Monday, September 28, 2009

Review: New Alice In Chains Will Fuck You Up

A lot's happened since Alice in Chains released their last, self-titled album in 1995. One can argue that Jerry Cantrell is probably responsible for bands like Staind and Puddle of Mudd giving way to bands like Nickelback and Shinedown, polluting my once enjoyable rock stations with the musical equivalent of dogshit. Because let's be honest, every song any of these bands has ever played is such a blatantly obvious imitation of Cantrell on his worst day. And to make things worse, Cantrell actually did go on tour with Nickelback. Oy vey.

So it's a testament to AIC that throughout all the years, they've remained one of those bands that's just fucking cool to be a fan of. Any time you see someone else playing Alice at a party, in a car, where ever, there's always a moment where you have that possible exchange of: "Chains?" "Fuck yeah dude," followed by a mutual nod. Cantrell could have Axel'd on but chose not to, opting to explore some solo stuff and projects with Ozzy Osbourne, and there's some respect to be given for such a mentality.

But, alas, things change. And now we have Black Gives Way to Blue. With William Duvall replacing Staley, and I have to say, he's got some fucking nerve. It takes balls to take on the job of being the replacement for one of the most legendary voices in rock history and maybe the most messed up non-Cobain grunge figure from the 90's. When I originally heard years back that Cantrell and Co. decided they were moving forward as AIC without Layne, I scoffed, even in the face of those who told me that he was holding his own at live shows, and I'm fairly certain that I wasn't alone in that assessment.

To Duvall's credit, he basically makes anyone who considered such nonsense feel like an asshole. He makes Alice's sound his own while staying true to the traditional flavor of the band, really belting out some great vocals, particularly on Last of My Kind. There's clearly some shit that they've worked through on this album; namely learning how to play as if Layne was still there with a different voice leading the charge. Cantrell's guitar sounds solemnly pissed off throughout mostly everything, as usual, and Elton John even chips in with some piano work on the title track to close out the album.

It's crazy to say it since Staley isn't on the album, but this really is vintage Chains. What's even crazier is that the strength of this album is exactly what the strength of the band used to be; the vocal harmonies between Layne/Duvall and Cantrell, combined with guitar work that matches the lyrical content of each song effortlessly. There's clearly a few tracks here that sound right out of 1995, and I have to admit, it's too cool to hear these guys playing together on a record again. This isn't groundbreaking music and probably won't make Pitchfork's top albums of the year, but who gives a shit. If you loved this band in the 90's, you'll really get a kick out of this album. And in the end, that's really all that matters.

Grade: B+

Anyways, as usual, here's a few of my favorites.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

John Lennon Takes You Into the Week

My favorite Lennon track. Enjoy the week bitches!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Wayne Coyne and Bradford Cox Talk Shit About Each Other On Colbert

My buddy James sent this to me. I gotta admit, as much as I love both bands, Bradford definitely looks like a dick.

(On another note, is there a cooler, more brash frontman in rock nowadays? Coyne's the Charles Barkley of indie).

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Pavement Reuniting. Oh. My. God.

So Pavement, one of my all-time absolute favorite fucking awesome bands ever to walk the face of the planet, is reuniting for a few shows next September in New York. If you haven't read about this by now, you lose at life. Further, if you haven't noticed, my blog's named after one of my favorite Malkmus songs ever, so this is a pretty big deal for me as I never got to see Pavement live. Anyways, thought I'd post a few of my favorite Pavement tracks in honor of the greatest news the alt. rock scene's gotten since Liz Phair's sextape came out.

Alright, I made the last part up, but it was all in an effort to convey awesomeness.

Onto la musica!!!

Elevate Me Later (My favorite Pavement track of all-time and just a total tone-setter for one of the greatest albums ever made).

Black Out (My favorite track off Wowee Zowee).

Old to Begin (The video sucks and the track's cut off, but it's the best I could find on youtube. Sorry).

Major Leagues (Off Terror Twilight. In my opinion, lyrically, this is the best song that Malkmus has ever written).

Trigger Cut (A personal favorite off Slanted & Enchanted).

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Review: Pearl Jam - Backspacer. Surprisingly...really, really good. No seriously.

Well slap me silly and call me Ivanka...I'll be damned if Eddie Vedder and Co didn't just cockslap the entire rock-world with the new LP dropping in a few weeks. Clocking in at just over 36 minutes, they rip through 11 tracks on what's their shortest album to date by a country-mile. I guess someone finally told Eddie that every album doesn't need to be an attempt to solve your fucking life with overdrawn out, bland, tired styles.

