Music

REVIEW: I Am the Heat – The Future Doesn’t Need Us

Posted on January 16, 2009 by

I suppose if you’ve never listened to indie pop before you might find I Am the Heat’s album The Future Doesn’t Need Us a bit interesting. Unfortunately, I have heard indie pop before, so I’m left with nothing.

It’s not a necessarily bad album by any means, I’ve just heard the same let’s-write-a-song-for-the-sake-of-writing-a-song stuff before. Many times before. Anyone out there ever head of ‘Space Bike’? I used to think they were awesome; until I realized my favorite indie-pop bands were only my favorites because I heard them first. It’s like buying a box of Corn Pops, eating one, loving it, and not liking all of the other corn pops because they taste too much like the first one. There’s nothing new going on here.

Once again, it’s not bad; but it’s not great. Should you buy it? No. You probably already own it, but it’s a different album, written by a different band, and you like that one more.

Hits & Misses, Music, Old Stuff | | 1 Comment »

REVIEW: Frosh U: The Best of Frosh (Various Artists)

Posted on December 9, 2008 by

The ultimate cliché album has me fighting with myself to not write cliché jokes about it. Roofies, frat boys/sorority girls, keg stands, gym passes, fantasy football leagues, drunk driving, Greek alphabets: all off limits. I’m gonna walk 500 miles in someone else’s shoes for once.

This album plays out like a party should play out. Classics, bangers, mash-ups, slo jams and a couple of bi-curious sing-alongs. Buy a twelve pack of beer, drink 6 and put the album on. “Fuck you bro, my stereo = my tunes.” Drink the other 6 (or maybe give a couple away to babes or friends, cause who really drinks 12?) throughout the course of the album and see where I stand at that point. Knowing my (hypothetical) self, I’d be having a real good time. “I’ll fuck anything that moves!” Rad.

By the time “Paradise By The Dashboard Light” comes on, I’m ready for bed (baby, baby, lemme sleep on it). Best frosh week ever! Best Best of Frosh cd ever!

The grass is pretty green on that side, plus they’ve got a killer soundtrack.

Hits & Misses, Music | | 1 Comment »

REVIEW: Kanye West – 808s and Heartbreak (Roc-A-Fella)

Posted on November 28, 2008 by

Man. Kanye West is really bummed out.

His mom died then he dumped his fiancée and then T-Pain gave him the keys to the Auto-Tune and friends, there you have 808s and Heartbreak.

TAKE HEED. This is not a hip hop record. This is a pop record. It is an eerie, angry documentation of a very specific time in West’s life, and it might actually be his most consistent release since 2004’s excellent College Dropout (which, if you’re not familiar with it, has one of the most flawless track successions EVER starting with 3 all the way to 13. Just sayin’).

Kanye had some sad melodies in his broken heart and so he wanted to sing, not rap. Relying on the aforementioned Auto-Tune not only allowed him to do this on every song, but also effectively gives the album its permeating cold, dark texture. Combined with the classic (and album namesake) Roland TR-808 drum machine chants, 808s and Heartbreak’s production is minimal but detailed, repetitive but melodic — disparate, yes, and not at all desperate. Musing entirely on love lost, Kanye isn’t sorry or pleading – he’s pissed. In the classic pop music post break-up fuck you, we only get West’s side of the story. He calls his ex out for being heartless, evil (Heartless), and a spoiled drama queen (RoboCop). Sort of a dick move, but hey, no one ever said Kanye wasn’t a dick.

It’s a little weird, this one. Weird and pretty great. 808s and Heartbreak gets 4.5 stupid sunglasses out of 5.

Hits & Misses, Music | | 3 Comments »

REVIEW: Mother Mother – O My Heart (Last Gang)

Posted on November 2, 2008 by

This record is a perfect reminder of what a jerk I can be sometimes. Because it’s really good, and everyone “buzzed” about them last time around, but I couldn’t be bothered. I just ignored them and every good thing every one of my friends said about them.

If you skip past the few slower tracks, O My Heart sounds like the Pixies wrote some songs with the New Pornographers and then they all had a giddy indie rock party in the studio. Can anyone confirm if this is also what their first record might sound like? If so, I’ve been missing out huge, and the jerk level increases.

Mother Mother play a CD release show in their home town of Vancouver on Nov. 28, so if you live all the way over there, go. FOR ME.

Hits & Misses, Music | | 2 Comments »

REVIEW: Hospital Bombers – Footnotes

Posted on October 28, 2008 by

Hospital Bombers is a band from Amsterdam, Netherlands. They’re so Dutch, their website isn’t even in English. However, they sing lovely songs in what I believe is English.

