Friday, 18 September 2009


The other day, I was eating at the cafeteria and they have these TVs that are constantly showing the "MTVu" channel (I guess the "u" means "university"). And what video was on, might you ask? Why, it was the Shakira video for the song "Loba" (link on Youtube: Now, I think I've seen the video before, but this time it made me think about the concept of "sex sells" and all (watching the video makes it quite obvious why I'd mention that).

When I was younger and watched MTV, I always thought of videos as being a way to hear new music or to see my favorite artists on the screen. I was rather misguided. The whole point of videos is to make money by getting people to buy the artist's music. They are advertisments in the guise of entertainment and/or fun. Why else would artists even make videos, unless maybe they're multi-media artists and not just musicians? Not likely, most of the time.

I'm no prude, but this Shakira video just seems to be playing to the lowest of the low. When you watch this video, do you pay attention to the song at all? I know I don't, I'm too busy watching Shakira dance like a stripper in a box. It just disgusts me that the music is so insignificant.

Now, I realize we're talking about the commercial music biz and it is what you'd expect, but being that it's the "music" industry, can't the music actually have some importance? I'm not a fan of music videos in general, since they are distracting from the music, but this particular video doesn't even give the music a chance at all. It's like it was an afterthought and the video came first and then someone thought "we need a soundtrack to this Shakira porn! Wait, she sometimes dabbles in music occasionally? Use that!"

Switching subjects.....

I was reading the All Songs Considered blog, and they posted an absolutely hilarious video about a guy and his relationship to the Dave Matthews Band (it kind of sums up my feelings about them as well). Link:

New Flaming Lips Album

I was watching The Colbert Report the other day and the Flaming Lips were on the show, doing a song from their new album Embryonic. I was impressed. Now, a bit of context: I own only one album by the Lips, The Soft Bulletin, which is a great record, though I've also heard Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots, and have seen the film about the band, The Fearless Freaks. So, that's obviously not a comprehensive discography. What intrigued me about the song, though, is that it didn't sound like anything I've heard before from the band. It's not the floaty, funny, clean, bouncy sound of TSB or Yoshimi. It was louder and freakier and the vocals were so low (both in the arrangement and in pitch). Kind of reminds me of the vocals on Electric Wizard's Dopethrone record in a way.

So the whole album is now streaming on and I'm listening to it right now. The song they played on the show seems to be pretty representative of the album as a whole. There's no track names, which sucks, but it really feels like an album. It kind of sounds like the nightmare version of the band. The Soft Bulletin is a very dreamy and fairly cheerful record, with the exception of a few songs. Embryonic is so dark and trippy, as if most of the pop elements have been ripped away. And I couldn't be happier about that.

For a while, I thought the Lips were pretty overrated, because even though I love TSB, it's not one of my favorite records ever or anything, it's just really really good. I really don't listen to it a lot. And I think I listened to Yoshimi once or twice and nothing about it caught my attention. It just seemed like your average pop record, some catchy choruses here and there, slick production, loud vocals, etc. But I guess this band is capable or a lot more than that. I'm glad to hear that they've made an exciting and sonically intriguing record by going in a different direction.

Saturday, 12 September 2009

Finding New Music

How do people learn about new music? There's so much music out there and there exists many a channel in finding it. In our current times, The best way seems to be to turn to the internet. Any band or artist who actually might want people to listen to their/his/her music typically makes some sort of web presence, sometimes a regular, old-fashioned website, or more often, I think, a MySpace or Facebook page (or maybe a blog!). But that begs the question: how does a band/artist get someone to know about and find their page/site? That's where it gets trickier. That's where journalism helps out a lot. It's weird sometimes when bands are annoyed by the critics and reviewers and they might say something to the extent that "we make music for ourselves/the fans/etc." and not the critics. But how would people hear about new music if not for critics, who, though they may give a bad review, still get someone's name out there? I guess there's always promotion on the mass-media scale, but I'm not really concerning myself with that, since most of those artists have already established some kind of popularity or are in the process of doing so (you need lots of money for commercials, thus these are probably major label artists with big budgets). And that leaves another option: word of mouth, but in this case, I'm limiting it to friends/acquaintances in real life, as opposed to some dude on a forum. I've been exposed to very few new musics by actually discussing them with people, probably due to the fact that the music that might interest me is not so well-known.

In short: I mostly rely on critics and the verbal press to turn me on to new music. That is, I like to read books, magazines and websites to find out about new music (in this sense: anything I haven't heard). And then I go to the internet to investigate further, by listening to a few songs on their MySpace pages, or to the record labels that sometimes offer a few free MP3s of their bands for preview purposes, or by listening a bit in iTunes/Amazon or a combination thereof. Recently, though, I've been getting into music podcasts as well, particularly Requiem Metal Podcast and NPR's All Songs Considered podcast. Both are great sources and offer a lot to hear.

....And then the really hard part comes in. It's almost like a horrible auditioning process, weeding through all the new music out there and finding what I actually like. Having been searching for years and years, I'd have to conclude that probably 90% (or maybe more) of music is actually bad or horribly mediocre, or being a bit more honest, music that I don't give a crap about. And the small percentage that is good, is in fact, hard to find. And I don't trust my first impression of a band ever. If I like something the first time I hear it, I may not like it at all in a month. So I have to listen to things over and over before deciding if it's good or not. Then I often ask myself: Could I listen to a whole album of this? (since I'm usually dealing with hearing a few individual songs at first and I'm a staunch album loyalist) et puis: Would I like to listen to a whole album of this?

