, 2007

Top 5 Reasons to Buy Rock Band Instead of Guitar Hero III

If you were awesome enough to visit the site last week, then you should be caught up on the Top 5 Reasons to Buy Guitar Hero III Instead of Rock Band. But let's say that list wasn't good enough for you. Let's say you're a millionaire and you can actually afford to buy Rock Band (it's a smooth $170 at launch). Here are the top 5 reasons why you should buy it instead of Guitar Hero III.

#5: Drums - Some would say this is the #1 reason to buy the game. I disagree, mostly because I've never been able to play the drums and the drum peripheral for Rock Band is too similar to the real thing to instill much confidence in me. Then again, Guitar Hero is the great game that it is because it makes people who can't play guitar feel like they can. If implemented correctly, the drums in Rock Band could gain a whole new legion of wannabe drummers, myself included. I'm not entirely convinced that I will be able to play the drums in the game, but even the slightest possibility of being able to gets me excited.

#4: The Songs - At launch, Guitar Hero III will have more songs than Rock Band. Rock Band, however, offers a much better selection of music in my opinion. Included in the game's soundtrack are some fairly notable songs by Stone Temple Pilots, The Hives, OK Go, Soundgarden, Beastie Boys, and MORE! As much as I love Guitar Hero, I have to admit that the selection of songs that it offers up doesn't even compare to this lineup. Rock Band is just another example of quality over quantity.

#3: Downloadable Albums - EA has announced that they plan on assaulting gamers with loads and loads of downloadable content for Rock Band (some people even suggesting a song per day through 2008). To me, the most exciting aspect of this approach is the revelation that Rock Band will have downloadable ALBUMS! Not much is known as to which albums will be available for download just yet, but what is confirmed (Nirvana's "Nevermind," The Who's "Who's Next") is pretty awesome. Here's hoping EA brings us some decent albums to play and not just Fall Out Boy and Blink 182 (please god!). Of course, when you consider that MTV Games is behind Rock Band, the outlook is not as good as it could have been.

#2: Master Tracks - As opposed to Guitar Hero III, the overwhelming majority of songs on Rock Band (read "all but a few") will be master tracks! That includes, but is not limited to, Garbage, Radiohead, Weezer, The Pixies, Smashing Pumkins, The Hives, and Beastie Boys. Thank god too! Can you imagine some nobody trying to nail Thom Yorke's vocals on "Creep" or even coming close to Howlin Pelle's trademark...well...howls on "Main Offender?" The decision to get the rights to these master tracks was one of the best that EA and MTV Games could have made. As long as you don't play with your loser friend who insists on rockin' the mic, you should have a fairly pleasant gaming experience. Sweet!

#1: It's the Ultimate Party Game! - How many times have you and your friends talked about starting your own band? If you're like me and my posse, the number is up in the hundreds. Rock Band not only give you the ability to make your dreams come true, but it also serves as some instant gratification! And for all you drinkers out there, this is probably the one time where the drunker you are, the more people will love your singing (Because it'll not only be hilarious, but they'll be drunk too! Yay!). Or let's say you get tired of playing guitar, well just kick your friend off the drum kit and take over there for a while. Rock Band offers near-limitless possibilities for party-play. Personally, I'm a big fan of Mario Party and similar party games, but I have to admit that the idea of getting a group of people together and rocking out for hours probably appeals to me more than anything else about Rock Band. I'm still not sure if it's worth $170 to do so...but it might be!

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Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Video of the Week - Week 41

"Is There a Ghost" by Band of Horses, from the album Cease to Begin.

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Monday, October 15, 2007

The Most Serene Republic: "Population"

It seems like it wasn't too long ago when I stumbled up a little indie rock band from Canada called The Most Serene Republic. In reality, it was over 2 years ago when I first became acquainted with the band, just around the time that their debut album "Underwater Cinematographer" was released on the Arts & Crafts label. To this day, that album has not gotten the recognition that it truly deserves. It was one of 2005's best, and certainly most unappreciated albums. For the first band signed to the label that had absolutely no affiliation to Broken Social Scene, the band shared many similarities with the large and perhaps over-hyped "supergroup." As far as I'm concerned, however, The Most Serene Republic is, and has been for sometime, one of the most talented bands in indie rock today. "Population" only helps solidify this opinion.

