Video: Broken Social Scene - 'Meet Me In The Basement'

This might be my favorite track on Broken Social Scene's fantastic new album Forgiveness Rock Record. 'Meet Me In The Basement' is an instrumental track that BSS have become great at and will be an epic track to see the band play live. The video is pretty interesting and is full of images and footage of riots, protests and various other pop culture nuggets.



New Music: Menomena - Mines

Portland's Menomena are a three piece indie rock band that's starting to make a lot of noise, both figuratively and literally. The band's third proper album, Mines, came out yesterday on Barsuk records and is definitely worth your time and hard earned dollars. I only got into the band after their fantastic last album, Friend and Foe, which still contains one of my future posts for Favorite Songs Of The 2000's list, 'Wet and Rusting'.

The feeling of a band bursting at the seams that permeated Friend and Foe is found here as well in Mines. 'TAOS' is a great example of Menomena in full on freak mode with horns to boot. That track is followed by 'Killemall' which showcases the fact that Menomena can write a really great song that sounds like something you might hear on mainstream radio.

The best moments on the album is when the weirdness and solid melodies come together. Tracks like 'Dirty Cartoons', 'Tithe' and 'Oh Pretty Boy, You're Such A Big Boy' all have everything that is great about this band found within them. I try only to do full write ups of albums I really do love, and count Mines among them. The band released an album with no weak tracks and so many moments of brilliance that it's going to hard not to put this in my top 10 albums of 2010.

Also a friendly reminder that Menomena will be at The Bottleneck in Lawrence on Tuesday, October 12th.



Favorite Songs of the 2000's: The Walkmen- 'The Rat' (2004)

The Walkmen are a band that's slowly been climbing it's way into the upper echelon of indie rock bands. They've paid their dues too. Their last album (they've got a new one out in September, their 5th proper album), 2008's You & I, is still one of my favorite albums of the last decade. Unfortunately, nothing off that album actually made this list. The track that made the cut is 'The Rat' off the 2004 album Bows + Arrows.

'The Rat is one of those songs that most more than casual music fans have heard. If you've heard one song from The Walkmen, it's probably this one. Yet 'The Rat' never got any play on mainstream modern rock stations and that's unfortunate because it really is one of the best rock songs of the decade.

The opening guitar riff when the drums kick in about 15 seconds in is pure bliss. The standout of most tracks from The Walkmen is singer Hamilton Leithauser because of his unique voice and 'The Rat' is no different. In fact, hearing him wail in this song like he rarely does is a treat. He hits the lyrics too as he usually does...combine that with an incredible band and it's no surprise The Walkmen have found themselves with the career they have.

As popular as they may be, they are still only playing places like The Bottleneck in Lawrence. They'll be there with Japandroids on Tuesday, October 19th. I'd imagine tickets for this will sell out pretty quickly, so grab them if you haven't already. I'll leave you with my favorite lyric from the song, which is has always been a personal favorite and a live performance of 'The Rat' from pitchfork.tv.
"When I used to go out, I knew everyone I saw. Now I go out alone, if I go out at all"



New(ish) Music: Laura Marling - I Speak Because I Can

I first heard about Laura Marling because of her association with Mumford & Sons. She's also known for being an original member of London band Noah & The Whale. With those two bands in mind, you can guess that Laura Marling is definitely in the folk music business. Her second album, I Speak Because I Can, came out a few months ago in March but I overlooked it then so I had to come back and post something about it as it's grown to be a favorite of 2010.

Not too many albums that get as mellow as points of this album does can manage to still keep my attention like I Speak does. Songs like 'Made By Maid' and 'Blackberry Stone' are very little more than nice folk songs on the surface, but Laura's voice and lyrics in combination with the wonderful production of Ethan Johns makes it pretty powerful stuff.

The best moments on the record come when she's joined by the gentlemen from the aforementioned Mumford & Sons. The highlight track for me has to be 'Alpha Shallows'; very few moments on Sigh No More even reached that level of emotion and intensity, mainly because of Laura Marling's voice. Another great track with the band is 'Hope In The Air' where she is even lent backing vocals by Marcus Mumford.

Although I stumbled upon Laura Marling because of Mumford & Sons, she's doesn't have to ride on their coattails at all. Marling has proven with this second album that she might even have the brighter career ahead.

