Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Album Review: The Raveonettes – Lust Lust Lust

There is one guy and one girl in the Raveonettes. As luck would have it, there is one guy and one girl here at Les Enfants Terribles. In honor of the new Raveonettes album, Lust Lust Lust, we're gonna try something new: a track-by-track, he-said, she-said style review. We have no idea if this is a good idea, but we are rather fond of taking risks. Please indulge us.

Megan: In the past, I considered myself a casual Raveonettes fan at best. Sure, I thought their Whip It On EP was really great, especially the frantic, fuzzy bum rush of "My Tornado." But after that my affections went a bit south, and I never regained my footing on the bandwagon of pro-Danish love. The times could be a-changing, however, because I think Lust Lust Lust is simply luscious, and I’m rather gobsmacked by how much I love it. It's delicious boy-girl, Jesus & Mary Chain-worshipping bliss.

Chris: Well, you've already got a leg-up on me. I recall checking out Pretty in Black at Tower Records, not even listening to its entirety. I kind of liked what I heard, but not enough so to buy the thing.

"Aly, Walk with Me"

C: OK, I can tell this is going to turn into a gushy love fest. I first heard this track a few months back when the band's PR folks started dropping it around the blogospheres. The heavy distortion and pseudo-surf sound instantly captivated me. A kick ass way to kick things off--it's dark, dangerous and damn captivating. Starting things off with one of the CD's top three tracks always is a winner to me.

M: Hot damn, this is good. Sharp guitars, a little foray into some beats…and the best part is, it only gets better from here. And it’s not even in my top three tracks off the album.

M: These two really harmonize wonderfully together. Sune and Sharin have such sweet voices I can't stand it. To me, this is the epitome of the Raveonettes; those intensely saccharine vocals offset by blistering guitars and lots and lots of noise. Beautiful.

C: I really dig how they slowed down the pace a bit and reigned in the fuzz ever so slightly. Sure, they kick it back up towards the mid-way point, but I like the softer intro.


M: The lines "I fell out of heaven/to be with you in Hell/My sins not quite seven/nothing much to tell," do nothing short of rock my world. Add the haunting coos in the background and that saucy sound and you've got a dynamite track.

C: Funny, not my favorite track here. While I appreciate the almost spaghetti Western feel to it, the slower tempo seems almost out of place to me. This is an album best appreciated at high decibels and I don't feel the desire to do that here.

M: Actually, it sounds great the louder you listen. Promise.

"Dead Sound"

M: The jauntiness of this one comes as a complete kick in the ass after the honeyed hypnosis of "Lust." I'm kind of in shock at this point as to just how deeply I am in smit with this album.

C: Definitely one of my other favorite tunes on the CD. It builds out of nowhere and then kicks into an up-tempo pop rocker of confectionary goodness. If I were going to try to get someone into the Raveonettes sound, I might well use this one as my hook. I had forgotten they put out a slightly different version on the Warm and Scratchy compilation from Adult Swim last year. I like this one even better.

M: This is now the ringtone on my phone.

"Black Satin"

M: This definitely makes me think of the Jesus & Mary Chain. It's got the background of "Just Like Honey," but with a slightly sunnier overtone. Nice guitar solo, too. I'm a sucker for things that sound like they'd split my eardrums apart at a live show.

C: Have I mentioned that your descriptions scare me sometimes? That being said, whereas "Lust" felt somewhat out of place to me, for reasons I can't explain, the slower tempo works much better for me on this track.


C: I like the vocal change-up here. My only problem with the CD is the danger of it sounding repetitious towards the end. While maintaining the overall sound and feel, switching the vocals is a good call.

M: More of the same, please.

"Expelled From Love"

M: Ah, moroseness! Other people's heartache can sound so good, as is the case with several songs on Lust Lust Lust. Slow and moody, it's a lovely song.

C: Well, I guess we're not going to do quite as much agreeing as I originally thought we would. Sure, it's a lovely song, but I don't listen to these cats for "lovely." More jangly, pumped-up fuzz for me, please.

"You Want the Candy"

M: This is utter poptasticness. It is inescapably catchy. Heaven help me, but I want to put on some boots made for walkin' and hit the dance floor right about now. While pouting at some boy across the room, of course.

C: Yeah, definitely one of the other top three winners on this outing. And have you seen the video for this? Good Lord and Butter, I'm seeing these cats when they come to the Black Cat on March 29.

M: See? We do agree. This is in my top three, too.


M: I feel like a broken record, but this one is great, too. I guess I'm back on the Raveonettes Kool-Aid.

C: Agreed, though it is at this point I'm beginning to think this album could wrap itself up.

"Sad Transmission"

M: Something makes me think of "Duke of Earl" here, but even without this the song is very 60s to me. Oh, and it's also really fucking good. "Let me hold you for one last time" gives a hint of the overall tone, and once again it's deceptively cheerful.

C: The clip-clop drum opening the track is a nice touch. Everything the Raveonettes do has a very 60s feel to me, but I dig what you're putting down.

