Monday, December 28, 2009

Care and Handling

This was too good not to share.

My brother gave me a CD for Christmas that was put out in 1989. It's as old as I am, and I was apparently born right around the birth of CDs.

There are care instructions inside! They were so new, people didn't know what to do with them! This is the gem found if you read the inside of the liner:

"The compact disc digital audio system offers the best possible sound reproduction... on a small convenient disc. Its remarkable performance is the result of a unique combination of digital storage and laser optics. For best results, you should apply the same care in storing and handling the compact disc as you would with conventional records. No cleaning is necessary if the compact disc is always held by its edges and is replaced in its case directly after playing. If the compact disc becomes soiled by fingerprints, dust, or dirt, it can be wiped (always in a straight line, from center to edge) with a clean and lint-free, soft, dry cloth. Never use a solvent or abrasive cleaner to clean the disc. If you follow these suggestions, the compact disc will provide a lifetime of listening enjoyment."

The CD is The Real Thing by Faith No More, who just recently came back together after an eleven year break. Could be interesting, but the liner notes alone were enough to make it awesome.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Newbury Comics

How have I gotten this many months into a music blog and never once mentioned Newbury Comics? I'm astounded.

So I spend a considerable amount of money on music, but it's the only thing I spend money on. Tickets and CDs and music magazines but I work my ass off as a full time student with 3 (and a half) part time jobs, so I feel justified. However that means I know where every cent of my money comes from. I know how many cups of coffee I poured to buy that new CD, how many experiments I ran to buy those concert tickets.

That's why I buy my music at Newbury Comics. If I'm going to give my hard earned money to someone, it's not going to be a huge chain like Virgin or FYE. It's going to be the little music store that could, that has every CD I want and that'll find it for me if they don't. Music stores are dying and if my money is going somewhere I want it to be to a store I support.

They're all around now too. What started off as a comic store on Newbury Street in Boston has expanded. My personal favorite is the store in Harvard Square, but I frequented the one on Route One this summer as I commuted back and forth to work. They don't sell just CDs either - they have everything from clothing to vinyl to books. you want pop culture, music culture, youth culture? They've got it.

The local news (NECN) did a segment on them recently, about their adaptation to the economic climate through branching out and internet sales, but I'd like to believe that the real reason they're surviving the crash is people like me who want to know that their money's going to real people, a living breathing store, not just some huge chain with no personality.

Fun Bonus Fact: Way back when, before I was born, my parents ran the mailing list for Newbury Comics. Back when mailing lists actually came in the mail, and weren't sent out via e-mail or twitter. Back before CDs. Probably in the age of cassettes.

The dark ages.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Yule Shoot Your Eye Out

"Can't make an emo Christmas song? Have you ever heard 'The Christmas Shoes'??"

Fall Out Boy's ability to make even Christmas emo. I love it. Enjoy:

Here's to another scene kid Christmas, with Converse and American Apparel and a Timbuk2 bag. I really should buy some adult clothing one of these days.

Merry Christmas.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Yule Ball 2009

The Yule Ball at the Middle East, December 20th

Oh, Yule Ball. How you bring out the geeks from all parts of New England. Also, this is my second annual Christmas Eve Yule Ball Post. Yay for starting new traditions!

First up, Ed in the Refridgerators. This is a band that was formed a long time ago by one of the members of Harry and the Potters, and a friend, I'm going to guess when they were in middle school. They sang songs that middle school boys would sing. One of them involved screaming butt over and over again. I have no further comments.

Next, after some sad wizard comedy, was MC Kreacher. I'd like you to understand that this is a guy in his 20s who dresses up like a house elf and raps. Furry hand claws, embroidered baseball cap and all. I was shocked by his appearance, but you know what? He can actually rap. Well. For an amateur rapper he's really quite good. But he was rapping about upset, enslaved, mythical creatures from a childrens series. This looks like a guy who might actually have a social life, and yet he's rapping about house elves! I... I'm so torn. He was really good, but damn.

This was also the point in the night when I really noticed the crowd around me. There were obligatory nerds, a few really drunk girls, a possibly drunk long haired boy who took to dancing right beside me, observant college kids, and the Malfoys. Yes, the Malfoys. This family (I think they're a real family) has been to every Yule Ball I've been to. In the past I've only noticed Lucius and Draco, but this year Narcissa was also present. They don't just dress up... they full on cosplay. Or maybe the correct term is role play? I'm not sure, but they stand in the back and don't talk to anyone and look very angry and disapproving. In full, dead on costume. Narcissa spent most of the time fanning herself. I did see Draco talk to another boy dressed as Draco at one point, but they mainly stay fully in character. Kudos for dedication, but we wouldn't think any less of you guys if you wanted to look like you were actually enjoying yourself too. Just saying.

More bad wizard comedy. "Where do tadpoles go to school when they grow up? Frogwarts!"

Then The Whomping Willows were on. I like them, they're fun. They play bouncy, happy wizard rock and they look like they're enjoying it and they're not afraid to be Hufflepuffs. They've started a house called Awesome and they believe in nargles. I think that about sums it up.

Speech by the head of the Harry Potter Alliance. Mmmkay.

Jason Anderson was next and I love Jason Anderson. Okay, so I don't personally know him and love him, but his music and live performances make me happy. He loves sing alongs and getting the crowd involved, and so everyone is participating and dancing and screaming. He plays good, homey New England music and it always feels like he's letting you into a special slice of his life when he plays. His happiness is infectious and his singing is full of joy and I just love watching him play.

Draco and the Malfoys! I used to love Draco and the Malfoys, but now, um, they've turned into a bluegrass band. I'm okay with country, don't get me wrong, but I can't really deal with bluegrass. There was an upright bass (cool!), and a banjo named Aberforth (not so cool!), and a guy rocking out on a mandolin (awesome!). But it was just odd. They used to play computer driven, guitar and drum based rock but now... now there was bluegrass and the songs were all slowed down and I was so confused.

And finally, Harry and the Potters. The original wizard rock. We had to leave partway through their set due to having to catch a train, but what we did see was so much fun. They had sing along songs too, and threw a giant stuffed snake into the crowd when we were saving Ginny Weasley from the basilisk, and it was fun and silly and wizard rocky.

There was tinsel and lights, butterbeer and a big glowing Santa. It was the perfect was to get into the geeky Christmas spirit.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Don't Drink, Don't Smoke, What do you do?

So I might currently be in possession of a hard drive that is not mine. It was loaned to me for a film project, and it is not at all my fault that its owner felt no need to show up to his own film screening and pick it up. It's also totally not my fault that when I plugged it into my laptop to transfer some files, my media program found the near 5000 music files on it.

I can't be blamed for... browsing and borrowing.

So one of the songs that I... borrowed... is an old favorite of mine. I've mentioned my posi straight edge leanings before, but in the 70s and early 80s, before Minor Threat, straight edge was called teetotal. It originally only referred to alcohol, with roots in the temperance movements of the 19th century, but was later adapted in popular culture to abstinence from all recreational drugs. But I digress.

A popular, famous teetotaler of the 80s? Adam Ant of course. And his song about the media's obsession with his teetotalism? "Goody Two Shoes." Now, I have no recollection of this video as a child, but I'm told that I loved it because I thought the people at the end looked like they were having "so much fun" as they danced down the hallway.

