Thursday, April 28, 2011

Almost A Memory - Not The Same Old Summer

04 Track 04.mp3 Listen on Posterous

I don't know what it is but for much of the last decade Long Island has pumped out a stream of great punk bands from Brand New to Latterman to Bayside. Really, there's a killer scene out on the island, even if it gets slagged off by those hardcore kids who don't dig on melodies. I say those kids can suck it.

That said, I can't resist posting a track from my brother-in-law's band, Almost A Memory. When I was up there for a visit last month, I got to watch them practice in a cramped basement bedroom, which makes the china in my in-law's living room rattle. Let me get this important point out of the way: If they weren't actually good, I wouldn't be posting them. Ain't no nepotistic bull shit going on here.

My first thought, because of lead singer Vicki, is the Paramore factor. AAM have it, cause the songs are good, and the band is better. Joe and Chris on guitar, John holding it down on bass and Daniel all over the drums, this is a solid band, and much more so than Hailey and the bitter boys she made stars. It's the voice that sells AAM for me, and I don't think she's come close to her potential yet. Somewhere in there, this chick has the kind of voice that reminds me a little of bands like Tilt, that can knock people off their feet. Hailey has that voice, but - not that they sound alike - Tilt lead singer Cinder is a better example of someone who isn't holding back. Sometimes I think Vicki is. She's got more. But I didn't get to catch a show, so maybe it's just that she doesn't let it rage in the basement. 

Of the handful of songs I saw in practice, "Not The Same Old Summer" stuck with me, just as it had the first time I heard it playing off a small boombox hours earlier. First, because unlike everything else at the PA-less practice, I could hear Vicki singing over the band, and, mostly, because I think people who don't listen to all sorts of punk-influenced pop bands would dig this song a lot. I've said before though that I'm a sucker for this kind of female-fronted band, and the acoustic to pounding look-back-on-summer-love, well, I'm a sucker for that too.

The 15-year-old me identifies with lyrics of frustration like "Fate Knows Your Name" and especially "Lessons Learned." That middle-finger-in-the-air has endeared a lot of bands to me that I probably should have forgotten, Green Day included. (Not that Green Day should be forgotten, but see most of Dookie for what I'm talking about.) Joe and Chris are banging out the power chords that have driven this stuff for two decades - it took a good 10 seconds for me to realize that "Lessons Learned" wasn't "Welcome to Paradise," which happens once a year anyway - and that works well too.

What AAM needs is time. If they get some time, and keep doing what they're doing, there's a good chance somebody who isn't spending the weekend sleeping in their practice space is going to listen to them at least half as much as everybody in my house has over the last six weeks. That, obviously, is a good thing.

Buy the debut Almost A Memory EP Lessons Learned from iTunes.

Posted via email from One Stupid Mop

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Squarepusher - Come On My Selector

Come On My Selector by Squarepusher Listen on Posterous

Yesterday, I heard CJ Bolland's classic-to-me "Sugar Is Sweeter" on the Joe Shockley Podcast after, as Joe put it, it regifted itself to him on one of those wonderful shuffled playlists. I don't know how many years it's been since I heard the track, but it's definitely more than one, and probably closer to two or three or four. So as I piled mp3 backups to rip and load onto my Amazon Cloud, the site of Squarepusher on a playlist caught my eye.

Like "Sugar Is Sweeter," "Come On My Selector" is one of those tracks that was first seen by my eyes on an overpriced import CD and later on a psychotic video on AMP on MTV. It's not just the freaky Japanese girl in the video killing people that does it for me, though that helps, it's the fastest beats I'm pretty sure I'd heard to that point, the squelching bass lines, the actual bass lines, and the way it just twists and gets crazier. From "let the bass kick" to the climax after "come to fucking daddy" and gradual drop off end of the track, with a steadily tranquil bassline as it's guide, it's a mind fuck.

Every track on Big Loada, the stateside full length this comes on, is like this and crazy. What's really amazing is that Squarepusher, or Tom Jenkinson as his mother calls him, is a hugely talented bassist who, when he got several albums of what came to be called drill 'n' bass (sometimes the beats sound like drills, let's be honest here), turned to revolutionary jazz. Eventually, he combined the two and started triggering all his d'n'b samples through a bass. Yeah, revolutionary. I know.

