sand is overrated

all songs posted are for evaluation only. if you hear something you like and would like to hear more, please go ahead and support the artists by buying their music--i will always include links for you to do so. copyright holders: if anything on my site needs to be taken down, please email me and it will be removed immediately.

Friday, August 24, 2007

under the blacklight

i'm a huge rilo kiley fan -- huge! and so it was with excitement and trepidation that i finally got my hands on their new release, under the blacklight. excitement because, well, it's rilo kiley, whose literate brand of indie pop/rock has been tickling my ears going on three full proper albums and a smattering of early releases and b-sides. but trepidation because of the first single, "moneymaker", which has been hotly debated over the past few weeks as either a bold new direction for the band or a total sell-out to their new major label deal with warner bros. i heard the song as the latter--it's a new direction, indeed, but one that seemed to be so contrived out of the work of a polished producer like mike elizondo. cookie-cutter, if you will. but hey, i understand that artists need to follow their instincts, even if it means a drastic change in sound and appearance, and so i prepared myself to listen to under the blacklight with an open mind. i wanted to like it, i really did. but...

the albums starts off promising enough, with "silver lining" being a shining example of perfectly blending slick production, jenny lewis' always-sterling voice, and a sweet little blake sennet riff. not to mention backup choral vocals, the always-trusty handclaps, and the delivery of the line "i never felt so wicked / as when i willed our love to die". the second song, "close call", also nicely integrates shiny instrumentals into a song that still recalls that familiar rilo kiley sound.

"moneymaker" is the third song and what i hoped would just be a bump in the road. unfortunately, the overwraught production and uninspired monotony that seems to dominate commercial pop radio seems to dominate the rest of the record as well. the band take various turns impersonating what must be presumed are their heroes from the 80's (gloria estefan and miami sound machine, anyone?), but each time came off sounding trite and rather pedestrian to me. the title track especially unnerved me with its cheesy synth and bland vocals--if i want to listen to hillary duff, i'll go...wait...what? and then along comes the requisite blake sennet-sung track, "dreamworld". on past rilo kiley records, the songs sung by blake were startling (but admirable in their own way) in the distinct contrast between sennet's voice and jenny lewis' voice. "dreamworld" is startling on this record as well, but only because the production value just does not suit blake's sound. i just don't think it works, for whatever reason. "15" is a bit of a welcome respite, with an appearance of the country twang that "i never" from more adventurous hinted at and rabbit fur coat fully embraced. but then the last three songs are just a bit...forgettable.

one can't really blame any artist for wanting to experiment with different sounds and genres, but in this case i just hope that it was a creative decision on the part of the band rather than a forced decision on the part of major label pressure. the worst part of under the blacklight for me was how criminally under-utilized jason boesel's drums were. the guy is a world-class drummer, but in many songs the percussion is just, well, boring. i guess i can hope that this is a temporary detour for rilo kiley, or that they can continue to refine new sounds in a more inspired way, but despite how much i wanted to like this one, i just can't say that i did.

rilo kiley : "silver lining" mp3 (a silver lining on the record, indeed)
from the lp under the blacklight (warner bros, 2007)

Thursday, August 23, 2007

you should check this out

astronaut

a friend of mine sent this along to me a little while back and, having the appreciation i do for soundtracking life and moments when art represents life, i found it be one of the coolest things i'd seen in a long time. basically, the creator, felix jung, created a photo-track of a song by his friend, dan frick. well, i'll let him describe it:
listening to dan's song, the speaker makes me think of someone fairly isolated - far away either due to distance, or time or both. when thinking of flickr, i think of a multitude of people, all of them interacting with one another - sharing photos, comments, memories. i liked the juxtaposition of someone singing about solitude, but having his words represented by... well... by everyone else. by the rest of the world.

each time the flash file is loaded, new images are randomly pulled from flickr. i've hard-coded 53 keywords at set points in the song, and when the page is first loaded... calls are made out to flickr to retrieve these keywords. with each call, i vary the parameters a little bit.

every viewing should be different, as the flash piece pulls in a new set of images each time. i've seen a few breathtaking photo combinations; i've seen several humorous combinations as well, that end up subverting the song entirely. i think the neatest part of the project is its randomness and its fluctuation. this was a lot of fun to work on, and i hope you find it fun to watch.
dan frick is a singer-songwriter from indianapolis whose latest album is called dan frick w/caterwaul morning. the project is made especially poignant by the lyrical content of the song, entitled "astronaut", and the way the scattered collection of pictures captures the essence of longing and regret that one might feel in reminiscing about earlier times.

dan frick : "astronaut" stream
from the lp dan frick w/caterwaul morning (self-released, 2000)
i've been living in this spacesuit
and you're the earth on the rise
with forever between us
i'm still in orbit around your smile

is it true am i still living with this
unforgiving part of myself
says i should never have turned away
i'm scared that as i circle the sky
i just might find
the open door i've longed all along to see

it's impossible to comprehend how it's possible
that in every ending you and i meet again

bouncing off these stars are thoughts and words and actions
and everything in between
all these paper-mache feelings
sometimes i sit back and laugh at myself
because i know this life –
it's just as strange as it seems

sometimes it's so cold in this spacesuit
sometimes i just float in the dark
i say hey sun can you heal me, sun can you shield me,
sun won't you fill me with hope
hey sun won't you fill me

it's impossible to comprehend how it's possible
that in every ending you and i meet again

now it's just
hey why so far away
the project: astronaut
about the project: about astronaut
the creator: felix jung
the song: dan frick (myspace)

