19 September, 2011

Mix CD Trade - Tracy Burke

At the Swans show last week, Tracy surprised me with a mix cd. I spent the next two days listening to it non-stop and she gets a solid 8 on a 10 point scale. This was the completion of our deal in which she received an Elbow live disc and a mix cd that to be honest - needed a lot more art work and time - but Travis helped me out with the art aspect.

This is what Tracy gave me:
Veruca Salt - "All Mine" - a solid offering from this band that is refreshing and almost is infectious as "Seether".
Thomas Winter & Bogue - "French Love" - this was completely new to me, but I enjoyed it. A French Nick Cave singing rockabilly.
Roland Orzabal - "Day By Day By Day By Day By Day" - everything slows down on this track. He has an amazing voice, and it reminded me of something - it was familiar - but I still can't place it. Musically - there is a recent Peter Gabriel element.
Massive Attack - "Pray For Rain" - this is from their new album, and when I bought this album I was convinced it was Peter Gabriel. This is my favorite track on "Heglioland" as well as this disc. I sing this song daily.
M. Craft - "Sweets" - okay, this is where the Peter Gabriel similarities get a little too numerous. Good song and the female accompanyment is refreshing - but I was hoping for some energy at this point.
Gay Dad - "Different Kind Of Blue" - another new band for me - but they seem a little too inspired by early Radiohead. Good song - but a little uninspiring.
French Kicks - "Oh Fine" - cool song - keeping in the U.K. pop-sound vein. This sort of reminded me of Plant's "Now And Zen" or the Honeydripper's lp.
Emiliana Torrini - "Fingertips" - completely unknown to me - but Bjork influenced and similar vocal style a la "Debut". Totally dug it!
Elbow - "Suffer" - sorry Tracy - didn't like this one. Was rather flat.
Editors - "Eat Raw Meat = Blood Drool (Radio Edit)" - I like the Editors, they create infectious songs and this is no exception. Rythmically pulse driven, and Gabriel-esque vocals and quirky lyrics make this song #2 for me on this disc.
Danger Mouse and Sparklehorse - "Just War, Metronomy - The Look" - I honestly don't like either of these bands individually, or collectively apparently. If I had something sharp to shove into the cd player at the point that Sparklehorse took the reigns - I may have destroyed the radio or electrocuted myself. Okay - it's not that bad - it's decent song - just a little irritating for me personally.
Broken Bells - "The Ghost Inside" - they are taking quite a hold on the music scene right now, aren't they? There's nothing wrong with that - they are quite a good band. Unique - perhaps vocally - but beyond that, it's not outside the box of old hat. Good song and fits perfectly in this compilation.
Bloc Party - "She's Hearing Voices" - this is one of those hot/cold bands. Tracy picked well, this song is on - and it's energy is a nice pick me up. The song sort of has a Hives quality.
Bad Livers - "Dancing Days" - comes at you completely from left field with rapid banjo and hee haw vocals. I sort of wish it didn't. He says "it's allright", but really - it's not.

So, all in all - a very cohesive disc up until the end - but it's okay to throw a curve ball at the end. What did Tracy get from me? Well, I can't recall the order but these were the tracks:
Basement Jaxx - Cish Cash
Blancmange - I Can't Explain
Calvin Harris - Acceptable In The 80's
Chemical Brothers (feat. Ali Love) - Do It Again
Cranes - Shining Road
Crystal Stilits - Sycamore Tree
Daucus Karota - Father Of Temptation ... you know Rozz had to be on there somewhere!
Jaill - The Stroller
Miike Snow - Animal
Munchausen By Proxy - Keystar
Naked Ape - Fashion Freak
Santogold - L.E.S. Artistes
Shriekback - Flowers Of Angst
The Creatures - Speeding
The Dead Weather - Gasoline
The December Sound - Kill Me (Before I Kill You)
The Faint - Paranoiattack
The Last Shadow Puppets - Gas Dance
Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Heads Will Roll

15 September, 2011

"The Cult" ...Bad Album or Bad Timing?