While Aphex Twin wants you to actually go insane, and Luke Vibert wants you to get stoned and follow a groove, I'm pretty thoroughly convinced that Squarepusher was just looking for listeners to dance as though they're having a seizure. Frankly, it's the best seizure EVER.

(If you're not convinced, here's "Problem Child" from the same album.)

Buy Big Loada from Shockhound.
Or, just check out the entire Squarepusher discography. They're all good.

Posted via email from One Stupid Mop

Tuna burger, homemade french fries and edamame. YES!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Times New Viking - Don't Go To Liverpool

Don't Go To Liverpool by Times New Viking Listen on Posterous

I've been crowing about how Times New Viking was writing great, hooky pop songs and then playing them sloppy and distorted, with an extra layer of distortion put on to make sure you really wanted to hear what they were doing and were willing to put the work out. With Dancer Equired, I got my wish that they'd clear some of that slush out, but now I don't know what to think of it.

After a few days of listening to Dancer Equired I couldn't remember what TNV had sounded like on their first four albums. When I went back, what I found sounded like a bad recording of a live show, which I know is what they had been going for the whole time, and now that I could hear their songs, suddenly this is an indie rock band, in the tradition of Guided By Voices or, what I really can't stop thinking, The Moldy Peaches.

I don't know how you go from Pussy Galore to The Moldy Peaches in one album. From straining to hear shit hot rock songs buried in noise and poor recording quality to just somewhat lo-fi recording and clear, endearing melodies (though none of the Peaches sometimes overplayed clever sarcasm). Tracks like "Don't Go To Liverpool," and there are several like this, remind me a bit of pop punkers Mixtapes, if the left out the skate punk parts. On a previous TNV album, there's be a huge, static-y riff on there, and part of me hopes they have one in concert.

If anything kills the momentum Times New Viking has gathered in the last two years, though, I don't think it'll be the shift in recording quality. Much as I've enjoyed the album, it sounds like a different band. Not bad, just different. For a lot of people other than myself, however, different equals bad. Give Dancer Equired a chance to warm up to you. The knowledge that there was a soul beneath all that feedback and static is reason enough.

Buy Dancer Equired from Amazon.

Posted via email from One Stupid Mop

Just stared at this for an hour above our table at dinner. I think I know what I'm watching before bed tonight...

Monday, April 25, 2011

Sleepy Vikings - Calm

Calm by Sleepy Vikings Listen on Posterous

I could have waited for the PR company to send me Sleepy Vikings debut album, They Will Find You Here, but after it got me to stop streaming the new Beastie Boys album (which is fucking stellar) for half an hour cause I just let "Calm" repeat over and over, I decided not to even bother emailing first and just this post tonight.

My initial reaction to "Calm" was that the fast parts have a "Paint It Black" kind of feel and the melodies and chorus have a great easy indie feel like the best of stuff from Polyvinyl Records. The more I listened to it, thought, the more the track lines up with the Pavement and (latter-day) Sonic Youth comparisons that came on the emailed press release introducing me to the band. All the references to jangly guitars and southern shoegaze, a genre which may or may not actually exist, they match up too. 

While I may sit on my tired-parent ass at the end of the day, swallowing beer and staring at the Internet, I bet Sleepy Vikings rip through songs like "Calm" in concert. Though they'll have to hit Fort Lauderdale for me to ever find out, and that's not on the itinerary, I plan to force a lot of people to listen to They Will Find You Here. If the awesome cover drawing of a barn on a fire is any indication, this is a another great album for 2011. 

Keep an eye on the Sleepy Vikings website and Facebook page for where to pick up or download They Will Find You Here on May 10.

Posted via email from One Stupid Mop

Friday, April 22, 2011

Mastodon - Just Got Paid

Just Got Paid by Mastodon Listen on Posterous

It's been a whole week and absolutely nothing, not even one of those bonus tracks from Radiohead, has been posted here from Record Store Day. Not that I've got nothing sitting on the hard drive, but between the holidays and distractions, well... Let's rectify that right now.
Mastodon is one of the hardest, heaviest bands around. I've heard the quip that they're "metal for hipsters," but they're sick, so suck it. In addition to shredding, they use classic literature such as Moby Dick for inspiration. Look it up - it's worth the effort.