Yes, small child Alex, they do. Also, I love his jacket and want it. This is such a fun video.

"No one's gonna tell me what's wrong or what's right."

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Last Person - Jenny Owen Youngs

Here's the new video for "Last Person" by Jenny Owen Youngs, directed by Shervin Lainez. It is a concept so simple, yet so fun and so gorgeously shot. I get a bit of a vibe from her that she's not enjoying it quite as much as everyone around her, but she starts to almost smile around 2:40 in, and that makes it okay. She's just got this aura, especially live, that there's something darker in her head than the happy lyrics she's singing. It's disconcerting.

But the video is perfect.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Oy is just Yo backwards.

So I'm Catholic, but my roommate is Jewish. This means it's Chanukah in our apartment! The menorah is right in front of our purple Christmas tree and I love it.

Yesterday morning we went Jew shopping - there's a fabulous Kosher Store in Brookline, The Butcherie, and we bought everything we need to make latkes tonight. We bought challah dough that is currently rising on our table, ready to be baked, and jelly doughnuts. Then we went next door and bought gelt and a dreidel and gorgeous Chanukah candles and everyone was so excited and wished us a Happy Chanukah and it was so much fun.

You'll have to excuse me. I've been studying biochem all day and I'm going a little crazy. Ahem.

So to get in the mood for our mini Chanukah party tonight, I've found Chanukah music! And no, this is not Adam Sandler stuff. This is, first and foremost, The Leevees! I saw them at the Yule Ball last year and loved them. They are all members of other real bands, but they come together to make Chanukah music and it makes me smile. You can check their music out on their website - I recommend "Applesauce vs. Sourcream." So awesome.

And this is the most ridiculous Chanukah song ever. It's a cover of "Hey Ya" by Outkast done as an epic Chanukah song. It's by Eric Schwartz and it's hysterical. You must listen to this song.

Happy Chanukah!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

She's Gonna Break

Oh. Hey, Finals.

And winter weather thwarted both of this week's planned concerts. And my apartment flooded. It's been a great week.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Rivers Cuomo Injured in Bus Crash (+ Twitter)

No cute, punny titles until the word is that he's alright.

On the way from New York to Boston, the bus carrying Weezer frontman Rivers Cuomo hit black ice and slid into a ditch. News is scarce. There's no word on how he's doing other than the fact that he's in the hospital with complaints of rib pain and that his wife and daughter escaped unharmed.

The event says so much about current media and the way that information travels, especially in the music world. I found out about the accident through a tweet from HayleyFiasco, a music maverick who's worked for both Weezer and Amanda Palmer, and only a few tweets below her Vicky-T of Cobra Starship had also relayed the message. I retweeted the news and found a tweet from Patrick Wilson that read "Everything is under control." Only a little while later he again posted, with "It was perfect conditions for black ice. Got loose going towards the meridian, driver saves it but bus goes thru guardrail into 6ft ditch."

Twitter is how I get my news. I know what the weather is like from friends' tweets, I find out what bands are coming through Boston by the venues and sites that I follow, I get local news from Boston Tweeters, I receive updates on friends through their streams, and I even follow the Boston Police to find out what streets I shouldn't be on at night. I've created my own news feed of the events and facts important to me.

However the most telling line is from the Alternative Press website (which I got to from their tweet about the incident) which reads, as of 8:40pm:
"Cuomo has yet to tweet about the accident."

That's how we'll know he's alright - he'll tweet about it.

*Update* According to Jack's Mannequin, the remainder of the tour has been canceled. I'd been looking forward to this show so much, and I'm really disappointed that it's not happening, but I'm more worried about what kind of injury Rivers must have sustained that the tour has been canceled. Here's to a speedy and full recovery.

*Update 2* The full story here is really more terrifying than I could have imagined.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

We'll Get Wild, Wild, Wild

So I'm writing my final script for my screenwriting class and somehow an innocent exchange between two characters turned miraculously into a skeezy pickup line turned into a bad glam metal reference. And now, as my characters discuss Warrant and Lita Ford, I'm listening to 80s hair bands. They're so bad, so bad, but also so good.

Classic Quiet Riot. You cannot not scream along with this song when you're out and it comes on loud through bad club speakers, admit it. Girls, rock your boys.

And the first line of this next song is one of my favorite lyrics ever: "I went to a party last Saturday night, I didn't get laid, I got in a fight. It ain't no big thing."

Feel the tight pants and big hair. Let it sink it.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The Summer of The Academy Is...

In my head, my life is divided, sorted, and filed in color coded boxes and folders and pages. It's easier to shuffle through memories, easier to deal with the hard stuff, if you can just find it and place it and put it away for later.

Every time period has music associated with it, songs and albums that can recall emotions faster than words or pictures ever could. It's jarring, occasionally, to have my mp3 player on shuffle and have a song pop up that suddenly fills me with emotions I'd forgotten existed. It's heart-wrenching, heartbreaking, and fills me with bouts of sudden longing for months or seasons, days or hours, that will never come back.

I want this portion of my life back. I want to feel like this again.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


I hate this. I hate her over processed voice. I hate the lack of real instruments. I hate that any girl with garageband and connections can get on the radio. I hate the glorification of getting drunk just to get drunk. I hate that she's barely wearing pants. I hate that the girls who used to just dance in the background of hip hop videos now have their own. I hate that the song title isn't even in proper English.

But damn if I don't turn this all the way up and sing along driving down the highway. I hate it, I hate what it stands for, but I love it.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

A Love Drunk Hot Mess

Boys Like Girls and Cobra Starship at Showcase Live in Foxboro, MA on November 28th

Due to being a part of the “Cobra Crew” and being a quick ticket buyer, my friends and I received a Meet and Greet opportunity for Cobra Starship. However, due to poor planning, I left anything I could have had signed in my apartment when I went home for Thanksgiving, and so I was left standing in the M&G line with nothing but my ticket.

I find Meet and Greets to be really awkward. You walk up to a band, hand them something to sign, and then take a picture with them. But remember, these are people you don’t know, and you have to make some sort of small talk, not just shove your to-be-autographed item at them. So I often end up just smiling really big and starting off with a very peppy hello and some variation on how much I liked the last cd/live performance/music video/etc. This often leads to very favorable, non-creepy interactions. Last night was no different, though I made a comment about how they all looked so tired and I wanted to send them all to take naps not make them stand there signing things (way to be creepy, Alex) and Victoria said she was really tired and Gabe said that he’d just woken up from a nap that had contained some very bad dreams. I didn’t ask. All of the Cobras are very friendly and super nice to fans, and I even got a smile out of their very shy drummer, Nate, so all was well with the world.

(As a side note, here’s a super old, poorly written livejournal entry from the first time I met Cobra at Warped Tour. Even then they were expressing their Weezer love.)

So the first band to play wasn’t really a band, but two boys on acoustics. They were actually really good. The main musician was Gregory James, and his music was really cute and fresh and catchy. Sure, it’s just two boys playing pop rock on acoustics, but it was good pop rock on acoustics. Honestly, I liked him a lot better live than his recordings online, and I wish I’d gotten video of him, but “Hi” was definitely my favorite.

