Thursday, December 28

Mr. Dogg’s Top Five – Second Helpings and Leftovers

Year end lists and best of collections are all well and good, but why must they be so final? Sure, TV on the Radio and Bob Dylan had some great records, but what about all those other records that may have gotten caught up in the wash, or unjustly forgotten in December? So, in the spirit of reflection and the starting of a new year, I present to you the Sixth Men of the year. These are the B+ albums of 2006.

5) Camera Obscure – Lets Get Out of This Country
Comments: A little wimpy (think Belle and Sebastian) at times, but an overall solid collection of pure pop sweetness. Lead singer Tracyanne Campbell is pushed to the front of the mix, and her strong vocals carry hang over sweet, simmering melodies. Good music to smooch to, this is one album that girlfriend and boyfriend alike can enjoy.

4) Tapes n Tapes – The Loon
Comments: The bastard child of Modest Mouse, Pixies, and Pavement features charming wit delivered with a smile, and one of the best songs of the year in “Insistor”. A little less restraint on the developed songs, and a little more development on the jams, and “The Loon” would have given Man Man a run for album of the year.

3) Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Show Your Bones
Comments: This one never got a fair shake from critics, as the Yeah Yeah Yeahs were always seen as more of a product of a scene than an actual band. Don’t believe the hype; a little more focus and studio polish has this NYC trio sounding a lot better for the wear. “Show Your Bones” is fine record about not so fine relationships and on songs like “Dudley”, Karen O is able to rekindle the lyrical and vocal vulnerability that made “Maps” one of the best songs of 03.

2) The Futureheads – News and Tributes
Comments: Those well dressed Europeans return with more of their “Wire meets Beach Boy” brit pop, and bring some maturity along for the ride. While they may have pulled their tongues a little bit out of their cheeks, and have a few less quick laughs on their debut, The Futureheads are able to deliver another great pop record. “News and Tributes” proves that The Futureheads are much more than Franz Ferdinand Johnny-come-lately’s. Not to mention that this album has, dare I say, the best first track of the year; a rocking call and response blast indecisively titled Yes/No.

1) Liars – Drum’s Not Dead
Comments: A concept album of sorts, (dealing with the two conflicting sides of the creation process, those being the creative side and the apprehensive side) “Drum’s Not Dead” is a grower of an album. After one listen, people may be turned off. After the second listen, the vast lonesome feeling of the record will have you intrigued. By the third listen, the tender moments peppered among the atmospheric landscape will creep into your head and by the fourth listen; it’ll be one of your favorite records of 2006. I triumph in every sense.

Tuesday, December 19


Well, the trees are light up, the stockings are being stuffed, Bing Crosby is melting out of the stereo, and global warming has ruined any chance of snow, so it must be Christmas time. With the holiday season upon us, the chances of this site getting updated are between “snowball in hell” and “Mr. Dogg getting a new car for Christmas” so I’m posting the year end reviews now.

Mr. Dogg’s Pick: Ghostface Killah – Fishscale
Runner Up: The Roots – Game Theory

Comments: I’ve always loved the Roots, and since moving to Philadelphia my love has swelled into near infatuation. “Game Theory” is the groups finest studio album since the titanic “Things Fall Apart” and in any other year, Black Thought’s battle ready flow matched with ?uestlove’s maturing production would be enough to grant then best Hip Hop honors. However, this year, Ghostface Killah’s “Fishscale” showed up and ruined my potential love fest. Not that I am complaining; “Fishscale” boasts some of the best production and the tightest lyrics of the year. Ghostface has always been a story teller, and on “Fishscale” he spits his street one acts with a ferocity and delicacy not seen by many rappers. Not only does he unite the entire Wu-Tang clan for a track, but he offer parents everywhere parenting advice: beat your kids and they won’t act up. Ghostface loves the kids.

Mr. Dogg’s Pick: The Lawrence Arms – Oh! Calcutta!
Runner Up: Be Your Own Pet – Be Your Own Pet

Comments: This was not a banner year for punk. Old bands like NOFX and Bad Religion’s Greg Graffin spewed mediocrity and folk. Epitaph, Victory, Drive Thru, and Fat Wreck, labels that used to poses quality bands, are now shells of their former selves, housing 3rd and 4th tier acts and uninspired lineups. The has long been in need of some new blood, and this year it came in the form of snotty teens Be Your Own Pet. The four piece, just-out-of-high-school, pop punk group put out a self titled album full of energy, nasal screams, buzzing guitar, and a youthful exuberance that hasn’t been sincere in punk for a long time. But despite their excellent début, the punk album of the year comes from soon-to-be-veteran act, The Lawrence Arms. The Larry Arms have been putting out consistently good pop punk since the late 90s, and their latest is no exception. “Oh! Calcutta!” takes the pop punk sound the band perfected on “Apathy and Exhaustion” and gives it a harder edge. The writing, which is always above average and poignant without being preachy, is in top form on this record. From “The Devil’s Taking Names” to “Are you There Margaret, It’s me God”, this record boasts the best first five tracks of the year. The Lawrence Arms continue to bear the torch of “Best Pop Punk Band” since the Alkaline Trio released “Goddamn It”.

Mr. Dogg’s Pick: Gnarls Barkley – St. Elsewhere
Runner Up: NA

Comments: Who the hell would have ever thought that Cee-Lo Green and Danger Mouse could collaborate to make a commercially successful record? I think the duo must have made some underhanded deal with Satan, because “St. Elsewhere” is one of the few pop records released this year that with musically impressive and widely successful while maintaining high quality music. Cee-Lo’s soulful tones matched with Danger Mouse’s keyboard funk made for perfect soundtrack to any party this year. This is what Motown would sound like if it hadn’t died in the 70s. I only hope that the two bow out gracefully without trying to re-create this album. I feel like this was a one time bolt of lighting that served to shake up the pop landscape and show people that no matter your race, creed, religion or sex, it is okay to be funky. Gnarls Barkley proved to the world that you don’t have to lower your sound to make an album for everyone.

Mr. Dogg’s Pick: The Hold Steady – Boys and Girls in America
Runner Up: Arctic Monkeys – Whatever People say I am, That’s What I’m Not.

Comments: Never, ever, ever, ever, EVER trust UK hype about any band. If I were to believe every trumped up claim from England claiming that a band will save rock and roll, take the world by storm, or be the next Beatles, I would be so crushed by disappointment that I would never listen to music again. I would also be disappointed that the Arctic Monkeys didn’t take the US by storm the same way they did the UK. But screw all that hype; the Arctic Monkeys debut, full of youthful debauchery, alcoholism, surf guitar, driving rhythm, and snotty attitude, is as fine a record as any this year. But the real success in the rock world was the emergence of the Hold Steady. Taking their bar room stomp and Springsteen influence and merging it with harmonies and honest-to-God sincere guitar solos, “Boys and Girls in America” is the Hold Steady’s first truly accessible album. Full of wonderful writing and wonderful instrumentation, Craig Finn and Co take their throne atop the rock world. This is my second favorite album of the year.

Mr. Dogg’s Pick: Love is All – Nine Time That Same Song
Runner Up: TV on the Radio – Return to Cookie Mountain

Comments: I’ve never had credibility as a critic, but if any indie folk thought that I did, this part of the review will shatter it. TV on the Radio’s “Return to Cookie Mountain” is widely accepted in many music circles as the best independently released album of the year. It’s a very impressive album, and songs like “Wolf Like Me” and “Method” make it hard to argue, but sometimes it is more impressive than it is good, and I still prefer their first full length “Desperate Youth, Blood Thirsty Babes”. No, in my eyes, the best indie record of the year has to be from those Swedish upstarts Love Is All. I saw them open for The Go! Team, and they were absolutely awful. However, their album, full of songs about relationships and personal time management, won my heart with its pop roots and excellent horn use. Songs like “Turn the Radio Off” and “Make out, Fall out, Make Up” sound truly heartfelt, and will be sure to tug at the emotion strings. This is a new tweaking of pop, and I likes it.

Man Man – Six Demon Bag

Comments: It kind of sounds like Tom Waits. Except that it doesn’t. If sort of reminds me of Frank Zappa. Except it isn’t. Man Man makes waltzes from purgatory, vaudeville soundtracks for the insane, carnival music for the absurd joke of life. It sounds like nothing, and it sounds like everything. But it’s so much more than a new sound. It is a heartbreakingly personal album about love, loss, and the end of second chances. It presents the idea that everyone has one true love, but that he or she may have died years ago. It claims that everything worth anything is nothing, and nothing is all we really have. Their best line: “I know that I’ll never be the man she thinks she really needs, but that don’t stop me from trying to be”. In the hands of lesser men, its nothing more than sap emo poetry. In the hands of Man, it is an aching statement of unrequited love and beautiful entrapment. “Six Demon Bag” tells the saddest story in history but in a brand new way, with brutal honesty and violent intensity. These are songs to scream at the moon. It is the most original thing I’ve heard in a long time.

FLOPS – They weren’t all gems, folks.

1) Jim Jones – We Fly High
Comments: This is the second worst song of 2006. I don’t know the name of the first, or who is brave enough to take credit for it. If not for that mystery artist, this would be the worst. Jim Jones, even with Dipset, has always been a C- rapper at best, and he is not at his best on this song. Everything in this song, from the opening notes to the “ballin!” that has all the grade schoolers going nuts, makes my head hurts. Yeesh.

2) Rhett Miller/ Old 97’s
Comments: Take one excellent best of compilation, subtract one awful solo album from the lead singer, and subtract one chili’s commercial jingle, and you’ll see how things have been for the Old 97’s this year. Here’s hoping that 07 brings better things from this country/pop act.

3) Less Than Jake – In With the out Crowd
Comments: ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME? HOW THE… you know what? No. I’m not doing it. I don’t have the energy or the blood pressure to even discuss this. It might be the worst album of 06. This is the "Rocky 5" of Less Than Jake albums. It never happened. DO YOU HEAR ME?! IT! NEVER! HAPPENED!

