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[07 Feb 2005|05:32pm]

the Deftones
Self titled
[Maverick, 2003]
Rating: 78
Pardon the poor wording, I'm not much of a writer...Collapse )
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become the TRAGEDY!!! rev.1/18/2013 [18 Oct 2004|02:00pm]

i am compiling a list of music related e-zines with a focus on music reviews. now i am as guilty as anyone about not finding the time to contribute anything original to these pages but perhaps seeing what other things are being written may serve as inspiration to someone...anyone?



Lost At Sea
Aural Innovations
crud magazine
Leonards Lair
eclectic honey
only angels have wings
Just Add Noise
Tiny Mix Tapes


feel free to post additional sites we can add to the list. ones with a PULSE!
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NEW MUSIC RELEASES [27 Jul 2004|02:48pm]

JULY 27:
Badly Drawn Boy - One Plus One Is One (Astralwerks)
Caviar - The Thin Mercury Sound (Aezra)
Comets on Fire - Blue Cathedral (Sub Pop)
AJ Croce - Adrian James Croce (Eleven Thirty)
Tanya Donelly - Whiskey Tango Ghosts (4AD)
Trevor Dunn's Trio Convulsant - Sister Phantom Owl Fish (Ipecac)
Freddy Fender - Close to My Heart (Varese Sarabande)
Tony Furtado - These Chains (Funzalo)
Kings of Convenience - Riot on an Empty Street (Astralwerks)
Kittie - Until the End (Artemis)
KMFDM - WWIII Live 2003 (Sanctuary)
k.d. Lang - Hymns of the 49th Parallel (Nonesuch)
The Meat Purveyors - Pain by Numbers (Bloodshot)
M83 - Dead Cities, Red Seas and Lost Ghosts (Mute)
Joni Mitchell - The Beginning of Survival (Geffen)
Mofro - Lochloosa (Dare)
The Notorious Cherry Bombs - The Notorious Cherry Bombs (Universal South)
Old 97's - Drag It Up (New West)
Pearl Jam - Benaroya Hall: Oct. 22, 2003 (Ten Club)
Phoenix - Alphabetical (Astralwerks)
Sahara Hotnights - Kiss & Tell (RMG)
Scissor Sisters - Scissor Sisters (Universal)
Shifty - Happy * Love * Sick (Maverick)
Paul Simon - various remastered re-issues (Warner Brothers)
Tommy Stinson - Village Gorilla Head (Sanctuary)
Taking Back Sunday - Where You Want to Be (Victory)
Terror Squad - True Story (Universal)
Martina Topley-Bird - Anything (Palm)
Various Artists - ACL Festival 2003 Collection (New West)
Various Artists - Por Vida: A Tribute to Alejandro Escovedo (Or)
X - The Best: Make the Music Go Bang (Elektra/Rhino)
Dwight Yoakam - The Very Best of (Reprise/Rhino)
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blurbs [01 Jun 2004|04:41am]

also, i have decided to unmoderate this community to keep these pages more vital. in other words, please post about the music you are listening to. here is a good example of the type of blurb from my own live journal that i am hoping you might be inclined to share with the group. it may be short on content but its a communication and perhaps a facilitator of dialouge, ideas, and opinions.

so blurb away. just don't be irritating.
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New Feature [01 Jun 2004|03:24am]

monthly listing of upcoming releases* you may or may not want to check out. as for writing about them, who knows? impress us. maybe even try a quickies! format. i dare you.

music and dates
Auf Der Mar - Auf Der Mar (Capitol)
Hawthorne Heights - The Silence in Black and White (Victory)
Eleni Mandell - Afternoon (Zedtone)
Dexter Romweber - Blues that Defy My Soul (Yep Roc)
Two Lone Swordsmen - From the Double Gone Chapel (Warp)
Various Artists - The Grass Is Always Bluer (Nettwerk America)

