Sunday, January 31, 2010


I'm thinking about adding a video element to my blog, like this guy:

Feedback? Should I go all the way, video style?

Hot Chip - One Life Stand

If listening to Nickelback is like dating the captain of the football team, listening to Hot Chip is like getting with the president of the marching band. Both can provide a thrill, but shit, the sweet, geeky Hot Chip is gonna treat you better in the long run. On their fourth album, they bring that long-term commitment to fans, exclaiming, “I only wanna be your one life stand/tell me, do you stand by your man?” amidst house beats and digitized funk. Co-vocalist Alexis Taylor says influences came from all over – Madonna, Arthur Russell, and – ready for the floor? – Susan Boyle. The five Brits left out some of the goofiness and quirks heard on 2008’s Made in the Dark, crafting a cohesive album of melancholy electro ballads and Auto-Tune dance floor hits. Though the album lacks some of Hot Chip’s much-welcomed spontaneity, One Life Stand will still be a standby for DJs and partygoers alike. “Thieves in the Night” washes electric guitar growls atop pulsating synth blasts and peppershaker drums, while the slow, gooey harmonies in “Slush” recall doo-wop at its best. It may not be for the commitment-phobic, but it’s definitely for the danceaholic.

Decade's Best - An Analysis

I know I never made a "best of the decade" list. And for that, you can forever punish me for being a lazy blogger, or a lazy journalist, or even a lazy music listener.

The honest truth, however, is that I don't actually feel qualified to rate the best albums of the 2000s. Sure, I was alive for the whole decade. Sure, I was a college DJ for half of the decade, providing me with an easily-accessible door into most new releases. Yes, I have and will always have and endless love affair with music.

BUT, here's the thing: I didn't really get into my own music groove until senior year of high school. I may have been musical (read: I was a nerd - I was in choir, and showchoir, and school musicals), but I wasn't "musical" (read: I didn't go to concerts, nor did I really start seeking out music I would personally love.) I listened to the music that was provided for me. (This goes hand in hand with books: I learned to stop trusting other people's literary tastes after reading many a Sarah Desson novel, and far too many James Pattersons (thanks mom... ).)

Listening to what was given to me? It actually provided a good variety in my life. My father's music tastes are ridiculously diverse. (To some extent - most of it is guitar-driven rock.) But I loved The Police and Talking Heads from a young age. Rod Stewart, Tom Petty, Bryan Adams, John Mellencamp, U2 (how could I forget my favorite?), The Who, Hall & Oates, The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, Elvis Presley, The Temptations, The Four Tops, The Grateful Dead... I mean, it was diverse. In middle school, I "rebelled" from good music. I explored the lands of boy bands and top 40 (whew, glad I got that out of my system). I got to high school and adopted the hilarious pop punk/fake emo stage of my life - New Found Glory, Dashboard Confessional, Chris Carraba, Dashboard Confessional........

It wasn't until 2004 that I first heard The Strokes, Wilco, Metric, Arcade Fire, and other bands that I can still embrace as "my music." For the first time ever, I was listening to something that was "mine." Not my father's, not my crush's, not my friend's. Music for the sake of music, a personal experience that began to transform my identity. It all stemmed from that year. And my first big purchase - my first iPod.

I cannot pretend to understand the best music of the decade. I didn't hear Elliott Smith until 2005, so how can I even put his genius into perspective? I was still listening to Britney Spears when I entered high school. I cannot judge an entire decade in which I was only and independent person for half of it.

That being said - all disclaimers out - my favorite album of the 2000s is Wilco's Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. It stands alone for me as the single most alluring album from beginning to end, a journey that has taken me from adolescence to adulthood. Each time I listen, it grows. I notice something extra, the lyrics seem exponentially mean more and more, and the chaos of the distortion seems perfectly intentioned. Hearing the songs live - I have done so three times, two by accident (destiny?) - awakens something deeper from their mysterious depths.

The bouncy innocence melds with its slightly mischievous quality. It's like taking the purest of childhood memories and compressing them into an hour. The sweet success of riding a two-wheeler, the first time you got away with lying to your parents (and later giggled about it), the urge to create and learn and discover. My history is in this album, the very culture of life intertwined in its notes. I don't listen to the album and think about Wilco's band issues, or Jeff Tweedy's struggle with drugs. It steps aside from their drama, and it becomes mine. Every song becomes a facet of my own life.

I feel as if the album was written for me. I think lots of people feel that way about it. And isn't that just the ultimate praise one can give to a band? 'Wilco, you have created something so real, so personal... something I pretend is exclusively mine.' I think that's what music is about. Even when we don't know who we are, isn't it nice to let music define that for us? If only for the length of one album, if only short and fleeting, I am myself when I hear Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. My life makes sense.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Irregular Post

I know this is not music-related, but it is just too funny not to post. I got a random email from a random man. He wants me to sign him up for reformer pilates?

