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  • Indie Asshats. Journal #9: The first half of 2008, pt. I - 6 word(s or so) reviews.

    3. Aug. 2008, 0:15

    Where are we, 2008? What's up with all this crazy music? It's pop music vs. indie experimental and just about everything in between. Let's see where we stand...my recommendations are marked with asterisks (one= yes, two=double yes, three=brilliant/must hear!)

    *Abe Vigoda "Skeleton" - L.A. experimental

    Alkaline Trio "Agony and Irony" - Goth-punk for the radio world.

    **Amanda Palmer "Who Killed Amanda Palmer" - Creepy and brash, warm, discordantly beautiful.

    Ashlee Simpson "Bittersweet World" - Cool synth riffs; please, stop singing.

    Barenaked Ladies "Snacktime" - A gag album? Cute and entertaining.

    *Beck "Modern Guilt" - Dystopian and danceable.

    The Black Angels "Direction to See a Ghost" - Psychedelic reverbed bliss.

    **Blood On the Wall "Liferz" - RAWK

    *Born Ruffians "Red, Yellow & Blue" - If only all indie was this good.

    **Broken Social Scene Presents: Brendan Canning "Something For All of Us..." - Gentler, more guitar rock; so good.

    *Capillary Action "So Embarrassing" - Post-punk avant-jazz spazz-rock.

    *Charlotte Sometimes "Waves & the Both of Us" - Intelligent and captivatingly sultry.

    Coldplay "Viva La Vida" - Yeah, we get it.

    Crystal Castles "Crystal Castles" - RemixCity!

    *Dan Friel "Ghost Town" - FEEDBACK

    Death Cab for Cutie "Narrow Stairs" - Again: yeah, we get it.

    *E-603 "Something for Everyone" - The title doesn't lie.

    *Eat Skull "Sick to Death" - Bloody hell noise; good dirty fun.

    *El Buzzard "Songs for Total Dicks" - Metal on mute; mixing-board mayhem.

    **Ellen Allien "Sool" - Minimal ambient dance, gorgeous and haunting.

    The Fashion "The Fashion" - You hang out at the mall too much.

    **Fleet Foxes "Fleet Foxes" - Anthems from mountain tops.

    **Foot Village "Friendship Nation" - Yelling. Drums. ta-da!

    *Genghis Tron "Board Up the House" - The synths are turned up, the metal arriving.


    (more to come...)
  • Indie Asshats. Journal #8: March 2008, in review.

    6. Apr. 2008, 3:51

    In the spirit of this article, I'm going to make this month's reviews in 6 words or less, hopefully. Maybe 10, max, but i'll challenge myself for 6. Also, I heard that my friends are gonna be at a place in Fresno tonight called the Metal Mansion, and there's gonna be beer there, so I don't want to take too much time on this. I just want to be honest.

    Be Your Own Pet's "Get Awkward" - Food Fight! Female vocals! Punk party-excellence!

    Murder by Death's "Red of Tooth and Claw" - Dark, moody, rocky; strongest album yet.

    Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra & Tra-La-La Band's "13 Blues for Thirteen Moons" - So much guitar, politics; still amazing.

    Fuck Buttons's "Street Horrrsing" - Three layers: ambience + feedback + muffled-screams = gorgeous.

    The Raconteurs's "Consolers Of The Lonely" - Too much talent for one band?

    Keegan DeWitt's "Sadness To Relate" EP - Soundtracker sings; Randy Newman, a bit? (download for free here.)

    ...also, did anyone really give the new Panic at the Disco a listen? It seemed a bit different (I only heard two songs or so), but don't know much else.

    so! sweet beans.
    also, an amazing album from late late 2007 that you can get free: The Depreciation Guild's "In Her Gentle Jaws" can be acquired from their website.

