Archive for the 'Uncategorized' Category

Random song post, Volume 11

July 2, 2010

Mayday Parade – “Jamie All Over” (A Lesson in Romantics, Fearless, 2007): Combining the dual vocals of frontman Derek Sanders and former vocalist/guitarist/lyricist Jason Lancaster, and boasting a high level of production courtesy of Zack Odom & Kenneth Mount, the irresistably catchy pop rock of, “Jamie All Over, ” can’t be ignored, nor denied.  Jake Bundrick’s drums are simple, solid and laden with just the right amount of creativity without the tendency to overplay.  Rounded out with occasional bursts of half-time during the bridge and outro, “Jamie All Over, ” is yet another excellent entry into a genre that could use more songs like this.

The Swellers – “Fire Away” (Ups and Downsizing, Fueled By Ramen, 2009): Immediately coming out of the gate with a 6/8 attack of aggressive drums and guitars, this unrelenting burst of energy only briefly comes down during the verses, which itself is short-lived, bringing to mind early Foo Fighters.  Even more Foo comparisons can be found in frontman Nick Diener’s vocals and guitar, and his brother Jonathan’s fantastic work on the drum kit, similar to the chemistry found in Dave Grohl and his drummer Taylor Hawkins.  As a die-hard Foo fanatic, it’s easy to see this Michigan quartet filling their shoes one day-in fact, they might already have.

Review: Rose Pedal Division, “Sinking Ship”

July 2, 2010

Kevin Cheney, the mastermind behind the solo electronic act Ankhabar, has proven himself to have a toolbox loaded with diverse musical abilities, especially when one takes into consideration the recent release of Sinking Ship, the debut release of his side project Rose Pedal Division.  Throughout the course of this five-song EP, we’re treated to not only a look back at a classic era in music, but also an embrace of modern rock sensibilities, both of which come together beautifully to create a fantastic ride.

Opening track, “Call To Arms, ” is a fine introduction to the EP, with solid vocals and gritty guitars.  Almost instantly a strong grunge influence can be felt, recalling groups like Alice In Chains, one that seamlessly carries over into the slow burner, “Embrace, ” in addition to the follow-up songs, “Tecumseth, ” and, “Tell Her To Go.  ”  The latter two songs, in particular, showcase a wide range that goes from slow and raw to fast paced and exciting.  All of this, however, is merely setup for the closer, “When You, ” easily the finest song this EP has to offer.

My recommendation?  Don’t miss this.  Sinking Ship represents both an excellent achievement in the art of music, as well as an enticing treat of what’s to come.  It’s truly a standout in this musical environment, and I can’t wait to hear more.

You can purchase the Sinking Ship EP at http://www.rosepedaldivision.com, in addition to iTunes, Amazon mp3, Napster, Medianet, emusic and Rhapsody.

EDIT: It turns out, after speaking with Mr.  Cheney himself, that the aforementioned tracklisting is incorrect-while this is how it appears on Amazon, it’s not the originial order as presented on the physical copy of the EP itself.  It should actually read:

1 When You

2 Tecumseth

3 Embrace

4 Tell Her To Go

5 Call To Arms

Even though this author was wrong about the layout of the songs on the disc, this new order presents an all-new feel.  Opening with, “When You, ” a song labeled earlier as the best on the EP, is a brilliant choice, after which the diverse nature of Rose Pedal Division (and, subsequently, Kevin Cheney) is presented through the following three songs.  Closing with, “Call To Arms, ” now seems like an appropriate way to end this musical experience.  Credit must also be given to drummer Anthony Brown, who assisted on the recording with an unbelievable performance.

Random song post, Volume 10

June 16, 2010

Had a little extra time on my hands.  Reviewed a few extra songs.  Here ya go.

All Time Low – “Lost In Stereo” (Nothing Personal, Hopeless, 2009): Fun, exciting rock from a band that could very well be sliding into Fall Out Boy and blink182’s shoes at this very moment.  With similarities to most of Cartel and New Found Glory’s respective catalogs of music, it’s a solid entry into the pop/punk genre.

The Spill Canvas – “Our Song” (Realities EP, Sire, 2010): Despite a noticeable gap since their last full-length, South Dakota’s The Spill Canvas have managed to tide us over with the recent release of two EPs, Abnormalities and Realities, the latter of which boasts the single, “Our Song, ” easily the epitome of everything this band stands for when it comes to music and a fine representation of their sound.  Frontman Nick Thomas’ distinctive, somewhat aggressive voice drives the song, while the rest of the band follows along nicely with appropriate guitars and drums.

Weezer – “I’m Your Daddy” (Raditude, DGC/Interscope, 2009): On Weezer’s seventh full-length Raditude, these emo/powerpop pioneers took their already diverse musical history into yet another direction, best indicated on songs like the singles, “(If You’re Wondering If I Want You To) I Want You To, ” and, “I’m Your Daddy.  ”  It’s the latter of the two songs that sees frontman Rivers Cuomo in prime shape, bringing back a voice not heard since most of the 90s and a band that seems to remember how they used to sound.  With a fantastic mix of drum machines, synthesizer, and Weezer’s trademark over-the-top guitars, “I’m Your Daddy, ” stands as a great example of how far Weezer has come, and what they’re still capable of.

