Tuesday, July 31, 2007

July 31 Notable Releases

A few of the new and re-released albums coming out this week.

Common -- Finding Forever. Listen.... Common, may I call you Common? Nobody likes Superfly more than me because no one not even Shaft, gives it to the man quite like my man Priest. But while you think you may look super fly, you kind of look more like the bass player from Earth, Wind and Fire -- who's dedication to the long straight locks has devolved into him looking a bit like a half done drag queen. Proceed with caution.

Way of the Fist --
Five Finger Death Punch. There is only one way to counter the five finger death punch Grasshopper. Stick two fingers in ears and walk your ass out of Harpos.

Korn -- Untitled. To quote the immortal Phil Hartman, "I find chunks of guys like you in my stool. NEXT!"


Friday, July 27, 2007

The SimpsonsThe Simpsons Sing The Blues

Released: December, 1990
Geffen Records

editors note: Sorry we've been absent this week... but I think this makes up for it, a classic album review from the one and only Nummer. BUZZZ!

As we prepare to join The Simpsons on their first big screen adventure today (gotta love that Spider-Pig), now’s a great time to look back at another Simpsons monument – their first album.

Released just in time for Christmas 1990, The Simpsons Sing the Blues was designed to cash in on an America already knee deep in Bart mania. The show’s second season was eight episodes in, Burger King was selling plush dolls, Acclaim and Nintendo were prepping video games, and t-shirts (both licensed and unlicensed) were selling by the score. In fact, it has been reported that during the first full season, Fox signed more than 100 licensing agreements for the show resulting in $750 million in domestic sales by the end of 1990. Logically, an album was next in the chain of merchandising. Right?

All they needed was a gimmick. I’m sure all musical genres were debated, but how they arrived at blues I’ll never know. I like to think the marketing meeting that spawned the album played a lot like the brainstorming session we saw in the eighth season classic “The Itchy & Scratchy & Poochie Show”. Remember that one? It had that great scene with producers and writers sitting around figuring out how to make the new character Poochie more appealing to kids (the result was a Kung Fu hippy dog from Gangster City who recycles). Brilliant.

Looking back at the music of November and December 1990, the US was doing anything but raiding the blues sections. Both “Love Takes Time” from Mariah Carey and “I’m Your Baby Tonight” from Whitney Houston were crowd favorites and believe it or not, Stevie B’s “Because I Love You (The Postman Song)” was getting ready for a four week run as Billboard’s #1. In short, Geffen was setting themselves up for a tough sell by releasing 10 tracks of cartoon characters singing the blues. Looking back, they didn’t need to worry too much though. 1990 also marked Geffen’s formation of DGC – a label that in the next few years would feature Nirvana, Weezer, Sonic Youth, Beck, etc.

Still, they pushed on. For Sing the Blues, 20th Century Fox got the primary voice actors (Dan Castellaneta, Julie Kavner, Nancy Cartwright and Yeardly Smith) to reprise the core Simpson family, as well as some additional help from Harry Shearer and Ron Taylor so a few secondary characters could also be included. Amazingly, Geffen also lined up an impressive number of guest musicians and writers. Michael Jackson (who had just been named Artist Of The Decade by President George H.W. Bush) helped pen the first single “Do the Bartman”, Buster Poindexter (aka David Johansen from The New York Dolls) did some vocal work, B.B. King showed up on guitar, Dr. John tickled the ivories, DJ Jazzy Jeff lent a bit of turntable skill and Detroit’s own Marcy Levy provided harmony vocals on a few tracks. Not stopping there, the Tower of Power horns and Joe Walsh (Mr. "Rocky Mountain Way" himself) also surfaced for a few minutes.

When the dust cleared, Sing the Blues was made up of 10 songs – 5 originals and 5 straight/ slightly re-worked covers ranging from Chuck Berry to Billie Holiday. Nearly each family member got their own song, but Bart and Lisa made up the majority. First out of the gate was “Do the Bartman” which for a time became just as popular as the series – I distinctly remember wearing a Bartman pin on my jacket during the 1990-1991 school year. While Bartman wouldn’t appear on the show until May of 1991, a music video was produced in advance of the album’s release that did gang busters on MTV. Shonen Knife even released a Japanese cover version as the b-side to their 1992 single, "Do the Knife".