    Running list:


    17. The Raconteurs
    16. The Mountain Goats
    15. Keegan DeWitt
    14. Vampire Weekend
    13. Fuck Buttons
    12. Nada Surf
    11. Thee Silver Mt. Zion
    10. Times New Viking
    9. Xiu Xiu
    8. The Magnetic Fields
    7. Murder by Death
    6. Atlas Sound
    5. Be Your Own Pet
    4. Why?
    3. Colour Revolt
    2. Thee Oh Sees
    1. Bon Iver

    in closing, if you're reading this and you're not a member of the IndieAsshats coalition of marching band music, you should be. Stop being such a pretentious ass and just join, already.
  • Indie Asshats. Journal #7: Feburary(ish) 2008; in review.

    20. Mär. 2008, 2:31

    This starts with live reviews, sorta:

    Went to San Francisco two weekends ago with my lovely girlfriend and had the opportunity to crash in on a few excellent shows. The first was The OhSees (or maybe being called Thee Oh Sees according to Tomlab) and The Dodos, who just released an album on FrenchKiss yesterday. Thee Oh Sees new album doesn't come out officially until April, but they had a few copies at the show, and I'd recommend it without hesitation. It's called "The Master's Bedroom Is Worth Spending A Night In," and it finally translates all the energy the group has on stage onto disc.

    The second show was Atlas Sound, White Rainbow, and Valet. All amazing; an amazing show, as Bradford had a couple drinks and continued to entertain the crowd as for a good 20 minutes after the show, as people slowly exited the venue. And I'd say most of us have heard about "Let The Blind Lead Those Who Can See But Cannot Feel," so yeah, most excellent. I haven't had a chance to hear the new Valet album yet, though.

    Okay.

    Currently, I'm listening to Why?'s "Alopecia," which has haunted my iPod now since I first listened to it on imeem nearly two weeks ago. One of those albums that would sound like shit if you tried to describe it to someone, but listening to it portrays all it has to offer.

    The Mountain Goats' "Heretic Pride" was solid, but not anything outstanding...doesn't hold a candle to "The Sunset Tree," and I'm still partial to the older, super lo-fi offerings. About the same I'd say for Nada Surf and their new album "Lucky," which has a handful of songs that get stuck in my head for a day, but on the whole is another solid offering from the band...and not much more.

    Okay, two more albums to talk about:

    This one is an advance...it comes out proper in April, but you can get it now on eMusic, and I suggest you do: "Plunder, Beg, and Curse" by Colour Revolt. I don't know how to describe this band... Their debut EP was my #2 album of 2006. They have an energy and anger that isn't expressed (necessarily) by over-aggressive vocals or instrumentals...don't get me wrong, they sure as hell rock out...but with an indie temperament mixed with the hard edge of Americana, CR builds so much tension and terror that when they explode, it's more than proper and it's always breathtaking.

    And then: Bon Iver. I know "For Emma, Forever Ago" was first self-released last year, but Jagjaguar re-released it this year, and my God is it a thing of beauty. I've been listening to it just about once a day...for being so sparse, there is so much energy and passion in each pause, break, and pull of breath. My plan it to see him perform in Visalia this upcoming Saturday (I hear, according to reports on his SXSW performance) that he travels with a legit band, and amps things up live, so I'll be excited to share the experience, provided it occurs.

    so: my top list of the first two months of 2008:

    11. The Mountain Goats
    10. Vampire Weekend
    9. Nada Surf
    8. Times New Viking
    7. Xiu Xiu
    6. Atlas Sound
    5. The Magnetic Fields
    4. Why?
    3. Colour Revolt
    2. Thee Oh Sees
    1. Bon Iver
  • No More Decembers demos.

    20. Feb. 2008, 21:27

    (of Troubled By Insects)

    on myspace
    (also up are 3 unreleased tracks recorded acoustic straight to the computer in one attempt...with mixed results)

    on virb
    (also up is the "Probable Insults EP," a 3-track 30 minute post-rock jam collection recorded on one mic in one evening with my siblings.)

    whoo!

