Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Killers fans hate me




I reviewed the Killers' new album a really long time ago for Prefix, and I gave it an unfavorable review because it, uh, sucked.

On the upside, the review got a lot of really awesome comments that suggested I "shouldn't ever write anything else for the rest of [my] life," or "take a break and go eat some ice cream"

Bizarrely, 3 different people suggested I listen to Mariah Carey because I obviously couldn't handle The Killers' complex, emotionally rich songwriting.

I'm gonna have to say no to those first two things, but yes to the third.

This comment was easily the most awesome:


Ok . this is a golden moment for anyone fortunate enough to stumble on this message. There may only be a few of you before it is censored out, so do hope you listen well and share this story as it will not be repeated.
All you learn from this moment forward will have to be through your own awakening.

The Killers album, Day and Age, is a fantastic and disturbing tale of a privileged few, the Illuminated, seeking real shelter (one may, for instance, throw away their money and run to the valley of the great divide...Denver Intenational Airport...a massive secret underground shelter) in the not so distant future during a time of what may be incredible human suffering. Look it up. See Denver Airport Mural.

The point is this.... The Killers songs are not nonsensical. Poetry, yes. Mystical indeed.
Flowers delivers the message of a soul and indeed FOR all the "chosen" souls that ache knowing that when most on this world are suffering, they, a relative handful of world elite, will be safely cared for as the earth endures radical physical stress as it enters the galactic plane in 2012. It can leave a human empty, and guilt ridden.

Known to many as the Dark Rift, knowledge of this event has passed on by Day and by Age; Pyramidial alignment with the stars, the Mayan Calendar, Secret Societies, and now the Killers, in brave fashion, consistent with the open symbolism we see each day on the money that we use, have been instructed to deliver ever so discreetly this message of comfort to the illuminated as they scatter across the globe wringing their hands and selecting their bunk mates so to speak.

This is not conspiracy. This is not a careless message of doom and gloom. This is nature. It is natural for the earth to cycle through ages of birth, death, and renewal. It is natural for humans to seek shelter and endure in troubled times.....and when such adequate shelter is too scarce for all, it is natural for those who have such a unique privilege to keep it secret...keep it safe....and to make very careful choices about who they bring from this Day and Age into the next.

Listen to the album with this topic in mind and perhaps you'll enjoy it as it was intended to be enjoyed by the few, the guilty, the sheltered Illuminati........and then again, perhaps not.

Read deep my friends. Your future existence depends on it.
Wake up.
Prepare
Be Strong
Be safe.
Peace.




Saturday, November 15, 2008

All I need is one mic

The Cover Girls



One day during the end of the summer, perhaps ironically, I was walking to the nearest grocery store to buy the chips and salsa that has become the main staple of my diet.  As I walked up to cross Jeffrey, a BUSTED white 90s Ford pulled up to the intersection, containing about four Mexicans. Dude at the wheel was glaring out of the window with the customary "MOTHAFUCKA YOU LOOKIN' AT SUMTHIN'" expression that many of us minorities probably learn in grade school, somewhere between subtraction and the meaning of Kwanzaa (Umoja = Unity), and girl in the passenger was staring straight ahead with a standard "Betta be street if he lookin' at me" face. Naturally, included in this whole scene were some pavement-shaking jams, coming out of the car; however, this was not standard earthquake music.




I wasn't really then considering what appeared to me the incongruity of the scene, so much as I was trying to figure out what the fuck this music was. I knew that I knew it, somewhere in the deep long-ago of my heart, but I didn't know what the fuck it was. Since I didn't catch any of the lyrics, and there is not yet any search engine that allows you to "dooo doo dooo" into a microphone and match that shit to a song, I scoured the internets in vain. 

Until one day I was watching the latest installment of Pot Psychology and I had much the same reaction to the clip's background music. I googled the lyrics and discovered that the song was "I Wanna Be The One" by Stevie B. More importantly, I discovered that Stevie B. was considered something called "Freestyle."

If you grew up on B96 like me, then I might seem pretty late with this, but Freestyle is a genre of music that was popular with latino communities in the late 80s/early 90s, and cultural curator B96 bumped that shit hard as hell. The aesthetic of it is pretty much like this:






I can say without an ounce of irony that Freestyle is fucking awesome. There's just something insanely appealing about the excessive glitz and flare of the music. Debbie Deb is delivering lyrics like "The guys look really fine/they almost blew my mind/the guys look really good/just like I knew they would," without an ounce of self-consciousness.  It's just about real life: going to the disco, the dance floor being filled with hot guys, dancing till you bag one, the great struggle that defines all of our lives. Mad depth Debbie, mad depth.

My friend Daniel used to tell me how his mom would play "Diamond Girl" by Nice and Wild, another Freestyle gem, at the end of every single party she threw at their house, like one of those zany idiosyncratic moms in some indie coming of age story. Isn't that awesome? Do you think I should ask Mrs. Gardunio if I can look at her record collection, in search of more gems? Would that be weird?




Thursday, November 13, 2008

Mambo # 5


I am really not doing right by nothinbutcuts. In the beginning, I only blogged every few days cause there was a lack of shit that I knew about, but now that I have all of the time in the world, and thus spend it all reading blogs and myspace hopping, I could definitely be blogging more content.

Anyway, I have a question: do girls heckle boys? When I say heckle I mean the "Hey baby, what are you doing tonight, am I invited?" type shit that girls hear from boys all the time. I know that black girls do (I have seen it, and surprisingly enough, personally endured it), but I don't know about the racial mainstream's (i.e. white folks) attitudes on Sadie Hawkins-style heckling.

Anyway ladies, ya'll should try it. It comes off as a really awesome strategy in this song. Le Corps Mince de Francoise (that's a fucking long name to not be in English) is from Finland, and the band kinda sounds like CSS, except in this track, "Ray-Ban Glasses," where they're ripping off of some dude's style, and coming on to him at the same time? The lyrics are on the inscrutable side, but I'm pretty sure that they include something about "liking it raw."

