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November 02, 2007

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Check out Okkervil River and Shearwater, connected bands. For Okkervil River, get Black Sheep Boy, and for Shearwater, get Palo Santo, the Sub Pop version. I think if you give each 5 listens, you'll be hooked.

I love Spoon, but I wanted to back up your point. I've been following them since 1997, and they've had their ups and downs, and it took them a long time to get some good stage presence going, and (to their credit) they've found a whole new (large) fan base that I don't relate to at all.

I've seen them six times, I think, and three times they were pretty ordinary. The last time I saw them was in London in August, supporting "Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga," and it was one of the most enjoyable gigs I've ever seen, the whole gig was like one extended sweet spot. That album is just wonderful, too.

Bougth Spoon's latest on cleek's recommendation, liked it.

Not indie "Rock" but up-and comer here.

I heard an extended interview with Allison Kraus and Robert Plant, including excerpts from the new album they did together, so I think that's the next album I'm going to get.

As far as the albums I've been listening to lately that I think probably deserve more attention, I'd say Toby Lightman's Little Things, Carbon Leaf's Echo Echo, and Jenny Lewis' Rabbit Fur Coat.

Let me plug once more Rhapsody for those of you who (like me) are basically connected to their computers. You pay $15 month and you never have to buy an album - you can listen to all these from up above. Or, you can listen first and then go buy.

I'm not paid by them - i just really enjoy the product.

It's all about Man Man.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Man_Man

Spoon is rock. all others pretend. i saw them open for Superchunk many years ago, and have been hooked ever since.

Andrew Bird is Dr Strings. none compare.

as for the NP's, i prefer Twin Cinema. Mass Romantic has never grabbed me, and the new one... well i don't know, my iPod won't pick any songs from it when shuffling.

Well, it's an open thread, so

Good news for Joss Whedon fans.

Saw Spoon for the third time last week, in an opening spot for the Shins. Huge Spoon fan - I think "GGGGG" is pretty incredible, the best one since "Girls Can Tell."

This fall has been about lots of shows - I saw Rilo Kiley recently, had tickets to the sadly canceled Decemberists show, and I'm seeing three shows I'm very excited about next month - Dr. Dog, Georgie James, and the Hold Steady.

In terms of albums, I recently got an album by a great little country-rock band called the Loose Salute, and I'm pretty into the new Blonde Redhead, which is just as weird as their earlier albums but much prettier and less abrasive.

Readers of the New Yorker will know that the essential question about these bands is are they too white. Frere-Jones has written some related nonsense about Stephin Merritt, the guy behind the extraordinary _69 Love Songs_.

_Electric Version_ is great, but I never understood the claims about Case's [studio] voice.

as for the NP's, i prefer Twin Cinema.

Ditto.

Ok, three recommendations for now; more later, once I get teh pesky work thing out of the way:

1. Los Campesinos!

Am madly love with these bouncy, sugar-shockingly exuberant Welsh youngsters. International TweeXcore Underground is an instant chairdance classic.

2. You Say Party! We Say Die!

Another group worthy of the exclamation marks, Vancouver dance punk quintet YSP!WSD! proves that George Clinton's maxim still holds true: free your ass and your mind will follow. The Gap is an essential, anthemic addition to any revolutionary iPod playlist.

3. Let's Go To War

Get out'cha fnckin' camera -- these booze-soaked T-Dot electro/hip hoppers eat hipsters for brunch, chased with Olde E. Life We Live is intoxicating fun (warning: naughty language abounds!)

As mentioned, more later...

I highly recommend The Homecoming Queens. These days, you can only get their stuff on line via their myspace site, or if you happen to be in the Long Island area when they are performing. They have a new CD due out in June. I've heard some of the stuff that's going to be on the CD, and really like it. I would add that I am highly biased inasmuch as the guitarist and co-lead vocalist is my son...

Saw Spoon for the third time last week, in an opening spot for the Shins

i die of envy.

saw the Shins a few weeks ago (Vetiver opened). their first encore was Pink Floyd's "Breathe". it was Just Right.

i haven't been able to get into Blonde Redhead since they stopped trying to sound like Sonic Youth. but i do love their first three records, especially "La Mia Vita Violenta".

and, this is an older one, but i find myself coming back to it over and over again: Marah's "If You Didn't Laugh, You'd Cry". it's like the Replacements meet Springsteen and mid-70's Rolling Stones. it's a great hit at parties, since it's got that very familiar roots-rock vibe, but is fresh enough to avoid sounding like a simple rip-off. people always ask, excitedly, "hey, who's this?"

