Monday, March 31, 2008

Kissing the Beehive! OMG


So, it's official now, at least according to pitchforkmedia.com. The new Wolf Parade album is out June 17th, and it is entitled Kissing the Beehive. This is wonderful news...even if Pitchfork doesn't like the album title...what happened to the days when Pitchfork was respectable? It's an allusion to some sort of novel, there was no need to go and headline the news item "The New Wolf Parade Album Title Is Terrible." I would actually like it if Pitchfork kept hating on the new album, because then the staff of Pie and all our readers could enjoy its inevitable greatness for themselves. Stay tuned for more updates.

Record Review: R.E.M.: Accelerate

The legendary alternative rock band returns to form with their invigorating, animated latest record.
Rating: 4/5





I’m not going to get overtly technical on this review (that’s coming in next week’s Tapes ‘n Tapes analysis). You really only need to know one thing. R.E.M., the greatest rock band to ever walk the planet, has returned. And guess what? They’re in fine form. Accelerate, the band’s fourteenth LP, is their best since- well, who really cares? It’s their best in a long, long time. Stylistically, the album is probably most similar to 1995’s Monster, but that’s a generous comparison. It’ll probably bring to mind the band’s later I.R.S. albums more, such as Life’s Rich Pageant and Document.

The opening three or four songs here are nothing short of murderously ass-kicking. “What is this, the mid-1990’s?” Mike Stipe croons on “Living Well Is The Best Revenge” (note: not a real lyric.) “Man-Sized Wreath,” is the best use of Mike Mills since, well, they stopped making use of Mike Mills. And damn it if “Supernatural Superserious” isn’t the most upbeat song the band has written in over a decade, a classic R.E.M. anthem with less jangle, more electric fuzz, and, yes, possible infringement upon a Matchbox 20 lyric.

Almost as good, though, is “Mr. Richards”, a strikingly well-crafted, politically themed rocker with a melody infectious enough to have been a leftover from the Life’s Rich Pageant recordings. The title track, meanwhile, is a different kind of awesome, the darkest track on the album and also the most intriguing. It doesn’t quite sound like anything the band has recorded before, an achievement considering that as energized as these new jam are, you can basically hum “Swan Song H” to every ballad and “What’s The Frequency Kenneth” to every rocker on Accelerate.

But before we get carried away, some perspective has to be brought into play. As for where Accelerate fits into the overall R.E.M. discography, it’s probably somewhere in between Green and (the underrated) Out of Time. There was no way that a new R.E.M. album could get off dirt-free without hitting a fair share of rough patches. “Houston” and “Sing for the Submarine” don’t leave much of a lasting impression, and “So The Day is Done” is middle-of-the line compared to classic R.E.M. ballads. Furthermore, as it’s been for most of this decade, Stipe’s lyrics lack both urgency and purpose (though we fully believe him when he tells us he’s going to DJ at the end of the world.)

But at the end of the day, Accelerate is easily the most satisfying album I’ve heard all year, for no reason other than that R.E.M. has managed to return from the FM-radio trappings of the past decade when no one was giving them any chance at rebirth. Twenty-five years after Murmur, the band remains a fascination not only because they’ve returned to prominence, but because they’ve done so behind a good album. Accelerate is the return to form we’ve been waiting for. Accelerate is the album you’ll be blaring from your car all summer.

Accelerate rocks.

-Andrew Stone


Sunday, March 30, 2008

The Cool Kids at Lehigh: March 29th

Saturday night was the night of the many concerts...well two concerts anyway. While Erik was down in Philly seeing Mr. Malkmus, I stayed up at Lehigh to see The Cool Kids. Before I get to The Cool Kids I'd like to start with their opening acts.



The first group up was called Divine Rhyme. These two guys are Lehigh students that used other people's beats (because they "didn't have a DJ") and rapped about being indie and not in the business for the money or fame. I guess when you're a Lehigh student that comes from a high income family, it's hard to rap about the streets and interacting with people outside of Lehigh. Anyway, these guys weren't that bad for being two college kids, but a lot of their stuff sounded too similar. Here's some pictures I took and their myspace to check out:



Divine Rhyme



Next up was a group called Old Money. It was hard to tell what was going on with these guys 'cause they only played two songs. For the short time these guys were on stage they were hysterical. They did a skit before each song where they interacted with the crowd and talked about their haircuts. It was a lot funnier than I make it sound. I don't know much (if anything) about hip hop, but Old Money's music seemed to be more sophisticated and complicated. These guys were good and I think they're worth checking out. Here are some pictures and their myspace:



Old Money

Finally The Cool Kids got on stage around midnight. The first thing i noticed was that Chuck was wearing a Kansas sweatshirt which didn't earn points with me (go Nova!!!). Despite the support for the Nova-crushers, The Cool Kids were phenomenal. They had a lot of fun on stage and they knew how to work the crowd. They came out firing playing "I (Mikey) Rock", a crowd favorite, pretty early in the show. An interesting twist was the 'Best Dressed' competition they hosted by selecting the best dressed kids from the crowd, but this quickly turned into a dance competition which was much funnier. After giving the winner a new pair of Nikes, they went into the first part of NWA's "F*** the Police" which transitioned into "Gold and a Pager". The rest of the night was a mix of a few Cool Kids songs I was familiar with along with many more I'd never heard before. Throughout the show they invited kids to dance on stage and they even stopped the show at one point when Chuck dropped his mic through a crack in the stage while showing us some vintage 80s dance moves. It was a great show that was worth my...oh wait...it was free.
You know the drill...pics and myspace:



The Cool Kids

Friday, March 28, 2008

Chinese Effin' Democracy: Almost Here?