    <3, ds.
  • Indie Asshats. Journal #6: January 2008, in review.

    4. Feb. 2008, 20:32

    Ah, what unholy scourge.
    The potential death and unnecessary resurrection of the IndieAsshat. journal!

    But this is for a cause of mathematics.
    In order for my end-of-the-year-best-of lists to actually make some lick of sense, my plan is to review each month (briefly), keeping a running tab of a top-ten list as the year goes by...so that, at the end of the year, it's totally unsurprising, and no one will read it.

    Sorta like last year.
    So!
    Onward?
    Yes!

    January 2008. Only a few offerings really worth mentioning, so I'll rattle them off here pretty quick, and you can go back to re-watching your favourite Super Bowl commercials on YouTube.

    4. Vampire Weekend "Vampire Weekend"
    - yeah, you already know. super sweet afro-pop. gorgeous. the kid in class who's super-nice to everyone but is just so nice you wish he had a dirty little secret that could let you hate him, but he doesn't, so you absolutely cannot hate him, he's such a sweetheart. next?

    3. Times New Viking "Rip It Off"
    - brutal, endearing, sorta unlistenable. anyway, you have to be like me, someone who just sits around listening to old cassette tapes of guitar junk he recorded ages ago to really dig this, i think, but maybe not, because they're swell.

    2. Xiu Xiu "Women As Lovers"
    - throw in everything every good review has said, and then add some sexy goodness. Jamie Stewart never disappoints.

    1. The Magnetic Fields "Distortion"
    - my favourite album of the year (I KNOW, it's early, but still) so far (see?). so...lush and gauzy and all those words that don't really mean anything but give you that sticky feeling between your gut and your ribs when you hear all that noise and feedback, like sweet, sweet blankets of sound...

    okay.
    February already has a ton of stuff to offer.
    New albums by Bon Iver, Edison Glass, Atlas Sound (so freaking excited for this...besides the fact that I'll probably end up mentioning Bradford every month, with all the blog mp3's he releases, a la the Deerhunter "Flourescent Grey EP" demos and the virtual 7"'s and all...), Nada Surf, British Sea Power, more probably, and my bid for "least-IndieAsshat-album-of-year-that-i-will-begrudgingly-love" which is that of Children 18:3. yeah, for serious.

    alright. anything else this past month perk your ears, kiddos?

    <3, ds.
  • Mixtape: "So Cold You Forget To Breathe"

    2. Feb. 2008, 18:07

    Yeah, so...I've been really into tape lately.
    Cassettes, mostly.
    Also, the music label Tape, but I'm not really talking about them right now.

    I'm talking about tape hiss, baby! and mix tapes. and all that bullshit.

    so.

    I made a mixtape for myself, because I have a tape deck in my car, and that's awesome.

    It's called "So Cold You Forget To Breathe," and is kinda based on the same idea...all the songs are really wintery and sad, dark and dreary, and gorgeous. 60 min tape, because 90 is kinda pushing it.

    so:

    SIDE A

    1. "Hopeless & Unsung" by The Brother Kite
    -This song conjures everything amazing about The Beach Boys, but darker.

    2. "Animals & Insects" by The Stills
    -"Oh my God" is right.

    3. "Lover's Spit (Radio)" by Broken Social Scene
    -Arguably the darkest track the group has ever recorded, incomparable to the original album version.

    4. "A Stone" by Okkervil River
    -When Will starts spitting into the mic, you know he means business.

    5. "Luca" by Brand New
    -A deceiving track, that explodes at the very moment you expect it to fade away.

    6. "Talk Show Host" by Radiohead
    -I know, I know, Romeo & Juliet....whatever. The rhythm on the track is gorgeous, it's seeming simplicity enrapturing.


