Saturday, September 26, 2009

Kings of Leon - Why?

A friend of mine recently asked the question, "Why?" Referring to the Kings of Leon, who recently played TWO sold out shows at BC Place stadium here in Vancouver, he just didn't understand how or when they got that huge. I had no idea either. I remember hearing of them back in 2003 or something, but to fill a stadium twice as the headliner not too many years later just seemed insane. I thought they were going to go the way of Kasabian.

After watching this video, I now see that they appeal to dumbfuck america. And they're not dumb guys. They just dumb it down. They LOVE alcohol, the drug of the depressed and obedient. They sing about pretty basic stuff, and more than anything, they embrace the "rock star" persona, the untouchable partyers. Perhaps the true reason they made it over any other similar band is the fact that they are all related. Three brothers and a cousin? America loves those odds! The Jonas Brothers are right there with you. And Hanson, we remember, failed but not without all that label support dragging its tailpipes over the setting sun's horizon. Kings of Leon are quintessential splendor and excess. They are average dudes who live the american dream, sinning and jamming into the public eye. Plus, everyone believes they're Christian. That's a bonus.

So fucking fake. Bands like this get "Grammy's" while awesome artists, as we know, stick to the shadows. Let them dunk their shiny gold statues in the Hennesey; They can have it. They're average, and everyone can see that. It's not like they write all their songs. This type of music just reeks of male-dominator culture. It's in the details. The overt details. The priveleged attitude. The zero risk music. I've gone on too long. Why am I writing about these fuckers? I just can't sleep is all. I hope Kings of Leon can look the other way and not send one of their think tank people over to drop an insidious comment about changing my attitude toward shitty mainstream powers, like the Muzak drone did. (Look for that below)

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Simon looks like Aidan Baker

I was listening to Nadja's newest release the other day, Under The Jaguar Sun, when it struck me that Aidan Baker, the man behind the music, looks a heck of a lot like my friend Simon. In comparing them, I see the differences, but the similarities outweigh the discrepancies. In fact, if you put some black rimmed glasses on Drea and cut her hair, she might pass as Leah Buckareff, the bassist in Nadja.

Nadja is playing in Vancouver on October 3rd, which happens to be right around when I will be reviewing Under The Jaguar Sun for the Silent Ballet. Woa, spoiler alert! The album is a double album, and the intent is to synch the two discs, playing them simultaneously. Two halves, good on their own, making up an even more impressive behemoth when combined. Kind of like a lasting relationship, like Simon and Drea have. Or like the one I have. I don't know about Aidan and Leah, but they're probably buddies at the least.

So my thoughts were that Simon and Drea could BE Nadja, if they wanted to behave dubiously. Both have metal and outsider music backgrounds, and could totally talk the part out. Drea would have to go to the thrift store and make uneducated choices to pull this off. At the very least, they could be Aidan and Leah's stunt doubles when they have to sneak out the back of the Rickshaw Theater, escaping the crushing love of their adoring fans. It's a parallel universe waiting to be capitalized on! And hell, while they're at it, they might as well perform as Nadja. It's not like playing their songs is HARD or anything. Just press play and be spooky, right? RIGHT? Heh. Maybe not, but Simon and Drea got skills, yo. They could be Nadja, pick up right where the old players left off in case they died in a freak ferry accident.

Sample this awesome double album here. Or better yet, go here to stream the whole thing. See? You can learn their songs for FREE and then BE Nadja, performing wherever you want. With all the material that Baker releases, he needs more versions of himself to please fans everywhere. "Nadja" is just "Aidan" in reverse, by the way, and I think "Nomisaerd" is just as cool a name.

I can't wait to see these people play, and then pretend that my friends just played, drop my TSB credentials, get all 67 Nadja releases for free, and go home amazed at my confidence and choice in shoegaze metal friends. This is gonna rule.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Throbbing Gristle - The Third Mind Movements

Read my entire review on The Silent Ballet.

The album would be a fitting soundtrack to a person locked in a musty, basement laundry room while having a quiet psychedelic experience. Sometimes the music sounds like an insect colony with indigestion, focusing on all the intimate, oily details. The wide array of sounds often leans toward the uncomfortably organic, with plenty of synth burps, pulses that sound like heartbeats, and wet mammals drooling and running amok. It's not exactly the most soothing of experiences, as it provokes a surly latitude of the unconscious mind. Much like a chance encounter with a decomposing corpse, the terror comes from your own inability to turn away. Some of the sounds are very kitsch and the drowning vocals can make a purist wretch, but the overall industrial tide pool of activity is an interesting ambient affair for a group that is notorious for doing just about anything.

