Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Motherfish #1, even though it's actually #2

Motherfish #2 featuring- Top 5 Favorite Albums

Welcome back to Motherfish Music! Today I’ll be delivering my top 5 favorite albums as promised, just to give some semblance of an idea of what my taste in music is. Next week we will be on schedule with a review of something just released, and everything will move smoothly from there. And now, on to the reviews!

#5- Deja Entendu by Brand New

This album has been a staple of my musical taste since I was a freshman in high school, for more than one reason. Though Brand New won’t be winning any awards for the most outstanding technical skills or the sickest chops, the instrumentation can be considered innovative; it’s refreshingly creative. The album picks up the pieces of the heartbreak which was the driving force behind Brand New’s first album, Your Favorite Weapon. The difference here is that Deja Entendu approaches the deeper feelings in a more intelligent, somewhat observational way. Where Your Favorite Weapon was an angry teenager bitching about why he’s angry, Deja Entendu is an angry Proust scholar contemplating the causes of his anger (literary references mean you can suck it). The songs all sound great, thanks to producer Steven Haigler (of the Pixies fame, see I did my homework) and the rest of his team. The drums are deep and resonant, the guitar tracks are full bodied, but conservative when they need to be. There are a lot of contemplative tracks like I Will Play My Game Beneath the Spin Light or Me Vs. Madonna Vs. Elvis, which are slower moving and have very ambient qualities which provide counterpoint to songs like The Quiet Things that No One Ever Knows and Guernica which are faster and higher energy, throwbacks to Your Favorite Weapon. And above all, the songs have great hooks. All I have to do is hear Sic Transity Gloria... Glory Fades once and that fucking bass line is in my head all day (dumdum dumdum dumdum dumdum dum dum dum dum dum dum dum dum... don’t act like you don’t know EXACTLY what I mean). Overall a great album that showcases Brand New’s evolution as a band.

#4- Relationship of Command by At the Drive In

The sad part about this album is that it was At the Drive In’s last studio album, released in 2000. It failed in its attempts as being a final album, because instead of giving me closure, it makes me want more! Every time I listen to any song from this album, I secretly hope ATDI will get back together. As far as the album goes? Holy shit. That sums it up pretty well. Honestly, it took me a good week after buying this album before I discovered One Arm Scissor, the most well known (and also the 3rd) track, because Arcarsenal, the first song, is so damn good. The guitarwork is lightyears beyond exceptional, and the song structure is mind blowing. The lyrics, are, for lack of a better description, both badass and entertaining. Established fans of At the Drive In should worship this album for what it is: the band’s most focused and hard-hitting album. It’s hard to deny the force of songs like Pattern Against User or Catacombs (a bonus track on later editions of the album, which I have). Enfilade and Non Zero Possibility are some slower tracks to round out the album, but don’t lack in energy at all. It’s clear from listening to this album that this is a band that gives a shit about how they sound. Producing ATDI must have been a difficult job. Ross Robinson produced the album, and has worked previously with the likes of Glassjaw and The Blood Brothers. Though he may not seem like an obvious choice, he expertly produced this album in such a way that the raw, almost dirty sound of ATDI was polished without sounding too over-produced. You go, Ross Robinson, you go. If you’re looking to get into At the Drive In, this is a great place to start. If you’re already into them and don’t know this album, how? How is that possible? If you’re smart, you already know and love this album. Good for you.

#3- Right Now, You’re in the Best of Hands. And if Something Isn’t Quite Right, Your Doctor Will Know in a Hurry by Bear Vs. Shark

Bear Vs. Shark is a little post hardcore gem that I think too many people have missed out on. The whole post hardcore scene seems to have been dismissed as a bunch of whiny kids trying not to be emo or hardcore, and for the most part that’s true. Bear delivers much more by way of songwriting, both in complexity of structure and in issues adressed through the lyrics. Well, not the lyrics, but I’ll get to that in a bit. This is their debut album, and they really started off on a high note. From start to finish the album hits hard, strong, and fast. They do not fuck around. And their name is apropos; I imagine this is what a bear mauling a shark would sound like. This is not an album to be just written off. Kylie, the song not the person, starts off with a mellow groove and settles into a slow tempo, but then picks up and kicks you in the balls. The next song, M.P.S. offers something of an interlude, and then the next track Second raises the bar again. As far as a debut album goes, Right Now You’re in the Best of Hands has a very mature sound, something you would expect from a band with a few albums under its belt. The best part, Bear provides substance. The songs aren’t just background noise. And though Marc Paffi (vocals/guitar) has a tendency to provide some strange lyrics, they are all deeply resonant.... in their own special way (“I’m gonna break my legs in silence” from Broken Dog Leg, or “This is a poem. A combination of a sentence broken up to form a rhythm. You are a poem. Little pieces of my senses broken up to form an image” from the album opener Ma jolie). If you haven’t heard from Bear Vs. Shark yet, they are a definate must-listen. They’re almost always my go to band, regardless of my mood. Although I must warn you, once you listen to them you may weep uncontrollably because as a band they are no longer with us. Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night screaming my sadness to the stars, knowing I will never get to see them live. Fuck.

