Way Too Much To Make Up For The Way Too Little:

Romanticizing the music you really love is inevitable.

We envision brilliant "artists" -- yeah, the chronically misunderstood, frustrated genius kind that make REealelalellay!!! "bold statements" -- locked in basements, bearded and depraved of food and water for months on end, penning the greatest albums of all time.

But, come on: you're stuck in traffic, singing along to OMC’s “How Bizarre,” Six Pence Nonethericher’s “Kiss Me,” or STYX’s “Come Sail Away” and you just ain't all that concerned with the arty or the intellectually bloated, now are ya? It’s when we’re pantomiming goofy Mariachi trumpet parts or hammering out drum solos on the steering wheel that we realize all that “high art vs. low art," romanticized auteur nonsense is a total crock.

Sure, the hipster intelligentsia (Adorno was such a fucking HEMAN-proto-hipster) would probably argue otherwise (wink-wink-nudge-nudgin’ it as they belt fuck out the chorus to “Since U Been Gone”), but calling Beyonce or Phil Collins or that Cash Money guy who looks at the camera in Baller Blockin a “guilty pleasure” is just a pathetically lifeless attempt to admit you’re head over heels in love with something you simply ain’t sposed to be. Scrambling for cred with an “I don’t really like it, guys” qualifier doesn’t make you a better music-lover; it just makes you a stupid liar.

So now for some shit I REALLY like:

Eisley - I Wasn't Prepared [link temporarily unavailable]

Things that are good about this song:

01 the chorus, ohhhh, the chorus with that flighty vocal melody and that waver at its close
02 the melting icicle guitars when the full band comes in
03 how unafraid this band is to play pop songs
04 it was written by a group of kids whose mean age is something like 18
05 the lack of a religious subtext
06 the chorus [buy it here]

Whitetown - Your Woman

Whitetown was not a band. It was a guy who didn't look like he was supposed to. Jyoti Mishra, the coke-rimmed dudeface above, is my favorite one-hit-wonder OF...ALL...TIME. A nerd with a Mac and a love for indie pop and dance music, Mishra accidentaly wrote "Your Woman," a WHATTHEHELL hit, in 1997. It's charm is that all the parts work: trumpet fanfare and strings set to a crawling bass line and THE CLAP BEAT! [buy it here]

Kenna - Hell Bent

It must fucking suck to be the other guy in the Neptunes. Really, nobody wants a piece unless you count Kenna, an Ethiopean synth-funk band, whose records come out on Fred Durst's Flawless imprint. But, if you can't get Snoop Dogg and 14-year old girls that yell "Hey, Pharrell can you SIGN MY TITS?!??!", I suppose Kenna has to do. Even so, "Hell Bent" has a crafty stumbling beat thanks to Hugo, and the vocals -- cloying at times (shut up and get over it) -- aren't bad. [buy it here]

3rd Wish ft. Baby Bash - Obsession (Si Es Amor)
Frankie J and Baby Bash - Obsession (No Es Amor)

Please enjoy the best song on the radio, and the original version, written by a latino boy band that isnt Menudo. [preorder Frankie J's here]

Susanna and the Magical Orchestra - Jolene (Dolly Parton cover)

Listen, you don't do this song unless you can DO this song. And I think Susanna Wallumrød and her Magical Orchestra (which is actually Jaga Jazzist keyboardist Morten Qvenild) DO the hell out of this song. Dolly Parton's version is pretty confrontational, but what the Norwegian duo offer up is ultimately defeate -- a final plea from a woman at rope's end. Really, there should be more re-interpretive covers like this. No charging rhythm section, no guitars. Just some wet keys and a whitewashed voice. [buy it here]


Every Fucking Song is Under 4 Minutes and Over 3 Minutes and Pretty Damn Good

Hey, press, let's find something to talk about that isn't Free(ak)-Folk or New Weird Americana or Dance Punk or Electroclash (yeah, that isn't really important anymore, now is it?) or how U2 got their touch back or how fuckin totally sweet Kanye West is. I mean did you see those stupid wings? Have you heard that stupid RECORD?

Of course, that last bit is just so I can publicly hate on Kanye and his flllllllacid bullshit for the first time.

I'll set it right tomorrow, when I gush all over the Pop-On-Purpose of these beautiful siblings:


All You Take Is LOVE

The Clouds - No, You Can't Take Them

As part of his residency at
The Coleman Center, Stuart Hyatt -- the man behind the Clouds, the best damn one-shot "avant-gospel" project this side of, well, I don't know much about gospel music -- gathered a host of Atlanta-area middle school students and community choir members to help him flesh out a few songs he'd written. "Take Them" features a handfull of Kinterbish middle schoolers and the Union Chapel Male Chorus.

