Saturday, November 18, 2006

Rage Against the Martini

Here’s your weekly What-The-Hell?! news: I just found out that Chris Cornell of the groups Soundgarden and Audioslave (formerly Rage Against the Machine) is the performer of the current Bond title song.

There was plenty of head scratching when Daniel Craig was cast as the next Bond and the producers have baffled everyone again with this selection (and personally more so). Ok, ok, so the reviews of Craig as Bond have been pretty good so I’m intrigued now.

I loved Soundgarden and RATM, but Audioslave has largely been a disappointment for me. So I guess I shouldn’t get too worked up, but it makes me wonder if I’m getting to the age when all the heroes of my youth are turning into corporate commodities. What’s next? Pearl Jam doing Gap commercials?

Friday, November 03, 2006

Lily Allen (p)review

I’m loving the music from Lily Allen, who has yet to have her debut album, Alright, Still released here in the U.S. (looks like it’ll be in January).

Her style is poppier than I can usually handle but her sound is quirky enough to hook you in. Plus her surprisingly dark themes and wordplay are a great juxtaposition to the uber-upbeat compositions. And sometimes it’s just great to hear a distinct English accent.

LDN is a great example where you can visualize her buoyantly strolling through London singing “Why would I wanna be anywhere else?” All this among describing pimps, crack whores and purse-snatchers.

It’s something that I find much easier to relate to after living in Gotham. There are so many startlingly horrifying, saddening and maddening aspects of this city, but so many (myself included) have such a reverence and love for the place. LDN could easily have been name NYC.

Alfie is a tune that walks a fine line between whimsical genius and annoying circus music, but I seem to enjoy it much more than anything else. You may hate or love the sound, but it’s hard to ignore.

Not Big is pretty easy to decipher so I don’t think I need to go into it. It may make some guys cringe at such venomous lines coming out of a girl, but this song is a great example of Lily’s music.

Lily is drawing a lot of attention in the UK and judging from the million plus listens on her mySpace page, she’s going to do pretty well domestically as well.



Not Big

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

My picks, your pans (or 3 reasons to keep me away from the jukebox)

Sometimes there’s no accounting for taste. Everybody has their tacky indulgences, whether it be celebrity trash magazines, Michael Bay movies or a big bucket of extra crispy KFC. You hate that you love it, but you love it nonetheless.

This thought was spurred one day by listening to my iPod on shuffle when a long forgotten song had popped up. Slightly embarrassed that I not only had the song in the first place but that I still had it, I started to reach down for the SKIP button.

All of a sudden, I began to feel bad for the song and band. I thought, Hey, I actually like this song. Why should I be ashamed to have it?

I figured it was time for a tribute to a few albums to say “I’m sorry everyone else hates you.”

This isn’t about albums I proudly love such as Blueberry Boat or La Revancha Del Tango. Or ones everyone’s supposed to love such as Rubber Soul or OK Computer. Or albums that everyone regretted having such as Please Hammer, Don’t Hurt ‘Em (because I know EVERYONE owned this). Or even the ones I totally hate and can’t believe I was fooled into buying such as Make Believe.

No, this is about albums that other people would ridicule if they saw sitting on my coffee table so I squirrel them away in a bin because I still secretly enjoy them.

I’m going to go on record with these because I’m confident I can reveal these without completely losing music credibility. If anyone wants, I can display examples of my highly cultured, well rounded musical sensibilities. No, really. I swear.

So without further delay...

Frogstomp by Silverchair
This is the album that spawned this whole post. It started with Justin finding it on my iPod and then laughing while blasting Tomorrow. I don’t think it was even considered cool to own this album when it first came out. But dammit, this is actually a pretty great collection of songs. The second half falters a bit, but the first half is remarkably solid. Nothing mind-blowing, but a great variety of grunge/alt songs.

I still can’t believe these guys were 16 when they put Frogstomp out. I think I was the same age as them and was squeaking out major chords on my saxophone in a marching band.

Tomorrow and Pure Massacre are the two hits, but Israel’s Son, Faultline and Shade help show off their capabilities. Suicidal Dreams is a clear example of Daniel Johns doing his impersonation of Eddie Vedder performing a Kurt Cobain-esque tune. And doing a pretty good job of it.

Hey, it was the mid-nineties, I was deep into my Nirvana/Grunge phase and Silverchair had the sound down. Even revisiting these songs again, I think it stands up to classic STP or Soundgarden releases. Not really sure how the band evolved from here on but it seems as if they’re still popular enough to put out an album every few years.

When the Pawn... by Fiona Apple
I shouldn’t be all that ashamed about this since Fiona is actually pretty popular. Except I personally don’t know a single person who doesn’t absolutely hate her guts.

The angst-ridden acceptance speeches, the heroin-look and the overexposure of Criminal kept me away initially. I figured she’d have her one hit and fade away. Plus, I saw a poster of her album cover on the wall of some MTV teen show and that alone would normally ban her from any of my playlists.

But I caught the video for Fast as You Can and became intrigued enough to buy the album. And guess what? I discovered a lot of musicality and interesting lyrics in her music. Her lower than normal vocal delivery has completely grown on me and I now think she is a very underrated vocal talent.

Who can’t love the line You fondle my trigger then you blame my gun, especially when it comes from a chick?

Like Frogstomp, I feel that the first half of When the Pawn... is superior, but the entire album melds together as a whole very well. There are plenty of hooks and great diversity between the songs, more so than her prior or latter albums in my opinion.

Fast as You Can and Limp are the singles (and appropriately so) but it’s a shame that great songs like On the Bound and Get Gone wont get heard by more people. Paper Bag is a quirky, light tune that hinted what was to come on Extraordinary Machine.

Sure there’s plenty of that I-Hate-Men/Everything angst but it’s also nice to hear her revel in it and not have it dissolve over the years like Alanis or Avril. All those haters out there should take a good listen to her lyrics and see if it’s not anything you haven’t written in your own journals. Her musical style reminds me of Rufus Wainwright, except with more venom and masculinity (yeah).

Fiona’s such a great talent that I hate to think that people disregard her because she causes such polarity in opinions. Then again, that’s what some great artists do.

Shine: the Motion Picture Soundtrack
I’m not completely sure that this album qualifies to be on this list. But nothing shouts out “Casual Fan!” like a various artists soundtrack (except maybe owning a Greatest Hits album). I also believe that this album is an example of me not really knowing anything about the songs or composers, which I hate.

Being in band for seven years should have allowed me to develop a stronger repertoire of classical music but my collection has always been underdeveloped in the genre.

I absolutely love some of the songs, like La Campalesson and Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2, but for some reason have never been spurred on to explore similar material or other works by the composers.

Those who thought that punk rockers are the only ones to have a song performance dissolve into an instrument destroying frenzy need to check out 1st Movement Cadenza From The Rach. 3.

So there they are. There are plenty other examples I’m sure but I don’t want to look completely tasteless yet. For now, I’ll just curl up with a big bucket of fried chicken and watch Armageddon.