I can honestly guarantee that you will like this song. I'm a little worried that the track might have a "Buy You A Drank" quality to it, meaning that you'll really like it the first thirty times you hear it, but want nothing to do it with it time #31. But those first 30 listens will be pretty awesome.


Le Mince Corps de Francoise - Ray-Ban Glasses (Les Gillettes Remix)

Sunday, November 2, 2008

I interviewed the presets?




So uh, yeah. A while ago I interviewed The Presets, and I pretty much made an ass of myself cause I don't know what words mean. If you want, you can read the interview here.


The More You Know: apparently, a "pensato" is a theoretical, imaginary note in music. How about that?

The More You Know: I have nothing to do with that "Unveiling Notes" title. It sounds lame to me too.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Internet Forever



I guess having a lo-fi aesthetic is a pretty easy way to sound authentic/earnest, just like being interested in photography/liking Wes Anderson movies is a cheap way to sound plausibly interesting, but goddamit, Internet Forever sounds real.

The singer, Laura, does so in an accent, which I normally hate, but the sound is pretty effective here. Also, I really like bands that have the word "forever" in their name. It signals to me that this is a band that makes the kind of music that I've been using to innoculate myself against maturity since my adolescence. It's just cute shit guys.


Where is Kevin Sorbo?



I have a vague sense that Hercules and Love Affair's thematic preoccupation, so to speak, has something to do with gender identity, Greek mythology, and disco, but ever since I first read the name "Hercules and Love Affair" I've been thrown by how friggin' perfect of a band name that is. It is innocuous and melodramatic at the same time, and allows you to draw absolutely no conclusions whatsoever about the kind of music they make, which I think is what a good band name does. A horrible band name, on the other hand, is something like Broken Social Scene, which makes you sound like some kind of angsty punk band comprised of 16 year olds.


I think recently, the only act I've wanted to see more than Hercules and Love Affair is Glass Candy. If Glass Candy plays Chicago anytime in the near future it would take it as a sign from God that I am on the right path. There's just something so appealing about all of this nouveaudisco with its darkly stylish synth lines and careful production. Don't you feel it? The will to groove?




I like interviews with bands a lot, especially ones where they identify themselves as being "dorks." I think it makes me feel good about all those years I spent playing Magic The Gathering/watching Stargate SG-1.

Monday, October 13, 2008

I am easily effected emotionally




The other day I saw Broken Social Scene for the fourth time, and it was pretty awesome. They opened with Late Night Bedroom Rock for Missionaries, and Shampoo Suicide, which they never play, and Andrew Whiteman (Apostle of Hustle) was there, and he's gotta be one of the most entertaining guitarists to watch.

One of the best parts of the show was when Charles Spearin (Do Make Say Think) played this thing he's been working on called "The Happines Project," where he interviewed his neighbors on the subject of happiness, and tried to play the melody of their voices. The part we heard was from an older lady named Ms. Norris (notacat), and it was pretty delightful.

They played KC Accidental, and this really cute girl a couple of feet away from me started crying. You're right, that's like some horrible Lou Taylor Pucci, Zach Braff "vaguely outsiderish kid with relatively good taste in music comes of age" cliche, but whateva. It seemed genuine enough at the time, and if there was ever a Broken Social Scene song that would make me cry, it'd probably be that one.



Broken Social Scene - KC Accidental [Buy]

Thursday, October 2, 2008

This year, I want a ring of power, a lightsaber, and an iPhone


No Pedo.


Cut Copy - Lights & Music (Boys Noize Happy Birthday Remix)

Though it's not me, that picture is oddly accurate: I am wearing a Winnie the Pooh party hat and drooling a little bit right now. Internets are a wonderful things.

I ganked that picture from a google image search. I hope that kid's parents don't find this post and accuse me of J-ing/O to their son, or something.

I think I will probably spend today walking around in the semi-autumnal weather singing a Neil Young song to myself. Cause fall makes me feel melodramatic, I am leaning towards "Only Love Can Break Your Heart." That's real fucking obvious, but you have to accept yourself or else you will end up living in Central Ohio addicted to heroin/banging truckers for a fix like those people on Oprah the other day.

As a birthday present to myself, I'm gonna post this Joanna Newsom bootleg of a song she hasn't recorded. Perhaps, it's not as wild and "Newsom-y" as her other stuff, but goddamn it if mah heart doesn't soar/sore everytime I hear it. If you don't want to jump in a pile of leaves/spin around in your room with the door locked when she sings, "I believe love will always surround you" then there's just nothing that can be done for you, joyless wretch.

The bootleg is pretty good quality, so you don't have to worry about that.

Joanna Newsom - Esme (Working Title)







Friday, September 12, 2008

This is bleak





Maybe it's got something to do with me standing on the cusp of manhood/being able to legally buy alcohol, but goddammit if the future doesn't seem a little uncertain. The economy is trying to eat its own chin, folks have been talking about Russia as if the cold war never ended, and the Swiss may or not be in the possession of a Black Hole Easy-Bake Oven. Shit is serious, and I'm ascared.

I don't even know what I would give to reside in some kind of  Felicityesque J.J. Abrams creation with a healthy market, quirky but affable co-eds, and real fuckin' cosmopolitan parties with cool music. But the optimism of the 90s has drained out of even J.J's cool glasses, and he too, has boarded the bleak train.

Pop culture has been doing its part, preparing me over the past several years for a future where the Earth has been ravaged by aliens/robots/disease/war/environmental disaster, and turned into a burned-out wasteland where gangs of insane, immoral dispossessed roam the streets, killing people for canned goods. I know from movies and shit that canned goods will be very valuable in the future. So will, water, paper, sugar, and something called "spice." Or maybe I'm getting confused. It is hard to keep focus in our scary, brave, new world.

So, I basically know what to expect, but am I emotionally prepared for the apocalypse? I won't be surprised when they land, but will I blink in the face of our future alien-cyborg-nuclear-environmentalist overlords? Will I be broken in the work camps/ficitional radioactive element mines? How can I harden myself for the long battle ahead?

