• Perfect Pitch

    8 Aug 2006, 05:31 by Ebb_Tides

    This phenomena has always amazed me. Many great composers were said to have it, like Bach, Beethoven, George Frideric Handel, Tchaikovsky, and Chopin to name a few.

    "What a gift", I think to myself, but after reading more on this, I've found that several unexpected people posess this seemingly hieghtened sense.

    Barbra Streisand has perfect pitch.
    Shakira, Michael Jackson, Yanni, and even Tina Turner supposedly have this ability.

    Imagine the ease they must have when tuning, playing or even listening for that matter. Would things sounds more vibrant, or perhaps more acutely sensitive? I'd just love to have this ability, if even for a day.

    Oh, and Joseph Stalin had it too.
  • Left Handed?

    2 Aug 2006, 23:58 by GVH27

    If you're left handed or ambidextrous, join the Left Hander's Group!
  • Union Park Dispatch, Part One

    1 Aug 2006, 18:38 by plantpower253

    So, the Pitchfork Music Festival 2006 was awesome. Before I start, I’d like to extend a special thank-you to Jenny (first and foremost!) for letting me stay with her and for being my steadfast festival companion, Liz for helping me sneak into the UChicago dorms after hours, the 6-foot-5 photographer who let me sit on his shoulders during Os Mutantes, and Ted, Zach, and Darius for being (some of?) the only frat guys cool enough to go to Pitchfork. And now, for the band-by-band breakdown of Day One…

    Hot Machines: Ehh. They played sloppy, bluesy rock that was in no way enhanced by the lead singer’s yowling voice. They did have some good guitar riffs, but those got lost in the mediocrity.

    Chin Up Chin Up: Rather good, although they sound better recorded than live. It was nice to see a local band in the lineup. “Collide the Tide” was my favorite song of theirs.

    Man Man: All the legends are true! Hirsute, war-paint-wearing, white-clad men jumping around, throwing feathers in the air, and playing batshit crazy, blues-influenced musical freakouts with (get this!) NO STOPS between the songs. They put on the day’s best show.

    Band of Horses: They were terribly disappointing. Their music sounded lost and unoriginal. I kind of tuned them out.

    The Mountain Goats: John Darnielle developed a great rapport with the crowd, giving lengthy comments about each song and at one point exhorting us: “Pogo to my jam.” They played one or two songs from The Sunset Tree, “Jenny” from All Hail West Texas, and some other songs I didn’t recognize, which may or may not have been new. Franklin Bruno, Darnielle's bandmate from The Extra Glenns, also joined them to play a song that he wrote.

    Destroyer was sometimes catchy, but sometimes too dramatic and overblown for my taste. It was really hot out, and we spent most of this set just lounging around.

    Art Brut: my opinion of them was a little bit pre-formed by everyone telling me that they sucked, but they really weren’t that good. Their sound was aggressive and derivative and their irony couldn’t make up for their lack of quality. But guess what? THEY FORMED A BAND. LOOK AT THEM, THEY FORMED A BAND.

    Ted Leo and the Pharmacists were very catchy and their set was lots of fun. None of the indie kids were dancing, though… I don’t know if this was because the weather was too hot to dance, or because they were too cool to dance.

    The Futureheads were all right. They played a good mix of songs from their last album and from their latest album. Some of their crisp sound got lost in the live performance, but they made up for it with their energy. "Hounds of Love" should have been their last song, though.

    The Walkmen surprised me—I wasn’t expecting to like them as much as I did. We kind of did a crossword puzzle during this set, though, so I wasn’t concentrating as much as I might have.

    Silver Jews were just great. I liked them exactly as much as I thought I would—their sound was perfect for the end of Day One, although Berman’s amazing lyrics got a little bit lost in the sound. Being a neophyte where the Joos are concerned, I only recognized one song, “Black and Brown Blues,” but it was nice to see some in the crowd singing along.

    All in all, a great day. Jenny and I went back to Hyde Park and passed out afterward, even though it was a Saturday night, because we knew the next day would be even better…
  • Think About Life

    30 Jul 2006, 22:03 by Ebb_Tides

    Montreal seems to be the zenith of good, new music these days. Big names like Islands, The Arcade Fire, Wolf Parade, and Belle Orchestre hail from there. But oft overlooked are the little guys. Think About Life released their album in early May of this year, and have proven to be one of my most cherished finds to date.

    I first heard their single "Paul Cries" via the
    podcast back in Feburary. Ever since, I've been fanatically following them. Blending a sort of abrasive synth pop with both sacred and profane lyrics, Think About Life is definetly worth your time.

    Their self-titled debut album features ten tracks, each a treasure in it's own right. Track 8 , "What The Future Might Be" features the L.A. based rapper Subtitle, and it's one of my favorite tracks on the album. The next track "Slow-Motion Slam-Dunk From The Free-Throw Line" Is a short, sweet, post-rock feeling track. It could easily be mistaken for a less caliginous Mogwai tune. And finally, what's cooler than a secret track that sounds like a classic Talkingheads song?