If this is your first time hearing of The Most Serene Republic (which it very well could be), it should be noted that the band's approach to making music is very unique. Vocals, though well-performed, are often kept at or below the level of the instrumentation making them sound more like another instrument than the sole focus of the music. And the music itself is erratic as it gets, constantly evolving and erupting out of your speakers. This is largely how it was on their first album, though they take it to a whole other level here! Listening to The Most Serene Republic is a sonic experience, to be sure.

The album begins with "Humble Peasants," a 3 1/2 minute instrumental that really gets things going on the right track. The sounds of violins warming up open up the album nicely, before making way for marimbas, trumpets, scattered percussion, and of course more violins. Eventually, the song bursts with a groovy bass line and a more aggressive drum line (not to mention whistling that is very reminiscent of that tune from Kill Bill). "Compliance" is the first time that vocals really come into play, and they are absolutely everywhere! Male and female vocals trade off while lush harmonies, adding depth to an already bottomless song. "The Men Who Live Upstairs" calms things down a bit (at least for the first half of the song), with a cool acoustic guitar riff and more subdued and coherent vocals. The lyrics here are fairly impressive too ("Uncontrolled division of cells from the men who live upstairs, drowning us in saturation..."), and the song truly shines on the album.

The next song, "Present of Future End" may begin like your standard indie rock anthem, but true to form, the band deconstructs it into something much more chaotic and audibly challenging. The song literally has so many twists and turns that it's tough to keep track of it all. There's no defining verse-chorus structure to it, but it ultimately ends up being one of the most moving tracks on "Population" due to it's phenomenal instrumentation. "A Mix of Sun and Cloud" is another extended instrumental track, but this time the band jumps head first into an unrelenting, upbeat jazz sound; complete with solos from trumpet, piano, and even an organ. It's a beautiful song, and really showcases the musicianship of the band quite nicely.

"Battle Hymn of the Republic" lacks a truly affecting melody, but it features some great instrumentation and probably the most impressive drumming on the whole album. Despite this, the song is a clear low point on the album, but it's followed by what is arguably the strongest track on the album, "Why So Looking Back." The song features a contagious guitar line that is complemented perfectly by distant hand claps, not to mention a really stellar vocal performance ("Why so looking baaaaaaaack?"). The first time I listened to "Population" this song just stood out to me. After listening to it several times now, it's clear that that was not a fluke. "Sherry and Her Butterfly Net" continues the greatness with more perfect vocals, though it's instrumentation can be a bit dull at times.

From here, the album just gets stranger and stranger. "Agenbite of Inwit" sounds like the soundtrack to an animated Tim Burton film (think Corpse Bride) but never really comes off as more than anything but filler. Still, at least it's decent filler. "Solipsism Millionaires" is far from filler, however, and is probably the hardest that the band has ever "rocked." The drums and guitars are just ridiculous, and they even throw in a baritone saxophone for good measure (yes, they can rock too). That leads us to the strangest track on the album, "Multiplication Desks," a song that features so little instrumentation that you'll question whether you're listening to the same band. The entire first half of the song relies solely on a steady drum beat to keep everything moving along. As always though, the song erupts into an all-out noise fest before once again calming things towards the end. Similarly, the album's final track, "Neurasthenia" features everything from a bass-heavy electronic beat to a merry piano solo and sing song "la la las." It's a beautiful ending to an incredible, breathtaking album!

Did I lose you? I'm sorry. Basically the point that I was trying to make over the last few paragraphs is this: BUY THIS ALBUM! You will absolutely not regret it! I don't get my kicks from running around saying every band I listen to is one of indie rock's most-talented. So know that The Most Serene Republic is the real deal. They're definitely not for everybody, but for those willing to give the band an open mind, I think you'll come away pleasantly surprised. "Population" not only builds upon the band's sound from their previous works, but completely leaves it in the dust! It is a fun, unrelenting, chaotic, and amazing album that absolutely everyone should hear!

Recommended for fans of The Most Serene Republic, Broken Social Scene, and anyone willing to be wowed.