If humanity has any hope for surviving in a gray, bombed-out, ash-covered, uncertain dystopia, we will need direction on how to feel every hour of every day. So that we don't break down weeping in the middle of our canned good/"spice" raids, the apocalypse's has to have a kickin' playlist.

Tell me how to feel!!!!!!!!!!




And we're gonna party like it's two thousand and twelve:


I'm sure this one seems like a joke, but it's not. There's too much shitty hair metal retro-futurism on this song for me to take it seriously. Axl is fucking with all of us. All of us!




Perhaps another weird choice. I don't know, I just figure that in the lawless, dystopia to come, when you're bartering with the warlord who controls the major city that you're trying to gain access too/escape from, when you walk into his nightclub lair, the enchanting waif who sees you and thinks you might be her ticket out of being said warlord's concubine, will probably be singing this song. I don't know.


Humanity's grim struggle for survival will often require all of us to dig deep into our hearts to recover grim, obvious irony.



I don't know how many people actually consider shit like this, but one of the reasons why I like Crystal Castles so much is because I feel so fucking apathetic when I listen to them. There's nothing more apocalyptic than a bunch of young people thrashing dispassionately in a dark, strobe-lit room filled with their faceless peers to distorted vocals about anesthetized fucking through underwear. It's pretty easy to imagine a bunch of futureless apocalypse-babies bopping around to this in an abandoned warehouse or something. 




 

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Eleven Inches. Holly. Phoenix Feather. "Nice and Supple." Thirteen 1/2 Inches. Yew. Phoenix Feather. "Powerful."



I probably should've just written about Magic Wands in that last post, and included them in the group of bands who are biting the 80s, but executing said biting so well that it's hard to hate. Actually there's plenty room for The Magic Wands to still suck it up, as they only have like 4 tracks, but what's there is solid shit.

Most of the bands with recycled sounds that suck tried to recycle cock-rock in the most dickless way possible, like Jet or Wolfmother. Magic Wands feel so sincere though about their Blondie-esque style. Their lead singer's name is Dexy! That's dope! Who the fuck do you know named Dexy? I thought so.

They are always referred to as "Chris and Dexy Valentine." Does that mean that Chris doesn't have a last name, or they're married? Maybe it could be a White Stripes gimmicky thing. *Shrugs*





Monday, August 4, 2008

Je m'appelle...



In the long running tradition of bands like Rilo Kiley, Jethro Tull, Lynyrd Skynyrd and ZZ Top, I bring you Azeda Booth. And yes, they are a band of bearded, racist flutists, with a foxy ginger lead singer.

Some hours have passed since I wrote the above joke. Now I have no desire for this post to be funny so I will be frank instead.

Have you ever been awake by yourself at 3 in the morning, not really doing anything? You are either reading, or watching something, or writing, or drawing, or spinning around in your living room with your eyes closed, listening to Yes, and then it comes. This hope that something is steadily moving towards you. This thing is flipping over cars and pushing up dust in its wake. If you could just get your hands on this thing, the apparent mystery of 3 in the morning existence would be revealed to you, and you wouldn't just be waiting for tomorrow, you'd be living in the gorgeous, shining, electric night.

No fucking clue what I'm talking about? Well, I'm not surprised. I'm an especially sensitive boy, and I will dream up all sorts of whacked out shit if left to my own devices at 3 in the morning, which is essentially every night.

Azeda Booth sounds like this feeling. Their songs are essentially composed of urgent, fantasy beats and vocals so processed that you will think that you are listening a girl made of spun sugar, not some dude from Canada. Their album, In Flesh Tones, is affected by all the same emotional urgency that watercolors staring across the room, trying not to stare across the room, then giving the fuck up and staring across the room again, cause looking's legal right?








Monday, July 28, 2008

ac/dshe

Photo by Napoleon Habeica



I think it's symptomatic of the effects pedal/laptop addled world we live in that when I first heard the name "electrocute," my mind immediately jumped to kewt girlz makin' beets, and not a heavy metal band from Norway, which is clearly what the name electrocute should belong to.

Electrocute is pretty much two girls playing up being girls and being real cute, while pedaling taffy-infused beats to match. To be honest, part of me, a large part of me, feels like electrocute is just using me. They're definitely relying on the same kind of "girls who make harmless pop" schtick, with the same kind of self-aware gender marketing that bands like the Go Gos relied on. If that's true, does Electrocute just deserve to disappear into the sands of pop-time?

But I don't know. The songs certainly are fun, and Electrocute's definitely aware of their own self consciousness (a paradox, I know), with lyrics like, "If you want to make them dance/get your spray on hot pants." Also, my itunes is composed almost entirely of cute girls who make music, so two more can't hurt.



Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Siren Song

The first time I saw that video, MTV was running this series of videos called "Most Controversial Videos," and I stayed up until about 3 in the morning for the chance to maybe see some nudity/fucked up shit. Even though this video more or less delivers on both of those promises, I'd completely forgotten about my goals, so fucked up was I by the music I was hearing.

I think that was the beginning of my serious preference for lady vocals over dude vocals.  Actually, there's a good chance that it's equally owed to all of the time 8 year old me spent in my room, euphonically paralyzed by "Always Be My Baby" (which pretty much everyone loves, right).

I love women's voices so hard, it's really unfortunate. If every song on my computer sung by a man was sung by a woman, I would probably like them more. If Bob Dylan got sex reassignment surgery and released an album, I would probably buy that shit and see him when he played Chicago. It's a problem.

Rubies is a band with prime lady vocals. Singer Simone Rubi doesn't have incredible range or a terrifically unique voice, but it's just such a goshdarn nice sound. It's just so sweet and warm, you want to put it on waffles, or sleep with it in your arms when it's cold.

I've never considered this before, but this is probably the reason why I sing in falsetto. I guess this is the closest I could ever come to my lady-voice dream and still be able to piss in alleys.*
Them's Rubies










*If I just planted the image of post-op lady Matthew in your heads, then success! You have been pranked by nothinbutcuts.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

you go back, jack, and do it again.



