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Friday, January 14, 2011

Just Say NO

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly
As you may know, all last season I tirelessly re-capped American Idol to little avail. The show was terrible as usual but just the kind of terrible I was looking for; involving lots of inappropriate winking, a total lack of a moral compass and the best America has to offer in regard to lesbian hairstyles.

Then they went and got rid off all that and left us with the above trio of madness. I do not doubt that Season 10 is bound to offer one hell of a train-wreck to the TV watching public but I will not be riding it this time around.

I have (wisely, I might add) decided to boycott this season. Maybe you will too? Not that any of that matters because, let's face it: the entire East Coast could stop watching this show and it wouldn't have any effect on its legacy. Idol is sure to be around many, many years from now; sucking up the airwaves and giving us all delusions of musical grandeur long after our grandchildren have grandchildren and the current hosts are people with expert musical knowledge like Suri Cruise and Shiloh Jolie-Pitt.

Maybe it's that I have a STRONG dislike for J-Blo or that Steven Tyler's stretched granny face gives me a case of the howling fantods but I will be RSVPing to this party with a dis-respectful "NO" this time around.

If you do plan on watching this mess. I wish you nothing but the best of luck.

You're gonna need it...

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Best In Music 2010



Favorite Albums


Arcade Fire - The Suburbs
I know this one is on everyone’s “best of” lists but that’s only because it really, really should be. If you enjoy listening to music and you’ve ever been a kid who grew up to resent the same things you once loved then this album could very well be your new life anthem.
Tracks of Note: The Suburbs, Modern Man, Month Of May, Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)




The Black Keys - Brothers
I made the mistake of first listening to this album in the car with lots of distractions and without choosing appropriate volume levels. All I could seem to make out was the pervasive use of musical distortion and my ears took none too kindly to it. As I came to find later, a lot of what serves to make this album as amazing and over and over again listenable is the band’s maniacal use of distortion and fuzz throughout. With this album you will find all the goodness of old-time Black Keys with an extra layer of kazoo infused zazz. FYI - Keep in mind the volume while giving it a listen. The louder the better.
Tracks of Note: Howlin’ For You, The Only One, Unknown Brother



MGMT - Congratulations
For as much praise as their first album received and for as much as I loved the dance-y beat of “Electric Feel”, nothing adequately prepared me for the awesome that was this duo’s second disc. In fact, I much preferred this album to their first as the band deserted the trappings of what made them stars in the first place in search of inspiration from their idols. With tunes like “Song For Dan Treacy” and “Flash Delirium” the band delve into the trippy underbelly of sugary pop songs. This is one of those few albums that I really enjoy listening to on repeat.
Tracks of Note: Song For Dan Treacy, Flash Delirium, Brian Eno




Joanna Newsom - Have One On Me
I’m relatively new to the cult of Ms. Newsom but even a recent follower like me can understand the undeniable mystique surrounding the woman as a composer and lyricist. Not to mention that voice. A voice that draws a line in the sand and says “Either take me as I am or leave me as I be”. Her songs are like mini-courses in fables, linguistics and literature. She is unlike any other musician past or present and at the very least deserves a listen so you can figure out which side of the line to stand on.
Tracks of Note: Soft As Chalk, Have One On Me, Baby Birch




Dr. Dog - Shame, Shame
Easily one of my favorite bands for the seeming ease with which they deliver a new spin on classic sounds popularized by the pop-pioneers that came before them.  These Philly boys bring something new to their repertoire by using elements of sound native to their hometown but somewhat foreign to their past efforts. As much as their detractors may want to claim they are nothing more than a glorified Beatles cover-band; this album shows real growth and proves they’ve got what it takes to stick around.
Tracks of Note: Unbearable Why, Mirror, Mirror, Jackie Wants A Black Eye, Shame, Shame




Jenny & Johnny - I’m Having Fun Now
It’s hard not to love everything that Jenny Lewis does; with her, as always, witty lyrics and silky sweet vocals. Add to the equation her romantic paramour, Johnathan Rice, and you get a surf/pop feel good album full of songs doubtful of love but enamored with lush harmony and summery waves of sound.
Tracks of Note: Switchblade, Big Wave, Animal




The Black Angels - Phosphene Dream
I had only very recently heard this band. In that short amount of time they have become an easy favorite. Their sound might initially give off the impression they are aggressive but that’s only until you get to their trippy/psych/pop roots with songs like “Telephone”. Like many other “Black” named bands; they have a rich bluesy sound that isn’t hard to find as long as you’re willing to peel back a thick layer of hazy smoke to get there.
Tracks of Note: Bad Vibrations, Entrance Song, The Sniper