It's corny, innocently brilliant and makes me feel better than any song has ever made me feel. [buy it here, when they maybe re-press it]

Four Tet - Iron Man (Black Sabbath Cover)
(from the forthcoming Black Sabbath Tribue Everything Comes and Goes)

Pitchfork already waxed critical 'bout this one, slathering butter all over Hebdan's acoustic guitar figure and that Hendrix cover the Tet did a while back. So, I won't go into much detail. The album it comes from, though, is exciting.

Here's a tracklist:

01 Matmos - F/X
02 Ruins - Reversible Sabbath
03 Grails - Black Sabbath
04 Four Tet - Iron Man
05 Curtis Harvey Trio - Changes
06 Paul Newman - Fairies Wear Boots
07 The Anomoanon - Planet Caravan
08 Racebannon - Sabbath Bloody Sabbath
09 Greenness With Phill G - Sweet Leaf

Racebannon is so BRUTAL it hurts, whilst The Anomoanon is so NOT brutal it DOES NOT hurt. Should be interesting, to say the least. [pre-order it at temporary residence soon?]

Bloc Party - Like Eating Glass
(from the forthcoming Silent Alarm)

Guitarssssssss!!!!!!!!11111 They ALMOST run the show here. But it's Matt Tong's frantic drumming that truly makes "Glass" such a propulsive delight. That, and the moment when the synth throws off its bathrobe and screams "HERE I AM, MOTHERFUCKERS!" The clap-alongable coda ain't bad either. [buy the import here]


Nick Drake Caked In Eyeliner

My Dying Bride - Black Heart Romance

My Dying Bride - Roads (Portishead Cover)

Some metal is just unabashedly catroony and burlesque. Don't get me wrong, I'm ok with that; I actually like it. That's My Dying Bride's appeal. For fourteen years now, they've been trying their hand at heavy goth caked in eyeliner and doomy metal caked in the apocolypse. The first track above is taken from their most recent release -- the 2001 album, The Dreadful Hours -- and pretty much encapsulates where they are now musically. The second is an ambitious Portishead cover. Doesn't do the original justice, 'cause really Gibbons has one of the best voices ever, but the translation is rather neat. [buy it here]

Mick Audsley - Dark and Devil Waters

Unfortunately, I can't seem to find any definitive proof (even on the big ol' internet), but it's rumoured that this song features some of Nick Drake's sparse 70's session-work. It's not an altogether far-fetched suggestion either. The guitar work stings of all that troubador/gentle brit-folk shit Drake champed back then.

But even if he isn't strumming along here, "Dark and Devil Waters" -- taken from the 1972 album of the same name -- is a phenomenal track, a sombre yet hopeful piano-guitar tune bolstered by Audsley's proto-Elton voice. Nowadays, it seems he's keeping busy doing editing work for Stephen Frears films. Go fig. [buy it here]


Italian PowerTWEE

Architecture in Helsinki - Where You've Been Hiding

Twee + Pastiche = Pastweeche!

My friend Mike assures me that ain't no pun. It's a neologism, he says. Either way, I've talked about this Australian octect once before. The only reason I'm posting about 'em again is to retract the snarky, and wholly incorrect, reduction of their sound that punctuated the original post.

Cause, MAN, after listening to the entire album a few times through, I'm just hooked. It's a comfoundingly delightful blend of twee, airy electro-pop and Elephant Six-ish timelessness. "Where You've Been Hiding," the final track on Fingers Crossed, opens with a perfect passage of pop -- wood block drenched in echo belongs to Phil Collins, right? Peppering an understated synth line with a breathy game of repition, reverb'd guitars slip in here and there, until the stately brass section caps the song off with some subtle bombast. Pastweeche, I tell you. [buy it here]

Blind Guardian - Noldor (Dead Winter Reigns)

Italian powermetal is basically a mash-up of Meatloaf theatrics, guitar vitruosity, (completely forgivable) Halfordian vocal wanking, and Tolkien worship. Blind Guardian aren't from Italy (they're from Germany), but they sure sound like a big-bottom'd Rhapsody. "Noldor" sits almost directly in the center of their 1998 release, Nightfall in Middle-Earth, and serves as the album's brilliantly cathartic high-point. This is music for trolls and elves that mean fucking business! [buy it here]


Oh, Gravity Records, You Had The Rapture

Only one song tonight, but it's a good one:

Antioch Arrow - Too Bad You're Going To Die

San Diego’s Antioch Arrow played like they were on stage in the shittiest dive bar, smack dab in the middle of the world's grimiest, most seamy red-light district. Whether they actually were or weren’t (they weren’t) wasn’t important. Taken from the band's 1994 Gravity release, Gems of Masochism -- once long out of print, but unearthed and reissued by Three One G last year -- "Too Bad" is a murderous fit of melodrama and rage, funhouse aesthetics pulling organ stabs by their upturned noses.