#2- Ugly Organ by Cursive

Lies, deception, murder, cheating, lust.... This album has it all. The Ugly Organ is the 4th studio release by art-punk band Cursive on Saddle Creek Records. Cursive fans oft hail Domestica as the best album by the band, and in many ways they’re right (well, as right as an opinion can be). Ugly Organ, though, is by far my favorite. A friend of mine said that the album is too self-involved, and that it gets to be a bit much to handle at times. Both statements are true. The Ugly Organ can be classified as a concept album, the story focusing on the Ugly Organist, a musician and basically a Tim Kasher avatar existing in the world of the album. It tells the story of empty sex and directionless frustration, and the instrumentation reflects this. Gretta Cohn, the cellist from Cursive’s Burst and Bloom EP, adds depth to the songs that becomes eerie at times, and songs like Butcher the Song and even A Gentleman Caller can be jarring to the ear. If you’re unfamiliar with Cursive, this isn’t the album to start on. It’s a masterpiece of musical story telling, the tone of the song reflects perfectly the message of Kasher’s often straightforward lyrics. His bluntness is not to be misconstrued for ineptatude, lyrically Cursive is one of the best bands out there today. Though few tracks on the album can be easily be identified as songs, and not mistaken for the minor filler placed inbetween tracks, the album as a whole plays like a movie, if you can muster the patience to sit and listen straight through. It takes some getting used to, and requires a certain degree of mental investment. But, you won’t be disappointed. If you’re new to Cursive, start with Domestica, it’s much more easily accesable. But, if you’re looking for an album you can really sink your teeth into (no, I’m not going to recommend 8 Teeth to Eat you, but if you thought of that then kudos) Ugly Organ is a great choice. Tim Kasher will eventually take over the world, so you might as well get to know his work now.

#1- In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth: 3 by Coheed and Cambria

Without a doubt my favorite album of all time. There’s so much going on here. It’s the second installment in a multi-album spanning space epic taking place in another universe, and the music is fantastic. The catch is there’s only as much depth as you want there to be. If you want an insane story with accompanying comic books, you got it. If you only want an intense modern prog album, you got that too. A line from the opening track, a little intro titled The Ring In Return, perfectly describes my attitude towards this album: “Where should I begin?” The 8+ minute second track, an epic song bearing the name of the album, sucks you in to the album. Though it may seem dauntingly long, Coheed masterfully constructs each song so that it changes when it needs to, keeping the listener (you) interested. There are obvious metal influences, frontman and guitarist Claudio Sanchez has often stated his favorite band is Iron Maiden, and also some surprising sound-alikes. His vocals are reminisce of Queen or even Cap’n Jazz. Speaking of Cap’n, Coheed does draw from the instrumental intricacies which are the hallmark of the whole math rock movement (think also Maps & Atlases). Coheed is far from math rock, so purists don’t crucify me, but the drums on The Velourium Camper II: Backend of Forever have the a flair that could have come right off of Hold Your Horse Is. Though Coheed’s later albums (Good Apollo I’m Burning Star IV: Volumes 1 and 2) are better for showcasing how they’ve developed as a band, in production and technical abillity, IKSSE3 still delivers the most powerful emotional high. The album sounds great, there’s no getting around that. The production team did their jobs well in bringing out the wide range of influences Coheed and Cambria draws on. Subtelties like the noticeable woodblock in The Velourium Camper I: Faint of Hearts and the pronounced clean guitar in Blood Red Summer really shine. Songs like A Favor House Atlantic and Three Evils (Embodied in Love and Shadow) are firmly rooted in the bands punk/screamo past, and The Crowing and the bonus track 2113 boldly declare the direction of the band’s future. If you’re interested in getting into Coheed, this is a great album to start with. If you are looking for a massive sci-fi space epic with space ship battles, a grand rebellion, and the involvement of God himself, this is a great album to start with. For more information on Coheed and the story behind all of their albums, check out the fansite www.cobaltandcalcium.com.

So there it is. Post #1. Well, technically #2 but you know what I mean. These reviews are all shorter than my typical review, because for fuck’s sake I did 5 of them. Next week’s review will be full length, and we start on the normal update schedule. Hope you enjoyed this. If you didn’t, well then you can suck it. If you enjoyed this post, then join me next week when we look at something completely new.

Until then, keep breathing.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The beginning of Motherfish Music

Welcome to Motherfish Music. This is a blog that I've created in my spare time to spread new music and good music, and to warn people who love good music what kind of shit is floating out there in the great interweb sea. I'm not pushing an agenda; I don't have a raging hard on for Pitchfork and subsequently masturbate to everything they give a good review to, and I don't subscribe to Alternative Press or Hip Music Magazine or the Indie Rock Periodical or whatever. Most of my reviews are bands that I've come across by word of mouth or through random stumblings. Some technical difficulties (i.e. me being retarded and not saving my entry for today and being way to lazy to re-type the whole thing) prevented me from actually starting off today, but that's ok. 

Here's how it's going to work.

Motherfish Music will update every Tuesday. That's right, TUESDAY TUESDAY TUESDAY. The first Tuesday of every month I will be featuring some brand spankin' new album I purchased solely for the purpose of educating the world. That means some albums will be awesome, some will be mediocre, and some will suck the shit right from a sewer. You take the good with the bad in this bizzness people. I will also be taking recommendations. So if you're on the fence about something, just curious what I'd think, or keep bitching to all your little friends about how good something is even though they keep disagreeing and want to see if they're right, drop me a line at motherfishmusic@gmail.com with the subject "Request" and I'll get on it as soon as possible. I'll eventually get to all requests and respond to the emails, and some requests will be featured as posts. Oh, the honor.

Next Tuesday, in an effort to sort of give an overview of what my music taste is (not that any of you care, but it can help you determine if you think my opinion is valid or not), I will be featuring my top 5 personal favorite albums. That brings us right to February 3rd, which will begin with a review of something NEW and AWESOME (maybe). Join me next week when I get to nerd out about how much I love music and how it's changed my life and made me a better person and etc etc etc.

Until then, keep breathing.