Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Motherfish #20- And Let My Army be the Rocks and the Trees

Album of the Week

So I had some sort of a specific kind of plan-like thing for this week. I lost it. I know, I know. But I have something for you anyway! Don’t you all just love me? This week’s band and I have an interesting history full of sex, drugs, and unreasonable quantities of books about science. Not really. But, consider today’s review less a cynical man ranting his near-worthless opinion about music and more a journey of mind and body. Now if you’re really good at picking up subtext, you could read those last few sentences as "IM A LAZY BASTARD AND FOR SOME REASON IM GOING TO SLACK OFF THIS WEEK”. Which is a little true. Basically, because next week is going to be a pretty crazy week around here (got a special review planned), I’ve been focusing a lot of effort on the oldest son that is June 23rd and sort of neglected today like the middle child that it is. Harsh, but true. Let’s do this.

Be Bold and Might Forces Will Come To Your Aid by Palma

Fuck this band. I must have listened to this album sixteen or seventeen times in the past month and a half and I can’t decide for the life of me if I like it or not. The conclusion that I reached is that whether I like the music or not, I like the album. Wait, that’s totally convoluted. Not really. This band brought an interesting issue to light; the value of a band beyond its music. I don’t know if Palma was consciously aware of this when they recorded the album or not, but regardless, it rewards you more for thinking about it rather than for listening to it. Palma comes off as one of the few bands who create music that, though great to listen to, serves primarily to convey a feeling. Basically the band cares about what I think when I’m sitting here playing their album. That isn’t me making excuses for shoddy musicianship, not even close. The quality of the songs on the album is basically solid, with a few pitfalls but mostly gems. Their lead guitarist, whoever he is, has some chops. As a guitar player, I can appreciate when a degree of technical ability is well blended with creative songwriting, so they definitely get the seal of approval for that. The thing is, despite all of that, the album can come off as bland or even cheap sounding, that is to say formulaic. Which is fucking bizarre, to say the least. The singer is another issue. He sounds like a strange combination of Julian Casablancas (of The Strokes) and Thom Yorke (of Radiohead) but a little more foreign at times. He sounds totally different on the last two tracks. I can’t figure out exactly what it is, but something’s changed. For all that the album does wrong, which isn’t that much, it does so much right! So, I’m willing to look past that. But I wasn’t at first. You see, this is what makes the band so interesting to me.

At first, I wrote them off as some weird noise-pop Radiohead knockoff touting around like their shit don’t stink and they think they’re going to be the next Shins. And even though that’s what they sound like, that’s not who they are. Be Bold has a superpower-like ability to blend in with whatever your current thought process is and meld perfectly to your natural brain function. You can throw this album on in the background and, no matter what you happen to be doing, it will just exist. It’s kind of cool, all things considered. They’ve got a pretty groovy sound that I would consider good to dance to, something in the vein of Franz Ferdinand. It’s clear what the bands intentions were with Be Bold, and they didn’t fall short. And though I’ve done my best to explain what I think when I listen to Palma, it’s still unclear why exactly I can listen to a band whose music is overall solid but not outstanding and still walk away feeling like I’ve experienced a work of musical genius. I recommend the album, because it’s not easy to like or hate. Listening to Be Bold is a good way to get a handle on what your musical tastes are because in order to commit to some sort of decision over whether you like it or not, you’re going to need to sit down with it and give it a few listens. There are moments when you cry in terror, but moments when you weep because of its beauty.

Yeah so Palma really got me thinking. Which is what I like. I enjoy the album because it forces me to really consider what I value in a band to consider them ‘good’ or ‘bad’. You’ll have to judge for yourself. Remember to check back next week because I have a really cool review planned. And also- FUCK I GOT IT! Ok, and the end of the album, for some WEIRD reason, the lead singer sounds exponentially less foreign. And his voice is lower. Erroneous.

