Outsider Status

Thursday, July 20, 2006

all wrapped up in a bottle of wine


BRIEF-ASS THOUGHTS ON RECENT MUSIC
(brief, descriptive, disconnected sentences don't count as reviews, I suppose)

Lily Allen - Alright Still

A really fun, messy pop album. Her persona is charming as hell, and she's at her best when she's most ridiculous. "Alfie" has become my favorite song of the summer.

TV on the Radio - Return to Cookie Mountain

My favorite TVotR album, by far. So much more fun than their last one. This breezes by in a really weird way. "Tonight" is absurdly good.

Girl Talk - Night Ripper

I shit my pants when Neutral Milk Hotel came on. I'm such a nerd. It may be gimmicky, but it's also really fun. It's at least worth a listen.

Frightened Rabbit - Sings the Greys

Damned good stuff. Sometimes simplicity can be a relief.

The Futureheads - News & Tributes

Less barbershop quartet harmonies, which is a damned shame. Good, but not as addictive as the first.

Howe Gleb - 'Sno Angel Like You

I probably need to give this a few more listens to get over genre nervousness.

Matthew Freidberger - Winter Woman/Holy Ghost Language School

I'm just gonna hope that he gets over his rut and gets back to evolving and changing with every album. After Blueberry Boat, he got stagnant. He needs to direct his attention toward a guitar and drums. This "toy music" is getting old. But I do like Bitter Tea, EP, and Rehearsing My Choir. It's just that, frankly, Matt, you are beginning to repeat yourself. And when you take up two disks doing it, it hurts me.

Mission of Burma - The Obliterati

This is my first MoB experience (a bizarre omission in my musical history), and I am in love. I'm gonna sniff out the back catalog as fast as possible. This is a pretty great album unto itself as well.

The Mountain Goats - Get Lonely

Of course I was gonna be dissapointed with anything after The Sunset Tree. That is one of my favorite albums. Ever. This is very pretty. But it's boring and unexceptional when compared with what Darniell proved himself capable of last year...and the years before that too. My least favorite Mounain Goats album, methinks.

My Morning Jacket - Okonokos

My Morning Jacket may be my favorite live show ever. This live album illustrates why that is. There's a DVD due in the Fall as well. I cannot explain how awesome they are live. Please check this out. If you can, find their 32 song set from Bonnaroo this year. It's an even better example of their awesomeness.

The Pipettes - We Are the Pipettes

They're pretty good. But it wears thin really early on. Not a fantastic album, but great for mixes and such.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Oh my god! You teach ethics?


For those of you (like me) who love the X-Men, and wish to Baby Jesus that X3 had been better, I have a solution for you.

Go to Barnes & Noble, or Borders, or a comic book store, and find the published collections of Joss Whedon's work on The Astonishing X-Men. The title is still being published, but the first two story arcs are available in their complete forms.

Part of the plot of X3 was taken from Whedon's first arc with the book, called "Gifted". Like the film, the comic deals with the discovery of a "cure" for the mutant gene. However, unlike the film, the comic manages to keep its focus and deliver on the promise of its premise (hmm, there's a tongue-twister there, somewhere).

The second arc involved the X-Men facing the enemy that knows them better than any other: The Danger Room. It sounds cheesy, but Whedon manages to keep hold of the reins, and turn a bizarre conceit into a classic villian.

The reason I bring all this up, is because the rumor mill is grinding in regards to possible X spin-offs. The one that I'm most excited about is Magneto's history, but that's mostly due to Ian McKellen's performance, which, unfortunately, might be relegated to the sidelines, due to the flashback-heavy premise. However, a close second would be the rumored movie centering around Emma Frost.

For the uninitiated, Emma Frost began her career as a sworn enemy of the X-Men. She is one of the four most powerful telepaths in the X-Universe (Professor X, Jean Grey, and Cassandra Nova being the others), and a former member of the Hellfire Club (an ancient organization similar to Skull & Bones, but coed and post-academic). In the past ten years or so, she has allied herself with the X-Men, and has even become co-headmaster of the school with her boyfriend Cyclops. She is a complex, strong, and fascinating female character, and her starring role in Whedon's books illustrate this better than any other writer has. She could be the basis for the best female-oriented comic book movie yet.

However, my biggest reservation about this possible project is that Hollywood has no clue what to do with strong comic book females, and the makers of the X movies have so far illustrated a lack of creativity when it comes to telepaths.

The solution? Hire Whedon! The man is the guru of female heroes, and I'm sure he would relish being able to transfer his Emma to the big screen. Sure, he may be a little busy, what with the writing of his X-Men comics, his Buffy comics, the Wonder Woman screenplay, and whatever else he has up his sleeves, but he is the ONLY writer I would trust to capture Emma Frost on the big screen. In the Astonishing X-Men, he always finds a way to use Emma's powers in creative, interesting, and logical ways. He does not shy away from her dark and sexual nature, nor does he use her as a simple male fantasy of the "bad girl". He is what Emma has been waiting for all her "life".