Here's the video for the lead track of the album, 'Devil's Spoke':



New Music: Big Boi - Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son Of Chico Dusty

I missed posting about this album when it came out last Tuesday and it's worth mentioning because it's the best hip-hop album of the year so far. Outkast are arguably my favorite hip-hop group of all time (De La Soul & Public Enemy would be in the discussion as well) so anything Big Boi or Andre put out I'm going to check out. This album has been in the making for what seems like two or three years. I'm not sure it would actually see the light of day but Big Boi finally released his second solo album, Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son Of Chico Dusty.

I previously posted videos for the first two singles 'Shutterbug' and 'General Patton' and it's no surprise that they are two of the best tracks on the album, with the latter in the running for best track on the record. A few other highlights are the sultry jam 'Tangerine' and another candidate for best track of the album 'Shine Blockas'. The latter contains a sample of one of the best R&B tunes ever in Harold Melvin and the Blue Note's 'I Miss You'.

The album has only a few mis-steps. The beat for 'Follow Us' is one of the best on the album, unfortunately the vocalist that sings the hook completely ruins the song for me. The other weakest track on the album, 'You Ain't No DJ', is the one song that Big Boi's Outkast partner Andre 3000 produced. Despite those two blemishes, no hip-hop album can touch this record so far in 2010.


Concert Announcements: Janelle Monae, Of Montreal,
Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti, Beach House & much, much more

There have been too many concert announcements that I've missed over the past few days not to throw them all in one post. Here are the highlights:

Of Montreal will be in Lawrence on Saturday, October 23rd. The exciting part is that KCK native Janelle Monae will be opening the show. She's undoubtedly put out one of the years best albums in The ArchAndroid and this is the first time in a while that she's been through town (the show she was suppose to open for Erykah Badu was canceled earlier this year).

Another band with a candidate for album of the year is Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti. They'll be at The Jackpot in Lawrence on Thursday, September 16th.

Indie rock darlings Vampire Weekend will be joined by Beach House and The Very Best for a show at Starlight Theater on Saturday, October 2nd.

Here's the rest:

Thu 08/12 We Are Scientists/Bad Veins @ The Record Bar, KC
Fri 09/10 Girl Talk @ The Crossroads, KC
Sun 09/19 Rogue Wave/Midlake/Peter Wolf Crier @ The Granada, Lawrence
Tue 09/28 Ted Leo and the Pharmacists @ The Jackpot, Lawrence
Sat 10/09 Ra Ra Riot @ The Granada, Lawrence
Sat 10/23 Of Montreal/Janelle Monae @ Liberty
Sat 11/13 The Reverend Horton Heat @ The Bottleneck, Lawrence

As always, the full calendar can be found by clicking the red link at the top left of the page.



Concert Announcement: Drive-By Truckers

Good news if you didn't want to pay top dollar to see Drive-By Truckers open for Tom Petty at the Sprint Center this summer. Pollstar Pipeline Productions website has a date for the Truckers at the CrossroadsKC Bottleneck in Lawrence for Sunday, September 26th. The Truckers are touring behind The Big To Do....what I think is their best album since 2004's The Dirty South.


It's About the Music

When did 2010 revert back to 1989? I could probably deal with the music shift, not that general Top 40 music has ever shifted that drastically in the last twenty years anyway, but there were plenty of good tunes floating around that we can all live with hearing.

The reversion that my aversion is focused on is much more specific, although it pertains to a bigger social issue: The stage outfits of women performers. In the last few months, we've seen the likes of Lady Gaga, Kate Perry, Xtina and Rhianna wearing outfits that hearken back to the days of Madonna expressing herself on a steam pipe on the set of Blade Runner.

I don't care about the outfits themselves. Skin is skin, a bustier is nice to look at and it's been that way since people wore clothes. As a hetero man, I like looking at them, so I'm not attacking the whole sexual morality of it all. For me, it's the reason they're wearing them that's disheartening.

When Madonna wore the cone bra, it was a feminist statement of women owning their sexuality, not hiding or covering it up, and being who they are. That's my sixth grade analysis. At the time, it was pretty bold, and it definitely gave off a sincere vibe of earnest female empowerment.

This time around, it feels different. Since we've seen this before, what statement is trying to be made? I'm not sure I can buy that wearing lingerie means something positive for a woman's emotional development anymore. I guess since I'm a father of two girls I look at it differently, but for me, it's irrelevant if a woman is wearing panties, a girdle, and suspenders because she's a strong individual, or if she is dancing at Cloud Nine Gentlemen's Club in St. Joe on a Tuesday night. It still looks the same, especially to a guy.