"With My Eyes Closed"

M: Ok, I think this one would be, if I was forced to choose, my favorite. It's got that certain something, every piece of the puzzle fits just right. It's mopey enough, it's sweet enough, it's tighter than tight. And the line "it was never meant to be/for me" appeals to the little black cloud in my heart. Close to perfect.

C: See my thoughts on "Expelled From Love."

M: I bet it grows on you. So there.

"The Beat Dies"

M: Distortion, distortion, how I love thee. And so too do the Raveonettes. Sharin's voice sounds particularly girl group-esque here, all she needs are some doo-wops. And yet, once more, it's darker than it sounds, kids.

C: A good closer, if for no other reason that it sounds slightly different from the rest of things.

Closing Remarks

M: I can't believe how good this album is. I was not prepared, I was not expecting this at all from the Raveonettes. I feel ambushed. How dare they make an album this amazing? But really, kudos to them. This is truly the best album I've heard so far this year, with all due respect to Radiohead. I have fallen in love with this black-clad, Scottish and Spector-influenced album, that like most matters of the heart, caught me completely off guard. And I wouldn't have had it any other way.

C: While I'm not quite as blown away as my lovely partner, I will agree it's already got a shot at Top 10 Best of 08 in my book. As I mentioned above, I might have whittled it down a track or two, but only because the sound is a tad redundant. That being said, I reiterate my thumbs up status and can't wait to see these cats live.

AKACOD: An Update

It was to my great surprise that I received an e-mail from Dana Colley of AKACOD over the weekend. For one thing, it's always thrilling to hear from one's musical heroes. For another, it proved that more than just Megan and I visit the site, which is nice. The good Mr. Colley explained that his actions in regards to not signing posters at the band's recent DC gig which we reviewed were not intended to be rude, but that he neglected to point out that he didn't want to sign posters with Sharpie markers as the prints were on thin paper and he was afraid it would ruin the piece. We at Les Enfants Terribles certainly have had our actions misunderstood (as our lawyers, parents, friends and lovers can attest) and would like nothing more than to clear the air of any misfortunate misinterpretation that may have transpired. So go out and see AKACOD the next time they're in town, buy their schwag, and consider naming a child or two after a member of the band. I personally plan on inquiring about their availability to play a gig at my wedding, as it's the least I can do now.

To continue to show our love, here's another bit of live Morphine magic from back in the day.

I'm Terrible Chris and I approved this message.

Album Review: Goldfrapp - Seventh Tree

I'll admit it: Allison Goldfrapp is one of a handful of girls that could turn me into a lipstick lesbian for a few hours. Many years ago, I had the pleasure of seeing Goldfrapp live in DC, and the effect Ms. Goldfrapp had on the crowd was impressive. Never before had I seen so many lovesick boys in one place before. And who could blame them? She was decked out in all black, including short shorts, with knee high stiletto boots, striding around the stage like a caged tiger. Coupled with the brand of sexploitative electrorock Goldfrapp was touting at the time (they were touring the heartily sexy Black Cherry album), Allison Goldfrapp was arguably the sexiest thing in music that night. Years later, she's still got her appeal, but like her band, in a totally different way.

Seventh Tree is not like anything else Goldfrapp has ever released. It's closest to debut album Felt Mountain, but really just because they're both more down-tempo than either the romping Black Cherry or the glittery stomp of Supernature. Though I should have known better, when first hearing this latest manifestation of the Goldfrapp sound, I was completely taken aback. They got me, once again. It's as if Seventh Tree is the inevitable comedown after the hedonism of disco-fuelled excesses celebrated on Supernature. The almost soothing swirl is a tonic to the soul. "Clowns," the album opener, confused me a little initially. At times it sounds like Ms. Goldfrapp is about to indulge in some good old yodelling, which happily doesn't occur. "Eat Yourself" is an entrancing song, as is the next track "Some People." At this point in the album, you realize that the best thing about Goldfrapp has always been that voice, with her range and bag of tricks. The lady can sing just about anyone under the table. "A&E" sounds very much like the single that it is, very solid, and it's a little more romantical than the usual outright, blatant sex of the Goldfrapp I've come to know and love. My favorite is "Cologne Cerrone Houdini," which, go figure, is probably the sauciest track, sonically speaking, on the album.

It isn't my favorite Goldfrapp album, but it's still pretty fantastic. And I have the utmost respect for bands that can keep reinventing themselves time after time. It sure does keep things interesting.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Album Review: Scary Mansion – Every Joke is Half the Truth

I’ve been a member of eMusic for two years now, and one of my favorite things to do on the site is use some of my monthly downloads to try things I haven’t ever heard of before. Sometimes this practice doesn’t work out so well, but in the recent case of Brooklyn’s Scary Mansion, it worked a treat. Every Joke is Half the Truth is a great record, full of well-orchestrated tracks full of emotion and a more than slight sense of déjà vu. You see, Scary Mansion’s Leah Hayes is not Cat Power, but she sure as hell can sound like her. Hayes’ voice is all the best bits of Cat Power (crackling, breathy fragility fraught with all sorts of yearning and emoting), but with something edgier bubbling just beneath the surface. A roughness emanates in her voice, and this raw, exposed quality adds honesty and bruised believability to the already fantastic songs.