June 8th
Bad Religion - The Empire Strikes First (Epitaph)
J.J. Cale - To Tulsa and Back (Sanctuary)
The Calling - Two (RCA)
The Corrs - Borrowed Heaven (Atlantic)
Cowboy Junkies - One Soul Now (Rounder)
Jay Farrar - Stone, Steel & Bright Lights (Artemis)
Fastball - Keep Your Wig On (Rykodisc)
Ruthie Foster - Stages (Blue Corn)
Bebel Gilberto - Bebel Gilberto (Six Degrees)
PJ Harvey - Uh Huh Her (Island)
Warren Haynes - Live at Bonnaroo (ATO)
Helio Sequence - Love and Distance (Sub Pop)
Etta James - Blues to the Bone (RCA)
Longwave - Life of the Party EP (RCA)
Macha - Forget Tomorrow (Jetset)
Katie Melua - Call off the Search (Universal)
Youssou N'Dour - Egypt (Nonesuch)
Gene Simmons - Asshole (Sanctuary)
Sonic Youth - Sonic Nurse (Geffen)
Jesse Sykes and the Sweet Hereafter - Oh, My Girl (Barsuk)
311 - Greatest Hits '93-'03 (Volcano)
Velvet Revolver - Contraband (RCA)
Jim White - Drill a Hole in the Substrate... (Luaka Bop)
X-ecutioners - Revolutions (Columbia)
Various - 2004 Warped Tour Compilation (Side One Dummy)
Rachael Yamagata - Happenstance (RCA)

June 15th
Beastie Boys - To the 5 Boroughs (Capitol)
David Bowie - Diamond Dogs 20th Anniversary (Virgin)
Lila Downs - One Blood (Narada)
Johhny Winter - I'm a Bluesman (Virgin)

June 22nd
Judy Collins - The Essential (Wildflower)
Lit - Lit (DRT)

June 29th
Goodie Mob - One Monkey Don't Stop No Show (Koch)
Jesse Malin - The Heat (Artemis)
2Pac - 2Pac Live (Koch)
Dwight Yoakam - Dwight's Used Records (Koch)

please bear in mind this list could hardly be considered complete. feel free to reply here to add releases you may feel are of interest to the group or to provide an additional and/or better resource for these purposes.

*courtesy of waterloo records
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The Go- The Go [17 Mar 2004|09:31pm]

[ mood | grumpy ]

The Go- The Go (Lizard King, 2003)

“Now y’see,” he said as his gnarled fingers struggled to fit the bait, “this is the type of hook you use if you want to catch a pop lover.”
“This one, and you can hear it shinin’ in the light if y’cock your ear, is the same glam-soul hook that T. Rex used when they were catchin’ ‘Slider.’ Right here on ‘Ain’t That Bad.’ And this one over here is the same janglin’ that The Faces used back when Rod Stewart still made music people listened to.”
“But,” I said, “what about authenticity? If these hooks have been used so many times before, will they even still work? Pop and rock lovers are more jaded these days.”
He gave me a look that woulda stopped a carp from suckin’. “Boy,” he said, “who gave you these damn fool ideas of authenticity in the first place? T. Rex, The Faces, they were just recyclin’ hooks that they found in the great American woods and dressin’ ‘em with different bait. Authenticity in rock and roll is only something that hipsters bring up when they’ve been told something isn’t cool and don’t know why.”
“Anyway,” I said, “I heard that Jack White used to be in The Go, but he quit. That kinda makes them cool.”
“Boy, you ain’t listenin’ to the music, are you?” He stared at me like he’d caught me lickin’ my armpit. “It’s melodies,” he said, “that make this so compelling. The Kaiser hisself could be playin’ rhythm, and “Come Back” would still get the pretty girls with grinnin’ eyes up a-dancin’.”
He was right, and I can’t stop thinking how right he was.
As soon as “The Go” trawls past my ears, it’s a got a tug on me and I don’t want to break the line.

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John Frusciante - Shadows Collide With People [10 Mar 2004|11:12pm]

[ mood | tired ]

John Frusciante
Shadows Collide With People
[Warner; 2004]
Rating: 89

okay, so it's 660 words...Collapse )

by the way, this is my first post. i get paid to promote these, so i'm just recycling by putting it here. hence it has that sort of newspaper review feel to it, kind of.

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tv on the radio - desperate youth, blood thirsty babes [08 Mar 2004|09:11pm]

TV on the Radio - Desperate Youth, Blood Thirsty Babes
[Touch & Go; 2004]
Rating: 69

title or description

The last time I heard this much hype, people were camping overnight to see Star Wars: Episode 1. And if you think I’m about to rant on how hype kills, you’re right. Granted, hype doesn’t come from nowhere. TV on the Radio earned it fair and square. Young Liars EP was, quite simply, amazing. Not only was it glaringly original, it was created with the skill, precision, and poise of seniority. Heck, they even trumped a Pixies cover.