So was the album any good? Being that we’re in 2007, I think the answer to that depends on when you listened to it. As a 12 year old, I begged my parents for it simply so I could hold the cassette case in my hand and be seen listening to “Do the Bartman” at the bus stop. Sadly, once the novelty of that song wore off, my friends and I never really warmed to the blues concept and moved on to Vanilla Ice’s just released To The Extreme. Guess Geffen’s gimmick didn’t work on my neighborhood’s kids after all. However, listening to it again now, Sing the Blues plays like a warm reminder of what the Simpsons used to be. Bart’s mischief was the centerpiece, Homer’s voice was still in its early oaf-ish stage, Lisa’s jazz roots were established, but her political stances had yet to be defined and Marge was pretty much filler. One song, “Look at all Those Idiots”, has aged particularly well. This is a track that takes us through a day in the life of C. Montgomery Burns. Of everyone on the album, Mr. Burns’ personality is still the same today as it was seventeen years ago. The song features his ever constant threat “release the hounds”, his inability to remember Homer’s name as well as the ambiguously gay Waylon Smithers. Senior Burns. So best.

The album peaked at #3 on the US charts, and spawned two additional singles over the next year – the sample heavy “Deep, Deep, Trouble” and “God Bless the Child”. To the delight of hardcore fans, 20th Century Fox would dust off the music videos for “Do the Bartman” and “Deep, Deep, Trouble” twelve years later to be included as bonus features on The Simpsons: The Complete Second Season DVD. For a real trip down memory lane, check out the Butterfinger commercials that show up on some of the season sets as well.

Original pressings of Sing the Blues are long out of print, but its re-release in 1996 can be found on Amazon for under $10. Eagle eye shoppers can also find copies lurking in bargain/used bins of record stores all over the country.

Four other Simpsons CDs would follow over the years: 1997 saw Songs in the Key of Springfield, 1998 gave us The Yellow Album and 1999 brought Go Simpsonic with The Simpsons. Of these albums, only The Yellow Album made an attempt at original music specifically produced for the album. The other two were collections of music heard on the TV show throughout the first nine seasons. To coincide with the movie, two more discs will be added to the Simpsons discography in 2007. The first is this week’s The Simpsons Movie: The Music, which I believe is mainly Hans Zimmer’s score, and the second is The Simpsons: Testify due out in September. Of these two, only Testify is a must own as it collects music from the 10th – 18th seasons of the series – a project some say was long overdue.

Rating: 3/5


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Thursday, July 19, 2007

Haiku Review
Clutch Cargo
July 18, 2007

Want a real review?
on Leafblower
Leaf on the money

Kyle attacks
Travis entered from back
Shaking hands on way to stage
This would kill Thom YorkeTicklish Thom
was having fun
Honest enthusiasm
You get what you giveYou are a dirty pirate hooker
Back in fucking Black
A great way to end the show
Angus would be proud
What is Randy Travis Tritt Alex?

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Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Haiku Review
The Police
The Palace, Alburn Hills
, MI
July 17, 2007

True/false: Fictionplane?
False, but Sting's kid sings like dad.
Would skip the reggae Muse

Sting jr.
Don't fuck with Yoga-man
Drop a note, he'll melt yer face
Serious frontman
There can only be ONE StingValhalla's hi-hat
Arsenal of percussive joy
Neil Peart can lick it
From here I could kill Sting

Much less rock band than
A competitive structure
Push the pop limits
I will not hold hands that missed notes

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Tuesday, July 17, 2007

July 17 Notable Releases

A few of the 1,803 new and re-released albums coming out this week.

Editors --
An End Has a Start. New one from the dour purveyors of post-punk. Check out Damore's recent review.

Various Artisits -- Now, Vol. 25. Be sure to pick this up if you don't have an FM radio or need help figuring out some of the stuff MTV would be showing if they still played music. Also, eliminates need for that Daughtry, Akon, Keith Urban playlist you were dreaming up. You should probably buy 2 copies.

Daisuke "Dice-K" Matsuzaka / Various Artists -- Music From The Mound. This is basically a mix tape of music the new multi-million dollar Red Sox Pitcher finds "inspiring". Some of the artists are English speaking, others Japanese, but I couldn't do better than the press release to describe the key track.