Here, have a listen:

Tuesday, June 9, 2009


Album of the Week

Alright so I’m sort of back on a regular schedule. It’s nice. As I’m sitting down to write this, I’m at the end of a fifteen-hour day. Which, unless it’s full of hookers and chocolate (which it wasn’t) is never fun. The upside is now I can pay for food, and eating is sort of a hobby of mine. I don’t really have too much to say before today’s review, so I’ll share a nifty anecdote. I fucking LOVE my friends. Two Fridays ago I had the extreme pleasure of attending a performance of none other than Coheed and Cambria. The venue was close to my house, but still about an hour and a half away. Down I drove, my car loaded up with friends. In the parking lot I take my jacket off and put it in my back seat… with my keys in the pocket. And my doors were locked. All of them. Yeah. My reaction was to scream “fuck” as loud as I could, much to the delight of the gathering crowd of concert attendees. Simple fix, let’s call AAA. WRAONG. They refused to help because I wasn’t on the AAA account, even though I was registered to the car and there would be a processing time of about three hours to add me to the account etc etc. Fuck that. My dad, bless his heart, was going to drive my spare key down to me. But no, my friend Bryan (who oddly enough is mentioned a lot on here), the fucking CHAMP that he is drove all the way down with the spare, got MY keys from my car, and brought them to me at the door to the venue. Thanks Bryan, you saved me a 19 hour walk. On to the music!

Self Titled by Kay Kay and His Weathered Underground

I listen to a lot of music. I really do. I listen to music 90% of my time. Figure there are twenty-four hours in a day (I usually like to put something on when I go to sleep), well, that’s a lot of time spent listening to music. I can’t listen to the same thing over and over again, so I need a pretty wide variety of genres to get me through the day. Metal, hardcore, swing, jazz, blues, pop, indie, and every combination possible find their way into my daily life. So, it’s not that often that I encounter a band so unbelievably genre-defining that not only do I listen to them nonstop for a whole day, but that I am genuinely impressed. Today’s band, Kay Kay and His Weathered Underground, are genuinely impressive. Kay Kay was formed by Kirk Huffman and Kyle O’Quinn, both who are of Gatsby’s American Dream fame. For those of you unfamiliar with GAD, don’t worry. Even though that makes you less cool than the rest of us, you can still enjoy Kay Kay. They draw from what may quite possibly be the most eclectic pool of influences I’ve ever encountered. Honestly, listening to this band is a treat. Think early days The Beatles, but with a more contemporary spin (benefitting from a higher production quality, thank you technology) and just a tad more polished. I’m not exactly sure what I mean by polished, but its true. Trust me. A lot of the songs have a really nice groove to them, which I’m inclined to attest to the assortment of instruments. Trumpets, trombones, tuba, violin, cello, what I think is a sitar, and a flugelhorn. That’s right, a fucking flugelhorn.

What should one listening to Kay Kay and His Weathered Underground expect? Nothing. Any expectations you have will be immediately blown out of the water. I’m putting myself on the line here by recommending this band so strongly, but I stand behind what I’m saying. There’s so much going on in each song; they’re dynamic and engaging and every member brings so much to the table. Though there are only 3 core members, they brought on a lot of guest musicians, helping the band to diversify their sound. That’s how you get one song that could easily be off of Chutes Too Narrow (The Shins’ second release) and a song with a horn section straight from the sixties (with vocals to match, no joke). If you’re into new things, different things, unequivocally awesome things, and salads, this band is for you. Folks I’m serious when I say Kay Kay is really doing something creative and original, which is refreshing these days. The sad thing is, I don’t know how much radio play a band like this will get. Unless you listen to badass radio, in which case please email me the station (though I doubt Delaware gets it). What we have here is innovative music that deserves to be rewarded. I’ve tried my best, but honestly what I’m saying here can’t really do the album justice. The song I’ve picked for today is my personal favorite, and I believe it was the single from the album. It serves as a good introduction to the world of Kay Kay and His Weathered Underground, but doesn’t quite represent the album as a whole. It’s a good summary, but every song still has the ability to surprise you. Fucking stellar band.

Few last notes about Kay Kay, they’ve announced that they’ve been in the studio recording their second full length, Introducing Kay Kay and His Weathered Underground, which should be out sometime in 2009, so keep your eyes and ears open for anything more from this band. Also, I built my updating schedule to match my classes last semester, when Tuesdays were the best day to update. However, that’s really no longer viable. I’m going to switch to updating Wednesdays, which will usually mean Tuesday nights around this time, give or take a few hours. Keep breathing my lovely readers, and see you next Wednesday.

A Sample of KKAHWU:

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Motherfish #18 For Real- I Am Disappoint

New Music Tuesday

Ok I know I really dropped the ball these past few weeks. School was getting pretty intense, and in retrospect I probably should have focused a bit more on my classes. I came out relatively ok, but there are some things I need to work on for next fall. Besides school, moving home and then back to school was, like the rest of my life, an unorganized disaster mostly improvised and approached with much the same “fuck it, let’s do it live” bravado that I use in most situations. I’ve learned my lesson well, however. I doubt my English 204 professor is reading this, but if you are then I’m still really sorry for handing you the wrong paper. A few things to say regarding the past two weeks: Diego Paulo deserves a listen if you haven’t already done that. The other band I was going to feature I found out has split, which is a damn shame. So, I guess it wasn’t so bad that I missed their review last week. I’ve gotten some good feedback about featuring local bands, so you can expect to see that again sometime, though maybe not a whole month. June is going to be a crazy month, as I’ve got a lot of tricks up my sleeve for all of you. Not to mention a wicked farmer’s tan.