"Just Got Paid" is obviously somewhat lighter in subject matter, and is a pretty straightforward cover of a pretty straightforward track by ZZ Top. The track comes from the bearded boogie boys second album, Rio Grande Mud. The cover by Mastodon was the a-side of a limited edition 7-inch put together for this year's RSD international event. The b-side, by the way, is the original. And yes, both of them kick ass.
So, with all the off the wall stuff that came out on RSD, why this track? Well, why blow the whole RSD load so early, you know? Plus, this is a great track and it works for the best kind of Good Friday there is: PAYDAY!
(Super cheesy, that is, but I'm just happy to go swimming through the room full of money once again! Feel free to rock and/or roll, people.)
Buy music by Mastodon from Shockhound.
Buy Rio Grande Mud from Shockhound.

Posted via email from One Stupid Mop

Best. Macaroons. Ever.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club - Shadow's Keeper

Shadow's Keeper by Black Rebel Motorcycle Club Listen on Posterous

Why aren't BRMC huge? Maybe their lack of a massive audience is just further proof that people don't want fuzzed out led-heavy rock and roll every day. Which is loss for them, cause this trio has spent the last decade alternating heavy and fuzzy with country-tinged and introspective, sounding like Jesus and Mary Chain had been ripped right out of the late 60s instead of the 90s, and melded with The Brian Jonestown Massacre and the occasional Stones reference (just like every other good band). Oh, maybe that's the explanation. It's a limited audience.

For every track about a woman problem, there's one about the government or not being a doormat or just being a bad-ass. Last year's Beat The Devil's Tattoo was another solid album from BRMC, who have done a little label hopping but managed to retain the low-key focus they debuted to the world way back in 2001, when I'm sure Virgin Records figured this would be an easy garage sounding sale for the times.

Not long after their somewhat self-titled debut, BRMC, was released, I managed to get 20 minutes on the phone with main man Peter Hayes. Though I was half-drunk from a lunch that included multiple shots of Jagermeister, I managed to dial and speak. This wasn't the first inebriated interview I'd done by this point, and thankfully was prepared with the knowledge that both Hayes and fellow main man Robert Levon Been were a tough interview, so wasn't discouraged or worried he knew about my lunch coming from shot glasses. I just kept talking until he finally started. Which was good, cause that first album (and the second one) consumed a lot of my listening time and would have been seriously disappointing.

Beat The Devil's Tattoo doesn't find the band pushing much beyond their boundaries, but rather continuing to find new ways to twist and layer grooving feedback-heavy chords on each of the 13 tracks found here. It's like a baptism by refreshing, that the masses thankfully could still care less about.

Buy Beat The Devil's Tattoo from Shockhound

Posted via email from One Stupid Mop

TV On The Radio - Dirty Whirl

Dirtywhirl by Tv On The Radio Listen on Posterous

TV On The Radio announced that bassist Gerard Smith lost his battle with lung cancer today. Before the release of the album, the band said that Smith would sit out at least part of their current tour in support of the band's just released fifth full length album, Nine Types of Light, while undergoing treatment for the disease.

Though it was tempting to find a track from the band that somehow relates to death, that's too cliche and unlike this blog. More appropriately, "Dirty Whirl," the eighth track on Return To Cookie Mountain, the 2006 album that blew the doors open for the band from indie freak-outs (really, those of us in the know were having aural orgasms on a daily basis for two years) to pretty universally acclaimed awesome, is a swirling, beautiful song. 

Like every TVOTR track, Tunde and Kyp's vocals are front and center, but it is Smith's guitar and bass work that turn it into a mesmerizing and hypnotic ode to somewhat willful destruction at the hands of a girl.

There is no doubt, based especially on the post at the band's website, that Smith went willfully. This is one of the best songs on an album full of best songs. The band loses a friend, and the world loses a great musician, as evidenced by "Dirty Whirl," and his work on tracks on each of the last three TV On The Radio albums. The reasons should be pretty obvious for why this loss is so great.

RIP Gerard Smith.

Posted via email from One Stupid Mop

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Bob Dylan - Bob Dylan's 115th Dream

Bob Dylan's 115Th Dream by Bob Dylan Listen on Posterous

After an inadvertent break for Passover - I'll blame the wine and leave it at that - my first thought on starting the week was to roll with a song that just keeps popping up on my shuffles. Actually, a bunch of Dylan stuff has been bubbling to the top of shuffles, but this song has played more than once and it got me thinking. 