Sunday, August 19, 2007

okkervil river

i've been, i guess, a bit at a loss for words the past few weeks. mostly just from being busy, also some from just not really knowing what to say. i was beginning to feel my lament to far-away lovers came off as sounding trite, so i was trying to avoid that topic. unfortunately, that's about all that's been left in the well, so instead of that you get...silence. and that's okay too. but after 8 months of blockbuster (well, relatively) releases from favorite bands like bright eyes, wilco, spoon, andrew bird, the white stripes, etc., i think i may (may!--ga ga ga ga ga is still revealing itself to me and, well, i know there is a certain power in familiarity that earlier albums may just need to regain) have heard the album that trumps them all--okkervil river's the stage names. i don't know why, but i still can't put together any coherent opinion about anything these days, so let's just say that this album rocks, brah. and i can't stop listening to it. part of the fun in listening to a great album is deconstructing all the parts of it that make it great, and my current obsession with the stage names has to do with will sheff's lyrical genius. how many different songs can you reference in a less-than-four-minute song about a crumbling relationship and still have it make sense in a completely indignant way. maybe i'll have more to say about this album as i keep discovering it's many facets, but for now try not to be amazed by "plus ones"

okkervil river : "plus ones" mp3
from the lp the stage names (jagjaguwar, 2007)
no one wants to hear about your 97th tear
so dry your eyes or let it go uncried, my dear
i am all out of love to mouth into your ear
and not above letting a love song disappear before it's written

and no one wants a tune about the 100th luftballoon
that was seen shooting from the window of your room
to be a spot against the sky's colossal gloom
and land deflated in some neighbor's state that's strewn with 99 others

8 chinese brothers
well, there's a reason why the last is smiling wide
and sitting higher than the others
swinging his arms

you would probably die before you shot up 9 miles high
your eyes dilated as light played upon the sight
of tvc16 as it sings you goodnight
relaxed as hell and locked up in cell 45
well i hope you're feeling better

51st way to leave your lover
admittedly, it doesn't seem to be as gentle or as clean as all the others
even a scar's all in the after hours of some greenpoint bar

i told you, i can't listen, baby, 'bout the 4th time you were a lady
and how your forthrightness betrayed a secret shyness
stripped away by days of being hailed as "your highness"
and what's new pussycat, as you were once a lionness
they cut your claws out

kitten, not everyone's keen on lighting candle 17
the party's done, the cake's all gone, the plates are clean
the chauffeur's near and from the cheerless mezzanine
and in just one year, this straight world could pay to see what they have been missing

you were caught kissing 8 chinese brothers
well, there's a reason why the last is smiling wide
and sitting higher than the others
stinking with charm

and he says, "let's get lost, let them send out alarms"
he says, "let's get crossed out and come to harm"
"let's make the world's stupidest stand and truly mean it
lets hit the limit of loss over lover's arms
no, lets exceed it"

Friday, August 03, 2007

the soundtrack of my life : transatlanticism

transatlanticism has always been my favorite album by death cab for cutie, and one of my absolute favorites by anyone. it seems pretty close to perfect to me. there is an honesty and rawness to emotions that are so bravely bared, presented within a collection of songs that are sometimes slow, sometimes fast, but always undeniably catchy and sing-along-able. the album's theme, stated so simply by its title, unfolds beneath a tracklisting that was obviously pored over and delicately transcribed, and the whole concept is tied together by the sound of a train that both begins and finishes the album, as well as ties together the album's two centerpieces "tiny vessels" and "transatlanticism". maybe it's just the heartfelt way that ben gibbard writes songs that makes transatlanticsm so real and relatable no matter what circumstances my life currently resided in. but let me tell you, when circumstances change and strike a little closer to home, the effects become magnified to the point of excess. "transatlanticism" is now my absolute theme song, perhaps with just the minor modification of being "transpacificism" instead. this girl that i love is now thousands of miles away, across an ocean that looms so dauntingly on the horizon. i am even mocked by google maps, which tell me that it's impossible to get (driving directions) from here to where she is. it just seems so far, far away...

it's now been a week since she left and i can't stop thinking about how friday last week around was one of the most bittersweet days of my life. it was one of the most enjoyable days i've ever spent with another human being, and yet at the end of it i knew that i would have to say goodbye. thinking about the times we've spent together, and the times that we will be missing out on until the distance falls away, i couldn't possibly say it any better, with any fewer words, than "i need you so much closer".

so come on.

death cab for cutie : "transatlanticism" mp3
from the lp transatlanticism (barsuk records, 2003)
the atlantic was born today and i'll tell you how
the clouds above opened up and let it out

i was standing on the surface of a perforated sphere
when the water filled every hole
and thousands upon thousands made an ocean
making islands where no island should go
oh, no

most people were overjoyed; they took to their boats
i thought it less like a lake and more like a moat
the rhythm of my footsteps crossing flatlands to your door
have been silenced forevermore
the distance is quite simply much too far for me to row
it seems farther than ever before
oh, no

i need you so much closer
i need you so much closer
i need you so much closer
i need you so much closer
i need you so much closer
i need you so much closer
i need you so much closer
i need you so much closer

i need you so much closer
i need you so much closer
i need you so much closer
i need you so much closer

so come on, come on
so come on, come on
so come on, come on
so come on, come on

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all songs posted are for evaluation only. if you hear something you like and would like to hear more, please go ahead and support the artists by buying their music--i will always include links for you to do so. copyright holders: if anything on my site needs to be taken down, please email me and it will be removed immediately.

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