    SIDE B

    7. "So I Guess We Can't Hang Out" by OCS
    -The first non-noise John Dwyer song I ever heard, the basement quality reflects the new aesthetic Dwyer now brings to the same project, now titled The OhSees.

    8. "Everyone Feels Like You" by Owen
    -Like the sweetest soundtrack to a slowly maddening depression.

    9. "Second Best" by Pedro the Lion
    -The heaviest (emotionally and sonically) break-up song ever recorded.

    10. "Carry On" by Elliott
    -An interesting juxtaposition right after the Pedro track, this song swirls and tenses without ever breaking out.

    11. "Fall To Place" by The Pale Pacific
    -With a several minute ambient extro, this song embodies a sort of lonliness with a great hope, and serves as a fitting close to the tape.
  • Best albums of 2007. (better late than never.)

    14. Jan. 2008, 18:40

    I'm resurrecting myself with IndieAsshats. I let it die, but I get to be Dr. Frankenstein too, okay? deal.

    but here's this, to get it (re)started.



    TOP ALBUMS OF 2007


    30. Paramore "Riot!"
    - ripping off Refused takes guts. these kids have them, and do the job right.

    29. The Snake The Cross The Crown "Cotton Teeth"
    - the amazing transformation through an EP and two full-lengths into a most excellent group of storytellers.

    28. The Chariot "The Fiancee"
    - so gorgeous and violent. and the chamber choirs are lovely.

    27. Avril Lavigne "The Best Damn Thing"
    - just listen to the track "I Don't Have To Try" – bubble-gum pop beats roll into Sum 41 riffs to a Brody Dalle growl…it's over the top, ridiculous, and barely like trying, indeed.

    26. Emily Haines & The Soft Skeleton "What Is Free To A Good Home? EP"
    - a perfect appendix to last year's "Knives Don't Have Your Back."

    25. Winter Wardrobe "Paul and the Owl EP"
    - r.i.p., my friends. the first Fresno band I fell in love with, great guys, and an excellent 4 songs to sing farewell to.

    24. Glen Hansard & Marketa Irglova "Music From The Motion Picture 'Once'"
    - glen's voice is chilling as the soundtrack to one of the best music movies ever.

    23. Moros Eros "Jealous Me Was Killed By Curiosity"
    - dance-punk have never been so dark, or intelligent.

    22. The Glorious Unseen "Tonight The Stars Speak"
    - I don't listen to worship albums, so for one to grab me as I haven't been since Something Like Silas's release of "Glimpses" is an accomplishment.

    21. Illinois "What The Hell Do I Know? EP"
    - short, simple, wonderful pop-song gems.

    20. Thes One "Lifestyle Marketing"
    - classic advertising jingles sliced and set to hip-hop beats. what is says about hip-hop is obscure, but it's undeniably enjoyable.

    19. Burial "Untrue"
    - dark, dissolving dub-step.

    18. Sunny Day in Glasgow "Scribble Mural Comic Journal"
    - like all the glitchy parts of a thom yorke album, but more schizophrenic and with melting, unintelligible choral vocals.

    17. Menomena "Friend and Foe"
    - it took a while for this to grow on me, but these three guys are insanely brilliant.

    16. Akron/Family "Love Is Simple"
    - when it sounds like a party, the party is ON.

    15. The National "Boxer"
    - driving, rhythmic, and a little dark, like songs at prom: played in the gym, yet being heard in the hallways.

    14. Grails "Burning Off Impurities"
    - the best post-rock album of the year.

    13. The OhSees "Sucks Blood"
    - self-produced, the bass is completely blown out, the party is a little quieter at times, but the result is completely gorgeous.

    12. Stars of the Lid "And Their Refinement Of The Decline"
    - you can't describe ambient, but they can define it.

    11. Surrogate "Love Is For The Rich"
    - made up of remnants of Number One Gun, this two-man bedroom project is a grower, and is rich in lyrical and musical surprises.