Readers of the New Yorker will know that the essential question about these bands is are they too white.

SFJ can kiss my black a$$. Idolator FTW here and here and here.

I have really enjoyed listening to Ms. Case's solo album, _Fox Confessor ..._, although I find her lyrics range from great to somewhere bad about halfway between obscurantist and pretentious.

I read an interview with her where she mentioned how unprofessional she finds the use of pitch correction among singers--that they don't stay in the studio till they actually hit the right note. Maybe that determination is some of what fuels her onstage ability?

I'm afraid the next album I'll probably get is by Dragonforce, a true tweedly tweedly tweedly metal band if there ever was one. What can I say? I just crave more bombast in my life.

Quel coincidence. I live in the Philly area and just stumbled upon an underground karaoke event, once a month. The hosts were frustrated that most indie rock wasn't available for karaoke, so found a way to excise (or diminish) the vocal tracks, and processed them through software to sync up the lyrics. They have a list of over 500 tracks, including New Pornographers and Spoon.

I went last night for the first time, with one of my main objectives to expand my knowledge of indie rock music. I know Belle and Sebastian, and Decemberists, but not much else.

I re-upped my membership at eMusic today to start downloading some of this material. I had marked New Pornos to try, but I just added Spoon to my "download soon" list...

Do you ever find that there are things that you are aware of and think you would really be into if you had gotten into them, but you just haven't, for whatever reasons, gotten into them?

For example, I only saw The Big Lebowski for the first time maybe a year ago. That's a movie I should have watched fifty times before I finally saw it for the first time. Another would be not watching South Park until about two years ago. I should have been watching that show since it began airing.

Anyway, the reason I bring these things up is that I think the Melvins are a band that I should have been listening to for many years now, but haven't. So my question to all (well, really, each) of you is - what would be the best Melvins CD to go to first if I should have been listening to the Melvins forever but haven't?

Thanks for any input you may be able to provide. I know I might be barking up the wrong trees here, but thought I'd give it shot anyway. I'd also be curious to hear others' "I should have been into..." stories.

one drawback of having moved from DC back to Cleveland: we don't get shows like that, because they go to Chicago and/or Columbus, to get the OSU crowd.

Haven't bought much new lately, although I like what I've heard from the new Thermals. And the new Thurston Moore sounds excellent as well. I've been listening to older stuff lately - the first couple Dinosaur Jr albums, Rollins-era Black Flag, early REM, etc.

Do you ever find that there are things that you are aware of and think you would really be into if you had gotten into them, but you just haven't, for whatever reasons, gotten into them?

Donnie Darko, Buffy, Lost, Radiohead, Arcade Fire, MDMA.

Firefly would've been on that list, too, but someone made us borrow the DVDs and we were immediately hooked. took me a long time to get into the New Pornographers, too.

sometimes the hype around something (all of the above, for example) is enough to keep me away.

OT - it got pushed off the sidebar, but make sure you don't miss one of Mr. Thullen's finer moments, here.

"I read an interview with her where she mentioned how unprofessional she finds the use of pitch correction among singers"

I saw an article on WaPo or somewhere that said Brittany Spears' voice sounded like a robot on her entire new album. Some of it was vocoder, but a lot of it sounded an awful lot like pitch correction to me.

There was a fad for a while of using pitch correction to create a sort of "snap to grid" effect on vocal slides. It sounded pretty cool, until it got old.

I haven't heard a lot of stuff I liked this year. I had big hopes for Neil Finn and KT Tunstall, but was slightly disappointed overall. No Aimee Mann album at all. TMBG's latest one is a lot of fun. I got to see them live in a small theatre in PA, and it was a great show.

The Shins latest was the last really great one I've listened to.

Some of you might like "The Bird and the Bee". I think they have "Polite Dance Song" on their MySpace page.

