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Showing posts from November, 2007

The Somber Polly Jean…

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PJ Harvey White Chalk Island Released 10.2.07 Rating: 8 out of 10 I hate to say that it summarizes the album, but it is very telling that White Chalk , latest offering from Mizz Polly Jean Harvey , has a song in it called “The Piano.” Shaping the overall tone and especially the mood, the piano is indeed the vehicle by which Harvey expresses herself and reveals…well, it’s almost like she’s never sung before now. That’s not to say that Harvey’s past work doesn’t compare, or that she’s never sung a powerful note: none of that would be true. But, with White Chalk , you realize what KIND of singing she’s capable of as she exudes this childlike voice that’s worn life’s tragedies and reflected on its own perhaps uncertain existence. Emanating from that characteristically self-assured, charismatic rocker throat, I had to check a couple times to whom I was listening, because it doesn’t sound like Polly Jean. Critics have applied the word “departure” to White Chalk like a cheap s

Emails...

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Since somehow making an impression with PC Magazine , I’ve been receiving a lot of emails. Musicians want to promote their music; promotional types want to advertise their music-related ventures…etc. It’s all very interesting, informative and overwhelming at once, mostly because I’m still not completely used to the idea that people read what I write and that I might wave a certain amount of influence. I’m too modest to believe that I do, but I figure I can at least spread the “word” for some of those that have found their way to my inbox. For Hendrix fans: I was given the heads-up about a month ago that a company called Hobnox put together an interactive documentary covering Jimi Hendrix ’s historical appearance at the Monterey Pop Festival. It’s available online through the company’s Mi145 channel (Music Intelligence) and is narrated by Henry Rollins . I’ve been checking it out and it’s a fantastic piece of work, thoroughly researched and worth your time. I mean, it’s Hendrix

Nostalgia...

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Blues, Drone and Wail: Om Plays Johnny Brenda’s

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Randall Of Nazareth The Grails Om Johnny Brenda’s Philadelphia, PA 11.15.07 What kind of crowd could a show like this possibly draw? Answer: Metal HIPpies and metal HIPsters. So, I could guess you could say that I was at a HIP metal-type show. The evening was this: Solo blues of the slide variety, atmospheric instrumentals and droned hypno-metal. My brother and I, after meeting up with friends for some food and beer before the show, climbed up the stairwell to see Om drummer, Chris Hakius reading what was possibly a copy of Philadelphia Weekly . I love venues like Johnny Brenda’s. When a member of the headlining act can hang out with the crowd, it’s like something special’s happening. As far as the gang of people who faired the traffic-heavy streets of Philadelphia to see the show, I was happy to have a full beard going because that was the look of the evening. First up was an acoustic act that went by, Randall of Nazareth . His actual name is Randall Huth , former member of P

A Letter to the Sixty-Two Percent...

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To The Sixty-Two Percent, Honestly, I never really thought that music downloading was all that bad. Being from the school of "get your music out there," I was always one of many that traded cassettes left and right; searching, digging, scraping for the newest sounds or the essentials with the knowledge that I wasn't making all that much money but that I really wanted to have all this music. I'll admit it: It's a lot cheaper to buy blank media and dub or burn and, for music fans, it's not a bad way to be up to date with what's going on. I learned a lot with dubbing tapes and, because records, CDs or tapes had to be purchased in order to get anything onto a blank cassette, I never really thought my actions were pulling loot from the wallets of record execs or artists. Plus, if I liked what I heard, I usually pulled my pennies together and picked up the CD anyway. It's a little different now. There was a point in time where you had to really work to f

“Party people in the house, get ready for this:” Alt Dance Revolution

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The Go! Team Proof Of Youth Sub Pop Released 9.11.07 Rating: 6 out of 10 Hmmmm…. I guess that being fun can carry you a decent clip. When first listening to Proof Of Youth , second helping from UK sextet The Go! Team , I thought its groove heavy dance jams were interestingly crafted, molding an array of guitar sounds that owe a lot to Fugazi and kicking old school breakbeats like they never went out of style. Go! Team founder, Ian Parton , has vision and he’s definitely into keeping the vibe uplifting if not drenched in rave-like urgency and ecstasy-tinged sweat. Not to say it’s the typical byproduct of glowsticks and laced pacifiers, but Proof Of Youth could easily fit into such a mold. That being the case, do we appreciate that Parton has a different take on party music or that it’s just party music? It could be argued that hip-hop’s roots emerge from similar territory, being the music that got the room bumping and the crowd jumping. But, once philosophy was brought into the p

