Sunday, September 27, 2009

Live Review - 9/27/09 Mindwalk Blvd Release Party at Hard Rock Cafe

Mindwalk Blvd, a power trio from the northern suburbs of Boston, played in the Hard Rock Cafe's Cavern Club in Boston's Fanueil Hall to celebrate the release of their The Art Crime EP. The group, consisting entirely of teenagers, gave a dense and extended set to their fans. Their heavy, dense sound and energy lent itself well to a live environment.

Eratoxica followed, continuing the high energy and hard sound that Mindwalk Blvd led with. Singer Bethanie boasts a great voice and really belted out mostly originals with a few covers.

The sound quality was good in the Cavern Club, with high volume and resounding bass. Not the kind of place to go if you want to have a nice dinnertime conversation.

Mindwalk Blvd Site
Eratoxica Site

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Movie Review - Honky Tonk Blues

Honky Tonk Blues is a documentary PBS made about country music giant Hank Williams in 2004 as part of their "American Masters" series. Compared to the recent excellent documentaries on country musicians Townes Van Zandt (Be Here To Love Me) and Gram Parsons (Fallen Angel), it suffers from how long ago many of the events happened. Many experiences are told second-hand (by Williams biographers or his kids, very young at the time of his death), and at the film's conclusion I was intrigued by the enigmatic Hank, but hardly more illuminated. The music was great, as one might expect, but it was largely recorded material, with few hidden gems.

All-in-all, a great introduction for those who don't know much of Williams' life and work (and I would put myself in that category), but not a ton of meat for those who are serious fans.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Rating System

You may notice I gave The Dead Weather's Horehound a B. Rating anything, especially art, is subjective and probably stupid. If I like something, but Pitchfork doesn't, or Robert Christgau does, or Metacritic doesn't ... does that tell you if you're going to like it?

So my rankings are going to be totally personal. I'm not going to rate something high if I admire its brilliance but I can't really listen to it. I'm going to listen to each album five or six times before I review it and then rate it on how I'm going to listen to it in the future. I'm going to use the following scale:

A - Will be listening to constantly over the next few weeks, months. Rarely if ever will I skip a track if it comes up on shuffle.
B - I like it, and will listen to it occasionally, but not with the burning compulsion of an A album. Usually not going to skip a track if it comes on shuffle.
C - I like a few songs, but there are some I'm going to skip on shuffle, and I'm not usually going to listen to the album start-to-finish.
D - Skipping most of the disc, even on shuffle. Not listening to the album all the way through.
F - Not synching it to my iPod even though I have 50+ GB free.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Dead Weather - Horehound

Rating: B

I had a high school history teacher who once asked a student in my class to read the definition of concupiscence aloud. "Lust, sexual desire," the student read, rather uncomfortably. "LUST ... SEXUAL DESIRE!" the teacher screamed, jumping in the air, clenching his fists, turning slighly red. It was a more than a little creepy.

That teacher might be proud to know that thanks to his theatrics, I still remember the definition of concupiscence to this day (though, in full disclosure, I did have to look up the spelling). He might also enjoy Horehound, the debut album for The Dead Weather.

Every review of The Dead Weather notes its kind-of-not-really super group status. White Striper Jack White's drumming here, and you might know some of the bands some of the other people are in.

That's not important, not really. What's important is the concupiscence. The lust! - the sexual desire! This album wants to bang you, nail you, rail you. It's going to hurt and you're going to feel dirty, but you're going to like it. "Hang You By the Heavens" follows the line "I want to grab you by the hair" with a second of pregnant, delicious silence until singer Allison Mosshart finishes the line (dragging you to heaven or hell) and the drums and raunchy guitar line kick back in. Her voice and attitude conjure up the kind of raw, crazy sexual beast that Megan Fox is trying so desperately to convince people she is.

Random notes and opinions:
  • Jack's drumming on "New Pony" and the chorus to "So Far From Your Weapon" sounds like Meg's.
  • Album-closer "Will There Be Enough Water?" is the only really blues song on the album.
  • Why is Jack White and not Mosshart singing "I look like a woman" on the somewhat inane "I Cut Like a Buffalo?"
  • It's interesting that they laid down the instrumental track "3 Birds," but honestly I'm probably going to skip it most of the time it comes on.
The lead-off track, "60 Feet Tall," opens with Mosshart quietly emoting, "You're so cruel and shameless / But I can't leave you be." There probably isn't a better way to sum this up.

Buy it from Amazon (MP3 Format)
The Dead Weather Official Website

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Get Well Playlist

I'm sending my Aunt in Houston, recovering from surgery, a mix CD of the following:

1. Antony & the Johnsons - "Shake That Devil"
2. The Shins - "Know Your Onion!"
3. Big Star - "September Gurls"
4. Son Volt - "Windfall"
5. Robert Plant & Allison Krauss - "Killing the Blues"
6. Wilco - "California Stars"
7. Vampire Weekend - "Walcott"
8. Crooked Still - "Shady Grove"
9. Blitzen Trapper - "Furr"
10. The Flaming Lips - "Enthusiasm for Life Defeats Existential Fear"
11. Ryan Adams - "Pearls On a String"
12. Cat Power - "Living Proof"
13. Tim O'Brien - "Forever Young"
14. Bela Fleck - "When Joy Kills Sorrow"

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Karaoke Night

Last night I sang Karaoke. I have three rules for successful Karaoke:

  1. Pick a song you genuinely like, but not one you love.
  2. Pick something slightly outside your vocal range.
  3. Sing with absolutely no self-respect or self-restraint. Ham it up.
These rules have song selection as two-thirds of the Karaoke equation, and I think that's right. Here was the song I chose last night:

That's right - Bryan Adams, "(Everything I Do) I Do It For You."

Friday, September 18, 2009

ACL Lineup

To give a flavor for what's coming, here are the bands I'm planning to hit at ACL:

The Low Anthem
Blitzen Trapper - Furr is one of my favorite albums of the year
Avett Brothers
The Walkmen
Them Crooked Vultures - really excited to see these guys after the reviews of their Lollapalooza show
Yeah Yeah Yeahs

Deer Tick
The Raveonettes
Grizzly Bear
Bon Iver - one of my favorite shows from '08
Mos Def
The Decemberists - I was sick and missed them on their latest tour, but I love The Hazards of Love. Not sure if they're going to play that as they've been doing lately or mix it up a bit.

Black Joe Lewis and the Honeybears
The B-52s
Heartless Bastards
Passion Pit
The Dead Weather - this will be my first album review!
Girl Talk
Pearl Jam


I'm Dave. I love music. This blog exists to chart my musical journey.

On the immediate horizon:
I'm going to Austin City Limits at the beginning of October. Leading up to this, I'm going to listen to and review albums by bands that I'm planning to see there. Review style will likely be in flux until I figure out what I want to do. Suggestions are of course welcome!