"For example, I only saw The Big Lebowski for the first time maybe a year ago. That's a movie I should have watched fifty times before I finally saw it for the first time."

I've worshipped the Coen Brothers ever since I saw Blood Simple at the Seattle International Film Festival, before it was released, but I've never really felt The Big Lewbowski is one of their better films, frankly.

Raising Arizona, the first few times I saw it, was one of the funniest things I'd ever seen in my life; I still love it, although it's not quite as funny the thirtieth time around. And I could run through admiring opinions on almost all of their films. I like Lebowski, but I've not gotten into the cult of it.

If you like Firefly, Cleek, it's pretty likely you'd like Buffy; they're relatively close in sensibility, and they're equally intelligent and witty.

I got no current music talk, but I gots plenty of movie talk, to be deployed as necessary.

Donnie Darko, Buffy, Lost, Radiohead, Arcade Fire, MDMA.

Apart from Buffy and Arcade Fire, you haven't missed much.

Raising Arizona, the first few times I saw it, was one of the funniest things I'd ever seen in my life; I still love it, although it's not quite as funny the thirtieth time around.

I would estimate that somewhere between 8 and 9 out of every 10 seconds of that movie contains one form or another of hilarity or silliness. But I have seen that one many, many times myself, and have been seeing it since shortly after it was released, so it doesn't fit in the same category for me that Lebowski does (i.e. I should have seen it much sooner and many more times.).

I haven't seen all the Coen brothers' movies, but none that I have seen have been as good as Blood Simple, which was great. I have a similar problem with M. Night Shyamalan, though a few steps lower on the quality ladder.

Gary, have you viewed the trailer for "No Country for Old Men" yet? It looks great. There's also a great conversation between the Coens and Cormac McCarthy in last week's TIME, and a short bit glowing review by Corliss.

"I read an interview with her where she mentioned how unprofessional she finds the use of pitch correction among singers"

Agreed, but I find 10,000 Maniacs to be unlistenable whereas Natalie Merchant got pitch-corrected after going solo, according to my ear. Not that I particularly care for her in any case, or Stevie Nicks. Flat, flat, flat.

rilkefan: You are an evil, evil joy-bearing man.

For Whedon fans: he'll do another series, with Tim Minear, at least 7 eps.

I actually disagree about the New Pornographers. I think they've been pretty consistently good, although each album does have a different feel to it. So far, I feel like Challengers has a couple of really great tracks ("All the Old Showstoppers", "Challengers", and "All the Things That Go to Make Heaven and Earth") and the rest are pretty much just average for the New Pornographers -- which would still be great for most other bands. And my favourite album of theirs so far is actually Twin Cinema...

But at least we're agreed, I think, that Neko can do no wrong.

I saw the New Pornographers last week in Boston, and it was a pretty bitchin' show, even though the venue tried to ruin it by blowing out everybody's eardrums with ridiculous feedback off the main speakers.

I hadn't seem them live before, though, so I found it odd that Dan Bejar's contributions were relatively small. He only did vocals on a couple of the songs and left the stage for the rest of the show. It just stuck out because he was the only one who left the stage at all for the whole thing, so I found that odd.

"rilkefan: You are an evil, evil joy-bearing man."

That'll be hard to live up to. Not that that ever stopped John Thullen.

"Gary, have you viewed the trailer for 'No Country for Old Men' yet?"

Nope. I don't tend to see many trailers, given dial-up speeds, and also I have some sort of problem getting Quicktime streaming to work.

But I've read many good things about both the book and forthcoming movie.

I hate to see the Coens -- whom I grudgingly admit are not gods -- compared with M. Night Shyamalan, who has made one movie I liked: Unbreakable, and otherwise been a One Gimmick Movie maker seemingly growing ever dumber with each new picture.

But, then, I figured out the gimmick of The Sixth Sense within the first half hour, and spent the rest of the movie being more and more bored and irritated, waiting for it to end. (Same thing with The Usual Suspects, which seemed interminable after concluding in the early scenes that, oh, Keyser Soze is X: twist endings can ruin movies if you see them coming towards the beginning, and the movie's appeal rests heavily on them, unfortunately.)

By the time of The Village, I figured out the plot from the ads, and a review. After confirming that the plot was what I figured it was, I've still not bothered to see the picture, which is doubtless unfair, but.