Though sometimes it is "love at first listen" and I'm thinking "I want this album NOW". I kind of hate when that happens since I usually can't buy stuff immediately, though it's almost a relief and makes me feel like some good music is out there and the painstaking search is worth finding a few gems. It doesn't feel like a waste of time.

So right now I'm going through tons of MySpace pages in hopes of something good coming up, and it's interesting to go back through all the pages I book-marked in the past as bands I'd want to hear again and how many of those book-marks I end up deleting and never wanting to hear again (which is most of them). It's like, at one point I thought I'd found so many interesting artists, but in reality, it comes down to so few (which is good for my wallet and consequently, my health). It's like a funnel.

Playlist for the week: Dirty Projectors "Bitte Orca", Mouse On Mars "Autoditacker", Juana Molina - "Un Día"

Sunday, 6 September 2009

Back From The Dead: The best albums of the year so far....

It's too early to tell the best of the year and I'm way too poor to have bought all the albums I want to hear this year, which eliminates many possible contenders. So this is really just a review of what I've bought so far and what's been going on since I abandonned this ol' blog.

Black Dice - Repo

Well, it's a Black Dice album (that means it's great). Compared to their last release, Load Blown, which was actually just a singles compilation, it's certainly more consistent. There's actually quite a few vocal samples used on this one and they're integrated pretty well into the BD sound. And the tracks are longer and shorter than on older albums. Overall, not a huge change for the group, but a nice progression and an enjoyable album.

Dirty Projectors - Bitte, Orca

I've only listened to it once so far, but it's promising. This is the first release by DP that I've bought, so I can't compare, though I've read several times that it's their "most accesible." And it is for the most part. It is pretty much a pop record that integrates various influences, such as punk, funk, classical, soul, etc. It's interesting for sure and after the first listen I couldn't remember a whole lot, a good sign. It's going to take many listens to penetrate this album, as it is very detailed and nuanced. One more remark: some of the lyrics seem kinda cheesy-romantic.

Isis - Wavering Radiant

I love Isis, and I've finally acquired all their full-lengths. This album seems to be another step of slight progress of the general and often-imiated Isis sound, with some added touches of proggy keyboards. The question I've wrestled with concerning Isis is: is this band "metal"? And I don't have a definitive answer. WR doesn't resolve the issue. Early Isis albums Celestial and Oceanic were heavy and incredibly loud, but since Panopticon, they've moved into post-rockin'-spacey-loud/soft-dynamic-sprawling territory, though still retaining the bear vocals and heaviness. I may not be able to answer the question if Isis is metal or not, but the more important question is: is this album good? And I definitely think it is. The songwriting is still about the same, maybe a bit more concentrated, a bit more dense. The production is quite good, it's clean, but not too clean. The sound is warm and flowy. I'd say it's for fans of the band, it won't win over new fans unless this is the first they've heard of Isis.

Kylesa - Static Tensions

Everything about this album is a notch above their previous album Time Will Fuse Its Worth. Tighter songs, more fluid genre fusion, musicianship has been stepped up, more variety in vocals and melodies, better utitlization of their two drummers and so forth. At first I was hugely disappointed with this album because Kylesa is just so awesome and fun live and the album seemed to lack the energy and spirit of the live experience. But much time has passed and I can't remember the specifics of the live show anymore, so the album officially rules now.

Pelican - Ephemeral EP

It's great. I love to hear that Pelican are getting heavier and more distorted again. The post-rockisms are toned downed, as are the cock-rockisms from City Of Echoes (not that that album wasn't good). And there's a track with Dylan Carlson on it! Neato! I've very curious to hear the next full-length.

Sunn O))) - Monoliths & Dimensions

They couldn't have picked a more appropriate album title. This is a totally new direction for the band, and certainly a welcome one. Attila is back, there are two different choirs, there's tons of new instruments, but it all stays in the Sunn O))) template, i.e. - loooooooooow and slooooooooooooow. All four tracks have totally different characters, but they are united by the infinite drone. It's a nice addition to the band's highly innovative catalogue.

So what else is there?:

>>Michael Jackson = dead, not entirely surprising, not a total loss either, he pretty much wasn't
musically relevant anymore. I will always love "Billie Jean" though.

>>I'm not into the hype surrounding the band Phoenix. Yeah, "Lisztomania" is kinda fun and catchy, but there's not much more to say than that. Why don't they sing in French? If they did, I probably like them better.

>>Animal Collective still sucks.

>>I still am completely ambivalent towards Sonic Youth.

>>Death Magnetic wasn't the apocalypse, but it wasn't the second comming either (did Metallica have a first comming?)

>>My favorite metal show on WBGU, Auditory Demise, has met its.... demise. It's a shame, but there's some new shows to carry the torch(e).

>>Latest Decibel has Immortal on the cover. Good story, I think I'm going to move to Blashyrkh.

>>Summer Shows: Mastodon/Kylesa/Intronaut, Isis/Pelican/Keelhaul, Enon/some locals bands that weren't so good

>>Shows I'll miss due to being in BG: Converge/High On Fire, Kylesa/Saviours, Os Mutantes (I don't think I go to this anyway, but I wanted to mention that they've made a new album and are touring now with Sergio Diaz the only remaining original member)

>>I heard that the Misfits will be in BG sometime this year, which I'm perplexed by.

>>That new HBO show "Hung" has "I'll Be Your Man" by the Black Keys as a theme song, and it's very fitting.

That's all for now, I'm going to try to update weekly.