Prior to this album's release in 1994, the last invitation into The Cult was 1991's "Ceremony" and the tumultuous tour and break-up that followed. The drama that surrounded "Ceremony" developed a culture about The Cult that precedes them to this day. Difficult recording session followed by difficult tour followed by blow-up and break-up and date cancellations. It's simply the nature of Billy Duffy and Ian Astbury - a love/hate relationship that is extremely talented and creative and explosive. By the time "Ceremony" hit, hard rock and it's breathren heavy metal were hemorrhaging from all veins and response to the album was flat. So, would a reinvented Cult in 1994 find anymore success? When I purchased "The Cult" and it's preemptive single "Coming Down", it seemed pretty clear to me that the band was paying attention to trends and took pages straight from the Seattle post punk/late 70's metal/grunge play book. It took a few years before I realized how dismissive that was and wholly inaccurate. The tip off that The Cult were treading a different path was evidenced by the 1992 single, "The Witch". Many of the elements that comprise that track are mixed with the lo-fi/garage elements of Ian's Holy Barbarians to flesh out "The Cult". What lacks on this album is any sense of cohesion despite that it's been described by Ian Astbury as a deeply personal and emotional journey. It's a difficult question as to whether or not this album was simply bad or released at the wrong time. We all know the culmination of events that resulted in the band breaking up amid their performance in Buenos Aires. As I mentioned - a pattern they established on the previous efforts and subsequent efforts to hold it all together. "The Cult is by far not a bad album, though tracks such as "Universal You", "Real Grrrl", and "Emperor's New Horse" are a mess. The band sounds scattered and uninspired. The contrast to these tracks are, "Be Free", "Star", "Black Sun", & "Joy" are strong, cohesive and flat-out rocking. The songs collectively are full of swagger and dirty grooves... oozing with plenty of sleaze and sex appeal. Musically it's a rollercoaster, the electronic undulation of "Gone" is an companion to tracks like "Be Free" which is inspiring, upbeat and rocking. "Sacred Life" is a droning anooying memoriam to fallen musicians, writers and artists - and is like putting a speed bump in the middle of a freeway. Bob Rock brought this album to fruition, made it happen, and for the most part - succeeded in allowing The Cult to do what they do best- rock! The apparent trapping of following the trend is only superficial and the proof lies in tracks like "Gone" and "Coming Down" - The Cult slither beneath the veneer of expectations and provide strong tracks. Sadly, their efforts, are clouded by the perceptions that the public has of them;the drama that follows them on every tour; and the ideas that once a hard rock band, always a hard rock band. "The Cult" is anything but another hard rock album and deserves a listen, hell, I think everyone should own it - it's rife with undiscovered gems for the average Cult fan. ore over, it stands alone in the collective that is the Cult's discography. It's closest comparison is, "Electric" in it's sleazy, lecherous appeal.

14 September, 2011

California... Explained

Well, I got the calendar prompt when I opened my work email first thing this morning, "Call Rich at 11:30". The big moment! I wasn't sure what to expect, this whole process has been so convoluted like every time I've applied for a supervisor position in this company. In preparation for anything: rejection, promotion or interview - I jotted down some of the scenarios I'd thought out for those difficult, put you on the spot interview questions. 11:30 came in no time and I found myself talking to Rich, the hiring manager. He didn't waste a lot of time getting to the "it's not you" part - but that was fine. He explained that I was his top candidate, that I did better in my informal interview than every other candidate did in their series of interviews, and that I was the only one who possessed everything that would make me a great asset to their center. However, because of time constraints and the nature of the role - I was not the best fit. Their hope is to bring in someone green that can be brought up to speed slowly, not mind entry-level pay and devote a lot of their time to filling gaps that normally their reports would be doing. Because of those reasons - justifying the pay I requested for the work they needed was not approvable. However, he went on to explain that the San Diego supervisor was on the fence about whether or not to relocate which could potentially open the door to another position early next year. We shall see. I chose to believe nothing and continue to take everthing one day at a time. And yes, it's a little disheartening and disappointing - a world where top candidate doesn't mean you have a new job is... well... stupid. But, I'm otherwise fine. I like it here in Orlando - it's all still new and the people I've met are unique, interesting, creative, and most importantly - genuine. That's priceless to me.

