June 02, 2005

Tunage Braindump

I pretty much talk about anything and everything here. Surprisingly, what I don't discuss all that much is music. How do I know? You told me a couple months back. Its that much more surprising since I have so much useless musical knowledge stuck in my head. I used to be able to link any two bands in a Kevin Bacon kind of way. It was like some Rainman skill only I can't count thousands of dropped toothpics and I don't freak out about underwear. Let's take, for instance, heavy metal icons Iron Maiden and adult contemporary wunderdrummer Phil Collins.

Iron Maiden features guitarist Janik Gers...
Gers played on Fish's debut solo album Vigil In A Wilderness of Mirrors...
Fish sang on Tony Banks solo album Still...
Tony Banks was the keyboardist for Genesis...
Phil Collins was the band's drummer and lead singer.

Its true - I don't remember how old I am or how much my annual salary is but I remember crap like this. Scary. In an effort to use this power for good, I'm going to try to do a music brain dump every so often. Here's what's high on my list right now...

Mercury Rev: The Secret Migration
Mercury Rev is an odd band. But in a good way. They first came to major label attention with the release of Deserter's Songs which was a fantastic album. Although it featured bizarre, epic length songs featuring saw solos. I'm not making that up. Saw solos. The album was quiet, eerie and had an orchestral feel to it. Their followup, All Is Dream was even more grandiose but featured their best work, including the haunting Nite and Fog and Lincoln's Eyes. The Secret Migration finds Mercury Rev abandoning the saws and other construction equipment to focus on a more stripped-down approach. The lyrics remain potent and introspective yet there's a lighter, more approachable feel to it. And it might just be their best work to date. And I defy you to listen to the brief Down Poured The Heavens and not get chills. That 90 seconds alone might be worth the price of the album. Jonathan Donahue's vocals might be a little off-putting but give him a chance. There's something very honest and sincere about his voice.

Robert Plant & The Strange Sensations: Mighty Rearranger
I went back and listened to Plant's back catalog recently. I grew up loving Led Zeppelin and ended up seeing Plant a few times while he was supporting Now & Zen and Manic Nirvana. As much as I love those albums, they do sound a bit dated. Note to self: If you ever start a band, refuse to use cheesy synthesizers. They'll sound really stupid in 20 years. Plant's last solo effort, Dreamland, however, was timeless genius. I've kept it in heavy rotation since I bought it several years ago. I had high expectations of Mighty Rearranger. And they were, for the most part, met. Perhaps more impressive is the exclusive set he recorded recently for iTunes. Recorded live, it features a few newer numbers as well as reworkings of Zeppelin classics When The Levee Breaks and Black Dog. Sure, he's getting old and looks like, well, someone tried to inflate his head like a basketball, but his voice still sounds incredible.

Athlete: Tourist
How often do you run across an album on which you can't find a bad song? Practically never. Kudos to the generally unreliable Rolling Stone for highlighting, albeit briefly, Tourist. I've seen lots of comparisons to early Radiohead. Truthfully, Athlete's blend of alternative Britpop might actually be a little better. What's refreshing is the fact that they don't fall into the trap of trying to sound like Coldplay, like everyone else landing record deals. Coldplay's good, don't get me wrong. We just don't need 40 of them.

What Else I'm Digging:
...And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead's Worlds Apart is fantastic (and if you can find it, one of their singles contains a bad-ass version of Genesis' 1974 song Back In NYC. There. Two Genesis references in one post. My work here is done) as is Eels' double disc concept album Blinking Lights And Other Revelations. I'm still relatively hung up on Elbow's Cast Of Thousands and I'm warming up to Ben Fold's Songs For Silverman. Mike Doughty's Haughty Melodic also refuses to get old. Last but not least, if you don't know who Barrett Martin is, he's the former drummer for Seattle grunge outfits Screaming Trees and Mad Season. He's got a great solo album out (The Painted Desert)which is, surprisingly, a jazz effort.

What I'm Not Digging:
I really want to like the new Dave Matthews Band album, Stand Up. I feel like I should. Yet, really? I can't seem to get into it. Maybe I'm just not in a very Dave Matthews place right now. Maybe I need to break out my bass and start playing through it. Or maybe its just not that great an album. After reading even more positive press on Jem's Finally Woken (which, yes, I realize has been out forever), I feel like I should enjoy it more too. I don't. And I'm insanely tired of Maroon 5.

What's Coming:
Coldplay drops X&Y on next week. This will be, mark my words, the biggest release of the summer. I also predict it will be worthy of the praise that will invariably be lavished upon it. For those of you progressive rock fans, Dream Theater will be releasing Octavarium next week as well. Gomez is also releasing the live set, Out West, and Teenage Fanclub is back with Man-Made. The following week, Foo Fighters will release what I predict will be the second biggest release of the summer, In Your Honor.

Posted by Chris at June 2, 2005 07:33 AM

You should try listening to The Mars Volta. They're a little different, but remind me of Led Zeppelin in a way that they sure can rock out with the guitar solos. The guy's voice is amazing...you might like it.

Posted by: Michelle at June 2, 2005 09:19 AM

Yeah. Um. You lost me after that "Phil Collins" part. I'm SOOOO non-hip.

Posted by: Queen of Ass at June 2, 2005 09:50 AM

Chris, Have you listened to the album Jackalope put out yet?


Posted by: wn at June 2, 2005 09:56 AM

I sincerely hope the rest of the new Coldplay album is better than the first single. I really want to like that song, but I just don't.

