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(no subject) [Jul. 6th, 2010|05:20 pm]
noise_floor
This is a test.
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(no subject) [Jul. 6th, 2010|05:09 pm]
noise_floor
So Liz Phair has this new album, and the single is this song "Bollywood", which is about her experiences with the mainstream entertainment industry. It's oddly like listening to a Zappa throwaway-- self-righteous attacks on the easiest targets possible, goofy voices, actually kind of fun in its willful obtuseness, and/but not something you'd want to listen to twice.

The first three tracks of the album are like that. Then... ordinary songs. That takes guts! Well, maybe 'guts' is the wrong word. It's not like the sequencing is a vote of confidence in the material-- she just, I'm guessing, wants people to hear her vengeance songs more than the tuneful/normal/whatever songs.

Another Liz Phair media fracas, right? Except she's actually more or less letting the music speak for itself this time. The album appeared without warning, and to the extent that it represents a pose, it's a totally self-documenting one. I like *that*, even if the songs are good-not-great and the experimental tracks are...

I mean, actually, I've listened to "Bollywood" four times, but I don't know *why*, and I'd have trouble saying I enjoy it.

There's supposedly no such thing as bad publicity, but that's because publicity has some other occurrence as its intended object; it can succeed despite being 'bad'. Is there also no such thing as bad being-listened-to?

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(no subject) [Nov. 19th, 2009|11:25 am]
noise_floor
Apparently: John Hill (rhythm guitarist for indiepop band The Apples In Stereo) and Sam Endicott (singer/songwriter for recent Cure-imitation band The Bravery) worked together to write and produce three songs on Shakira's new album, including the lead single. Wikipedia reveals no indication that they've done anything else together.

I used to think it was bizarre that Linda Perry, leader of the horrifically bad 4 Non Blondes, reappeared a few years after "What's Up" as the writer of Pink's "Get The Party Started" and Christina Aguilera's "Beautiful". Now it just seems like, okay, maybe she was an industry striver the whole time.

Still pretty weird that the Housemartins' drummer turned into Fatboy Slim, though.

And that the keyboardist from Heavenly was creator and co-host of Junkyard Wars.

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(no subject) [Sep. 21st, 2009|02:47 pm]
noise_floor
[Tags|]

I can't stop listening to Bit Shifter's track on the Weezer tribute posted by Pterodactyl Squad. It's a chiptune cover of "The World Has Turned And Left Me Here", whose original version I didn't even remember hearing before (though I must have, since it's on their first album). I don't know if that's Bit Shifter himself singing-- whoever it is has an omigod great voice for new wave.

[Edited to add: Thanks to locke61dv for turning me on to this.]

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THE STERNS - Sinners Stick Together (Omnirox) [Nov. 1st, 2008|02:51 pm]
noise_floor
Okay, The Sterns. They have the way best bonus song in Rock Band 2: "Supreme Girl", which I liked a little less once I realized it consisted entirely of whining about how the singer's crush-object had the temerity not to be perfect*. They conveniently combine short attention spans with an abiding love of several bands who I personally like best in small doses, so "oh God I want to be Elvis Costello" moments are right next to "oh God I want to be Belle & Sebastian" moments, etc. The results are in fact delicious; it's just hard to get too passionate about a chef who can only make salad.

Also in the bowl: Squeeze, Joe Jackson (or is it J. Geils Band?), a little Dresden Dolls, and, at least for one of the vocalists**, a lot of Morrissey.

The Morrissey thing: It's unnerving to hear this much Moz in the voice of someone who's securely and pointedly straight, but wants us so badly to know about his enlightened views. "Buffer Zone" is about vulturous abortion protesters; "Virginia Radio" goes "Everything I say is misconstrued / You'd think I hate every ethnic group and gay"; and I don't even know what to make of the lyric "I hate to break it to you, honey, I'm pro-choice", which is addressed to a sexy nun in the title track, but there it is. The Sterns aim for "mopey", "sulky", maybe even "tormented" (courtesy of all the Catholic imagery), but the darkest mood they pull off is "in a snit".

So despite the killer tunes, I'm not sure what I think.

The Sterns on MySpace

[*] Supposedly it's about Harriet Miers, which makes it differently problematic.

[**] I thought it was all one guy, but somewhere in their press kit they boast about having three frontmen. I'm guessing about who sings what; the liner notes don't help.

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BLOC PARTY - Intimacy (Atlantic) [Sep. 5th, 2008|11:29 pm]
noise_floor
Bloc Party's first album was produced by the exceptional Paul Epworth, their second by middlebrow drama merchant Jacknife Lee. So for the third album, they brought in both producers, and the result plays very much like a battle for Bloc Party's soul, except that really, this is one of those twisty caper movies where it turns out Bloc Party pawned their soul years ago in order to buy gear, and the whole thing was a setup to deliver Epworth into Lee's hands for the ransom money, and then internet people argue for months over whether the final scene meant that singer Kele Okereke really was Debbie Harry or what.

Y'know?