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Bon Iver


This man, this genius person, has taken the auto-tune argument to a whole new, eloquently-put level. Thanks, Ryan, for bringing this to my attention.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Tahiti 80 - Tune In

There's something about songs that convince you that falling in love - despite how unlikely it may seem in your own personal life - is possible. There's just something about them. They lift your heart and make you smile. If you are really silly putty like I am, they also make you shuffle around your room mindlessly, as you wonder when you should put your laundry away and what you should cook up in the coming weekend.

I don't know where I found Tahiti 80's "Tune In." Probably one of the three music blogs I follow. (I cannot disclose these locations yet, for fear that you will abandon my mindless blog thinkings for more intelligent romping grounds.) I can tell you that Tahiti 80 is French, just came out with a fourth album called Activity Center, and their blog is very colorful, in a good way.

And that you need to hear this song, and fall in love. With it, with love, with the confetti picture above, with the stupid piece of dirt that will never come out of your carpet. Whatever. Just do it.

Tahiti 80 - Tune In

Sunday, January 24, 2010

The First Time...

I saw Katy Perry, this is what I saw.
I was assigned to decide whether or not to put her EP, Ur So Gay, in ACRN's rotation. My answer? A big, resounding NO.

This was a few years ago, before anyone had heard of her. I looked at her picture, and I thought, this girl is doing every cliche indie thing she can dream up: teal wayfarers, very naked top-half, gigantic hairpiece, etc.

And I listened to her songs, and I thought, a monkey could make this music, and that monkey could very plausibly do a better job. At least they would be less whiney and annoying. And whoever wrote those lyrics, spelled "ur so gay," was a 12-year-old sending an instant message to his younger brother.

Then Katy Perry blew up. She got huge. Just for singing about the general lesbian activities that people get excited about. You know, kissing girls and such. And she started dating the dude from Gym Class Heroes (who, by the way, I realize stole "Cupid's Chokehold," a song that I rightfully thought was awesome, from Supertramp's "Breakfast in America").

Now people are confusing Zooey Deschanel for Katy Perry. Not cool, people. Get it right. One is a classy, one-of-the-best-of-her-generation actress with a beautiful, classic singing voice. One is a trashy, attention-starved whore. It's not that hard to tell the difference.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Found An Old Live Review...

Beach House... about 2 years ago. Still one of the most memorable, great shows I've even seen/heard/witnessed. (Granted my writing skills have hopefully improved since then...)

Beach House, The Grog Shop, Cleveland, Ohio
Five stars

One man and one woman. One guitar and one organ. One hell of an experience. Baltimore’s Beach House is Alex Scally and Victoria Legrand, but if you closed your eyes while listening to their music, you’d never guess that such a rich, all-consuming sound was coming from just the two of them. They make music that is trance-enducing. Each song is gently tuneful, yet heavy in the sense that its magnificence weighs you down.

They travel light, the two of them, creating a full atmosphere with as few physical bodies as possible. Dressed in all white, they glide onto the stage. Legrand is in a silky shirt with gemstones and sequins and a large crystal pendant around her neck. Scally is impeccably dressed in a white suit, white shoes, and, just to throw us off a little, black socks. When the tiny blue lights are flipped on, the stage is illuminated by what seems like a slow-moving disco ball. The whole effect makes you feel like you are underwater.

As the duo start playing, the whole audience is suspended under the water, floating around in the splendor of their sound waves. The set begins with “Wedding Bells,” a track off their newly released Devotion. Pre-programmed organ beats recorded on a four-track are layered beneath Scally’s smoothly sweet guitar playing and Legrand’s vocals and reverb-infused organ playing. Jason Robert Quever of Papercuts, the opening band, joins the two on stage during “Gila,” and stays from then on to contribute additional drumming.

Legrand’s classical voice training is evident in the liquidy notes that escape her mouth. Each note seems to come from somewhere deeper than the vocal chords; as they flow into the crowd, you can feel your body warming. Every once in a while, a note is a little off key, or she strains herself and sounds a little gruff. But the imperfections show us that flaws are part of what makes this music beautiful. Sometimes she grows impatient with the song (or with some kind of inner struggle), and she shakes her head around and swoops aggressively over the organ.

In “Master of None,” Legrand defiantly croons, “I cry all the time ‘cause I’m not having fun.” She is so passionate, you believe she might just burst into tears. Meanwhile, Scally pulls out his slide, and looks as calm as ever. He rarely looks up from his guitar, except when he’s singing the higher harmonies to Legrand’s melodies. He’s content and in a haze, like much of the crowd. Everyone is in a dream-like state, mesmerized by the hypnotizing beauty of songs off Devotion and their self-titled debut album, like “Tokyo Witch” and “Apple Orchard.”