*Note: I have never researched an album/band this much. I knew nothing about TG beforehand...

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Muzak Bankruptcy

In February 2009, the company who brings us quality canned "radio" channels like Tropical Breezes (Caribbean Music), Moodscapes (New Age Instrumental) and Cashmere (Adult Contemporary) filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. They were more than $450 million in debt. When I heard about this, I probably thought what just about everyone was thinking: Shoulda sold that shit to Ted Nugent when you had the chance, bitches!

Actually, my first reaction was "There is a god." Or something like that. Maybe Western Civilization wasn't so doomed after all. If Obama can call Kanye a "jackass" and be totally legit, and Muzak can die a quick death we might be able to turn this thing around.

But it turns out that Muzak actually was doing all right, and has twice as much collateral this month of September as they did in the Spring. With hot shot debt lawyers on their side, they expect to make a full recovery. No!! Back in 1989 Ted Nugent offered to buy the company for $10 million and promised to shut it down. His public bid to do this turned this old American company from Norman Rockwell-esque paltry nothings to everything despicable about the music industry. It was rotten, and it's a big reason why we all fire up the torches when we hear Muzak's name. That and its purposely low standards when it comes to music.

So, it looks like god is again looking the other way, because Muzak ain't going anywhere and Kanye still sells Platinum records. But since He is looking the other way, maybe we should just target the EchoStar VII at 119 degrees west longitude up in orbit. This is the satellite that broadcasts all of Muzak's channels. Taking out a satellite is certainly not good for a bankrupt company.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

new Ramses III album stream

Steam the entire album I Could Not Love You More by Ramses III.  Gorgeous guitar-based ambient scapery, flecked with field recordings, banjo, slide, piano and warmth.   Yeah yeah, how many of these kinds of albums exist?  Too many?  Well not enough are this good. 

Friday, September 11, 2009

Jamie Who?

Friday night, and no one to have some beers and play a little fusbol with. Finally I don't have a baby to put to sleep, but no one is up for some cavorting around town. So I looked in the paper for a show to go to, and I stumbled upon the name Jaime Foxx. Yes, that guy. He tours with a band, which I didn't know. He's always been a talented fellow, but ever since he played Ray Charles he's been legit to be a professional musician. The man is probably good, but when I looked at the ticket price for this show at the River Rock Casino (where they advise you to know your limits and play within them) I was simply appauled. It was as if Jaime's staff decided to beat the scalpers to the punch and charge $99.50/$119.50 up front. At that price, you're a moron for choosing the cheap seats.

These are Canadian dollars, but goddammit if I am ever looking at Jaime Foxx again as someone to care about. Charging that much for a show is like saying you're in the hall of fame for humanity. Remember how low-budget In Living Color was back in the 90's? That was great, and it appealed to the layperson. I know that the natural progression for successful performers is to get bigger and bigger, charge more and more for a show. Don't do me any favors Jaime; Let me just throw in an extra fifty bucks cause you're so pretty. Shit, dogg. Has he really earned the $100 price tag already? A Jaime Foxx movie DVD, packed with extras and interviews, is like fifteen bucks, but at least I get to possess him. What are these songs that are so great anyway? It's not like he's been touring from the basement into the spotlight with his music. I wouldn't trust this white sport coat-wearing ass clown. It's suspect.

Then again, the hot seats for Puscifer's tour here in Vancouver are going for $230 before scalping, so what the fuck? Maybe Jaime's got a good show. Maybe I've missed out on the musician known as Jaime Foxx. He probably has a dramatic show. He is an actor, after all. You be the judge:

He's ok.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Monday, September 7, 2009

Steven R. Smith - Cities

Read my entire review on The Silent Ballet.

From what can be ascertained about him, Steven R. Smith is a mensch, intentional and solid in his convictions, completely open to his beliefs changing at anytime. This open-minded attitude allows for the ease with which he picks up on Eastern European folk styles and incorporates them into a neo-American dream folk. He doesn't care about how particular instruments are supposed to be used. Traditions are interesting, but not a part of his experience. It's just music. In an American culture where we often jest, to our chagrin, about how there is no culture at all (only the blending of many), Smith delightfully blends a world of instruments and ideas into his own secret patch of the universe. Cities makes me want to cry, to believe in good people, to believe that the stories that I have to tell are important--more important than the ones that are being shoved down my throat by McCorporation Inc. every day of my life. This is essential music, and I recommend it.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Happiness is Love

The Happiness Project!  A project by Charles Spearin (Do Make Say Think/Broken Social Scene).  It's really phenomenal and interesting.  He records his neighbors talking about happiness, then isolates interesting cadences, rhythms of speech or melodies within their speech and writes music around it.  Apparently, seeing this live is something to behold and they happen to be TOURING this year (with DMST and Years, who are great).