Next up was VersaEmerge. I’m kind of confused by them. I got a very Nightmare Before Christmas vibe from them, from the keyboard (which was a track, unless there was an invisible keyboard player onstage. Down with tracks in live performances!) to the lead singer’s microphone clutching, eye-rolling performance. It seemed vaguely gothic, but a strange goth caricature of scene music. I don’t know what they were going for, but there were a ton of people there who loved them. They ended the set with a song called “Polar Bear” which I can’t seem to find online (Edit: Turns out this title was a joke - the song's actually called "Whisperer." It says something, though, that I couldn't tell the girl was joking about a song called "Polar Bear"). Nothing about their set really stood out for me except for my confusion.

A Rocket to the Moon was next. The lead singer’s hair! It is ridiculous and huge! I’m torn between it being awesome-ridiculous or stupid-ridiculous. His attitude was a little off, or maybe he was a bit tired from the tour – when The Maine tried to prank him, and overrode his microphone so that they pretended to talk for him, he didn’t laugh or smile, he just let them know they were being lame and told them to stop. Ehh. Regardless, I liked his music a lot. His songs are the kind that you want to be sung about you, to you, from a long boy in a room on an acoustic. Except maybe “Annabelle.” I don’t think I want that one sung about me. But seriously, listen to “If Only They Knew” or “Dakota” and tell me you don’t want that coming from a boy sitting across from you strumming softly. “Like We Used To” was my favorite, even though it’s a touch sad.

Next was The Maine. They’re a band that’s been kicking around on my mp3 player due to a mix CD, and over the past year or so “The Way We Talk” has really grown on me. I was pumped when they played it, but the rest of their set was kind of lackluster. It was good, but the crowd was kind of dead, and so I think they were lacking the extra boost of energy they needed to make a stellar performance.

However I do at this point need to comment on one woman who was certainly not dead. No, there was on drunken mother (grandmother?) who was dancing on a booth. I am not lying to you. This woman had to be over 50 and was drunk dancing to scene music on a booth. It was one of the best things I’ve seen in a while. I only wish she had stuck around longer – if only she’d been around for the Cobra set, for she was the epitome of a Hot Mess.

And next up was Cobra Starship. They played a bunch of new songs that I hadn’t seen live, including “Wet Hot American Summer,” “Nice Guys Finish Last,” and “Hot Mess.” It was awesome. This was my sixth Cobra show and they’re keeping the standard high. They did use a few tracks to fill in some of the sounds on the new album (no! I do protest!) but other than that they were good old Cobra. Before “Bring It” Gabe did his customary explanation of “Fangs Up” and told even the moms in the back to throw up their fangs, but added in this time that really the fangs are a symbol of unity, that no matter who you are you’re a cobra. It was a nice touch.

Of course there was also Suarez with the maracas, Victoria hitting some awesome notes on “Good Girls Go Bad,” and Nate rocking out on the drums. Also, Ryland’s voice (because he’s still picking up a lot more vocals than he did before Gabe’s surgery) continues to be very good. They should really have him singing more. I mean, he’s got time in between playing both the keyboard and the guitar in the same song to squeeze in more vocals, right?

And finally, Boys Like Girls. I’ve never been a Boys Like Girls fan, but only because I didn’t really know anything by them. “Love Drunk” was always on the radio while I was commuting this summer, so I really liked that song, but I knew nothing else. It didn’t really matter though, because they were pumped to be playing a hometown show and the crowd loved them. It was a fun rock set, complete with rockstar attitude and swooning fangirls. A little over the top? Maybe, but it was alright because they backed it with strong songs and a lot of energy. They pulled one of their moms up onstage at one point, which was great, but then they failed a little bit. The lead singer called for a circle pit to be opened up... in the middle of the fourteen year old girls. They had no idea what he was asking for and just stared at him for a while. Finally someone near the back got the idea and opened up the weakest pit ever and scared the small girls, but it was kind of funny.

Their encore began with a drum solo, which was wicked awesome. Their drummer is so, so good. I was honestly brought back to Travis Barker’s encore drum solo of this summer. Huge props to the kid, he was great. For the final song, “The Great Escape”, they invited all of the crowd to get up on stage with them, and about half of them fit. There was a lot of bad dancing on that stage but everyone was having a good time. I did laugh a little at the fan that the lead singer kissed at the end though. She did the perfect “Oh my god he touched me!” face, complete with shocked open mouth, wide eyes, and fluttering hands by the side of her face. It was the perfect, cliched ending to the night.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Fold - Every Band in the USA

I have no idea who The Fold are, and their sound isn't strong enough for me to really be bothered to find out right now.

But they are spot on:

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Brick by Boring Brick - New Paramore Video

There was a long period of time when I didn't listen to Paramore just because they were Paramore.

Then I saw them rock a live show.

Now they continue to put out music I like.

This video is way over-processed, and where is the rest of the band? Videos should not be just about the lead singer! But the song is great. I love the chorus, and the bit at the front about ripping wings off of butterflies. And the little girl is cute, even if the trippy fairytale tries to eat her. But man, did we have to use every green screen in the world for this one?

"If it's not real you can't hold it in your hand, can't feel it in your heart."

Monday, November 23, 2009


Here's one of those posts that keeps bouncing around in my head, one of the ones that I'm a little wary about posting, but that I find so very interesting from a film production point of view. I'm in the midst of a film project at the moment, that point between filming and editing where you're not sure if you've got everything you need, and you can see it in your head but you're just not sure that it's all there. And due to the recent lack of new music in my life, I felt it was an appropriate time to discuss "Closer."

The video I'm embedding is one of the most controversial music videos of all time, "Closer" by Nine Inch Nails. It was directed by Mark Romanek in 1994, and is heavily influenced by artwork by Man Ray and the film "The Street Crocodiles" by the Brothers Quay. This is the edited version that MTV played, but it is still absolutely NSFW. The song itself would also garner an R rating. You've been warned.

Here's what you're missing from the director's cut: a very naked bald girl, some crosses attached to BDSM apparel, and an image that I found deeply disturbing - a crucified, terrified monkey. I'm not sure I've ever had that visceral of a reaction to a music video before, but the first time I saw it I was horrified.

Gosh, I wonder why I was ever worried about posting this one.

So why am I posting it? Because it is one of the most astounding music videos from a production aspect. The work that went into these four minutes, the time and effort and planning that went into every detail, is remarkable. Romanek set to work with a list of images that he wanted, wild unthinkable things at the time, and did them.

First of all, this wasn't shot on normal film and edited to look old as would be done today. This was shot on hand cranked, three color film, on huge old cameras. This was an expensive, hard thing to shoot.

These were not special effects. The beating heart at the beginning is being controlled by three men behind a wall blowing through thin plastic tubes to make the heart beat to the rhythm of the song. There is a shot that lasts for only about a second of Trent's face placed on a mannequin head at 3:20. It took four hours of makeup to get Trent to look that way. The time that goes into just a few frames of video boggles my mind. And it's all real meat, all real rotting meat that they got on discount and had to manipulate and move and hang.

Some of this is gorgeously shot, if you look beyond the gore. At 2:09, the way the butterflied cow lines up perfectly with the Trent's body to look like angel wings is amazing. Trent spinning in the air, seeming to float, is also amazing. There are no green screens, no manipulation, only some perfectly placed wires. The shots of Trent in the goggles with compressed air distending his lips are genius, if disturbing.

