Sunday, February 19, 2006

A short list of leaked albums you really ought to get your hands on

Mogwai- Mr. Beast
Islands- Return to the Sea
Wilderness- Vessel States
Aloha- Some Echoes
Calexico- Garden Ruins
The Flaming Lips- At War With the Mystics

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Broken Social Remix

I'm not really one of those dudes who has a "favorite band" or a "favorite album", I think there's way too much good stuff out there to narrow down my musical taste in such a fashion, but if you put a gun to my head and told me to pick someone, Broken Social Scene would be one of the top contenders. Their new self-titled record has been doomed to occupy the unfortunate position of "the album after You Forgot It In People", and as such has had to live up to the (probably unrealistic) expectations of pretty much anybody into indie rock at all.

The big sticking point, for most people, seems to be the way the album is mixed- I've read complaints ranging from "too dense" to "muddy" to "what the fuck is going on with this shit?" And while I think it's truly a wonderful record, having seen these songs played live I do have to agree to some extent- there's a lot going in this record. The band has been very forthcoming about the agony that mixing BSS was, and you can tell in interviews that for many members of the band/collective, the album isn't so much finished as it is done, both for the sake of being done and for maintaining the band's collective sanity.

So yeah, it's not as "good" as You Forgot It In People. But before you write it off entirely (and frankly, go see them live before you make any judgements about their worth as a band. I'm not one for religious experiences, but they come pretty damn close), do me a favor- invest in a good pair of headphones and listen to Broken Social Scene all the way through.

I recently got myself a fancy-pants pair of Sennheiser headphones. They're great- excellent clarity, great frequency response, and an almost-eerie sense of "space" in music that you just don't get with cheaper gear. I'm listening to BSS through them for the first time as I type this, and


The album finally makes sense to me! You can literally hear every single thing in the mix, with an immediacy that transforms the songs from overwhelmingly dense to multilayered, psychedelic, and fascinating.

These are pop songs buried in a Matisse. They're rock anthems wrapped in a Christo fabric installation. They're Pavement and Dinosaur Jr. and, yes, You Forgot It In People tossed in a blender, pureed, and baked into a torte the likes of which Iron Chef Sakai could barely concieve. Okay maybe I'm getting a little too excited with these metaphors, but you get the idea.

Fuck Sufjan Stevens, this is the best album of 2005.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Asshole Rock

So I've been thinking about the seperation between an artist and their music a lot lately. I sorta have trouble making this distinction- If I know that [Artist X] is a real prick, it's difficult for me to really enjoy their music.

I know a friend back in California who hates Isaac Brock from Modest Mouse. Seems Mr. Brock was crashing at his place one night, and they were talking about music. My buddy asked him what he thought was a good way to improve one's musical composition skills. After an awkward silence, Isaac purportedly goes "...well maybe you should just accept the fact that you're not very good at it." Wow, asshole, right? Oh, he also totally hit on my friend's girlfriend, right in front of him.

But shit, man, Modest Mouse have released some of the best indie rock ever recorded! And as much as I love their stuff, every time "Trailer Trash" comes up on random shuffle, there's this little voice in the back of my head going "aaaaassssshooooollleeeee..."

So I try to make the distinction, seperate the guy from the guy's music. But it's tough! I want people whose music I admire to be people I can admire, too. The thing is though, we put talented musicians up on this pedestal. They're somehow supposed to be *better* than the rest of us because they write these incredible songs that so many people respond to. But they're not better, or even different from us- they're regular dudes and ladies just tryin' to make a living by making good sounds. Rock stars poop just like the rest of us, you know?

And when you meet someone whose work you admire so much after a show, and you're all "Oh man that was the best show EVER! You guys rock so hard!" and they just go "uh...thanks..." and it's all awkward, it's (probably) not because they're jerks, or operating on a different plane of existence, or misanthropic geniuses or whatever. They're probably tired from playing a show and not sleeping the night before because they were stuck in a van that smelled like farts and a drummer. They're probably thinking about all the times they fucked up their songs and how the club didn't honor their rider (Heineken, not fuckin' Natty Ice!). They're drained and bummed out, and they WANT to be nice, but shit, man. They don't know what to say to someone who is freaking out a little because OMG THEY'RE TOTALLY TALKING TO THIS GUY IN THIS AWESOME BAND.

And you think "man, was that guy a prick or what? I was totally saying how awesome he was and he blew me off!" That's not how it is, man.

At least, I don't think that's how it is. Maybe the guy from Clap Your Hands Say Yeah was a little weirded out when I hugged him.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005