Their first album, Footnotes, has a sound that fondly reminds me of English speaking/singing bands like Cake or The Mountain Goats. There’s even a dash of The Weakerthans in there. They do that honest, pleasant sounding rock (as opposed to the angry, angry sounding rock) very well. So if you’re into any of the above mentioned bands, check it out.

Hits & Misses, Music | | 1 Comment »

REVIEW: Kathy Griffin: For Your Consideration

Posted on October 23, 2008 by

If there’s one kind of “people” I like, it’s people who tell it like it is. You know? People who aren’t afraid to not think before they speak, and just blurt out whatever, but mostly, I love people who can make a career out of that, like Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity and Kathy Griffin. So if you’re like me, you should probably give Kathy Griffin’s For Your Consideration a good listen, and let her refreshing, no-holds-barred comedy wash over you.

As I get older, I really love humour about aging parents, so if you’re into that, you’ll love the track “Happy Monday (More Maggie!)” But don’t worry, Kathy gets back to her celeb-bashing roots with “Freaky Doll People (Demi? Oh yeah!)” so get ready to laugh.

In all honesty, I didn’t hate it. I laughed once, and listened kind of intently for the rest of the fifty-seven minutes. If you were hoping for something more hilariously scathing, maybe you should ask me when I’m on my period! Am I right, ladies?

Hits & Misses, Music | | 7 Comments »

REVIEW: NKOTB – Live in Toronto, Sept. 18, 2008

Posted on September 23, 2008 by

Dear haters,

Step off.

The rest of you can carry on.

I guess you could say that part of me has been waiting 20 years for what happened Thursday night.

Without a trace of irony, myself and 8,999 of my closest friends packed the Air Canada Centre for the first stop on the New Kids on the Block North American reunion tour. As a wee lass growing up in rural Nova Scotia I never got a chance to see my first favourite group in concert during their early 90s peak. The closest I came was when they were rumoured to be playing Halifax, and while my dad called the venue to check, my sister and I did the Dance of Joy like Larry and Balki from Perfect Strangers. Turned out of course to be a dream-crushing lie, and we didn’t get to see them. So, I went last week. And I had the most fun I’ve had at a show in a while. My cousin, who I brought along, said it was the best night she’s had since her wedding earlier this summer, and probably better than any night before that for a long time. Magic.

As mentioned, I left the irony at home, but there was no way I wasn’t showing up drunk on nostalgia. It was actually exciting to be there. I know, shut up. But it was. I’ve never heard an audience as loud (NKOTB was my first and only foray into any sort of pop-phenom territory, so I don’t know, I’m sure the Jonas Brothers get it all the time), and seriously, if I was going to be there, why bother being a jerk? That means I cheered obnoxiously with everyone else, and it means I checked in with my other co-attendee via eye contact whenever we thought something especially funny (code for swoonworthy), and I generally had an insane amount of fun. I even did the “Hangin’ Tough” arm sway thing. You know the one. Do you guys still want to be my friends?

What can I say about the group? Yes, they’ve aged. Some of the notes were a bit… strained. And I can’t help but think that the extended costume changes were actually just a time-buyer for breath-catching and maybe some snacks. I bet when they disbanded 15 years ago they never pictured themselves on a sold-out arena tour again, but they handled it graciously, and were even a little surprised at the reaction. Donnie Wahlberg did most of the talking, at one point very creepily pointing out that we the audience were indeed old enough to party now. Jordan and Joey were their fan-favorite solo-singing selves, and Jon and Danny pretty much awkwardly hid in the back. Just like the old days! They danced, they sang, they’re the New Kids on the Block, what else are they supposed to do? It really wasn’t even about them. It was all us. Audience observation highlights include Joey “Victim” McIntyre being hit in the face with a bra, and the extremely vulgar comments the ladies behind us were screaming all night, also directed to Joey. Seriously, they were filthy. I was blushing.

I couldn’t help but think of how I would have been reacting at that very moment if it was eight year old Nicole in attendance (assuming those women would have been my age and not saying those terrible things):

Current Day Nicole: This is hilarious! I wonder what they’ll open with.
Eight Year Old Nicole: AAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Current Day Nicole: Cool, these new songs actually sound like pretty decent Top 40 stuff (turns out they worked with Timbaland, DUH).
Eight Year Old Nicole: I WONDER IF JORDAN CAN SEE ME.

Current Day Nicole: Wow this is so loud! My ears sure are going to hurt tomorrow!
Eight Year Old Nicole: AHHHHHHHHDHGDGDK STEP BY STEP OOH BABY GONNA GET TO YOU GIIIIIRRRRLLLLL

Whether or not those could both have applied on Thursday night is not up for discussion.