Monday, December 11

A Brief Synopsis of “10,000 Days”

Artist : Tool
Album: 10,000 Days

Comments: Before I say another word, let me say this: the album is good. The band effectively restates their command over their instruments, and every inane time signature imaginable, while sticking to their trademark tightness. It is correct to say that all cylinders are firing in the area of the execution of the playing of the music, which is both difficult and demanding, while the band powers through most tracks methodically.

Right off the bat, the opening track, “Vicarious,” reasserts Tool’s prowess, power, and presence while simply rocking the listeners face. The second track, “Jambi,” is similar in its volume level and execution of Tool’s eerily mathematic style, and maintains the album’s pace. However, a gear switch is felt in the third track, “Wings for Marie (Part One).” Here the band taps into their other specialty: Atmospherics. Here the lead singer, Maynard Keenan, comes into focus with his ambient, quazi-prophetic lyrical tone. Vague ominous and biblical references lend themselves even further in track four, “10,000 Days (Wings Pt. 2),” to create the darkening imagery typical to past Tool releases. Track five is no reprieve as “The Pot” reasserts the ability of the rhythm section of Tool.

However, as the introduction concludes with track five, track six (or rather track seven because track six is a filler track) represents a crossroads for the album. The pace and integrity of the album thus far, which can be good or bad, is very intense and chock-full of everything that makes Tool what they are. Immediately after the filler, however, the album drops into what could be called ambient rock. Track seven and eight are paired, similarly to “Parabol” and “Parabola” from Lateralus, in the sense that they are thematically linked with the track seven leading into track eight. However, despite the fact that track eight, “Rosetta Stoned,” is one of the album’s strongest, the climax of the pairing is drawn out more than its cousin from Lateralus. Likewise, tracks nine and ten, another pairing, lack a sense of urgency or climax. Granted, they are presented as well organized ambient rock songs, but this is the conclusion of an album we are talking about. Track ten, “Right in Two,” does kick into gear in its final minutes, but not to the point where the conclusion of the project is evident. Finally, the final track of the album, “Viginiti Tres,” sounds like an electrical reproduction of a desk fan.

With all said and done, the album is good. However, it is not great. With an anticlimactic arrangement of tracks, the album almost concludes too early. Even so, at the actual conclusion of the album there is something amiss about the entire presentation of the album. Whereas previous albums, like Aenima, and Opiate, featured raw, edgy tracks like “Hooker with a Penis” and “Prison Sex,” 10,000 Days lacks that raw flavor that had been typical to previous Tool releases. The production of 10,000 Days is nearly flawless, however, production has never been one of Tool’s featured standpoints. In other words, the newly conceived focus on production seems to hem in the expansionist rawness that Tool has pioneered thus far.

To conclude, the album opens auspiciously and reasserts Tool’s place in the progressive metal scene. However, the album eventually falls into the grey area of inconclusiveness and an uncharacteristic sense of overproduction. However, this does not occur to the point of discrediting Tool. In fact, the album is still above the average cut, but this is Tool we are talking about.

-James Keough

Rating: 7.5 out of 10

Key Tracks: “Vicarious,” “10,000 days,” “The Pot,” and “Rosetta Stoned”

Worth the Money: Yes. Above average, longtime fans will likely be appeased and new fans will be intrigued.

Thursday, December 7

The Floppy Return

Artist: Jay-Z
Album: Kingdom Come

Comments: Is anyone surprised by this?



Come on. The minute Jay-Z announced his “retirement” from hip hop on the excellent “Black Album”, I knew that there was no way we wouldn’t get at least 2 more albums out of him in the future. Lo and behold, I was right. Jay-Z has come out of his three year hiatus with “Kingdom Come”. All over the album, Jay makes the claim that he’s back to save hip hop and to rejuvenate the game. Sadly, the only thing that’s going to get rejuvenated from this album is Jay’s wallet.

Anyone who’s not impressed by Jay’s ability probably doesn’t understand rap too well. The fact that he is able to rap off the top of his head without writing is a really impressive thing. Most rappers freestyle every few months, but Jay’s albums are all freestyles in a way. It really is a pretty cool thing. But there’s a downside to this skill, and that is that there is no editing or reworking of his rhymes. That’s why Jay-Z can have 2 great verses and one god awful one on the same song. On “Kingdom Come”, it sounds like retirement has made Jay lazy, because there are a lot more bad verses than there are good on the album.

Another problem with this record comes from the producers Jay is working with. Dr. Dre, Kanye West, and Swizz Beats all produce some truly weak tracks. I’m not even sure that Jay could save these songs even if he was at the top of his game. Certainly not when he’s rhyming about 30 being the new 20, getting with broads, and how back he is.

One of the better songs on the record, produced by Just Blaze, is the soul fueled banger “Oh My God”. The song rips, and it is one of the few times on the album that Jay actually brings some good rhymes. Both the lyrics and beat set the bar high, and the two work very well together. It’s a triumphant track, to be sure, and the only one on the album that supports Jay’s swagger. The other good track is the closer “Beach chair”, which is produced by Chris Martin of Coldplay. Nothing against Martin, but when the lead singer of FUCKING COLDPLAY is making better beats than Dr. Dre and Kanye West, maybe you should have held off on the album for a little bit.

Jay-Z sounds bored, and I know why. Jay isn’t hungry any more, but why would he be? When Jay stepped away in 03, he was on top of the world as the self proclaimed best rapper, and there were a lot of people who agreed with him. He accomplished more than most rappers dare dream; he had the world listening. Anyone can have the world, its keeping the world that’s the problem, and when Jay stepped away, he lost us. Sorry Jay, but its going to take more than some B-side beats and half assed lines to win us back.

Jay compares himself to Jordan on the lukewarm single “Show me What you Got”. If he means coming back after his prime and risking embarrassing his legacy, than he might be right.

Rating: 5 out of 10

Key Tracks: “Oh My God” “Beach Chair” “Kingdom Come”

Worth the Money: No

Monday, November 27

Trail Of Dead Deal With Their Demons, Get Divided

Artist: ...And You Will Know us by The Trail of Dead
Album: So Divided

Comments: Here’s the story so far for Trail of Dead; Texas boys start a band with very long name and an affinity aggressive rock and orchestral, epic arrangements. Band releases critically acclimated and universally loved major label debut. Band releases follow-up album that is widely ignored. Primary song writer gets depressed. Primary song writer gets bitter, but not angry. Band releases “So Divided”, an album that is good, but not lasting in the way their major label debut was.

Trail of Dead has always made long songs, but on “So Divided” two of the best tracks are under 2:30. Their cover of Sonic Youth’s “Gold Hard Mountain Top Queen Directory” starts as a quiet epic anchored in a piano melody before swelling into a Queen-like chorus of triumph. The other short success on the album is “Eight Day Hell” which once again uses a piano, but this time to record a Beatle’s influenced pop song. This is an unusual move for the band, as their motif has always been punk influenced long rockers, not quick blasts of upbeat pop. For whatever reason, the song works, despite some questionable backup vocals from the rest of the band.

The other major success on the album comes in the form of the title track. The six and a half minute track starts out as slow alternative song before exploding into the kind of epic instrumentation the band has not touched upon since “Source Codes and Tags”. Suddenly, the song changes from a laid back song to an urgent rocker with thumping drums and driving guitars. The song is able to balance the grand feel and urgent delivery of the older Trail of Dead, while maintaining the mature instrumentation and polished sound of the new Trail of Dead. The song is like the last scenes of the first act of a play; it serves to remind the audience of what just happened, and hint at what is to come. It provides a climactic feel despite its placement in the middle of the record.

After those standouts, the rest of the album provides good, if not particularly memorable songs. “Stand in Silence” is the most straightforward rock song on the album, and is the closest thing to the all or nothing rock intensity of the band’s earliest work. “Wasted State of Mind” is a percussion driven track that is only really memorable for its eastern feel, which sets it apart from the rest of the record. Most of the songs 5 minutes or more and the only place the length really doesn’t work is on the Pink Floyidan “Life” which sags under its six minutes.

Overall, this is a good album that showcases Trail of Dead’s maturity as artists without forgetting their rowdy, violent punk roots. Not many tracks here have the same intensity of the early stuff, but there are no snoozers on here. Most of all, it sounds like …And You Will Know us by The Trail of Dead are beginning to come to terms with their sound. I cannot imagine how it would feel to release an album that was so universally loved so early in a career. The problem with that is that there is only one place to go from there, and that is down. On “So Divided”, Trail of Dead sound like they have not lost their ambition, but that they are ready to just start making records that sound good without trying to reinvent the wheel.

Rating: 7 out of 10

Key Tracks: “So Divided” “Gold Hard Mountain Top Queen Directory” “Eight Day Hell”

Worth The Money: Yeah

Monday, November 20

Guest Review - Paul Tsikitas

You Can’t Judge an Album by It’s Cover

Easily one of the most important underground bands of our lifetime, Yo La Tengo, has a tendency to name their albums in the strangest possible way. Titles like And Nothing Turned Itself Inside Out or New Wave Hot Dogs aren’t exactly the album titles that jump out and say “man, this must be awesome.” This can be especially said for Tengo’s latest opus strangely titled I Am Not Afraid of You And I Will Beat Your Ass. Stupid, stupid name. But album titles aside, Tengo does pretty much what it has always done—write really great songs, and on this outing, probably even more so than usual.

On Beat Your Ass (Which is how I’m going to refer to it) YLT decides to do something a little bit different than on other albums. They took all the different sounds and elements of music that they love (everything from 60s British invasion organ jams to fuzzed out noise core to minimalistic Enoesque piano ballads), shove them in a blender and hit puree. Many times a band will try to mix the sounds they have played with and it just doesn’t seem to work all that well. YLT is not one of those bands.