Key Tracks:
1. "Compliance"
2. "The Men Who Live Upstairs"
3. "Why So Looking Back"
4. "Career in Shaping Clay"
5. "Solipsism Millionaires"

8 out of 10 Stars

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Radiohead: "In Rainbows"

"Forget the hype. Forget the hoopla. Forget the format. Forget what you want it to sound like. Just listen to the music and decide for yourself." This is what I told myself when I downloaded Radiohead's "In Rainbows" in the early hours of October 10, 2007. I told myself this to avoid any disappointments that I may have incurred from having preconceived notions. It didn't work. After 4 years of waiting for a new Radiohead album (the longest stretch the band has ever had between albums), I was ready for something amazing. What Radiohead has delivered isn't exactly groundbreaking, but it is Radiohead, and it is good. For that, I can't help but be happy with my experience with "In Rainbows," even if I'm a bit disappointed that it's not as amazing as I would have hoped.

I don't consider myself to be a hardcore Radiohead fan and I say this only after meeting people who do. I'm more of a moderate fan, myself. I believe "Kid A" to be their best album and "Paranoid Android" is my favorite song ever written, but I don't go scouring the net every day looking for the latest Radiohead news and such. I think Dead Air Space is unnecessary and pretty lame for the most part and I can't understand why people actually read it. And I think that Radiohead is absolutely at their best when they are pushing musical boundaries and forcing us to rethink our notions about rock music; what it is and what it can be. That's the Radiohead that I enjoy listening to the most, but unfortunately that's not the Radiohead on "In Rainbows."

For what is probably the first time in their career (not counting "Amnesiac"), Radiohead shows very little progression from their most previous album, and are hardly expanding upon their sound. "15 Step" is probably the most progressive that the band sounds on the album, heavily featuring an unrelenting hip-hop beat and a ridiculous bass line that underscores Thom's vocals perfectly. The shouts of children can be heard occasionally in the background, and is a nice touch that most casual listeners will unfortunately miss. "Bodysnatchers" is another fantastic song, and it's probably the hardest that Radiohead has rocked since "The Bends." Thom's vocals are absolutely insane here, too, especially towards the track's end. It may very well be my favorite song on the album.

Both "All I Need" and "Faust Arp" hearken back to an earlier pre-Kid A Radiohead sound. While hearing Thom sing something as soft as "You are all I need, you are all I need" may be a bit jarring at first, by the time the song comes to a close he's totally redeemed himself. "Faust Arp" is even better. A largely acoustic song with crooning strings and Thom's subtle but excellent vocals, it serves as a sort of midway breather, if you will. However, dismissing it as such would be a terrible oversight. "Reckoner" features some excellent production (listen to it with a good pair of headphones) but is generally unaffecting and, dare I say, boring. The instrumentation is mostly stale throughout the song and Thom's melody is downright repetitive and easy. It's a definitely low point on the album.

"House of Cards" scores another point for the quality team though. It's infectious guitars are complemented beautifully by Thom's vocals and some truly excellent peripheral noise. It runs head on into "Jigsaw Falling Into Place," the album's first upbeat track in a while. It has an unavoidable groove to it, led largely by persistent drum and vocal lines. It's one of "In Rainbow's" more exciting tracks, not just because it is faster, but because the band really clicks on it. Again, the production value here is through the roof. "Videotape" ends the album beautifully, in classic Radiohead form. The song has been getting a lot of criticism from the hardcore fans because it sounds a bit different than it did when it debuted, but I've found it to be a worthy closer to the album. While the drums can get a bit distracting at times, everything else is virtually without flaw, and I couldn't be happier.

A lot of fuss has been made about how Radiohead has decided to release "In Rainbows." For what it's worth, I think they are geniuses for choosing to release the album online, not because I want the RIAA to burn (I do) or because I hate paying for music (I don't), but because "In Rainbows" is probably Radiohead's most accessible album since "Pablo Honey" and this may be the only way that a non-fan would be willing to give the band a listen. Despite it's lack of inventiveness, "In Rainbows" is still the best Radiohead album since "Kid A" and a marvelous example of what a talented band can do when given a little time and freedom. Though I may be disappointed at it's less than groundbreaking approach, I am more than happy with what I have been presented with. The fact that I didn't have to pay for it is just a bonus (I'll buy the hard copy when it's released in '08).

Recommended for fans of Radiohead and anyone who wants one of 2007's better albums for free (or more)!