This entire set was built just for the video, every detail and set dressing designed to fit a frightening picture inside the director's head. The power that a director wields on set, the things that they can make happen with money and an idea, and the days of shooting and design that go into five minutes amazes me. It's a disturbing, unsettling, amazing video.

But not something I would ever shoot.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


Sickness is killing me.

Sniffle. Cough. Hack. Sleep.

But then I found this. Go ahead, click it.

It's a mosaic of a classic Fall Out Boy promotional picture, of the band sitting on a bench next to a light post. It is composed, however, of the names of four thousand six hundred and thirty two loyal fans who were warned by Pete Wentz not to input their names, because he would not say what they would be used for.

We did anyways. Yup, my name's in there. It took some hunting but I found it, and it's pretty cool to be a part of something the band put together to thank their fans. Their greatest hits album came out today, and they're taking a break for a while, and it's nice to be a part of this note of the band's life. I hope the other 4,631 names find it as cool as I do.

Okay. My nose has turned a brilliant shade of rudolph red. Time for sleep.

Friday, November 13, 2009

This Can't Be The Real World

All American Rejects and Taking Back Sunday - Showcase Live, Foxboro MA, November 11th

For the first time, I'm posting a concert review later than one day after the show. I'm breaking my own writing deadlines. However I haven't gone to sleep yet, so while it is technically Friday I am still awake from Thursday. Also, this is called being a responsible adult and letting BioChem consume my life. Oh Glycolysis. How you were of no use to me to memorize for this exam.

So the show really began outside, in the line. There was a band there with an ipod getting us to listen to their music before the show, which is common, but they brought out a new twist - an acoustic guitar and live performance. Excellent. Their name was Erickson and they weren't bad. Then Tyson Ritter walked by... wait, what? He wandered over to a truck with a microphone and started talking about a new band his label just signed, The Upwelling. Mainly, he just flailed around and then laid down in the middle of the road while babbling through a microphone. Oh, Tyson Ritter.

The first band to play was Anberlin. They were good, they got the crowd loose, and they played some music. I really can't pull anything too specific from their set though. They just... were. I wish I could give you more.

Next up was the All American Rejects. They are awesome live. Not because they sound perfect, and not because their music is some new revolution, but because they just have a damn good time up on stage and the fun is infectious. There was facial glitter and heavy pop songs and a wandering, rambling frontman. At one point, Tyson dragged the microphone to the bar in the back of the room and started singing while downing a beer and swaggering across the bar. He swayed back and forth and commanded us to "Dance, motherfuckers, dance!" He also stripped off his shirt to reveal the fact that he was dripping with silver body glitter. Nick Wheeler, one of the guitarists, just spent the entire night smiling and playing and having fun. They all looked like they were having fun really.

Then I got hit in the temple with a water bottle thrown by Nick during "Real World."

It was actually kind of great though, because the room was super hot and there were people packed in everywhere. It was open and got half of my hair wet, and part of my shirt, and it was the most refreshing part of the night. But it broke me out of the song for the moment, which sucked, because I hadn't heard it before and I love it. I'm probably going to go out and buy this CD because of this song. Seriously, listen to this and tell me it doesn't make you want to simultaneously dance and rebel.

They ended the set with "Gives You Hell," although really, the crowd ended the set. Tyson made us sing the first few lines, then decided we should just sing all of it. He proceeded to spend the rest of the song prancing around on stage and just conducting us through the lyrics while he supplied a word or two for the bridge every now and then. It was pretty awesome.

The last band to play was Taking Back Sunday. I've never been a huge TBS fan, but who doesn't love "Make Damn Sure"? I'm pretty sure everybody in the music world knows this chorus, everybody in my generation has screamed along to this at one point or another, but I don't actually know anything else by them. I'm always up for a new concert experience though, and I was open to it. Also, it's been a long time since I've been in that kind of crowd - there was successful crowdsurfing! I can't remember the last time I saw crowdsurfers actually held up above the crowd, not barely skimming over the heads of tiny scene girls. It was fabulous. A pit also opened up in front of me, and mosh pits always fascinate me. It turned the set into less about the music, and more about a crowd study. And so I give you:

Alex's Short Guide to Mosh Pit Dynamics and Etiquette
(One day I will write out a full long guide to concert crowds, from indie shows to Warped Tour. It's one of those things I'd love to write if only I had the time. Winter break?)

There are three types of people involved in a mosh pit.

1. The first are the actual moshers. These people will be in the middle of the pit, doing the actual jumping and flailing and pseudo dancing. It looks, to the outside observer, like a huge fight, but this is not true! Yes, people are pushing each other, but unless you're at a crazy hardcore show, no one's trying to hurt anyone. There are no punches being thrown, no hitting to injure. They're pushing each other to keep moving, to keep everyone rotating and spinning, and to keep some sort of connection between people. Guys will pull their friends in, sing lyrics at each other, and just generally jump around. Hell, one couple broke into a pseudo swing dance at one point, surrounded by swirling, crazy boys, before lifting the girl up to crowdsurf.

2. The second type of people are what I call the wall. This is a bunch of big guys, and sometimes girls, who stand around the edge of the pit. Their job is to make sure the moshers don't go flying into the crowd, and so they push them back into the fray when they get close to the edges. Now, nobody elects these people, nobody calls them forward, and nobody designates them. It's an unspoken necessity that guys appear for. This is really the part that amazes me. One moment there's no one there and the next a wall has formed to protect the crowd. It's crazy.

3. Finally, there are the supporters. This is where I fell in last night (and at one point failed - apologies to the blond girl that I let fall). The supporters are the people right behind the wall. This line or two of people keeps their arms up and out. Usually it's just a gentle two hands on the back of the person in front of you, but it can also be a forearm braced on their back if you're crowded in too tightly. You're not trying to push people away, but rather to support them when someone from the pit comes flying at the wall. It's the wall's job to keep moshers out of the crowd, but it's the support's job to keep the wall from falling over. At first you feel rude putting your hands on someone, but when you're being pushed back into the crowd you realize just how thankful you are for that person behind you keeping you from falling over.

If someone falls over, no matter where you are, help them up. It's surprising how fast some guy with a mohawk will go from shoving in the pit to apologetically helping up someone they've knocked over. It's honestly one of those things that makes me rant about how misunderstood so many of these kids are - just because they look like they're fighting does not mean they won't try and help you out of the crowd as soon as they realize they just slammed into your nose with their elbow.

Not that that happened last night or anything... though that was about the time we decided to leave. The crowd started getting very rough, and I had an exam that I needed to study for, and just about when my friend and I decided to leave, a particularly violent crowd surge shoved an elbow in my face and my friend's ribs into a booth. And so we left early and ventured back to our separate schools to be responsible adults and sleep before our midterms. Ahh, priorities.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Why I Want To Be a Tour Videographer

Rivers Cuomo just made my day.

Then DO IT! Oh my god, if my two favorite bands went on tour together... they would need a videographer. They would absolutely need someone there to capture the amazingness that would be that tour. And Cobra's down with it! They've been freaking out about it on twitter all day, that Rivers likes them. Weezer and Cobra Starship on one tour. That's my standard answer when people ask the "If you could set up a festival, who would play?" question. They're my choice for co-headliners. Do it, Rivers. Make it happen. And then have a desperate need for an enthusiastic videographer. I would be there in a heartbeat.