It's pretty likely the former Bob Zimmerman did not have a seder, considering he gave up on Judaism years ago, but this tale of Captain Kid checking out the New World just before Columbus rolled up made me think of the Exodus despite its complete lack of a real link. The search, for salvation in both cases, comes through for me though, even with the lack of biblical references in the lyrics. Really, "Highway 61" would have been a better pick. Forget that, though, here's a slightly less obvious track that I've grown to like a lot more most of the time. 

The other thing I really dig about "Bob Dylan's 115th Dream" is the way it starts - a studio misstep, and everybody sounds too stoned to really care. I'm only mentioning that part because it's April 20, and some will wonder why I didn't post "Rainy Day Woman #12 and 35." The simple answer, for anybody who listens to the words, is that it's not about drugs. At all. 
If the 60s had really been successful, you'd have smiling, large-bearded Ginsbergian religious-looking figures davening to "It's Alright Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)." Instead, everybody cashed in and only a phrase or two has continued in the popular lexicon, and that phrase is used about as much as the word lexicon. No shame, considering money is what makes things happen, but the words of that track are at least as useful as anything in a Passover Haggadah, if not the entire Bible itself.

Alas, here we are, a better nation and world, despite a lot of the American Enlightenment's failure, and I'm willing to bet that most people 29 years and younger currently alive haven't even heard these songs, or the albums they come from. You don't have to love it, but you should at least know it. Then again, that bit of bitterness comes from a guy who loves everything about Passover from the story to the wine to the screaming about who does and does not find gafilte fish jelly completely disgusting, so do whatever you want.
Buy Bringing It All Back Home from Shockhound.

(For the record, those versions of "Rainy Day Woman" and "It's Alright Ma" are not the album versions, and totally worth checking out if you didn't do so already.)

Posted via email from One Stupid Mop

Friday, April 15, 2011

There are two cases of these sitting in my office. It's like they knew exactly what they were hiring.


I'm a legal-speed freak, and this is the lull part of my day. Now I don't even have to walk smasher for my fix. This red one is pretty delicious.

Posted via email from Stephen Feller

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Handsome Boy Modeling School - The Truth feat. Roisin of Moloko and J-Live

The Truth by Handsome Boy Modeling School Feat. Roisin & J Listen on Posterous

This song made it onto more than half the mix CDs I burned from the first CD burner I got in 1999 up through at least 2005, if not later. At this point, it's one of several hundred random songs that I just leave on iTunes and migrate from iPod to iPod and now from cloud service to cloud service. 

The Handsome Boy Modeling School album, So... How's Your Girl, took forever to come out. Magazines and whatever venues provided music news at that point - either I'm getting old and can't remember or we were just making shit up and saying it to each other - talked about the collaboration between Dan "The Automator" Nakamura and Prince Paul for at least a year before it finally hit stores.

So... How's Your Girl is a long album, but with appearances from the Beastie Boys' Mike D, El-P, DJ Shadow, Alec Empire and Father Guido Sarducci, among many, many others, that long time flies by. 

Roisin Murphy's voice purring over that bass heavy, plodding beat never, ever runs out of steam. J-Live has a great verse on there too, but that's a bonus to what makes this song great - and that, obviously, is Murphy singing. 

I haven't tracked anything Murphy, the former vocalist for Moloko, has done, other than knowing that she's put out a couple of solo records in the last several years. Not that I'm not interested. I'm just pretty satisfied with this track. 12 years on, I guess I ought to look her up. Oh, and despite the fact that nobody talks about it, the Handsome Boy Modeling School efforts remain worthy listening.

Buy So... How's Your Girl from Shockhound.

Posted via email from One Stupid Mop

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Prefuse 73 - The Only Lillies and Lilacs Pt 2

The Only Lillies And Lilacs Pt 2 by Prefuse 73 Listen on Posterous

It would have been easy to dismiss the new Prefuse 73 album during the first listen as ambient noise, almost the way Radiohead's The King of Limbs can easily be dismissed for not being loud at any point. Like the Radiohead album, I think that would be stupid. The Only She Chapters is a whole new plane of existence for Scott Herren and his main alter ego, however, to dismiss as minimalist what really is a complete redefinition and exploration of a new area actually feels like I'd be cheating myself.

Though he first started releasing music as Delarosa and Asora in the late 90s, the first Prefuse albums established Herren's reputation for glitch-hop - chopped up MC's over static-y, stuttering beats - and turned heads immediately. In the decade that followed, however, the abstract producer has gone all instrumental in some parts, brought in vocalists and experimented with all manner of instruments beyond his sampler, and been all over the place while creating some ear-bending tracks, which makes the drawn out illbient-style productions of The Only She Chapters even more fascinating.

