Monthly Archives: June 2009

Review: Wilco “Wilco (The Album)”

It’s become painfully clear to me what this year’s music trend is.

Last year was marred by the over-use of Auto-Tune, which was somehow popular despite the fact that Eurotrance/dance music has been using it for years now. This year, numerous bands seem to be recreating music they made last decade. First there was Depeche Mode, next was Sonic Youth, and now you can add Wilco to the list.

Appearing on the scene in the mid-nineties with strong jam albums like Being There and A.M., Wilco set a bar for themselves and just continued to raise it. And since the release of their fourth (and greatest) studio album in 2002 Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, Wilco have been the forerunners for experimental/folk/Americana music. Hell, they’re probably the only band that fits such a concise genre. The following two albums have been radically different in sound making it impossible to pin down where a Wilco album will take you next. Well, that’s not the case here.

Wilco (The Album), ultimately finds Jeff Tweedy and Co. rewinding their song-writing skills back to before 2000. The record starts off on a decent note with “Wilco The Song” and “One Wing” bringing in that comfortable Wilco sound. The fourth track, “Bull Black Nova,” comes on like a shot in the arm (hardy har!). It’s an excellent song that showcases the experimental side that Wilco has had on display this decade. It’s also the one of two tracks where uber-guitarist Nels Cline is even audible on the record. However, the sweet instantly turns to sour with the forgettable single, “You And I.” And from here on, it seems that Jeff Tweedy’s mind just simply fell asleep.

Honestly, the entire second half of the album sounds like retooled tracks from Being There. Tracks 6-10 had me thinking I had slipped into a Timequake. Not to say that these are bad songs. “You Never Know” and “Solitaire” are exceptional songs, just not the kind of Wilco songs I want to hear in 2009. It just makes me think that Jeff Tweedy’s tank has run dry for the time being. It’s too early to say whether or not Wilco have already passed their prime, but I can’t help but heed the warning signs.

Wilco (The Album) is by no means a bad record. It’s just not the record Wilco needed to make.

-Chase

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Review: Moby “Wait For Me”

Moby definitely falls into the category of “love ’em or hate ’em.” It’s been this way since the release of the transcendent Play in 1999. Critics were either enthralled with his ability to form genre-busting electronic music, or angered at….well, maybe the same thing. Either way, ever since then, his music has been under tight scrutiny. He seemed to lose a lot of people with the sometimes pretty and other times flat release of Hotel, and his strictly dance album Last Night was largely ignored, despite being an overall strong cut.

Wait For Me finds Moby, alone his bedroom, stripped bare. Under the influence of David Lynch, Moby decided to create the album alone, at home, and pour all of himself into it.

What comes of it?

Wait For Me ends up as probably the most intriguing and important album Moby has put out this millennia. The music is largely ambient and highly personal. It would appear that Moby is in dire need of a hug. Tracks like “Shot In The Back Of The Head” and “Walk With Me” allow the listener to peer into Moby’s soul, which is a sad, but beautiful place to be. Actually, I can’t really limit that statement to those few tracks, the whole album feels like that. It’s not until the fifth track, the Wolf Parade-esque “Mistake” (which is also the first track he sings on) that the mood lifts a little bit….but only a little.

Wait For Me might also try your patience a little bit. The album never really swells up like Play did, minus the beautiful title track “Wait For Me” near the album’s close. The ambient tracks all flow together nicely, but never really change pace. To stress the feel of the album, it’s kind of a downer. Deep within the album, you come across the beautiful “A Seated Night.” However, you’ve heard it before…..earlier in the album. So, it may suffer from some musical anonymity, but it creates the consistent mood that holds Wait For Me together. So, it doesn’t have those musical peaks Moby is known for, but it doesn’t need them. Otherwise, the album just might be downright schizophrenic.

It’s a strong album, that is for certain. However, it might not be for everyone. It’s a emotional cocktail of the string instrumentation found on Hotel, the aural mood and sampled song/dialogue that lifted Play, topped off with a splash of Aphex Twin. But it’s not a cocktail that you have to drink alone to find out, Moby is always there with you. And he makes for some interesting company

-Chase

Video: Das Racist – “Chicken and Meat” (2009)

What’s really good? / What’s really food? / What’s really good?