An eerie alien echo is continually released from the organ. It’s creepy how Beach House’s music can be so calming and soothing but, at the same time, startling. When the notes fly out from Scally and Legrand’s fingers and throats, the process seems innate and natural.

When you see Beach House live, do not go to watch two musicians play their instruments. The performance is much more than that. A Beach House show is an experience – one of entire submittal to music. Your body is submerged in it, your soul is covered with it, and your mind is wrapped up in it. The power of two simple musicians cannot be denied. Not after experiencing Beach House.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Handsome Furs HANDusSOMEculture

Check this out!

"Sub Pop’s indie rock band, the Handsome Furs – made up of the duo husband and wife team of Dan Boeckner and Alexei Perry Cox - documented their travels during their first tour across Asia with two Flip cams for a new series entitled “Indie Asia: On Tour with Handsome Furs.” These self-described travel nerds share the fun, excitement and drama of visiting new places, meeting new people and tasting new foods in China, Hong Kong, Vietnam and Thailand with the audience.

Available at, a new episode of Indie Asia is slated to appear regularly in the travel section of beginning on Thursday, January 21."
Not only are Handsome Furs one of my favorite bands ever to see live, but they are into crazy cultural adventures. They did an entire tour in Russia and Eastern Europe that inspired Face Control, their latest album. Aaaand they spit on each other's faces in concert - always a good thing.

Oh yeah, and their music rocks damn hard.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Beach House - Teen Dream

Teen Dream, Beach House’s Sub Pop debut, is sure to induce hazy infatuations for teens and adults alike. Victoria Legrand’s seductive moans are truly dreamlike, enhanced by steaming hot organs and Alex Scally’s intricate guitar lacings. “Real Love” and “Zebra” recall the antique, autumnal feeling of Beach House’s self-titled debut. Think gypsy royalty and thick, velvety thrones. Yet the Baltimore-based duo has breathed more life into this batch of songs, a collection of faster-moving tunes fueled by captivating drum machine beats. “Norway” catches them at their absolute best. Legrand gently syncopates her siren-like “heh heh” vocals to tribal rhythms and reverbed organ that floats through the air as effortlessly as hundreds of swirling balloons cut free at once. Ghosts and creaky attics come to mind on “Walk in the Park,” where the timeless quality of the music overlaps the equally ageless message that “only time can love you.” Teen Dream reaches for fantasies and simple pleasures of times past, before life was too fast to keep up with. What a relief. Even better, they include a DVD with music videos that go with every song on the album. When the album gets old, watching a man pulling a ham sandwich out of his internal organs never will.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Editors - In the Light and On This Evening

If Orwell was to designate a companion soundtrack to the negative utopian society he creates in 1984, it would probably sound a lot like In This Light and On This Evening. Editors’ lead singer and lyricist, Tom Smith, growls about broken love, drunken violence, and a lack of god on a record where “the filthy city is so close you can smell and taste it.” The electronic bleeps and chilling synths deepen the chill of dark lyrics, depicting the scary reality of London at night. Back in 2005, Editors introduced themselves to the world with an album of menacing guitar stabs that pierced the air with jangly hooks. In This Light, their third album, finds them at their gloomiest. Here they tread the lonely, ominous territory recently explored by Franz Ferdinand and The Twilight Sad. The cold, digital throb explores the growing distance between people in a world more connected than ever. Yet, just when you think the world is going to end, they close the album with the layered, swooning vocals of “Walk the Fleet Road,” a gospel-inspired tune that reminds us that hope is still palpable.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Spoon - Transference

As Spoon’s sound evolves, one element is always constant: the cool swagger of their rhythm. Much like Penelope Cruz’s hips sway when she walks, the songs on Transference have a confident strut that move coolly with Jim Eno’s drum hits. It’s noticeable across the album, from the bass-heavy funk of “The Mystery Zone” to “Written in Reverse,” where frontman Britt Daniel howls about calling a hearse in a shaggy, world-weary tone. The Austin, Texas natives have fun with “Who Makes Your Money,” a seductive “who’s your daddy” callout to the indie rock generation. On the band’s seventh album, they take their first stab at self-producing to interesting results. In the middle of a song, the snarling guitar will drop out suddenly, or the entire mix will fade into an echoed, distant version of itself. The hooky chorus of “I Saw the Light” rapidly mutates into an eerily melodic bridge. Muddled bass and drums add a nice sludge to “Trouble Comes Running,” the perfect three-minute cure for a bad day. Spoon hasn’t forgotten who they are or how to strut their stuff. And they definitely aren’t afraid of “the mystery zone.”