Gary's recently seen DVDs (not counting films I've seen before) via Netflix:
Spider-Man 3
The Company
Kinsey
Amistad
The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones: Vol. 1: Disc 1
Attack Force Z
Troy
In Good Company
Al Franken: God Spoke
A Newsreel History of the Third Reich: Vol. 1
Edward R. Murrow: The Best of Person to Person: Disc 2
Comedian
Rome: Season 2: Disc 5
The TV Set
Flightplan
Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer
Black Snake Moan
Anna and the King
The Astronaut Farmer
Conquest of Space
Sunset Grill
Edward R. Murrow: The Best of Person to Person: Disc 1
The Corner: Disc 2
Spartacus (re-make)
Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World
Giuliani Time
300
The Hurricane
Layer Cake
Hard Candy
50 First Dates
The Fog of War
The Sentinel
Tomorrowland: Disc 2
The Manchurian Candidate (remake)
Rocky Balboa
A Scanner Darkly
The Illusionist
The Last Mimzy
American Splendor
Sideways
Marie Antoinette
The Battle of Algiers
The Queen
Shattered Glass
The Last King of Scotland
Million Dollar Baby
The Devil Wears Prada
The Prestige
The War Room
Little Miss Sunshine
Longitude
Nuremberg
Thank You For Smoking

And on backwards.

But lots of reseeing favorites in there, as well: Choose Me, the original Spartacus, My So-Called Life, Z, and so on. Currently part-way into The Weather Underground, and about to start Stargate Atlantis Season 3.

My main problem is keeping my queue under the maximum of 500; I have to keep resisting the urge to add to the list. I really wish they went to at least 750.

"For Whedon fans: he'll do another series, with Tim Minear, at least 7 eps."

I'm a big fan of the talent, but the plot is very lovechild of Alias and Bourne Identity. Ok, Eliza Dushku doing random cool things will be entertaining, but I don't actually believe in Gene Wolfe's (or maybe Steven Brust's) Cool Theory of Literature - most works require some shape.

hairshirthedonist: Try the HBO series _The Wire_.

"For Whedon fans: he'll do another series, with Tim Minear, at least 7 eps."

We hope. They have a contract, but since the Writer's Guild strike probably begins tonight at midnight, or tomorrow, one shouldn't count on anything until the strike is over, and the Director's Guild's and Screen Actor's Guild's contracts are settled in June.

rilkefan--
500 @*$#$#* years after. Grrrrrrr. If I want to read second-rate Dumas, I'll read Dumas, thank you very much. (Although to be fair, it is by no means as odious a waste of time as _Lord Jim joins the Space Patrol, or Second Chances_, by Susan Shwartz.)

"hairshirthedonist: Try the HBO series _The Wire_."

Of course. And anybody who likes The Wire should go back and watch all of Homicide: Life On The Street, or at least the first two seasons.

"...most works require some shape."

I'm reasonably sure that both Gene Wolfe and Steve Brust have figured that part out, whether it's acknowledge in a sound-bite equivalent, or not.

Not that one is required to admire their execution, of course.

Almost, but not quite.

Tim Minnear comments briefly. Dollhouse website.

I'm a big fan of the talent, but the plot is very lovechild of Alias and Bourne Identity

I have more confidence, but that might be because I've always hated the outlines of his series and thought they'd be dumb.

@Gary: yeah, the strike will have an impact on many series. We'll wait and see. But I am just glad that it's likely there will be another series. Buffy S8 doesn't fill the gap ;)

Check out Dinosaur Jr.'s new album Beyond. It's as good as Pitchfork says it is and probably better. Listen to "We're Not Alone." It's got a stellar guitar solo, just like every other song on the record.

Silversun Pickups are reviving the fuzzed-out slacker sound of the 90's. Carnavas is a great little album that is relatively modest but will appeal to fans of the Smashing Pumpkins who enjoy just a hint of My Bloody Valentine mixed in to the sound. Give "Lazy Eye" a listen for maximum alternative nostalgia.

