Tuesday, January 24, 2006

album review: pretty girls make graves- elan vital.

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a lot of us know about pretty girls make graves very well. although they're a hometown band [seahawks are going to the super bowl, bitches], i hadn't heard of them before the new romance, their 2003 release. the album was really good, with the exception of me thinking that lead singer andrea zollo's voice was a little too weak for all the thrashing they did. the few songs i've heard from the new release suit andrea's delivery very well. little did i know what i was getting into when i listened to the album in full.

track one. "the nocturnal house"-

the album starts out with a blast of guitar, a irregular time signature, and whistles. not whistles as in "while you work," whistles as in "technical foul on ron artest." this song is in the same vein as pretty girls make graves' previous work, with the only difference being it's a little more suited to andrea's delivery. towards the end, they play with the time signature, going from 6/8 time to 4/4 every two bars. it works.

track two. "
pyrite pedestal"-
the bass riff is killer, and the keyboards make a very nice accompaniment. and when the drums come in? KILLER. the harmonies in the chorus are something i'm not used to from this band, but it's a very welcome change. it's a pop song. and i love it.

track three. "the number"-
starting off with a casio keyboard riff, and then going into a classic rock-esque drum beat. a very singable chorus. i can imagine that getting stuck in my head.

track four. "parade"-
man. another catchy melody. seriously, singing along to pretty girls make graves is the last thing i would expect to do. it's a very welcome change.

track five. "domino"-
this song starts out with a piano riff, and a really sweet-sounding guitar in the background. what i've noticed about this album is that it actually has choruses. not like, "singing the same part over" choruses, but "has a decent shot to get played on alternative radio" choruses. and a nice guitar solo.

track six. "interlude"-
acoustic guitars, percussion and trumpets. i like.

track seven. "the magic hour"-
the song starts out with a classic pgmg riff, and then goes all dance-punk on us. for a second, it goes back to classic pgmg, and then, back to the dance-punk. i could imagine the rapture or someone writing a song that sounds like this.

track eight. "selling the wind"-
mvp of this song, the accordion.

track nine. "pearls on a plate"-
i believe this is the very first downtempo pgmg song i've ever heard. very atmospheric.

track ten. "pictures of a night scene"-
the piano is the key instrument on this track. and andrea only provides harmonies on this song.

track eleven. "wildcat"-
another foray into the dance-punk world. i'm tapping my toes right now. contains one of my favorite things about pretty girls make graves, the nimble guitar work.

track twelve. "bullet charm"-
a dark, beautiful, classic pgmg track. lots and lots of atmosphere towards the end. a top-tier closing track.

summary: i'm going to keep this short and sweet. pretty girls make graves have made the best album of their career. they take the style they're known for, and they expand it and experiment with it to create something classic and timeless. let me repeat: pretty girls make graves have made the best album of their career. this is a must-have.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

how's the king of new york rockin' sandals with jeans?

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i know a lot of my readers don't listen to hip-hop, but it's my party. i can cry if i want to. cam FINALLY got at hov. this has been brewing since like 2003. it's definitely no "ether," but cam sure does have a lot to say.

joe camel is not pleased.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

live review: colin meloy [featuring laura veirs]; the showbox, 01/18/06

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it's really no secret that colin meloy is my favorite songwriter. missing his solo performance at the triple door last year was possibly my only regret of 2005. however, i totally redeemed myself when i bought tickets to last night's show. although i've seen the decemberists live and have known what to expect, seeing colin meloy onstage all by himself was a slightly different experience.

laura veirs took the stage first. for her first song, "galaxies," she had an effect on her amplified acoustic guitar that made it sound like an electric. then, she played "spelunking," which is one of my favorite songs off of her
year of meteors full-length. it sounded just as beautiful as it did on record, by the way. between songs, she was quiet and thankful for the audience's attention. while she played, she kinda swayed from side to side, which i kinda think is a nervous tic, but i could be wrong. there were some songs like "parisian dream" in which she used a looping pedal, layering vocals and guitar parts, making them sound wonderful live. using a drum machine for "lake swimming," at the end of the song, she used the looping pedal again, carrying the song well past six minutes. she ended with "fire snakes," and had the drum machine, looping pedals, and her wonderful voice to create a climactic ending to a wonderful set.

