Sunday, December 28, 2008

I am not afraid to keep on living.

I know I'm two years late, and I'm not going to write a review on a CD that's been out for that long.

But I just bought The Black Parade by My Chemical Romance yesterday.

Holy Frig. It is amazing.

Woah.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Subtlety isn't always my strong suit...

This song has been stuck in my head for weeks. It makes me want to dance. Possibly on a table. It's a simple hook and a great bass line and a kind of beach vibe mixed into the rock and roll. And the video is a great, well done concept. This is the kind of creative stuff that I wish I had thought of myself:



There are two versions of the video. According to an interview with the Eagles, it's because the director, Liam Lynch, got bored waiting for this version to render, so he took the footage and created an acid trip of a second video. That's just awesome.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Vinyl

My favorite band is Weezer.

My favorite album is The Blue Album.

My favorite song is "Only in Dreams."

Today, for the first time, I got to hear it played straight from a record. I was a vinyl virgin, but had wanted Blue on vinyl for a long, long time. And finally, this Christmas, it sat wrapped and waiting under the tree.

I didn't even know how to use the turntable. It was embarrassing, but after one terrible screech (note: the needle should be on the record. If you think it's on the record but it's actually right beside it, terrible sounds occur, both from the record and the owner of the turntable) it started to play. Was it entirely different from the CD? Was the sound quality 1000 times better? No. But there was a noticeable difference, especially in song intros that were composed of just one guitar. Everything sounded a touch rougher, but nicer. And "Only in Dreams" was still perfect and building and beautiful.

I need to find a frame for it because I don't own a turntable of my own and I can't think of many other things I'd rather hang on my wall.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas with a No Doubt cover of "Oi to the World" by the Vandals. You've got to love both versions, but this one has a video directed by Sophie Muller. Enjoy.


Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The Yule Ball

Sunday night I ventured through the crazy snowstorm with some of my best friends to go to the 4th annual Yule Ball at the Middle East. It was a strange show, but very, very fun.

The crowd was composed of all sorts of fans - parents with children, forty year old women dressed up like 14 year old goth chicks, costumed Harry Potter fans, and college kids with secret geeky sides. We grabbed some butterbeers from the bar (cream soda and butterscotch syrup to replicate the Hogsmeade favorite) and settled in for a night of silly fun.

After a rapping Dumbledore, the Whomping Willows played. They were you average Wizard rock band, but they did a fabulous cover of "Mickey" by Tony Basil, except that it was "Remus" and the chorus noted that "you take me by the heart when you take me by the branch."

I'm such a dork.

Next on were The LeeVees. They had absolutely nothing to do with wizard rock - they're a Hanukkah band. And they were awesome. They threw gelt into the crowd, sang about the epic applesauce/sour cream debate, and had a tambourine shaped like the star of David. Also, they were all in their 30s or 40s and were members of other real bands (one of the guitarists is also in Guster - awesome!) so the music they played was actually really good.

Next up was a speech by a member of the Harry Potter Alliance. Keep my politicians out of my music and my musicians out of my politics. Thanks.

Then, Draco and The Malfoys. They are very... strange. It's two guys on guitars playing to backup tracks off of a laptop. It's not the best music in the world, but they're very animated and jumpy. Enough so that they got my attention as I walked by the stage they were playing at Warped this Summer (which meant I grabbed my best friend's arm, pointed, screamed "Wizard Rock!" and proceeded to dance to "99 Deatheaters.")

Jason Anderson and the Best were on next. Jason Anderson's kind of awesome. He's got this weird, homey, New England sing-along vibe that makes everyone in the room feel happy. He gets the entire audience into what he's playing, making you scream back lines or get down on the floor with him. Jason doesn't play to a crowd, he plays with the crowd. The opening chords of "July 4, 2004" sent me back to last Winter when I spent a lot of time wrapped up in a blanket with a cup of hot chocolate listening to his feel good music, and during "So Long" he got the entire audience to sing with him, for 4 minutes, that "the best thing in the world, is to love someone and they love you back." It's actually kind of gorgeous and amazing to see a crowd that big and diverse come together in one song. There are a ton of free downloads on his website, and it would be a disservice if you didn't at least check out some of his stuff.

