Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Reviews:: The Good, The Bad(ass), and The Agly

Ok. Back from Toronto, and had the chance to digest a few albums on the flights. Coincidentally, three of the records I gave a concerted listen to had an A in the band name. As a result, you get – The Good, The Bad(ass), and the Agly.

The Good – Art in Manilla :: Set the Woods on Fire
I’m a sucker for a powerful female voice and some 90’s rocking guitars with a bit of atmospheric swirl, so it makes sense I was on board with Orenda Fink’s new project. She’s the other half of the old band Azure Ray, and like Maria Taylor she’s created a strong new sound. She ranges nicely between ballads (Time Gets Us All & Golden Dawn), full out rockers (Our Addictions), and swirling folky-pop riffs (The Abomination & I Thought I Was Free). Like her former band mate, she’s not splitting the atom with the songs on this record, but she’s definitely creating enjoyable sounds. I challenge you not to like the subtle Spanish influence on Anything You Love or the surprisingly fresh take on the Les Savy Fav track - The Sweat Descends.
MP3:: Set the Woods on Fire

web site :: more mp3s

The Bad(ass) – Grand Archives :: Demos
Subpop and Rogue Wave recently agreed to just be friends. I know one man who probably took it harder than most. Little to my surprise, he tracked down a Sub Pop replacement act – Grand Archives. Fronted by former Band of Horses member, Mat Brooke, the band is going to make a lot of bloggers very, very happy. The 5-piece sound is rich in layered harmonies and soothing melodies, somehow fitting nicely into the gap between Zach Rogue’s summery, floating melodies, and the amazing Band of Horses rawkus, powerful, soaring anthems.

I could gush about these four songs, and I guess I will. Sleepdriving is a slow burner. It doesn’t try to do anything complex, and that is the reason it grabs you right away. The band finds the groove early, and lets it sink in. Southern Glass Home uses double tracked vocals and a foot stomping down south vibe to create a summer, modern (almost) AM radio feel. This song is going to make my best-of-summer mix, and be one I throw on anytime I get in the car and need to get out of traffic.

But, if I had to pick one of these songs that is going to be in movies and linked on the interweb early and often, it would be Torn Blue Foam Coach. Torn Blue Foam Couch is a perfect example of why this band is going to explode. It starts out with simple harmonies, but gradually builds into a powerful, dare I say epic, track with nice guitars and drums but never loses the falsetto vocals.

You can buy the CDR here – and I really think you should.
MP3:: Torn Blue Foam Coach

web site :: myspace

The Agly – Arizona :: Fameseeker and the Mono
Maybe agly is the wrong word, but as you open the new Arizona record, you are greeted by a sticker calling the band a “critically underappreciated band.” Well, with today’s music blogging environment, any “underappreciated band” becomes an “over appreciated band” overnight. It’s kind of the Ben Wallace (or this year – Matt Barnes) principle. Ben Wallace was a dude who couldn’t make a lay-up, but played like a terror and grabbed more boards than a construction clean-up crew. All of a sudden, sports journalists loved him, and his value blew up. He signed for mega loot, was consistently voted to the all-defensive team and really became a product of his own hype. His stats were good, but not great. He was just a player on a good team and didn’t heed Chuck D’s warnings. He started demanding more shots and now he’s an energy player that people undervalue. Where does his actual talent level sit – somewhere in the middle. It’s a viscous, fickle circle.

Enter Arizona. They are an ok band (and showed the promise that gets people talking), but they got hyped up by one of the biggest blogs (IGIF) and a great PR company (Team Clermont). It won’t surprise me in a few weeks when they are on every blog going. Already being compared to quirky pop outfits like the Flaming Lips and Of Montreal, I think the hype exceeds the output for this release. They are the Ben Wallace of Indie rock. Are there worse bands getting more credit? Absolutely. But like Ben was before jumping to the Bulls, Arizona are now being touted as the next great thing, and I don’t see it. Also like Ben Wallace, they really work better when they keep it simple, like the E. Smith-ish Midday Midnight or the ear catching, Beatles influenced Streetsweeper. The opening track Thimble might hit home for fans of quirky pop seekers, but I find it really disjointed and hard to enjoy. Overall, I’d say the record just kind of skips by with some enjoyable moments and just as many forgettable ones.
MP3:: Thimble

web site :: more mp3s

Posted at 12:55 PM by ack :: 8 comments

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At 3:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous did sayeth:

I'm sorry, is this what you consider to be a music review? You barely commented on the music part, see. Maybe if you turn off Sports Center and actually listen to the album for a second, you'll hear what everyone else has been talking about. Otherwise I recommened "All Star Sports Jams" from Amazon.com.