Evelyn Evelyn - Evelyn Evelyn
Although not the most groundbreaking album released this year it is by far one of the most unique. With a set of fictional conjoined twin sisters (voiced and portrayed by Amanda Palmer and Jason Webley) and the woeful story of their rise to fame, you will find a sweet and sour (not to mention *strange*) tale unfold throughout the album. Many tracks consist solely of well-spoken dialogue or a sing-song account of the twins’ back story, but that shouldn’t be cause to discount the originality and wit of songs like “My Space” and “Have You Seen My Sister Evelyn?”




Best Coast - Crazy For You
At first I hesitated to put this album on my fave list out of pure jealousy. Upon first listen I only had a critical ear for it’s overly simplistic sound and hooks but then it hit me: it was great for just those reasons. The girl behind the album offers her best crash course in lazy 60’s psych/pop and her deeply self-critical lyrics are easy to relate to; making THIS girl want to get off the couch and make some music of her own.
Tracks of Note: Boyfriend, The End, When I’m With You




The Drums - The Drums
Much like the Best Coast album this was one of those offerings that upon first listen I may have turned my nose up at calling it “easy”. Give it another listen and a band with such obvious ties to The Beach Boys and their unmistakably breezy, beach-y pop songs, become harder not to love. Although The Drums may have majored in the sounds of their surf-styled predecessors, they most definitely minored in the grittiness of early 80‘s post-punk a’la Joy Division which sets them apart from the rest of the new wave of “surf” bands currently crowding the pool.
Tracks of Note: Let’s Go Surfing, We Tried


Favorite Singles(es?) (chosen because either i liked certain songs so much that I had to *single* them out or because i love the artists but the rest of the album only left me lukewarm. i’ll let you make your own assumptions about which are which.)





Spoon (from the album Transference) - Written In Reverse





She & Him (from the album Volume Two) - Thieves




Mark Ronson & The Business Intl. (from the album Record Collection) - Bang Bang Bang [Feat. Q-Tip. MNDR] & Record Collection [Feat. Simon Le Bon, Mark Ronson]




Broken Bells (from the album Broken Bells) - The Ghost Inside & Mongrel Heart




Gorillaz (from the album Plastic Beach) - On Melancholy Hill





Sleigh Bells (from the album Treats) - Rill Rill

Favorite Albums you may (or may not) have never heard of that have had some sort of cultural/emotional/sociological significance for me (and possibly a few others, YOU perhaps?) this year otherwise i might not be mentioning them at all and that would be just sad because more people need to hear this stuff because it’s really, REALLY good. stuff.




The Slits - Cut (1979)
I really hate the term “punk” when seriously discussing music. Or anything else for that matter. There are probably very, very few bands/songs/albums that can actually honor that moniker in the first place. This band, and this album specifically, is just that. A British, teen-aged, all-girl group who used their rudimentary musical knowledge to infuse reggae and standard rock and pop classics from their youth, to create a sound completely unique. R.I.P. Ari Up (1962 - 2010).




The Ultimate Otis Redding (1986)
An amazing collection of hits from a man with quite possibly the best voice in music who lived an all too short life. I’m totally obsessed with him. If you don’t know what I’m talking about just listen to “These Arms of Mine” and I have a feeling you will.




Little Joy - Little Joy (2008)
One of my greatest hopes is that this band decide to make a follow-up album to this glorious little piece of musical artistry from a few years back. With members of The Strokes and Los Hermanos along with the help of multi-instrumentalist and hipster muse Binki Shapiro at the helm, this album may very well make it into my top 25 of all time. If this group decides to see-it-through and make another record, I foresee the potential for an amazing future in popular music.




Jonathan Fire*Eater - Tremble Under Boom Lights (1996)
Although quite enjoyable, I didn’t find it necessary to include “Lisbon”, the newest album from The Walkmen, on my “favorites of 2010” list. That being said, I am HUGELY in love with this older EP from another band which comprised many of The Walkmen’s current line-up. Listening to this, it seems really clear where The Strokes got so much of their inspiration.




The Dutchess & The Duke - She’s The Dutchess, He’s The Duke (2008)
Often dubbed as “Campfire Punk”, this band, sadly, disbanded in October of this year which makes their debut album all the more cherished. Their imperfections make them a band both relatable and genuine. Although it could be argued that without the other the sound would be somewhat unimpressive, together they transcend the mark of “garage-rock duo” or Rolling Stones riff-makers. Makes you wish they’d kept it together a little longer to hear what else they had in store past a Sophomore effort.