Oh loyal readers, I is so sorry for the long content drought that has ravaged nothinbutcuts, and is largely (entirely) my fault.
Pretty much, what happened was that I heard of a particular event, and go to so excited that I decided to pour a glass of water into my laptop. Luckily, the only part of my computer that was damaged was my keyboard, so I didn't have to buy a whole new computer.
Unfortunately, unless I wanted to pay 100 dollars for a new keyboard and get it immediately, I had to wait about two weeks to get one from Hong Kong at a reasonable price. Because my summer grind doesn't pay me 100 dollar keyboard money, I opted to inconvenience the both of us, and be without access to my baby for two weeks.

Sorries.


I was at work the other day, and the song "I Kissed A Girl" came on. I imagine that something about the words, "I kissed a girl/and I liked it," have some undeniable appeal to my newly minted, post-adolescent mind, cause I found myself nodding my head, and made a note to investigate it further. 

eh.

To be honest the ??maybebisexual?? trope is a pretty uninteresting platform for any kind of pop anything, on its way out ever since the media made such a bfd about it when Lucy Liu and Calista Flockhart kissed briefly on Ally McBeal.

That being said, where the Katy Perry original fails, is the point where it tries to make lady-on-lady snogging transgressive and dangerous, which it certainly the fuck ain't. If Perry went a little bit further and made a song about scissoring, then she might be on to something.

However, I did find a pretty good remix of it. Some songs just beg to be remixed; something about them is a little off, and you just know that if someone fiddled with it a little, it could live up to its potential. The MR GASPAR remix nixes the danger and just makes it frivolous, excessive, and thoughtless. That's what the young people want, right?




p.s. here are some other remixes I like that I don't think I'll ever have a chance to post.













*this track was sent to me sometime ago by the O to the R to the mothafuckin H. What it do what it do.




Friday, June 27, 2008

4, 3, 2, 1





I always wonder how Sally Seltmann feels about the ridiculous hubbub that surrounded Feist after that commercial confused every top 40 devoted tv watcher in America into thinking that Feist was the next Vanessa Carlton or some shit. I only wonder because Seltmann (who performs under the name New Buffalo) actually co-wrote the song which catalyzed Feist's catapult into the heart of the mainstream. Does this mean that Seltmann could have easily been in Feist's sparkly blue shoes? Seltmann could've performed at the Grammys! She could've played Saturday Night Live! She could've been on Sesame Street! Motherfucking Sesame Street! Now that the moment is gone, how will Seltmann ever fulfill her childhood dream of being eiffel towered by Bert and Ernie?*


Oh well. I'm sure there's no hard feelings or anything. New Buffalo and Feist are labelmates after all, and if there's room enough on one label for two earnest and delicate lady songwriters, then doggone it, there's room enough on your itunes.


New Buffalo-Cheer Me Up Thank You






*Yes, I realize this joke is excessive, I do not apologize. I should've called this blog Real Talk, with GossipMatthew.


Buy Somewhere, Anywhere


New Buffalo-City and Sea (Lady Nameless)
New Buffalo-While You're Away

Monday, June 23, 2008

Hands in the Dark






We are taking a walk in the forest at night, you and I. It is winter, and the night is not so dark because the moonlight is reflecting off of the ample snow onto the trees around us. We are talking about the past and smiling and laughing at the foolish things we have done. Sometimes the conversation turns serious and we talk about the things that we have left behind, the bad and the good, but we are always lighthearted in our nostalgia, comfortable in the life we have found ourselves in. We stop walking briefly to look at our surroundings. We gaze out at the midnight world, and watch our breath disappear silently into the cold air before we notice that we are surrounded by wolves. What is more awful than their shining eyes in the darkness, reflecting the same light that made the snow so beautiful, is that these wolves do not make any sound. Their paws make no sound as they alight on the snow, there is no growling that comes from their sharp, hanging mouths. The only sound is the thud of blood, arrived maddeningly to our faces.


So, there this moment right? Right before you see the wolves' eyes in the darkness, before you realize you're surrounded. Before you know that something is wrong, there's a moment when the world starts to feel dangerous. It borders on precognition, because it happens before you actually realize that everything isn't okay, but it's not. It's this strong feeling of danger right before you realize that you are fucked. This feeling however, is not unpleasant. It's like being touched unexpectedly by someone who you wanted to touch you. Any gratification that's coming from this feeling is coming because you know that it's not safe. This is what Bersarin Quartett's music sounds like.

German Thomas B's one man project has been tagged as ambient and experimental, and although it's maybe both of those things, they don't say anything about the mood of the music on Bersarin Quartett's self-titled album. The mood is driving around the outskirts of old cities at night. The mood is trees along the path that look like men standing still in the darkness. The mood is that excellent, freaky cover art up there. What does that little girl see? There is some kind of velvet fear in the darkness. It brushes up against you and it feels like a dream, until it doesn't.






Sunday, June 15, 2008

There's one thing baby, I don't understand: You keep on tellin' me I ain't yo kinda man.



What I am about to relate to you is spectacularly, fatally, embarrassing.

During one of the paralyzing, ephemeral, "end of times" infatuations that bejeweled the crown of my adolescence, I had the unique pleasure of being good friends with the object of my obsessive, honey-glazed, "A Whole New World"- informed affections.

Actually, I guess that's not unique. Special Agent Clarice Starling once observed that "We covet what we see everyday," and she probably got it from the bible, or some shit.

Nor was it a pleasure. There be few things on this here earth shittier than having something you want dearly dance just out of reach, day after day.

What was unique, I imagine, was that this girl was completely forthcoming to me about her affections for some other motherfucker. She would tell me about how badly she wanted to, "Put it in him," and those four syllables would ball themselves together and come flying at the scrote of my teenaged, melodramatic heart, dropping it to its knees, leaving it on the verge of achy breaky.