Honestly, these guys were doing the sass-core thing long before the Blood Brothers (whose stuff once came out on Three One G as well) shucked their hips onto that scene in 2002. But I digress; Antioch Arrow absolutely decimated the San Diego art hardcore scene (that's the emo one, folks), and you can hear exactly how on "Too Bad You're Going to Die." It’s all about menacing carnival organ paired with some serious vocal hysterics, and if they get the job done, you feel uncomfortable and sort of like you need to take a shower. [buy it here]


A Sentence About Fog

Thanks to Rockcritics Daily for posting a lil' something about a bit of well-meaning nonsese I wrote for the Daily Tar Heel. Wish I'd had a bit more time to work on the article, considering its fairly narrow tack. Oh well.

Fog - Can You Believe It?

(from the upcoming 10th Avenue Freakout)

Andrew Broder's Kandane-esque delivery -- shy and garbled like a sleep-singer -- isn't even the best part of "Can You Believe It." The star of this show, of course, is the lasso Broder has tossed around the music. And while Ether Teeth was stunning, in all of its frenetic, fucked up and wirey glory, 10th Ave is a different sort of monster at times.

Here, Broder quells some of the ambience and electronic noodling, opting to pay a tad more attention to cohesion in song craft. It's still quirky, though there's next to no turntable whiz-kid moments. But Broder will never stop destroying folk songs in the absolute perfect way. It just seems this go round he doesn't always break the song's back. Let's hear it for restraint. [preorder it here soon]

Radiohead - Fog

And here's a song called Fog. An outtake from the Amnesiac/Kid A sessions that found its way onto the "Knives Out" single back in the summer of 2001. Originally titled "Alligators in New York Sewers," Thom played it as an acoustic number during a concert in Isreal around the release of Kid A. The recorded version, though, has most of the "Radiohead electronic music" calling cards: glitchy undercurrents, outter-space flashbulbs, sleigh-bells(?), and a charging drum-led climax. The melody is gorgeous, and really this would have fit in quite nicely on either of the band's early 2000 discs. Alas. [buy it

Antony Is Tough

Antony and The Johnsons - Hope There's Someone

There’s something unendingly affecting and pained about the way Antony sings. It's soulful, if that word can be used without coming off as completely trite and worthless. Like a spare and weary Brian Ferry or, almostkindasorta, a careworn Tiny Tim, his voice pitches and trembles on "Hope There's Someone," the lead track from the just-released I Am A Bird. Backed by piano(s), occasional blankets of reverb, layered vocals and a bit of synth, the whole thing is pretty theatrical (cheesy at times), but it works brilliantly even at its most mawkish and corny. [buy it here]

With Honor - More Than Heros

When attempting to pair another piece with the Antony track you find above, I was sort of stumped. But I think With Honor does a similar thing. Both bands deal in pathos -- affection that isn't afraid to cry all over itself or scream its lungs out. Ok, so maybe this is a stretch entirely, but With Honor is the only toughguy hardcore band I give two shits about these days.

From the opening chugga-chug riff, to the half time'd gang-chorus breakdowns, "More Than Heros" is a perfect toughguy song. "They want a war, they'll get a war," the massive tattooed chorus belts. "Tonight, everything changes!" And the beautiful thing is they mean that so hard. [buy it here]


Fuck, I'm IN LOVE

Lady Sovereign – Ch Ching (Cheque 1, 2)

"Cha Ching” was the first bit on that cry.on.my.console mix I posted a month or so ago, but Sovereign's stuff really deserves to stand on its own. Not sure who produced, but this beat is really testy and acerbic (everything that’s so appealing about grime). The best part, though, is how the whole thing still feels lite and playful underneath that youthful delivery and sharp lil' voice. [buy it here]

The Streets - Fit But You Know It (Remix)

Oh, oh, oh, this b-side remix of Skinner's hit features a verse from Sovereign, among other burgeoning UK MCs. Here she's a bit nasal and unpolished, but I swear that makes it all the much better. [buy it here]


Gotta Say It RIGHT NOW

Lady Sovereign is incredible.

Like Wiley if he was an 18yrold Missy Elliot.

Expect multiple MP3s tomorrow.

Taint Gotta Read It Iffin You Don't Wont To

While my embryonic taste in blogs is sorta embarassing, I think I can vouch for the must-read status of Promocopy. Only been reading for a month or so, but it made my January a lot better. Much to my surprise, they've graciously linked the half-assed piece of shit you find yourself reading right now and, I gotta say, it's quite the honor.

Prefuse 73 - Pagina Dos (featuring The Books)

Scott Heren is a fucking monster. I haven't heard a thing of his I don't absolutely adore. And at risk of sounding like a supreme fanboy (as if I already don't), from what I've heard, the forthcoming Surrounded By Silence is set to completely eclipse everything he's done. But how could it not, with guest apperances by Ghostface, El-P, Tyondai Braxton, Kasu of Blonde Redhead, GZA, Cafe Tacuba, Aesop Rock, and a laundry list of others? Here you got his collab with The Books. Delightfully blugeoned bluegrass and foundsound, given a slice-n-dice twice over.

(pre-order it here(?) soon)