Key Tracks:
1. "15 Step"
2. "Bodysnatchers"
3. "Faust Arp"
4. "House of Cards"
5. "Jigsaw Falling Into Place"

7 out of 10 Stars

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Friday, October 12, 2007

Top 5 Reasons to Buy Guitar Hero III Instead of Rock Band

Music is my thing. Clearly. But there are also several other things that I delight in; movies, camping trips, peanut butter M&Ms, comfortable chairs, my dog "Doggums," and video games. Whenever I get the chance, I like to merge more than one of these joys into one super joyous activity. In addition to eating peanut butter M&Ms on comfortable chairs, this also means that I am a huge fan of music video games. It is for this reason that I'm incredibly hyped for the 2007 holiday season, when both Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock and Rock Band (without a doubt the two most ambitious music rhythm games ever) will be released. Each game has their own strengths, style, and soundtrack, but both essentially cater to the same audience (the type of person who probably can't afford to buy both). So sit back and prepare to read what is probably the single-most important list you'll ever read (today). These are the Top 5 reasons to buy Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock instead of Rock Band.

#5: Muse - That's right folks. If you recall, a few months ago I had a list of songs that should be on Guitar Hero III. Now that most of the tracks have been announced, it's pretty clear that none of my suggestions were implemented. In fact, only one band that I suggested even made the cut. That band is Muse, and even though the song might have been different from what will actually be in the game ("Knights of Cydonia"...RAWK), the fact that I'll be able to pretend to be playing a Muse song on a fake guitar is still a dream come true! Better yet is the fact that "Knights of Cydonia" will be a master recording featuring the band's original performance and Matt's actual vocals. I'm giddy with excitement that doesn't translate easily into words. Aren't you?

#4: Minimal Hassle - Unlike Guitar Hero III, which releases on October 28th, if you want Rock Band you're going to have to brave the madness that is November 23rd. That's right! The game's official release date is BLACK FRIDAY! I don't know about you, but I don't even leave the house on Black Friday. What's the point? You can't go anywhere to do anything because every place is packed with bargain hunters and idiots galore! I want Rock Band as much as the next guy, but if it means that I'll have to wait outside my local Best Buy for 23 hours, then I'll gladly wait until after the holidays to pick it up.

#3: No Singing - In February, I stopped by Best Buy after work to pick up something for my father. I was surprised to find that when I walked in the door, I was not greeted by the douchey guy that usually does the greeting, but by the horrendous sound of 15 year old girls playing SingStar: Pop, a karaoke game for the PS2. There are definitely some games that shouldn't be on display at the store, this is one of them. Let's face it, some people just can't sing for crap. I'm friends with a few of them. The last thing I want to hear as I'm shredding on my fake guitar or playing on my fake drums is my friend standing next to me butchering Radiohead's "Creep." Singing video games have never been all that great, and unless Rock Band has implemented some auto-pitch function into their game, then I'm sad to say that this portion of the game might not be all that hot either.

#2: No 2nd Mortgage Needed - So far, the only price revealed for Rock Band is a bundle that costs $170. Who really wants to spend that much on a video game? Hell, you could buy a PS2 for half that price! Let's say you just want the game and a guitar, or the game and the drums; well, you'll have to wait until 2008 before all that is made available. For 2007, the only way to get your hands on Rock Band is to bend over and shell out the $170. No thank you! I'll take my $60 Guitar Hero II over that any day...especially Black Friday.

#1: More Songs - At the launch of the game, Rock Band will come with 45 different songs to rock out on. Guitar Hero III? Oh, just over 70, over half of which will be master recordings! You know, nothing special. Guitar Hero II had 74 tracks and you know what? I'm still playing it! So sure, I may be a little upset that I probably won't be playing Rock Band until 2008, but at least I'll have plenty of Guitar Hero III to keep be busy until then. Right? Right!

Don't fret, fans of Rock Band. Next week I'll list the Top 5 Reasons to Buy Rock Band Instead of Guitar Hero III. How could you miss that?

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Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Video of the Week - Week 40

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Monday, October 08, 2007

Band of Horses: "Cease to Begin"

I feel like a sham. Here I am, calling myself a fan of indie rock, and I'm just now hearing Band of Horses for the first time. All that stuff last year about their debut album "Everything All the Time" winning awards and finding its way on to Top 10 lists had absolutely no effect on me. Granted, I had heard of the band, but I never went out of my way to pick up a copy of their work. In the immortal words of Ron Burgundy, I immediately regret this decision. "Cease to Begin" has not only reminded me why I started listening to indie music in the first place, but it has single-handedly revitalized my passion for the genre.