I can’t tell you how many times I have read in the past few months about how people just can’t wait for the debut TV on the Radio album. TV on the Radio this, and TV on the Radio that. Oh please. There’s some unwritten rule of mindset among us so daring indie-goers to inexplicably love what is unknown and seemingly unpopular. And for some related reason, with all of this TV talk, I don’t want to have anything to do with them at all. Deep down inside, I expected the TV on the Radio debut to be a flop, or at least secretly hoped it would. Never mind with all of my bias, the point is, hype kills.

Exponentially, higher expectations equal higher disappointment. And since I have little expectations, as I want the album to crash horribly into oblivion, it only makes sense for me to review it. Either way, I’m not going to be disappointed…I think.

After the first four tracks of Desperate Youth, Blood Thirsty Babes, I had almost decided to take back my hype kills cliché. “The Wrong Way,” a horn driven jazzy snap-along, opens the album the right way. TV on the Radio are back in full swing, reminding me why everyone liked Young Liars so much in the first place. A grungy rumble similar to Liars’ “Satellite” is the pulsing backbone, rampant horns scream jazz, and the vocal melodies are just as catchy as the bleepy horn melody. And then, “Staring at the Sun,” my favorite from Young Liars, sees its triumphant return. “Dreams” hyper-drives through a neon lit underground street tunnel; bass beats consistently driving. This track is actually the first sign of change; the obtrusive production is missing here, with the vocals taking center stage. And they are even more compelling than before. When the line “all your dreams are over now” is repeated midway through, as the humming background suddenly changes forcefully, I get chills down my back. It’s that good.

But then “Ambulance” hit. And it is, quite possibly, one of the most annoying songs I have heard. Ever. The relentless attack of ‘dum dum dum’s has driven me insane too many times. It’s almost comparable to “Mr. Grieves” in style, but as opposed to being brilliant a cappella, it’s pure crap. A slightly redeeming melodic vocal line is destroyed by the seeming backbone of dum’s. “Poppy” shows a slight glimmer of hope, but “Don’t Love You” falls into mediocrity with it’s boring, almost chorus-less, pace that fails to grab any attention at all. The rest of the album continues in this boring, mediocre fashion.

When band member and producer Sitek said, “…it is a more vulnerable sound,” he was right. Moments that could have been blinding were dull and tarnished. With all the potential that Young Liars showed, Desperate Youth, Blood Thirsty Babes is a disappointment. Even to me. But even with all the mediocrity swimming around, it still encapsulates the originality and charisma of the EP, just in a slightly less motivating manner. Either that or I could just be sabotaging TV on the Radio, for some unsubstantiated distaste. Point is: fans of the EP are going to be both entertained and disappointed.
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espers - espers [24 Feb 2004|09:22pm]

Espers - Espers
[Locust; 2004]
Rating: 82

Just about the time I had completely warmed up to Cyann & Ben’s Spring, I got a hold of Espers. Not only the tone of both records, but the simple coincidence of it was really eerie.

If you’ve yet to hear Spring, I highly suggest it. But what took me an entire month and about five separate times to realize as a magnificent piece of music, took me about thirty seconds to realize with Espers’ self titled debut. They instantly clicked into one, both containing the same distinctive aura of mystery. Oh, they’re different enough, but the literary ‘tone’ is a photocopy. Both revel in this dense, dark, outer space atmosphere, while still using minimal, psych-folk arrangements. The slow, climatic journeys of Spring took too long for me to register, but with Espers’ more straightforward presentation, I was instantly hooked. Espers is completely accessible, where Spring took hours of dissection.

As opposed to the dark confines of outer space, Espers paint a world permanently frozen in twilight. And the image so perfectly introduced on the cover art is felt throughout “Flowery Noontide”, and the whole album at that. The slowly growing and sprawling vines twisting and curling amongst themselves tangle into a beautiful brush. Completely percussion-less, twanging guitars and powerful synth propel each song. Strange enough, not only does Espers make use of both male and female vocals, both bands are members of Locust Records. The combination of folk melancholy and sonic tones with the vocal harmonies creates their distinct style and voice.

Even better, “Riding” is lyrical genius. “We’ve been finding in sight/what we knew to be right/since the day we were born,” and then later, “we’ll describe and dissect/every secret effect/that you made behind doors.” Those lyrics just put me in awe. Then the albums only climax, “Byss & Abyss”’s beautiful flute and haunting vocals signal the formation of dark clouds slowly building in the sky. And when harsh sonic waves weigh the melody down, and the low whistle of wind pushes in, the song slowly and shapelessly warps into a new melody of curiosity. The following track “Daughter” feels the most like a folk song, smiling with every violin and vocal rise.