MORAL: Trips down memory lane are fun! Just like the shoddy, graphic-heavy slideshow projected above the stage said: They’re BACK. I never thought I would see Jordan Knight’s wispy button-down shirt blowing all around him as he danced on an air vent (a visual made famous by this video), but I did. I saw it. And now I am complete.

Hits & Misses, Live, Music | | 3 Comments »

REVIEW: Ratatat – LP3

Posted on September 19, 2008 by

Anyone who doesn’t like Ratatat, or their new album LP3, has forgotten what it was like the first time they fell in love, the first time they discovered the internet, the first time they were hung the fuck over, the first time they read a really good book, the first time the reread a really good book and enjoyed it more, the first time they stayed up til 3 in the morning chatting about nothing with their crush, the first time they sang along with the radio, and the first time they ate so much pizza that they rolled home.

Ratatat has done it again, and fuck you if you disagree.

Hits & Misses, Music | | 5 Comments »

No Idea Records doubleshot review!

Posted on September 18, 2008 by

Planes Mistaken For Stars
We Ride To Fight! The First Four Years

The first thing I heard from Planes Mistaken For Stars was their wicked awesome song ‘Belly Full of Hell’ off Up In Them Guts, which still stands as the best album title of all time. Anyway, I remember thinking, wow, this song is really complex and amazing, how I wish I had an auditory document of this band’s early days! OK, I didn’t really think that, but now that there is one, I’m glad I have it. Nothing on here is as balls-out killer as ‘Belly Full of Hell’, but that’s the point, right? The real reason this record is great is cause of the four Black Flag covers. Yeah, every remotely punk band in existence has some cuts from Damaged floating about somewhere, but I say with zero hyperbole that PMFS’s are the tightest. ‘Gimmie Gimmie Gimmie’ should’ve always sounded this exciting. Three hungry hungry hippos out of four.

Glass and Ashes
s/t

I’m gonna commit a punk-rock sin here and just come out with it. This is always awkward, but… I don’t like Hot Water Music, except for ‘Paper Thin,’ which is a totally rad song. They always came across as total bros who would totally have beat me up in high school, and then go play their burly everyman punk rock to the adulation of everyone, and gotten mad play in the process. Regardless of whether or not this is true (feel free to correct me with a well-placed comment below), that’s just how they came across to 17 year-old me. So how does this fit in with this Glass and Ashes record? Cause this record is like Hot Water Music sans the ultra-anthemic hooks, the burliness, and, to my lil ol’ ears, a whole lot more cred. That being said, this is a No Idea Record, all right. You got your crunchy power chords, you got your world-weary yelling guy, and you got your half-time breakdowns with the single-string riffage until you start picking it up and then rage some more. Glass and Ashes got their formula, and it works. Three Flava Flav clocks outta five.

PLUS!
SUPER SPECIAL BONUS FEATURE!
A GREAT FORGOTTEN RECORD!

The VSS
Nervous Circuits

So this isn’t really a review, it’s more of a check-this-shit-out-it’s-so-hype-you-can’t-miss-it deal. Hydra Head reissued this little gem of a record, and I thought to myself, JUICEBOXdotcom readers love amazing 90’s art-punk records, I must let them know! So, here we go. Lemme drop some knowledge in your headbox first. See, once upon a time (1991), there was this San Diego record label called Gravity Records, who were totally rad cause they had bands like Heroin, Antioch Arrow, Angel Hair, and this little two-piece band called the VSS. Gravity Records’ bands were all incredibly punk rock, but also super arty and weird, and none of them could really play (except for exceptions like Unwound). Anyway, The VSS were no different, except every song on Nervous Circuits is crazy good. You got screeching guitar ‘riffs’, weird-as-fuck electronics, rudimentary drumming, and this maniac yelping all over it. It was like all I listened to in Grade 11, and now you can pick it up with relative ease! Listen to ‘Lunar Weight’, officially the best song of 1997, if you don’t believe me. Sonny Kay, the band’s singer, went on to form the Gold Standard Laboratories label, which officially has one of the most solid hit-to-miss release ratios of any label ever, and the band Year Future, who also got my stamp of approval. Just thought you guys should know.

Hits & Misses, Music | | 6 Comments »

REVIEW: Mount Eerie – Black Wooden Ceiling Opening

Posted on July 24, 2008 by

It’s kind of cool to see what happens when someone who’s known for doing one thing really well just up and decides to turn that one thing on its head. Enter: Black Wooden Ceiling Opening by Mount Eerie. Phil Elverum is great at making meandering, haunting, beautiful music which occasionally dips into that whole a-little-too-cryptic-and-obtuse-to-be-truly-enjoyable-by-anyone-other-than-Phil-Elverum territory.