***
If you wan't proof that any of what I say is good and true you can check out my blip.fm page and listen to many of the tracks mentioned on this list.

Happy New Years, Bitches!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

American Idol Season 9 FINALE Recap!!!

So, this is it, folks...

Our last chance to be the recipients of Simon's awesome wink of creepiness. Lucky for you I got a screen shot of it so we can remember and treasure that face forever:


While Simon gives us what we all want, Kara was busy cultivating the "Roxie Shield" from Mannequin look for tonight's show:


Not sure WHY, but hey, whatever...

Tonight's show has been broken up into 3 parts, with the remaining contestants singing 3 songs a piece. For the first set we have a "Contestant's Choice" which amounts to them selecting a song they've chosen during a previous performance this season.

First up is Lee with "The Boxer" by Sammy & The Funk Simon & Garfunkel (my apologies for lame jokes. i am EXTREMELY punchy this afternoon).
I'm not entirely bowled over by this performance and I'm pretty sure I liked it better when Lee sang it the first time around. The most memorable thing about it for me was the PRICELESS quotes that came from the judges:
Randy - "It's come down to the duel to the finish" Just let that nonsense sink in... Roll it around on your tongue and then PLEASE explain to me what the fuck sense that makes.
Ellen - "I couldn't be prouder if I birthed you myself" Just... NO.
Kara - "I need to see you come over MORE" Ooooooookay...
Simon - "It was a kiss on the cheek when I wanted a kiss on the lips" Alright, that's ENOUGH! Who's in charge of getting these judges laid?

Next, Crystal takes the stage with "Me & Bobby McGee" by Janis Joplin.
Again, I wasn't totally crazy about this. It all seemed kind of forced and I liked it better the first time she sang this song.
Randy thought it was "dope". Ellen remarks that she is "so compelling on stage" and Kara loved it then and loves it now. Simon comments that she was "back on [her] best" and that it was "terrific".

Ummmmmmm, I guess so.

The second set of songs is brought to you by "Simon Fuller's Choice" who wiki tells me is the creator of the show, but to me he'll always be the less recognizable Simon from American Idol:

Suck it, Fuller...
Anyway...

Lee sings "Everybody Hurts" by REM.
The problem with this is I don't really like this song in the first place because I kind of can't stand REM, soooooooooooo, needless to say, I don't really like the performance.
The judges weren't all that crazy about it either.
Randy said it was pitchy at first but "it was a lot better" than the first song. Ellen wasn't completely impressed and Kara mentions it was "emotionally accessible" what-EVER that means...
Simon remarks it was a "brilliant song choice" *cough*kiss ass*cough* but that he thinks Lee seems too nervous.

Crystal sings "Black Velvet" by Alannah Myles.
I completely and totally did not like this AT. ALL. I thought she sounded like a bleating goat and although I tend to like this song in it's original form, I think that's a part of the problem with this version. It's NOT the original and it's one of those songs so over selected in the AI catalogue that I just don't want to hear it ever.
Randy says "Mama-sox is in it to win it!". Ellen calls it "fantastic" and Kara just has me confused with her comment that "Tonight's the night... to kill yourself on stage". Really?! 'Cause that would DEFINITELY make for some interesting programming...
Simon says that she "absolutely nailed it" which has me wondering:

What's the chance that Simon would say just about ANYTHING just to win this competition for Crystal?

For the final selection we have the "Coronation Song" which I'm not entirely sure I know what that even means. I'm also very tired now and kind of don't care what it means. So let's just leave it at that...

he doesn't look ENTIRELY uncomfortable or anything...

Lee sings "Beautiful Day" by U2.
At first, I don't like it but by the introduction of the chorus and added instrumentation it starts to grow on me.
Randy loves it and Ellen mentions that she "was watching your eyes... taking in all these people's energy" Which sounds to me like a TOTAL violation of personal space and freedom but HEY! It's a free country, bitches...
Kara thinks he "got swallowed up in that song" EXCUSE me? but follows that up with "you deserve to be here" Well, gee, THANKS for your seal of approval...
Simon says "I genuinely wish the best for you... You're a great guy" THAT can't be good news...

righbackatcha Sime-y...