Album intro, and one of my favorites, “Captan,” drones its way to life, and drapes its churning, feedback-filled blanket over your willing consciousness. Both the guitar and Hayes’ voice are particularly biting, making for a special introduction indeed. An abrupt ending immediately segues into a song that couldn’t be more different, the magnificently melancholic “Go to Hell.” “Sorry We Took All Yr Money” is a knockout, an upbeat yet warbling track, showing off Hayes’ tightrope vocals and the band’s deftness at constantly shifting tempos. “New Hampshire” is a stripped bare, country-tinged song drenched in Hayes’ somber best. She shines in particular on this track, and the bitter “Shame,” which features the refrain “you give shame/a very bad name,” along with other such negative lines. Cheekily, the “Intro” isn’t until song 7 on the album order, which you can take as you will. I like to look at it as a play upon not needing an introduction, or perhaps it’s a backhanded, near-omission. Either way, it’s one more really good song on an album full of them.

Though Scary Mansion sounds nothing like the Smiths, I couldn’t help but keep thinking of the song “That Joke Isn’t Funny Anymore” when listening to Every Joke is Half the Truth. The sentiment contained in the lines “it’s too close to home/and it’s too near the bone” is echoed over the Scary Mansion album, and the bands have in common their ability to make beautiful noise out of pain and sadness (though, of course, Morrissey is one of the masters at this particular art).

The moral to this particular tale? With music, as in life, sometimes it pays to close your eyes and take a chance.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Album Review: British Sea Power – Do You Like Rock Music?

Why yes, my dearest foliage-loving British Sea Power, I do indeed like rock music. Thanks for asking. And more importantly, thanks for making such a fucking awesome record full of scathingly savvy, intellectually organic rock for me to enjoy while I wait for the weather to warm up so I can blast your album whilst tooling around Richmond with the windows down to share your joyful noise with my fellow man.

To set the scene, I’ve been a British Sea Power aficionado for nearly six years, ever since I heard their chilly yet massively appealing song “The Lonely” on a Q Magazine mix CD. Their debut LP, The Decline of British Sea Power, was unlike anything else I was listening to at that time, and thankfully, three years later, British Sea Power is still a horse of a different color. I mean, how many other bands do you know of that don 19th century peasant garb and take to stages sprinkled with twigs and watched over by the occasional stuffed owl?

Do You Like Rock Music? is BSP’s third LP, and much to my relief it sounds a lot more like their debut than sophomore album Open Season. It’s not that Open Season wasn’t enjoyable, but you know what they say about second albums. These thirteen tracks showcase British Sea Power’s deftness at sounding somehow otherworldly yet deeply rooted in the English soil. Their music is steeped in the vast history of Britain, and for those of us who are more than a little into history this is a major turn-on. From the drum-driven, swirling, repetitively chant-like opener “All in It” to the lengthy, pulsating finale “Elizabeth and Mary Meet the Pelican,” the band is at their esoteric, wry best. But what’s most endearing about British Sea Power is that they show off their love of obscurity while they rock your pants off. “Lights Out for Darker Skies,” “No Lucifer,” and “A Trip Out” are the finest such examples on Do You Like Rock Music?.

Bottom line? British Sea Power made another fantastic album, and I am thankful once again that they deign to share their talents with the rest of us. Looks like one more spot on my best of 2008 list is taken.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Album Review: Mike Doughty - Golden Delicious

OK, I'll admit it. I'm a huge fan of Monsieur Doughty's early work. Soul Coughing put out some tremendous stuff (Ruby Vroom, anyone?), and his solo, acoustic stuff is some of my favorite (Smofe + Smang ranks as one of my all-time favorite live albums of all time). I've seen him in concert numerous times, most recently opening for the Bare Naked Ladies at the Patriot Center a while back. All this being said, I haven't been blown away by his output since he signed to Dave Matthews' ATO label. Haughty Melodic was OK, but, let's be honest, he essentially re-did songs he had already put out years before that were superior in their original forms. Did George Lucas' mangling of the "original" Star Wars trilogy teach us nothing? Han Solo shot first, damn it, and that's the way it should always be remembered. It was with this mild sense of disappointment that I approached Mike's second studio album, Golden Delicious. I am happy to report, however, that my fears were largely unfounded.