What’s so stunning is that somehow, Espers creates some supernatural atmosphere that is mystifyingly calming and eerily uneasy in equal proportions.

[eh, sorry about not italicizing the album titles, i am way too lazy tonight]
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stereolab - margerine eclipse [02 Feb 2004|06:13pm]

Margerine Eclipse
[Elektra; 2004]
Rating: 71

margerine eclipse

I was afraid. Truly. The unexpected death of vocalist/guitarist Mary Hansen not only worried me for the sheer lack of a third voice, but also for a possible depress stricken Stereolab. I had even gotten to a point where I was afraid Stereolab would break apart after the death. But, perhaps I was making too much of the ordeal. The candidly titled Margerine Eclipse quickly abolished all of my fears.

Still, the album sounded precisely as I expected.Collapse )
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Bonny BIlly and Marquis De Tren - Get the Fuck on Jolly Live [27 Jan 2004|11:33am]


lj-cut due to rabling and excessive x-posting on my part

My Will Oldham worship is severe but not terminal......Collapse )
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obligitatory top ten music list of the year [31 Dec 2003|12:01pm]

and in true music nerd fashion it won't necessarily consist of albums that came out this year, but stuff that I discovered tis year. Overall it has been a lopey folk-infused year for me, puctuated by the new OutKast album (not listed here because I haven't yet made it throughh the whole thing, though it is the most revolutionary thing I've heard in ages. Please let Andre3000 dominate pop music like Prince did back in the first "1999", and deliver us all from evil.)

Songs:Ohia - Magnolia Electric Co. - reviewCollapse )

My Morning Jacket - It Still Moves - reviewCollapse )

T. Rex - A Beard of Stars - reviewCollapse )

Devendra Banhart - Oh Me Oh My - reviewCollapse )

Neil Young - On The Beach - reviewCollapse )

Ramsay Midwood - Shootout at the OK Chinese restuarant - reviewCollapse )

Bonny Prince Billy - Master and Everyone - reviewCollapse )

the Be Good Tanyas - Chinatown - reviewCollapse )

Gillian Welch - Sould Journey - I reviewed it pretty recently here

Angels of Light - How I loved you - reviewCollapse )
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Top 10 of 2003 [27 Dec 2003|12:24pm]

[ mood | accomplished ]

10. Radiohead - Hail to the Thief
Although Radiohead doesn’t live up to their past albums, this is still a great album. Excellent tracks like “2+2=5” and “There,There” could challenge any of Radiohead’s previous ones for supremacy.

9. Pretty Girls Make Graves - The New Romance
I didn’t think you could fit that many guitar lines in album along with cohesive electronics. But PGMG do, and they will leave you blown away after hearing this. After a listen I was surely left with “Something Bigger, Something Brighter.”

8. The Exploding Hearts - Guitar Romantic
With a lead singer who changes voices and has intriguing lyrics, and an up-beat tempo the whole album, The Exploding Hearts have the best pop/rock album of the year. Fans are still horror-struck to the fatal bus crash that killed 3 members, but their music lives on.

7. Four Tet - Rounds
Four Tet creates some of the greatest free-form jazz songs, with no patterns in the rhythms. The whole album is developed through the drum, with Four Tet using every instrument possible to produce a euphonious sound that leaves your ears ringing.

6. Prefuse 73 - One Word Extinguisher
Scott Herren throws down an incredible multitude of glitch-hop beats, with the album as a whole fitting perfectly together. The randomness and uniqueness of each song is what binds the album together, and its sophistication is what makes it incredible.

5. TV on the Radio - Young Liars EP
Undoubtedly one of the most promising debuts of the year, they have put together an album with all the elements, lyrically and instrumentally, including the electronic beats. This EP only leaves us waiting for more of their harmonic singing and rhythmic beats in their upcoming full length album.

4. The Postal Service - Give Up
First of all, the combination of Gibbard and Tamborello is a dream team, Gibbard with his amazing vocals, and Tamborello with his incredible beats. With the consistency of both of them, they are able to produce a collaboration based around each other’s strengths. The album is lacking a bit because of drawn out lyrics and beats, but overcomes with many fulfilling moments.

3. Single Frame - Wetheads Come Running
This is one of the few albums that I’ve heard in a while, where all of the instruments come together, each serving its own role. Apart from its intros, which I find serve a purpose, their up-beat songs and catchy lyrics get stuck in your head only calling for another listen.