PS. Fall Out Boy just released a video for their new single "Alpha Dog." It has a lot of Pete Wentz being... Pete Wentz, but it also has a lot of old footage and is a really nice progression from the band beginning to now. It has three streams woven together - live performance footage, behind the scenes footage, and music video footage. It's funny to compare the things in the three different worlds that were all happening at the same time, to see when I start recognizing things in each stream, each world. I only just saw them live this year, but we all know the single videos. And yet what I loved more were the old Honda Civic Tour videos from 2007. Those are what introduced me to the other side of the music world, and made me realize that bands didn't have to be self contained in just their CDs, that tours and fan interactions and the whole music community had so much more to offer. I didn't realize until right now how much those videos launched me into the music scene and made me really want to be a part of documenting it.

Enjoy the new video. Enjoy the B-Side of the music world. You know, if Fall Out Boy wanted to join the above mentioned tour of amazing, I wouldn't mind too much.

Alpha Dog

Fall Out Boy | MySpace Video

Monday, November 9, 2009


Fake Pink Glasses has been around for a year now. My baby's turning one. A full year of musical babbling and ranting and raving, good concerts and bad concerts and new artists and bands breaking up. It's been a long year.

It's only appropriate that Cobra Starship released a new video today. They run around New York cleaning up drunk chicks and party girls. This is really the opposite of what Cobra actually does, because they really do make Good Girls Go Bad, but the video holds true to their spirit and energy, so it gets a thumbs up from me.

If that's not quite your style, then click here to listen to Butch Walker cover Taylor Swift's "You Belong With Me" on ukelele. It is one of the best covers of the song that I've heard, and it really just makes me smile. A lot. Do yourself a favor and take four minutes to just be happy.

To another year!

Friday, November 6, 2009

You Are What You Believe

The AP Fall Ball at the House of Blues, November 5th

Up first, You Me at Six. I can't help but feel that their name is begging for punctuation. Also, their guitarist is begging for a haircut. I have no idea what his face looks like. Honestly. They were alright, an average scene band, except they were from the UK. Bonus points for the adorable accent on the lead singer, who had a pretty good voice too, but their music was nothing too different.

Next, The Secret Handshake. I am completely fed up with a computer as the fourth member of a band, and this was by far one of the most egregious offenders I have seen. Man, if you're going to autotune, do it subtly. Do not throw yourself into Imogen Heap territory. Also, if I don't see a piano on stage, I should not hear piano notes, especially if they are what is carrying the song. And funny that there's only one mic on stage and yet there are suddenly two or three voices during the chorus. I do not want this trend to continue - it must be squashed immediately.

Set Your Goals. And then it became clear why there were a ton of angry looking dudes at the show. They all came to mosh during SYG's set. Not my kind of music, but they weren't bad at what they do. Also, I love the fact that there are two lead singers; they play off of each other well. One of them is so super tiny though, that it was bordering on ridiculous to see him singing this hardcore stuff. But good ridiculous. They had a pretty sweet message through the screaming and thrashing, and a lot of it was about being you and not caring what others think, which is something I am always behind. They're doing something with the Hurley "Living the Dream" charity, and their line for that was "You are what you believe." I agree with that statement 100%. Preliminary web searching also hints that they might be a posi-core band, which is definitely a vibe I picked up last night, though there's no definitive statement on what strain of posi they're involved with. Something to look into, definitely.

Next up was Mayday Parade, who started off with a song that's on my mp3 player, from some mixtape. I didn't know it was by them and was initially shocked. They weren't bad, but again, they sound a lot like everything else that's happening. I'm getting bored of scene bands. I want something new and everyone's just rehashing the same chords and emotions and song structures. They're good performers though, and it was a fun set to watch. They also did a stripped down piano song, "Miserable at Best" which was very pretty.

Finally, The Academy Is.... (How am I supposed to punctuate with a period after an ellipses? The four periods just looks silly. Ah, well.) I love TAI, and haven't seen them in a year - I've been craving a TAI concert in the worst way. And while last night was fun, it didn't fill that need. Something was a little off. Maybe it was me. I normally squash myself in the crowd for TAI concerts, between bodies and seas of people, but I decided to get above the crowd and take better video of them last night, and maybe that lack of contact was the missing piece. They were great, as usual, and played a lot of old songs, but Bill Beckett's voice sounded just a tiny bit off in a way that it normally doesn't live. However I can't really complain when I got to watch "Checkmarks" live, as well as "Slow Down" and "We've Got a Big Mess on Our Hands." I'm a little worried about them, as a band. Almost everyone on their label has hit it big or faded away. I want them to keep playing so badly, to keep making music, but I fear that won't happen unless something big happens soon. But last night was awesome and included some newish live songs ("I'm Yours Tonight" and "Ghost" which was once a bonus track) as well as long time favorites that kept the crowd screaming along.

Also, as a separate and important note. Michael Guy Chislett, their lead guitarist, can play the guitar. And play the shit out of it. He should be more recognized for this. Because he's awesome.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

I Like To Dance

Hot Chelle Rae's new video for "I Like to Dance" premiered yesterday. I still love this song, and still think that these boys have everything it takes to be big. The video's a little predictable (a dance party for a song about dancing? No way.) and has Stephanie Pratt in it and is a little cluttered. There's way too much going on here. If you want to do the crazy flooded party scenes, intercut them with a few more static shots, have some closeups without fourteen thousands things going on around the singer's face. I love the song and the message and the fact that they want even the not hot girls dancing, but I wish the video was cleaner.

Hot Chelle Rae - "I Like to Dance" Video Premiere

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Raditude - CD Review

The new Weezer CD, two tickets to their show in December, and a bag of candy showed up on the driver's seat of my car today. The music fairies must have struck.

Let's start with the packaging. It's awful. Really terrible. There's a dog jumping over a table and the inside is a horrid yellow and the CD is electric blue and it's all just horrendous. But it's about the music, and not the packaging.

And I'm torn about the music.

I love, love about half of the CD. "I Want You To" is their current single, and the first song on the album. I've already expressed my joy about the song here and really, it just keeps growing on me more and more. Also, the duets of it they've been doing with Sara Bareilles lately are just wonderful. Tell me that video isn't adorable. Love it.

"I'm Your Daddy" and "The Girl Got Hot" are what I before described as a Weezer Party Vibe. I still like it, and think it's an update on their normal sound, and I approve. They're fun songs, and should be great for live crowds.

"Put Me Back Together" and "Trippin' Down the Freeway" sound like true Weezer songs to me. I have a framed vinyl version of the Blue Album hanging on my wall, and I feel that if I played these two songs for those boys up their, they'd approve. "Put Me Back Together" might be my favorite song from the album - I love the lyrics and though it's a little slower than Weezer normally is, it's a really gorgeous and heartfelt song that builds on itself musically. Also, upon reading the liner notes (which everyone should always do!) I discovered that it was co-written by Tyson Ritter and Nick Wheeler of the All American Rejects. I knew I liked those boys. "Trippin' Down the Freeway" stays true to Weezer's guitar heavy aesthetic and I approve. "Let It All Hang Out" follows this real rock form as well, and is a good song that just makes you want to dance a little and drop your worries. Isn't that what rock music's about?

But then. Well, here's where I start having problems.