The songwriting of Ira Kaplan, James McNew and Georgia Kupley can be said to be the modern day predecessors of The Velvet Underground. Much like VU’s self-titled third album, Beat Your Ass has a lot of mellow times and beautifully written songs, but it is sandwiched with two fuzzed out guitar jams. The opening track sprawling close to 11 minutes “Pass the Hatchet, I Think I’m Goodkind” makes one believe they are in for a sonic atmospheric noise adventure. Not so.

Directly after in an abrupt ending as if someone pushed the button on an old car radio, the station changes and we get the song “Beenbag Chair.” Kaplan’s awkward vocals come in loud and clear over a charming little piano ditty accompanied by Georgia’s luscious harmonies and a horn section giving it a playful and silly vibe. The rest of the album will take these 180’s like cutting butter with a sword—smooth and easy, but almost unnecessary. “I Should Have Known Better” sounds like it should be used in an Austin Powers cut scene with its pulsating organ and super fast guitar riff. “Mr. Tough” has the same goofy vibe as “Beenbag Chair”, yet it’s just a tad bit more addictive. Try not listening to it nonstop for two weeks straight… not that I’ve done that. “Black Flowers” and “The Room Got Heavy” are the peak midpoint of the album where the most unique and different songs appear.

McNew takes vocals on “Black Flowers” for a ballad of sorts that has a strange horn section and arrangements even Sufjan Stevens would want behind his songs. “The Room Got Heavy” is Georgia’s standout performance. Donning her best Nico impression and overlapping it on some really funky organ tracks and an interesting rhythm section of congas and drums that swirl and twirl inside of your ears.

Some of the tunes do kind of drag on a little too long such as the mid-point “Daphnia.” The songs sounds straight off Eno’s Music for Films and just doesn’t seem to fit here—but is that the reason it stayed on the tracklisting? Probably so. Diversity is what makes Beat Your Ass a great album. The finale of “The Story of Yo La Tengo” is a tidal wave of shoe gazing distortion that also drags just a bit too long, but in the genre bender we have here, it’s only too perfect of a closer.

So what should you do before buying this album? Decide whether or not you even like Yo La Tengo. As far as albums go, this will be misunderstood by anyone who is just trying to learn the greatness that is Yo La Tengo. This is a true Tengo fan’s album. It has everything you could want from them (minus their amazing covers that they can churn out.) A springboard this is not. I Am Not Afraid of You and I Will Beat Your Ass may very well be one of the best albums of this year and without a doubt one of Tengo’s finest moments. So should you buy it? I say yes, but only if you either a) like Yo La Tengo or b) are really interested in hearing an album structured in a way you would never think it should be structured. Just like the title, the idea of it will make you think that it can’t be good. But like Yo La Tengo, it is pretty damn great.

Rating: 9 out of 10

Key Tracks: “Mr. Tough”, “Black Flowers”, “The Room Got Heavy”, "Pass the Hatchet, I Think I'm Goodkind"

Worth The Money: For Fans of Tengo and Adventuresome music listeners only!!!

Many thanks to Paul Tsikitas for his take on Yo La Tengo's most recent release, and for giving this site some new matirial in my wake of lazy. Tiskitas is a LaSalle alumni, and as such earned the right to use phrases such as "shoe gazing" with complete impunity. He also knows his way around a record shop, and you should trust his opinion as much as I do.

Thanksgiving! Woo! I promise that I will get another review up here before you settle at you table to gorge yourself on roasted meat, I promise!

Thursday, November 9

Sam's Town Rocks Into Mediocrity

Artist: The Killers
Album: Sam’s Town

Comments: A few things you should know right off the bat:

1) I loved The Killers’ first album. I think I listened to “Hot Fuss” for about 4 or 5 weeks straight, and if I had started this site sooner, it would have made my Best of 2004

2) This album is not as bad as people would have you believe.

3) This album isn’t good either, and it is a far cry from “Hot Fuss”
I was putting off reviewing this record for a while, because I wasn’t really sure what I thought about it. I had read too many reviews and heard too many people talk about it for me to be able to give it a fair shake. So I waited until some time had gone by and people had gotten over the release of this album and moved on to the next so I could give it the fair listen I thought it deserved. In that time, I listened to “Sam’s Town” over and over again, trying to figure the album out. The entire time, I had a sense of “something is wrong on this album, but I cannot put my finger on exactly what.”

But today, in the middle of my 2pm class, it hit me like something metaphorical. The problem with this album is simple: The Killers tried to make a rock record instead of a dance record.

This is the main problem with “Sam’s Town”. The Killers seem to have forgotten what made them famous and popular. No one was listening to “Hot Fuss” for killer licks and wicked chops. People were listening because “Somebody Told Me” was 80s dance punk revival that you could move to. People liked “Mr. Brightside” because it gave sorority girls and mopey depressed boys something in common. No on is getting ready for a basketball game by doing lay-ups and listening to “Smile like You Mean It”. So that is the first problem with the album; The Killers turned up the rock, but at the same time, turned up the suck. The guitars are turned to the front of the mix and serves as the anchor for most of the songs on the album. This is a dumb idea, because The Killers aren’t a guitar band, and rather than lead with their strength, which is synth and hooks, they limp out of the gate and never recover.

Another problem with this album is the songwriting and the singing. For whatever reason, lead singer Brandon Flowers sounds like he lost his voice. He is warbling more than ever, and trying to hit notes that were never in his range on his best day, let alone on an average day. It’s pretty off-putting. Also, gone are songs about woo-ing girls, losing girls, and girls. They are replaced by songs about leaving towns, getting out of towns, the road, and roads out of towns. Now, the Killers are catching some flack to ripping off Springsteen, but after listening to the album a few time, the only thing these guys share with The Boss is a theme of escape. Sadly, The Killers don’t pull this theme off anywhere near as well as Springsteen does, and the songs falter because of it. Especially bad songwriting on “Uncle Johnny”

There are some good tracks. First single “When You Were Young” is the best on the album, as it blends in their dance sensibility with their new found set of rock-ready balls, and its one of the tracks that doesn’t focus too much on the theme of getting the hell out. Scattered all around this album are songs with great choruses, excellent breakdowns, good background vocals, and passable chorus singing from the whole band. The problem is that these are all gems among alibis, and few songs can hold all of them together.

But still, this album isn’t all bad. It’s better than the 2 stars Rolling Stone gave it, but not by much. It’s a better sophomore album than some hot-right-now bands can hope to put out, but not by much. Overall, its an inoffensive listen, but one that will leave you unfulfilled, and because of this, it is an ultimately forgettable, if not unpleasant record.

Two more things. Not problems with the album really, just poor decisions on the part of The Killers. 1) They get the title of “worst song title 06” with their entry of “Bling (Confessions of a King)”, which is such a bad name that it makes me want to hate the song on principal, despite the fact that it isn’t bad. 2) The decision to all grow silly creep moustaches and pretend that they are all in a western. What the fuck guys?

Rating: 5 out of 10

Key Tracks: “When You Were Young”, “Bling (Confessions of a King)” , “Read my Mind”

Worth The Money: Nope

Tuesday, November 7

Things and Other Things

Hello folks,

1) Ya boy Sean, best known as one half of Abreve and a guest writer for this site, has a review of some new hot shit underground hip hop. He gives it his stamp of approval, which is a pretty big deal if you know the guy as well as I do. He hates everything but the freshest of the fresh, so it's something worth checking out. You can read the review at .

2) The year is drawing to a close, so before too much longer I'll be posting my thoughts on the best albums of 2006. Feel free to email me at with your suggestions and gripes.

3) The upcoming schedule is as follows:

Later this week - The Killers
Next Week - Subliminal Orphans, Tool, Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Later in the Month - Clipse, ...And You Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead, Damien Rice, and MORE!

Mrdogg out!

Wednesday, November 1

Need Some New Information

Artist: Beck
Album: The Information

My first step when I want to review an album is to listen to it once the whole way through without stopping. The goal of this is to get a sense of the album, and formulate an idea of how I feel about it. Sometimes this is an absolute joy (“Boys and Girls in America”, “Game Theory”) and sometimes it is a tedious chore akin to cutting the lawn with scissors and a ruler (the guilty shall remain nameless). But most often, all that happens is that the album runs from start to finish, some songs stand out and some just run together. So when I first listened to “The Information” and it fell into the third category, I wasn’t really too surprised. Since that first listen, I think I have listened to the album all the way through maybe 5 or 6 times, and it is still sitting in that third category.

If you’ve ever heard a Beck album before, you know what to expect. Most geniuses are kooks who are a few money shots short of porn, and Beck is no exception. His blending of folk guitar, beat poetry white boy rap, hip hop drums, alternative instrumentation and progressive samples has yielded some of the most original music created in the last 30 years. But being a Genius isn’t a free pass; being brilliant is no good if you cannot create something to serve mankind, and you can’t create the same thing twice. This is where “The Information” falls short.

“The Information” opens with “Elevator Music”, starting the album off with a smooth laid back beat and some of that trademark Beck white boy rap It also sets a tone that remains constant throughout the album: really cool drums. “Strange Apparition” lifts a piano melody straight out of “Sympathy for the Devil” but charms it’s way out of being a rip off. “Nausea” comes in later, with its African influenced drum and bass thump that screams out to rattle speakers. It’s followed by “New Round”; a softer piece in the same vein of “Sea Change” and serves as the crown jewel of the album.

At the end of the day, there aren’t really any bad tracks on the album. It’s more like there are only a few good ones. “New Round” and “Elevator Music” are both on par with some of his best stuff, but this is mostly an album of filler. The only songs worth mentioning from the second half of the CD are the one that’s challenging, but interesting (“1000BPM”), the one that sounds like it belongs in an 80s teen romance (“Movie Theme”), and the one that’s way to fucking long (“The Horrible Fanfare/Landslide/Exoskeleton”).