Golden Delicious sees Doughty return to a form befitting his more illustrious past and, most importantly, gives fans new material (with the exception of "27 Jennifers," but more on that later). For lack of a better description, this is a "fun" outing. The album can essentially be broken into two parts. The first half of the album is largely upbeat, bordering on silly in places, but it seems obvious that Mike and his backing band truly are enjoying themselves. The CD opens with "Fort Hood," an anti-war song which laments young kids having to go off to war instead of living the carefree lives they probably deserve back home. I'll say this for him, Doughty writes some of the best protest songs I've ever heard. Whereas most of this genre is heavy handed at best, Doughty employs a light touch that speaks more to the people involved as opposed to the situation itself. A slight, but very important, distinction, as far as I'm concerned. Next up, "I Want the Girl in the Blue Dress to Keep On Dancin'" takes notes from such literary stalwarts as Shakespeare's Sonnet 130 or the equally moving "U Stink But I Love U" by Billy and the Boingers, wherein the author speaks of his infatuation with a, shall we say, non-traditional beauty. "Put It Down" follows, a somewhat nonsensical love song, heavy on the repetition and "na na nas." "More Bacon than the Pan Can Handle" harkens back to Soul Coughing, a bit of a freak funk-out. For some reason, this track more than any other seems to have drawn distaste from the other reviews I've read. Personally, I dig it, with the childlike, female vocals added to flavorful effect. One of the few stumbling blocks on the first half, for me, at least, is the latest version of "27 Jennifers." Largely a complete redo of "Lisa Ling and Lucy Liu" from the aforementioned Smofe + Smang, Doughty completely redid the song for the Rockity Roll EP. Basically, this is the third album version of a song that seems to lose a little something which each retelling. He keeps adding more to the song, but to my ears, it's subtraction by addition. See the previous George Lucas analogy. It's at about this point that the second movement of the album kicks in, taking a bit more somber tone than the previous half. "I Wrote a Song About Your Car" retains some of the playfulness, but the tempo starts to slow and the album retains that tone for the remainder. Fortunately, it's not an abrupt about-face, so the transition works nicely. "I Got the Drop on You" basically is Mike and a guitar with hints of keyboard in the background. The next three tracks, "Wednesday (No Se Apoye)," Like a Luminous Girl," and "Nectarine (Part One)" have the same feel, but with added instrumentation. The CD closes with "Navigating by the Stars at Night," and I think it's a pretty fitting ending. The band gels well, the back-up singer sounds appropriate and, quite frankly, it just sounds pretty good. All in all, a better than average affair and certainly more than I was expecting.

I would like to get on ye olde soapbox for just a second, though, and discuss my larger gripe with the release/distribution of Golden Delicious. Being a member of the MD fan club, I was barraged with e-mails encouraging me to pre-order the CD and also shell out a couple of saw bucks for a limited edition t-shirt. While I did not opt to do so, I know a number of people who did. Not only did they not receive the album on the promised release date, many of those folks were between dismayed and outright pissed to find out that the album was being released with additional tracks at different outlets. If one snags the iTunes version, one gets the fan favorite "Book of Love" as a bonus. If one purchases through a select number of independent record stores, one receives the free Busking EP with Doughty performing a handful of tracks live at subway stations around NY. Now, I'm all for artists rewarding people for purchasing at independent outlets and I know iTunes likes to offer extra incentives to use its service. However, none of these options, other than shelling out extra ducats for a pre-sale and t-shirt, were made known to the fan base until well after the fact. And the idea of essentially having to buy the same album multiple times to get all the extras has always left a sour taste in my mouth. I'm off the belief that only the fan boys and girls really give a shit about the additional stuff anyway and the end result is ripping off the most loyal followers. While I'm not a fan, I didn't like it when the Smashing Pumpkins did it recently and I don't like that Doughty is following suit now. Just my two cents.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Live Review: AKACOD @ the Red and the Black, February 16, 2008

Dana Colley made his somewhat less than triumphant return to DC this past weekend with his newest band, AKACOD. Comprised of himself, the stunning Monique Ortiz of Bourbon Princess fame, and drummer Larry Dersch (who incidentally played the skins on Morphine's "Like Swimming"), the band played to a less than packed house at the Red and the Black on Saturday night. I called the venue on Friday afternoon and was told there had been numerous inquiries about tickets, so I showed up at 6 pm on Saturday, more than four hours before the show expecting to see a line around the block. Not only was I the first one there, I later was informed by the club owner that I was the only person that bothered to get tickets in advance at all (the Red and the Black does not have ticket pre-sales prior to the night of shows). With an 80 person max capacity, I would guess somewhere between 50 and 60 people showed. With Ortiz's throaty vocals reminiscent of the late Mark Sandman and Colley simply being involved, comparisons to Morphine are inevitable, but the band does manage a sound of its own and it's one worth hearing.

Even though I picked up the new CD about a week and a half ago, I must admit I am not super familiar with the new material, so I can't help with a playlist. They did play my two favorite tracks from the album, though, "Happiness" and "Spanish Fly," arguably the two highlights of the evening. I can and will, however, point out a few things:

1. Mr. Colley had some type of filter on his sax and used his instrument in place of a lead guitar, a somewhat different approach than he used for Morphine and Twinemen. As a result, there was less opportunity for him to really open up and his trademark low, metallic growl was largely absent from the affair.

2. This is a personal thing, but the band didn't engage in a whole lot of banter with the audience. One of the few comments made from the band came courtesy of Ms. Ortiz when she pointed out that the noise from the club next door was a bit overwhelming when she said, "We'd like to thank Amy Winehouse for letting us open for her tonight." ("Rehab" was blasting from the speakers next door.)