I Love You But I've Chose Darkness win the award for ridiculously long band name but their succinctly-titled album Fear Is on Our Side is quite the gem, and will appeal to people who tend towards the Interpol/Editors/Walkmen end of the indie rock spectrum. "According to Plan" will vibrate your teeth with its dominating bass line and will keep you hooked with little new wave/post-punk flourishes.

"I have more confidence, but that might be because I've always hated the outlines of his series and thought they'd be dumb."

Yeah. Fiction, in whatever form, whether text, movies, tv, comics, whatever, is mostly and usually -- there are certainly exceptions -- all about execution, its skill and style and parts, rather than plot or concept.

I continually point back to how dumb and cliched the plot of Star Wars was, when described before the movie came out.

And the idea of Buffy sounds entirely dopey, and particularly unattractive if one has no particular interest in horror/vampires, etc., per se (like me!).

In fact, the difference between the relatively crap movie of Buffy, The Vampire Slayer, and the tv show, where Joss had creative control, is a superb demonstration of how the same concept can be half-ruined or done well.

Dagnabit.

"...most works require some shape."

Gary: 'I'm reasonably sure that both Gene Wolfe and Steve Brust have figured that part out, whether it's acknowledge in a sound-bite equivalent, or not.'

Well, I have my doubts. Large segments of many of Wolfe's masterpieces, whether _Peace_ or _Fifth Head_ or _The Book of the New Sun_, are barely functional from a plot POV, and in lesser works like _The Long Sun_ such segments read to me as bloat. Brust is fully capable of writing a relentlessly tight novel - _Agyar_ being the best example, but almost all of the Vlad novels are cleanly thematic - but there are many hundreds of pages of _The Viscount of Adrilankha_ which are either formless or follow a form I never wish to see again.

JakeB: "500 @*$#$#* years after. Grrrrrrr. If I want to read second-rate Dumas"

Well, it's enhanced in context, and, well, second-rate Dumas is still pretty good, and I do think the novel has an excellent acceleration to doom. Compare the percentage of filler in _Le Comte de Monte-Cristo_ for example - is the signal over 10%?

"Fiction, in whatever form, whether text, movies, tv, comics, whatever, is mostly and usually -- there are certainly exceptions -- all about execution, its skill and style and parts, rather than plot or concept."

_Buffy_ itself is replete with examples of the importance of form.

I've been on a retro punk phase since last spring, Clash, Dead Kennedys. I've never liked college indy music too much. It all ends up sounding alike.

I like Lebowski, but I've not gotten into the cult of it.

I am also a huge fan of the Cohen's. They even I even went to the same high school as them in Minnesota. (not at the same time though).

I've thought of them best as masterful story tellers. They are great at presenting their story without comment, they don't pass judgment on their characters. For some reason I think of Fargo, Lebowski and O Brother as a kind of trilogy. Where the evnronment plays an important part, a playground for the characters. But exaggerated for effect. In Lebowski it helps if you've lived on the west coast. The movie if filled with great mantras. I think that is it's best feature.

Never liked raising arizona though.

I hate to see the Coens -- whom I grudgingly admit are not gods -- compared with M. Night Shyamalan
Well, I did say "a few steps lower on the quality ladder". Perhaps those are big steps. I should have said he wasn't in the same league, which I think I even had typed at one point before editing.

The only parallel I was drawing was about directors who had trouble ever again reaching the level of their first (or first noticed) films. I liked The Sixth Sense and found Unbreakable only okay, though certainly better than Signs.

Gary, how much do you space out your viewing of individual discs from TV series? For me, being able to watch a whole season in a short time is one of the advantages of Netflix. I sometimes interleave movies or other series, but I almost never have more than one intervening between consecutive discs of a season.

rilkefan--
actually, you're right about the acceleration bit. The thing that cheesed me off most was the gee-whiz gratuitousness of the 500 years element. If 500 years aren't actually different from 10 years in any significant sense, who cares? It pushes the same button for me as does, say, the soundtrack to _Jurassic Park_ when you first see the dinosaurs -- I, viewer, am supposed to be impressed by this? Why are you bastards wasting my time?

KCinDC said:
"Perhaps those are big steps. I should have said he wasn't in the same league,"

So M. Night is a foot massage, and the Coen brothers . . .

So M. Night is a foot massage, and the Coen brothers . . .

I love happy endings.