My biggest issue is that some of these aren't new songs. Now, I love "Can't Stop Partying," but I've already loved it for about a year, and I liked the acoustic version released on River's home recordings album Alone II last year better. And when "I Don't Want to Let You Go" started playing, I thought they were ripping off some other song because it was so very, very familiar. I soon realized that it too was from Alone II, as well as "The Prettiest Girl in the Whole Wide World," one of the bonus songs. I really dislike the fact that I'm listening to songs I've already heard, and didn't like much the first time around.

Then there's "Love is the Answer" which is a very... empowering song. It involves a woman singing in what I think is Hindi (I'll have to get a friend to translate) and a sitar. It absolutely does not fit on the album. At all.

"In the Mall" is unremarkable, except for the line where a woman announces, through a crackly intercom, "Attention shoppers, will Pat Wilson's mother please come to the Eastern Hills Mall Information Desk." I guess it has a tight guitar riff as well.

The Bonus CD, in addition to "The Prettiest Girl in the Whole Wide World," has "Get Me Some," which is full of big guitars. It also has "Run Over by a Truck" which is a silly, funny song. And that's what bonus CDs are about, the songs that are probably really fun to write and play, but that don't fit at all with what should otherwise be a really cohesive CD. But how can you go wrong with a song that has a chippy little chorus of "I feel like I've been run over by a truck."Also, the piano on this track is really smart and really happy and fun. The second CD ends, however, with "The Underdogs." It's like a slow, 90s ballad, complete with a heavy slow bass and some sort of chime. It's really awful. I'm so sorry Weezer, but I hate it. Oh man. It's almost unlistenable. How did this happen? Who let this happen? How did such an amazing band make a horrible 90s song that would have been sung by Mandy Moore? I don't even understand.

So, overall? 3 flying dogs out of 5. I'm disappointed with a lot of it, but I really loved the stuff that was good. If they'd just cut out all the extra padding, they would have had a great EP. I don't understand why they felt the need to push out this CD when they just put one out last year. They should have waited and made this one perfect before they released it.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Not even this would make me put on a snuggie.

I'd do a lot of things for Weezer, but this isn't one of them. And the making of video... Rivers has always been painfully awkward, but add in snuggies and it's almost too much to handle. The director instructing them to be "super creepy" is unnecessary. But Brian makes me laugh and Scott is just weird and Pat is a great combination of weird and creepy and funny.

I'm going to have to do a desperate CD run tomorrow to find some store open after my 7:30 class that will have the new album!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Who You Are Under Their Shell

Happy Halloween. Go eat some candy.

This week was awful, and all I wanted at the end was sleep, and so I went to bed instead of going to see Say Anything at the House of Blues last night. Dammit.

So just listen to this. It's really old, Max Bemis in his high school days I think, but it's amazing. If there ever was a modern day love song for our eyeliner wearing, depression loving generation, this is it. One boy, on an acoustic, saving you from your sins.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

How I Woke Up this Morning

This picture.

I clicked on a link on the Weezer website leading me to this. "Oh yeah," I thought, "There's Rivers Cuomo. And... is that Travis Barker? No way! Who's that guy in the middle..."

"No way. Pete Wentz? Was there actually some room on this earth that contained all three of these men at the same time? Impossible! There's no way this much of my musical world could have been in the same place at the same time."

Oh wait, morning Alex. You know who else had filmed the day before and, according to People Magazine, dropped by to "watch the guys film"?

Taylor Swift. My musical world just folded in on itself.

(All pictures from RadarOnline, taken by Charley Gallay/WireImage)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Fever, The Focus

"You don't drink, but if you did, I'd totally put a hard drink in you right now."

It's been that kind of week. Of course, it was this kind of week last week too. And possibly the week before. But the caffeine just kicked in - good thing after that much Diet Coke, though it's only just taking the edge off - and it's back to studying after this week's installment of "old angry music that's been stuck in my head all day."

It's another Marc Webb video, one of his earlier ones, which features a lot of running and his signature lamb. I used to be obsessed with this song, despite my almost complete lack of other knowledge about Brand New.

It also features faux hawks, which reminds me of the funniest thing I've heard all week. While out at lunch with my lab, we were discussing hipsters. Just because. One of the grad students mentioned that the NYPD has begun calling hipsters marshmallows. "Why?" you ask. Because they're "white and soft." I almost died of laughter coupled with sleep deprivation.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Just a Little Off Kilter

Wheat and Jukebox the Ghost at the Middle East, October 24

What occurred last night was a badly structured concert.

To begin with, the crowd was far too small for the Downstairs space at The Middle East. Downstairs fits something like 500 people while last nights crowd of about 150 would have fit, albeit snugly, into the more intimate upstairs space.

The first band up was The Needy Visions. They… well they need some vision. It wasn’t great. I spent half of their last song thinking they were singing “member of the peace” when in actuality they were singing “number of the beast.” Those are two very different things. They had no merch to sell, no CDs, just a “flyer and a mailing list.” Come on guys… how hard is it to burn a bunch of CDs and hand them out free instead of that flyer, so that people remember your music?

Next were The Motion Sick. They were pretty good. Their guitarist was damn near amazing – some of his solos were absolutely crazy. Their bassist had this short little trumpet that he would occasionally play and it was all quite cool. They also had a synchronized dance that they tried to get us to participate in for “Up-Up-Down” and I like anyone with synchronized dance moves. “Walk on Water” was good as well as “30 Lives.” Actually, most of it was good. Worth checking out, definitely.

Next, after many salmon pink balloons flying through the air, came Jukebox the Ghost. They were obviously the reason why the crowd was there. They played a lot of new songs, though some of them sounded familiar. I think that they have maybe been throwing “new” songs into their set for the past year to try them out. There was, however, one song that had never been played before a crowd “this far north,” and another that the pianist, Ben Thornewill, noted that he hoped to be playing on a keytar next time. A keytar? Could these boys make me smile any harder? They worked in a few old songs, “Victoria,” and “Hold it In” and “Good Day,” and the crowd loved it, but we also loved and danced through the new stuff. I’m optimistic about the new record – they seem to have kept all of their originality and feel in the new songs. They also seem to have retained the great play between Ben and Tommy’s vocals, which gets another thumbs up from me. I can’t wait for new material.

After their set, 75% of the crowd left. This was another huge structural flaw of the night because they weren’t the last band! Poor Wheat was left with a crowd of maybe 30 people. It’s rude to leave before the last band. However, we hit the final structural flaw that broke the camels back. The sound had been a little weird all night, but when Wheat began to play it was almost unbearable. Their computer tracks were turned up so high that it was drowning out the notes from almost everything else. Sure, I could feel the drums, but I couldn’t hear a note coming from that violin. To compensate, the guitars were turned way up and the vocals were brought up and it was just a jumbled mess of noise. I stayed for about 20 minutes in the hopes that the sound would all get sorted out and they would turn something down so that my ears would stop pounding and that poor boy in the front could pull his fingers out of his ears, but no. And so we left, wandered out into the Cambridge rain, and headed out. Sorry, Wheat. I’m sure you’re awesome and cool, but somebody in the sound booth did you a huge injustice.

The whole night was just a little off tilt, a little weird and wrong. I can’t quite put my finger on it but there was something fundamentally wrong with last night. It was unsettling and not right in my little musical world.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

I Want You To

Well. This isn't where I thought this video was going.