With all that said his newest record, Black Wooden is an awesome lofi-folk-metal (kinda) concoction in which Elverum reinvents his songs into the made-up genre of Black Wooden, which is in turn a reinvention of Black Metal – awww, there’s that cryptic and obtuse Elverum we know and love.

This record is like Christmas morning: I ordered it from Elverum himself via his label P.W. Elverum & Sun, ltd. and it arrived promptly, hand-addressed by the man himself (you can tell, trust me). The package contained the six track 10″ record on pretty pretty white vinyl as well as a CD version of the album with an additional eleven live tracks, plus the packaging of the record which unfolds into two beautiful posters. And it’s good! It’s warm and it’s dark and it’s Mount Eerie. And I love Mount Eerie. Marry me, Santa Elverum.

Hits & Misses, Music | | 1 Comment »

REVIEW: Sigur Ros – Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust

Posted on June 23, 2008 by

sigur-ros.jpgIcelandic atmospheric post-rockers Sigur Rós are back with their latest full length album, Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust (translated into English: With a Buzz in Our Ears We Play Endlessly). While still reigning on the throne of ‘shoe-gazing’ Avant-garde, they have taken serious strides towards harnessing an organic sound. The album opens with the single, “Gobbledigook,” and you immediately get a feel for this new direction with tribal drum beats and an all-together raw, unpolished sound (as far as one can use the words raw and unpolished to describe Sigur Ros). The album also features Sigur Ros’ first foray into English language lyrics with the album finishing “All Alright.” It’s alright. After listening to the record a few times, I decided that I liked all of it, but I didn’t love it all. But I’m sure there will be no shortage of films tapping into this album for ominous and transformation related scores. (EMI, XL Recordings)

Hits & Misses, Music | | Comment »

REVIEW: Coldplay – Viva La Vida or Death And All His Friends

Posted on June 17, 2008 by

Coldplay has a new album out today. If you like this band, you’ll like Viva La Vida or Death And All His Friends and if you don’t, you won’t. So instead of wasting time reviewing the album, let’s review the album cover.

The painting seen here is by a famous Romanticist painter named Eugene Delacroix. It’s called Liberty Leading the People (La Liberté guidant le peuple) and the painting’s message is rather blunt. It’s about the French Revolution, and is full of images that speak to Liberty (the tricolore flag, Liberty modeled after Marianne [a national emblem], the Phyrgian cap, even the young boy with the guns is said to be Gavroche, a child revolutionary from Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables). Delacroix painted this as a cathartic substitute for not being able to fight for his country.

The reason that’s important is because Romanticism is a style that is often associated with fluidity, movement, and passion. When you look at Liberty Leading the People, the intent is that you are inspired with a sense of (French) nationalism, or on a grander scale, you are inspired by the power of freedom. At least, that’s what Delacroix allegedly felt through the act of painting this.

With all that useful knowledge, think about what Coldplay means by painting the words “Viva La Vida” over top of it. It could be a statement at the failing quality of Liberty. It could mean that the old value of freedom that was so valiantly (and violently) fought for some 220 years ago is once again slipping away and transforming into the evil that was once opposed. By graffiti-ing over a painting about rebellion, are you, in turn, rebelling against rebellion?

How smart do you think Coldplay is?

And what does it mean when the title Viva La Vida is an homage to a painting by Frida Kohler that’s of watermelons?

Hits & Misses, Music | | 3 Comments »

REVIEW: Nerf Herder – IV

Posted on June 15, 2008 by

iv.jpg I always pop a huge double-boner for this band whenever I hear about them ‘cause a) their name is a total Star Wars homage, and b) they’re the ones responsible for the theme to Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Man, that’s a good theme. I think it was like the third thing I ever learned to play on guitar.

Anyway, if you’re paying attention: Star Wars! And Buffy! That’s already a huge amount of dork points in Nerf Herder’s favour. Too bad IV is like the single most derivative record of all time. If you’re gonna be all goofy and mix your punk with your pop and write songs about high school reunions and give them titles like “I’m Not A Loser,” you better be the Descendents or maybe a really good Descendents cover band. You know when you’re 16 and you’re pouring water into your parents’ wine bottle and then your parents have a little soirée and your dad is all, “What the dickens is wrong with this wine?” Imagine the Descendents are the untouched wine bottle, see, and then this Nerf Herder record is the same bottle after you’ve diluted it with all the… uh… you know what, I think you get the drift of what I’m going for here. In conclusion, Milo Goes To College is such a fucking sweet record, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer is still totally bitchin’.