"The album also features the new original track "Gyro Ball", which includes guest performances from former J. Geils harmonica player Magic Dick, former Extreme guitarist Nuno Bettencourt as well as Boston Red Sox television announcers Don Orsillo and Jerry Remy."

I would have called the track "Two TV DB's, Extreme Nuno and their Magic Gyro Dick," because that's how it basically translates into Japanese. But I must say a gyro ball does sound delicious, assuming it comes with cucumber sauce. It's also a little ironic, given that recordreviews.org contributor Peabs has fingers made of gyros. It really is a small gyroland after all.


Monday, July 16, 2007

Pitchfork Festival
Chicago July 13, July 15

editor's note: Thanks to Dmitri jr. for making the long trek from his day job with "the company" "regulatin' imports" across the Laotian/Burmese border to journey to Windy City and brave the public transit, hipsters and heat to cover the Pitchfork Festivities.

I wasn’t roaming Union Park all weekend scoping every band and scribbling down setlists. I’m not really capable of the maximum attention that Pitchfork Media preaches. I skipped Saturday and didn’t sweat snagging an elephant ear during acts I didn’t know.

Friday was ATP’s “Don’t Look Back” night and saw three acts playing their “classic album” in its entirety. The Ashland 9X bus was running slow, but we walked through the gate right as Slint hit the first notes of “Breadcrumb Trail.” Spiderland is an acquired taste. As good as certain moments sounded, it just wasn’t made for an outdoor venue. Moreover you have a defunct band, under-rehearsed, trying to pull off giant dynamic swings and extend spoken word monologues over a chatty just-arrived crowd. Add a so-so PA, and you weren’t quite sure if the band was tuning up or playing. For the devoted in the first 50 feet, it seemed to all come together, but we opted to go have a look around the rest of the park.

GZA tore on stage for his fierce run through Liquid Swords. But by “Cold War,” he was leaning on his pose, including Cappadonna, to cover rhymes. Genius also wasted a lot of energy admonishing the hipsters for not being more animated and starting fights with his poor white rented DJ. I have no idea where the kid was from, but it was pretty clear he had never spun for a Wu affiliate before. GZA nicknamed him “Shitty” and Cappa almost took a swing at him when he dropped a beat. Everything almost spun out of control, which is exactly what I hope for from a Wu-Tang set. GZA closed with a little “Shimmy Shimmy” for ODB.

Sonic Youth came up quickly (gotta love a festival where everybody starts on time). Daydream Nation has never been my record, but it sounded implausibly good considering Kim Gordon is two years younger than my mom. They were, at least for the evening, everything everybody always says they are, and their loose take on the record was full of more than enough power. I never knew drummer Steve Shelly was so good. It must have been a long time since I went to an outdoor concert, but I was unprepared for the people passing out right next to me, almost fights and comic hippie/meathead antics of the crowd. It didn’t really hurt my enjoyment any, but there was 50 or so people behind us chanting for Sonic Youth to turn it up. Thurston looked pissed. Touring bassist Mark Ibold of Pavement came out and did three songs with the group off “Rather Ripped” for an encore.

OK Saturday was Bastille Day and I don’t rock on Bastille Day. I sit around and contemplate Fraternity like my man, Krzysztof Kieślowski.

Sunday. Buses were running slow again. Guys next to me almost got in a fight. So I missed Dearhunter. Chicago’s own Ponys were on and they gamely played on through sound problems. The sax-fueled experimentalism of Portland’s Menomena went over well, but we didn’t listen to closely to local pop heroes Sea and Cake. We kicked back with a pack of dark Michigan Cherries from the Whole Foods tent and walked around the poster fair (fuck yeah, Aesthetic Apparatus).

Across the park, Brit Jamie Lidell was going on, but we moved into to a good spot to wait for Malkmus and watched Lidell’s one man soul machine on the big video screen. He was dressed like a gold lamé genie, so this is as good a time as any to talk about bad fashion. Now you see one or two guys in a vest without a shirt underneath and you let it go, but when douche after douche is walking around with a bandana neckerchief and a little bicycle racing cap, it wears on you. They weren’t all bike messengers and fake or real they were pissing me off.