The album begins with the beautiful "Is There a Ghost," in which Ben Bridwell repeats "I could sleep when I lived alone. Is there a ghost in my house?" for the entirety of the song. It never gets old though. The song begins softly, with Bridwell's mesmerizing vocals and a barely-there guitar before the rest of the band explodes onto the track. Chaotic drumming and the steady, rocking strum of electric guitars carry the song to it's unwanted conclusion. On "No One's Gonna Love You," Bridwell's vocals are equally as powerful as he belts out his poignant vocals with the utmost passion. The melody is infectious as well, especially by the time the bridge comes around. Here Bridwell sings, "They could have warned you when things start splitting at the seams. And now the whole thing's tumbling down," and you can't help but be captured by it. It is a finely crafted song, and one of the album's more memorable tracks.

"Detlef Schrempf" takes it's name from the former Seattle Supersonics player. But unlike the athlete's aggressive and intimidating style of play, the song is the first time that the band slows things down on the album (it clearly has nothing to do with Detlef, either). Bridwell's lyrics are again very poignant, and his delivery is flawless. "The General Specific" picks things back up with a bouncy composition, complete with hand claps and a sing-along melody. The song won't win any awards, but it's a fun song nonetheless. The same can be said for "Islands on the Coast," which marks the first time the band really lets loose on "Cease to Begin." The music here is absolutely intense, and Birdwell's vocals equally so, though it's difficult to decipher what he's saying most of the time.

"Marry Song" slows things back down and prominently features a Rhodes piano and harmonizing vocals. The song is very folksy, and the drums hardly even come into play here. Birdwell begins the song by singing, "I'll marry my lover in a place to admire...I can look in her eyes and thank God that I'm forgiven," and the rest of the song doesn't disappoint either. The album wraps up with the unadulterated rock of "Cigarettes, Wedding Bands" and the cool alt-country sound of "Windows Blues." The former's lyrics are among the album's best, while the latter ends "Cease to Begin" on a very positive note with the band sounding as cohesive as they ever do and Bridwell's vocals sounding just as beautiful.

After listening to "Cease to Begin" several times, I can safely say that Band of Horses are one of indie rock's more impressive and unceasingly pleasing bands. I may be late to the party, but at this point I'm just glad I decided to show up. "Cease to Begin" is a brilliant album, and definitely gets me excited to go back and hear the band's other works. Sure, it may seem a bit front-heavy, but by the time the final second ticks off the clock, you can't help but be pleased with what you have just experienced. If you have been waiting for 2007's rock album of the year, wait no more. It has arrived!

Recommended for fans of Band of Horses, Rogue Wave, The Shins and anyone who is also a bit late to the party.

Key Tracks:
1. "Is There A Ghost"
2. " Ode to LRC"
3. "No One's Gonna Love You"
4. "Detlef Schrempf"
5. "Cigarettes, Wedding Bands"

8 out of 10 Stars

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Sunday, October 07, 2007

10/5/07: Rilo Kiley - Houston, TX

Did I mention I saw The Flaming Lips Live about 2 weeks ago?

That sentence pretty much sums up my experience seeing Rilo Kiley live for the very first time. Granted, pre-2007 Rilo Kiley is one of my favorite bands, oh, ever, and they were really very talented live, but there was just something missing. Confetti, giant balloons, crazy spectacles, enormous hands; those sorts of things. It wasn't like I was expecting all of these things, but after seeing The Flaming Lips just 10 days earlier, Rilo Kiley just seemed boring!

But I'm getting ahead of myself. The evening started out with a very talented new band called Art in Manila. The band sounds like they very well could be the next Rilo Kiley, albeit a toned-down, less country version of Rilo Kiley. They are made up of a bunch of members from other indie rock bands that you may or may not have heard of (The Good Life, Azure Ray, etc.). They are fronted by former-Azure Ray member and all-around cutie patootie, Orenda Fink. Their music was very polished though, at times, very unaffecting. Still, they got me interested, and I fully intend on checking out their music in the near future.

After Art in Manila, I got kind of tired of being the tall douche who blocks everybody's view. Plus, about 16 or 17 thirteen year old girls rushed up to where I was standing, and I suddenly found my somewhat spacious area a little more cozy than I would have liked. I moved to the back of the venue.