after a not-too-long setup time [this is a solo tour, the epitome of low-maintenace], colin took the stage to near-thunderous applause. colin started off by playing "devil's elbow" [which i later found out is a tariko song]. after a comically awkward banter break to talk about writing a song on the coast of oregon, he says, "this is why i couldn't go on vh1 storytellers." then, he sings a song about "another cliff; far, far away from that.. oregon.. um.. cliff," and plays "we both go down together." someone in the crowd was celebrating a birthday, and gave colin a piece of cake [yes. a piece of cake]. he was tempted to eat it, but stressed that it "gums up the [vocal] chords," so he would save it for after the show. colin's awkward, yet hillarious onstage banter is what sets him apart from any other singer/songwriter performing a solo show. colin was wearing a green shirt with some sort of design on the left breast, and was asked if it was a mistle thrush. "mistle thrushes are so 2005," he replied.

colin on solo tours: "everyone asks me why i like to go on solo tours." [heckler: "so, why do you go on solo tours?"] "see? i told you. i get that question all the time. well, not really. noone ever asks me why i go on solo tours, but i thought i would be a nice segue to the next song. i go on solo tours because i can sit in the dressing room in peace and quiet, without any of the bandmates, and their alcohol and cigarettes.. well, not really; it's because i can get all the hummus and chips and salsa i can eat. the truth is, i miss them. kinda."

colin on his series of cover ep's: "i'm sure a few of you came to last year's show, where i was selling morrissey cover ep's. well, this time around, i decided to go with a far more popular artist, shirley collins. shirley collins is a household name."

colin on solo tours [again]: "i like these things because they're really self-indulgent. i don't have to worry about playing 'your favorite album cuts,' like at decemberists shows. but i definitely want to play some of your favorites, because i want us all to be happy."

our hero played a very wide array of songs from his catalog: all three decemberists full-lengths were covered. he played "shiny," he played two tariko songs, and he also played "barbara allen" from the shirley collins ep. he also played a couple of new songs that he debuted at the woodland park zoo last summer, "valencia" and "shankhill butchers." he even broke his cardinal rule of songwriting: since he and carson's baby is due in march [don't do it, bethanne], he played us a brand new song about how cool it is to be expecting. if it ever gets released [i'm guessing b-side], it's probably going to be called "weird and wonderful." but i could be proven wrong.

colin on tour props: "i brought a skull on this tour, to set down on this table right here. i thought it was a really good idea at the time, but then, i set the skull on the table, and it was the only thing there. so i decided not to bring it out. plus, everyone thinks that i'm going to do a skit or a play or something because i have a skull onstage."

colin politely rejected a request for "the tain" [LOL], and "freebird."

colin on "freebird": "all over the country, all over the WORLD, the universal language is 'freebird.' no matter where you go in the world, there will always be people screaming for 'freebird.' no matter where you are."

colin teased us by playing a teeny bit of rick springfield's "jesse's girl."

about 3/4 of the way through the set, colin had the crowd literally doing stretches. "okay. bend down a little bit.. and up." fans new to the decemberists aren't used to this level of crowd participation, but longtime fans know what the fuck is up. "now, take the person directly to your left," and everyone looked to their left. "now, that doesn't work, does it? that's really interesting." the crowd roars with laughter. "okay, okay. take the person standing next to you, and introduce yourself to them." i shook hands with a nice, tall gentleman with a white-boy afro. then, he played "california one/youth and beauty brigade," and a hush fell over the crowd. colin had us in the palm of our hands.

our hero went backstage and was probably standing awkwardly as the crowd was stomping and clapping for him to play an encore.

he walked out with the skull. "you all thought i was joking. i was dead serious. DEAD.. serious." the audience playfully booed the corny joke. and for his encore, he played live favorite "red right ankle." then, he had us close our eyes as we imagined we were sitting in front of a campfire. "oh, you can open your eyes now. but to get the full effect, you can keep your eyes closed. but that would be kinda weird." then, he played "bandit queen" under the glow of a red stage light.

summary: i've made it no secret that colin meloy is my favorite songwriter. and due to his awkward [i'd hate to use that word for the hundreth time in this review, but nothing is more accurate] and jovial demeanor, he could also be one of my favorite performers. laura veirs was amazing. colin was amazing. i'd hate to call this the best show i will see in 2006, but anyone else i see this year has their work cut out for them.

weary-eyed. i can't beat cake.

being that it's almost 2am, i'm not writing the review for the colin show right now. expect it when i wake up. all i can say is, someone gave colin a piece of cake onstage. seriously. a piece of cake. how can a fresh cherries from yakima demo compete with cake?

goodnight folks. see you in the early afternoon.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

christian guilt.

being that i believe in god, i feel slightly guilty for liking this, but it's just too fucking funny.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

i am a writer, writer of fictions.