"The thing that cheesed me off most was the gee-whiz gratuitousness of the 500 years element."

Well, fair enough, but that's because the novel is set in a much larger created universe where this makes sense internally and is incidentally a tribute to another important influence, Roger Zelazny - but scaling every reference to years down by 25 would leave effectively exactly the same stand-alone work. (I also think there's a strong case for a rereading of the novel which gives it a lot of added depth, but Brust has never acknowledged that rereading positively or negatively.)

"Gary, how much do you space out your viewing of individual discs from TV series?"

Depends entirely as to how I feel about the series.

And also whether it's in one of three categories: 1) wholly new to me, like HBO series; 2) semi-new, like one I've seen earlier seasons of, but not later seasons, or that I've seen only with extremely fuzzy reception on broadcast tv; or 3) old series I've not seen in many years, but enjoy seeing on DVD, whether out of nostalgia, curiosity about how the period looks now, or fondness for the old series, such as, say, The Wild Wild West, or early Mission Impossible, or the like.

A series I quite like, and don't get to see because it's on cable, such as a Stargate, a Battlestar Galactica, The Wire, and the like, I tend to scarf down fairly whole, one after the other.

But sometimes I prefer to space them out, so as to savor them.

And then sometimes I get delayed watching other stuff.

But more than not, those as above I'll go straight through. And more than not, older series, or those that are wonderful by an episode, but seem a but over-rich if seen one after another -- for instance, Weeds -- I'll space out.

Thus the ending up at: it depends on how I feel about the given series.

Series I've gone straight through, at least as available: Rome, The Wire, Deadwood.

Series I watch or watched more intermittently: BSG, Veronica Mars (saw some of broadcast version), Heroes (saw broadcast version), The Corner, My So-Called Life (re-viewing).

And, of course, it also depends on how I feel on a given day.

[Expletive deleted]: Schumer, Feinstein Announce Support for Mukasey.

Gary,

I've never really felt The Big Lewbowski is one of their better films, frankly.

You need to watch the Bogart/Bacall classic 'The Big Sleep' right before watching the Big Lebowski, for it is in fact a parody; then you will understand why it is second only to Miller's Crossing in the Coen Bros pantheon.

farmgirl: So, if not Merchant, what female vocalists do you like? Here's my top 5:

1. Elizabeth Frasier (Cocteau Twins)
2. Caroline Crowley (Shelleyan Orphan)
3. Tracey Thorn (Everything but the Girl)
4. KD Lang
5. Shawn Colvin
6. Aimee Mann

So basically, I'm old. But I got the Feist album (on someone here's recommendation, I think), and I think her voice is great, and KT Tunstall, and Missy Higgins, who takes some getting used to.

Since it's an open thread - I thought the reaction I got for mentioning ObWi on RedState today was kind of funny.

I have to agree with cleek that Andrew Bird is well worth checking out. I downloaded his whole CD from eMusic on the strength of Scythian Empire, but didn't listen to the whole thing all the way through before dumping it on my iPod.

But I'll be damned if song after song of his keeps jumping out and grabbing me when I've got the device on shuffle. Imitosis has been painfully addictive.

hairshirthedonist: Try the HBO series _The Wire_.

That's also on my list of things I'm aware of, not yet into, but should be into. I had a long conversation a number of months ago with a cop who spent a lot of time working with juvenile drug offenders about The Wire just after I had listened to an interview on NPR with either a writer or director from the show. The cop absolutely loved that show because of its realism and said his wife thought he was a kook for being too into it. Judging from our conversation, he was really, really into it. One of these days I'll catch it on On Demand or something.

I just got this amazing album that totally blew my mind. It's called OK Computer by this band called Radiohead... yeah I know I'm only 10 years late, but hey, in 1997 I was getting married and had no head for gloomy artsy proggy rock. And I don't know how I managed to avoid it all these years, but... wow. I must the only person on the planet to have listened to In Rainbows (that's pretty good too) before OK Computer.

I got into Spoon last year and spent several months' worth of EMusic downloads getting pretty much everything they've released. Ga Ga etc was the first record I've preordered in about 30 years of buying them. I still like Gimme Fiction better, but it's growing on me.