Please, Hollywood. Consider my plea.

Friday, July 14, 2006

"BAD Charlotte! Your music sucks!"


I really cannot wait to see Darkest Hour play again. These guys are special.

The rest of the show was fun, but none of the bands were anywhere near as DH. They're just so metal. I'm pretty sure that I really wouldn't like any of the other bands in the scene as much as I would them. Maybe it's the memories.

Anyways, this may have been the best time I've had at the 9:30. A smaller crowd makes all the difference. Plus having three Roxas' in the building. That also helps. The crowd was smelly and sweaty, which was to be expected, I suppose. They spent a whole helluva lotta time running in a circle. It reminded me of a preschool recess. The singer was up there pumping up the audience, and then suddenly squealing "circle pit!" And all the dudes in black shirts and hoodies started running in a giant circle. Skinny little bastards like me were sticking to the sidelines.

This is new to me. Which is weird, because it seems that just about every white guy in PG County has been to at least a handful of hardcore shows. I guess I spent the first half of high school ignoring everything modern, and the next half only listening to indie pop. So, hardcore wasn't exactly the most appealing thing in the world.

Anyway, to sum it up. It was pretty much what I expected, and Darkest Hour fucking rules.

+ + +

You know what I admire about M. Night Shyamalan? Aboslutely nothing!

Except, whoever does his casting. I always think that every actor in his movies really feels or looks natural. An odd thing to notice, but that stupid trailer for Lady in the Water played before Pirates, and I noticed how perfect the cast was.

Shame the script is going to be laughably self-important.

Has anyone read about the book he's making? It's about how Disney hurt his feelings. It reads like a first grader trying to get the mean kids in trouble with the teacher:

"Mrs. Harolds? Disney told me that I was being silly and needed to revise my script. They didn't even call me a genius once this time! I hate them! Tell them to shut up!"

+++

I didn't know The Hold Steady had an album coming out this fall. Why the hell didn't anyone tell me?

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Killin' us!

It's been almost a week since my last post? Oops! Anyways, lots to discuss, so let's get down to it.

+ + +

When I was but a young senior in high school, many of my friends were obssessed with Cursive. I checked 'em out, briefly, and wrote them off as an angry Bright Eyes. However, after being told to give them a second chance by any number of people, I bought The Ugly Organ.

That night, I spent the entire length of the album trying to remove my foot from my mouth. These guys were good. I fell in love with "Art is Hard", and thoroughly enjoyed the rest of the album. However, I rarely found myself listening to it after about a month.

So, when I discovered that they had a new album coming out this year (the follow-up to The Ugly Organ), I was pleasantly surprised, but not ecstatic.

I got the album (named Happy Hollow, by the way), and put it on while I showered. (This is my ritual when I get a new album, because I am rarely distracted enough while bathing to ignore the music.) Throughout my shower, I found myself spacing out for minutes on end, listening to the music.

This is a GREAT album. I mean...wow. I was not sure what to expect. What turned me off of Cursive in the first place was the immature sound of the vocals, and the emo-esque levels of emotion and bombast put into their lyrics. However, these "flaws" work so perfectly for them on this album, that I still find myself unable to find a single thing to dislike about Happy Hollow.

Wait. I'm on a tangent. Let me tell you about the album.

A concept album about a small town in, presumably, Kansas, Happy Hollow is a story about America, dreams, religion, science, sin, self-delusion, and The Wizard of OZ. One of the residents of the town is Dorothy Gale, a 40-year-old dreamer whose life has not turned out exactly as she had hoped. Another is the local preacher, whose supressed homosexuality is brought to full bloom by another closeted man of cloth. These two characters are embodiments of the themes that Cursive explores with the album. They are both living lies; Dorothy lives in her dreams of a beautiful future and a far away city of emerald, the preacher ignores his attractions not because he believes them to be wrong, but because he has been told that they are. They are the focal points of the narrative of Happy Hollow.

Besides the narrative, Cursive is also in top form musically. The songs are more diverse, and the guitar work is both familiar and fresh. The band has performed an incredible feat of managing to work within the inide/punk trappings, while remaining distinct and creative. Not a moment of the album feels "phoned-in". Every second of the album sounds like a band pushing themselves to be the best they possibly can.

So, Cursive, wherever you are, I am sorry for doubting you. You are definitely something special.

For all those reading, check this out. As soon as possible.

+ + +

This may be an unpopular opinion, but I really enjoyed Dead Man's Chest.

I understand the criticism, I see the flaws, but, damnit, I would see it again.

Sure, the script needed help, and the constant recycled jokes were annoying, but the visuals were even better than the first's (not an easy task whatsoever), the action was inventive (though somewhat overstuffed), it was about FUCKIN' PIRATES! It had a Kraken!

