Dec 17 2011

Most Disappointing Albums of 2011

A recent NBC/WSJ poll revealed 76% of Americans consider 2011 to be a “below average” year or “one of the worst” in their lives. Certainly times are tough in the world. Obama is a lame duck, and the competing Republicans are clinically insane adulterers and fundamentalists. The economy remains on the brink of collapse; Congress is a brainless, yelling mob of idiocy. REM broke up. Limp Bizkit got back together.

Musically speaking, do I consider 2011 to be a disappointing year overall? Not really, but I don’t consider it to be a revelatory one either. So I’m indifferent. That said, as is the case with every year, 2011 had its share of disappointments. Maybe in these five cases, my expectations were set unreasonably high. But for at least a couple, I don’t think that’s the situation; some of these albums just flat-out suck.

Radiohead – King of Limbs

This is a good album. Not a great one. And when it comes to Radiohead, “great” is the caliber the world expects. Perhaps that’s unfair, but it’s realistic. It took them a while, but they finally churned out a dud. Is it challenging? Yes. Is it ambitious? Absolutely. Does it sound forced, lost, sometimes even lazy? Unfortunately, but definitely. I look forward to hearing the next great transformation in the sound of Radiohead, because this was obviously a stumbling transition of some sort.

Tyler the Creator – Goblin

It’s incredible how one album can utterly silence an excited mob. Count me as one of the many who saw Odd Future at SXSW, on Jimmy Fallon, and was psyched to hear Tyler’s new solo outing. With the exception of “Yonkers” this is a complete mess from start to finish. It is patently offensive in an auditory, not lyrical, sense. The real disgust lies not within the misogynistic, homophobic verses, but the tuneless, boring dreck that surrounds them. Unlistenable.

Washed Out – Within and Without

Speaking of boring….I guess I should have seen this one coming. Abandoning the fun, infectious, danceable influence evident on the excellent Life of Leisure EP, Ernest Greene conjured up a full-length full of mood, but absolutely nothing that stands out.

The Strokes – Angles

That dreadful, thrown-together album cover says it all, doesn’t it? How bummed were you after hearing this all the way through for the first time? What a sinking feeling. Exactly three tracks here are great, even if they’re not exactly progressive. The rest is uncharacteristically confused. The listener feels the same way the band probably did after finishing this: what?

Justice – Audio Video Disco

It’s generally expected when you take four years to make a follow-up to a critically acclaimed debut, that means you’re taking some risks, trying some new things, and the result will be an interesting one. That’s exactly what Justice did. In fact, that’s all they did. Going the way of MGMT, there’s very little here that sounds even remotely like the 2007 French house duo that isn’t Daft Punk. More prog than anything else, Audio Video Disco throws a lot of spaghetti at the wall, and almost none of it sticks. Props for changing the formula, but I would have preferred a simple Cross Part 2.


Jul 24 2011

Sunday Night Videos 7/24/11

Hooray For Earth – “Sails” from Dovecote Records on Vimeo.


Jul 13 2011

Disappointments/Overrated Albums of 2011 So Far

The Disappointments:

Washed Out – Within and Without

Ernest Greene has made the age-old mistake most sophomore slumps make – he has focused too hard on form, and not on content. Abandoning the sharp pop of the impressive Life of Leisure EP for a bland, boring follow-up, Greene has created a sleepytime comp, but not in a good way.

Tyler the Creator – Goblin

Never since the invention of the good ol’ Internet/blog hype machine has an artist been so lauded and built up to impossible expectations, only to release an irredeemably bad album and lose all that praise.  I mean, man.  What a terrible record.  No one has fallen harder than Tyler the Creator.  At least, not yet.

The Strokes – Angles

This album is a giant mess, with the exception of exactly three songs. Possibly worse than not living up to hype (see above) is watching an established band return after a long hiatus and produce what is arguably their worst effort yet.  We all know the first two can’t be beaten, but it would’ve been nice to see these guys try.

Radiohead – The King of Limbs

It is apparent that, well inside their comfort zone, Radiohead have settled into trading in hooks for ambient experimentation and a lack of depth or cohesion.  There is nothing memorable here; the group phoned it in for their first mediocre album since Pablo Honey.  Perhaps this is a transformative period, and we can all look back and laugh at this stepping stone record.

REM – Collapse Into Now

At least Radiohead was progressive – most REM albums are always claimed to be a “back to basics” or “return to form,” but this time it’s for real.  Unfortunately, Stipe, Mills, and Buck forgot to bring the sharp melody and memorable kick back from 1995, and the result is somewhat dated and underwhelming.

The Overrated:

James Blake – S/T

This is a noble debut from an up-and-comer; it shows promise, warts and all.  Apparently the critics didn’t notice most of the album is not necessarily songs, but experimental sound and structureless production.  Maybe in the future Blake can rein it in and produce an album worthy of all the praise it’s getting.

Kurt Vile – Smoke Ring For My Halo

I guess I’m missing something here, but the sheer uninspired tone of boredom Vile likes to deliver his songs in is just grating to me.  I don’t pretend to understand why this album has received the unjust praise it’s received.

Foster the People – Torches

It’s Maroon 5 trying to replicate the hits of MGMT.  It’s repetitive.  Its success is uncanny and undeserved.  “Pumped Up Kicks” is the prime example for an album of one-note structure beating you in the head until it’s stuck in your brain.  Just because you can’t stop singing it doesn’t mean it’s good.

