Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Setting Up the Debate

I don't have time to go into it today, so I thought I'd start us off with a video from each of the contenders. Tomorrow, we will go into a semi-deep discussion/debate on what these shows bring, how they are similar, how they are different, and which is better.

First: Flight of the Conchords - "Hiphopopotamus vs. Rhymenoceros"

Second: Tenacious D - "Wonder Boy"

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Thoughts on Radiohead

So, Alex was telling me that he has never been a big fan of Radiohead (sorry to call you out on this heavily trafficked blog Sir Alex. I hope the millions of letters and hate-mail you get don't overwhelm you). It got me wondering why music has such a polarizing effect; there are bands that I love, and other bands that I hate. The thing that really intrigues me is how we take it a step further sometimes. When someone else has a general liking of the bands I love, I feel better about that person. When someone's favorite band is ICP, I don't trust them. Very strange things we as humans do. It's like we need re-affirmation that our choices are correct, so we surround ourselves with people who think the way we do.

That tangent isn't why we're here, though. This is about Radiohead's polarizing effect on even its own fans. I was a HUGE Radiohead fan until Kid A. I just couldn't get it. It was so offbeat and weird and frankly, I wasn't ready for it. It took years for me to even go back and try. What finally did it was Pyramid Song (off of Amnesiac). It was so hauntingly beautiful. I listened to that track a few times and then decide to try Amnesiac. I quickly fell in love with that album and then both Kid A and Hail to the Thief. Now I can't decide whether I like their first three cds or the last three better. All six are excellent music, but the two eras are incredibly different from each other.

In the end, you gotta give credit to these guys for having the guts to go in a whole new direction at the cusp of their explosion and not just content themselves with riding the waves of their fame. It takes courage to trust your fans to stick with you when you grow out of your previous styles. You have to be willing to accept that some will drop off along the way, but that there will always be those who appreciate what you are trying to do.


For fun let's do a poll (which can be found to the right).

To help, here are two videos. The first is from one of the first era, the second is from the second.

No Surprises

Pyramid Song

Monday, August 20, 2007

Excitement Is for the Birds

Let's talk for a moment about this year's album release that I am most excited about: The Alchemy Index, by Thrice. I mentioned earlier that it will be a four disc album (eventually) that deals with four over-arching themes: earth, water, air, and fire (one per disc). They found inspiration for what they did musically and lyrically from these themes (for example, the earth disc is predominantly acoustic guitar and shies away from electric guitars while the air disc uses a lot of ambiance to create moods). How cool is this idea? I'm not sure what spirituality they are planning on exploring in this disc (alchemy often carries certain connotations with spiritualism and darker themes, but isn't necessarily a "religious science").
In past discs, singer Dustin Kensrue has explored Christian themes as well as social issues as he observes them. I am impressed with the way he goes about it; he contemplates and then he shares his contemplations. I get really turned off by agendas. Whether it be in Christian Rock (which I generally don't enjoy--despite being a Christian--for this very reason) or left-winged political revolutionary anti-Bush stuff, if I feel like you are shoving your ideas down my throat, then I'm going to recoil and shut-off from wanting to listen. Many bands over the years have turned me off like this. Here are some examples: Creed, Rage Against the Machine, and Green Day. It's not always that they lyrically are "telling me what to do", but it is a feeling that their agenda becomes more important than their music.
So anyway, three cheers for the songwriter who can show trust in their listeners. Three cheers for a songwriter who has the strength to control themselves and say more by saying less.

Here are the first two installments of The Alchemy Index's promotional videos:

Friday, August 17, 2007


We are moved in different ways by different mediums. Movies are the only art that have ever made me cry. Books suck me in like nothing else. I get incredibly involved in whatever world I am reading about and it is terribly exciting. I feel a part of it. Poetry can be fun and inspiring in a way I don't find as easily in other places. Yet, the medium I get the most obsessed with is music. Music takes me to emotional places I didn't know existed. It's is also the medium that I participate most heavily in. I am a writer and I write music. The others are side pursuits that I enjoy, but don't focus on. I wonder why that is?
I think part of the reason is the freedom I feel in music and lyric writing. There are definite structures in novel writing and film-making that are necessary and good. There are also structures in music that are generally followed, but there is so much freedom to experiment that those structures don't feel limiting at all. Poetry also has forms that are ignored and boundaries that are pushed, but often times I am left feeling jaded with the experimental poetry I come across. It feels strange for no other sake than to be strange. Somewhat pretentious I guess. With music I tend to feel like I'm free to work the lyrics in whatever way I want and can still have the music carry the piece. When I have solidified what I want a song to do musically, then I can toss words around wherever I want. If it isn't working then I can try them somewhere else. Then, the words will reshape the music. They feed off of each other in the most splendid ways.
Anyway, I was just thinking about that today.
Here is a clip of an experimental band whose works I cherish:
Radiohead - "Idioteque"

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Keepin It Clean

Galaxies above--
perfect heavens keeping peace.
Nature is order.

I am cleaning up my iTunes and my music folders on my compy at home. It is so nice to almost be done. I find it so amazing that organizing and cleaning actually relieves stress and helps you think and breathe more clearly. It is amazing to think that our spirits sense disorder and it wears at them. My poor little spirit... I guess I should have kept my room clean all those years.

In honor of my newfoundland appreciation of cleanliness and order, I give you its opposite (in song form): a volcano.

Damien Rice - "Volcano"

Wednesday, August 15, 2007


Wow. What a crazy past couple of weeks these have been. I won't try and fit it all into one post, so I'll just focus on one topic today: change in the music industry.
At Amplify, the manager for The Bravery was talking about a lunch meeting he had with The Smashing Pumpkins, and how they are thinking or recording material only to be released as singles. Instead of the old fashioned album, which we all have grown so accustomed to (and fallen in love with, for some of us), they would release a "single" with 1-3 songs on it. I can't say that I really understand the idea behind it. One thought is that less promotion would be needed? My guess is that the idea is to lower the costs of production and printing. Once again, I don't see how this will really help recover costs for the artists or the label, but... it's worth a try, no?
What I am excited for: Thrice's approach to changing the way albums are made. Thrice will be releasing a 4 disc album over about 6 months. The first two discs will be released together in October, and the other two around April (I believe).

Here is what I feel it will come down to:
An experience. The internet is making it incredibly easy for the masses to access songs and full albums for free. While this makes it increasingly harder for labels to rake in the cash of yesteryear, I don't see it as the "end" of the industry. The industry will go through changes. Those who have the creativity and foresight will rise to the occasion and provide a product that continues to entice consumers to pay for an album that they can hold, and smell, and appreciate on an artistic level.

I think we are going to see some real innovation in the immediate future and that excites me to be honest with you.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Flight of the Conchords

Megan showed me this on Friday and frankly, I'm hooked. What a great show.

Here is a clip from the first episode. It's their music video for "Humans Are Dead."