At 4:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous did sayeth:

strange. i would prefer more of an actual music review than commentary on free agent signings that are comparable to bands. comparing a band to an NBA role player isn't a trade-off for not liking their music. convince us.


At 4:19 PM, Blogger naedoo did sayeth:

Nerds, first off, big up for signing on as anonymous to bust out the harsh critiques. Second, do you write about music everyday for free like the Ack does? If you do (and perhaps you do, but due to your anonymous access I can't tell) you might realize that sometimes you need an angle to make a post work. And we like the sports, so it's a natural fit.

Why should we convince you of anything? We write what we think. This isn't a hipster-off and we don't get paid for this, so you can take it or leave it.

But hey, thanks for checking out the site.


At 4:41 PM, Blogger Hero did sayeth:

Comparing Arizona to a role player is exactly what I hoped to do, so if that is what you didn’t like about the idea – point tooken. There wasn’t anything on this EP that I heard and thought was as notable as “a free agent signing.” I’m wondering why you’d think I’d dissect a record I said had a few notable parts and kind of breezed by without affecting me. Do you watch the tape of a guy who scores a few points a game to see if he sets proper screens and is good at help defense? I doubt it. Or to get off this sports analogy, do you spend hours talking about the sentence structure of a book you think is average at best? Or do you compare it to something and role on?

Would you really find it easier to read a post on a blog that is lukewarm to your band-de-jour if I said that Thimble drags on and is about two minutes too long? Or that for a seven song EP, it seems to be a bit odd to have an experimental track (Fameseeker) that doesn’t do much and seems out of place with the record when it takes the time to create a scattered, textured vibe before jumping into the most accessible track?

If you love this band, and read blogs I’d wager you already had an opinion from IGIF so why bother scanning other blogs who might not agree with your opinion? The review says I think it’s ok, but not great. Of the CDS I get in the mail, this one didn't stand out, despite the fact I was interested in hearing it. Almost seems that it had some "hype" surrounding it.

As far as it goes, most blogs yell “this song is highly recommended” and link an MP3. Be happy we even bother to write a paragraph about it. People who read this blog know what type of music we like, and want to read more than a sentence as to why we do or do not. But seriously. We don’t like the same band. Don’t mess yourself and ruin your skin tight jeans or break your neon sunglasses. The world will be ok. I’m sure we won’t agree on other things, but I think it will all work out in the end.


At 5:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous did sayeth:

you might be "a sucker for a powerful female voice and some 90�s rocking guitars" but as someone who has outgrown her 3 non-blondes phase, i find fameseeker and the mono to be a blast of much-needed fresh sound in this back number industry.

oh and by the way, you need an angle to make geometry work, or to make a sales pitch. if you really "write what you think" then drop the pitches, rockjocks.


At 5:14 PM, Blogger naedoo did sayeth:

haha, rockjocks, nice work. You might've outgrown your 3 Non Blondes phase, but I bet your slang still enjoys them.

First you nerds want to be convinced, then you want us to skip the sales pitches? Which is it?

And oh by the way, we aren't forcing you to hang around our site for 2 hours plus waiting with baited breath for the chance to use rockjocks in your rebuttal.

You can admit you love the hill, it's ok.


At 5:20 PM, Blogger Hero did sayeth:

We get it. You like this band. I'd think you'd want to spend your time telling people who actively write that they HATE Arizona why you like them, as opposed to belaboring a point to a guy who said the band was OK. It's hard to imagine you could get so upset about someone saying a band is OK.

I'm going to wager that not everyone you meet has the same taste in music. You can probably get a good idea from this site that I'm not that into quirky, experimental pop. Not really much point discussing that, although it was clever to put a twist on the four non-blondes.

But hey, thanks for checking us out. Maybe next time we go to NC, we can check out a game and a show?


At 12:46 AM, Anonymous Fluffy did sayeth:

Getting to Know an NBA Player, Ben Wallace Edition:

-Only player in NBA history to record 1,000 rebounds, 100 blocks, and 100 steals in 4 consecutive seasons (2001-04)

-One of three players in NBA history to record 150 blocks and 100 steals in 7 consecutive seasons (2001-07) (along with Hakeem Olajuwon and David Robinson)

-One of four players in NBA history to lead the NBA in rebounding and blocking averages in the same season (along with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Bill Walton, and Hakeem Olajuwon)

-One of three players in NBA history to average 15 rebounds and 3 blocks per game over a season (along with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Bob McAdoo).

-Only undrafted player in NBA history to be voted a starter for the NBA All-Star Game.

-One of two players in NBA history to receive NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award 4 times (along with Dikembe Mutombo).

-Can bench press 460lbs. for several repetitions.

-He's a two time NBA champion.

...and lastly, he's a huge 4 Non Blondes fan (okay, i made that one up).


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