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September 7, 2006

Filed under: music»artists»clatter

Clatter for Less

Bass-n-drums rock specialists Clatter have dropped the price on their Blinded by Vision album now that they're back in the studio again. It's great stuff for $6. I'm going to keep annoying you until you buy it.

August 23, 2006

Filed under: music»artists»dylan

A Complete Unknown

In a fawning interview with Rolling Stone, Bob Dylan says:

"I don't know anybody who's made a record that sounds decent in the past 20 years, really," the 65-year-old rocker said... Noting the music industry's complaints that illegal downloading means people are getting their music for free, he said, "Well, why not? It ain't worth nothing anyway."

"You listen to these modern records, they're atrocious, they have sound all over them," he added. "There's no definition of nothing, no vocal, no nothing, just like ... static."

Shorter Bob Dylan:

"Nurse, come take dictation! There's thirty minutes before Matlock starts--just enough time for a severe letter to the editor!"

My initial reaction to the story, when told in the hallway at work:

"What in the world would Bob Dylan know about it?"

Best MusicThing comment (emphasis mine):

70s Dylan in particular was notorious for not telling the rest of the band the chords or even the key (which would he would also change on a whim). In the studio! While tape was rolling! He makes John Lee Hooker sound like some German with a laptop.

July 26, 2006

Filed under: music»artists»tunstall

KT Tunstall loops live

She's not my usual cup of tea, but this video of KT Tunstall performing with over a loop is pretty cool. She's using an Akai Headrush 2 with a switcher pedal on the mike to add background vocals and tambourine taps to the loop. The song is called "Black Horse and Cherry Tree."

July 6, 2006

Filed under: music»artists»muse

Working Principles

Turning to Pitchfork Media for sane musical evaluation is a bit much, but I thought they got this bit right in their review of Muse's newest album, when they lay out the band's fundamental assumptions:

1) distortion is always better than no distortion; 2) every measure of music should contain at least one drum fill; and 3) the future will be dominated by robots.

The fact that they thought those were cutting negative points pretty much explains why their opinion on the band is worthless.

May 23, 2006

Filed under: music»artists»pallett

Has a Good Home, by Final Fantasy

I really, really wanted to like Has a Good Home, an album by Owen Pallett, who plays violin for the Arcade Fire and calls his solo work Final Fantasy (yes, after the games). He's a looping artist from an indie-pop background, which is (to my mind) much preferred to the jazz background of a lot of loopers. And he plays a fairly non-traditional instrument (violin) for that kind of music.

But I've had this CD for a couple of months now, and I just can't think that I would recommend it. I've got a notepad file here that I made one day while I was listening to it. Here are a few excerpts:

austere. a little empty. No real loops, other than vocal overdubs.

back to preciousness. interesting plucking technique. sounds almost like a slow banjo roll.

good imagery. a bit creepy. maybe this makes more sense to people in montreal.

slow. kinda unlistenable.

this song is a transition, basically. very strange. why?

It's a mixed bag, overall. There are a few songs that I really like, such as "This is the Dream of Win and Regine" and "Furniture," both of which feature percussion along with the studio-based loops of Pallett's violin playing. He's got an undeniable skill behind the mixing desk, and his playing is often very inventive. I also like some of his lyrics, such as the lines from "Your Light is Spent"

They say heartbreak is good for the skin
But all that it's helped is my drinking
Picking fights with myself and my friends and my friends
Threatening to do me in

I think the problem is that the preciousness and nonconformism gets out of hand too often. There are fifteen songs on the CD, but many of them are very short--barely even songs, really. It feels like Pallett was too lazy to develop them. And on the best songs here, there's always a glaring flaw that shouldn't have been hard to fix. For example, "Furniture" sounds great until 1:25, when the vocals go severely and unmistakeably off-key. I wince every time I hear it, and I can't think of any reason that it made it into the final version, except that Pallett just didn't care that it sounded terrible. His singing is likewise weaker than it needs to be, seemingly an affectation.

Which is fine, honestly. People are free to make pretentious and out of tune music all they want (I certainly do!), but I don't have to listen to it, and I wouldn't recommend it to anyone else.

April 26, 2006

Filed under: music»artists»wooten


Vic Wooten at Bass Day '98

Someone once asked me who the bass equivalent of Yngwie Malmsteen or Eddie Van Halen was. We could get into a long debate about this, but for sheer chops and groove combined I think it's hard to top Vic. I am not a fan of highly technical playing--I'm more Jack White than Dream Theater--but players like Wooten or Michael Manring have their place, far above the rest of us.

April 18, 2006

Filed under: music»artists»europe

The Trials of Gob

This is why I love Music Thing: A collection of links, including a Dutch rockumentary and a terrible festival performance, all centering on synth anthem The Final Countdown.

I have no words. It goes to eleven.

April 2, 2006

Filed under: music»artists»mates_of_state

Fraud in the 80's

Just for Belle: the new Mates of State video, although I don't care for it very much. They should have just done a recording of their live show, which we caught a while back: the two band members, who are married, pretty much just sing to each other the whole time. It's pretty cute.

Then again, I guess this is better than their older videos.

March 22, 2006

Filed under: music»artists»springsteen

'Scuse me while I kiss this guy

I own one Springsteen album, which I never listen to and which I think I borrowed from my parents. So I never actually knew the title of the song "Tenth Avenue Freezeout" until it came up on Pandora just now. I've been trying to figure out the lyrics to the chorus for years whenever it came on the radio: always thought it was something like "tent devil in the freeze eye." Good to know the Boss wasn't making occult references after all.

February 21, 2006

Filed under: music»artists»clatter


The always cheerful Amy and Joe from Clatter sent out a note on their mailing list to remind me that they're playing the New Amsterdam Bar on the University of Tennessee campus this Saturday, starting at 8pm. Not only will Clatter be playing, but the two-bass band Toupe will also be appearing for the first time in the US. It's a whole evening of great bass-based rock. I don't think I can make it, but if you are anywhere near the area I highly recommend that you check it out.

Future - Present - Past