I know that I may be viewing this through tainted eyes (I love pirate history, and mythical creatures) but I had a damned good time. Of course I didn't have quite as good a time as I did at the first film, but I was more entertained than I was watching Superman Returns (which isn't a bad film, but was horrendously long and stretched mighty thin).

Plus, I love the dark atmosphere of the film. The opening shots of a wedding gone awry clued me in first, and the last ten minutes delivered the darkness the rest of the film had promised.

I can't wait for the third, and I'm glad I can say that.

PS: I saw this after hearing extraordinarily negative things from everyone I know who saw this, so I was ready to be dissapointed. If that changes anything, so be it.

+ + +

A friend of mine is taking me to the 9:30 Club tonight to see Poison the Well, Shadows Fall, Bury Your Dead, and Darkest Hour. I've never been to a metal show. This should be fun.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

ssssssssshit




I have never respected Al Sharpton this much...

http://www.cnn.com/2006/US/07/05/sharpton.agenda/index.html

+++

Lily Allen and Robyn have gotten me through the past few days.

To quote a friend:

"I feel really gay liking this."

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Sun is in that sky...oh why, oh why would I want to be anywhere else?




A SMATTERING OF THINGS I LOVE ABOUT AMERICA

New York City

Philadelphia

The Talking Heads

Chinatown

Woody Allen

Lou Reed

Boston

The East Coast

Good heart surgery

The internet

Entrepreneurship

Meryl Streep

Google

Joanna Newsom

Gospel & Bluegrass

Michael Moore

The abundence of gregarious drunks

Crackheads

Instant nostalgia

Bob Dylan

Pixar

Charlie Kauffman

Do the Right Thing


Monday, July 03, 2006

The song said "let's be happy"...and I was happy




Summer Playlist

The Flaming Lips - "The Spark That Bled"
Camera Obscura - "Lloyd, Are You Ready to be Heartbroken?"
Asobi Seksu - "Strawberries"
Broken Social Scene - "Fire Eye'd Boy"
Lily Allen - "Alfie"
Sufjan Stevens - "Adlai Stevenson"
Jenny Lewis f/ The Watson Twins - "Rise Up With Fists"
David Bowie - "Hang On to Yourself"
Iron & Wine - "Sodom, South Georgia"
Comets on Fire - "Lucifer's Memory"
Devendra Banhart - "Mama Wolf"
Robyn - "Be Mine!"
My Morning Jacket - "What a Wonderful Man"
Regina Spektor - "Fidelity"
The Streets - "Could Well Be In"
Radiohead - "Karma Police"
Serena Maneesh - "Un-Deux"
Bruce Springsteen - "Old Dan Tucker"
Gnarls Barkley - "Transformer"
Tapes n' Tapes - "Insistor"
Sway - "Flo' Fashion"
The Talking Heads - "The Girls Want to Be With the Girls"
Lansing-Dreiden - "Our Next Breath"
The Velvet Underground - "New Age"
Yo La Tengo - "Last Days of Disco"

Saturday, July 01, 2006


2006: The Year So Far
top albums and singles at the half-way mark
Albums
01. Liars - Drum's Not Dead
02. Boris - Pink
03. Islands - Return to the Sea
04. Danielson - Ships
05. Ghostface Killah - Fishscale
06. Man Man - Six Demon Bag
07. Belle & Sebastian - The Life Pursuit
08. Asobi Seksu - Citrus
09. The Sunset Rubdown - Shut Up I am Dreaming
10. The Fiery Furnaces - Bitter Tea
11. Band of Horses - Everything All the Time
12. Tapes n' Tapes - The Loon
13. Figurines - Skelaton
14. Hot Chip - The Warning
15. Sonic Youth - Rather Ripped
16. Gnarls Barkley - St. Elsewhere
17. Beirut - Gulag Orkestar
18. Cat Power - The Greatest
19. Final Fantasy - He Poos Clouds
20. Smoosh - Free to Stay

Singles
01. Belle & Sebastion - "White Collar Boy"
02. Gnarls Barkley - "Crazy"
03. Band of Horses - "Funeral"
04. Clap Your Hands Say Yeah - "By the Skin of My Yellow Country Teeth"
05. Tapes n' Tapes - "Insistor"
06. Kanye West - "Touch the Sky"
07. Broken Social Scene - "Fire Eye'd Boy"
08. Lily Allen - "Smile"
09. Man Man - "Engwish Bwudd"
10. Annie - "The Crush"
11. Ghostface Killah (f/ Trife) - "Be Easy"
12. Liars - "The Other Side of Mt. Heart Attack"
13. Camera Obscura - "Lloyd, Are You Ready to be Heartbroken?"
14. Sway - "Little Derek"
15. The Streets - "When You Wasn't Famous"
16. Kelis - "Bossy"
17. Grandaddy - "Elevate Myself"
18. The Yeah Yeah Yeahs - "Gold Lion"
19. Cibelle (f/ Devendra Banhart) - "London, London"
20. Liars - "It Fit When I Was a Kid"