3. I have one major gripe with the show and it's directed squarely at Colley. After the show, I approached Ms. Monique and told her I wrote for a few different music blogs and she couldn't have been nicer. She answered the handful of questions I had and provided me with both her phone number and e-mail address for any follow-up I might have. As a fan, this is the type of interaction that takes a show to a whole new level. I later approached Mr. Dana, failing to mention I wrote for anybody, simply asking if he'd sign the poster I bought. I waited for roughly 20 minutes while he jawed up some ladies before being informed by him that he would not, as his name already was in the corner of the lithograph. My fiance went up to him not 10 minutes later and secured the autograph. Now, I fully appreciate that a performer doesn't owe the fans anything beyond the time on stage that the crowd has paid for, but I have to say, I thought that was kind of an asshat move. Particularly if you're a band with virtually no recognition beyond past achievements, would it kill you to show the fans a little love, even if said fans have penises and not vaginas? Yes, I'm on my soapbox here a you may disagree with me entirely, but there we have it.

I'll certainly see them or Twinemen or Bourbon Princess or whatever iteration comes to town when next they do, but my desire to purchase band schwag and recommend them to friends has been greatly lessened. I realize I'm coming off as a bit of a whiny fan boy, but when you see as many concerts as I do and encounter bands of equal or greater fame that will go to any lengths to please the fans, this came across as a rather unacceptable. So kudos to Monique and a boo to Dana.

Sadly, my cell phone has a POS camera and this was the best shot I could get of everyone.

My gripes aside, it was a strong show and the audience did get into things. Here's a taste of the band from their MySpace.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Album Review: Mobius Band – Heaven

Happy Valentine's Day, everyone. What better way to celebrate the Day of Love than with an album I adore?

One of my favorite things about being such a fool for music is seeing how bands I’m fond of grow as artists. It’s always a treat when a band I already like a lot wows me live or puts out an album that’s even better than I was hoping for. Take the Mobius Band, for instance. Sure, I was already a fan of their fuzzy bleep poprock as exhibited on their debut album, The Loving Sounds of Static, which I liked bunches and bunches, but what a difference a year and change can make. Heaven is more mature, more tuneful, and way more awesome. The ten songs on Heaven danced around my head and my heart in ways I never expected.

We begin with “Hallie,” an effort in trying to catch up with someone who’s “always changing.” The song offers you everything you need to know to stay with the album for the duration: super fuzzy vocals, pounding beats, and a musical cohesiveness that still stuns me. “Secret Language” is one of the best tracks on Heaven, no mean feat since the album is rather stunning as a whole. Maybe it’s the handclaps. I do love me some handclaps. Or the insanely taut drumming. Or the line “I had one of those dreams that’ll take your breath away.” Or it’s just the overall awesomeness of the song. I heard “A Hint of Blood” months before the album was released, and was intrigued by its aggressive sound backed by a bounty of pulsating blips and bleeps. The first half of the album wraps up with “Leave the Keys in the Door,” a sinfully loud track with synapse-splitting guitar riffs and more delicious lyrics (“Darling I can’t get the stain out of my head”). The Mobius Band isn’t fucking around here, as you’ll figure out when listening to the somewhat vitriolic yet transcendent “Friends Like These.” The firecracker known as “Control” is next, and it’s smooth sailing with “Tie a Tie” (“I see people change/I see people stay the same”), “Under Sand” (“when I open the box/there’s nothing inside”), “Black Spot” (“always just a little behind”), and closer “I Am Always Waiting” (“lights go out and the day is done”).

Heaven is a ridiculously good album. It shows an impressive amount of growth and improvement from a band that was already pretty promising to begin with. I chide myself for not listening to it more than I did when it came out towards the end of last year, because if I had, it would have made my top 10 of 2007. Regardless, it’s an album in fine fettle, a treat, a delight, an oasis in the desert, and you probably need it.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Singles Club: Oddbodkins - The Theme Song

Is there anything the Interwebs are NOT good for? Of course not. When I'm not spending all my time here at Les Enfants Terribles or the various smurf pr0n sites I like to frequent, I often find myself at the Mike Doughty bulletin board. Regardless of your opinion of Mike, Soul Coughing or things related, I honestly have never come across a nicer bunch of folks online. The cats are groovy, people don't fight for the sake of fighting, flame wars are non-existent and everyone who joins get a coupon for free sex. OK, I might be exaggerating slightly, but a better group of non-meatspace friends I've never made.

Anywho, a couple of years back, somebody started a thread about Buddha knows what and I made the passing comment that someone should write me a song about me. I really didn't think anything would come of it and didn't even think much about it after I wrote it. Well, lo and behold, a few weeks later, I received the greatest honor one person could ever receive, my very own theme song, which I present for your listening enjoyment.

Penned by James "Petey Coronado" Thompson, the lyrics are almost nonsensical, having derived from a series of weird posts I had made over the years. He incorporated the trans-Atlantic talents of Katie from Australia, who adds the breathy chorus towards the end. The original has a bit of a dance floor feel to it, but in my opinion, the true magic comes across in the acoustic version. Seriously, though, have you ever heard a better line than, "He brings the Rocky Road while other fuckers bring vanilla?" Of course you haven't. Petey, in addition to being a new father, tinkers in the music game and favors the board with his masterpieces from time to time. I certainly won't go so far as to say he's hit his high water mark with this theme song, but I can't imagine he'll ever make anything better. Equally kick ass, numerous times over? I would expect no less. To check out some more of Coronado's musical gems, visit his MySpace page.