That i-word, illbient, was one of the first that came to mind as this album, from top to bottom, reminds of DJ Spooky's full length debut, Songs of a Dead Dreamer, some of the way out Future Sound of London records in the ISDN-era, and even the 16-minute bliss-outs on early Orb albums. On the Warp Records page for The Only She Chapters, Herren refers to the album as a different way to get at his music. Far from a different way, I'd say it's a whole different mindset, despite some of the sampling sounding distinctly Prefuse.

There are only two ways to listen to this album: turned up really loud on a large stereo system, or turned up really loud on headphones. I've got the headphones route and been seriously rewarded because slapping cans on your ears blocks out any other noise, a good thing considering the voices, tones, and sounds Herren has woven into these intricate recordings.

Some people like to use drugs when they listen to music like The Only She Chapters. If that's your bag, go for it, but realize that this album, itself, at high volumes, is its own drug.

Pre-order The Only She Chapters (and check out a sampler of the album), or buy other Prefuse 73 albums on MP3, CD or vinyl, directly from Warp Records.

Posted via email from One Stupid Mop

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Foo Fighters - Walk

Walk by Foo Fighters Listen on Posterous

It's been a few years since the prospect of a new Foo Fighters album really got me moving. Not that all the TV specials and live performances don't deliver - they do, everything single time. It's just that the albums, basically everything since 2002's One By One, haven't had me freaking out. And I know that Dave Grohl has more than once said he hated the album but "All My Life," "One By One" and "Come Back" are among my favorite tracks ever by the Foos.

That said, there was no telling what would happen when Grohl got Butch Vig in the studio with him for the first time since recording the uber-classic Nirvana album Nevermind. That little fact has nothing to do with it though. What really made me sit up was the clip of "Bridge Burning," and then the video for "White Limo," with Lemmy driving and Pat Smear clearly being back in the band. "Rope" didn't hurt too much either. Actually, "Rope" ratcheted up the expectations even higher.

I've read and heard the sentiment more than once in the last week from people that have heard the album that it's not ground-breaking, mind-blowing or pushing anything toward the musical future. My question is this: When the fuck have the Foo Fighters ever done that? Really, that's never been their gig. Even that mind-blowing-at-the-time self-titled debut that came out of nowhere after being recorded entirely by Grohl himself. That album never gets old, but even that one wasn't any great leap for music, it was just really really good.

Dave Grohl is the best drummer alive, as he proved once again 2009 and early 2010 with Them Crooked Vultures. All I wanted this year was a solid, loud Foo Fighters album. After listening to it for the last five or six days, a lot, Wasting Light is the best album the Foos have put out in years. There's plenty of bitter, hopeful, angry, sometimes satisfied lyrics to go with the rock and roll. The songs are good, the drums are crashing, Bob Mould and Krist Novoselic are on it. "Walk" exemplifies all of that and represents it well. The truth is, this is a solid record. It might make me less of a critic but I'm satisfied.

Buy Wasting Light from Shockhound.
Buy Them Crooked Vultures from Shockhound. (For crap's sake, this thing will kick your ass. Why don't you have Led Foos of the Stone Age? SERIOUSLY??)

Posted via email from One Stupid Mop

Drawings outside the men's bathroom. Einstein doesn't surprise me. Whitman, however, does. :)


I own multiple editions of "Leaves of Grass," so this stands out to me as a good sign for the new job.

Posted via email from Stephen Feller

Monday, April 11, 2011

Blakroc - Dollaz & Sense (feat. Pharoahe Monch, RZA and The Black Keys)

Dollaz & Sense (Feat. Pharoahe Monch & Rza) by Blakroc Listen on Posterous

I started a new job today. While I'm a big believer in paying your dues - that is, working hard at something for no money in order to gain skills with the expectation of gettin' that cheese at some point - this song just a good mantra for life. "If it don't make dollars, then it don't make sense," sings Black Keys frontman Dan Auerbach between verses from Pharoahe Monch and RZA. Yeah, he's got a point.

The Blakroc album, a joint effort between The Black Keys and Damon Dash, featured the Keys playing some heavy hip hop shizz and an all star roster of MC's flowing over top. It has aged well. All of it. After a day full of new people, new tasks and a new office, this album was an ideal come down from all the excitement. Combined with a listen to Rubber Factory, the third album from Auerbach and drummer Patrick Carney, this was the perfect end of day soundtrack. At least, it was that way for me.

