Monday, August 29, 2011

More Hazards More Heroes

Got to share a bill last night at Subterranean with this duo from Nashville. They're called More Hazards More Heroes and they are really good. Talk about Quiet is the New Loud. Excellent interwoven acoustic guitar lines, yet you might hear some Isaac Brock in those vocals. I mean that in the best possible way. Album is available on their site.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Year of 4

Your heart's gonna melt after watching this thing. Year of 4 tracks the year running up to the release of Beyonce's fourth album, reviewed earlier this summer on WCR.

Highlights (in no particular order):

  • B shedding a tear as those dancers from Mozambique leave the set for "Run the World".
  • All those musicians and execs bobbing their heads as they run through the potential track list of the album.
  • "Countdown" being "every hipster's favorite track" (there's no doubting that).
  • The silhouette of Jay doing the HOVA arms. You know it's him before she says, "There's Uncle Jay." Funny how he can make his presence known without saying a word.
  • Beyonce's unabashed optimism, enthusiasm, and grit throughout. She is truly one of the great performers.

Shout out once again to ET. You are now not only a musical collaborator but increasingly my WCR blogatorial curator.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Laughing Stock

The last album by Talk Talk from 1991. Benjamin Miranda of Detholz! told me about this album at a show a few months ago and I've listened to it many times since. Gives "prog rock" a very different name. This is like the Kind of Blue of prog. The album slowly develops, ephemerally and impressionistically. A few other thoughts: they got the perfect tone on every instrument. Listen to that snare! Also, is "Ascension Day" actually a blues song?

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Steven Hyden on Kanye West and Elvis Costello

Remarkably, someone has written a lengthy comparison of Kanye West's 808s and Heartbreaks and Elvis Costello's first two albums, My Aim is True and This Year's Model. In my opinion, those albums, Costello's, are much better than 808s. But that doesn't matter so much as the argument: Kanye projects his vulnerability and self-hatred onto the women who have spurned him, outwardly displaying a "mean streak toward women" that mirrors Elvis in the early days.

I do see the point about Kanye's portrayal of and attitude toward women. (Recent creepy, controlling lyric from Watch the Throne: "Don't ever fuck nobody without telling me.") But I think it's rather harmless, especially compared to the last 20 years of popular rap and hip hop, and more unique than anything for the level of revulsion projected inward. I disagree with Hyden on Costello, though. I see the role of women in his early songs certainly as people who have rejected him, which is the source of his cynicism, but I don't think he is out to get them so much as himself. Even when he gets creepy ("I'm afraid I won't know where to stop" on "I Want You"), he's self-aware enough to know that obsessing in the shadows is no way to win someone back.

What's weird, I first heard "Alison" as a song comforting a woman who had been sexually abused. I thought "somebody better turn out the big light" meant to get this person out of the spotlight so she could heal after somebody had taken "off her party dress". Hyden sees it as a straight murder plot. "My aim is true"? I was thinking about Cupid arrows. Hyden was thinking crosshairs.

C'mon. On the early promos for My Aim is True, just look who's at the center of that bullseye.

Thursday, August 11, 2011


Love this song! Super minimal vibe even though those are some pretty busy snare hits. Drake kills those little melodic lines too. "They know, they know, they know..."

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The Cave... Really?

I know this isn't exactly a new song or anything, but WXRT has been playing the Mumford and Songs song "The Cave" for what seems like many times daily for the past year. I don't understand it. This is a terrible song. What's worse is that you can tell this band is trying so hard to make it sound both lyrically and musically complex. It is neither. Here's why.

The Words

I will hold on hope.
You can't hold on hope. You can hold on. And you can hold on to hope (I guess). Both of these other options would express the same idea but probably wouldn't have fit into the melody. Sucks that this is the first line of the chorus.

And I'll find strength in pain.
It's true you can find strength in pain. But, unlike the "hope" line, this one clearly does not fit the rhythm of the song. I wince every time I hear the vocalist trying to rush the word "find" (0:55).

Cause I need freedom now.
I think it's hard to pull off singing about freedom unless a) you are actually singing about freedom (Bob Marley, slaves), or b) you are singing about personal freedom, in which case you'd better explain yourself at some point in the song. These guys are doing neither.

The music:

The instrumental section of this song is the banjo-equivalent of an incredibly monotonous hair-guitar solo. It unfairly demands that we stomp one foot. (See YouTube comments: "BANJO SOLO!!" and "I just stomped a hole through my floor....")

You really have to earn your crescendoing trumpet coda within the first three minutes.

Little guitar picking thing.
The guitar in this song sounds like a college acoustic open-mic night that is just okay.

Maybe I have lost half of my readership by the end of this post. I certainly haven't made any new fans. But just listen to this song. Seriously.