    If you're looking for an optimistic versitile band, think about Think About Life.
  • Talk about your Gulag Orkestars.

    21 Jul 2006, 03:55 by plantpower253

    One thing about Baltimore is that people there love anything kitschy. If you've ever seen a John Waters or a Barry Levinson movie, you know what I'm talking about. I mean, the city has an entire festival devoted to the beehive hairdo. It's not too surprising, then, to find out that the Baltimore Sun is the only US newspaper (so far) to have reviewed one of the kitschiest albums ever released.

    I'm talking about Gulag Tunes, the instrumental surf-music renditions of traditional Russian prison songs created by Mike Antipow, a moonlighting Muscovian musician. His day job is at a hospital morgue. But that's only the first of many mismatches in this bizarre musical marriage.

    The instrumentation's jangly guitars and jaunty beats are a stark contrast to the mournful, minor-key melodies of the prison songs, and the fit of context and content is often awkward even though the band plays quite well. However, the music doesn't exist for art's sake alone: as the band's MySpace profile notes...

    "Why criminal music and criminal lifestyle is so popular here? Is it because melody harmony developed from Russian roots music? Or because total criminalization of Russian life?"

    In a country where inalienable rights are more like special privileges, that's a valid question to ask. And I can't help but wonder if these Russian kitschmeisters have maybe just a little more Eastern European cred than Beirut and their name-checking track titles?

    Speaking of which... I wonder if good old Mike will see Beirut when they play in Moscow at the end of the month?

    Check out Gulag Tunes here.
  • The Best of Nordic Pop

    10 Jul 2006, 18:57 by awthomp86

    Ok. So I finally got around to making the best of Nordic Pop album I've been talking about for a long time. All of you the people I see on a *relatively* regular basis will be given one of these!

    1. Tell
    2. Riverbank
    3. Keep Your Love
    4. 7 Days
    5. Parakit
    6. Think Nothing Of It
    7. Please Please Please
    8. He Knows The Sun
    9. It pays to belong
    10. Certainly
    11. I'd Rather Dance With You
    12. You Are The Light (by which I travel into this and that)
    13. What Shall We Do Next?
    14. Sensing Owls
    15. Max 500
    16. Cynic
    17. An Envoy to the Open Fields
    18. You Know So Well
    19. On The Radio
    20. If I Don't Write This Song, Someone I love Will Die

    Note: These may not be my favorite songs by all of the artists, but it does best with the flow of the album.
  • David Bowie in the Hizzy

    15 Jun 2006, 21:37 by awthomp86

    Give a warm welcome to Kaitlyn (mymindsplitopen). Quite possibly one of the coolest girls on the planet. Kevin (jiroach6) and Zach (zfarrow) would certainly agree.
  • Minimix 1: Mute sounds

    23 May 2006, 02:12 by plantpower253

    Welcome to the first in what may or may not be a series of minimixes: playlists running 15 minutes or less. Perfect for that quick jog around the block (if you live on a very small block) or while you're waiting for your nail polish to dry.

    ...Or whatever.

    This first minimix, as its slightly oxymoronic title might suggest, is all about songs with no words. I can't really call them all instrumentals, because (oh, irony!) the "Instrumental" track from The Microphones has some wordless humming right at the end. But anyway. To the music.

    Hippy Death Suite
    Saddle up, boys and girls, because this track's a doozie. Imagine "Wipeout" on steroids, with a jet engine, and a glockenspiel. Yeah, it's kind of like that.

    All the fun and sun of the previous track, but substantially more mellow. Bubbly-sounding synthesizers and a bouncy beat take the lead on this one. Featured Unexpected Percussion Instrument: the gong.

    Dansa brasileira
    Sorry, no Featured Unexpected Percussion Instruments in this one; it's a straight-up piano and cello duet, but the sparkling melody and interplay between the two instruments make up for the lack of indietastic novelty.

    maranata club lounge
    If there is some Swedish tradition analogous to smoking hookah, that's what you should do while listening to this track. Haunted-house noises, distorted guitars, the constancy of the accordion, and a slow, moseying groove make this the perfect track for chilling out and feeling cool.

    The Fool
    Another one with great accordions, this time with keening trumpets in a slow, mournful 3/4. This is what the Addams Family plays as the last dance at their annual cotillion.

    ...And we'll round it out with another mournful waltz. Nice, soft acoustic strumming and a percussionless e-guitar interlude make this one inconvenient for dancing, though. Still, this track sees the return of the Featured Unexpected Percussion Instrument: I'm fairly sure that Phil uses spoons in this one.

    Total time, according to iTunes: 13.3 minutes.

    All songs available on iTunes Music Store, and plenty of other places, too. (Imagine! Artists like Clinic, Islands, Isolation Years, Neutral Milk Hotel, and The Microphones are accessible through a major music outlet! Ah, how I love the Internet.)