Here's a recommendation for something indie, if not rock: a live album called Midnight in Mali. The cream of Mali's (many) musical scenes let their hair down and have fun and improvise.

Schumer, Feinstein Announce Support for Mukasey.

i'll say it again : he'll be confirmed, 70-30.

this country is over. it is an ex-Republic

"this country is over. it is an ex-Republic"

On the plus side, every boy and girl will get to dream of someday being Emperor!

Or at least an asthmatic with a really phallic head.

By the way, SFJ said later that Spoon is exempt from his criticisms about indie rock being too white.

I was more than a little startled to find that the Pet Shop Boys got political on their 2006 album Fundamental, as well as interestingly reflective on other fronts. Youtube links to (with one exception) a concert in Argentina follow.

"I'm With Stupid" is a hilarious stab at Blair and Bush's relationship, working with the cliches of teen romance.

"The Sodom and Gomorrah Show" is maybe the best song about what finding the community of those who live and love like you means that I know. The staging for the song in concert is hilarious, in a very kind way, a remembrance of an era done in for dumb reasons.

"Opportunities" was one of my favorite songs from the Boys back in the '80s, a satirical take on the hustlers for whom business and crime were pretty much all the same thing as long as they got to make money. "Integral" is one of the songs on the new album, an equally satirical take on those claiming to protect us all: "If you've got nothing to hide, you've got nothing to fear; if you have something to hide, you shouldn't even be here", and all that. In concert they do the two songs as a medley, and it seems like a pretty valid geneology of ambitions to me.

Finally, Numb is both a startingly beautiful and strange video and a pretty good statement of where my head seems to be a lot these days. "Feels like I feel too much, I've seen too much, For a little while I want to forget". Yeah.

Fundamental stands out as one of PSB's finest albums--period. That it was produced at such a late point in their existence as a group is amazing.

Thanks for highlighting it, Bruce.

My pleasure, Matt. I got it mostly hoping for a good smooth sound to write to, since I have always liked some synth pop and reading that Trevor Horn produced it gave me great hope, and then there turned out to be all this really interesting stuff going on with it.

re: SFJ - he srsly hearts Deftones.That alone disqualifies him from possessing any credibility as a music critic, serious or otherwise.

("Low bass frequencies" indeed; what a wanker.)

Bruce: everything Trever Horn touches turns to pure gold; one would hope he's not a chronic onanist.

K, one more selection before bed - not necessarily what one would traditionally define as 'indie'*, but still worthy of attention:

My significant other recently turned me on to Kiwi D&B juggernauts Concord Dawn, who it turns out I've actually unknowingly been a fan of for quite some time. That'll learn me to ignore tracklistings on mixsets ("damn, who does that song at 11:27?!") Broken Eyes mixes deep, rolling bass with sumptuous pop melodies and a razor-sharp guitar hook; this has been part of the soundtrack of my mind since I first heard it in a John B set several years ago.

*Is Jungle/D&B black enough for SFJ? Inquiring minds say "fnck SFJ."

Okay, time for some distraction. So. Music videos with footage from World of Warcraft. (Why yes, I'm a junkie, thanks.)

"Hardware Store", by the inestimable Weird Al Yankovic. This is one that warrants a finger on the pause button - the mocked-up item listings are glorious.

"500 Miles", by the Proclaimers. A delightful sweetly romantic song, and the video makes good use of the trolls, WoW's most entertaingly expressive race.

"Here Without You", by 3 Doors Down. Angst on parade, and pretty suitably chosen angst at that. What's a race of undead for, if not to give an excuse for portraying all kinds of unresolvable regret and stuff?

And now for a couple Jonathan Coulton songs:

"Skullcrusher Mountain", one of the very, very finest odes to mad science ever.

"re: Your Brains", an equally meritorious treatment of zombie issues and business planning.

And finally, an interesting bit of original music from Level 70 Elite Tauren Chieftain, a band that includes the WoW art director and others who work at Blizzard. They've put together original art and animation that unsurprisingly blends pretty seamlessly with actual game footage for "I am Murloc", which is just so thoroughly what heavy metal rebel wannabes would be all over if there were heavy metal in WoW. These guys are the Ozzy Osbourne or Marilyn Manson of their world.