“The Information” is a Beck album, so that means that there are going to be hits and misses. But this Beck CD is the first time that it sounds like to me Beck might be running out of ideas. He’s still one of the most innovative artists in a long time, but I’m afraid he’s been sitting on his laurels for a little too long. That being said, fans will enjoy this album, especially “New Round” and “Nausea”. Just don’t listen to the album all in one sitting, about an hour later, you’ll have vaguely good feeling, but you’ll be wondering where your last hour went.

Rating: 6.5 out 10

Key Tracks: “Elevator Music”, “Nausea” “New Round” “Strange Apparition”

Worth The Money: Only because it comes with a bunch of free stuff. But casual fans should stay away.

Monday, October 16

Pink Floyd Goes to The Library

Artist: The Decemberists
Album: The Crane Wife

Comments: A poor farmer, with no wife or family, is walking along in the woods one cold winter evening when he comes across a wounded crane. The farmer takes the crane back to his house and cares for the creature until it is healthy enough to fly away. The day comes when the crane is healthy enough to fly away, and even though the farmer is sad to see the bird go, he lets it. The next day, a beautiful girl shows up at his door and becomes his wife. The wife promises to make them both rich, but in order to do so, she must go in a closed room for hours a day, and if the farmer ever looks at what she is doing, she will leave him forever.

Now, if this is how I started a review for any other band, a lot of people would be confused. However, if you are all familiar with the Decemberists, then this is business as usual. And those of you out there concerned that the hyper-literate folk group were going to lose their affinity for story telling after their jump from indie label Kill Rock Stars to major label Capitol, well put those silly worries to rest.

The story outlined above, an ancient Chinese proverb, provides the main tracks and title for the Decemberists latest effort. It is a bit of a departure from the pop/folk bard-ing of “Picturesque”, their best album to date. Truth be told, this album has more in common with Pink Floyd or Yes than any other influence. With such powerful prog influences pushed to the forefront of the song writing, expect some long songs.

Some songs benefit from the length. The hands down standout track on this album is over 12 minutes long. The monstrous multi movement piece is called “The Island: Come and See/The Landlord's Daughter/You'll Not Feel the Drown” and it boats some of vocalist Colin Meloy’s most loose vocal work to date, not to mention the most ballsy keyboard solo this side of “Roundabout”. Other winners include the funky groove of “The Perfect Crime 2” and “The Crane Wife 3” which captures the sting of regret and the personal sin of arrogance with gentle beauty.

However, this album is not without flaws. Meloy, with all his flair for song writing and story telling, can get on some nerves. His songs never reflect anything personal or truly identifiable, because he conveys all his feelings and emotions through characters and by doing so never has to put himself out on a limb emotionally. One thing that really appealed to me about “Picturesque” is how personal the album felt; that feeling is lost for me here. He almost seems too caught up in the story of the songs to worry about the sound of the songs. And where “The Island…” benefited from its massive length, “The Crane Wife 1 and 2” lags because of it; boasting some of the albums most brilliant flashes but never delivering consistently. One song that really could have used a little more time to develop is “When the War Came” which builds until it threatens to spill over, but rather breaks down into a mess of un-listenable noise, despite having the best chorus on the album.

“The Crane Wife” is more fine work from the Decemberists. On this album they are able to thumb their noses at those who questioned their integrity for signing to a major lable, and at the same time expand their sound. They remain the most literate band of the last 30 years. However, their greatest strength is also their biggest weakness; until they can find a balance between their grand tales and their real lives, they will never be perfect. But perfection can wait; the Decemberists have already proven themselves as one of the best folk acts, best pop acts, and now a pretty darn good progressive act. The Crane Wife won’t floor you, but it also won’t leave your CD player for a few weeks.

Rating: 7.5 out of 10

Key Tracks: “The Island: Come and See/The Landlord's Daughter/You'll Not Feel the Drown” “ The Crane Wife 3” “The Perfect Crime 2” “Sons and Daughters”

Worth The Money: You bet, I would recommend new listeners also pick up “Picturesque”

Monday, October 9

Rock and Roll Holds Steady

Artist: The Hold Steady
Album: Boys and Girls in America

Comments: The grunge revolution of the 90s killed rock and roll.

That’s right, I just typed that last sentence, and what’s more, I’ll type it again for emphasis.

The grunge revolution of the 90s killed rock and roll.

Oh sure, it also saved it. I mean, yes, it did turn back the tide of overproduced, under talented stadium glam trash that was flooding out of the late 80s rock scene, and it did galvanize and inspire an entire generation of angry, unpopular people with no outlet for their rage and social strife. It forever shut the door on Winger, Faster Pussycat, Poison, and said goodnight to that rock and roll era for good.

But it also killed off a lot of things that were good about Rock and Roll. It killed the big, swirling chorus and the sound of 20,000 people all singing the same words at the same time. It put a dagger in the heart of the guitar solo, an art now lost somewhere in the underbelly of modern hard rock. And it put to rest the drunken debauchery of a rock show. It made rock and roll serious, not fun.

And that is why the Hold Steady have no right releasing this album, this “Boys and Girls in America”, in this year of 2006.

What right do they have? Where do they get the stones? Didn’t anyone tell them that his style of bar room rock died in 1992? This album belongs on an 8 track tape, and it should be blasting out of some guy’s mustang on the way to the Springsteen concert.

I’m very glad that the Hold Steady decided to disregard 1992. I’m glad because this is the absolute best ROCK AND ROLL album I’ve heard in years.

When I say it’s a rock and roll record, I mean that in the classic sense. I mean that it has Springsteen keyboard harmonies that bring a smile to your face, drum rolls and kicks that keep your fists pumps, guitar riffs that will have you swaying back and forth and solos that will be sure to inspire an entire generation of new air guitarists. And it’s fun!

And the lyrics, oh the lyrics! It wouldn’t be enough if the band rocked, because then all they would be is a Springsteen cover band who can’t get past 1984. But thankfully, vocalist Craig Finn is not so much a singer as he is a public speaker, and not so much a songwriter as he is a story teller. He weaves poetry together and tells of drinking, love, drugs, and all the perils, pain, tragedy, and triumph of the boys and girls in America. He “loves this girl but can’t tell when she’s having a good time” because “how am I supposed to know that you’re high if you won’t let me touch you”. He tells of kids getting a little bit to high, then “kicking it in the chill-out tent”. He knows that “south town girls won’t blow you away, but you’ll know that they’ll stay.” Craig Finn is able to highlight the good in a world of bad; he is able to pull the pears from all of the mud.

So many bands today use the genre of “Rock and Roll” to describe themselves, but never have the courage to actually rock without irony. Today, rocking out is seen as something to be done with your tongue planted in your cheek and a joke at the ready. But here is a band that is doing just that.

I will not call The Hold Steady the saviors of rock and roll.

But listening to this album, I am almost ready to.

Rating: 9 out of 10

Key Tracks: “Stuck Between Stations” “First Night” “You Can Make Him Like You” “Chillout Tent”

Worth The Money: Yes

Tuesday, October 3

Guest Review - Jared Adams

Artist: The Caesars
Album: Paper Tigers

On Christmas morning 2003 I got SSX3 for my PS2 console and had found a love for gaming that had been lost on me for many months. Not only was it a fresh and beautiful looking game that was just the purest joy to play, the music for the guy that I snowboarded as was from another planet.

This was my first introduction to The Caesars, and I know: what kind of credibility am I painting for them in the mind of an uninitiated listener by mentioning it? Yes it’s true; the song was on a video game’s soundtrack. It was a damn good video game’s soundtrack, but a video game’s soundtrack nonetheless.

“Jerk It Out,” was the song that played and never did I tire of it. Little did I know this song would not tire of me either.

It returned to me again, two years later in a dream. No, my bad, it was on an iPod shuffle commercial (even more street cred!) that debuted on youngster-to-college student-aged television in the second semester of my freshman year of college.

Alcohol and the demands of scholarly pursuits (but mostly alcohol) had taken a significant toll on my mind by this point in the year (ok vastly, basically entirely alcohol) and the nostalgia that this song triggered was a welcome reprieve from the black hole of despair that my life had become (yeah…completely, totally, inescapably alcohol).

By late April I had thankfully fallen into the unavoidable crash & burn that accompanies all addictions and after psychosis, terror, excess, brush with death, hospitalization, pain, suffering, seizures, more brush with death, more hospitalization, withdrawal and recovery had run their course…

The Caesars new album came out.

Paper Tigers came to me at a time when I was desperately gripping for something that bore the slightest resemblance to anything that I had known prior to falling off the cliff that I descended into throughout that costly year of my life.

Never had I found a work of art so cohesive, so lyrically poignant, or so beautifully, wonderfully simplistic. It shuddered, and then stood upright, it grabbed you with a caustic yet inviting urgency that showed you the morning before the evening had completely left you.

It was essentially, the way you wished love could be.

It began with hesitation, barely a whisper, and then the guitar’s first chord is struck, over and over and over again. Seconds later, you hear Cesar speak for the first time. He’s really telling you something, and you don’t know why, but somehow you believe every word he’s saying. That’s all it takes. You’re there for the rest of the album and you can’t wait for the next song.
Before he had reached the second verse, I realized that he was looking for the same thing I was. A complete, total and uncompromising return to what he had once known. To somehow find something wild and alive in the stability of the sleepy neighborhood streets from his youth.

This was a theme that would be maintained throughout the rest of the album and the rest of my summer.

I feel like John Cusack in “High Fidelity,” organizing his albums autobiographically. And you know what? It’s a good feeling. Where’s my Cosby sweater? I think I’m gonna put it on.

Following “Spirit,” the epic opener that you need to hear to believe, you’re hit with “It’s Not The Fall That Hurts.” It was a graphic reminder. The fall didn’t really hurt at all until I was close to the end. The initial portion of the fall was a hoot. Once I allowed myself to teeter off the edge, the ground that would eventually rise up to meet me was of no concern, I was going to enjoy this fall and enjoy it to the fullest.

Sure enough, “it’s when you hit the ground” are the second lines of this hook. I find it highly doubtful that I would have ever grasped the meaning of this song had I come upon it at any other point in my life.