I like Jem's album, but I don't listen all that often because "24" freaks me out for some reason.

Have you heard the unreleased Fiona Apple album, Extraordinary Machine? It's awesome and not hard to find online.

Posted by: keepergirl at June 2, 2005 10:23 AM

I've been listening to Rilo Kiley's More Adventurous non-stop for nearly a month.

Thanks for the new music tips.

Posted by: katie b at June 2, 2005 11:00 AM

as i'm sure you know, i can't wait for the new foo. the video is great and, as predicted, the song has grown on me and now i love it. and don't forget that the new AAR comes out in july.

i'm very jealous that you've seen robert plant. i had my chance a couple of times to see plant/page but like a moron, i didn't go.

Posted by: laura at June 2, 2005 11:16 AM

I'm not even going to touch on your strange 6 degrees of freak talent. ;) Hehehe, but I will share my thoughts.

Dave- This album is hit and miss for me. There are a couple of songs that I really dig and a couple that I just shake my head and think, did his kid's write that one?

Jem- I like, but I really have to be in the mood for this one.

Coldplay-Thank heavens for Amazon pre-order. Can't wait to hear this one.

Also in the upcoming eclectic catagory, Willie Nelson's reggae album (10 years in the making) will be out July 12.

Posted by: Bayou at June 2, 2005 11:33 AM

Yeah, can't wait for the Foo! BTW, thanks for your comment about the troll. Definitely interesting and disturbing.

Posted by: Mooalex at June 2, 2005 01:34 PM

Haha, I am the same way. People tend to look at me like I'm crazy when I through out stuff like that. Good times!

Posted by: Chris at June 2, 2005 02:02 PM

Also - New White Stripes. New Oasis. (Yeah. I like Oasis. Sue me.) Shaping up to be a goooooood summer for music. And movies - how kickass does "Batman Begins" look? Good times.

Posted by: Jason at June 2, 2005 02:13 PM

Everyone likes Dave Matthews so I almost feel like I should, but I've never really been able to get into him. I don't think he's horrible or anything, just doesn't do anything for me.

Posted by: Erin at June 2, 2005 02:34 PM

thank God i'm not the only one who's not digging dmb's new album. i've [almost] always enjoyed their music, but...eh.

and foo fighters? bleh! ;P

Posted by: alanna at June 2, 2005 03:22 PM

i think i might try to find that robert plant album (and others). i saw him once when he opened for the who, but i wasn't familiar with the non-zep songs he sang.

also, the joe perry solo album you wanted to know about? i'm not too fond of it. i don't mind joe's voice on aerosmith albums. sometimes i'd rather listen to joe than steven. i just can't get into the songs on this one.

Posted by: denise at June 2, 2005 04:05 PM

hell yeah!!! let's hear it for phil collins!!!!

Posted by: lizabetty at June 2, 2005 05:25 PM

I'm with you on the DMB album Stand up. I want to like it, I'm TRYING to like it, but to quote Yoda: Try not. Do... or do not. There is no try. I did not have to TRY to like Before These Crowded Streets, Crash, the bootleg Lilywhites, Under the Table and Dreaming... But this one, its just MEH. OK. I'm hoping it plays well live, since I have those coveted 3rd row seats.


Posted by: amy at June 2, 2005 05:44 PM

And FOO! How could I forget my boy Dave Navarro and the FOO!!! Cold Play, Foo, the meh DMB and Rob Thomas all in one summer? Be still my rock n roll heart!

Posted by: amy at June 2, 2005 05:47 PM

Damn, that is a TALENT! (The Kevin Bacon thing with bands...) I am in awe (and jealous). Rock on wit' yo' bad self!

Posted by: ironic1 at June 2, 2005 06:12 PM

For the record, I'm not sure I've EVER like Dave Matthews OR his Band. There, I said it. It's out. You may now stone me.

He's just a little too 'whiney' for me.

You may now stone me again.

Posted by: ironic1 at June 2, 2005 06:21 PM

I am with you on Maroon 5. I want to like them, but they make my ears bleed.

Dave Matthews OTOH... learn the lyrics. It helps.

Posted by: Rori at June 2, 2005 08:00 PM

DMB? Some I love, some I just... meh. Coldplay? As my daughter says, it all sounds the same - you pretty much know within the first four bars what/who you're hearing, but for some reason, we love it all. :) so bring it on!

And that six degrees thing? You rock, rock... ;) (Name the movie reference?)

Posted by: Keri at June 3, 2005 12:15 AM

I agree with you on the DMB cd, but I am still listening to it everyday trying to find the gem in there somewhere. Actually, I was listening to it at work today and a co-worker said, "Oh cool! I didn't know anyone still played the first DMB disc". I was confused, but then I understood what she was getting at. Oh well.

Posted by: Jessica at June 3, 2005 02:07 AM

You all should try listening to the Kaiser Chiefs "Employment" album and a little bit of Kasabians eponymously titled album. It gets me through the day...

Posted by: andy boy at June 3, 2005 05:10 AM

Everyone is having this problem with the new Dave Matthews album. I didn't have this problem, which I think is fortunate. I started listening to it on VH1.com before it was even released and loved it before I even owned my own copy. But why?

I think I like it because of the DVD. Did you watch the DVD? It's very Virginia -- comfortable, laid back, everyone hanging out, and how these songs just developed out of nowhere. And there's so much to them, to me. I close my eyes and just listen as loud as I can stand to all of the introcate parts and find something new every time.

Keep listening. The love is in the music. You just have to find it.

Posted by: Emily at June 3, 2005 06:49 PM