Shopping for records #3

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Adventures in the reissued: Borders bookstore, North Wales, PA: Elvis Costello My Aim Is True – 2007 Originals Series Hip-O Reissued 5.1.07 (Set of 11) Purchasing power is a bitch. Knowing that I’m unfortunately bound to my income when it comes to the music I’ll actually get to hear, it’s happened a million times where I’ve been late to the game with certain artists. I have a backburner a mile wide and it does get kind of embarrassing, me being the guy who writes this shit, to admit when I’ve done without certain essentials. In this instance, I missed out huge with Elvis Costello . I did manage to procure a copy of Armed Forces on vinyl a few years ago, but otherwise I was relatively lax on my Costello knowledge. So, I figured I’d begin at the beginning with My Aim Is True , which has undergone its latest round of reissuing by Hip-O Records . The “Originals” series aren’t credited as actual remasters. They are essentially digipack duplicates of the original vinyl releases: No extr

Sonic Elder: 19 Years After Leaving the Daydream Nation

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Thurston Moore Trees Outside The Academy Ecstatic Peace! Released 9.17.07 Rating: 8.5 out of 10 Sonic Youth Daydream Nation — 2 CD Remastered Deluxe Edition Geffen Originally released 10.88 Newly released 6.12.07 Rating: 10 out of 10 ”What you have heard, is me wasting time, again asking myself deep inside, ‘Why the fuck am I doing this?’” — “Thurston @ 13” Though more than a few hands were responsible for the altrock boom in the early 90s, you can send most of your “thank you” letters to Sonic Youth ’s Daydream Nation . Architecturally speaking, a blueprint so off-key and aberrantly structured manifested itself with high-frequency and urgent guitar arrangements, long outros and a much-needed “Teen Age Riot.” It was exactly the spirit Kurt Cobain caught a whiff of before he accidentally knocked the jiffy-popped 80s off its neon horse and offered artful cynicism and disenchantment to the media-dubbed GEN X ’ers as a means of expression. Sounding as inventive as it did alm

Baby's First Mixtape — Part 1

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So, here’s an interesting break from reviews and essays: I don’t really go into a lot of personal information on here, mostly because this blog is strictly meant for music-related musings. You know enough about me to know that I’m, by and large, a snob: very opinionated but also passionate. You know that I’m married and that I just moved into a house. What you don’t know is that my wife is 18 weeks pregnant. Now I know that there are many things that I’ll be dealing with and looking forward to after the baby’s born. I can’t wait to look into the baby’s eyes for the first time, I can’t wait to take it on walks, teach it to speak, make it laugh…all those “fatherly” things. But, me being me, I REALLY can’t wait till I can play the baby some Beatles records. Out of all those wonderful “firsts” that my wife and I will experience with our new baby, Beatles records is what I anticipate most. Today, the baby is 18 weeks along and developing ears. It can feel vibrations, but it will now

“…In the pale moon light/In the silver rain…”

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Grinderman s/t Anti Released 4.7.07 Rating: 7.75 out of 10 Hearing “No Pussy Blues,” the self-explanatory single from Grinderman ’s self-titled ode to testosterone-soaked disillusionment, it’s more than evident that Nick Cave doesn’t buy into James Brown ’s assessment of which gender owns the world. Though not always with words, there is a degree of disillusionment that seems to carry through Grinderman , a personality that develops into a humanized characterization. He spills his guts while beating the bongos like he’s sitting amongst ZZ Top and The Nuge in a males-only drum circle and relates with raw prose: a hardened, bored desperado in a modern day nightmare wherein he’s sadly realized that he’s broken his back for the sake of his biological drive and has pathetically failed. Grinderman , a product of Cave and fellow Bad Seeds , Warren Ellis , Martyn Casey and Jim Sclavunos , is stream of thought rock at its most determined and simultaneously frustrated. It seems to start o