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Saturday, October 31, 2009

All Hallow's Eve

John Carpenter.
Toilet paper and eggs.
Mickey Rourke.

Yup, it's that time of year again. Used to be about costumes and candy, now its about costumes and beer. Costumes being the constant, obviously. Candy and beer are both unhealthy, so I suppose not all that much has changed. And the UNICEF trick or treaters will always make you feel guilty.

In 8th Grade I really went to town on Cabbage Night. That's all I'm gonna say. But it was fun.

In the spirit of the day, I will leave you with some Rocket From the Crypt, who broke up four years ago today. These are some mp3s from their last show. Enjoy.

Rocket From the Crypt - I'm Not Invisible
Rocket From the Crypt - Ditch Digger

Buy 'em up:
Merch Lackey

Thursday, October 29, 2009

If you wanna write like me...stop. Trust me, you don't wanna write like me.

Procrastination is in my life blood. I'm at my best when the conditions I have to work under are at their worst, when the clock over my shoulder is rapidly ticking away the precious minutes I have left to complete the mid-term, response paper, or analytical essay with several charts and graphs imported from Excel, that bear of a program I'll probably never get a full handle on how to use effectively. Heart racing from the overcaffeination (a certain type of energy drink preferred, but in pandering to my punker, DIY readers I will abstain from naming said life-giving beverage). And the stress. Oh, the stress. My GPA hanging in the balance. Eyes occasionally losing focus. Imagining things in my peripherals that aren't there at all. Sleepless nights. Tremulous limbs. Chills. Dry, twitchy eyes. Bad for my health? Probably. Bad for my sanity? Probably. Am I capable of working any other way? When I figure it out, I'll let you know.

In these trying times which I to some [great] extent bring upon myself, the one constant that gets me through is my music collection. Thanks to the wonders of modern technology, I can be anywhere with an internet connection and a headphone jack and be plugged into practically my entire heap of tuneage [thanks Lala]. Right now I'm wasting precious campus bandwidth in the library to rock out to some "Holy Diver" from my fifth-floor perch in the library whilst laboring on part one of my two-part take home Urban Politics mid-term. You can just see the devil horns, can't you? Brutal Legend be damned, I need no video game to tell me how to think and feel about music. I have my own discerning ear for that purpose, thank you.

You may be asking yourself right about now, assuming that you've stuck around this long in the post, when in God's name I'm going to get around to attaching a link to an mp3 or embed a video or something, anything musical. Hasn't this piece of web real estate been re-zoned a second time for discussion of chord changes, melodies, lyrical content, the corny, the outdated, the up-and-coming, rock, indie power-pop, punk, folk, metalcore and thrash? Well, yes. And I'll get around to it, just hold up a second.

I will finish this paper...come hell or high water.

This guy's got a fantastic voice, and a sobering back-story. Worth listening to.

William Elliott Whitmore - Hell or High Water (From Animals in the Dark)

Buy 'em up:

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

New Ted Leo Song!?

I've counted myself as a solid Ted Leo fan since he came to Clark University back during the first semester of Freshman year. He had a pretty rough cold and one of his fingers was bleeding but he rocked ever so hard in spite of his varied maladies. Living With the Living was a fine record and although his label Touch and Go had to make some painful cuts earlier this year, he recently signed with Matador, and it appears he's been getting his write on and will have a new album out hopefully sometime in the Spring of 2010. Also, did I mention that he has a Twitter? Being one of Ted Leo's tweeps is a rewarding experience, I promise.

Somewhere under that hat dwells the most awesome Mohawk you'll never see. Cheers.


Tuesday, October 27, 2009

And Tomorrow We'll Take Aim / Just Like a Storm Waiting For a Calm.

It's weird how you can associate a song with stuff that has nothing to do with the lyrical content of the song itself, say what song came after it on a mix CD your friend burned for you in high school, or what was happening in your life when you first heard this song.

