Archive for June 2012

Another hiatus

June 14, 2012

About a year ago in fact the Shit Show went on hiatus. And now the Hit Show is doing the same. You can always tell when something was taking too much time when, once you stop doing it, you can’t figure out how you fit it into your schedule. This happened with both.

The problems of course are:

  • No new content for the site because there’s nothing forcing me to write
  • There’s no volunteer work on my schedule for the first time in about 10 years
  • It’s too hard to find out about new music

If I do start writing again, it’s probably going to be industry stuff about content strategy/content design. And if I do that, I might as well get a new domain.

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Friction Land “Friction Land”

June 3, 2012

I’m not so sure that San Jose has a particular sound, yet when I popped Friction Land in, it made perfect sense to discover they were from here. The leadoff track on their self-titled debut, “Just You & I” doesn’t have any local pop culture references that I can hear, but it still seems odd that I’m not at Nickel City while listening to them.
“Giving It All Away” tries very hard and reminds me of Alice in Chains. The backing wails during the chorus seem out of place (as if the wailer was looking for something to do), but otherwise this song does everything right.
The wailing is back in “Something Special,” but it makes more sense here. It’s got to be loud when done live, but people seem to like those things. I mean, Gaslight Anthem has made a living doing it.
Limp Bizkit fans would like “Follow Me,” which has nothing to do with Twitter. It seems that the lyrics are meant to be thoughtful, because they are mixed high and easier to understand than on the other tracks. Although they didn’t inspire me, perhaps you are more their speed. “Jesus, Buddha, Confucius/I want to know what the truth is.” Sure, why not. At least it’s a faster song.
The other track of note is “Faking Emotion.” It inexplicably has synths in it. This one is for prog fans.
Maybe our scene involves clear enunciation, no doubt an effect of San Jose Unified School District’s excellent test scores. I’m clearly really locked in to Friction Land even if I’m not inspired by it.

Evans the Death “Evans the Death”

June 3, 2012

This band’s name reminded me of someone I used to play an online RPG with like 15 years ago. So I found him on Facebook, and honestly, Facebook is so much faster and cheaper than going to therapy.
Evans the Death the band, on the other hand, is like a melodic version of Pillow Fights. They’re a driving rock ‘n’ roll band with a female lead singer and no pretense. There’s clearly a sense of humor, though, because the back of the CD has tracks 1 through 6, followed by six separate Track 7s. I actually didn’t care for any of the 7s, which just goes to show that when you buy SuperLotto tickets that you should get different numbers every time.
So anyway Slumberland Records always seems to get it right, and with the help of singer/keyboardist Katherine Whitaker, they do it again. That’s a label whose showcase I would attend.
The two tracks I like are “Sleeping Song/So Long” and “Morning Voice,” but they’re all pretty good. “Morning Voice” is more of a traditional song that alternates between noisy and quiet parts, like “Goldfinger” by Ash.

DEaf “Pocketknives & Friendship Bracelets”

June 3, 2012

I really want to like this record, but it’s just not very good. The songs are all short, like punk songs should be, but most of the tracks veer off into White Stripes territory, and that is the opposite of what I want.
An exception is “Hold My Hand,” because the backing vocals sound like Andrea Zollo (Pretty Girls Make Graves), but these are the slowest and most boring fast songs I’ve ever heard.
The sound attempts to be like Pre, Mika Miko, or even the Red Aunts, but instead it feels as if it’s on antidepressants instead. Useful punk is like when you have a good fart ready to go. Sometimes, you just have to let it rip.
“Make It” sounds like older Yeah Yeah Yeahs. If you want to hear the dude sing, “Find You” isn’t that bad, and it has some Devo-style sound to go with it.
If you don’t expect much, you won’t be disappointed.

Kissing Party “Wasters Wall”

June 3, 2012

Lots of suggestive titles and lyrics make for a good time on “Kissing Party.” All the tracks are good, but the best is “Empty Bed, but Bed.” The band borders on twee in all the right ways, and the male-female vocals work well with the fast pace set by the drummer.
The synths in “The Game” also stand out and make this a recommendable number. Most of the rest of the tracks are not radio-friendly, which is a shame. Sure, I can hate the game instead of the player, but when your sounds are all about players, it stings to not be able to spread the gospel.