One day, heading to the same place, I saw her on the street. She asked me if I wanted to see a movie with her that night. Of course, I knew immediately that this was a friendly, "Wanna see a movie?" invitation, but that didn't stop my Richard Curtis, Hanks-Ryan, "Always Be My Baby" addled mind from dreaming up the most lurid fantasies of which my fairly expansive imagination was capable. And so, for the next two or three minutes I was allowed to live in a mental Disneyland of sorts, where seeing this stark, depressing, Gus Van Sant movie was a romantic touchstone for a whole fucking cornucopia of future bliss.

This was of course, until we arrived at our destination to find the other motherfucker standing in the middle of the room.

And so, before she promptly danced over to him and invited him to come along, officially dashing my magic carpet ride dreams, I saw the truth: This had been the plan all along. She was not bold enough to simply ask him to a movie, I would only be there to maintain the illusion of harmless friendship. Only until, however, they were both comfortable enough with the large dark auditorium and the feverish chemistry of their young bodies. Then I would be silently put upon to leave.

Well goddamn. Fuck me.

I stood there, mouth open, watching her fulfill my prediction. 

Then something happened.

I silently straightened up, excused myself from the room, and went into the bathroom. There I calmly walked into a stall, lifted the seat, and commenced to vomiting in the toilet.



A friend of mine knows a girl who has never, not once, had her affections for a boy fail to be returned. I met her once, and to me she didn't seem remarkable; but somehow, through 20 years of life, she has had the impossible misfortune of always having her unrequited love... requited. Huh.

Misfortune because unrequited love is truly some awful, soul-rending, fucked up shit. Wait. Misfortune because unrequited love is the sirloin steak in the butcher shop of human emotions. Damn. 

MISFORTUNE because when I was fantasizing about how watching Michael Pitt portray a suicidal 90s rock star would somehow propel this girl and I into some kind of adoring haze; and then minutes later, when euphoria turned into misery, turned into despair, turned into nausea, turned into stupefying paroxysms of "what the fuck," that was blistering, rushing, freezing, burning life.

That was Mt. Everest at street level, leaving everyone to walk around with frostbitten hands, scrambling to hold on to ice picks in the middle of a midwestern July. That was not a pony, but a unicorn for Christmas, every Christmas, until you got old enough to want clothes and money. That was emotional fucking terrorism, if such a thing exists.

The intensity of just being alive that serious unrequited love produces is really a rare privilege, and maybe I say this as someone who, with emotional maturity seems to have lost the ability to develop unrealistic affection, but I honestly feel bad for anyone who's never felt as shitty and as simultaneously brilliant as unrequited love makes you feel.

This being said, I feel like there are very few good unrequited love songs. There are a ton of good love songs about feeling amazing, and there is a plethora of love songs about feeling absolutely awful, but it's difficult to straddle the line of ambivalent hope and misery, in the same song. Here are some of the few that get the job done.


I used to smile uncontrollably when I heard this song, it's so good. How Warwick goes to meekly confessing her dreams during the verses, and belting out the formulaic, but effective "forever" promises during the chorus, so effectively mirrors the topsy-turvy landscape of window-gazing at someone all day.

You know this song, and I know you know this song. But it's so perfect: When he sings, "that behind that little smile I wore/How I wished that you were mine," I dare you not to feel the ache. Ugh.

Just a simple song from earlier in Mariah's career, with simple production to match. Mariah's pretty sultry throughout, and you don't realize until the end that she's imagining all of this shit with some guy who she's not even with. Chilling.

This bare, stark, damn near a cappella track is characterized by the same kind of thin-voiced trepidation-fraught confession that lives inside of your Pretty in Pink heart. 

This is a really great song. The frenzied strings that come in at the end where Bjork keeps screaming, "I dare you," thoroughly belie the internal maelstrom caused by wanting with every nerve of your body. Hopefully it will ruin you like it does me.

Sometimes, when I would drive around with my Mom and my Godmother, a song would come on the radio, and they would say something like, "Damn, that's some hurt. You hear that? That's some hurt." I didn't hear it then, but I certainly hear it in this song.

Oh Fiona. So harshly realistic. Even where her own heart is concerned. Admitting squarely that she's "a mess that he don't wanna clean up." Oooh girl. Tell it. Tell it!

This is face-melting hope. Hope that makes you wish it was snowing outside, so Jones could be walking around in the lamp lit winter streets, singing this song to the falling white world. Pitch perfect.

This song is really quite sad, but it lets you revel in the bleak joy of wanting something that doesn't want you; a joy that's admittedly, hard to find most of the time.

This is a wrecking ball. I know a lot of people don't like My Bloody Valentine's work, because the more palatable, pop elements of their music get drowned out by distortion. I feel that way too, even though this song is no different. The difference for me, is that that approach is just so fitting for the subject matter. Kevin Shields sings standard pop fluff like "I don't know/how you could not love me now," while guitars threaten to drown him out entirely. It's as if, the lyrics and the melody are just barely managing to keep the distortion in check, to stop the song from falling apart. If you listen to this song the right way, that is; in the dark, laying down, with the volume way up, it will gut you. Just like a really terrible crush.








Wednesday, June 11, 2008

necrophile




Orion Rigel Dommisse's music immediately begs the question: where does this shit come from? For some reason last.fm is telling me that Marissa Nadler is a "similar artist," but the only thing they have in common, maybe, is the same kind of provincial, middle of nowhere feel. The serious difference however, is that Marissa Nadler is resigned and whistful, while Orion Rigel Dommisse is freaky as hell.

Not freaky in a 90s r&b "I wanna get freaky with you," way, freaky in a "must have suffered some terrible trauma cause all of her songs are on some fucked up, other shit," way. And I do mean other shit. Four out of the ten songs on her debut LP, What I Want From You Is Sweet directly mention death in the title. I imagine this is all because Dommisse is actually a character from Tim Burton's 1999 Sleepy Hollow,  because all of her songs have the same intense, studied, macabre feel as that film. If you were to have a conversation with her it would seem like she was somewhere else, but that's just because she would be staring intensely at a spider crawling on the wall behind you. Then she would probably leap up suddenly, grab the spider and eat it, Renfield style. Yup, that sounds about right.