Swans, 13 September 2011

I approached this show not fully sure what to expect. Swans were never one of those bands I'd have written down on some ancient scroll from my youth of bands I must see before I expire. Not until I found out they were coming to town - then it was instantaneously a deep rooted compulsion from my core. Anyone vaguely familiar with the no-wave scene out of New York, or the lineage that draws parallels from current alt-folk straight back to the early 80's neo-folk foundations have undoubtedly come across Swans and the swathe of their passion. The band's name evokes anything but what one would expect to hear - and that's part of the assault. As a result of this virtually transcendental evening, Maisy has been researching Swans members, and found that Michael Gira asks that the a/c be turned-off prior to their performance. Having been witness to the cacophony that initiated their set - it makes total sense. Layers of piercing, undulating soundscape coupled with heat and thick crowd created that delicate fringe where it's nearly riotous or an epihany. It's completely on purpose that this maintains for 20 minutes before the remaining members of the band take stage. And it's at this moment, the reality that the Swans are anything but pouty and brooding takes hold of your breath, your brain, and your heart. They quite literally beat you into believing that the frightening rollercoaster through Michael Gira's brain is quite real and quite in the moment. Gira captured the experience succinctly in labeling their show as a set of encounters. The idea of 'songs' was obliterated from the very opening to the passionate close. I was convinced that Gira was traveling the acid train - but he was completely lucid in the few pauses... I'm certain now that he was simply captured by the rhythms and noise and carried away into his core... he was in essence possessed by this procession that he was directing. There's really no words that could fully describe what I experienced, and it's rather pointless, because as I discovered on the ride home - Maisy was moved in even more meaningful ways. Swans created a personal journey for anyone that was willing to take part and allow themselves to be taken. How on earth this band, comprised of members in their 50s and 60s can find that passion and inspiration nightly and not just go through the emotions or have a massive embellism is completely beyond me. But I do thank them for the experience, and for not taking for granted that I was going to see the Swans and whatever they wanted to do was fine.

07 September, 2011

Dum Dum Girls - "He Gets Me High"

I swore off this band after seeing them live earlier this year. I was so disappointed with the live performance (save the drummer who was captivating) - that I assumed this was the 'new sound' I would be treated to with any new material. I was however swayed by the release of Les Demoniaques a couple of months ago. This incredible one-track JAMC cover convinced me that I had been too hasty in my swearing off of the DDGs. What do they say about gut instincts?

I found myself in Park Ave. CDs to buy tickets for upcoming shows, and came face to face with "He Gets Me High" straddling the used bin, invitingly. Manipulatively. I added it to my collection of other used items and headed home. I put it in the cd player and immediately - I was taken right back to the concert. "FUCK!" Okay, okay - silver lining - bought it used. Gone was the lo-fi, 60's revival girl group... gone. What bothered me really - after a few listens to this e.p. - I realized that the opening track, "Wrong Feels Right" had in a sense been remade from the track that originally sucked me into DDG's web, "Dream Away Life". Sort of like spitting on someone after you just kicked their ass. I didn't even care at that point that you butchered a Smiths song - and amusingly enough - The Smiths version got stuck in my head all day. Is that because the DDG captured them so well - no, I think my brain was crawling back in on itself to find something that didn't make it hurt. I don't think I'll even bother illegally downloading the new full-length when it surfaces, that's how little love we have left in our fleeting romance.