I can't say I'm a particularly big fan of their current incarnation, but old-school Against Me! was a beautiful thing. For me, this song is Spring break 2007 (Dirrty Jerz edition) encapsulated. Not coincidentally, I saw them at the Starland Ballroom in Sayreville that same trip (here's a decent write-up). Bruce Springsteen was at the bar, no joke. Of course I had an X on each hand at that juncture. The crowd was nuts and my tiny friend Dana got sucked into the pit of despair and yet somehow emerged a few minutes later unharmed. The rascals would not get their gnome trophy that night.

Through the magic of Google, I tracked down a short clip of the encore, "We Laugh At Danger and Break All the Rules":

After 2007's subpar New Wave (which was still good enough for Spin magazine to name it album of the year [take that as you will]), I hold little hope for White Crosses. Prove me wrong, Tom Gabel. Prove me wrong.

Against Me! - Untitled (From The Acoustic EP)

Buy 'em up:
Sabot Productions

Monday, October 26, 2009

(Part Two)

Please don't get the idea that this is rapidly devolving into some glorified Mountain Goats fan blog (as near and dear to me as the band may be). This post simply serves as an addendum to yesterday's entry on The Life of the World to Come, which if I had been thinking clearly enough at the time, would surely have gotten tacked onto the end of that post. Better late than never I suppose, and thus I present to you now (in the event that you have not already viewed it) The Mountain Goats' performance on The Colbert Report from about three weeks back. There was an interview of John prior to the performance, which you can find here. After all, I wouldn't want to overwhelm the page with multimedia and so crash the machines of those brave few out of my legions of followers who are still running Windows 3.1, right?

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
The Mountain Goats - Psalms 40:2
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorMichael Moore

(Via Pitchfork)

Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Mountain Goats - The Life of the World to Come

I'll admit it. I had a few misgivings about this record before it came out. As much as John Darnielle protested on The Mountain Goats website that he had not experienced some religious revival and was still as much of a lapsed Catholic as ever, and that the new record would not be some uber-religious screed, I had my doubts ["I come from Chino where the asphalt sprouts"].

Should I have feared? No. After all, Darnielle has been seasoning his music with varying degrees of religion for his entire career, be it "Trans-Jordanian Blues" (from On Juhu Beach), "Blues in Dallas" (from All Hail West Texas), "Genesis 19 1-2" (from Devil in the Shortwave), or "I Corinthians 13 8-10" (from Nothing For Juice). Of course, the fan favorite "Golden Boy" deals heavily with themes of the afterlife, cynically portraying heaven as a place as bleakly overrun by commercialization as this mortal coil we know so well. There are other examples in the catalogue I could point to, but by now I'd like to think I've made my point that he has dealt with religious themes frequently throughout his career and always come out the other side without seeming overbearing.

So onto the album. The release of "Genesis 3:23" for download on the 4AD website during the summer worried me. I was afraid that QC had slipped, because to be honest it felt sorta like a rehash of BNL's "The Old Apartment," and given the very close proximity of Darnielle and BNL on the Ships & Dip V cruise this past February, I thought that maybe he'd been tainted by the troubled and fading Canadian band who so owned the late 90s. If this was indeed the case (and in retrospect I don't really think that it is), it's only really apparent on that one song. And yes, Darnielle is allowed to delve into subject matter that other people have tackled before in his own way; if musicians were required to come up with a completely original topic to write a song on every time, that would just be unmanageable.

On the whole, it's a very quiet, spare work, reminiscent of 2006's Get Lonely. To be honest, I much prefer the more "boisterous" Goats songs, and if you're craving that, you're not going to find much of it here. However, "Psalms 40:2" is a real barn-burner that will appease those folks who tend to shy away from much of the quieter stuff. The vast majority of the album embodies a sort of understated desperate darkness, dealing with some heavy material such as the death of his mother-in-law in "Matthew 25:21," which is absolutely devastating.

Did I like Heretic Pride better? Most definitely.

Is this a good album in its own right? Yes. Comparing the two is apples and oranges.

Just don't eat the forbidden fruit.