It might be different if it's for a play or movie- a visual medium where what you see may really mean something else. But this is music. The clothes are for the image, the stage show. Is this image really something being thought of by the artist to project an idea that relates to the music? Gaga and Perry write their own songs and lyrics- and a lot of them have nothing to do with sex and skin, so what gives? I get a feeling the idea comes from the manager, the label, the director of the video, because sex sells. It's disheartening that so little thought really went into a product that everyone can see, especially young girls. Even if there is a deeper meaning, would a ten-year old be able to figure it out?


A Stripper

What makes this a little depressing is that in the early 90s, when the indie rock and riot grrl scenes came about, you had women making music who had no concern about their sexual image, they cared about their music. Like any band with guys, they dressed the way they always dressed, and didn't feel a need to do anything but be themselves. Videos didn't have to convey any "girly" overtones. It's not that image wasn't an issue- their lack OF an image was their statement (and therefore, their image. Huh?). Regardless, it still made people focus on the music, and less on the chest. When women put the music first, and at least their clothes second, that becomes something infinitely more attractive, primal, and definitely rock.

Bikini Kill's "Rebel Girl"

Who do you consider to be woman that would be rock role model for a girl? Give me Bikini Kill, Sleater-Kinney, Neko Case, KT Tunstall, Loretta Lynn, Regina Spektor, Emmylou Harris (and the list goes on)...



Concert Announcement: Band Of Horses

Yet another great show at The Uptown Theater as Band Of Horses will be stopping in KC on Thursday, October 14th. Previously the band had opened for Pearl Jam at The Sprint Center, so it's nice to see them do a headlining show in town. Tickets go on sale on Saturday the 10th and are 25 bucks.



Great Song Moments

There is an article in the The Onion that poses the questions to its critics: "What are your favorite standout film scenes?" I enjoyed reading the different responses- a lot of classics, some more obscure moments, a few comedic ones- and it caused me to think about posing a similiar question in regards to music: What are your favorite "moments" in music? To clarify, what sections, parts, bridges, choruses, builds, outros, etc. particularly get you going every time you hear them? They may be loud, soft, rising, understated, whatever, but every time they come up, you don't switch songs, you don't leave the room, you stay in the car, you turn the volume up. It's doesn't even have to be from a band or an entire song you like, just a moment that stands out for you, like the opening verse to The Offspring's "Self-Esteem".

This is in no particular order:

1. "Lola"- The Kinks: The opening guitar riff. It's like caffeine in the morning to get you ready for work, or in this case get you ready to sing along to one of the catchiest choruses ever written (and not as plodding as the "Na na na naaa" in Hey Jude"). I grew up with The Kinks, and this was the tune I remember the most as a kid.

2. "When the Levee Breaks"- Led Zeppelin: The drums. If I have to narrow it down to a moment, it'd have to be the opening. Have any drums tracks ever hit with a boom before or since? My buddy and I would listen to it separately in our own cars on the way to mow lawns, so we could time pulling up to the houses with it blasting simultaneously.

3. "Listen to Me Daddy-O": Cato Salsa Experience: I must have a real hang up with openings, since this is another example, as the kicks off with a single note guitar line over a pounding, funky drumbeat, with each end punctuated with an "Ooo! Hey!" before evolving into a distorted bass and swirling keys, like Rage Against the Machine in 1973. A classic "getting ready for the night time" moment.

4. "Starla"- Smashing Pumpkins: Off of the Pisces Iscariot album, this is one eight minutes-plus build all leading to the outro, which features a waahed-out, phasered guitar playing perhaps a total of five notes, but comes off like a complete release from the containment of the everything before it.

5. "Fake Plastic Trees"- Radiohead: The last verse, or maybe chorus, since the whole song is pretty much the same progression, as Thon Yorke testifies that "She looks like the real thing/she tastes like the real thing/ My fake plastic love" while the guitars behind him build and build, then, perhaps to convey loss of hope, it all disappears to just the acoustic guitar, mournful organ, and Yorke fading away.

6. "Flagpole Sittah"- Harvey Danger: This is an example of a moment that sticks out, although I don't own the album, or have any knowledge of the band itself. And the moment truly is random: It's the last verse after the break towards the end (I think), where Sean Nelson sings "Paranoia, paranoia, everyone trying to get me.." Just that part. I just like the way he hits the "p"s.

7. "Sister Christian"- Night Ranger. Take a wild guess what part.

8. "Blaze of Glory" Jon Bon Jovi. Chorus. It's better if you have two people to do the harmonies.

I'm going to stop there, as it can probably go on for awhile. This is a list that could change every hour, as I'm sure it's the same for you. Defintely randomness involved.
What are your favorite "musical moments"?