    10. Liars "Liars"
    - the lovely balance between "Drums Not Dead" and their previous post-punk offerings.

    9. Low "Drums and Guns"
    - the downer album of the year: minimal, cold, sparse, and intelligent.

    8. Okkervil River "The Stage Names" and "Golden Opportunities Mixtape"
    - will sheff spins a musical yarn like no one's business, and the mixtape is free (@ okkervilriver.com)!

    7. Weatherbox "American Art"
    - the savior for distraught Say Anything fans…they take up where the creatively (in)sane Bemis left off with "…Was A Real Boy," with a touch of the dirty energy of Sunny Day Real Estate.

    6. The Weakerthans "Reunion Tour"
    - our friends from the north make their triumphant return after 4 years, with songs about business meetings, curling matches, and dead hockey players.

    5. Broken Social Scene Presents: Kevin Drew "Spirit If..."
    - It's BSS with more of Drew in the monitor…and it works.

    4. Mugison "Mugiboogie"
    - Iceland's greatest import gets a bit more production credit, but that doesn't stop the album from being catchy, uncomfortably sensual, and pleasantly haphazard, like Beck, Bjork, and something else in a blender.

    3. Panda Bear "Person Pitch"
    - an album that almost seems simple, but is enrapturing and engaging, multi-faceted like none other: for driving, sleeping, studying, and the dinner party!

    2. As Cities Burn "Come Now Sleep"
    - these are the most exciting steps to see a band make…from better-than-average screamo to a brilliant, self-conscious rock band that actively engages the listener in the struggle without sugar-coating or making nice for the Christian market…the polar opposite of a sophomore slump.

    1. Deerhunter "Cryptograms" & "Fluorescent Grey EP"
    - what to say? someone mentioned that this is the album every kid in America should be playing in their basement, and I concur. it's drugs and sex and adolescence steeped in echo and reverb, like dreams and nightmares and the best laid plans of kids too young to make plans. it's a drama told in three parts, the final chapter being the EP, that is a stunning achievement all to itself. it's music as emotion, story in song, it's genius ever the more accentuated by it's own self-encompassing enigma.
  • Indie Asshats. Journal #5 (11/26): "God damn, time takes it's damn time."

    27. Nov. 2006, 6:20

    Hi!

    I suck.

    My apologies to everyone in the IndieAsshats group...I'm only slightly surprised no one has tried a coop to kick me out of power...but things are moving forward, and there's some exciting things on the horizon.

    First off...I've started a music blog called The Two Headed Boy, which can be accessed at http://thetwoheadedboy.blogspot.com.
    Soon I'll be posting a Top Albums of 2006 list there, but I'll also throw it on here, to get everyone's opinion of it.

    Lately (here comes the whoring), I've been listening to ridiculous amounts of Anathallo, Some by Sea, Joanna Newsom, The Hold Steady, and, of course, the bloody brilliant new album by Brand New. So much good stuff right now. It's been an amazing year.

    I hope you all had an amazing Thanksgiving, and that you stick around to see what the end of the year has in store for us.


    -Daniel//IndieAsshats
  • Some thoughts wasted over P!ATD.

    22. Aug. 2006, 16:28

    I'm hoping some of the thousands of Panic! at the Disco fans here at last.fm can explain this phenomenon to me.

    Why did they choose (or allow their record label to choose) the two WORST songs on their album to be their singles?

    Time To Dance and Lying is the Most Fun a Girl Can Have Without Taking Her Clothes Off are far better songs.

    But, whatever. I've already wasted too much time thinking about this.
  • Live Show Review (kinda): Brand New.

    10. Jul. 2006, 6:11

    I saw Brand New in Las Vegas on Thursday night.

    Drove all night through the desert, exhausted standing in line for the show...but excited. Nervous. Jittery.