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Spoon Update

my thoughts on their new album, Transference, so far:

dipping into this Spoon album, it's reminiscent of Penelope Cruz's swagger and shaggy dogs and empty disco clubs.

rock on.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

My Wishes...

have been granted.

Just found an email from the Grog Shop. Japandroids are coming back to the Cleve land!

Tuesday April 6th | Japandroids


Yo Japandroids...

You're the hottest live band of my entire life right now (fast forward to 37:00):

Can you please come back to Now That's Class, so I can awkwardly stand by myself for three hours while anticipating your performance? Then proceed to cover the stage with amps bigger than my entire bedroom? Then blow my mind? Then make me fantasize about you?

Ok, thanks. Thanks dudes.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Surfer Blood - Astro Coast

While their classmates were racking up debt at the college bookstore, the guys of Surfer Blood put their scholarship money to another use: musical equipment. The four were freshmen at the University of Florida when they penned and recorded Astro Coast in their dorm room. The results are as fresh and vibrant as their band name, a casual reference to a sport none of them ever really favored. Killer guitar riffs and reverb-soaked surf rock echo noisily through an album that’s drawing comparisons to early Weezer and the Pixies. Best is “Harmonix,” where a simple, repeated guitar interval forms the chill core of the song and the bass scratches funkily alongside. Touches of Vampire Weekend wiggle into the lopsided cowbell-embellished “Take It Easy,” and in “Neighbor Riffs,” Florida sun melts a head-bopping instrumental into something sweet and pure. Surfer Blood find the fine line between big, over-produced anthemic rock and the “unfinished” sound some DIY bands suffer from. Astro Coast is bombastic without overwhelming; the sweeping of the drums and the hollow vocals balance out the guitar’s distortion. It’s one of those albums that’ll get you through the winter, and sound just as good when summer arrives.

Surfer Blood - Harmonix

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Just Chill Out Already

And I introduce you to the chillest techno-romantic chill-out album of my college career:

Talkdemonic's Beat Romantic

And I grant you a sneak-peak listen to a song that so nicely coordinates programmed drums with computers with string instruments:

Talkdemonic - Mountaintops in Caves

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Vampire Weekend - Contra

The newest batch of world music for the masses has arrived. Forget the afro-pop label garnered by Vampire Weekend’s eponymous debut. The four uber-preppy Colombia grads throw in Brazilian funk, reggaeton, dancehall and ska this time around. New cultures collide, cheerfully bopping next to one another on an album that finds inspiration from almost every corner of the world. Somehow the New Yorkers still sound exactly the same as they did on their debut, albeit with fingers pointed toward the Top 40. On Contra, the boys sample (M.I.A.’s cha-cha vocals begin “Diplomat’s Son”) and turn up the auto-tune (“It doesn't sound like T-Pain,” vocalist Ezra Koenig insists. Debatable.) Despite the LOL-able title, “I Think U R A Contra” proves that VW can make pretty acoustic, string-laden ballads. Elsewhere on the album, the songs energetically jump and hop with Ritalin-laced synths, bouncy guitar, and witty lyrical twists. The album opener, “Horchata,” starts with the couplet, “In December, drinking horchata/I'd look psychotic in a balaclava.” It’s this sense of humor that might keep them from being branded as pretentious, the ultimate kiss of death for today’s indie bands. And with an album this alive, Vampire Weekend isn’t ready to die – it’s just entering adolescence.


Not to sound all hippie and stuff, but I'm totally inspired by the spirit and love going on here:

You might call my interest in this song "obsession." Let's all dance around the house with a pigtail on the top of our head (this guy shows us how that's done) and drink cider and have fierce snowball fights and jump up and down and try to do the perfect handstands and recite the alphabet backwards to the tune of this song? K? Good, cuz that's what I feel like doing when I hear it.

What does this song inspire you to do?

Totz Forgotz LOL - Casual Encounters

I wrote this piece on an awesome local band a few weeks ago for the Cleveland Scene. They rock, and they recorded their debut EP in the Hocking Hills, so it's pretty much destiny that I would hear, meet, and fall in love with their music. It's a fact that that these two dudes and two ladies are awesome:

Comparing emo rockers with jam bands is like trying to find similarities between lemon juice and bleach. They're on opposite sides of the spectrum, and the combination can sound nightmarish. Casual Encounters take these labels, toss them around and combine them into an appealing cocktail of sound. Singer-guitarist Matthew Rolin, guitarist Cassie Bishop, drummer Lisa Paulovcin and bassist Antoine Henderson embrace labels like "emo hippies" simply because there isn't a more articulate way to describe what they do.

Continue reading here at the Cleveland Scene...

Saturday, January 2, 2010


Real Estate totally sounds like lo-fi Rogue Wave! Check it.

p.s. That means I love it, I think.