I have never had faith in the abilities of psychiatrists. I am in no place to say that they do not work for some people, but I was convinced that they would do nothing for me. Even after being diagnosed as a chronic alcoholic before my 19th birthday, I refused to subject myself to the scrutiny of one of those people.

But I did attend therapy. I attended it every time I played this album.

Suddenly a new drum beat drops, perfectly syncopated snare and bass compliments the new riff. “Out There” connects to you and you are immediately cognizant of the adventurous search that is taking place here.

They are using the music as a tool for the lyrics. What a novel idea, huh? They are utilizing a retro style, a throwback if you will, to when rock n’ roll was in its earliest purest form. How much more perfect of a method could a band ask for so as to rediscover what was pure and good in themselves through music?

Then there it is again “Jerk It Out,” and it leads a parade of bouncing, gyrating, mirthful tones that explode and sizzle only to explode again. The title track hits at the album’s center, cooling things off after the dazzlingly heated assault you just endured. It’s a calm, melodic groove, fit for the recovery time that greets the middle of a bands set at some summer amphitheatre in a sundown field. Awakening once more you’re are taken back into the fray, and love every minute of it.

Then “Winter Song” occurs. And it just so happens, that the more the song progresses the more you understand the album as a whole and why everything before it happened in the first place.

It’s a beautifully treated acoustic guitar, complimented by chimes, string arrangements, drum swells and a far-off icy echo that I just can’t place.

As the last three songs progress, you realize that these are true masters at their craft. You see the entire portrait they have painted for you and you can finally lay your summer down to sleep, kissing it good by once its fast a slumber.

I never finished listening to this album. I’ve never listened to the final track all the way until the end. For all I know there’s a brilliant hidden track following the last sounds uttered within “Good and Gone.”

But I’ll never know.

Much like you can’t bring yourself to read the last few pages of “Return of the King,” or to wake the Windfish at the end of “Link’s Awakening,” they all means the same thing.

Saying goodbye to old friends.

I followed these guys on this journey from track 1 to track 13. Constructing a perfect album, a little bit of magic and a personal miracle for me. The sun went down on my summer with me understanding why I was still around. What took place while listening to that album was a remarkable transcendence in my mind from what I had once thought an album should be.

I found an album that was made for me, and I pray you do too.

This one, ladies and gentleman, is perfect.

“…runnin through these empty streets… this city’s built for you and me…”


Jared Adams

October 3rd 2006 3:04 AM

Brubacher Hall, Albany, New York

NOTE: Better late than never I always say, and this addition to the site is no exception. Muchos thanks in order to Jared Adams and his deeply personal twist on the review. Jared is of course the folk/pop songweaver I reviewed eariler this year. When he's not writting more songs than you've ever heard, he also lends his pen to an Albany newspaper writting a gonozo collum. He and I have differernt ideas on many things including animal rights, but we both agree on this album, its a groovey jam. Listen to his music or tell him you liked his review at the myspace (you damn kids and your interweb!!).

Monday, October 2

Quick Hits

Hey everyone. A bunch of new albums come out this week. I am really looking forward to telling you all what I think of them, but before I can do that I've got to get some older albums out of the way. Rather than do full reviews for all of these albums, I'm just going to do some quick reviews to give you an idea.

Artist: Outkast
Album: Idlewild
Rating: 4.5 out of 10
Key Tracks: "Mighty O", "Morris Brown", "Hollywood Divorce"

Comments: Nothing here is as good as anything on "Aquimini", but the tracks that work are the ones that Outkast works together on. However, for the most part this album is a disappointing mishmash of prohibition-era blues and soul and mainstream 2000 hip hop. Musicals are dead anyway.

Artist: The Format
Album: Dog Problems
Rating: 6 out of 10
Key Tracks: "Matches" "She Doesn't Get It" "Dog Problems"

Comments: The Format avoid the sophomore slump with another album of quaint, pleasant pop songs about losing, girls, losing girls, and (as the title suggests) dogs. It's a nice album; nothing on here is as engaging as "On Your Porch" or as bubblegum fun as "The First Single", but The Format are holding the course.
Artist: Liars
Album: Drums Not Dead
Rating: 6.5 out of 10
Key Tracks: "Let's Not Wrestle Mt. Heart Attack" "A Visit From Drum" "The Other Side of Mt. Heart Attack"

Comments: A moody and creepy indie rock concept album about the two sides of the creative process of song writhing, "Drums Not Dead" sounds like it should be played in outer space or at the bottom of the worlds darkest cave. Often brutal and abrasive, but also with moments of unbelievable tenderness, this album is a grower. After a first listen you may never play it again, but those willing to go back will find something worth listening to. It gets a little caught up in itself, but not a bad record.
Artist: Cursive
Album: Happy Hollow
Rating: 7 out 0f 10
Key Tracks: "Dorothy at 40" "Bad Sects" "Dorothy Dreams of tornados"

Comments: After exercising his personal demons on Cursive's dark masterpiece "The Ugly Organ", Tim Kashir returns with one less cello player, three more horn players, and a vendetta against the catholic church. This album boasts an excellent first half, but the ideas get stale after a little while. The horns intertwining with the angular guitars that Cursive are known for, and makes for an interesting, if not sometimes rough, sonic experience. Kashir is as gifted with the pen as ever. He is not as open of himself as he has been in the past, but after "the Ugly Organ" the guy deserves a break.


Artist: Tapes n' Tapes
Album: The Loon
Rating: 7.5 out of 10
Key Tracks: "Just Drums" "Insistor" "Manitoba"

Comments: This album has two parents. One is the loose jam and quirky sense of Pavement, and one is the wild reckless ness and screaming into the void feel of Pixies. But as far as influences go, you could do a lot worse than those two. The album never strays far from these two parents, but still somehow manages to stand apart from them, always reminding but never ripping off. Fans of either band should pick this up, and after the second listen, you'll like it not because you like Pixies or Pavement, but because you like Tapes n' Tapes.

OK, that's it. Check back this week for reviews about:

The Hold Steady - Boys and Girls in America
Decemberists - The Crane Wife
The Killers - Sam's Town
...Trail of Dead - New Album

Monday, September 25

Guest Week: James Keough


If I can be so bold for a moment here…what does the term “Indie Rock” really mean? To be technical, one would have to say that it is a genre of music composed of bands that aren’t bound by a record label and produce and/or distribute their own albums. However, I find myself bandying this term about quite loosely. In fact, when I attribute it to a band or act or side project (there I go lapsing into these terms again), I am mainly concerned with their sound. I have no idea what label they are on. I know if I was a real “music fan” I would research endlessly and memorize this information ruthlessly. Yet I don’t, and my enjoyment level hovers in a comfortable homeostasis of ignorance/satisfaction. Should I feel guilty? I think not.

This brings up the question: What precise role does “research” have in the quality of music? When and why did researching music assume the significant role it possesses amongst the many heads of the beast known as “proper musical appreciation?” As for when, one could make the case that researching music has been around on some level or not since the beginning. However, in the past, when bands were “discovered,” that meant they had finally made it to “the show.” They had “blown up,” “struck it rich,” or become “the ballin’-ist sh*t ever.”

At the same time, the success of one band (or chain of bands) is mostly dependant on the ebb and flow of major label patronage and exposure. And thus enters the growing minority of “researched” music fans. It seems there is a group forming, gaining support and membership every passing Tuesday, which seeks to “discover” bands on a much more individual level. They seek out these unique, lower key acts and claim them as their own. In fact, it oftentimes seems that these support groups dissolve if too many people join in the fun. This is not always the case but it is but one phenomenon apparent amidst this well-read subculture of appreciation. So one could conclude that this trend (an ironic term, I know), can be classified as the reaction to the ever-apparent overbearing nature of record labels. In other words, the determining of what is “good” and “popular” by the mass media (major record labels in this instance) has led to a growing sense of dissatisfaction amongst the listeners/viewers/readers. This minority, and it is most definitely a minority, in constantly involved in the cyclical process of determining what is “good” for themselves. The manifestation of this in the music industry, again, is the “anti-discovery” apparent in the subcultures of music. The crux of the matter, however, lies in the fact that these bands are hunted down and sought out with the assumption of fans and bands alike that “blowing up” is not the priority. But what is?

What is the criterion of a “good” band or album? What are they appreciated for? What is the acquired taste necessary to turn bitter into sweet? Is it talent? Possibly, but you can’t look someone in the face and tell them that Slash or Axel Rose from “Guns and Roses” weren’t good at what they did. Standard snob response: “They sound like everyone else at that time.” Yes, they did. But they were also good at what they did. Granted, their priorities in making music are most certainly open for interpretation, but they were talented nonetheless. This leads us to our first tangible basis for separating the sheep from the goats: intention. A band with chivalrous musical intent is most certainly more appealing to fans who consider themselves the guardians of sensible musical appreciation. But someone with good intentions who rubs a fret-board with a washcloth can’t really be prized. In other words, intent alone does not suffice. Then again, the rebuttal “So-and-so sounds like bands x, y, and z” is not necessarily directed at questions of talent. Most likely this rebuttal is used to redirect attention from measuring pure talent to the usage of said talent.

In other words, it’s not what you have; it’s what you do with it. Is band X using their skills to imitate or initiate? The “flavor” of a band should be multilayered. There should be some sort of “musical aftertaste.” The phrase I often hear, when confronted with a new band or act just imported from the outer limits of convention, is “Listen to these guys. You may not like it at first, but give it a shot.” This effort to see what is not immediately apparent is not exclusive to “Indie Rock” or the “well-read subculture” of music. This same effort is apparent in everything from wine to Zen gardening. It is a simple human compulsion. The urge to appreciate is universal and manifests in innumerable forms. There is a well-read subculture for everything that demands appreciation.