Crystal finishes the night with "Up To The Mountain (MLK Song)" by Patti Griffin.
Ok, kids. The honest truth is I didn't really love this. Either I'm running out of steam or this night's performances mostly sucked. It doesn't matter much because this is it and I have no say in who wins this -ish ANYWAY.
As for the judges...
Randy responds that it was "one of [her] greatest performances" while Ellen makes mention that Crystal is incomparable in her style & delivery. Kara tells her she was "completely emotionally invested" and that she "blossomed with that song". Simon calls it the best performance/song of the night and wraps it all up with an "outstanding".

Given all this...
My pick to WIN?

Crystal, even though this article seems to think she doesn't stand a chance.

It's been a helluva ride, kiddos. Thanks for the company!

Until... then! With... who KNOWS!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

American Idol Recap! Top 3 Finalists

It's home stretch time...

We're down to 3 and by tonight's results show America will choose who will represent as the Top 2 contestants for this season.

This time around the contestants were given the opportunity to select one song of their choice in addition to singing a "judges choice".

Now...
If you have ears and saw last night's show there should be no question as to what 2 should move on.
Then again, America has screwed with this show before, sooooooooo...
It's really any one's game.

That being said...

Casey James who, for whatever reason, is STILL in this (if only in presence) chooses "OK, It's Alright With Me" by Eric Hutchinson which prompts me to ask: WHO now?
No matter. This performance is GOD AWFUL. Like really really really not good at all.
Randy says he played it safe & easy. Ellen & Kara give it a "meh" and Simon calls it a "dud song choice" and like "the salad" before the meal.
Imma have to agree on all counts...

Kara & Randy pick "Daughters" by John Mayer for Casey's judges choice.
I cannot STAND John Mayer and the same goes for this song.
I am bored to sleep with this rendition and I especially hate when people try to sing in the "John Mayer-I'm-trying-really-hard-to-be-sexy-with-this-put-on-husky-voice" because lord knows it's bad enough we have him to listen to in the first place.
Just AWFUL.
The judges say it was better than his first performance which is basically like saying that a broken leg is better than a broken arm. It's not. Both options totally suck.
Simon wraps it up by stating that there was no "wow factor".
If that isn't an understatement I don't know what is.

not only is Seacrest about a head shorter than Casey, he's also dwarfed by his mic stand

Crystal Bowersox chooses "Come To My Window" by Melissa Etheridge.
I think this is a great song choice but what the HELL is going on with the vocals? I think she sounds terrible and where Casey sounded a little too much like John Mayer in his last performance, Crystal doesn't sound enough like Melissa.
Randy said it was a bad arrangement but good vocals.
Pffft.
Kara said the vocals were good but not raspy enough. Ellen thinks it was a good song choice and Simon praises her for not having compromised herself as an artist.
Clearly everyone is skirting around the issue. Which is the shite-ness of this performance.
God. Whatever...

nothing says funny like feigned horror

For Crystal's judges choice, Ellen selects "Maybe, I'm Amazed" by Paul McCartney.
Holy hell this is an AMAZING song. Paul McCartney is regarded as music royalty for GOOD FUCKING REASON. He is a brilliant singer/songwriter. Considering all this, I don't think Crystal upholds the original awesome of this song in the slightest. I think she sounds strained and far, far away from her comfort zone/vocal range.
The judges are either losing their touch or just don't care anymore because they all basically like this.
Just hand the girl the crown already if you're not going to give honest judgements.
Ya know? Shit...

Before I go any further, I just want to lay it out that, after last night's performances, I have officially flopped from Team Bowersox to Team Lee. He tore that shit up last night and impressed my pants right the fuck off. And that's a huge feat. Let me tell you...

Lee DeWyze picks "Simple Man" by Lynyrd Skynyrd for his first song of the night.
Holy fuck nuts this was great. Like really amazingly awesome. The original song is stellar but he totally sang it like he wrote it himself. It was an excellent homage yet completely current and original.
Randy says it was a brilliant song choice. Ellen compares Lee to a gazelle or impala and I'm still not sure what she was getting at. Kara boasts that "Round 1 goes to Lee!" and Simon states that his song choice was "absolutely on the money" and "you just crushed the other performances".
I'll say...

For the judges choice, Lee sings "Halleluiah" by Leonard Cohen as selected by Simon.
My initial reaction to this was "ugh, not AGAIN" but once he started singing I was pleasantly surprised by his individualistic take on an oft-covered-by-prospective-Idols song. There is no doubt that within the last week or so Lee has really stepped up his game and he is taking this shit SER-I-OUS-LY.
You go, dude...
Randy calls it "unbelievable". Ellen says it's "stunning". Kara remarks that he "owned the entire night" while Simon shares how "very proud" he is of Lee and his growth since this seasons inception.