Friday, June 6, 2008

Like a Horse and Carriage

Jane Dowe and Hank Hofler




For the State Championship in debate my senior year, we had to go to Illinois State University in Bloomington-Normal. During our off-time we walked around downtown Normal, looking for something to do, a place to eat, something. It was then that I concluded that Normal, Illinois had to be an absolute pit. I think there were two bars, and a pizza place that had to have the worst pizza I've ever eaten. Ugh. Boo to piss-ant college towns, from which nothing good can come.

Apparently I was wrong, because married duo Oh Astro hails from Normal, and they're pretty on the mark. Using software written by Dowe, the band's album Champions of Wonder is composed largely of altered audio from other sources, and the result is pretty dope. Unlike other sample based musicians, Oh Astro alters their samples to a point where the source material is something far divorced from the product. Indeed, you've gotta listen hard to catch the strains of Lionel Richie's "Hello" in Oh Astro's "Hello Fuji Boy"

Some of the songs on Champions of Wonder don't really subscribe to the conventional pop forms used in a lot of electronica; it just seems like Hofler and Dowe were having as much with the software as possible. Like their cover of "Xanadu" from, you guessed it, Xanadu; or the tracks where they just fuck with their children's voices. Even when the result isn't something with a bridge and a chorus, it's still pretty interesting to listen to. Genuine sonic expedition like the kind that Oh Astro is churning out on this album is both satisfying and hard to come by, so you should get it while you can.



Wednesday, June 4, 2008

I like cheese.

Not a band.



In what must've been the first or second week of my freshman year of college, I was coming back to my room from the bathroom when I heard really loud music coming from the room next door to mine. It was about 11 at night, so I went to investigate. I found the above azns with their door open, speakers at full blast, dancing passionately to something that sounded a lot like j-pop, yelling these lyrics: "THERE'S A PLACE IN MY HEART/FOR THE FRIENDSHIP THAT WE SHARE/CAN WE EVER TRY FOR MORE/CAN WE EVER TRY FOR MOOOOOORE?"

Turns out they weren't listening to J-pop after all. They were listening to the now defunct Girlsareshort, a hip-hop/Sesame Street influenced electronica band from Montreal. They put out their LP Earlynorthamerican in 2004, and apparently never looked back. 50% of the group, AL-P, is now 50% of MSTRKRFT, so it would seem that Girlsareshort is dead.  A shame, because Earlynorthamerican is actually a really promising, pleasant listen; especially the song my hallmates were belting out, Mississauga Theme. Clearly J-Pop influenced, with lyrics about unrequited love that threaten to be drowned out by the heavily distorted guitar in the background, it's straight sugar. Imagine "Sometimes" by My Bloody Valentine, but bouncy.


Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Cat Pubes

Surprisingly, I had never done a google image search for Cat Power before today. I was looking for this remarkable picture of her I saw on last.fm earlier. I'm talking about this picture:





That's an absolutely "goddamn" picture right?


However, it is not the first search result. This picture is:




I guess that picture's a lot dirtier in a real way, and she looks a lot more "rock star," or whatever the fuck, but it also features pubes.

Considering the pretty fucked up nature of the internet in general, I'm sure that the presence of Chan's southern savannah is the reason why that picture is the first result. Plus the fact that she appears to be holding her shirt up, and she looks kinda wasted.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Sweet Sweet Fantasy Baby


I know I've said it before, but I am way too young to be outshined by people younger than me who are, you know, actually doing something with their lives. It's almost like there's something wrong with spending all day in front of your laptop, watching 24 online and eating croissants.

That being said, it's fuckers like Teengirl Fantasy who are out to make me feel bad about myself; they just finished their freshman year of college! Ugh. They should still be washing the amniotic fluid out of their hair, not making immediate, swirling, daydream-inducing IDM, like their track Portofino. Or hoopdreams, which starts like El Guincho, and ends like an acid trip. And they go to Oberlin College, a dinky liberal arts college in Ohio. Whatever. You might have this one interesting, progressive act, but at U of I we got more white boys with guitars than you could throw down a well. How about them apples?




Monday, May 26, 2008

I can hear something inside me saying/I really don't think you're strong enough




Mayhap the only thing about me that is remotely academic is my constant examination of the motives behind everything. I accept very few things at face value, I refuse to rely on the, "just the way it is" explanation for anything. Aye, if I did not despise math so much, methinks I would've made a good scientist, or apothecary.
One of the big questions I always come back to is, "what makes this song good?" Like the night I stayed up doing calculus homework and listened to "Game of Love" by Santana & Michelle Branch on repeat for almost an hour; what the fuck? I hate Santana, and I deleted "Everywhere" from my computer some time ago, so why is it that this trite, pubescent, factory-sealed track forces me t0 lip-sync the words every single time I hear it? To anyone who might be reading this, my heart goes out to you; what follows is a serious expedition into my personal musical mania. As Count Dracula says to Jonathan Harker, "Enter freely, and of your own will."
For me, belief is a very necessary component to being able to enjoy a piece of music. When I say belief, I don't mean that I go check Leviticus when I hear a new song, I mean that I require some degree of sincerity in order to appreciate a piece of music. Unfortunately, this leaves us wondering what the fuck is "sincerity," and how does an artist get at that?

Dipping into my obsessive fanboyism: people who are  acquainted with the music of Joanna Newsom are generally divided into two groups: those who are held in thrall by her serpentine lyrics and winsome melodies, and those who absolutely-cannot-fucking-stand her. Though the difference is definitely a matter of taste, I think that it goes a little deeper than that: the key difference between the two camps is that one completely buys her act, and the other doesn't. In the article that fellow Newsom-fanboy Dave Eggers penned for Spin Magazine in 2004 he wrote, "I picture her looking like Emily Dickinson. Newsom lives, I imagine, like a feral woman-child. Her dwelling is somewhere rural, and by a lake. But on a hill. On a hill, by a lake. The house is old, crackety. Painted red like a schoolhouse. Maybe it is a schoolhouse!" What Eggers is trying to get at in that passage is belief. 