2. The Rapture - Echoes
After hearing 30 seconds of this album you will want to get up and start to dance. Brilliant electronic beats and guitar hooks come together to form this incredible electro-funk album that will leave you dazzled and amazed.

1. The Wrens - Meadowlands
Through their two years of work on this album, The Wrens have unquestionably put together a well made album. Every song plays its role, incorporating the marvelous lyrics, memorable guitar lines, and electrifying drum beats, which all blend in perfectly to form an entirely enjoyable experience for the listener. With no bad songs on the album, this is the perfect comeback that will leave you fascinated and blown away.

Note: I understand that there are many other good albums this year, and I welcome feedback.

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[22 Dec 2003|06:08am]

[ mood | awake ]

Rocket From The Crypt
Group Sounds
[Vagrant; 2001]

Rating: 90

Like the vicious cobra adorning its cover, Group Sounds’ venomous energy doesn’t let up for a nanosecond. Clocking in at a respectable 35 minutes, Rocket From The Crypt’s first for notoriously bubblegum punk/emo label Vagrant (and fifth overall) marks a return to the sextet’s time-honored ‘60s garage/’50s R&B/90’s punk revival hybrid.

If songs like "Carne Voodoo" and “Out Of Control” don’t make you want to get out of your chair and do the swim then you just might want to check your pulse. While songs like “Venom Venom,” with its mariachi/snake-charmer ambiance and catchy refrain confirm John Reis (who’s been kept plenty busy with side projects like the Sultans and Hot Snakes) and co.’s status as purveyors of raw, raucous, balls-out rock n’ roll with hooks to boot.

Wound tighter than a piccolo snare and crackling with all the wattage of a power station on the verge of a meltdown, RFTC has still got all the right touches to get all but the most hardened of music fans’ feet a-tappin’. Highly recommended.

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Top Ten Albums 2003 [18 Dec 2003|11:42pm]

To coincide with everyone else's year end lists, I couldn't help but compile my own. Nominees for space on this crowning were many, and narrowing it down to just ten was difficult, but I hope you enjoy the final result. Thanks.

The Top Ten Albums of 2003

10: Prefuse 73 – One Word Extinguisher

Glitch-hop is hip-hop for those indie snobs that refuse to recognize it as a productive genre, and Prefuse 73 has created the best for the year. Freely spastic, yet danceably understandable, One Word Extinguisher rolls through its 23 tracks with hip-hop mentality and ease. With each consecutive listen of the album the sophistication of the technical layers slowly unravels, revealing an album that is as playful as it is complex.

9: Ellen Allien - Berlinette

plain egg
This is your brain.

wild egg
This is your brain on Berlinette.

8: M83 – Dead Cities, Red Seas & Lost Ghosts

If I were going to make music, this is how it would sound. A journey of epic proportions smashed into one album, full with a spectrum of emotion and imagination. I’d make the most electronically cheesy sounds propel the most moving moments, and somehow it would all feel so organic and natural. But M83 beat me to it. And they pulled it off with awe inspiring poise.

7: Viktor Vaughn – Vaudeville Villain

Viktor Vaughn is the villain of this story, or at least that’s the way he would have it. Throwing down some of the most inventive hip-hop beats, he quickly distinguished himself as one of the best new acts the genre has to offer. His lyrics quickly align with the beats, finding themselves unbelievably strong. Quite simply, great hip-hop.

6: Ms. John Soda – No P. or D.

Notwist has become some sort of “supergroup,” but in reverse order. The band had already formed when its members began pumping out class-A side projects like Lali Puna, Tied & Tickled Trio, and Ms. John Soda. The Notwist influences are completely evident in Ms. John Soda’s debut, No P. or D., and I certainly don’t mind. Their sterile lap-pop stylings, are both soothing and rejuvenating to the spirit. In fact, I’ve woken up to this album every morning for the past five months. And if that doesn’t mean something, then I don’t know what does.

5: Single Frame – Wetheads Come Running

The compatibility of the wide spectrum of sounds incorporated into this album makes no sense at all. Indeed, this album sounds like the type of futuristic punk music that artificial intelligence will create once they rule the world. Wetheads Come Running has spazz-rock at it’s core, but the hyper electric sounds of keyboards make it sound completely new and altogether strange. Somehow the guitars don’t sound like guitars anymore, and somehow, the random bursts of noise make sense. But when the swirling collage of notes aligns correctly, incredibly powerful songs prove to be the glory of this album. I simply can’t wait for their next release.