Silversun Pickups – “The Royal We” (Swoon, Dangerbird, 2009): Awesome.  Just awesome.  Hard to believe such a thunderous sound (especially during the chorus) could come from a bunch of shoegazers like the Silversun Pickups.  Touches of string instruments add to the tension ever present throughout the song, and frontman Brian Aubert’s voice sounds just as good as ever.

One song. More to come.

June 11, 2010

So, it’s happened.  I allowed myself to neglect this blog for too long, and now I have a small, yet somewhat substantial list of songs I’d like to write about.  Shame on me.  As a way of gradually playing catch-up, in addition to not wanting to feel overwhelmed, I will, from this point forward (unless some other topic comes my way) review one song at a time until I’m done, at which point I’ll either go in a completely different direction or find something else to write about.  Something that involves music.  Any ideas?

Green Day – “Jesus of Suburbia” (American Idiot, Reprise, 2004)

Coming in at around 10 minutes in length, this sprawling track off Green Day’s blockbuster 2004 album American Idiot could quite easily be one of their best, and could almost stand on its own even if one were to discard the other 13 tracks that make up this landmark record (which would not be a good idea!).  With a variety of musical changes throughout the song that seem to reflect the best eras Green Day gave us, and an incredible ending that launches out of a quiet piano interlude, “Jesus of Suburbia, ” is really quite phenomenal.  The band has never sounded better, both in vocals and instrumentation, giving us yet another piece of music unlike anything we’d previously heard from these punk pioneers.

Lady Gaga vs. Ke$ha

June 4, 2010

What can I say? Both women seem to be cut from the same cloth in terms of image and musical style, and in all honesty I can’t get enough of ’em. There’s no denying the sheer excellence of Lady Gaga, an incredibly talented musician with a lot to offer in terms of voice and instrumental ability. Her vocals on, “Bad Romance, ” are a notable highlight, and when she teams up with the queen of all modern-day divas, Beyonce, on, “Telephone, ” her uncanny knack for blending catchy hooks with astounding vocals truly shines. Comparisons between her and Madonna have been made for some time now, yet I believe Gaga possesses more talent that Madonna did at the dawn of her career-I can only imagine what time would have shown us had Lady Gaga come first.

Ke$ha, while similar to Gaga in many ways, almost seems to represent something of a little sister to Gaga-although her music is lush with the synthy pop Gaga seems to favor on songs like, “Poker Face, ” and, “Just Dance, ” her lyrics are far more playful and fun, encompassing a persona that emits an overall lack of seriousness. “Dinosaur, ” is a great example of this, while, “Tik Tok, ” and, “Your Love Is My Drug, ” seem to demand we hit the dance floor, while Gaga would probably prefer we lounge around to her music whist sipping Cristal.

I hate to have to pick one over the other, as both have many individual talents to offer, so I’ll instead continue to sit back and enjoy the music. Keep up the great work ladies!

GP: “Follow You Down”

May 6, 2010

To be honest, I don’t even know if I’d consider this a guilty pleasure. I’m not at all afraid to declare my love for this Gin Blossoms classic, a song that’s still just as solid as ever nearly fifteen years after its initial release. Modern-day pop/rock bands, take note.

Good Morning Internet

May 3, 2010

Again, my apologies for yet another blog posting delay.  Life gave me a lot of lemons last week and the process of making them into lemonade was exhausting.  I can, however, say that the lemonade is quite tasty and a drink I’m proud of.  Contact me if you have any desire to find out what that means.
Although I did promise some more music-centric posts on Foo Fighters and whatnot soon, I am going to be taking some time to work on a few documentaries for some friends of mine, which I’m quite excited about and am looking forward to getting online shortly.
In other news, I just saw Crazy Heart.  And I would try to review it, what with the music-heavy plot and all.  However, Ribs does it quite well over at his blog-do check out http://ribsramblings.wordpress.com/2010/02/21/ribs-reviews-crazy-heart-2/.  And yes Ribs, I did see The Hurt Locker.  Didn’t like it.

Update supreme

April 26, 2010

Hey all!  Mucho apologies-o for the delay in blog postings.  Been busy as per usual.  But fear not, more insights into the mysteries of music are on the way, including in-depth looks at three of my favorite bands: Foo Fighters, Motion City Soundtrack and Mae.  And possibly others.  We’ll see.
In the meantime, do check out my YouTube channel, where I cater to my other hobby of wacky videos.

http://www.youtube.com/user/favabean1982

They’re not great, but hey, Jimmy crack corn.  And I don’t give a damn.
By the way, thoughts on the new Alkaline Trio disc?  Think This Addiction lives up to the high standards set by their previous work?
Later!