Here is a link to a little diddy by Mr. Spearin.  Gotta hear this.  It's great!  It's off the NPR site.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Sebastien Tellier, Live: A Conundrum

This concert-goer went to see a certain Sebastien Tellier and now begs to ask the question: Do we really need another disco-pop sleezeball?

To start by being fair, this hairy sex icon is imparting quite a lot of humor into his stage role, so I can't be too cruel. But I want to be. Watching him perform was like being a child listening to an adult argument. Why are you arguing? What's so important? I don't understand your petty differences in the slightest. I'd rather be picking gooseberries and playing games.

Tellier's band is a bunch of skinny, older white fellows who, other than the drummer, are all pretty average. And boring to watch. And no, they are no Kraftwerk. They all appeared on the Richards on Richards stage (before it was later demolished by a condo company) first to some mild applause. My friend Raffi took me to this show as an attempt to bolster our comraderie, which I totally appreciated. Without expectations, I was ready to take in this unfamiliar music. What I wasn't aware of was how much of a cultish following this Sebastien Tellier has generated, and when he appeared on stage, white wine glass in hand, the crowd roared. Roared! Almost ironically, like they knew he was supposed to be a bad-ass sexy dude, his luster rivaling the sun it self, but no one was blind to the fact that the man in the leisure suit looks just like The Dude from The Big Lebowski.
Ok, so premise covered, let's get on with the music. Tellier begins with by playing a distorted electro-clash riff on this guitar (seen above). I don't know what it's called, but in my experience this shape and style of guitar was the most awkward to play. It's longer, laterally, than anything I've held, and it's mahogany, so it's really heavy. This is no virtuosity guitar, in my estimation. Tellier plays this riff for a long time as his band chimes in and creates a pretty good groove. This would turn out to be the only song I liked, so good opener fellas. Shoulda left the stage after this.

But no, the inside joke was on, and I began to care less. The disco worship and 80's pop sensibilities met up with some more modern rock melodies, sometimes turning into pretty lengthy dance jams. One or two moments were relatively tasty, but nothing was more interesting or horrendous than Tellier's existence on the stage. Dwarfing his band mates in intrigue, he was like a Don Juan de Chewbacca. The use of sunglasses easily hid his bloodshot eyes and along with his stoic beard, his face was like a photograph, expressionless and still.

Sex sells. Tellier knows this all too well and milks it to the point of esoteric campiness. I couldn't tell if he was actually getting drunk, or if he is always drunk. A modern-day Pan stuck in Lebowski's body, he somehow barely did anything on stage. He was off key. He did play the piano well, but not very interestingly. His band seemed aloof, standing at their keyboards as if their jeans were doing all the work. Yet SOMEHOW, when Tellier would take a sip of that white wine off the bow of his mini-grand piano, the crowd would howl. HOWL, I tell you. Eat drink and be merry was the theme of the night. Tellier would occasionally address the crowd in a gruff, fey manner and with a thick, sloppy French accent. I understood nothing from this man.

I didn't want to witness an encore, but thankfully there wasn't one! I was left with no interest (not even the maddening, sick reverse-psychology interest) to go out and find this music on MySpace or wherever. The thing that I'll remember the most is the people who came to the show to give their loud Pavlovian response to every one of Tellier's mannequin sips. White wine is symbolic of an ancient tradition. Other than water, it's possibly the oldest beverage known to humankind, and the French know how to do it right. So people easily trust that Tellier would be drinking something worthy of his untouchable mystique. I didn't see a bottle on the piano, though.
Where was the bottle? One would imagine he would display the label proudly, to at least promote some good fermented grapes. Alas, Tellier is more likely to drink the Vin du Table, for wasting such a deflated musical showing on a drink that rates high in AOC would be a travesty.

And do I really need to see a man pushing 40 lounging lasciviously across a piano? Conceptually it has the potential to be hilarious. I just don't believe Sebastien Tellier is all that good at pulling this off. He is a hack. As if he's come up with this persona and now, hiding behind the giant shades, he has to weather the storm of adoring fans. "How do I get out of this?" He looked entirely disinterested in being the sexy character he had created, instead going through the motions and realizing that people will still applaud. Just keep toasting the crowd and mumbling your fake French accent for the world, Sebster, and God will reward you with whores a plenty.

At least he is doing what he wants, and that can't be said for most of bovine humanity.

I saw this show months ago on April 14, but never ranted on it until now.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009