Contra farmgirl, Natalie Merchant (at least up through "Ophelia") and Stevie Nicks (at least up through, um, "The Wild Heart," maybe?) are two of my all-time fave female vocalists. Pitch-perfection is overrated, and I don't think early Merchant is flat so much as warbly. Same as Nicks.

Gary, if you can handle YouTube on dialup, the No Country trailer can be seen here.

Second the Silversun Pickups recommendation above -- very listenable for fans of 90s alternarock and even 80s postpunk. The new Josh Ritter single, "Right Moves," is good, but Sirius is playing it about every 10th song on their "Left Of Center" channel. Waiting for something new from the Futureheads, whose "News and Tributes" was one of my best 2006 purchases.

"Gary, if you can handle YouTube on dialup, the No Country trailer can be seen here."

I can make YouTube work; it's just a matter of clogging my pipe for however long: 20 minutes, an hour, whatever, during which time it will take about a minute or two every time I want to load a new page to read or view. Or choosing to go for a walk, or to run errands, or something else entirely offline.

For something that seems really really worthwhile, I'll do it, but it better be worth that hour or whatever of downtime, or the world shall know The Annoyance Of Gary.

(And then I get cranky and shirty online; you wouldn't like me when I'm cranky and shirty. ;-))

I like Natalie Merchant, and 10,000 Maniacs, as well. I have a major weakness for catchy, tuneful, pop, particularly with a strong female vocalist.

Stevie Nicks, I'm fairly neutral about: I don't dislike her at all, but I'm not particularly a fan, either. I liked the pop Fleetwood Mac songs mildly in their day, like much of America, at least if you were 17 when Rumours came out, and got a little burned out on them eventually, like much of America, and am left just luke-warm about her, and them, which is pretty much where I've always been as regards both Nick and Mac.

Anyone ever listen to October Project? I'm quite fond of the first two albums.

October Project is altogether a delight and a comfort to me, and recent solo work by Mary Fahl (the deeper of the two vocalists) is in the same ambience.

Barack Obama just appeared in a Saturday Night Live sketch, playing himself wearing a Barack Obama Halloween costume, at a Halloween party of Hillary and Bill's; the joke being him telling Hillary that he'd only be himself, unlike her. And he did "Live from NY!"

So now he's sure to win.

Wow, I filled a post-it with new stuff check out. Thanks guys!

Recently, I've been listening to VHS or Beta and Shiny Toy Guns for some eighties nostalgia. Imogen Heap for some smooth synthy stuff. Army of Anyone (the guy from Filter with the musicians from Stone Temple Pilots) to rock out to. Black Light Burns (the guitarist from Limp Bizkit with guys from Nine Inch Nails band and A Perfect Circle) for Tool-ish metal. The new Annie Lennox just to hear her fabulous voice. The new and possibly last Ministry to relive my speed punk/industrial youth. And I have been catching up with Ben Folds and Counting Crows.

I'm kinda sad I missed this thread earlier.

I miss Bob McManus' guitar pyrotechnics and Jackmormon's harmonies.

dkilmer -- Sorry for the delay, I was offline this weekend. Favorite female vocalists? In no particular order, off the top of my head:

- Ella Fitzgerald
- Cesaria Evora
- KD Lang
- Norah Jones
- Gigi (Ethiopian singer)

And I'm probably leaving something out.

I'm moderately embarassed to say I'm not familiar with some of the singers on your list, and others I know the name but can't pull up the sound. I do like Everything But the Girl and had been planning to buy an CD a while back ... I don't buy a whole lot of music, and ended up dithering so long on which album to get that I never bought one. Perhaps you can suggest?

Based on Norah Jones and KD Lang being on your list, the Everything But the Girl record I'd go with is "Amplified Heart". Simple instrumentation (acoustic guitar, upright bass), gorgeous melodies, haunting lyrics. It takes a few listens to get under your skin.

Most of the stuff on my list is either fairly old, slightly obscure, or only had any popularity in England (or all three). I hadn't even heard of Evora or Gigi, so we're probably about even ;).

dkilmer -- thanks for the album pointer. I highly recommend Evora; she is from Cape Verde and they have a music tradition similar to Brazilian jazz/blues if that appeals to you.

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