Finally, Harry and the Potters. The first, the best. Wizard rock at its finest. They sang Christmas songs. They sang wizard songs. The crowd sang with them. The crowd smiled with them. The crowd laughed with them. If you listen to nothing else by them, check out "Save Ginny Weasley." If you're at all interested in Harry Potter, pick up "Voldemort Can't Stop the Rock." It's a silly, crazy CD, and it will simultaneously make your music collection 1000 times more embarrassing and 1000 times cooler. The end of the set included bubbles, balloons, and a brass ensemble composed of fans.

Sadly, we had to leave before the encore in order to make the last train home (and just barely caught it due to a disabled red line train at the MGH stop. We literally ran through South Station to catch our train, and let me tell you that while 3 inch heels give me a bit of a boost above the concert crowd, they are certainly not meant to run in.)

It was one of the weirdest, most unconventional rock shows I've been too, but the Yule Ball was so much fun. So much.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Fall Out Boy: Live From the Chicago Theatre

I tried so hard to get into the Fall Out Boy club show at Harper's Ferry in November, but orgo lab, a rainstorm, and a complete lack of parking in Allston left me soaking wet and unhappy with no music. As a consequence, I was very excited when Fuse decided to sponsor and broadcast their show at the Chicago theater.

The curtain rises on "Thks Fr Th Mmrs". I'd first like to point out how annoying of a title that is to type. I get the whole reference to a break up by text message, but wow. I had to look up how to misspell a title. Anyways, this is how I wish the whole show went. The band is playing. There are lights but no pyro, and the focus is on the music. Pete Wentz is channeling Ryan Ross's makeup, but it's okay. The band rocks the song, plays it well, and puts enough energy into it that I wish I was there.

Next is "Thriller." It keeps up the same high powered energy. It's good. Really good. Also, I've always really loved the line "fix me in 45," because I spent a lot of the summer between high school and college being unhappy and angry. But I'd get in my car, put in Infinity on High and let FOB entirely change my mood back into something alright. It's a highly self aware lyric.

Next is "I Don't Care," and a part of me feels like this should have been the first song, or that it might have been in the live show. A white curtain pulls up, the band name is in huge letters at the back of the stage, it's a high powered song... it just feels like a show opener. Also, I feel like this would have been the smart song to open up with. It's almost as big as "Thks Fr Th Mmrs" and is their current single, the one on everyone's minds. Now here they've added pyrotechnics and strobe light guitars, and really, I don't like it so much. I don't hate it, but it's a little distracting. But again, they throw so much energy into the song that it's really hard to be unhappy.

"I'm Like a Lawyer With The Way I'm Always Trying to Get You Off" is next. Another title that would be really obnoxious to write over and over again (which is, I assume, why they marketed it as "Me and You" when it was a single). Pete starts it off with a little intro about how everyone eventually falls in love, and it made me realize how much of the in between song chatter they must have cut out of this. I love the little snippets of conversation or throw outs to the crowd that come in between songs - it's part of the live experience. Either Fuse has cut out almost all of it, or Fall out Boy doesn't talk on stage, which I can't believe is true. There had to have been some kind of "How are you feeling tonight?" or some kind of verbal interaction between band members during the set, but it's missing, and it's absence it noticed. The end of the song is a little awkward, because there were obviously parts that they let the crowd sing, but that have been muted out because editors for some reason feel like the only thing you should hear the crowd do is cheer.

"This Ain't a Scene, It's an Arms Race." There are some strangely placed pyrotechnics. And the sound editors (mixers?) have gone overboard with Joe and Pete. They pretty much mute out all of Pete's screaming and they change their voices a lot. Let's be real - Pete and Joe are awesome with their instrumental chords, but not so much with their vocal chords. Yet we still love to hear them scream it out in their own voice, not a mutated voice that the producers feel is more melodic.

Patrick just screamed something that sounded like "sing it out" in a very Pete-like scream, and it confused me. It wasn't bad, just unexpected.

And here come the bear dancers. Yeah. Bear dancers. The song is "Headfirst Slide into Cooperstown on a Bad Bet," and I feel like it might be a good song, but I can't pay attention to it because there are dancers dressed up like bears. They're acting out some scene of heartbreak. I think. It's done in a weird combination of modern and lyrical and cheerleading. I just don't know. But unlike the pyrotechnics, which I'll put up with, I hate this. It's distracting and it really takes away from the music. I go to concerts (or watch them on TV...) for the music. I want to see the band, not a stage act. I'm disappointed in whoever decided this was a good idea, because it wasn't.