4: Four Tet – Rounds

Early this year, I was desperately searching for a new electronic album. Something to get me away from all that Boards of Canada, Aphex Twin, and Mum. And this is the album that I found. With looping drums, restrained glitch, and those strummed strings, Four Tet has created his own unique sound, that feels like hip-hop at its heart. So, Rounds became my new best friend of the electronica world. Quite simply, this album is a treat filled with all your favorite toppings [well, at least mine].

3: The Wrens – The Meadowlands

Who would’ve thought? These old guys still know how to make good music. Fair enough, I’d never listened to Secaucus before this, by why should that matter? The fact is, this album is overflowing with soulful wailing and mellifluous melodies. Emotional battles are fought and won, and The Wrens take us every step of the way. The story of its development is The Meadowlands most intriguing aspect, but the music is most definitely what deserves the most attention. It’s just so damn good.

2: The Rapture – Echoes

I refused to listen to this album for the longest time. Perhaps it was some preconceived hatred of the words ‘dance’ and ‘punk’ next to each other, or the fear that I might enjoy it. But soon, curiosity gave in, and I…wait. What’s this? I. Just. Can’t. Resist. Dancing. To say the album is ‘moving’ is some strange misinterpretation; it’s a force no one can refuse. Who would have thought that I, of all people, would freely dance to music…even when I’m alone. Well I have…too many times to count. And repeated arguments with my friends over what tracks are the best only verifies the albums solidity. Echoes doesn’t have a concept, all it has in mind is getting you off your ass.

1: Broken Social Scene – You Forgot it in the People

The only thing more amazing than the story of Broken Social Scene’s fifteen members, and their post-rock/experimental/art origins, is how they managed to blend mind-blowing pop sensibilities and ultra rock hooks with the spacious reverberation of experimental noise to form music that feels not only extremely new but also classic. You Forgot it in the People homes in on your brainwaves and instantly imbeds itself in your cheek, reeling you into a blissful grasp that will never let go. With tracks like “Almost Crimes” and “Cause = Time”, among others, the album is entrancing and floating with the superb pop that your soul desires, whether you’d admit it or not.

Runner-ups include:
TV on the Radio – Young Liars EP
Johann Johannson – Englaborn
Fruit Bats – Mouthfuls
Manitoba – Up in Flames
Clearlake – Cedars
Postal Service – Give Up

The following are supposedly “good” albums that I don’t think are:
Radiohead – Hail to the Thief
Grandaddy – Sumday
Blur – Think Tank
Constantines – Shine a Light
Supersilent – 6
Blood Brothers – Burn, Piano Island, Burn

I realize that there are many albums I have not even listened to that were released this year, the new Belle and Sebastian and Yo La Tengo albums to name a few, and the fact that so many albums have gone unconsidered for this list disturbs me. I strongly encourage comments for other albums of this year you have come to love or hate, and challenge everyone to argue or commend any of my above choices. All comments are appreciated and seeing other people’s lists of the year would certainly thrill me.

-Andrew Wexler, Thursday, December 18, 2003

[note: I realize some of the aforementioned albums were not released in 2003, but because of their late 2002 release, I have considered them in this list.]
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R.E.M.- AUTOMATIC FOR THE PEOPLE [06 Dec 2003|01:33am]

[ mood | tired ]

Automatic For The People
[Warner Bros.; 1992]

When writing a review for an album that holds such a considerable place for you personally, it’s difficult not to simply shower the record with unmitigated accolades and praise and let the chips fall where they may. At the same time, it’s a bit tricky to look at an album that has contributed so much to your own experience objectively. So, with that in mind, I’m eschewing sleep and work to write a review of one of my top five favorite albums of all time. Why? I suppose I could give you a million reasons on how Automatic For The People got me (and half of America) through some of adolescence’s tougher times, or on how Automatic For The People influenced my own contributions to the music world, or on how Automatic For The People affirmed R.E.M.’s status as a songwriting force to truly be reckoned with as opposed to a bunch of rambunctious college students from the South with a penchant for jangly, introspective tunes. But, I guess the real reason is that I feel it just needs to be done.

Automatic For The People is inarguably the zenith of R.E.M.’s two decade-long career. There is absolutely nothing the group could have possibly done to make this album even more of a masterpiece than it already is. The twelve tracks that comprise Automatic For The People are the most realized of R.E.M.’s oeuvre, dealing with the more morbid aspects of the life cycle in an exceptionally haunting and beautiful way. The songs on Automatic For The People, while permeated with an air of malaise, aren’t at all desolate- each track is tempered with a genuine sense of hope and optimism, particularly on the AOR staple and anthem for all suicide hotline case workers, "Everybody Hurts." While songs like "Try Not to Breathe," and "Sweetness Follows" share a rich, timeless quality that has been all but absent in the music of the last decade or so.