Oddbodkins Theme

Oddbodkins Theme (acoustic)

(nb: Megan is insanely jealous, and would like her own them song. Bands, make it happen. Pretty please.)

Singles Club: Cazals

Felipe Cazals is a Mexican director, screenwriter, and producer. Cazals, the five-piece tropical/black metal/Italian pop artists (don't look at me, it's on their Myspace page), may or may not have named themselves in his honor.

In any event, Cazals are a (primarily) London band with a rather interesting sound aesthetic. In latest single "To Cut a Long Story Short" you'll hear the taut, tight drumming that has been a hallmark of many British bands over the past few years (think the Libertines and the Rakes, to name a couple). But you'll also find a bassline that is less pop and more rawk, as well as Phil's vocals, which are somewhat tenderly treading metal and sound a little unexpected given the rest of the ingredients. Don't ask me how, but Cazals take their disparate parts and make them work. The choppy, more traditionally Brit elements that you might expect from a hip assemblage of London boys work nicely with the heavy, startling bits more akin to harder rock bands to create a rather fine little single. "To Cut a Long Story Short" will appease both your need for a short, sweet Britpop fix with the need to rock out with your cock out. And really, how can you not love a song with the lyric, "To cut a long story short/ I lost my mind"?

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Album Review: Calvin Harris – I Created Disco

A wise woman once surmised that “girls just wanna have fun.” This is true, but it seems that sometimes the boys want to get in on this here fun. Case in point: Calvin Harris. So much does Mister Harris want to have a good time that he made his own fun, otherwise known as the modestly-titled I Created Disco. Lest that frighten you, don’t worry, there’s nothing discoball-spandexy-hustle-beplatformed about this album, perhaps it’s just a clever title laughing in the face of the lack of disco on the cd. You’re a lot more likely to have images of hi-top Nikes, excessive gold chains, and brightly-colored track jackets dancing in your head while listening to this than anything at all related to disco. Or, as Calvin’s official bio states, it’s an album all about how he reinvented disco. Because if this is disco, it ain’t your parents’ disco. And while the question of whether a rebirth of disco is a good idea is still up in the air, for now it’s a party at Calvin’s house, and we’re all invited.

There are 14 ways to fall in love with Calvin’s cheeky brand of bombast on I Created Disco; 14 tongue-in-cheek, delightfully faux conceits that are made for nothing if not having, dare I say, fun. As the man himself says, “My tunes aren't supposed to invoke deep thought within people; they're just to get you dancing. But musically it is for the brain - it's not music for stupid people.” And dance you shall. But thanks to the oft-silly lyrics you’ll also giggle while you shake, and marvel at the complexities of the sampling and production while undulating around the room. Despite being a nonstop party of an album, it’s also a very intelligently put together record.

Most girls will tell you that a sense of humor is kinda foxy, and Harris has humor in spades. “Colours,” dedicated to the wardrobe choices of potential mates, features lines like “it’s all very well stepping out in black and white/but you’re no girlfriend of mine if you’re doing that, right.” Unavoidably, ridiculously, impossibly catchy “The Girls,” which I’ve loved up on previously, states in a variety of ways that Harris kinda digs the ladies (and the feeling is mutual). “Acceptable in the 80’s” is Calvin’s funky little shoutout to the twentysomethings born during the Reagan years of Iran Contra and trickle-down economics. And “Love Souvenir” is the album’s slow jam, a track that is begging for Al Green or Isaac Hayes to lay down some super smooth vocals.

He’s a little bit Hot Chip, a little bit LCD Soundsystem, and a whole lot of a good time. If you’re looking for an album to put on for shits and giggles, drinking copious amounts of alcohol before going out to drink even more, or just whenever you need a little aural lift, you couldn’t do much better than I Created Disco.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Album Review: Sia - Some People Have Real Problems

In the interest of full disclosure, I have to admit that I LURVS me some Sia. I've been fortunate enough to see her solo in concert a few times and with Zero 7 once. The woman has an incredible voice and, quite frankly, is the most adorable pixie I've ever seen on stage. While I wouldn't necessarily call her a strict "entertainer" in the purest sense, she appears to have more fun in front of an audience than any ten performers I've ever seen combined. It's always a breath of fresh air to see a seemingly non-jaded singer soak up the pure joy of performing.

When last I saw her at the 9:30 Club a few months back, Sia gave the audience her "blessing" to visit "one of those sites out of Mexico" and download her latest, Some People Have Real Problems, rationalizing that no performers made a penny from album sales anymore and that it was her personal "thank you" for attending her show. Of course, I did so immediately, but the sound quality left something to be desired. I knew I loved it then, but it was only with the recent purchase of the CD that I realized how kick ass it really was. Now, I know my erstwhile partner Megan disagrees with me, but I'm willing to go so far as to say it's the best damn album of the albeit very New Year.

