FT5: Things to Do While Listening to Music

If you find yourself here, odds are that you’re probably a huge music fan, which means that music is going to play a predominant role in your life.  I surveyed many friends, and mostly talked to myself, trying to figure out what the majority of people are doing when they decide to jam out.  Of course, seeing as I’m the writer, I had to put my own personal touch on this, and thus the ranking of said practices while listening to music.

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Jaguar Love – Hologram Jams

Rating: ½ · · · ·

When the Jaguar Love project first came to fruition, it was initially 2 parts Blood Brothers and 1 part Pretty Girls Make Graves.  They released an incredible single with “Highways of Gold.”  That was then.  Now the band is 2 parts Blood Brothers and no parts PGMG; will this affect the sound of Hologram Jams?  The answer is yes, and you’ll be surprised how much.

Take Me to the Sea, the group’s first album was fueled with the energy you would expect from Blood Brothers, but this new band doesn’t even really resemble anything of that, other than that you can always recognize Johnny Whitney’s vocals.  That’s about the only thing remaining that you will find on Hologram Jams.

Unfortunately, the missing percussionist Jay Clark really leaves a huge gaping whole in the music.  Instead of turning to another drummer, the remaining duo went straight to a drum machine.  The Nylon Tour in 09′ featured the group as such, but many hoped that this was just a temporary solution.  Without Clark, the beats seem really uninspired, and the guitars of Cody Votalato don’t really add an extra dimension.  If you take “Cherry Soda,” it just sounds like programmed beats with auto-tune. 

After all the promise of the early recordings of this band, Hologram Jams is an enormous let down.  Lyrically, it just seems extremely cheesy. Here’s a sample from “Up All Night” : “We stayed up all night, and saw the sun come up.”  This is disheartening, as the lyrics just come across as if they were written by a teenager in the midst of his first experience with partying. 

While your nostalgic tendencies want to recall the glory dates of Blood Brothers, this album seems to damage everything that they established.  People remarked that this was a New Order meets Black Flag, but instead it comes across like a hardcore Kesha album, only cheesier. 

Perhaps the criticism is extremely unfair, and I’m being overly harsh.  I thought about that sincerely, especially after I praised this band all during the summer of 08, but I feel like I owe every person who read that stuff an apology.  This is possibly one of the least enjoyable listening experiences of my life.  I can back this up with four simple comments: 1) These sound like the beats already programmed into any keyboard you buy at Wal-Mart 2) The guitar doesn’t even seem to serve a purpose on this record 3) Lyrics are pre-pubescent 4) I just deleted this from my iTunes.

Sorry guys, but while I love early Jaguar Love moments, Hologram Jams is the least listenable thing I’ve come across in a lifetime.

Dirty Projectors @ Red 7 (7/15)

dirty_projectorsWe have no idea why such a hyped band would be playing at such a small place, but Dirty Projectors are coming to town at Red 7 on Wednesday night.  We also just read that Greg Ginn, like THE Greg Ginn, like the guy that founded Black Flag, will be opening.  Opening?  Yeah don’t get that one either… Local acts The Laughing and DJ Sean O’Neal will also be on hand for opening support.  Tickets are on sale now for $13 but are sure to sell out soon.

[audio: http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/06/05-two-doves.mp3]

Download: Dirty Projectors – Bitte Orca [MP3]

Dirty Projectors – Bitte Orca

bitte

Rating: ★★★★½

Dirty Projectors last effort, Rise Above, saw the band reconstructing Black Flag’s Damaged;  then they worked with David Byrne on the Dark Was the Night Compilation. How would their new album, Bitte Orca, transpire?  Let’s just say that the band uses elements of all their past work in the last few years and creates one of the most interesting records that has been released this year, if not THE most interesting.

As the album opens, you can tell that there will be more than enough going on in this album.  “Cannibal Resource” has a song that relies less upon the musical instruments and more upon the diverse collaboration of vocal harmonies of Longstreth, Coffman, and Deradoorian.  Still, a lot goes into this song; it’s the texturizing that makes the listening process so intoxicating. For some, you might find that the meandering seems pointless, as guitars twist and turn, often being dropped momentarily, then picked right back up.  At times it seems as if the songs aren’t going anywhere at all, yet as the move on, you can discern the band’s direction.

“Stillness is the Move” uses a predominantly female vocal, which at times resembles some of the work of The Knife.  Still, the guitar sounds as if it were sampled, and the percussion seems more electronic as well.  All in all, the vocal harmonies give the song a bit of urgency that moves the song along; then it completely changes in the middle of the song, as one of the ladies sings in a more traditional approach.  Once again, the band exhibits their willingness to deconstruct modern songwriting techniques, creating fresh sounds.

“Two Doves” is probably the group’s most straightforward song. Gentle guitar plucking, backed by crafty string arrangements created the perfect mood for which the female vocal has no choice but to soar.  It’s one of the most beautiful songs on the album, which owes more to the care taken to craft the perfect song, as the vocals never seem too forced, and the accompaniment of the music is extremely fitting to the overall tone of the song.

Then you come across the montage that is “Useful Chamber,” which is constructed like a modern symphonic piece.   There are some many different pieces to this song, it’s as if the band compiled several pieces in to one ornate song.  The pacing is irregular at first, and sort of fragmented, which is to be expected from such a song, but it peaks with Longstreth shouting out the album title, before the girls chime in with their high-pitched “oohs” and “aahhs.”  You won’t find a better crafted song this year.

And so the album goes, carefully constructed from the beginning until the end. The infectious melodies drive the album, but beneath it lies the clever craftwork of a band who is at the top of their game.  It seems like Dirty Projectors have climbed atop the world yet again.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/06/05-two-doves.mp3]

Download: Dirty Projectors – Bitte Orca [MP3]

FT5: Forgotten Nirvana Songs

0213top5cover1Twenty-eight years ago today Kurt Cobain’s uncle gave him a choice of either a bike or a guitar as a present for his 14th birthday. Kurt chose the guitar. As the front man for Nirvana, he would spearhead a cultural shift in rock music by bringing underground rock overground with the album Nevermind. DGC records hoped to move 250,000 copies. It went on to sell millions and symbolically dethroned Michael Jackson from the #1 spot on the billboards. Suddenly the hair metal bands and carefully crafted pop icons that dominated before Nevermind’s release looked dated and ridiculous. Nevermind was more than just an album, it was a pivotal moment in rock history. Follow the jump as we unveil our Top 5 Forgotten Nirvana Songs.

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