I’d venture to say that most people who keep up with “the blogs” are already familiar with the Wallpaper remix of this Brooklyn duo’s tribute to fast food ego death. After you’ve recovered from — well, whatever that is — you’d be well advised to check out this equally bizarre cut, “Chicken and Meat,” which finds the ethnically ambiguous duo spittin’ about everything from Hannah Montana to black Republicans:

[Das Racist’s official MySpace page]

Jezy

Christian Marclay (Live)

I apologize to my three readers for being so absent lately.  Organizing the Happyland Music Festival Part 2 took up much of my brain-space for awhile (I’ll post some of those pics here soon).

Here’s a video that should blow you away, and perhaps momentarily distract you from thinking I’m a wretched blogger.

Chris

Review: Sonic Youth “The Eternal”

The words just aren’t coming.

You might have a hard time believing how long I’ve been staring at this blank screen. I’ve gone catatonic in an attempt to write a review for Sonic Youth’s 16th studio release, and first on indie-haven Matador Records, The Eternal.

Writing a review for one of my favorite bands has turned out to be tough assignment. On one hand, I want to be fair and weigh in professionally on The Eternal. On the other hand……..I really love Sonic Youth.

Alright, let’s start with this: The press release that came with The Eternal‘s first single (the blistering and powerful “Sacred Trickster”) announced that the album was a true successor to SY’s previous album from 2006, Rather Ripped. That is so very true. The experimental spirit behind The Eternal is the same one that haunted every track on Rather Ripped. Fact is, they’ve been musing that experimental side since the release of A Thousand Leaves over a decade ago. But, I feel that with The Eternal they’ve come to perfect it. And this is exemplified all throughout the album with tracks like “Walkin Blue,” “Antenna,” and “Massage The History.”

Another spirit that seems to be all over The Eternal is the Ghost of Sonic Youth Past. Apparently, Thurston Moore and Co. remembered that they made records like Goo in their lifetime. But, instead of just simply re-treading those successful waters, SY decided thrash it all together in a whirlwind of greatness. Sure, “Sacred Trickster” could be confused with a B-Side from the early nineties. But, nearly every song on The Eternal manage to mix both sides of SY together to conjure up a rock album thats unrivaled today. The best examples I can offer up would be “Anti-Orgasm,” “Calming The Snake,” “Poison Arrow,” and “Thunderclap For Bobby Pyn.”

If you want to find a flaw with The Eternal, I suppose that you could argue that maybe it’s not a groundbreaking as previous albums. I would say the mixing of the two sides of Sonic Youth’s musical expertise is a winning and fresh combination. After all is said and done, Sonic Youth have failed to let us down after 16 records now. Like Morrissey did earlier this year, they manage to prove, yet again, why they’re important. And unlike Depeche Mode, they manage to make a “Sonic Youth” record, and still have it be revolutionary.

Here’s to another 16.

-Chase

Feature: SiA Summer Mix #2 (Reggae Edition)

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Hey guys!

Week one was a rousing success! I’m glad that everyone is enjoying our new feature!

This week is all about Reggae. Reggae music is the embodiment of summer to me, so I hope that after this, you’ll feel the same way.

SiA Summer Mix #2 (Reggae Edition)

Once again, feedback is more than welcome! If you’re a fan of reggae, and felt like I missed some crucial tracks, let me know! I’d love for a valid excuse to have and 2nd Reggae Edition…..not that really need a good reason to do so anyway!

Have a great week guys!

Tracklist

“Slavery Days” by Burning Spear
“Legalize It” by Peter Tosh
“No More Trouble” by Bob Marley & The Wailers
“Is This Love” by Bob Marley & The Wailers
“Marcus Garvey” by Burning Spear
“Rat Race” by Bob Marley & The Wailers
“The Mummy’s Shroud” by Scientist
“Heartless Dub” by King Tubby
“Your Teeth In My Neck” by Scientist
“Reggaelation (Resting Place)” by Burning Spear
“Black Panta” by Lee “Scratch” Perry
“Ghost Town (Extended Mix)” by The Specials
“Revolution Rock” by The Clash

-Chase