    ...you see...this is probably the first show I'd ever been to where I'd been a fan of the band for more than two years or so. Sure, I've seen some musicians before that have been great influences on me (Radiohead and Pedro the Lion, for example), but none quite like Brand New. Deja Entendu, their last album (released in 2003) pretty much served to define my senior year of high school and freshman year of college. Finally getting to see them in concert...well, it was a big deal.

    So, in short...it was the most amazing, phenomenal, depressing, heart-breaking rock show I've ever been to.

    Amazing/phenomenal because Jesse Lacey and Co. are sound genius live. Like nothing I could have ever imagined. Every song was executed to perfection, from the opener "Tautou" to the closer "Play Crack the Sky." Jesse's voice was possibly even greater than I could have imagined, and he frequently slipped into higher vocal ranges, serving to lift the songs and drown out the crowd attempting to sing along.

    But that was just it.
    Basically, I was thinking about writing a big "screw you" letter to 99% of the crowd at the House of Blues (Mandalay Bay) last Thursday, but I realized how pointless that is when who really needs to be addressed is (most) Brand New fans in general.

    And when I say "fans," I mean these people:
    --Those who feel compelled to scream every word back at Jesse in a screech that would make a cat take a gun to it's head.
    --Those who moshed--seriously, there was a circle pit at one point--at the show. (These kids should go to Sounds from the Underground and get eaten my cannibal metal-heads.)
    --Everyone who only likes Your Favorite Weapon.
    --Everyone who stood around confused when Brand New played through their new songs, thinking they were too slow.
    --All the girls who cheered during "Me vs. Maradona vs. Elvis" at the line "It's ladies night/and all the girls drink for free" (even though the entire song is about a guy who is taking advantage of a girl by getting her drunk).
    --The people behind us who decided to talk about their stock portfolios (or God knows what) throughout the entire set.

    In fact, besides the bands, I only have three people to thank:
    --Omar, a guy from New York (and from the band Music in the Missionary Position), who was standing next to us, and made waiting for the show to start less unbearable.
    --The guy at the bar, who got super excited when I gave him a tip when he got me a cup of ice water.
    --My girlfriend (for bearing the drive with me).

    No one seemed to get it when Jesse explained that he isn't the boy who wrote "Soco Amaretto Lime" anymore...that he's 28, and he wrote the song when he was 18...and that even though he doesn't feel like the person who sings the song, he hoped that the crowd still got some enjoyment out of it...
    ...when he changed the lyrics to the last line from "You're just jealous because we're young and in love" to: "I'm just jealous because you're young and in love," I nearly teared up. (Never before had the lines "Watch me as I cut myself wide open/On this stage, as I am paid to spill my guts" been made more clear.)

    Read the message boards, and fans are complaining that Jesse is more reclusive on stage...that he barely interacts with his audience...that the band seems cold and uninterested. Realize that these comments are usually made by 14 year olds. I'd never seen a man more honest with a room full of people he (I hope) wishes would grow up and understand.

    And yeah, Jesse looked like he was having a blast. He joked on stage, jumped around, got into it, and flat-out rocked the House.

    But here's the deal.
    Brand New is growing up. And they're going to be big.
    And I know this is a big claim to make, but they could even become Pitchfork big. (Not withstanding the fact that Deja garnered a pretty unheard of 6.9 for a Long Island punk/screamo album.)
    Because their new music is destroying the genre that they practically created themselves. The two songs they played live (which, in raw form, can be found on the Fight Off Your Demos that are floating around the Internet) are brilliant, and Jesse seemed most excited and happy while playing them, even though the crowd looked aghast.

    Brand New...becoming...indie rock?

    This is the future.

    The new album (unarguably rumored to be titled Fight Off Your Demons) is supposed to drop sometime around October. Until then, I'll be holding my breath.

    One hopes that Jesse is ready to play 18+ and 21+ venues.
    And that this tour was more of a "thank you to my young fans who have waited for so long...but wake up...because the times, they are a'changin'."


    ...and I get chills just thinking about it.