Things start off with the inspirational "Little Black Sandals," with which Sia incidentally opened the aforementioned show. It's a nice opener, showcasing her vocal range. Next up is "Lentil," my favorite track on her earlier live album, Lady Croissant. While this version isn't quite as peppy as the live version, it's fun nonetheless. "Day Too Soon" comes closest to the album's first ballad, but to say it strays too far from Sia's signature sound probably is a bit of overkill. This track already has received maxi-single treatment, complete with a number of remixes. Yeah, I bought that, too.

The next four tracks, however, are what take the album to stellar heights. "Girl You Lost to Cocaine," while not a necessarily upbeat topic, is a powerful anthem about the painful reality of having to say "enough is enough" when dealing with an addict. Again, while the message is a bit of a downer, the addition of a driving drum and piano gives the track an uplifting feel. "Academia" may be my favorite track on the album. With seemingly nonsensical lyrics, Beck makes an appearance and the track jams along, plain and simple. Kinks cover "I Go to Sleep" brings the tone back down a bit, returning to the more ballad-like songs of Sia's repertoire, but it's moving nonetheless. "Playground" rounds out the quartet, as near to funkiness as Sia gets. A taste of hip hop sensibility, hand claps and Sia's vocal range makes this one a winner.

The album ends a tad weaker than it starts. "Death by Chocolate," "Electric Bird," "Beautiful, Calm Driving," and "Lullaby" are all fine tracks, but, truth be told, they're not awe inspiring. The exception to the latter half of the CD probably is, "Soon We'll Be Found," another slow burner that simply blows wind up my skirt, plain and simple. While the album technically ends with "Lullaby," there is the obligatory "hidden track," "Buttons." This one made the rounds of ye olde blogospheres a while back and it was that first taste that let me know SPHRP was going to be a winner. While the video is a bit odd, the track itself is a winner, ain't no doubt about it.

Personally, I think it's her best solo work since Healing is Difficult, and I loved that one. It's got a nice mix of upbeat, pop-oriented stuff and slow jams, making for the perfect mixture of Sia goodness. Sia's coming back to the 9:30 Club on March 7 and I already have my tickets. If you see the guy in glasses with the shaved head and some form of red facial hair (currently, I'm sporting the Wyatt Earp mustachio, but it may well be back to the full beard by then), come up and say "hey," and I'll buy you a beer.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Album Review: Cat Power - Jukebox

With the bevy of female, neo-soul acts held in such high regard today, I, for one, am always delighted when someone bucks convention and goes the neo-pseudo-blues route. Sarcasm aside, Cat Power (aka Chan Marshall) returns to her concept of putting her version of the blues with a jazzy/country twist on covers on her latest, Jukebox. While this certainly will never be confused with Big Mama Thorton or KoKo Taylor, Marshall does a respectable job imprinting her trademark throaty growl on some of the lesser known tracks from some of the industry’s best known acts.

The CD kicks off with perhaps my favorite track, “Theme from New York, New York,” made famous by ol’ Blue Eyes himself. Virtually unrecognizable from the original, this version imparts a raw grittiness that fits it well. The Hank Williams classic gets the female treatment on “Ramblin’ (Wo)Man and it works quite well, infusing a ragged determination not absent in the original, but definitely different. The George Jackson penned “Aretha, Sing One For Me,” is one of the true upbeat songs here, enlisting an organ to liven things up considerably.

Understandably, Marshall can’t hold a candle to Janis Joplin on “A Woman Left Lonely,” but that’s not to say her version is unlistenable. There are far too many women that try to completely redo Janis’ stuff with horrendous results; Marshall opts for a more subdued version that conveys the same emotion JJ nailed so indelibly. “Song to Bobby” and “Metal Heart” are the only two new tracks here, yet they fit the overall feel of controlled despondency hinting at hope down the road. Joni Mitchell’s “Blue” returns the organ to the mix and creates, quite frankly, the blues-iest sound on the CD, a great way to end the disc.

For those willing to shell out a few extra ducats, a limited-edition silver foil deluxe package also was made available with a five-song bonus disc with covers ranging from Nick Cave’s “Breathless” to Moby Grape’s “Naked, If I Want To.” The material strays a bit wider than most of Jukebox, but the conceit is the same, so it makes sense to include it for rabid fans. Certainly worth the additional shekels and arguably better than some of what she offers on the regular disc.

Personally, I like what Cat Power and her Dirty Delta Blues Band has done here. However, I won’t believe the general public truly has been served until they delve into 80s pop. Sure, she’s got some great numbers here, but who really will feel satiated until she covers “Girls Just Want to Have Fun?” Nobody. Not even your grandfather.

For your listening pleasure, here's a bit of Ms. Marshall to get your juices flowing.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Album Review: Hot Chip – Made in the Dark

It fell into my lap, the cover robin’s egg blue with a raised, bronze-colored design reminiscent of some kind of relic from the Mayans, Aztecs, or Incas. Holding it, I felt my breath quicken and my hands gripped tightly in anticipation. For what I was holding in my hands, friends, was a copy of the new Hot Chip album, Made in the Dark, follow-up to their breakout album The Warning, and it doesn’t get much more exciting than that. I’ve pretty much been waiting for this for ages. And oh, it was worth the wait.