For independent artists, their image is almost as important as their music, if not just as. Joanna Newsom's songs about sea creatures turned women (Colleen), seafaring beetle shells (Bridges and Balloons), and abusive inter-species relationships (Monkey & Bear) would just not fly if Newsom looked like a pussycat doll. Her pretty, yet vaguely elvish appearance, combined with her otherworldly voice and unconventional instrument choice (harp) lend her sincerity. They allow you to believe that Joanna Newsom is serious when she uses words like "chim-choo-ree" and "hydrocephalitic." Because grandiose, fanstastic, 16 min.+ intent like that is pretty difficult to deny when taken in earnest, what can keep the Newsom's critics outside of her world besides cynicism?

What I mean to say is, I believe the fuck out of Joanna Newsom. I believe her so hard that she has singlehandedly convinced me that magic is real. On the other hand, someone I don't believe is Of Montreal. I'm sure Of Montreal is a great band, and I have put a great deal of effort into liking them, but I just don't buy Kevin Barnes outlandish outfits and random nudity. Their music doesn't wake up the hobbits in my soul like Newsom's does (soul hobbits lolz). I firmly believe Dave Longstreth's musical insanity. I have no faith in Vampire Weekend's "white boys from nice backgrounds make good by riffing off of African music" brand of pop. And so on, and so on, and so on.

Of course, this "theory of belief" isn't strictly limited to *sigh* indie music. All of the top 40, radio friendly pop I like, I also believe.

Wait, considering the artist-centric discussion of belief before, how in the hell does someone "believe" in a pop song, considering that the inception of most pop music is owed more to 3 or 4 different songwriters and producers, than the person who actually performs it?

For instance, I fucking goddamn love the song "How Do I Live," performed by Leann Rhimes and then Trisha Yearwood; written by Diane Warren, who has never been married, and professes that she has never been in love. How can I believe a love song written by a woman who herself doesn't even seem to believe in love?

Unlike independent artists, pop singers aren't selling themselves. Indeed, I think that the vast majority of them place themselves as far away from the product as possible. Britney Spears is prime evidence of this. Britney Spears exists primarily as a piece of merchandise to you and me. There's a real Britney Spears, but she's so hidden behind executives and producers and songwriters who have determined for her what she's going to be, that she's more like Hogwarts castle than a person. You can't find it on a map, and the vast majority of people would just find ruins if they ever saw it.

But this is okay. Top 40 pop doesn't rely on the sincerity of the artist in order to validate itself. Pop music is music with a mandate, with a goal. It is saccharine, it is mass-produced syrupy schlock intended to send the parts of you pre-programmed to respond to words like "beauty," "pain," and "soul" directly into diabetic coma. The reality of the person singing doesn't matter, all that matters is how well the producers and songwriters have done their jobs, hitting the buttons that need to be hit in order for the me's of the world to sit in front of our computers at 4 in the morning, trying to do u substitution while lip-syncing along to inane, vapid analogies about love, baseball,  and candy stores.

Of course, the machine can still misfire. Take for instance Madonna's new single, "4 Minutes." This is the woman who made "Borderline"! I want to like everything that she does ever. Alright, so we got "4 Minutes," already sounds awesome. Four minutes to turn around until you lose me forever? Four minutes to make you love me? Four minutes alone with your embittered ex-lover until the two of you are done for good? Wait, what? Four minutes to save the world? What the fuck? Is this the Armageddon soundtrack? Why do we give a shit about saving the world? What about my beating, melodrama-obsessed heart? Timbo! You who gave me "Are You That Somebody?"! What is this beat? This shitty Casio-horn-propelled beat? NO! NO! NO! Where are the crying babies? Where are the slick synths that I loved in Futuresex/Lovesounds? What is there for me to belieeeeeeeeeeeeve?

*sigh*

I love loving music. I hope that all of that made sense. If it didn't, I'm not going to explain; believing music is like Apple Jacks. If you need to have it explained to you, then you just won't understand.

At any rate, these are some songs that I seriously fucking believe. Maybe if you listen to them, close your eyes, think happy thoughts, and click your heels together, you'll believe them too.





Sunday, May 18, 2008

sing it back to me


 


If you're anything like me, then b96 was a really serious part of your musical education. b96 is the reason why Mariah Carey is such an important part of my life, and is really the basis for the way I feel about music in general. Laugh if you want detractors, but pop matters, and the indelible influence of top 40 on my young, musically impressionable mind has got to be a part of the evidence.

For instance, b96 played the club hit "Sing it Back" by Moloko pretty frequently in 90s, so all you former b96 listeners are probably already familiar with the above lady in red, Roisin Murphy (sort of pronounced Row-sheen). Murphy was 50% of the duo, accompanied by producer Mark Brydon. Despite some moderate success, they parted ways in 2001. Murphy didn't quit though, she signed to EMI and released two pretty well received solo albums, 2005's "Ruby Blue," and 2007's "Overpowered."

So, Murphy should be doing fine right? She should be fast approaching Minoguesque success, right?
NOPE.
Despite having released two, critically acclaimed, catchy-as-fuck, single-potential-filled albums, Roisin Muprhy is not anywhere close to having Justin Timberlake grab her ass on national television.
C'mon now.
I don't get why everyone goes gaga over Kate Nash, and Lily Allen and Amy Winehouse. They've all got some good tracks on their respective releases, but  in the end I was thoroughly underwhelmed by all of them. On the other hand, here is Roisin Murphy, on a major label, attractive, making CUTS with a capital K, and no one really seems to give a shit.

Sadness, mad sadness.



Monday, May 12, 2008

The Velveteen Rapper



I feel like I'm kinda late on the vaguely disturbing and terrifically obscene art rap of the deceptively attractive Bunny Rabbit. I feel like all of the little kids outside my house probably know all of the lyrics to "Pussy Queen" by heart. Why do I feel this way? I have no idea.  And what the fuck is art rap? Calling something "art" anything is basically an easy way to imply that it's unconvential to such a degree that most people wouldn't understand or like it. What the fuck people. Do you motherfuckers not like art? Ugh. Fuck calling anything "art" something. That's some bullshit. Bunny Rabbit really seems to be a collaboration between Bunny herself and producer Black Cracker, who she seems to be in a relationship with (i.e. they fuck). Do lesbians actually scissor, or does that only happen in porn. Porn has fucked me up irreparably. Why am I so angry? It's probably all of this Bunny Rabbit I've been listening to. Ugh. I just need to go do some pcp and sexually assault an animal *possum* and then I'll be good. Fuck.