Juliana Barwick – The Magic Place

I have to give credit here – what Barwick has tried is pretty creative.  The main instrument here is layers of Barwick’s haunting voice, and the result is original and intriguing.  Unfortunately, it’s also frankly boring, especially for an entire album.

Bon Iver – S/T

There’s just not enough here to warrant the praise this sophomore slump has been receiving.  I feel this is a transitional album, that Vernon just needs to get his creative juices flowing again, instead of letting the celebrity status take control and half-ass a disc that only picks up on the last two tracks.


May 7 2011

Culture Greyhound Podcast 5/7/11

Every Saturday, I post a 15-20 minute podcast featuring some tracks I’ve been jamming the previous week, as well as some commentary and random musings from yours truly. Enjoy!

Tracklist:

Washed Out – Eyes Be Closed
CSLSX – Keep On Shining
Niki and the Dove – The Fox
The Hood Internet – VCR (feat. Freddie Gibbs, Telli of Ninjasonik, Elizabeth Harper of Class Actress)


Mar 10 2011

SXSW 2011 Picks – Interactive Portion

Today is Part 1 of my picks for shows/parties at SXSW 2011.  Today, I’m covering my picks happening during the Interactive portion of this year, from Saturday, March 12 to Tuesday, March 15.  I couldn’t find anything crazy awesome for Friday, March 11 that wasn’t “badgeholders only” or “sold out,” so if you know of something, get at me! Much obliged! Let the party begin!

Saturday – March 12

Okay, first up is the Mogwee Party, which you need to RSVP to here, which is happening at the world-famous Mohawk.  Not the best lineup, IMO, but it’s something to get me into the SXSW groove, and I wouldn’t mind seeing Washed Out and Black Joe Lewis again.

Rest of the dates through Tuesday after the jump.

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Dec 15 2010

My Year In Live Music – 2010

This year I made the big move from Lubbock to Austin, and the transformation has done wonders for my live music fix.  I should have been writing down all the awesome bands I saw this year (and the years before, for that matter) but alas, hindsight, she is 20/20 once again.  I think this post covers the highlights more or less, however.  There’s plenty of great live music I saw this year that I’m leaving out, but after the jump, in no particular order, are twelve of the best shows I witnessed in 2010, eleven of them right here in the Live Music Capital of the World.

And for the record, I wanted to put the Sleigh Bells show on here, as fun as it was once they finally started playing, but everyone who attended knows Beauty Bar is at fault for that show’s omission.  What a disaster.

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Oct 18 2010

My Top 300 Songs of the 2000s – 140-131

Today I continue my ongoing feature showcasing my personal picks for the best songs of the past decade, posting ten songs at a time.

140. Primus – Pilcher’s Squad

Sgt. Norman “Nobby” Pilcher was the infamous British police officer best known for planting drugs to frame rock stars and hippies in the 60′s.  Up until getting caught for doing so in 1973, Pilcher managed to collect quite a resume of celebrities in handcuffs, including two Beatles, George Harrison and John Lennon, as well as Mick Jagger and Donovan.  He is the subject of this two-minute ditty found on Primus’ 2003 reunion EP Animals Should Not Try To Act Like People.  The song is wild and weird, all while frontman Les Claypool delivers a fine tale of a corrupt man of the law, breaking only for a two-second solo from guitar virtuoso Larry “Ler” Lalonde (“Go Ler!…..Thanks Ler!”).

Primus – Pilcher’s Squad

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Jul 26 2010

My Top 100 Songs of 2009: The Top Ten

Today I conclude my series of posts showcasing my picks for the best tracks of 2009.  And it only took half a year!

10. Grizzly Bear – Two Weeks

It sounds like nothing they’ve ever done before, so cheerful, so upbeat, so….piano pop.  But it works just the same.  It still feels like Grizzly Bear – the lush production, the layered harmonics.  And the lightbulb-head music video is a fun watch as well.

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Apr 23 2010

My Top 100 Songs of 2009 – 70-61

Today I continue my ten-part series showcasing my personal picks for the best songs of last year.

70. Miley Cyrus – Party In the USA

“Seriously?”  Yes, dude, seriously.  You know why people hate this song?  Because Miley sings it.  That’s the only reason.  Any other reason and you have no soul.  Why?  Have you listened to this song?  It’s fucking awesome.  Seriously.  And Hannah Montana had nothing to do with its awesomeness.  That crunchy bass line?  That banging beat?  And the melody is pop gold.  I mean, it’s not like Miley had anything to do with the songwriting and production – she didn’t.  She just sings.  And the Auto-Tune makes her sound like sweet, sweet candy.  Seriously. So stop pretending like you don’t love this song just because 14-year-old girls do, too.  They’re not always wrong.  Sponge Bob is still awesome.

For those of you still willing to lie and say you hate this song, and you don’t crank it when no one’s looking, nodding your head like yeah, moving your hips like yeah, let me ask you this: do you even like music? Seriously.

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Mar 15 2010

SXSW 2010: My Top Ten Picks

Tuesday thru Sunday will be post-less, as I will be traveling and partaking in SXSW 2010.  So, to get the rest of you as pumped as I am, here are my personal picks for parties/shows happening this year.  These aren’t all necessarily shows I will be attending (I’m sure a lot of them are happening at the same time), but they are all ones that I would probably go to if they were more spread out.  In this vein, SXSW is a blessing and a curse….but mostly a blessing.

Also, check out The Top 13′s list of day-show picks – pretty awesome.

List after the jump…CLICK!

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