In short, the ability of a band to separate themselves from their peers in someway through the layering of intention and talent is another aspect of the criteria. A band’s desire to progress the sound of the music they champion, combined with the skills necessary to accomplish this goal, results in an album with more than one dimension. It creates an album that demands to be listened to in more than one way. This replay value, this fuel for thought and relation, adds the last ingredient to create the elusive “good” album. Thusly, the ability to create numerous “good” albums is what separates a band and makes them “good.” This couples with the avid desire of the fan base to seek out and appreciate such an effort. This intersection, of the effort on the part of the band to forge a new sound and the desire of the listener to seek out such an effort, is what differentiates this well-read subculture from the rest of the industry.

In the end however, one can really only be so definitive about a subject like this. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it), “good” is relative. Your taste is your own and to a major degree you have little control over it. Unless you find it terribly interesting and fulfilling to cultivating your taste, this entire dialogue really has no relevance. Also, with as much music as I listen to, I still have a large pile of guilty pleasures that hold their own in the arenas of satisfaction. At the end of the day, it’s really about whether you find more worth in the journey or the destination. There is plenty to be had in both corners, so enjoy. In this aspect you can have your cake and eat it too.

NOTE: Ok, ok, so it's not a review. But open your mind you damned hippies! The above introspection into the core of how and why people listen to what they listen to is brought to you by James Keough. JK is the creator of the (possibly defunct) "Everyman Journal" and is one half of the consistently excelent philadelphia AM radio program "GET AWESOME". Also, I feel it is my duty to point out that the title was my idea not his, and that he cencored himself without me even asking! How very capital!

This marks the end of an inconventional week. Regular old reviews will return later this week.

Sunday, September 17

Guest Week - Sean Cilano

Artist: CLAPAN-21st
Album: Century Lullaby

Comments: Clapan is the conglomeration atmospheric melodies, and unique sounds. Robotic sounding drum kits and percussive samples are arranged in intricate rhythms that relelntlessly work to hypnotize the listener. Think of the 'dial up' noise your computer used to make. Clapan is unpredictable and although songs are lengthy they rarely get tiresome, this unique sound stays fresh the whole was through the CD. Every time I listen I hear something new. The layers and layers of clean, tight production show a polished neo-electronic sound. Clapan is an audible kaleidoscope rich with unique twists and turns, dissonance and above all fresh beats. Think of Telefon Telaviv, or Aphex Twin. Clapan is unique, innovative, fresh, moody and flavorful.

That said, the best songs are:

Organ man
With your resolution

Note: Today's sexy review comes via Sean Cilano, better known as one half of the machine madness that is Abrev. You may recall their upstart EP being reviewed yours truly last year, and now Sean is returning the favor. Find out about abrev. at their Myspace.

Saturday, September 16

Guest Week - Steve Kotch

Artist: Rise Against
Album: The Sufferer & the Witness

Comments: I was unsure of how this album would be at first. Rise Against had not put out an album that disappointed me yet, but the same thing went for less than Jake until May of this year. I was optimistic though and listened to any song I could from the record before it came out. At first my initial fear was that the album would lack the heaviness impact that was so evident on The Unraveling and my personal favorite Revolutions per Minute. At the same time I really wanted there to be the melodic qualities like on Siren Song of the Counter Culture.

When the album was released I made sure to get a copy within my hands very soon, and I was beyond pleased. The first track, "Chamber the Cartridge" begins with a faint roll on the snare drum, which then gets heavier and then guitar comes in with a catchy guitar rift. The song is fast, aggressive, and the lyrics are like any other rise against song, amazing. It resembles "heaven Knows" in my opinion. The song ends and fades into the intro to "Injection" which is a bit slower than the previous track, but just as aggressive and sounds like something I could have heard on Revolutions per Minute.

Next is the first single off the album "Ready to Fall". It's a great choice as the single, it could definitely appeal to fans of any kind of rock, but at the same time contains all the classic rise against elements, for example the screams in the pre chorus which I definitely could have done with more of this CD. The next track, "Bricks", could have fit on the unraveling easy, its fast, heavy, and contains anthem worthy lyrics. Afterwards, "Under the Knife" It keeps up with the trend of great songs that you’d want to hear from rise against, showing that even though they are slowly becoming semi main-stream; their signature sound isn’t being compromised. The next track is " Prayer of the Refugee" it is one of the slower songs in the beginning, and Mcilrath shows both sides of his vocal talent, with soothing lyrics in the verses, and the beloved raspy screaming that he’s so well-known for. I also enjoy that the lyrics are political, but not about Iraq like every other song out recently.

The next song is quite possibly the best song on the CD. "Drones" has everything you could ask for from McIlrath and company in a song. It's Aggressive, its melodic, it will be stuck in your head forever or so it seems. Afterwards is a rather experimental track for rise against. "The Approaching Curve" strays very far from their style, even compared to their acoustic songs. It has spoken word verses, a catchy chorus, and resembles something of the likes of At the Drive-in.

"worth Dying For" is next, the intro has a steady kick drum beating with guitars which leads into the fast passed verses, and heavy choruses, and in particular a great bridge showcasing McIlraths vocals a little more. "Behind Closed Doors" follows and somewhat resembles "Like the Angel" a bit. Keeping up the trend somewhat started on the previous CD Siren Song, a slow acoustic song is contained on the CD. However, “Roadside" doesn't resemble "Swing Life Away" all that much at all. This is probably the best display of McIlrath's vocal versatility. And female backing vocals and a really good effect to the song. The following song, "The Good Left Undone" is my favorite, and quite possibly the strongest track on the album. Its heavy, and very poetic, "In fields where nothing grew but weeds,I found a flower at my feet,Bending there in my direction,I wrapped a hand around its stem,I pulled until the roots gave in,Finding now what I’ve been missing.." the fast passed verses lead to a time change into the slower heavier Choruses, and there is an instrumental at the end of the song as well. The final track is titled "Survive". This track somewhat resembles the previous one with fast verses and slow heavy choruses, and also is the reason for the Parental advisory sticker on the record.

The CD ends and leaves you wanting more after such a great closing track, much like after "Rumors of My Demise Have Been Greatly Exaggerated" of the previous record. After listening to this record the whole way through, it didn’t leave my CD player for close to a month, and still doesn’t seem overplayed, and at this point in time is my personal best record in 2006 thus far.

Rating: 7.5

Key Tracks: "Drones", "The Good Left Undone", "Worth Dying For", "Chamber the Cartridge"

Worth the Money: Yes, more than worth it by far.


Note: Much love to Steve Kotchm who gave me the most afully spelled guest review yet. Regardless, Steve is still a great drummer, and is currenlty druming for Upstate NY's finest punk band "Kicker" and playing for NY's worst joke band "Getting High and Fighting a Bear".

Wednesday, September 13

Guest Week: Ed Baron

Futuresex/Lovesounds- Justin Timberlake

What do you think of when someone mentions Justin Timberlake? Many would immediately associate him with N*sync, singing popular songs like “Bye, Bye, Bye” and “Tearin’ up my Heart”. Others would think of him as the scrawny ghetto white boy around Cameron Diaz’s arm. And still others think of him as the solo artist who broke away from his boy band image with his 2002 solo project Justified. In fact Justin did “justify” himself with his first album. He became a superstar who mixed pop and r & b to create songs that had people dancing and singing in the privacy of their own homes or cars. People feared liking Justin Timberlake. Fear no more. Mr. Timberlake is back and bringing sexy with him.
With his new album Futuresex/Lovesounds, Timberlake matures and mixes his sultry voice with rough, high energy club beats to create a great album. Justin called upon some of the greatest producers in music to help him with this album. Timbaland, Rick Rubin and, from the Black Eyed Peas, all contributed to the album. “SexyBack” , the first single off the album, features Timbaland and really sets the tone for the whole album. The heavy drum beats, typical Timbaland style, and catchy lyrics “SexyBack” exposes Justin’s dirty style in which he proclaims “I’ll let you whip me if I misbehave.” This song is far from his teeny bopper lyrics of the late 90’s. Timberlake also has a winner with the song “My Love” which features the new “king” of rap T.I. This song is the “Cry me a river” of his latest album and doesn’t disappoint at all. T.I. dominates the song with his rap, while Justin’s lyrics and the synthesized club banger beat helps to make this song work.

A majority of the songs on the album are really up tempo. However, Justin does offer some slow, emotional, ballad type songs on his latest album as well. “Until the End of Time” is a real slow typical “quiet storm” type of song, while “All Over Again” has Justin tickling the ivory in what I would classify as a baby making song. The song that I find most unique is a song that for once Justin doesn’t sing about a lady in. In “Losing my way”, Justin helps to paint a picture of a person who is struggling with addiction problems as well as family issues and other problems. The smooth sound of the drums and emotional lyrics helps to make for a great song. The song that really caught my attention is the high energy produced song “Damn Girl.” This song offers everything a Justin Timberlake song usually offers. In typical Justin style, he smoothly sings his catchy lyrics behind a crazy busy beat with a catchy chorus. Oh and in typical Justin style he has rap on the track.

Altogether this album has a lot to offer in what is a pretty short album. Only 12 songs total in the album and yet none of them will have you reaching for the skip button. Justin has yet again delivered with his sophomore album and has shown he is done with the boy band stereotypes. The teen we once loved to hate is now the man we hate to love.
It’s ok to like Justin Timberlake. I know it sounds crazy. But let’s face it, it’s hard not to these days. He’s everywhere. Futursex/Lovesounds might help everyone realize that it’s ok to admit being a fan of Justin Timberlake.

Must hear: “Damn Girl”, “My Love”, “Losing My Way”
Note: Big ups to Ed Baron for his contribution to guest week. Whan I said that Ed had his hands in a lot of things, I wasn't kidding. In the last two years alone, Ed has been a radio personality, grocery store manager, amature chef, freelance journalist, college basketball player, gambler, and salesman. He has been connected to comedian Jimmy Shubert, taken pictures with Carmello Anthony, and he was once a close friend of Ashley Simpson. Ed dosn't give this album a rating, but who the fuck am I to tell him what to do? For all I know, Ed's going to be my future boss. He's like Young Joc, if you see him in Philly, NYC, or Rhode Island, it's going down.