The production, while not an integral aspect of the record, is brilliant in its ability not to outshine the music itself; sparse and organic, the production allows the songs to breathe and flow freely.

There's not much else I feel I can say about Automatic For The People without going into some multi-page philosophical rant or dissecting Stipe's lyrics word for word. Automatic For The People is great music, period.

Michael, Peter, Mike, Bill, my hat goes off to you.

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pretty girls make graves in concert [28 Nov 2003|10:12pm]

I hadn’t even heard one second of their music before I decided to go to the concert. Pretty Girls Make Graves’ concert reputation was enough. So, without hesitation, I quickly got both of their albums to prepare myself. I was amazed with The New Romance and blown away by Good Health, and everywhere I read glorious tales of how their albums come nowhere close to capturing the energy and excitement of their live shows. And yet somehow I was never too excited about going, even on the day of the show, I hardly even though of them.

I had prepared myself for a long night; S-Process, Young People, Cobra High, then Pretty Girls Make Graves, doors at nine. So I arrived at my favorite venue, Fat Cat’s, around 9:15, expecting the first band to begin playing around that time. Needless to say, my friend and I were standing around for more than an hour before a band approached the tiny stage cluttered with speakers, amps, and synthesizer keyboards. I scooted myself up to the very front row (I was leaning on the stage), which I had never done before, or had any interest in doing before, but tonight I felt the need to be right next to all the action.

THE CONCERT...Collapse )
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explosions in the sky - the earth is not a cold dead place [10 Nov 2003|07:54pm]

Explosions in the Sky
The Earth is Not a Cold Dead Place
[Temporary Residence; 2003]
Rating: 86

Explosions in the Sky - The Earth is Not a Cold Dead Place

As we sat in the car, staring at the browned, barren grounds prepared for the construction of new homes, the cool air from a stunningly fast cold front in this usually humid, hot city, chilled our uncovered faces and hands. Looking at all the cleared land, I somehow felt the need to decipher some unknown code of the philosophy of life, death, and destruction. The guitar sharply tweeped as the drums began their rolling cadence of progression. I took a deep breath, letting the cold permeate my body. A shiver spasmed through my spine, and suddenly I was launched on a journey of intense emotion and wonder.

We’re alive again from what seemed like certain death. “First Breath After Coma” is a great opening track, full with a semi-dramatic climax, reaching pinnacle after a few minutes into the song. And after the first breath, and first half of the song, Explosions in the Sky take a while to look around at what has become of the world while we were out cold. This area of the song, like most of the album, finds itself meandering in the mellow ponderings of philosophy and life. This style, also presented by the band’s previous outings, finds itself different because instead of the blaring walls of sound that the name ‘Explosions in the Sky’ hints to, and usually climaxes to, we are presented with even more dramatic and emotionally moving journeys that sinuate and permeate the mind and soul with a more careful caressing of emotion. Possible downfalls are avoided with the meticulous attention to detail, precision, and skill presented by this Austin based band, and clearly, Explosions in the Sky have found themselves on the top of the most resent post-rock releases, beating counterparts Mogwai and Godspeed You! Black Emperor in both power and susceptibility.

Track two, “The Only Moment We Were Alone,” burns brightly as a jewel of the album. A pulse-like drum line and delicately moving guitar notes usher progress and create some of the most emotional instrumental music I’ve ever listened to, quite simply allowing for a thought process that lyrics just can’t achieve. Unlike other tracks of The Earth is Not a Cold Dead Place, we find an explosion in the sky that is almost trademark but still glaringly powerful. “Memorial” also finds itself as a centerpiece of the album, amounting to the hope and the ending of worries that superbly closes the slight distress felt through the whole album.