The Mountain Goats - Psalms 40:2
The Mountain Goats - Matthew 25:21

Buy 'em up:

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Motion Portrait: A Messed Up Little Website

This is both cool and creepy at the same time. So basically what happens is that you upload a picture of yourself and in less than a minute it renders your head into a 3D-model that moves around a bit and takes on different mildly-realistic expressions. It definitely weirded me out, so I thought I'd pass along the bizarreness. Sort of reminded me of the androids in that awful, awful film Artificial Intelligence: AI, except it doesn't drag on for two and a half hours and suck out your soul.

It's websites like this that make me fear for the weirdness of future generations. In olden days people did strange stuff mostly because science hadn't really been invented yet, so they had some pretty crazy beliefs and superstitions because they were ignorant and didn't know any better, so at least they had an excuse. But now there's a wealth of readily-available information and it just seems like with the staggeringly rapid improvement of technology, for every new breakthrough there's another bizarre implementation of it for people to experience (note how I didn't say enjoy). I shudder to think of what is to come. Will our children be so crippled by their own strangeness that they become sensory-overloaded creatures that fear sunlight so we have to fortify all their food with Vitamin D (or "D" if you are familiar with him) so that they don't catch the Rickets? [That was for you, Keegan]. We will still love them because they are our children, but will they even be human in the contemporary sense any longer? I mean, humanity's been devolving physically for thousands of years according to a recent book, so wouldn't the mind be next, so that we as a species end up like those blobular folk in WALL-E?

But on the other hand, did I mention that you can change your dashing, animated visage into anything ranging from a "Little Red Riding Hood" to a "Green Ogre"?

Check it out at your own risk:
Motion Portrait

Friday, October 23, 2009

Finishing the Renovations or: The Battle of the Acoustic and the Golf Sticks

The blog is named what it is because two summers ago I'm playing my acoustic guitar in my room one afternoon and when I leave to go do whatever I leave the guitar on the floor.

Next to my ill-balanced golf bag.

I think you can see where this is going.

So, I come back later that night to find the bag on top of the guitar. I probably rattle off a quickfire string of expletives in disbelief as if my words can undo the damage. I lift the bag off of the guitar and find some decent scratches, dents, and a couple broken strings. Trying to get a read on the greater meaning of the whole situation, I'm not sure if this is some sign from above to quit golfing, which assuredly is robbing time from musical pursuits, or to give up playing guitar to focus on golf, the bag decidedly the victor in the brief struggle.

The guitar still plays well enough, but ever since that day it's got some pretty significant buzzing on the high strings that my own work on the truss rod over the summer didn't make a whole heap of difference with. I've been too lazy/frugal to go a luthier to get it fixed; I'll probably just buy a nicer acoustic when I have the means, and forgo having any repairs done on my current one. I'll just be sure never to leave the new instrument on the floor next to a much heavier, unsteady object (or creature, for that matter).


After several hours of poring over mind-numbing code (and creating a new banner in the clunky, but free and still useful GIMP), I think I've got this whole blog renovation over and done with for now. It's not dramatically different, but I think it's a purddy big improvement over what it looked like a couple weeks ago.

Credit where credit is due: thanks go out to photographer extraordinaire Beckie Moses in regards to the banner background photo, and to the quite helpful for supplying the 3-column framework.

Where do I go from here content-wise? I guess you'll just have to wait and see. Really tempted to revisit the whole music blog enterprise that I flirted with last year but Hype Machine spurned my advances. If at first you don't succeed...

...wallow in self-pity for a year and then consider maybe possibly potentially trying again.

Here goes something.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Redesign a-comin'

Hey there everyone,

I've been bored with the layout of the ol' blog for some time now and have done some subtle tweaks over the last few days, but I'm planning a more thorough redesign that hopefully I'll have time to do this upcoming weekend, particularly if the weather's godawful (and knowing Worcester, I'm pretty much guaranteed one crummy day this weekend). A fresh look does not good content make, but it's a start I suppose. If I have a canvas to work with that doesn't look awful, I'll probably be more liable to put more effort into my posts.

In the meantime, I invite you all to watch this:

Just bought my ticket for Nov. 29 in Boston. Excited? Hell yes.

Keep truckin' folks. Now I've got a book to slay and a paper that I will write in its blood. Sorry if that was graphic.