Posting this track today is as much a statement on the new gig, despite my love of the old one, as it is a statement on life. You've got to love what you do and, eventually, you've got to get paid for it.

Buy Blakroc from Shockhound.
Buy Rubber Factory from Shockhound.

Posted via email from One Stupid Mop

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Skull Tape - The Invisible Hand

The Invisible Hand by Skull Tape Listen on Posterous

The new album from Skull Tape, The Invisible Hand and The Descent of Man, has been part of my regular listening most of the last month. I'm pretty sure these guys are my Surfer Blood for 2011 - out of left field pop songs that are catchy and I can't stop listening too. I fell in love when Pitchfork posted "Trans Anthro" and, well, you just read those two sentences so you know what happened.

The 12-track album flies by with a Tripping Daisy meets Parts and Labor fury of broken down Nintendo keyboard sounds, punk fast to psych slow and all in between rhythms with harmonies that often, for lack of a better example, sound like Blink-182 (not always, but enough that the thought crosses my mind several times throughout the album). 

All of that adds up to something that fans of Atom and His Package and the three aforementioned bands should be able to agree on. They should agree, of course, that this album is a new obsession. On their Facebook page, Skull Tape claims Sparks, Iron Maiden, The Wipers and YMO as their influences so hopefully my common man explanation doesn't offend them. To be fair, I can hear all those bands too. 

Brad Breeck, formerly of The Mae Shi, wrote these songs after that band broke up in between his work on commercials. According to the press release, The Invisible Hand and The Descent of Man was inspired by Breeck's obsession with a host of current events and it carries a loose theme of social darwinism, covering a wide range of issues the country is facing right now. Knowing this adds a whole layer of holy-fucking-shit to the album, which is catchy, personal and feels familiar from the first listen. I've got to say, part of me thinks that's a bunch of BS but, since this is indie rock and not some douche in a suit from EMI, I'll take the PR company and Breeck at their word.

There's enough punk rock on this album that I'm gonna qualify it as punk, and enough noise and jagged rhythms that it qualifies as art rock, the combination of which should bring it pretty close to perfect. Breeck has managed to craft songs just subversive enough that something beyond "here comes the girl" and "friendship is essential for life," themes that permeate many of these songs, might sink in when you're too busy bopping your head to pay attention.

Pre-order The Invisible Hand and The Descent of Man at Amazon.
Also, Skull Tape made a video for their cover of Willow Smith's "Whip My Hair," which is a mash-up with the album track "Drowning In Blood." As you can see here, it's awesome.

Posted via email from One Stupid Mop

They got me for a donation. Helping people is a good reason not to work though.


And it's better than my usual excuse. :)

Posted via email from Stephen Feller

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

To anybody I know that thinks shutting the government down is an acceptable political tactic:

This comes from a friend in the military:

"Straight from the pentagon, if the government shutsdown, military will get 1 weeks pay instead of 2! You stupid F$&ks on capital hill better get your s@=t straight. You all go home every night to your families and never deploy....F%#K YOU!!! I don't go home every night and I spend months away from my family. Are you going to pay my direct withdrawals from my account and over the limit fees?"

Let's get this out of the way first - the last time Republicans shut the government down as part of some hissy fit to make a point, it backfired on them politically. So, from somebody who thinks you guys play dirty and don't actually have the best interests of the country at heart, thanks. This will help public servants who actually want to do something to move the country forward.

Compromise is not a one-way street. It's time for Republicans and conservatives to sit down and come to an agreement, rather than throwing a hissy fit when they don't get their way. Democrats and progressives in Congress do it over and over, angering their strongest supporters, in the hope that it will allow them to get more done. Unfortunately, that's never the way it works.

On the upside, the last time Republicans shut down the government, a Democratic President was reelected a year and a half later, the economy grew in unbelievable ways, and - shock - the federal budget was balanced as a result of all that tax revenue from the business success. Here's to hoping that the same thing happens now. 

But more importantly, shutting down the government hurts actual American families. Not just the economy, but it makes life harder for people. You may say they're government jobs, but those paychecks are spent at actual businesses and contribute to the actual economy. Most notably, as my friend points out, our men and women in uniform, who put their lives on the line and follow orders given to them with the intention (hopefully) of protecting this great nation, are affected by this. 