I love Weezer and I love Marc Webb and it's a cute video. But the children with digitally added Weezer heads freak me out. And people get maimed. I love the concept, of the femme fatale disrupting the world of men, coming in and completely turning their lives upside down. I also love the fact that there are multiples of everyone, and as always I love Marc Webb's physical shot compositions and style. But it's also weird. My favorite shot is of Odette Yustman dropping the flower that Scott hands her. Their facial expressions combined with the framing and movement are pure gold.

There's a making of video as well (love these!) which includes the band and Webb talking about the video. This is a weird group of men. I know that in past video shoots (specifically the MCR "I'm Not Okay" video) Webb has declared "silly hat days" and I hope that is the reasoning behind his very silly hat. Rivers also describes the song as being about that awkward moment when you really like someone but you're not sure if you should do something about it because you don't know if they like you back. I love that concept, and I see it in the song. Very cool. But why was there blood spurting and arrow shooting and digitally manipulated creepy children? I don't see.

What I Need is a Good Defense

It has been such a long week. And tomorrow's going to be long too. I want to crawl into bed and never get out.

So here. Have some old music that's been playing in my head recently. Because... because I'm tired. So tired.

"It's a sad, sad world, when a girl will break a boy, just because she can."

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Your High Top Sneakers and Your Sailor Tattoos

The Gaslight Anthem at the House of Blues Boston on October 17th

I’ve been going to a lot of concerts lately that feature keyboards and synths and poppy sounds, Lights and Cobra Starship and MySpace Bands. I’d forgotten how much I love that first moment of a rock show, when the guitarist of the very first opener walks out on stage, picks up his guitar, and strums a few chords to make sure it’s in tune, to make sure it’s working. Everything melts away in those few seconds, and I’m not sure anything can cause that same overwhelming surge of happiness within me.

It was my first time at the new House of Blues in Boston, and it is so much bigger than I expected. I snagged a fabulous spot – everyone was headed right in front of the stage, and by the time I got there there were already tall people in front of me. That’s when I noticed the raised section by the bar. It’s about 10 feet from the stage and about 2 feet above the crowd. There was no one there and I snagged a spot against the railing and stuck to it like duct tape. I could see the stage perfectly without being crushed between hundreds of people. I now know where I’m headed for every HOB show.

The first band up was Broadway Calls, and they set the tune for the night – honest, hardworking, true music. These were boys in tee shirts and jeans laying their music and their hearts out on the stage. “Tonight is Alive” was my favorite. They had me at the line “I’m singing for all of you,” because isn’t that what every band should be doing? Their recorded songs aren’t striking me the same way their live performance did – it’s more polished than their live act, but the rough around the edges feel fits the music and the sentiment. I’d really love to push for more live (studio) recordings in music – everyone should play in the same room at the same time, and we should hear that on the CD, not what the band would sound like if everyone played their own part in separate tiny rooms at different times. But the band was good, the crowd was into it, and it was a great way to start. They tore through their set, barely giving us time to clap and cheer between songs, but it kept everything fast paced and excited.

Jesse Malin was up next. It was his last night on the tour, and he put everything out on the stage because of it. His music was a little less my taste, but he was still great. There were songs about New York and songs about ex lovers and songs about growing up. I liked “Little Star” and “Black Haired Girl.” It was a touch more mellow, but with racing guitars. His guitarist, however, was playing bigger than himself – no need to act like a rockstar when you’re just the guitarist for a solo act. It was good music and the crowd was into it.

This was, however, when I noticed the 50 year-old man with an earring (who knew all the words) hanging with the twenty year old girls buying him red bulls. I have no idea what that was about, but it made me realize that I need to squish as much music as possible into my twenties – I will not be the fifty year old woman dancing in the middle of the twenty year olds. I won’t let that happen to me. There was a weird age spread in the crowd in general – about 60% of the crowd was under 30, 80% under 40, and the last 20% was definitely over 40. And it wasn’t parents (there weren’t enough teenagers for that anyways). These were adults drunkenly singing along to the bands in clothing made for people 20 years their juniors. I’ve begun to realize that the older a crowd is, the more drunk they will be. Is this what 21+ shows holds in store for me? If so, I’m not a fan.

Okay. Back to the music.

Murder by Death was up next. Before the set, while the crew was sound checking the instruments, I was confused and sent a text to my roommate.

Me: Murder By Death has a keyboard and an electric cello. I am confused.

Roommate: Hmmm. They could hit you on the head with the keyboard, or strangle you with a cello string…

Their music was not at all what I expected from their name. It was very country, almost “Oh Brother, Where Art Thou,” but with an electric cello that sometimes sounded like a saxophone, played by a tiny blond with pigtails. Again, it was good music, but not at all my style. There were songs about drinking, songs about jailbreaks, and songs about friends going back to jail. The cello, however, gave it a different, modern edge and kept me interested even if the style wasn’t really my thing. They’re great at what they do, and if you’re into old time Americana country with a jailbreaking streak, I would absolutely check them out. The singer has this huge deep voice somewhere between Elvis and Johnny Cash. Amazing.

Then, oh then, came The Gaslight Anthem. They walked out on stage to “Single Ladies” by Beyonce, and it was ridiculous, and then they started playing. I don’t think I stopped smiling the entire time. They play amazing, honest, hard working music. These are unassuming boys laying out their stories and their pasts and their hearts. They had so much energy and were radiating this amazing happiness and great vibes. They sound exactly the same live as on their record, and they play this amazing cross between old time rock and roll, blues, and punk. True Jersey music. They talked about recording with Dicky of The Mighty Mighy Bosstones, and jumped around the stage. Brian Fallon’s smile is infectious and he played to every person in that room. The crowd was absolutely in love. My favorite songs will always be “Old White Lincoln” and “The ’59 Sound,” but each and every song they played struck me in some new way that made me want to listen to it over and over.

Fallon writes songs about women out of old time movies, Maria and Anna and Gale, women who may or may not exist but who represent every person who’s ever broken a heart. Each song is a story about real people living real lives, searching for life and love and happiness. The crowd completely absorbed them and poured them back and there was such an amazing and real energy. Brian at one point turned to Alex (the guitarist Alex, not the bassist Alex) and mouthed something that looked a lot like “This is the best show ever!” I wouldn’t blame him for thinking it – the club was alive with love. I was smiling so hard at points that my cheeks were sore from the effort, and I honestly can’t remember the last time I was that happy.

Just watch, and listen, to some of the music that lives in my heart:

The Gaslight Anthem "The '59 Sound"

The Gaslight Anthem | MySpace Music Videos

Friday, October 16, 2009

Excited? Yes.

Hold up now.

Weezer. Marc Webb. The 50s. All in one video?

Oh, I am beyond excited for this. I can't wait until it's released.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Alpha Dog and Omegalomaniac

Last September, Fall Out Boy put out a mixtape online to promote both their upcoming record, Folie a Deux, and Obama. It had a snippet of a song called "ALPHAdog and OMEGAlomaniac." The full song was just released to the world through Banana's Music Club, and it will be one of the new singles off of the band's Greatest Hits album, out in mid November. You can listen to it here.

I'm completely pissed that this song is coming out just as the band it taking a "break," because this song is made to fill arenas. The second chorus in I was rocking out in my headphones and singing along. It has a great chorus, a very full sound, and it's really good. It doesn't hurt that megalomaniac is one of my favorite words. Tell me you can listen to this without bobbing your head and rocking your shoulders and letting the sound just take over. I want to scream along to this in a huge crowd. I love the way Patrick plays with the word megalomaniac in the chorus. Fall Out Boy knows how to make the songs that will get us to sing and live and move and feel.