Review: “That Thing You Do! ”

April 19, 2010

So, I know I haven’t been focusing in solely on music lately, but hopefully you can recognize the musical value of some of the items I’ve been writing about, in particular my movie reviews, all of which feature music as a central theme.  With that said…

Released in 1996 and set during the 1960s, “That Thing You Do!  “   is Tom Hanks’ directorial debut, and a fine debut at that.  The story of a garage rock band who rises to stardom on the success of their one big hit song, “That Thing You Do!  “   this movie hits all the right notes, so to speak, and seamlessly pulls off a fun, playful atmosphere that echoes the carefree days of a bygone era.  After losing their drummer to a broken arm, a local Erie, Pennsylvania band suddenly finds themselves in need of a replacement, quickly turning to beatnik jazz drummer Guy Patterson (Tom Everett Scott) to fill in for a gig at a college talent show.  However, after Guy speeds up the tempo of the eponymous song, turning this slow ballad into an upbeat rocker, the group is soon presented with an unexpected wealth of fame, especially after being signed to Playtone Records by a suave A&R representative named Mr.  White (Tom Hanks) and settling on band name The Wonders.  Despite the usual lousy shows and technical on-stage problems any band goes through, they’re eventually added to a nationwide Playtone artist tour that takes them to a variety of state fairs, all the while enjoying the continued rise of, “That Thing You Do!  “   up the charts and the benefits this entails, such as appearances on TV and in a major motion picture.

As is the case with any film, this one features a fair amount of drama and relationship issues, including those between lead singer/guitarist Jimmy Mattingly (Johnathon Schaech) and his girlfriend Faye (Liv Tyler), for whom drummer Guy secretly longs.  We also see as Jimmy becomes consumed with his own visions for the band, and his desire to take the band in that direction, even if that means less a focus on performing live and a greater emphasis on recording.  Guitarist/vocalist Lenny Haise is portrayed as a silly, skirt-chasing buffoon, a role which Steve Zahn performs admirably.  And it’s great to see Guy’s starry-eyed reactions to all the amazing things that happen to him and the band, all the while harboring his continued love for jazz and, especially, the music of his favorite jazz musician Del Paxton, a love that pays off in a big way for Guy as the film nears its conclusion.

Any film that turns its focus towards music, bands, or anything along those lines is already a winner in my book, and this one is a perfect example of all those things.  As mentioned, Hanks does a wonderful job of bringing the audience into the halcyon days of the 60s, when Beatlemania was at its peak and a band not unlike the Fab Four attempted to make a name for themselves.  Comparisons to The Beatles can be found everywhere, from the uptempo snappiness (to quote Mr.  White) of the band’s music, to their nicknames eventually assigned to the band members, all the way down to the drummer swap, which recalls the substitution of original Beatles drummer Pete Best with Ringo Starr.  The cast does an excellent job, rounding out their roles to a, “T, “ and making us believe they’re an actual band (in reality, external musicians including Fountains Of Wayne’s Adam Schlesigner composed much of the movie’s music).

I tip my hat to, “That Thing You Do!  “  for again giving those musicians who’ve cut their teeth in bands at one point or another something to watch with fondness, and making us believe that, maybe, being a one-hit wonder is all you really need.

This Is Spinal Tap, finally

April 17, 2010

Not long after awakening the other day, I stood in the shower, musing on what I should blog about next, and This Is Spinal Tap seemed like a logical, obvious choice.  My favorite music-related movie AND my favorite comedy?  Honestly, how could I go wrong?

However, I soon came to realize that, much like the subjects of many of my previous blog posts, any attempts to personally review it would be detrimental to future viewers of this fine piece of cinema-I truly feel hesitant shedding light on any number of the hilarious moments that occur, and would rather let those who haven’t seen the film yet check it out with a clean slate.  Plus, I’ve already touched on some of those moments in my review of Anvil! The Story of Anvil.

What I WILL say is that Michael Mckean, Harry Shearer and Christopher Guest play their roles as, respectively, David St. Hubbins, Derek Smalls and Nigel Tufnel (the members of Spinal Tap) quite beautifully, under the direction of Rob Reiner, who himself co-stars as Marty DiBergi, a long-time fan of, “Tap, ” who’s self-enlisted to document the band as they hit to road in support of their new album Smell the Glove.  From there, the band runs into problems too numerous to mention, all the while discussing their past accomplishments (and failures), all with humorous, sarcastic wit.  Various elements like their flat-out unusual drummer situation and the entrance of St. Hubbins’ controlling, manipulative girlfriend help drive the, “plot, ” if there even is one.  And there’s no denying that the ending is just plain awesome, one that’s been referenced frequently since then in forms of media like Weezer’s music video for, “Perfect Situation.  ”

The music itself also helps to carry the film, and it’s EXTREMELY refreshing to see a movie about musicians in which the actors actually play their own instruments, and play them well.  The scenes of the band rocking out live in concert are convincingly shot, and while still ripe with hilarity, are mostly hard to distinguish from many, “actual, ” concerts I’ve seen.  Milwaukee residents should take note of their performance at Shank Hall, which is clearly NOT the real Shank Hall-the one we’re all familiar with opened in the years following the movie’s release.

This is where I shall stop-I don’t want to get too much further into some elaborate plot description and end up giving away too many of the jokes.  If you haven’t already seen This Is Spinal Tap, do check it out, especially if you’re a musician.  Chances are you’ll love it, as I do.