(note, if you download Dirty Dirt, you must listen to the entire track, because the end is intense)

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Reverie Sound Revue


Lisa Lobsinger


Considering the (relative) success of bands like Broken Social Scene, Feist, Stars, Metric, Apostle Of Hustle, and Do Make Say Think, it would be simple to assume that any artist associated with that particular Canadian crew might have some modest success in their solo projects, right?

Tell that to Reverie Sound Revue.

Despite the presence of Lisa Lobsinger (the chick with the sorta crazy hair that you see at Broken Social Scene shows), the band has yet to make it past the "whisper" level of internet buzz. Likely, it has more to do with the fact that after a fairly listenable, 8 song EP released in 2003, the band hasn't really toured or released any new material. Jeez Reverie Sound Revue, get with the program!

The band's myspace promises that an album will be released this year, and I guess those of us who would appreciate some more lazy, summery, glazed-over pop songs will just have to trust the internets on this one. Oh well.





Friday, May 2, 2008

Excellent song, terrible video.





I know that things were different in the 80s, but come on. How cheesy is that mushroom cloud during the chorus?

Thursday, May 1, 2008

The Band that the 80s forgot



Does anyone listen to the Cocteau Twins?

They have the same vaguely obscure alternative band from the 80s UK appeal as My Bloody Valentine and Jesus and Mary Chain, but I feel like they have a much smaller listenership.

Dealing in the same kind of ambient pop as My Blood Valentine, minus the "listen to how much feedback I can make with my guitar" elitism, Cocteau Twins were a trio hailing from 80s Scotland,  formed by Robin Guthrie, Simon Raymonde, and Elizabeth Fraser (who sang vocals on Massive Attack's "Teardrop Symphony" on the Mezzanine LP).

Considering their 80s appeal and shimmering, overwhelming, dream-inducing sound, I don't really understand why they don't seem to get as much attention as other bands from their era. Maybe it's the fact that Elizabeth Fraser more often than not employs her fantastically operatic voice in a language that she made up, which might turn off people who need to be able to understand the lyrics (people who by the way, I've never understood).

I don't know. I doubt that I'll ever get into a marshmallow-filled pillow fight which a large group of impossible beautiful Pablo Neruda scholars dressed like the girls in the Teenagers video for "Homecoming", and listening to the Cocteau Twins with my eyes closed is probably the closest I'll ever come.





Thursday, April 24, 2008

D/I/S/C/O

Ida No





It is true that everything which is drastically uncool will, at some point, be primed for hipness once more. This is how I like to think of my Trisha Yearwood concert shirt: Ugly and gauche when Trisha Yearwood was on tour in 1997; still pretty fucking ugly in 2008, but so distanced from Trisha's heyday that it could be cool (pretty please?).

Portland's Glass Candy takes disco, which was pretty lame about 20 years ago (according to what I gleamed from the Freaks and Geeks episode "Discos and Dragons"), and inserts an unsettling despondency into their tracks that set them apart from their forebears. Johnny Jewel and Ida No (cool ass names right?) are the sole members of Glass Candy, while Jewel also puts in time with Chromatics and Farah, the three of whom are all label mates on Italians Do It Better.

Glass Candy's lovely 2007 EP B/E/A/T/B/O/X  gives you the impression that Jewel and No belong to some kind of underground demimonde that they find heartless while reveling in that same emptiness. Jewel's beats feel either lazy or tight, but they all manage to dream around a kind of decadence that No's washed out, ethereal vocals drug the listener with. No simply talks through some of the songs, and when in "Digital Versicolor" she whispers, "This is red, red, red, red, red. This is orange, orange, orange, orange, orange. This is yellow. This is yellow. This is yellow," though the lyrics might not mean anything to your head, the rest of you feels like you can see a pretty girl walking home by herself at 3AM on a Saturday morning, her purse dangling from her fingers, wiping off her lipstick with a napkin.

Boy did I just romanticize the shit out of that or what?


Tuesday, April 22, 2008

...And it Don't Stop


One thing that's always bothered me is the amount of hip-hop I listen to. I always felt that there was something I fundamentally didn't understand about rap, so I would go out of my way to listen to the rap that critics liked, in an effort to "get it" (Recently one of my hip-hop savvy friends has told me that the vast majority of rap does indeed suck, so I guess a lot of what I felt was valid, but still).

So that's why I always get moderately excited when I find a recent hip-hop act I can get behind, like the surly gentleman pictured above. 22 year-old Cadence Weapon (neĆ© Roland Pemberton) is a former polaris prize nominee and hip-hop journalist for Stylus and Pitchfork. He tends to rap over glitchy, synth-driven beats that place him in a camp much departed from someone like Just Blaze or Timbaland.  

And as much as I can get down with some Three 6 Mafia or Trick Daddy, I must admit that Pemberton's arrhythmic flow is refreshing. When I say refreshing, I mean that if I were to drink his debut Breaking Kayfabe or its 2007 follow up Afterparty Babies, that I would go "Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh," and smile at the camera. That is what people do when they are refreshed. Like what you do when you are finished reading this blog. And what?


Sunday, April 20, 2008

Sporty Thieves




Everybody wants to be cool, right? At the very least, every young person wants to be cool, and thinks they're a little bit cool, even if they're not. And what's cooler than music that creates some kind of hedonistic urban landscape fueled by carelessness, recreational drugs, and lip gloss?

Not a goddamn thing.

The 2/3 Swedish, 1/3 American trio of Thieves Like Us came together in Berlin as a reaction to a eurotronica propelled night culture that they didn't understand. The music sounds about as slick as anything else, with despondent vocals about searching and waiting, with an infectious beat thrown in.