OK so Stephen Malkmus was about to come on and play without his band the Jicks, but somebody set up a really small drum kit off to the side of the stage, but it didn’t seem to register with people. Steve came out in preppy pink and khakis, a fuck you to the homeless chic crowd. Right away he kicked into “Heaven is a Truck.” Now you might say no big deal, but SM has played Pavement songs at only three or four shows since breaking up the band in ’99. I was beside myself with glee. He played through a few more Pavement tracks, b-sides, and solo stuff. It was sloppy acoustic strumming, but you couldn’t have found a more forgiving crowd. Pavement’s hype man and second drummer Bobby Nastanovich came out to play “Trigger Cut” and “In the Mouth of a Dessert” off Slanted and Enchanted and everyone lost it. It wasn’t too impressive if you didn’t care, but I do and I was a happy bastard for the rest of the night. Bob took off, then came back with some gum for Steve and preformed a lovely ballet number for the closer, Wowee Zowee’s “We Dance.” Killer.

We opted to stay in our spot and watch Of Montreal on the big screen while we waited for New Pornographers. It might seem like a huge sacrifice to Elephant Six obsessives, but honestly it worked out fine. The setup at Pitchfork is pretty great, kinda hard to explain unless you look at a map, but we could hear and see much of the madness. You wouldn’t believe how many befuddled people were actually unable to take the costumes and props. “I like the music, but why is he wearing a leather thong?” I was completely won over by Kevin Barnes’ Bowie meets Flaming Lips meets Pulp routine.

New Pornographers were the day’s crowning moment. Not enough can be said for how everything, not the least of which was the sunset, came together for a heart stopping performance. While it was a little weird not to have Neko Case there considering we were in her backyard, but Kathryn Calder is now stellar in her own right. Tight, thumbing “why aren’t they huge” tune after tune, they band played loud. You might chalk it up to experience playing outdoor venues, but without a doubt they were the one act, save for maybe Sonic Youth, that I didn’t wish I was watching in a club and I think it was more the songs than the mix. Maybe Challengers has leaked more than I know, but I’ve never seen a crowd drool over new material like that. I’ve never seen white people clap along with such diligently. Carl Newman was a star.

Unfair for anybody to follow that, but when you’re De La Soul, you deal. The crowd was tired and sunburned, but Pos, Maseo and Trugoy wouldn’t settle for anything else than a party and they rallied the crowd out of indifference. But even when Prince Paul was brought on to DJ and trade a couple verses, you couldn’t help noticing people were starting to get exhausted; too much beer, too little sleep. Mase reminded the crowd no fewer than three times he was, “37 years old and still in the hip hop game,” and so we tried to wave our hands and keep ‘em up as he commanded. We finally had to shuffle out before it all ended and hop the train home.

-Dmitri jr.

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Friday, July 13, 2007

Spoon -- Ga Ga Ga Ga

It's tempting at times to think of Spoon as almost minimalist. The course of their concise discography isn't overflowing, it's a neatly packed collection of trim pop songs borne from a DIY ethos that they've probably graduated past, but clearly never ventured too far from.
Compared to a contemporary like say Ryan Adams, Britt Daniel could appear downright stingy.

6 albums in ten years?

What's he waiting for -- the time to write, record and compile cohesive collections of songs?

It's a novel, almost nostalgic approach to a music career that feels neither as forced or false as the Luddite pretensions that Jack White used to distract us from his other collection of gimmicks and the off-handed way he's applied his substantial talents.

But truly, I wouldn't even call Spoon thrifty.
Acres of talent
The arrangements are economical for sure. They understand the power of well planned tambourine and shaker on the central nervous system of higher apes (it's the "power to move you," obvs). They aren't past augmenting the verse/chorus changes of "You Got Yr. Cherry Bomb" or "Underdog" with some tasteful horns. But they never exceed their own careful musical constructs.

The tambourine is Carey Grant's perfectly placed pocket square.

The strings on "My Little Japanese Cigarette Case" are the creases in James Bond's tux pants.
Imagine it, alcoholism cured in one effing day, after I saw that I could never drink again.
The light but near constant harmonies are Crown Royal on the rocks -- classic, a little Coke would just fuck it right up.