I was prepared to make some disparaging, critical comments about this, "It's good, but..." and I just can't. It is an honestly good song. No buts.

"You're not the first or the last, but you're possibly the prettiest."

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Rag And Bone

This might just be my favorite song off of Icky Thump. It's not a musically genius song, and there's more talking than singing, but it's playful and fun and I love the world, the storyline that it creates. A+ White Stripes. I also love Meg's tiny little speaking voice, her precocious "Or not..." at 2:31. Just listen. It's a pretty crappy version of the song, but what do you expect from youtube?

Monday, October 5, 2009

My Arms Get Cold

LIGHTS at the Middle East - October 4, 2009

I’ve been trying to go to a Lights concert for about a year now, but something always came up. One concert was the night before a huge midterm. I was ready and leaving to go to another one when a family friend’s father went into the hospital and I went instead to babysit her son. Then Warped Tour this summer Lights played in my hometown, but I was running chemosensory tests on fruit flies.

So I was positive that something was going to prevent me from going last night. Lightning was going to strike. My car was going to die. I was going to get swine flu. But nothing happened and finally, I got to see Lights!

The first opener was Andre Obin of Boston. He had a mac and a keyboard and a program board and basically layered beats over each other while singing through a highly distorted microphone. He would have been great at a club, dishing out music for dancing and grooving, but this wasn’t really the crowd for it. We clapped and cheered and bobbed along but we weren’t really the dancing type. He, however, was totally into it and was dancing by himself on the stage. Thumbs up dude, though I would have preferred a little more playing and a little less programming in a live show.

Next up were the Stars of Track and Field. They were two guitarists and a drummer, with a computer for a bassist. They weren’t bad, they made me dance a little, but they had all of the instruments turned up so loud that they really just became a wall of sound. Now, this was a hypnotising, encircling, enveloping, awesome wall of sound, but it was still a wall of sound. I’d love it if bands would turn down their instruments and put some space between notes so that everything is distinguishable from everything else. There were two points in their set when they, just for a few seconds, just sang with a simple guitar in the background and it was awesome but then they brought all of the instruments back in and everything got lost again. It was one of the guitarist's birthday, and so we sang to him and he was very happy. “Racing Lights” was a good song, and I’d recommend checking it out.

Finally, Lights. She bounced out on stage and was so cute and happy and bouncy. She sang her heart out and rocked out on the keytar and put so much energy into her performance that she ended up out of breath at some points. She played pretty much everything off of her EP and a handful of songs off of her new CD (out tomorrow!) The Listening. My favorite point of the night, however, was her performance of “February Air.” I’ve been waiting for about two years to see this song live, ever since I saw the simple promo video for it on a blog forever ago. And she rocked it. Technology cooperated with me and I uploaded the video I took of it onto YouTube for your viewing enjoyment. So enjoy:

The notes she reaches, the fact that she is pitch perfect and spot on, amazes me. She has quite possibly the best voice I have ever seen live, and the truest voice to recording I’ve ever heard.

She played a stripped down piano version of “Pretend” that was absolutely gorgeous and a completely different side of her music from her normal synth pop. The song apparantly appears on the CD in both forms and I’m pumped to hear them both. She ended the night with a Phil Collins cover (“In the Air Tonight”) and bounced off stage to chat with the crowd.

Now, I do want to make a note about the crowd. It was not at all what I was expecting. There were the requisite scene kids, and the girls with silly headbands, but there were also a short ton of guys. Some were middle-aged men, some were wearing leather jackets and caps over their shaved heads, and then there were the “bros.” There was this whole crowd of guys dancing like they were at a frat party in the middle of the floor, and at first I thought it was just a group of fifteen guys who decided to go to the Middle East for the night and drink some beer and dance to whoever the hell was there. But they knew the words. I didn’t think Canadian synth pop would attract so many dudes to a club, that so many of them would admit to listening to Lights and would unabashedly sing along. It was amazing. Of course, waiting to see her afterwards, there were the guys behind me scheming on how to ask her out. Ah. Hot chick appeal?

Was worth the two year wait? Absolutely.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Holy Auto-Tune, Batman

I hate when the commercial pop music world takes a song, decides it's not really polished enough for radio success, and completely changes it to something they think is better.

Driving back from work today, I flipped the radio station and heard a song that was vaguely familiar. It had some girl singing, but the beat was recognizable and I knew I had positive feelings towards it, even though I couldn't place it, even though it was the wrong person singing and there were all sorts of loopy flares over beat. Three seconds later, I realized what it was.

Someone decided it was a good idea to take "Star Struckk" by 3OH!3, auto-tune the hell out of it, add Katy Perry's "feminine response" to the lyrics, and add some dance beats over the dance beats. And then to sprinkle on some more synth and a little more pop. And some sparkle. I think this song is glittering.

This is not a song that should glitter. "Star Struckk" begins with the lyrics: "Nice legs, daisy dukes, makes a man go *whistle* ... low-cut, see through, shirts that make you *whistle*" This is not a... clean song. It's dirty, it's a little raunchy. The words are half sung, half screamed, with some big beats behind it. It's one of my favorite songs off the album, but not one I would play in front of my grandmother. It gets a little more introspective as it goes, and I love the chorus: "I think I should know how to make love to something innocent without leaving my fingerprints out. L-O-V-E's just another word I never learned to pronounce." It's a big song that fits so perfectly with imperfect vocals and huge beats.

But then, then someone took it and turned it into this. I realize that 3OH!3 was a part of this decision, that they went into the studio with Katy Perry and recorded this and that they made a conscious decision to put this out into the world. But I want to believe that it's because some executive decided that it was a good idea, not because they thought this version of the song, where their voices are completely unrecognizable, where Katy Perry's voice is unrecognizable, and where their song has been completely lost, was not their decision. It sounds nothing like them, or their songs. And what is up with Katy Perry's "response section"? Are they trying to be a little more "correct"? It's as if they're saying, "Sure, we're being gigantic assholes, but it's not actually working to get us girls." Except, that's exactly what the original song was saying. The video is them lying in a writhing pile of half naked girls. I mean, come on.

I don't mind it so much live. Sure, they're not all the greatest singers, but who cares? It's the energy and the music and their own voices. I don't want to listen to a computer, I want to listen to the actual singers. I like Katy Perry. I like 3OH!3. I think their live voices are a little off, but I want to hear them. I wouldn't have a problem if they just added Katy to the song, but the auto tuning and beat adding and crazy synth took a cool, catchy song and turned it into something almost unlistenable.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Check It Out, I'm Rocking Steady

Today calls for Motion City Soundtrack. It just does.

The future freaks me out, but everything is alright. This is my mantra for today. Watch. Listen. Love. Hope that these boys finish up their record and put new music out soon.

I've saw them live once, in May of 2008, knowing only one song. It was so loud, the music was everywhere and all around and blaring into my ears, and there was this girl jumping and flailing and screaming in front of me, and it didn't knock me off my feet, but it planted the seeds of these songs into my brain and there are just some days when you've got to tell the world "Fuck it, I'm on fire, and now I think I'm ready to bust a move."