By shutting the government down you're hurting people and hurting America. Who's the real party of patriots now?

Posted via email from Stephen Feller

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Nirvana - Drain You (live in Del Mar Fairgrounds, California in December, 1991)

Drain You by Nirvana Listen on Posterous

Today is the 17th anniversary of Kurt Cobain's death. I wasn't going to post anything, but after watching things float across my RSS feeds, Facebook and, strangely, on shuffled playlists, I figured it was worth considering. Until I reread Rolling Stone's 1994 story on his death and actually felt compelled to follow the herd.

Like most people in their late-20s/nearing-30/in-their-30s-or-early-40s, I had a serious Nirvana phase. How could you not? This was the band that ushered in the idea of labels signing bands that didn't sound like the crap they were already pumping out to the masses. Alternative culture - yes, I said it - defined the 90s and made the idea of being whatever you want the mainstream thought for young people. Cringe if you like, but that started with Nirvana. This is the stuff that defined children of the 90s, whether we admit it or not. And as I've seen pointed out on more than one post, Kurt, Krist and Dave talked about the music scenes they came from and the music they liked and brought with them all sorts of bands that MTV and the masses had never come close to. It's important, though a lot of "adults" still don't get it.

In making music that was often raw, something the mainstream had lost for the most part in the 1980s with the synth revolution, "Smells Like Teen Spirit" stood out - much more than "Mountain Song" or "Been Caught Stealing," despite the pointing out of many that Jane's Addiction beat Nirvana to the mainstream. Which is true, but inconsequential. Perry Ferrell represents a mischievous fiend inside us all. Nirvana, though, with the raging guitars, and the pounding from Grohl on the drums, and Kurt's scratched howl, matched a dissatisfaction and bewilderment that American teens and twentysomethings were dealing with after a decade of American greed and decline (sound familiar?) was exactly what we needed. Kurt Cobain and his band woke people up in a way nobody else did. 

I don't remember what day of the week it was, and I don't remember what I did that day - because I was 12 - but I do remember turning on MTV, which I had already developed a very strong obsession with, much like everybody else I knew at that point, and seeing Kurt Loder speak the words that were already crawling across the screen, interrupting Spring Break or something, that Cobain had been found dead of an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound to the face. 

I've had all the albums on repeat for years. I read and reread Kurt's notebooks, published by his evil widow, out of prurient and selfish curiosity. I've read and watched interviews with him, the band, the scenesters... And still I don't get it. I don't think I'm supposed to get it. Something was wrong in his head, much more so than any lyrics, save maybe "You Know You're Right," could let on.

There's no telling what would have happened with Nirvana, or if he'd be on Twitter, or what elder-statesman Kurt would have done. Certainly, the music would be interesting and Mr. Corporate Magazines Still Suck would be biting the hands that feed him. We would be lapping it up though because he was the icon. He fired the first bitter shot. He stood on the essential, though flawed, MTV, which had made him a massively rich success, and pointed out that it kind of sucked. For many of us, it was all we had. Hearing the members of Nirvana tell us that there was more than we were being handed was a big deal. Again, at age 10 or 11 or 12, when they were on the VMAs and in interviews, spouting these things, it meant a lot.

His loss is just as infuriatingly sad now as it was 17 years ago. Maybe instead of Neil Young's "it's better to burn out than to fade away," Kurt should have ended that note with his own words, from the end of "Smells Like Teen Spirit," considering just how true they are: "I deny you. I deny you. I deny you. I deny you."

Buy the vastly underrated live collection From the Muddy Banks of the Wishkah (which the above version of "Drain You" comes from), or any of the other Nirvana albums you should already know by heart. These albums are among the bibles of a generation and are not to be underestimated. As always, I suggest Shockhound. For all sorts of EPs, rarities and physical formats also head over to Amazon.

Posted via email from One Stupid Mop

Monday, April 4, 2011

TV On The Radio - New Canonball Run

New Cannonball Run by Tv On The Radio Listen on Posterous

It took a listen and a half to decide that TV On The Radio's fourth album, Nine Types of Light, would be the best album released this year. Yes, I know that it's only the first week of April. I'm also well aware that several really spectacular albums have already come out this year, and several more are scheduled for release in the next eight months. The fact is, I'm pretty sure this race is over.

While anything could come out of left field, and despite just the greatness of the new Strokes and Foo Fighters albums, among others, this feels like Return to Cookie Mountain leaking eight months before it's actual release all over. I called it then, and I'm calling it now.