Whereas Those Who Tell the Truth… [Explosions in the Sky’s previous and sophomore album] would be focused on death, The Earth is Not a Cold Dead Place focuses on life, imitating the essence of humanity and soul, and basking with wings of glory. And stunningly, it delivers a somehow grim, but mostly hopeful outlook on the future.
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First post, cross posted. [30 Oct 2003|06:39pm]

[ mood | accomplished ]

Guided By Voices- Earthquake Glue (Matador 2003)

There’s a kid in his bedroom, doing jump kicks and windmilling his arms over air guitar, launching himself off of his bed over and over.
There’s a girl starting out on a road trip, putting down the map and turning up the stereo as she pulls out of her driveway, everything she sees reflecting the low light of high beams.
There’s a secret feeling of independence and rebellion in listening to rock and roll, classic and invigorating, allowing an album to act as a soundtrack to a million different small scenarios, connecting every listener without any of them knowing the others.
For years, Robert Pollard, both the driving force behind Guided By Voices and possibly the most prolific man in indie rock, has turned out minute-and-a-half glimmers of pop genius, songs just long enough to get the idea and then get out. But along with those gems came mountains of filler, lately more of the latter than the former. Buying a GBV album was often like listening to a gifted student with ADD describe the ‘60s British Invasion— sharp, interesting, but maddeningly unfocused. Even classics like Bee Thousand and Alien Lanes had the feeling that Pollard erred on the side of passion, rather than self-editing.
But here, Pollard has finally calmed down to put out the album everyone knew he could. Seamlessly synthesizing ringing guitars, blissful harmonies and arena-sized hooks, Earthquake Glue is Pollard’s Who’s Next.
Every song has a classic Anglophile gleam, and Pollard makes his influences his contemporaries.
For anyone who has doubted the stamina of power-pop, album opener “My Kind of Soldier” ties squalling guitars to a melody that raises the Soft Boys on the shoulders of Kevin Shields. Ringing in the air like a call to arms for all that is good and right in pop music, playing the song through a stereo makes every moment feel charged with an energy and possibility that’s transcendent.
“I’ll Replace You With Machines” is the type of tune that Pete Townshend would kill to write, if he hadn’t died before he got old. Noisy, chaotic and totally buoyant, Pollard rides above it all with his Dayton-cum-London choruses of the title.
Even the most conventional GBV song on the album, “Useless Inventions,” has a verve to it that bounds the tune along beautifully. And “Dirty Water,” sounding more than a bit like “Striped White Jets,” with a wah-wah freaking out beneath it, is a brilliant bit of psych-pop.
And perhaps it’s Pollard’s long history of laboring under lo-fi budgets (despite his up until recent dalliance with the majors), but his deft use of strings and both French and English horns throughout the album is sophisticated and subtle, adding dynamics without diluting the rock and roll punch.
Warm and rollicking, cohesive and classic, Earthquake Glue is easily the best GBV album since Bee Thousand, and may be one of the best indie rock albums ever. But none of that really matters when you’re listening in your car or in your bedroom, so much as the album’s ability to make every moment seem steeped in rock and roll, personal and timeless. So long as the voices guide, everyone’s connected.

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my first =p [22 Oct 2003|11:32pm]
Artist: Songs: Ohia (They will officially change thier name to Magnolia Electic Co. in november)
Release: Magnolia Electric Co.
Label and Year of Release: 2003. Secretely Canadian Records.
Genre: think indie songwriter.
Expectations: I'm a fan of Songs: Ohia so I expected quite a bit from this recording seeing as how the others were pretty good.
Initial Impressions: When I first kicked on the record, I was a little lost, but within a minute I was entranced by the music. It takes a minute to adjust to, especially if you have been listening to something else. Once you are settled in you are good to roll.
Factoid: Songwriter, Jason Molina, recorded this album with a very hands off approach, giving it a sound that is quite different from the typical Songs: Ohia sound. Also, there is a sister album called Pyramid Electric Co. that will more than likely be more traditional Ohia seeing as this one was more of an experimental album.
Best Served With: Some grub and some bubbly. I really find this album calming, it's nice to kick back to.
Comments: Although I've read a lot of reviews on this record saying it's a departure from Molina's typical way of doing things, I don't think it is a complete loss. In fact, I think in light of the change something better came from this album. The vibe is very different from other albums he has done. There is a very obvious progression from song to song although it is not as cohesive as past Ohia albums. The lyrics are more generic than other albums too, giving more room for mainstream appeal. Molina put this record in the hands of the backup band and the studio techies. I must say this is probably one of the favorite records I have ever bought. The musician ship itself and the song construction is wonderful. There is a lot of variety within the album itself as well. Molina hands the mic over to some guest vocalists on other tracks that really helped add to the album. All together I am more than satisfied with the album even if it is a bit of a departure from his normal work. If you have never heard of Songs: Ohia, you should definately give this record a listen, its probably one of the best in the genre (in my opinion) and a good example of what else may be to come in the future.
Rating: 85
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