"Americas Suitehearts." Pete thanks Fuse, and of course they air that. I really enjoy the song. The chorus is heavy on the guitars and the noise, but in a controlled and measured way. It's also nicely balanced out by the quieter verses. They release some confetti (multi colored and people shaped) and I've always felt confetti should really be an end of show thing, but it's alright because of one shot that they get of Pete. It's framed with just his face at the very right of the frame, smiling quietly with the garish purple streak of makeup running over his eye. The rest of the frame is black with red, green, and blue falling confetti, and it's perfect. It's a quick shot, but it's the kind of clip that for a small second lets you in on how it must feel to be up on the stage and caught up in the music.

"Sugar We're Going Down." This time, they let the crowd singing at the beginning take over the sound and it's perfect. Again they turn down Pete's screaming and show a lot of badly dancing scene kids. Also, the strobe lights are crazy enough to make me fear for any epileptics in the crowd.

"Dance Dance." I'm a sucker for strong bass lines. There's a shot in here that I love, on the last "I only want sympathy." The camera is moving forwards through the crowd towards the stage on level with everyone's heads, as though you're actually walking forwards through the crowd. You can see the entire stage, and these two pyrotechnics displays are waving back and forth behind the band. It's a nice shot that sends you into the crowd and splits the screen between the normal kids of the crowd and the rock star quality on the band members. Love it.

The last song is "Saturday," which was the first Fall Out Boy video I found on my own. I'd seen Sugar and Dance, Dance, but this was the one that I searched out because I was interested in the band. I loved it because it held both a story line and the rough scenes of playing in some little basement. They perform it well, but the fans go stupid and start getting up on stage and being obnoxious and distracting. One girl at the end who is particularly obnoxious and hangs off of Patrick's neck does an awesome stage dive. Except she gets what's coming to her, because when you dive that hard into a crowd of small, screaming, preteen girls, they're not going to catch you. She dives straight into the floor. On another note, Pete's screaming is great, and I love how the hardcore screamo part of him still gets to come out and play sometimes. However it looks like he tries to actually sing at some points and the sound engineers totally mute him out. Hah.

And then, with a big flourish of drums, it's over. It wasn't a bad hour of TV, but I feel like it could have been better. I'm not sure how much of it to blame on the band and how much to blame on whoever pieced together the footage. However I can say that whoever did edit this has very obviously never been to a scene show, and doesn't know what it should feel like to be there.

I'll do better.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Ca 2+ binds troponin which binds tropomyosin and allows actin myosin interactions...

I would first like to state that I do not enjoy Nickelback.

Now that that's out of the way, finals are over. Finally. I had my biology final this morning, which meant I spent 14 straight hours studying yesterday. And let me tell you, I get really silly after 14 straight hours of studying. At one point I lost adhesion with my chair and metastasized down the hallway.

At hour 8, I started making little signs to put on the table I was studying at that marked where I was: "Hour 8 - Egf, Grb2, Sos, Ras, Raf, Mek, MAP Kinase" or "Hour 10 - axon depolarization." It made me laugh a little and also informed everyone else in the dining hall of just much of a crazy bio geek I am.

Anyways, I felt like I had a little timer over my head counting how long I had been there, which reminded me of a music video. The person I was studying with had no clue what I was talking about, and after 14 hours even I wasn't quite sure. But now that my finals are done and I can actually breathe, I found it.

It does, however, remind me how much Nickelback makes my skin crawl. I don't know what it is about bands like that (Nickelback, 3 Doors Down, Daughtry) but I just can't stand them. However, Nigel Dick made a pretty cool video with an interesting concept, so here it is:

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Dresden Dolls

Initially, I'd planned on posting the video for Girl Anachronism, because I'm having one of those days (weeks, months, years).

But while searching for it, I ran across this, which I thought was kind of beautiful. I love the statues and the idea of sending anonymous CDs through the mail, connecting people and brightening their days. I love real mail, stamps, and sealing wax. There's something about tangible letters and envelopes that gets lost in e-mail and the internet. Also, the video shows a much softer side of the Dresden Dolls that doesn't appear in most of their other videos.