The next band, Grand Ole Party, had a very cool sound. Made up of 3 members, the lead singer is also the drummer, and her vocals absolutely blew me away. Her voice sounds surprisingly like Aretha Franklin's. Likewise, the band's music was very soulful and funky with hints of blues thrown in occasionally. They had a very cool sound. Unfortunately, while the music the band produced was pretty cool, their performance was lacking. The guitarist and bassist had their feel planted the whole show, occasionally moving their upper body, but never really reacting to the music in a way that would seem appropriate. A lot of the bands' songs ended up bleeding into one another too, and it all started sounding a bit repetitive after a while. That being said, they still blew me away and I think they could have a bright future ahead of them. (Their debut album was produced by Blake Sennett of Rilo Kiley.)

But of course, I didn't drive 45 minutes to see Art in Manila and Grand Ole Party. I did it to see Rilo Kiley, a band with whom I was basically in love with until a little album called Under the Blacklight came out. Even though me and the band aren't really speaking anymore, I wanted to go and see them live. I've been wanting to for a while. And to be honest, they really didn't disappoint all that much.

The band played a total of 20 songs, 8 of which were from their latest album. To my surprise, a lot of the audience seemed to be fans of their recent stuff as well. I know I'm not the only long-standing Rilo Kiley fan to feel a little disappointed in their new stuff, so this leads me to believe that a lot of the people who came to see them are new fans of them. Good for them, right?

Anyways, Rilo Kiley is absolutely perfect live. Jenny Lewis' vocals are just as gorgeous as always when they need to be, and obnoxious when she wants it to be. I expected nothing less, and was not disappointed at all. Almost 3 years ago, I had the opportunity to see Blake Sennett and The Elected play live, so I already knew he would be fun to watch live. Boy, he sure does love playing that guitar of his!

I was also glad to see that Orenda Fink and Kristen Gundred (of Art in Manila and Grand Ole Party, respectively) were incorporated into Rilo Kiley's show. Orenda did backup vocals, guitars, synthesizers, and even played trumpet on "It's a Hit." Kristen was mainly restricted to backup vocals and congas, but it was still nice to see. It was also nice to see Blake sing "Ripchord" (ukulele and all) and finally get that song the attention it deserves. The band was kind enough to play 6 songs from The Execution of All Things and 5 from More Adventurous, though I was pretty disappointed to hear that the only song they played from Take Offs and Landings was "Wires and Waves" (you had Orenda on the trumpet, you should have played "Don't Deconstruct"...AHH!!).

But of course this wouldn't be much of a review if I didn't have anything negative to say about the band, and the night was not without it's share of questionable decisions. For example, why on earth would you play "15?" Or better yet, why would you sing it all sexy-like and try to get the crowd all into it by waving their hands (it is about statutory rape, right)? It just doesn't seem like the tried-and-true crowd pleaser that Jenny wanted it to be.

Another thing I noticed was that the band seemed to be noticeably more into their older stuff than the songs off of Under the Blacklight (with the exception of "Breakin' Up" which they all seemed pretty excited about). When they played songs like "Moneymaker," "Silver Lining," and "Dreamworld" they seemed distant, but when playing songs like "It's a Hit" or "Paint's Peeling," they were completely and undeniably into it. I wonder if I was the only one who noticed this. Also, did anyone else think Jenny looked like a frumpy home school girl in 80s workout attire? Anyone?

The band even took turns playing Jenny and Blake's side-projects' songs. They first played "Rise Up with Fists" from Jenny's solo debut, which was followed shortly by "Greetings in Braille" from The Elected's first album Me First. I'm a huge Elected fan though, and they totally butchered this song, in my opinion (seriously, my homemade cover of it was better...and it sucked).

Overall, though, Rilo Kiley was really great live and I'm glad I finally got the chance to see them! If you've ever been a fan of Rilo Kiley and you've never had the opportunity to check them out live, then I highly recommend you do so. Just be sure that you don't see The Flaming Lips 10 days earlier, because that will totally ruin your experience! Seriously, at one point in the show the drummer popped a giant, confetti-filled balloon and I thought "That's it?" That's how spoiled I am!