Mark my words:
If Casey does NOT go home tonight, Imma have to break out the ol' DeGeneres shank eye on America:


Bowersox vs. DeWyze for the finals.
May Lee DeWyze the best person win...

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

American Idol Recap! Top 4 Finalists

Well, here we are...

Just a week away from finding out who will compete as the Final 2 contestants for this year.

I, for one, am relieved. This season has been mostly disappointing and it's high time for the 'ol fangirl to move onto some new territory. Hopefully...

Let's get to this already.

For this week's show the contestants choose hit songs popularized in movies, celeb mentored by Jamie Foxx. I guess it makes sense that AI would choose Jamie Foxx for "movie week" and all but I still have a hard time accepting Jamie Foxx as "musician".

Just me?

Anyway...


Lee DeWyze starts off the night with "Kiss From a Rose" by Seal.
I'm thinking he sounds pretty good though this performance doesn't really hold a candle to last week's Sinatra tribute. Even still, I think Lee has as good a chance as any other contestant (read: Crystal Bowersox) of winning this thing.
It's the battle of the sexes at the judges table; the women generally like the performance, while the guys generally... don't. The consensus seems to be: good but too much of a sound-a-like.


Michael Lynche sings "Will You Be There" by Michael Jackson.
I kind of feel like I'm in church with the presence of the choir in the background. Since church makes me highly uncomfortable I can't say I'm all that into this. I do like Big Mike, so I'm hoping this strange choice of arrangement doesn't send him home before Casey.
Randy said it was "just alright". In a possible first time ever event, Ellen donned her serious judging cap when she called the performance "predictable". Kara said she wasn't moved and that he played it safe. She also confused me and likely the rest of the viewing world with this comment:
Tonight I want goosebumps! I can't have them but Ellen can...
Ooooooooookay...
Apparently she was referring to her wearing long-sleeves and Ellen wearing short sleeves.
Riiiiiiiiiiight.
Also?
Kara is dressed like a paralegal this evening. Just sayin'...


Simon has the kindest words, telling Big Mike at least he "gave it 100%" and sang it "like he meant it".

Keeping things fresh, AI mixes it up with a Crystal & Lee duet to "Falling Slowly" by Glen Hansard & Marketa Irglova or, as I like to call them: Glen & Marky.
What?!
I think this original song is BEAUTIFUL. So beautiful in fact that something just feels wrong when I hear other vocalists covering it. I'm not saying this performance was bad, per say. It's just that I would rather listen to the original any day with its piano accompaniment and sweet female vocals as opposed to this weird in your face guitar jam-fest these two were putting on:

I call this one "Face-to-Face Jam"

Save for busting a nut all over the stage, the judges spare nothing in their praise for this performance:
Randy - "Amazing. Could be a hit right now."
Ellen - "God, that was great"
Kara - "One of my favorite moments of the entire season"
Simon - "I don't know if it was a good song. I would call it a fantastic song"


Next we have Casey James with "Mrs. Robinson" by Simon & Garfunkel.
Here is the ONLY thing I wrote about this performance:
Sounds like a ukulele
It wasn't a uke but some sort of tiny guitar. I'm gonna save us all a lot of time here.
I wasn't into this.
I think Casey should/will go home next.
The end.


Crystal Bowersox raises a few eyebrows with her choice of movie music, "Alright" by Kenny Loggins from Caddyshack.
I must say she does make this song better than the cheesy original, even still, it's not saying much. What were these contestants thinking this week? The most interesting part of Crystal being on stage was the revelation that the creeper in the Bowersox shirt from 2 weeks ago is Crystal's boyfriend. Who can't dance. Or dress himself:


Randy says she  is "definitely an artist". Ellen called the performance "Crystalized" (what-ever). Kara said she "took the song and made it better" while Simon states "You, Crystal, are back in the game".

For the final snooze song of the night, we have Casey & Big Mike singing "Have You Ever Really Loved A Woman?" by Bryan Adams.
I hated this. Perhaps I was legitimately tired but I couldn't stop yawning throughout.
The judges were pleased and made the point of saying that "the duets were better than the solo performances" this evening. Well that... kind of sucks. Right?


My pick to go home:
No surprise here - Casey