"Sing" by the Dresden Dolls, directed by Michael Pope (sadly, MTV doesn't seem to care much about video quality, so the sound's a little flaky):




"If I were any older I would act my age, but I don't think that you'd believe me."

Monday, December 8, 2008

...What?

I love Weezer. I really do. But occasionally, I'm massively confused by Rivers.

The song isn't bad, but the new video he made for one of the songs from Alone II makes me a little worried about him.

Check it out for yourself.

It's a cute concept once I step back from it. They keep him in a box, roll him out when they need him, then lock him back up in the trailer. But when you're just watching it, it's a little creepy.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

a good song, an okay video

I was a mathlete in high school.

I know. You're so shocked.

My junior year we were coming back from a math meet one night, riding in the school's very own short bus, and listening to oldies on the radio. We were obviously the epitome of cool. One of the seniors at the time, the only member of the football team who was secure enough in his own skin to actually join the math team, walked up to the front of the bus with a CD in hand.

"What is it?" one of the freshman asked.

"Don't worry about it," he replied. "Just enjoy it."

Musical advice to live by.

Friday, December 5, 2008

"Fill My Heart With Music"

I've been to a few shows at the Middle East, both upstairs and down, and I have never been disappointed. Last night's show was no exception.

We got there far too early to be cool, but it meant we got to stand pretty close to the stage. First up were Akudama. I wasn't expecting much, but they really surprised me. "Dishes" was a pretty, happy little song with a really cute riff at the beginning. "Love" made me smile as well, and all of their music was easy to listen to and enjoyable. They may not set the world on fire, but I might go see them again if they're in the area.

One case of mistaken identity and one Jesse Lacey look-alike later and Exit Clov was on. It's the first time I've seen two violins whipped out at an indie show, and though surprised, I enjoyed it. With a pair of female vocalists and a barefoot guitar player, they played a lot of interesting, varied music. Sometimes you find a band that has a good sound, but only the one. Exit Clov had a host of sounds, from the violins and harmonies of "Violent Berries" to the upbeat "MK Ultra" which has been stuck in my head all day. The broken up lyrics mixed with the synth smartly highlighted the mind control references and made quite a few fans in the crowd.

The Postelles were on next. They weren't bad, but I really didn't find them to be anything special either. However as they were tuning, I leaned over to the friend I'd gone with and remarked that everyone had been playing Fenders all night. "Can't someone mix in a Gibson?" I asked. And then, mere seconds later, the guitarist pulled out a Gibson. Perfect.

Finally, the reason I'd gone out the night before my Bio lab final, Jukebox the Ghost. I'd seen them once before in September and decided that I had to see them again because they make some of the happiest, most infectious indie pop I have ever heard. With only three members (Tommy - guitar, Jesse - drums, Ben - keys) they prove that there are actually bands out there who know how to really play their instruments and make great music. It's not often that you find a band who can pull off a three part song about the apocalypse, complete with an introductory story, and make you come out of it smiling. They started last night off with "Mistletoe" and continued the holiday theme a little later in the show with an absolutely fabulous cover of "What's This?" (I'm a sucker for The Nightmare Before Christmas.) Both their music and quirky stage presence make it impossible not to smile while they're playing, from Jesse playing drums with one hand and the tambourine with the other to Ben attacking his keyboard one moment and throwing his arms up in the air the next. Intra-band smiles and a play between Ben's modulating vocals and Tommy's commanding singing make for a fabulous show that is even better than the recordings on their CD.

Their music is fresh and fun and different, and they've cemented their place in my handful of favorite bands. I cannot possibly recommend them enough. As even more proof of their awesomeness, their new music video for "Victoria," directed by Shervin Lainez:




Nights like these remind me why I wade through so many crappy indie rock shows: sometimes, you find something special.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Kiss My Sass

For the first 30 seconds, I kind of hated this. But then I realized that it was awesome, and must have been done over such a long period of time.

And that I'm pretty sure this is exactly what it must feel like to be in Cobra Starship.

COBRA STARSHIP - Kiss My Sass


(Tangent: There have been a handful, or maybe an armload, of music video directors who have gotten their start by traveling with bands, shooting tour footage, and making DVDs or random web videos. It's the route I want to take. And this is what I imagine that life would feel like.)