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Friday, October 05, 2007

Top 10 Indie Songs Under 2 Minutes: The Top 5

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 finish off what I started last week and present to you the Top 5 Indie Songs Under 2 Minutes!

#5: Headlights - "Lions" - Headlights' debut LP was such a surprise to me when it hit last year. The album was packed with amazing indie rock gems and it was hard not to fall in love with. This sub-2 minute song was one of my favorites on the whole album and served as a mid-album pick me up. Utilizing a lush harmonies and a driving, poppy guitar riff, the song managed to be instantly captivating. It's only downside is that it's under two minutes long! When it's over all you want to do is have it keep going. It leaves a lasting taste in your mouth. Because of that, you have to ask yourself "Would I still like the song if it were 5 minutes long?" Hmm...

#4: St. Vincent - "We Put a Pearl in the Ground" - Have I mentioned that I'm totally in love with Annie Clark? Well, her music at least. This short little piano solo might not be as dramatic or grandiose as the rest of St. Vincent's debut album, Marry Me, but it stood out to me as one of the most beautiful tracks. It's short, sweet, well composed, and the perfect thing to counter the upbeat enthusiasm of "The Apocalypse Song" which prcedes it. Sometimes you just need a song to cool you down, to relax you. For me, this song is the best song under 2 minutes to do the trick! Buy the album! It's great.

#3: Sufjan Stevens - "Adlai Stevenson" - I know what you're thinking. "Cale, your blog kinda sucks. I don't even know why I'm reading this!" You may also be thinking that "Adlai Stevenson" is not a sub-2 minute song at all. And you'd be correct...sort of. You see, before Sufjan ever released The Avalanche, the song was featured on a compilation CD titled The Sound the Hare Heard. This version of the song is under two minutes, and I'll be darned if I don't like it better. Unlike the other version of the song that features full instrumentation from brass and woodwind instruments, this version is a soft, subdued acoustic song, sung ever-so-gently by Mr. Stevens himself. It's a terrific song, and pretty much the only reason you'd even bother listening to the compilation (sorry Laura Veirs).

#2: Of Montreal - "Sink the Seine" - I'm still not entirely sure why this is one of my favorite songs on Of Montreal's latest album, Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer? Maybe because it's the one time on the album where Of Montreal hints at what they used to sound like before they started making primarily electronic-based songs. Don't get me wrong, I love the new Of Montreal sound, but it's nice to have a little nostalgia every now and then. It's light, poppy, retro sound is perfect and clearly demonstrates that even though Of Montreal may have strayed from their roots, Kevin Barnes is still more than capable of recapturing the good ol' sounds of Cherry Peel or The Gay Parade. Besides that, it's just flat out awesome. If you don't like it...well, as Taylor from Kid Nation would say, "Deal with it!"

#1: Cursive - "Some Red Handed Sleight of Hand" - Wow. Never has so much angst, passion, and testosterone been packed into a song under two minutes. Well, maybe some crappy song by The Locust, but beyond that I can't think of a thing. The first post-intro track on Cursive's modern rock masterpiece, The Ugly Organ, this song is brutally awesome. Tim Kasher's voice has never sounded better, and the lyrics are downright amazing. You'd think that for my #1 song that I'd have more to say about it, but I don't. It's freaking great! What else is there to say?

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Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Anyone Want to See Rilo Kiley This Friday?

Rilo Kiley will be performing LIVE this Friday, October 5th in Houston, TX at Warehouse Live. I have one ticket for sale.

That's for the people who may be Googling "Rilo Kiley Tickets, Houston." Here's the deal.

I bought two tickets to go see Rilo Kiley this Friday, but it turns out I only need one. So I'm stuck with an extra ticket and no one to give it to. All of my Rilo Kiley-lovin' posse already have their own tickets.

If you live in the Houston area and would like one ticket to this SOLD OUT show, shoot me an e-mail at I will sell it to you for $15 ($3 off + more if you count convenience charges), and give it to you at Warehouse Live prior to the show on Friday night. I'm an honest guy and everything so don't worry about me screwing you over. I just don't want this ticket to go to waste.

If you're interested, send me an e-mail and I'll respond to it within a couple of hours. I'll give you my cell phone number so you can contact me on Friday, and all that good stuff. First come first serve. The first person to send an e-mail saying that they want the ticket will get it.

That is all. See you Friday!