In every other direction popular music is positively Baroque.

Hip hop use to be a trio of MCs and one DJ. Now you need beats phat enough to make people shit their pants from the subsonics and least 5 dudes to yell "UNNNHH, Yeah."

Beyonce and Christina Aguilera have bent more notes in the past 5 years than in the entire proceeding history of gospel music. And all with 50 costume changes a night and more dancers than the standing armies of a third world country. (In a shocking turn of events, the Bootylicious Dancers have invaded Gana and overthrown the democratically elected parliament. Truly ladies and gentlemen, today will go down as the Drrrtiest day in modern African politics.")

Jeff Tweedy has a lot of Wilco fans wondering how getting OFF drugs lead him on the wank path to Garcia-ville.
So, they just added this hairless German dog that plays the zither... yeah man, I know another Canadian job replaced with immigrant labour
Sure, sometimes bigger can work.

Right now I'd say Arcade Fire is making their circus tent of performers pretty compelling, but they're about one more a-hole with a glockenspiel or an extended hurdygurdy solo away from getting a beat down with their own didgeridoos.

Spoon is cool.

Spoon is in control.

Spoon is throughly modern and thus throughly classic.

Spoon is band that you can call (what at one time wasn't really a compliment for professional band, but rather a requirement) a tight band.

Here's to good taste judiciously dispensed and here's to hoping Ga Ga Ga Ga is another stepping stone, not a pinnacle.

Got a nice beat. Easy to dance to. Give it about a ...

Rating: 4/5


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Tuesday, July 10, 2007

July 10 Notable Releases

A few of the 1,794 new and re-released recordings coming out this week.

Interpol -- Our Love to Admire. I'm going out on a limb and predicting that this album sounds like Interpol which is cool, if you're into that kind of thing or are anti-serotonin.

Smashing Pumpkins -- Zeitgeist. If rumor, Billy and allmusic.com are to be believed, D'Arcy and Iha never played that much on Pumpkins recordings. In fact, I think they played as much on Siamese Dream as they did on Zwan. So why does their absence from this comeback bother me so much?

Spoon -- Ga Ga Ga Ga. What does a record geek in black plastic frames say when he gets his mits on the new Spoon album? BOW!

Danzig -- The Lost Tracks Of Danzig. Can you imagine how pissed Glenn got when they told him they lost his tracks?

Excuse me, ahh, Mr. Danzig?


Sir, I don't know how to tell you this, but it seems that somehow, we appear to have lost a few of your tracks.


Mr. Danzig, I can tell you're upset and I just want to assure you that we'll do everything we can to recover those tracks.

HEEEEEEEAADS WILL ROLL AAAAAAANNNNNND BLLLLLLLOOOD WILL BOIIIIIIIL!!!!! Hey wait, did you try undo, you know it's under edit I think and sometimes when I think I've erased something, I just punch the ole' undo and [pop] whammo, ya' get it right back.

Yeah, we tried undo, still can't find it.


We're still trying to get that to work, but I'm concerned we just might not be able to recover the tracks.... hey while we're trying that out can I have the intern get your something? Maybe a shirt, something from Starbucks?



Monday, July 02, 2007

July 3 Notable Releases

A few of the 1,176 new and re-released records coming out this week.

Various Artists -- Transformers: The Movie. Michael Bay has terrible taste in music... this should not surprise you if you are familiar with his taste in cinema or have sight and/or hearing.

Velvet Revolver --
Libertad. Guns N' Weiland cover ELO. Your move Axl. May we suggest re-hiring and then firing Buckethead? Dude, try trumping Buckethead. He wears a bucket on his HEAD -- that's fucking commitment to a premise.

Queensryche -- Mindcrime at the Moore. Queensryche is like the Chubby Checker of progressive '80's hair metal. You keep touring, you release new material, but basically, every effort boils down to some dude in the front row yelling, "Play 'the Twist' fatty!" How many times can you yell, "Are you ready to get Lucid Boca Raton?" before you kill yourself?

Chemical Brothers -- We Are the Night. Midlake appearance on the "Pills Won't Help You Now" gives the Chemicals their requisite brit rock collaboration on their requisite drug reference song -- twofer stizz.