Hits & Misses, Music | | 2 Comments »

REVIEW: Sloan – Parallel Play

Posted on June 12, 2008 by

It’s hard to pretend I’m still excited about Sloan when even the band sounds bored.

Sounding at best like a decent b-sides collection and at worst like wallpaper AM radio tunes, Sloan’s eighth studio album Parallel Play fails to follow the promise of last year’s reckoning, the 30-track grand slam Never Hear The End Of It. NHTEOI was more than an acceptable apology for the two preceding discs, Pretty Together and Action Pact, albums which, in all their modern rock radio gloss and gloat, at least showed us glimpses into the changing four-headed pet monster that is Sloan. NHTEOI brought the whole together, greater than we’d yet seen the sum of their parts, then they gotta go and drop this disjointed yawnzo bomb on us? Dang.

Using a psychology concept (referring to children who play side by side with nary an interaction) for the album title makes me hope they know they’re being stubborn children this time around; each wanting to exert their own personality (Patrick likes guitars, Andrew likes Frank Black, Jay likes pop records, Chris likes Chris) and get full attention for it, but somehow I mostly just picture a comfortable-to-a-fault old married couple who co-exist in habit, knives scraping the dinner plates as they finish another meal, another day, another record.

Of course I’m not so disappointed that I won’t listen to this record a lot this summer; I mean, it is a Sloan record. I hold them to unfair levels of expectations, just like any good parent would to a child whose potential shouldn’t go to waste. (I believe that is, like Parallel Play, another ultra scientific term called “tough love.”) The thing is, this weird little bump of a record won’t win any new fans (no hit singles here), and it will likely, ahem, underwhelm other faithfuls. What now, Sloan? (Murderecords)

Hits & Misses, Music | | 2 Comments »

REVIEW: Polar Bear Club – Sometimes Things Just Disappear

Posted on May 17, 2008 by

pbc.jpg

While Polar Bear Club (the band) look nothing like Polar Bear Club (the righteous dudes from Atlantic City pictured above), their sound is consistently as rad as the huge Phillies fan on the far left, if not as as bad-ass as the rainbow speedo the guy in the middle is rocking. Formed from the ashes of Marathon, a thoroughly underrated post-punk outfit from Rochester, New York, PBC are already well on their way to taking over the world of bearded dudes and chicks with sailor tattoos. With one stellar EP under their belts (The Redder, the Better), this full-length debut comes at a time when The Kids are hungry for someone to take that grimy throne left empty by Hot Water Music in 2006 and really run with it. And Sometimes Things Just Disappear is ready to take that shit all the way to bank. The bank of post-hardcore. Which, everyone should know by now, actually has no money. But godamn, doesn’t it offer some fine feelings of satisfaction. (Red Leader)

Hits & Misses, Music | | 4 Comments »

REVIEW: Opeth – The Roundhouse Tapes

Posted on May 16, 2008 by

opeth-the_roundhouse_tapes_2007.jpgAs far as I can tell, I’ve really only ever encountered a really big Opeth fan once. It was 2002, and I was visiting a friend of mine in her college dorm. It was one of those residences where 3 or 4 people live in one room, and it really sucks, because everyone holds in all that redfaced anger about who left that stinky potato in the communal bathroom. Anyway, this goth girl lived in one of the rooms, and her fuzzy goth boyfriend was visiting the same weekend as me. I can’t really remember what he said, but I can only assume it was something like, “Opeth owwwwwwwwn.” He was also wearing an Opeth t-shirt all weekend, so it’s pretty much science. Anyway, one night he was trying to get me to go to 7-11 with him, and I really didn’t want to go a) because it was really wintery and slushy out, and b) I don’t eat taquitos in the company of “the goths”. Thems just the rules. So instead of declining politely like a reasonable person would, I did what anyone who had just sucked back like half a pound of jello and vodka. I got down on the ground and somersaulted away from him. If you are anything like that fuzzy goth Opeth t-shirt wearing bottleneck, you’ll probably love this album. If not, I am pretty sure you’ll wanna summersault directly into a facefull of toquitos. Oh, and also; it was me. I left that stinky potato. (Peaceville)

Hits & Misses, Music | | 15 Comments »

REVIEW: Seether – Finding Beauty in Negative Spaces

Posted on May 15, 2008 by

Keywords: Jeremy Mersereau Would Rather Not Listen to Seether

(Wind-Up)

Hits & Misses, Music | | Comment »