New Again by Taking Back Sunday

I’ll admit, I’ve been a TBS fan for a while now. I have fond memories of watching the video for You’re So Last Summer and wondering who the funny looking black man in the video was (eventually I figured out it was Flava Flav, I don’t know how I could have been so blind). That album, I’m referring to Tell All Your Friends of course, still makes me nostalgia, and thus, makes me lose. But it’s a defeat I can comfortably sit in and reflect on days long gone. The next album in TBS’s career, Where You Want To Be, also had some shining moments that find their way onto some of my playlists. Louder Now was acceptable, but it just didn’t stand up to the other two albums. Every now and then I like to give Tell All Your Friends’ catchy hooks and moderately angsty tunes a listen, just to remind myself where I came from. When I compare it to the majority of what I listen to now, I’ve come a long way. And when I stand New Again next to its mates in the TBS discography, it’s obvious that they’ve come a long way as well. In a direction not necessarily relevant to my interests. New Again follows closely in the footsteps of Louder Now, not the MakeDamnSure footsteps mind you; but the trail blazed by the dozen or so other tracks that just fade from memory. It’s ironic that the title track, New Again, has the line “I am ready to be new again” because they’re not. If that’s what they were aiming for, they failed pretty hard. The album shouldn’t be called New Again so much as Louder Now Again. At least in that case, I would know what I was getting into. Some of the songs do have a similar feel as their sophomore release, the track Carpathia, for example, does a pretty solid job of taking the sound of their earlier work and tweaks it to incorporate the style they expounded on with Louder Now. And while Louder Now was a logical progression from Where You Want To Be (whether fans liked it or not, it made sense), New Again gives the impression that the band has reached a plateau, where they will sit and fester in stagnant bathwater surrounded by mosquitos. Like I said, Carpathia shows promise, and there are a few other brief instances where I’ll look up and think to myself ‘maybe next year’ like a child who only wanted one thing for Christmas, that one thing that meant more than anything else, and his parents tried so hard to make sure he got everything he wanted, but somehow the toy that was written on his list in bright green ink and surrounded by stars and unicorns somehow didn’t catch their eye. And the kid feels bad because when his parents look at him, so full of pride because they believe they’ve made all of his dreams come true, he’d be the ultimate asshole if he told them that they let him down. Taking Back Sunday, you’ve let me down.

Now I’m not saying the album is bad. There are some good songs besides Carpathia. The title track New Again is a fairly solid song; it’s bass heavy, which is interesting for a band with two guitarists. Structurally you would normally find this type of song in a three-person band, or four if the fourth member were a designated singer. The song develops into something a bit more expected of TBS. This is the song I’ve decided to present, not because it’s my favorite or anything like that, but because it serves as a representation of the album. The majority of tracks have the same kind of vibe and all have a similar feel. I’ll say this, the album doesn’t require much thought on the part of the listener. Its fairly generic alternative-rock-pop-punk-esque power chord and octave guitar riffs and high-pitched half-yelled vocals fade well into the background if you have to read or are on a long drive. The album is a crowd pleaser because there’s nothing special about it; you aren’t forced to decide whether you love it or hate it. There is a VERY distinct grey area here, and I fall smack dab in the middle of it. I can only hope that TBS was just experimenting a bit more with their Louder Now sound, and that any future releases will bring us back to the Taking Back Sunday we know and love. If you listen closely, there are glimpses of the old TBS to be had, so I tend to believe that despite this little foray further down the road to Generic City, the hearts of all the band members truly lie in their past and that that is where they are destined to return. But what do I know, I’m no doctor.

Doesn’t it feel good to be back on some sort of schedule? It does for me. So yeah, Taking Back Sunday. Whatever. Next week we continue with the normal updates, and then something special. June should promise to be a cool month for Motherfish. Be easy.

Here's some music:

Thanks to youtube user chilla124 for the song. I couldn't post my own because of some weird thing with Interpol or something. I didn't really read it beyond "you're video has been muted".