More google search terms: rilo kiley tickets for sale, houston warehouse live, super unison rilo kiley, rilo kiley warehouse live tickets, discount tickets houston, lizards.

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Video of the Week - Week 39

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Tuesday, October 02, 2007

The Pipettes: "We Are the Pipettes"

Unless you've been living under a rock for the last year, you've heard of The Pipettes. In case you haven't though, I'll catch you up. The Pipettes are a neo-girl pop group made up of three British vixens that wear matching polka-dot outfits. They are backed by an all-male band known as The Cassettes and their music has a very heavy 1950s pop feel to it despite lyrics that are made more for a 2007 audience. There's been a lot of hype around this group since their debut album released over a year ago. It's just now making it's way to the US with two bonus tracks, and for those who imported it, it's probably not worth a purchase. For everyone else though, The Pipettes is a band you should know and one worth listening to.

If the whole concept of The Pipettes seems kind of silly and, dare I say, gimmicky, that's because it kind of is. But despite that, the music here is still excellent and fairly infectious. All of the songs have a very sing-along feel to them and it's hard not to fall in love with it. The opening track, "We Are the Pipettes" finds RiotBecky, Gwenno, and Rosay (yes, those are stage names) introducing themselves to the world, declaring "We are The Pipettes and we've got no regrets. If you haven't noticed yet, we're the prettiest girls you've ever met!" This sort of humor is the thread that ties the whole album together. For example, in "Your Kisses are Wasted on Me" the girls take the tried-and-true "boy, I'm too good for you" song and make it worth listening to with a line like "Boy get out of my face! Boy I'm going back there to chase some other guy that I might like." The chorus to the song is downright heartless, but at the same time, pretty humorous.

"ABC," tells the story of a bookworm who's too busy studying that he forgets about romance. The Pipettes sing "He knows about ABC, 123, XYZ, but he don't know about XTC." Get it? Of course you do! "Pull Shapes" is my absolute favorite track on the album and has been since last year's debut. The song is a shameless dance track, complete with skittering violin arpeggios (think 1970s disco music) and the order to "clap your hands if you want some more!" Oh, I do, I really do.

If "Dirty Mind" sounds familiar to you, you might have heard it in an episode of Grey's Anatomy, or you might have heard it in your dreams. Chances are, it was in both. It's a great song, and one of the album's best! "A Winter's Sky" tones down the girl-power for a few minutes and gives us the album's first ballad. The girls harmonize beautifully here, but it's clear that the strength of this group comes more from the upbeat pop songs than songs like this. Still, a semi-ballad like "Tell Me What You Want" works pretty well, and leaves some hope for variety on future Pipettes albums. As for this album's two bonus tracks, they're not really worth a lot of fuss, so if you picked up the UK release of "We Are the Pipettes," don't worry about re-buying.

So sure, The Pipettes are kind of a gimmick, but unlike most gimmicks this group is really talented. RiotBecky, Gwenno, and Rosay have absolutely beautiful voices and they harmonize well together. The Cassettes don't get a lot of attention (they stand behind three women in coordinating outfits, remember?), but their ability to recreate the sounds of 1950s pop-music is unparalleled these days. I'm not entirely convinced that The Pipettes current style of pop music wouldn't wear thin on me by the time a second album rolls around. Gwenno is currently working on a solo album and early tracks hint at an electro-pop album, much like The Postal Service. It might be cool to hear the whole group do something similar and take the Pipettes in an entirely different direction. But for the time being "We Are the Pipettes" is awesome and I couldn't be happier!

Recommended for fans of Camera Obscura and anyone who wanted the 1950s to be a little raunchier.

Key Tracks:
1. "We are the Pipettes"
2. "Pull Shapes"
3. "Dirty Mind"
4. "Your Kisses are Wasted on Me"
5. "Tell Me What You Want"

7 out of 10 Stars

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Monday, October 01, 2007

Radiohead to release new album in...10 DAYS!!?!?!

You've read that right. Radiohead has named their new album "In Rainbows" and it will be available to download on October 10, 2007! The best part? They're releasing it themselves, no record label! And guess what they're charging for it? You decide! That's right, if you want to pay $.05 for the new Radiohead album, you can! If you want to pay $17 million for the new Radiohead album, you can do that too!

Continue on to Pitchfork for the whole story.

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