Don't get me wrong, they certainly don't sound extremely different or anything, but the way that they just play the songs sounds a lot more tight, sincere, and perhaps most importantly, fun. Vedder's just a dude who likes writing songs about his fucked up childhood and where he thinks his life's headed, and this is the first album since Yield where it just sounds like he's cool with being that type of guy. Gone are the overindulgent filler tracks that plagued their last 3 albums, and they clearly went into the studio with the goal of ripping through some classical sounding rock songs without concentrating too much on developing the album as a whole. And you know what? It works. The album is sequenced perfectly and they leave you wanting more at the end (something they've failed to do for quite some time now). To quote Joel Goodson: "Sometimes you just have to say 'what the fuck,' and make your move." And that's what this album is, it's the Joel Goodson of Pearl Jam albums.

It's good to hear them playing in top form again, because it's been a while. It's been 11 years since they released an overall legitimately good album (Yield in '98), so it's a breath of fresh air to know that Pearl Jam is still out there after all these years, still capable of handing me a LP that I can really sink my teeth into. I was 10 years old when Ten came out, and as man in his late-twenties, I think I'm OK with Pearl Jam releasing crappy albums from time to time so long as they still hand me stuff like this once or twice per decade. This is pop-grunge at its best, and ain't nothin' wrong with that. Welcome back boys.

Grade: A-

Here's a few of my favorites:

Amongst the Waves

Johnny Guitar

Force of Nature

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Oldies but Goodies: Joy Division Tribute

I've been ridiculously busy with school this week, and the only thing that's kept me pumped and consistently going is the fact that I've been listening to a shitload of Joy Division to it all.  So here's a few of my favorites.

By the way, I don't care who you are or what you like in terms of genres within rock.  If you're a fan of anything that's been released over the past 25 years, Joy Division would automatically be in any top 5 list in terms of influence for anything.  It's not even up for debate.

Dead Souls (You'll recall that NIN did a ridiculously awesome remake of this for The Crow soundtrack).

Shadowplay (Covered by The Killers a few years back)

Ceremony (Covered by New Order themselves years later, and a few years back by Radiohead as well, which is a fantastic rendition by the way, I highly recommend watching it on youtube). 

Love Will Tear Us Apart (Last but not certainly least.  It remains their most popular and most covered track.  U2, Nick Cave, Calexico, The Cure, Arcade Fire...etc.  The list goes on.  Manchester United fans even sung it in honor of Ryan Giggs when he was a player.  I'm partial to Dead Souls, but most would probably argue that this is their best singular track). 

Monday, September 7, 2009

Awesome Youtube Of An Entire Live Deerhunter Set

A buddy sent this over to me after hearing I was a huge Bradford fan, I'd never seen it before.  Pretty cool shit, and the sound quality is top notch.  The video quality is also very good too, meaning you should go directly to the link and watch it full screen.

Here's the set-list if you don't feel like sifting through the whole thing, Nothing Ever Happened is at about 23 minutes:

Intro + Cryptograms
Disappearing Ink
Rainwater Cassette Exchange
Never Stops
Spring Hall Convert
Nothing Ever Happened
Famous Last Words
Saved By Old Times
Cover Me (Slowly) + Agoraphobia
Hazel St.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

New Atlas Sound Album Leaks.

I originally started this blog with the firm intention of not posting illegal shit here, but Bradford Cox has become somewhat of a god in the indie world (and rightfully so), and his new Atlas Sound album leaked this week onto the interweb.  

So, in my overall goal to not post illegal stuff, I'll just tell that if you were just so happening to be reading my blog, and you JUST so happened to click on the 6th link down over on my links tab, you just MIGHT come across a site where the album's posted.  But I ain't one to gossip, so you din't here that from me.

And just a heads up, this album is fucking tits.  Animal Collective and Grizzly Bear just got a run for their money.  Bradford Cox is without a doubt a special, special talent, I'm talking Thurston Moore and David Bowie level of genius; and we all need to be crossing our fingers and hoping that he doesn't die from the clear case of anorexia that he's suffering from, (yeah, that's actually him on the cover).   WTF is up with your chest dude, I mean really.  Anyways, here's his collaboration with Panda Bear below, the 3rd track, off the album.

Oh, and one more thing, the quality of this album, combined with the praise that Microcastle got, only ensures that Deerhunter's next album is going to be just as, if not more anticipated by the mainstream than Veckatimest was in 2009.  Just you watch.