Lower Dens “Nootropics”

June 3, 2012

I played the hell out of “Twin-Hand Movement” so I was excited to see a new record from Lower Dens. “Alphabet Song” is the first track and sounds like a remix of one of the dungeon levels on the original Legend of Zelda for the NES.
Although I’m pretty sure the band isn’t trying for it, the late ’80s video game feel continues on “Propagation.” I think it’s the synths. There are lots of things “Candy” could be about, but it didn’t seem to be about any of them.
“Lion in Winter Pt. 2” has lyrics, unlike Part 1. Maybe it’s like “Another Brick in the Wall” because it is really good. Even musically it is better than the first one. The last track has the cliche title, “In the End Is the Beginning.” It is also 12 minutes long. I think it cycles through the end and the beginning two or three times, if you catch my drift.

Here We Go Magic “A Different Ship”

June 3, 2012

I reviewed “The January EP” in July. Now it’s a different month to review a different album. The sound hasn’t changed much — nor does it need to. “Hard to Be Close” is a good example of how the band continues to put out good work.
The falsettos are a bit strained on “Alone but Moving,” and I hear the channeling of Steve Miller Band a wee bit. If you’re looking for the female backing vocals found on previous Here We Go Magic efforts, you’ll find them in “Over the Ocean,” which also has harp and other acid-encouraging accompaniment. This is a lot of fun if you’re not trying to drive at the time.
A faster tempo and subdued-this-time harp give “How Do I Know” a nice, shiny finish. This track builds and builds toward a strong finish. The title track is last and 8 minutes long. After 5 minutes, you think it is done, but instead it is like Grampa Simpson telling a story.
The album is fine, but I was really excited and set my expectations too high. I think I might have had the wrong impression about the band from the get go.

Blasted Canyons “2nd Place”

June 3, 2012

It’s an EP, and everyone in the trio does everything. On leadoff track “Get High,” singer Matt Jones sounds like Ivan Doroschuk (Men Without Hats). That’s really hard to do by accident. There are bits of Peter Schilling in there as well. “Liquid Fiend” has a retro, Portland-power-pop sound mixed with a little P.I.L. The bass and guitar sounds like the Jolenes’s “Spare Tire Liar.” I enjoy this one as well.
Slightly noisier is “Holy Geometry.” The guitar during the bridge sounds like Operation Makeout. “Finken’s Lament” is much noisier and very experimental. I guess the different tracks are auditions for what their second LP will sound like. (This EP is a followup to their debut full-length.)
More of a Sisters of Mercy sound can be found on “Manson Eyes.” The last track is “Glass on Your Pillow” and is an amalgam of noise and goth. It’s a bit too disorganized to work, but then it’s the last track, and that’s what you do at the end, so whatever. They probably end their live sets with this one as well.

Yuna “Yuna”

June 3, 2012

Yuna gives us more of the Ellie Goulding/Laura Marling revival. Her gimmick is that she is Malaysian. Whatever. It’s just an opportunity to hear more of this genre.
“Lullabies” is the first track and is a nice introductory ballad. Somewhat forgettable but still better than most is “Remember My Name.” A lot of the songs do kind of run together.
Colbie Caillat fans will be impressed with “Planes.” Other tracks, such as “Island,” remind me of Regina Spektor and Nelly Furtado. So the common theme is that there’s not a lot of originality.
“Fading Flower” has a faster tempo and sounds like something Paul Krugman would listen to. That’s actually a compliment if you know anything about him. I don’t know whether Malaysia’s government supports Keynesian economics or anything like that, though.
Slightly trippier with hints of Portishead, “Stay” is the most mature sounding track on the record. This is one of my favorites. The last track, “Loud Noises,” is also pretty good. Yuna sounds like Beth Sorrentino (Suddenly, Tammy!) a bit here.
Not the best record out there but still an enjoyable listen.

Allo Darlin’ “Europe”

June 3, 2012

It just gets better and better with this group. Melodically similar to Louise Wener (Sleeper), Elizabeth Morris has a voice that Irishes up the coffee quite a bit on “Neil Armstrong.” (She is actually from Australia.)
The title track reminds me percussively of 3 Doors Down’s “Kryptonite,” sadly, but the guitar sounds like Icicles, and Morris sounds like Sarah McLeod (Superjesus). Put it together, and this is one of the best songs I’ve heard all year. After all, 3 Doors Down didn’t suck because of their drummer.
“Northern Lights” is like some of the Sundays’s faster songs. It’s not fast, of course, but it would be fast for a Sundays song. Something folkier can be found on “Tallulah.” It’s not their strength, but it still sounds fine.
The other track I like is “Still Young.” This song won’t make sense until they use it to open a set during their comeback tour in 2040. I’m actually a bit frustrated because the secret is out on these guys, but at least it ensures we’ll get more stuff in the future. Potential album of the year here.