Dear Science, also known as album number three, was good. Something felt off, though. Like the boys from Brooklyn were trying to satisfy some kind of expectation. Here, it sounds as natural as Dave Sitek described the recording sessions to be in Rolling Stone

I can't find anything bitter about this album, and that's even with tracks about break-ups. It's all love and rocking out, which is kind of reassuring. You can hear the band finding a nice, happy place and doing what they do with the slow and mid-tempo grooves and the horns and the falsetto. Oh, that falsetto - it has to be the best thing in rock and roll right now. And when it runs atop what has now become the expected TVOTR harmonies, everything seems perfect in the world.

If this is the sound of one of the most adventurous and singularly unique bands of the 21st century maturing, we're in for a ride.

Nine Types of Light has enough range in it to go from a spoken opening on "Second Song," and slow building of "Keep Your Heart" and "You." "No Future Shock" is the wake up call on the first half of the album begging listeners to "blow your top." 

It's the second half of the album, starting with "New Canonball Run," that makes waves though. This track is the "Wolf Like Me" of Nine Types of Light, the one the band wants you screaming. "Repetition" works itself from completely still into a rolling frenzy that should work wonders in concert too. Maybe that's just cause I've found myself screaming at other cars while listening to it at red lights.  

The last two tracks on the album, "Forgotten," which could be the not-so-distant cousin of the classic "Young Liars," and second single "Caffeinated Consciousness," a positively INXS-influenced song if ever I've heard one, are polar opposites that literally bring together everything perfect about this band.

There were points on Dear Science that felt like overreach and made one wonder if they had stretched as far as they could and each album thereafter would just be a reworking of parts. I hate to make the comparison, but think about this: Nine Types of Light is reassuring, because if Radiohead just wants to mess with our robotic heads (and The King of Limbs, at the very least, does that), TV On The Radio clearly just want us feel something. Album of the year is an understatement.

Pre-order a crazy awesome Nine Types of Light special edition directly from the band (there's also an iTunes link there), or grab the deluxe edition with three bonus tracks on mp3 from Shockhound.
Buy the rest of TV On The Radio's discography from Shockhound.

Posted via email from One Stupid Mop

FPG word of the day: I know a thing or two about this one :)

Friday, April 1, 2011

UNKLE - The Dog is Black (featuring Leila Moss)

The Dog Is Black (Feat. Liela Moss) by Unkle Listen on Posterous

It took a few years, but I've stopped expecting UNKLE to come up with an album that sounds anything like Psyence Fiction, the debut full length from Mo' Wax main man James Lavelle which, at the time, was a tightly wound collaboration with the visionary DJ Shadow. It didn't last beyond that one album which, admittedly, has turned out to be more a collaboration than many of us assumed at the time.

In 1997, it was easy to pin the whole thing on Shadow, because the man was in his effortless prime, and Lavelle was a visionary label head, but who could have predicted that, this long after the fact, UNKLE would continue to be putting out compelling music. Because Psyence Fiction is what it is, I (I'll speak only for myself here) have looked for that album over and over and been disappointed not to find it, despite how great Never Never Land and War Stories actually are.

Where Did The Night Fall, the epically mesmerizing album that Lavelle released in an endless stream of ever more clever and expensive formats, completely changed that. Really, the artwork and packaging is stunning. But that's not the point or the reason I spent all day listening to Only The Lonely, a new five-track EP due out Tuesday. I'm just looking for epic production and the right vocalist, because it has become apparent that UNKLE can do that every time out.

This EP, released pretty quickly after last year's triumphant full length, which felt like it didn't get as much attention as it should have, includes the much written about collaboration with Nick Cave, "Money And Run." I'd be writing about it too if Ms. Moss didn't catch me. The lead singer of The Duke Spirit howls over a dramatic pounding stutter for five minute track that makes me wonder if this is what the sirens sounded like in The Odyssey. I just think epic when I listen to this stuff, so why not go with the epic literature reference, right?

It's a good thing Lavelle turned out to be a lifer, because he's come back around to hit stride with a string of great releases. I'd say an EP like this every six months or so would create an army of worshippers but I'm sure he's got a way better plan then that.

Buy UNKLE's Only The Lonely EP from Shockhound on Tuesday, April 4.
In the meantime, buy other music by UNKLE from Shockhound.

Posted via email from One Stupid Mop