Hot Chip is a band that doesn’t mess around. They like to get down to the business at hand, which in this instance is the creation and implementation of a killer dance album. My first impression is that the boys of Hot Chip spent their summer vacation buying every obscure, electro record from the early 1980s they could get their hands on, because Made in the Dark sounds straight outta 1983. And yet, it also sounds fresher than most releases you’re likely to hear all year. The manipulations of the retrotastic beats and bleeps combined with the textbook Hot Chip dual-vocal attack reconciles the old and new quite nicely, showing a further evolution of the sounds found on The Warning.

Somehow, Hot Chip managed to take everything good from their 80s inspiration without being bogged down by sounding too much like throwbacks. I kept listening for the throwaway songs, the filler, and they never showed up. From the opening intensity of “Out at the Pictures” to the end of the unexpectedly romantical slow jam “In the Privacy of Our Love,” it’s one great track after the next. How can you not love a song featuring the line “I’m only going to Heaven/if it feels like Hell,” as does “Hold On”? “Bendable Poseable” was a part of their set list during last year’s tour, and it will soon wriggle its way into your brain’s synapses, so catchy is this song. “Whistle for Will” is dedicated to Ezra Jack Keats and Will, and I find it impossible not to love a song inspired by one of my favorite authors from my childhood. Thirteen songs, thirteen little bits of superfragilisticelectrobeattacularness to enjoy over and over and over. Thank you, Hot Chip.

Take from it what you will; Hot Chip wants to party all the time, Hot Chip gets down tonight, Hot Chip loves to party like it’s 1999. But the general idea you should take away from this album is that Hot Chip can still break your legs and snap off your head, not to mention the whole making you dance your ass off thing. It might only be February, but I don’t think it’s too early to predict that Made in the Dark is going to end up on plenty of year-end lists when December rolls around. It’ll be on mine, that’s for damn sure.

Make sure your Tuesday includes a stop at your local record store, for all your Hot Chip needs.

Live and Direct: Brock Part II

Since I'm going to assume your appetite is good and whetted, here's part two of the Brock show at IOTA. Part one, as those of you that downloaded it well know, was Mr. B. doing his solo stuff. Part two is Brock with his full band. The harmonica jam saw some old dude come up from out of the crowd. I'm assuming it was a friend of someone in the band, but he blew some pretty mean harp regardless. The sound is much fuller, obviously. For those of you in the know, or those that want to be, most of these are Brock's "hits." These are what he's put on wax, as it were, and he and the boys play them beautifully. And let's be honest here—any guy that names a jam after a Goonies dance move deserves all the props in the world. Enjoy.

Drop the Big One

New One

Rise to the Top

Skinny Back

Brown Shoes

Better Than Sunshine

Truffle Shuffle


Video Vixens: Nada Surf

Ok, so technically this isn't a music video. It's just a (very good) band, playing live. And it's not extremely funny or innovative or thought-provoking (at least not visually speaking). But if there is one thing I love, it's Nada Surf playing "Blonde on Blonde." It's one of those songs that never ceases to give me chills, both live and on record. Mind you, that could be said about much of the Nada Surf back catalogue. So, in honor of their new release Lucky, which comes out this Tuesday, I present to you the Borderline 2008 version of "Blonde on Blonde," from my forever favorite (and one of my top ten all time desert island discs) Nada Surf album Let Go.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Decision 2008: An Update

After much thought and debate, I have decided to throw my hat into the ring and attend Coachella, along with probably another hundred thousand or so people. Already I have learned a lot, such as the hotels in the immediate area enjoy ripping off the concert-goers, and had certain things re-enforced (hi, Ticketbastard, you're still evil). But all in all, the good outweighs the bad, and I am very much looking forward to Coachella 2008. I'll be bringing my computer out to the Left Coast with me, so expect lots of updates. Unless I drink too much and am otherwise engaged.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Live and Direct: Brock

For the latest installation of Live and Direct, I'm going to introduce our faithful readers to my personal favorite DC act, Brock. The first time I ever caught him was opening for Mike Doughty at the 9:30 Club a few years back. That night, he was solo and even though I didn't catch the full set, he really blew me away. Brock's gig is that he plays all the musical portions of his show himself, on guitar, using a variety of looping pedals to affect the sound and repetition of lead, bass, "drum," etc. And this cat can play. On top of that, he's damn near the most entertaining white rapper I've ever heard. He's similar in vein to G. Love, but that really doesn't do Brock credit. Since then, I've seen him solo, with a full band, opening for Cypress Hill, headlining some tiny college gig and the following show, at IOTA in Arlington, Virginia. As I recall, this show was just a few nights prior to my birthday and it was a great way to celebrate, let me tell you. Sadly, I haven't heard too much from Brock lately. He put out a couple of tracks during the last year or so, but I haven't heard of him playing anywhere in too long. Perhaps he'll stumble across accolades like this and grace us with his presence sooner than later.
To learn a bit more about Brock, check out his website, which has additional tracks to download and a link to his MySpace, too.

Intro Jam

Think Piece

Tuesday Night's Squad (An Interpolation)

Flau Flau

Norwegian Wood Revisited