Tuesday, September 12

Stadium Sized Album Can't Rock Like a Hurricane

Artist: The Red Hot Chili Peppers
Album: Stadium Arcadium

Comments: One of my theories about music: Stadiums are where rock bands go to die. Now, don’t misunderstand my intention here, I don’t mean to say that once a band starts playing stadium sized concerts that they aren’t good anymore, or that they’ve lost their integrity, or anything like that (although, these two things can sometimes be true). What I mean is that for rock and roll bands, there is no retirement home or pension plan, but there are stadiums and reunion tours and farewell tours and the state of New Jersey. Bands get good, then they get old, then they tour stadiums (and occasionally make albums that have no chance of relevance to play on said tours); that is just the way rock music works. There is no shame in it, and any musician would be insanely lucky to get to that point in their career.

One of my other theories about music: double albums are generally boring, overwrought, bloated failures. Once again, do not misinterpret. There are some very important, very excellent double albums out there (The White Album is the best example and first to mind). However, for every White Album, there are 200 more “Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness” albums out there with a few standouts and a lot more that should have been left on the cutting room floor. The vast majority of double albums are nothing more than indecisive artists spending too much time in the studio.

Now, why even bring up these two theories? Because the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ new album “Stadium Arcadium” stands in the direct path of both these theories and (in my mind) proves both my points. The follow-up to 2002’s “By The Way” shows the Peppers aging with grace, but suffering from indulgence.

The long walk begins with the hit single “Dani California” in which Anthony Kiedis sings “California, rest in peace.” One can only hope that this statement signifies the end of all California themed songs and albums as the Pepper’s obsession with their home state was getting a little out hand. The single is a good rocker for the summer, regardless of how much it sounds like “Last Dance with Mary Jane” by Tom Petty. It starts off the album with an energy that the Peppers can’t seem to find again in the next 26 tracks.

It’s common knowledge that the Peppers are an intensely talented band, and there are plenty of songs that allow each member to shine individually. Examples of John Frucsiante’s guitar virtuosos and Flea’s bass chops are on literally every song. Sadly, great musicans can still make bad songs. A lot of stuff on this album sounds like the same song over and over again, and it doesn’t matter how good of a musician you are; if you play the same songs over and over again, people will still get bored. There is just to much music here without enough variation. And when the songs do vary, the tend to suck. Example: the forced funk of “Hump De Bump” sounds stale and false.

The real shame here is that in between all the songs that sound exactly like “Californication” (which is about ¾ of the album) there are some real good songs. “Torture Me” is a punk number that almost matches the energy of “Dani California”. “Warlocks” is as close to the wild old early 90s that the Peppers come on this album. The song “Wet Sand” would have made an excellent “Under the Bridge” type ballad, but instead the Peppers decided to take it over the top with continuing build until it all explodes in one rock-and-roll-sonic-boom breakdown. It’s indulgent, but still charming.

Sadly, the same cannot be said for the rest of the album. What I hear on this record is the sound of a band ageing gracefully. The Red Hot Chili Peppers sound like they are ready for the stadium treatment that is entitled to all veteran rock acts. However, rather than usher in this era with a simple yet powerful statement, we are given a rotting corpse of an album; too long to be enjoyed by anyone but the biggest fan or the most patient saint. There are some really good songs on this album that the young Peppers would have never been able to make, but most of it is the kind of music that the young Peppers would never have wanted to make.

Rating: 4 out of 10. If this were one album, then I think it would have gotten somewhere around a 6.5 or 7, so I rounded up a little bit.

Key Tracks: "Dani California" "Tortrue Me" "Wet Sand" "21st Century"

Worth The Money: Only for diehards

Note: No guest today, but later this week We'll be getting reviews from a singer songwritter revied on this very website, a drummer from the only lo-fi noise punk band worth hearing, and a man whose got his fingers in so many pies that...well...I don't know how to finish that comparison, but he's connected. Stay tuned...

Sunday, September 10

Guest Week: John Adams

Artist: Against Me!
Album: Americans Abroad!!! Against Me!!! Live in London!!!

Comments: I am usually opposed to live CDs. I feel like they are just re-releases, shitty re-releases. Essentially you pay $15-$20 for the same songs you bought before except this time the songs are a lot sloppier. Although I’m opposed to live cds I still buy them out of support if one of my favorite bands happens to puts one out.

This past august Against Me! put out their first live cd and their last cd on Fat Wreck before moving on to Sire Records. The cd starts with the recording of “A Brief yet Triumphant Intermission” and immediately breaks into their most recent single “From Her Lips to God’s Ears”. I was surprised to find that they had slowed the song down unlike most artists, who tend to speed everything up when they play live. Even more surprising however is how tight the band sounds you almost get the impression that the live cd was done in Blink-182 fashion (recorded in a studio with a crowd mixed in afterward).

The next two songs on the cd are short but hard hitting. “Rice and Bread” serves as a great set up for fan favorite “Reinventing Axl Rose”. After that quick blast, comes the one new song that the band did for the cd, “Americans Abroad”. If you liked Against Me!’s last studio cd, Searching for a Former Clarity, then you’ll like “Americans Abroad”. The new song, about the insecurities of being an American in another country, starts witch just guitar and drums quickly picks up in Against Me fashion to pound the song home.

Then the band play “Those Anarcho Punks are Mysterious” followed by “Miami” the opening track for Searching. Then the band plays their most commercially successful song, “Don’t Loose Touch”, followed by the most unique song Against Me! has written, “Unprotected Sex with Multiple Partners”. Most people would never guess that Against Me! would ever write a song like Unprotected Sex, when the song starts it sounds like a Franz Ferdinand rip off band, but by the end of the track it is still clear Against Me! hasn’t abandoned their folk-punk roots.

The next five songs are all high-energy crowd favorites mostly from “As the Eternal Cowboy”. In the middle of that block they play “Turn Those Clapping Hands into Angry Balled Fists”, one of the high points on the cd. Clapping Hands starts as one of the slower song on the cd and is a song that is about everything from what most houses are made of to insulting the drummer, Warren Oakes’ drum beats. As the lyrics finish it almost seems like the band that had been unbelievably tight until now breaks down. The bassist isn’t actually playing anything, the guitars are out of time and out of key with everything, the only part of the song that hasn’t gone to hell is the drums, and just when you’re wondering just how much more you can take the band snaps back together to finish the song like nothing happened.

The band finishes the regular set with their most beloved song “Pints of Guinness Make you Strong” and even though the band has been at it over forty minutes they still sound as fresh as they did at the beginning of the cd. The boys of Against Me! come back for their encore with more energy than ever, starting the extra songs with “Cliché Guevara” and ending the whole show with “We Laugh at Danger (and Break all the Rules)”. When the band starts We Laugh at Danger the crowd who had been more then audible the entire cd explodes, especially at the end of the song where the crowd sings and claps on their own, putting a smile on your face and making you feel like you were at the show.

Rating: 7 out of 10

Key Tracks: “Rice and Bread”, “Reinventing Axl Rose”, “Turn Those Clapping Hands into Angry
Balled Fists”, and :We Laugh at Danger (and Break all the Rules)”

Worth the Money: Only if your already a fan, if not buy Reinventing Axl Rose first


Note: Big thanks to John for kicking off Listen Up!'s first ever guest week. John is the lead singer, bass player, and primary song writter of one of western NY's most up and coming punk bands, Back For Seconds. Their first album "Get Awesome" is avaialbe through the band's myspace. Here's the adress:

Thursday, September 7

Mr. Dogg Classic - The Blue Album

Artist: Weezer
Album: The Blue Album

Comments: As I type this, “My Name is Jonas” is playing on my speakers. This song is everything an album opener should be; it gets the listener excited and drawn into the album. For my money, the first track on Weezer’s first album is still their best song to date. More and more it’s looking like its going to be their best song ever; there most recent release “Make Believe” is one of the worst albums I’ve ever bought, not to mention the whole “hiatus” situation that Weezer is currently in. I always hate to hear that a band is going into hiatus, it seems to me once a band does that, they never come back; even if the band doesn’t break up in the time off, any new stuff just doesn’t sound the same. After hiatus, all a band is doing is trying to prolong the magic, and that never really works (except as a title to a Cake album).

“No one else” is playing now. The Blue Album came out in 1994 and if it were a person it would be just about 12 years old now. It would starting to notice girls, probably doing its best to fit in at the expense of the nerdy kids in class, and just starting to get angst-y. This strikes me as somewhat ironic seeing as how these feelings of adolescent insecurity and the balance between innocence and maturity are what keep drawing me to The Blue Album. No matter how old I am, or how many times I listen to these songs, the feelings are still there, and the songs still speak to me. For example, “The World has Turned and Left me Here”, which is a song about feeling alone after a breakup, still holds true to me now at like it did at age 13. I’m not sure that there is any age in life where getting dumped no longer hurts, and because of this, I don’t think there’s ever going to be an age when this song is going to sound stale.

Weezer’s first big hit “Buddy Holly” is one of my least favorite songs on the entire album. That’s not saying much though, this is one of the greatest albums of all time to me, and I really don’t think that’s going to change anytime soon. I’ve never really been a big fan of singles in general; I’m more of a deep cuts kind of guy. But I’m only lying to myself if I say I don’t like this song. It’s a fun, well crafted, charming pop song that keeps me tapping my toes no matter how many times I hear it. I always seem to forget about the goofy keyboard in the middle of the song, throwing back to all the cheesy stadium rock anthems and goofball metal of the late 70s and 80s. People wonder how Weezer fell so far from grace on their last two albums, but the clues are all over on this album. Maybe we should have seen it coming and not set Weezer’s bar so high. Still, it’s goofy, simple, and perfect for the song.