Anyway: a few bangin' tracks that I suspect are Epworth's and a few definite snoozers I suspect are Lee's. (We might learn the truth once it comes out for real; at the moment, it's digital-only and lacking credits.) Then we have a baffling, intriguing handful like "Mercury" where the band spend the whole time pulling quarters out of each other's ears-- there's a viable, handsome new style that lies in that direction, I think, but I don't know whether they'll make it there if they try to go on foot.

Bloc Party on MySpace
Epworth (as Epic Man) producing UK rapper Plan B | Epworth remixing Interpol

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DRESSY BESSY - Holler And Stomp (Transdreamer) [Sep. 4th, 2008|11:13 am]
noise_floor
Fully explores the surprisingly tiny range of styles between old Dressy Bessy (dazed-brat indiepop) and old Breeders. I think I've always underestimated them a little because of their terrible name-- like for example, their two tracks used in "But I'm A Cheerleader" were the ones a friend of mine was saddest about when it turned out the movie's soundtrack wasn't going to be released, and I just didn't get it. Oh yeah, those songs are great, but don't you know it's DRESSY BESSY? Hmm.

Anyway, Pink Stars Yellow Moons was classic and this is mostly just okay, but the exceptions are better than the rest, not worse, so my heart is a little warm.

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THE HOLD STEADY - Stay Positive (Vagrant) [Jul. 13th, 2008|12:23 pm]
noise_floor
I like the Hold Steady's music, but it largely exists as a backdrop-- or occasionally a scaffold-- to Craig Finn's lyrics, and at first, I thought Stay Positive mostly failed lyrically. The three central Hold Steady characters, Gideon, Holly and Charlemagne, are nowhere to be found. Most of the songs are vivid but maudlin standard-issue Finn scenes: here's a college girl who parties with townies, in legal trouble after someone gets stabbed; here's a guy in love with a girl who's slowly killing herself with drugs; here's, like, fifteen references to Jesus in one song.

But in search of more details about a line in "Two Crosses", I found two things: an interview with Finn in which he says that the album is entirely about the same cast of characters, unnamed to make the task of untangling the narrative more difficult; and a message board thread in which a truly huge number of lyric snippets are cross-referenced and a number of theories (some certainly garbage) are hatched.

Possibly I'm the worst possible sort of listener for this album-- attached enough to the idea of a running inter-song narrative that I miss it, but not so attentive that I got the clues. Nor am I sure why eleven stories about the same themes should bother me more than one eleven-song story with lots of thematic repetition. Maybe Stay Positive's grim theme-- the main thread connecting the songs seems to be a murder-- made me tune out.

Anyway, the music's still bombastic; most of the songs are trying way too hard to sound like climaxes and turning points, and the fact that they might actually be those things only partially mitigates it. What would otherwise be cutely self-referential declarations about music's power to save souls sound defensive. I could see it growing on me (though I've liked it less with repetition, not more) or becoming a valued piece of the overall Hold Steady project (you don't have to listen to read the lyrics!) or being redeemed by the CD-only bonus tracks (Hold Steady b-sides have generally been awesome). But I don't find myself with the boundless patience I had for their last album.

The Hold Steady on MySpace

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[mp3] we've seen the things you do (repost) [Jul. 10th, 2008|08:16 pm]
noise_floor
The first time I posted this, the links didn't work. Sorry! Try this.

While I liked other songs on Bluebird (Jagjaguwar, 2000), it was only "Bride" that made Sarah White's name stay in my head long after she seemed to vanish from the indie world. Her voice sounds like a coffee-table puzzle in which seven different kinds of defeat interlock to form a surprisingly-shaped contentment, which is half of why I loved the song; the other half is the way the guitar acts as the main rhythmic element, constantly anticipating itself with the sound of fingers on strings.

So that was a long time ago, and I guess I burned the blueprint of that song into my brain thoroughly enough that the presence of drums on her newish album White Light (Antenna Farm, 2006) is a constant surprise. Every single whack of the snare drum sounds potentially deafening, like, man, I'm glad that guy is all the way in the corner, or else I'm pretty sure it would overwhelm Sarah White's voice.

But as I said, "or else I'm pretty sure it would overwhelm her" is White's specialty.

Sarah White - Bride
Sarah White & The Pearls - Spoken Word

MySpace | home page

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[mp3] we've seen the things you do [Jul. 1st, 2008|09:57 am]
noise_floor
While I liked other songs on Bluebird (Jagjaguwar, 2000), it was "Bride" that made Sarah White's name stay in my head long after she seemed to vanish from the indie world. Her voice sounds like a coffee-table puzzle in which seven different kinds of defeat interlock to form a surprisingly-shaped contentment, which is half of why I loved the song; the other half is the way the guitar acts as the main rhythmic element, constantly anticipating itself with the sound of fingers on strings.

So that was a long time ago, and I guess I burned the blueprint of that song into my brain thoroughly enough that the presence of drums on her newish album White Light (Antenna Farm, 2006) is a constant surprise. Every single whack of the snare drum sounds potentially deafening, like, man, I'm glad that guy is all the way in the corner, or else I'm pretty sure it would overwhelm Sarah White's voice.

But as I said, "or else I'm pretty sure it would overwhelm her" is White's specialty as a singer.

Sarah White - Bride
Sarah White & The Pearls - Spoken Word

MySpace | home page

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