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i bought my tickets to see america's best living songwriter a week from today at the showbox. be jealous.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

my pretty little neighbors.

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so, i'm kinda hooked on bethanne's current obsession. and it's all her fault. it's the least she could do for taking my advice about final fantasy.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

the first great album of 2006: rabbit fur coat.

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this should be no secret to anyone. i've always had a crush on jenny lewis. not only because of she's beautiful; [that's a little too obvious] the young lady is also extremely smart, a very talented songwriter, and owner of one of the most sultry voices in music today. the watson twins provide a soulful accompaniment to lewis' vocals. but, i am a little biased. oh well.

track one. "run devil run":
it's really just an intro. the lyrics are only three words, but the harmonies are top-notch, and i can't help but sing along with this.

track two. "big guns":
starts out with a bluegrass-ish guitar strum, and thought-provoking lyrics that you should expect from ms. lewis: "and i've won hundreds at the track/but i'm not bettin' on the afterlife". the stomp on the kick drum that come in after the first verse are a nice touch, too.

track three. "rise up with fists!":
this sounds like it could have been on more adventurous, with its laid back alt-country pop sound. it seems like one of the themes on this album is god and struggling with the idea of his existance. the third verse creates the wonderful imagery of the cops coming after a man with a house arrest ankle bracelet.

track four. "happy":
if country music were this good, i probably wouldn't have such a serious problem with it. a wonderful acoustic track.

track five. "the charging sky":
the watson twins get some nice "ooh oohs" in here. and jenny questions the existance of god again, "in the desert underneath the charging sky/it's just you and god/but what if god's not there?/and his name's on your dollar bill/which just became cab fare.."

track six. "melt your heart":
the subdued drums on this song works very well with the melody. heartbreakingly beautiful.

track seven. "you are what you love":
sort of a breakup song. painting on a bullshit canvas kinda sucks.

track eight. "rabbit fur coat":
the best narrative of the album. it's also just jenny and a guitar. a heartbreaking tale of sin, hundred-thousand dollar kids and mansion houses.

track nine. "handle with care (featuring conor oberst, ben gibbard, and m. ward)":
the traveling wilburys cover that everyone talks about. it fits the theme of the album, but that doesn't mean i have to like it. it doesn't do anything for me.

track ten. "born secular":
of course, staying on the theme of god and his existance, here is the most flagrant example of the theme. the backing vocals by the watson twins are supreme. "god works (god works, god works)/in mysterious ways/ and god gives (god gives, god gives)/and he takes/from meeeeeeeee.." when the drums kick in towards the end, it's makes for the climax of the entire album.

track eleven. "it wasn't me":
this track drags on just a little, and it makes you wish "born secular" would have been the last song on the album.

track twelve. "happy (reprise)":
just jenny singing the chorus of "happy". it works great as an outro.

summary: i know i make it seem like jenny lewis can do no wrong, but this is really a stellar album. this rivals anything she's ever done with rilo kiley, and as a whole, it's considerably better than more adventurous. the running theme about the existance of god makes this a very cohesive piece of work. the watson twins do their job as backup singers really well, and the instrumentation and production on this record are both top notch.

essential tracks: "born secular", "big guns", "melt your heart", "rabbit fur coat"

list season is over!

it's been a long, hard month. the deadlines weren't made for the most part, and i took it down to the wire. but, i, with a little help from bethanne, made a list for every day of december. that was more work than i had imagined, so i hope the few people that read this blog enjoyed it.

now, for the start of the new year, i'm going to write a full-album review for "the first great album of 2006." what album is it? if you read this blog from the beginning, you should be able to figure it out. see you all in a couple hours.