The first four tracks on the album blow past in less than 15 minutes time like a roller coaster. Everyone is having so much fun on the first four tracks that it’s over before you even realize it, and then out of nowhere, it’s “Undone (The Sweater Song)” to slow things down. For the life of me, I don’t really know what this song is about. I’ve listened to this song a whole bunch of times, and I’m pretty sure its just about a guy losing his sweater. Of course, it could all be a metaphor for people in general, how one small thing can serve as a catalyst for a total breakdown. This idea is further driven home in my mind by the breakdown of melody at the end of the song, with all the jangling and noise that emerges from what was once a pretty song. But the party dialogue in the song still cracks me up every time.

“Surf Wax America” is a great one, and one they seem to like to close shows with. I get the impression that the boys in Weezer don’t actually surf, rather they observe it from a distance. It’s a documented fact that the guys in Weezer are terminal nerds, and as a result this song plays as such; it’s an outsider looking in, a loser looking at the cool kids with longing, admiration, and even a little adolescent jealousy. The proof is in the lyrics; calling kids “hunnies” and saying “I don’t like you face” is snotty early 90s teen, and is reminiscent of awkward kids trying to use cool slang and sound cool; the words are there, but it never really sounds right. Either way, it’s a perfect sentiment for the mass population of the uncool; it’s an anthem for the freaks and geeks of the world who haven’t come to terms with themselves yet.

“Say it ain’t so” is the “serious” song on the album (as if heartache and longing aren’t serious things). I’m not really sure what to say about this one other than it’s about alcoholism and how it can destroy a family. The really strange thing about this song in particular is that it seems a little less personal than the rest of the album. Now, “In the Garage”, there’s a personal song! This is another clue to Weezer’s future; they’re telling us flat out how they love metal. Kiss posters for crissake! But everyone can relate to this song because everyone can relate to a personal place where “we feel safe” and where “no one hears us sing our songs”. Even the most sure and confident people need a place to be alone with themselves and this song is about exactly that.

“Holiday” is the runt of the litter. It’s nothing more than a nice pop song with some passable harmony in the bridge. Ahh, but “Only in Dreams”, there is a powerful song. One of the great things about this album is that it starts with a blast and ends with a blast. “Only in Dreams” is an epic, sprawling pop rock song that stands out because it makes the listener wait. The pervious nine songs are all quick pops of excellent song writing, great instrumentation, and humble eloquence. “Only in Dreams” challenges the listener to wait and accept the song on Weezer’s terms. And the payoff (in the form of a powerful decrescendo in the closing minutes of the song) is nothing short of moving beauty.

And as the final bass notes come to rest, The Blue Album comes to a close, but I am not done with it. No one can ever really be done with an album like this. Weezer’s first (and best, Pinkerton be damned) record finds the universal. As long as we as listeners can remember our youth and all the mixed emotions of joy, freedom, hope, rejection, lonesomeness, and awkwardness this album will be a masterpiece. These are things which all people can relate to; this is an album for anyone. For everyone.

Rating: 10 out of 10

Worth The Money: If I was only allowed to have 5 albums for the rest of my life, this would be one of them. GET THIS ALBUM NOW!

Key Tracks: Not one bad song, listen to it on a car ride all the way through.

Note: Thanks everyone for the nice welcome back. More reviews this weekend, and some GUEST REVIEWERS next week! Stay tuned!

Monday, September 4

The Roots get Pissed

Artist: The Roots
Album: Game Theory

Comments: The Roots have always been a dark horse in hip hop. They are the anti-snap music; hip hop for the thinking man, not for the clubs. Always willing to tackle complex subjects and send a message, The Roots get a little darker and a little angrier on Game Theory, their darkest album to date, and best effort in years. With songs like “Don’t Feel Right” and “False Media” and subjects ranging from war on drugs to betrayal to death, one gets the idea that this is no party album. And while the album is very serious, it is never depressing or damning. It is a cautionary tale, a warning, and a call to change.

On the Roots’ last effort, 2004’s The Tipping Point, ?uestlove’s drumming was barely noticeable; there was never a moment on that record that caused me to sit up and appreciate how good he really is. Thankfully, Game Theory erases any concerns about ?uesto’s skills. In almost every song, the drums are pushed to the front of the mix showcasing ?uesto’s signature style of even handed, jazzed influenced kit banging. From the opening cadence in “Don’t Feel Right” to the laid back soul groove of “Long Time”, ?uestlove is all over this album, killing these songs; he quietly reminds you without being a showoff that he is the best drummer in hip hop (a genre built on rhythm and beat). ?uestlove also produced the album, and keeps it moving along quickly and with focus; there are no mid song breakdowns giving way to 5 minute jazz jams on this album, it is all business for the Roots crew on Game Theory

“Clock with No Hands” emerges as the standout track of the second half of the album, and its all because of Black Thought. Thought is a paradox; he rhymes best when he is in full on battle mode, but his laid back, peanut butter smooth delivery conveys very little emotion. This is why he is often criticized for being a poor front man and catches some noise about not being a good MC. This is nonsense; Black Thought is one of the best lyricists in hip hop even if his delivery lacks punch at times. On “Clock with No Hands”, Thought is in his battle mode speaking on unfaithful friends with a sincerity not often heard in his voice. When he declares “I might forgive/ But I do not forget”, one gets the sense that Black Thought really does have teeth after all; you can hear the anger and regret in his words, and it really makes the song work.

So with the twin dragon of ?uestlove and Black Thought firing on all cylinders, the album is a resounding success. This album calls back to the days of Things Fall Apart when the Roots were at their best. Gone are the mid song jazz freestyles, time wasting skits, and half songs, replaced with a new focus and a sense of determination. Rather than the sporadic flashes of brilliance mixed in with the mediocre, the Roots produce consistent above average, thinking man’s hip hop. The Roots are ready for war against mainstream hip hop, or the government, or the police, or the war on drugs, or anything, and this is their battle cry.

Rating: 8 out of 10

Key Tracks: "Game Theory" "Don't Feel Right" "Baby" "Clock with no Hands"

Worth The Money: Yes. Fans of Talib Kweli, Mos Def, Common, and the Roots other albums will eat this one up.

Note: "Listen Up!" is back! New updates begin this week. Email me at if you want to know when the next one is, or just keep checking back (like thursday or friday).

Get Excited!!!

Reasons to get excited:

1) Summer is over. This means no more 100 degree days, and for 3 glorius months, it is completley alright to drink apple cider.

2) New Decemberists Album! New Roots Album! New Hold Steady Album! New Cursvie Album! New ...And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead Album!

3) Football season bitches!!!! GO! GO! BUF-A-LLO!!

4) New reviews, top fives, and classics coming at you very soon.

stey tuned, We're almost back.

Sunday, May 14

Quickly Going the way of the Buffalo

Hey everyone.

This site is going on indeffinte hiatus effective the minute I'm done typing this. The reasons for this hiatus are many, but the most pressing reason is that I just don't have the money to spend on new albums right now. Cash is tight, especially as I move into my new place for the summer. So untill I get my finacial situation in order, I'm not going to buying any new albums.

There is always the chance that'll I throw a reivew of an older album or a Mr. Dogg Classic up here somewhere, and If i do, I will let you know via the mailing list. Thanks alot for reading, and I hope you guys will read again if I ever come back.

Living vicariously through the music of other,
Mr. Dogg

Thursday, May 11

First Party Record of 2006

ARTIST: Gnarls Barkley
ALBUM: St. Elsewhere

COMMENTS: It’s been almost a full year since I’ve heard a song that qualifies as “My Jam”. In order for a song to be “My Jam”, it has got to excite me instantly upon hearing it; it has to whip my body into a frenzy that can only be cured by dancing it out, regardless of how terrible of a dancer I am. Previous “Jams” have included “Be” off of Common’s recent release of the same name, and “Ghettomusick” by Outkast. Thanks to Gnarls Barkley, I can officially say that I once again have “My Jam” for the summer.

The song that has got my toes tapping is “Go Go Gadget Gospel”; the opening track off of “St. Elsewhere”. It is a quick two minute blast of funky horns, hand claps, marching band drums, and honey dipped soul vocals. It’s the kind of song that makes the listener sit up and pay attention, commands them to move, and dares them not to like every second of it. It sounds like the opening theme to a 70’s cartoon show about funky soul ninjas (that sentence makes a lot more sense in my head than on paper).

The madmen behind this wild frenzy of funk and soul are producer Danger Mouse; best known for his work on “The Grey Album” and his collaboration with MF Doom on “The Mouse and The Mask”, and Cee-Lo Green of Goodie Mod fame. Once you realize who is behind this wild mess, it makes a little more sense; Danger Mouse has already proven himself more than able to make pop music (his work on the Gorillaz most recent album) and Cee-Lo is trying his best to be the bastard child of George Clinton and Isaac Hayes.
Put these two together and something good was bound to happen.

And for the most part, “St. Elsewhere” is something good. Gnarls Barkley is a soulful album that throws back to the early 70’s of R & B, Soul, and Funk, while still managing to sound modern and new. I have to give most of the credit to Danger Mouse; he really runs the show. Cee-Lo’s high pitched singing can range anywhere from arousing to creepy, and he is clearly really good at what he does, but its Danger’s beats that steal the show and keep this from being a throwback album. It’s only about 40 minutes long, but it packs a punch in that 40 minutes. “St. Elsewhere” is full of songs that make you want to shake, wave, shimmy, and boogie. I guess what I’m trying to say is that it’s one of the most fun albums I’ve heard in a while.

Not to mention, one of these songs is a Violent Femmes cover. And I know I might get angry emails for this, but Gnarls Barkley does it better than the Femmes ever did. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to put my jam on and dance my face off.

7 out of 10

WORTH THE MONEY: Fans of soul, hip hop, or having fun should give this a listen. “Go Go Gadget Gospel” and “Smiley Faces” are worth the price of admission for me

KEY TRACKS: “Go Go Gadget Gospel” “Gone Daddy Gone” “Smiley Faces” “Transformer”