Does anybody care? Seriously, Guns 'n Roses had one good album and then a slew of overblown bulltshit ones, one of which featured the indulgent, melodramatic monstrosity "November Rain," one of my least favorite songs of all time. Just to backtrack a little for those who haven't been keeping up the earth-shattering news regarding GnR and Dr. Pepper:


The soft drink company said they would give everyone in America a free Dr. Pepper if Guns 'n Roses deliver Chinese Democracy some time in 2008. That's pretty much it. And oh yeah, GnR frontman/enormous jerkoff Axl Rose apparently hired some new top-notch managing team to, I don't know, motivate him, I guess, though I would think if he really wanted to share CD with the world he would have done so some time in the last 13 years. This is where I'm supposed to make a joke about how Chinese democracy may actually arrive before Chinese Democracy...but I'm not gonna ;)

I don't even like Dr. Pepper, so there really isn't any upside of any sort. And how exactly is Dr. Pepper going to efficiently and accurately distribute that many sodas? Do prisoners get a soda? How about illegal immigrants? Cans or bottles? Will Sierra Mist follow suit and offer a soda to every American if Raekwon finally releases Only Built 4 Cuban Linx II? So many questions....

But seriously how cool would it be if Sierra Mist did that.

How's the Lineup? Sooooo loaded....

As if Animal Collective, Public Enemy, Vampire Weekend, Spiritualized, and a laundry list of other kick ass acts wasn't enough already, we now have Mission of Burma (performing Vs.), Ghostface and Raekwon (spitting ill verses), and Dinosaur Jr. (with some, uh, non-rap verses) as well, with more acts to be announced, including a third ATP act. Maybe Ghost and Rae (performing on Sunday) will double up for Friday and do Cuban Linx, following in the GZA's footsteps and continuing the tradition of the annual Wu ATP performance. Or maybe they could bring along Cappadonna and he perform The Pillage in its entiriety. In which case, the world would see its most massive exodus since the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Record Review: Gnarls Barkley: The Odd Couple

Cee-lo and Danger Mouse follow up their successful debut album and massively popular single "Crazy."

Rating: 3/5



I don’t know if there’s ever been an artist who’s set themselves up to receive more sophomore backlash than Gnarls Barkley. No matter what they could have done with their follow-up to St. Elsewhere, it all boils down to one simple fact: everyone wants another “Crazy”, and The Odd Couple doesn’t have one.

So, Danger Mouse and Cee-lo had better prepare themselves. This thing is going to get hit hard, by fanboys who stopped caring two years ago, and to a lesser extent, by critics.

Thing is, for a group that set out to do little more than craft a set of likable pop songs, what they have given us isn’t all that terrible. While The Odd Couple won’t be making waves on any year-end lists, there are definitely worse duos with which to be spending your afternoon (Savage Garden, anyone? Actually…). Early highlights ensure that you’ll at least be giving side A several listens. “Going On” sees Cee-lo floating by on a magic carpet ride of funky rhythm, and “Run” is a club bopper that could be mistaken for a trippy Austin Powers outtake.

"Who’s Gonna Save My Soul” might be the best of them, though, effectively capturing the strengths of both producer and singer (effortless, minimalist strings and non-effected vocals in the foreground.) And there are a few gems (“Whatever”, “No Time Soon”) waiting to be found in the murky second half of the album. The most interesting of them, “Blind Mary”, hides all the way back at track eleven.

Still, too often, The Odd Couple misses the adventuring spirit of St. Elsewhere. This is evident right off the bat, as opener “Charity Case” contains only a fourth of the energy of “Go Go Gadget Gospel.” Elsewhere, the darker tracks, such as “Would Be Killer”, are disappointing in comparison to similar tracks off Elsewhere like “Just A Thought” and “St. Elsewhere.” As the album drags towards the later tracks, Cee-lo’s vocals sound more and more phoned in, a crime considering the soulful work he is capable of producing.

After this thing gets slammed, it’s hard to tell where Gnarls will go for their third LP (though Danger Mouse has recently become pals with Beck… Three’s Company, anyone?) What we have for the time being is an album arguably just as realized as St. Elsewhere… but with songs that just aren’t as good.

Does that make you crazy?

-Andrew Stone

Gnarls Barkley - Blind Mary

Buy: Insound Amazon MySpace

Sunday, March 23, 2008

I Have A Bone To Pick


Although this is old news I would like to bring this to your attention. Last year Jens Lekman covered "Homeless" and "You Can Call Me Al" from Paul Simon's album Graceland which is one of my favorite albums ever...but on to my point. I would have no problem with my buddy Jens covering these songs if he were going to be gracious about it. Instead, Jens choose to take the low road by insulting Paul Simon and Chevy Chase.
"As a kid, I always hated the chorus of this song. And I always hated Chevy Chase's stupid, grinning face in the video..."
First of all, "You Can Call Me Al" is a great song in it's entirety. Not just the verse...the entire thing. Why else has it been played at every high school football game for the last twenty years. Jens has a lot of balls for trying to cover this song without a brass section or extensive backup band, but he has other issues if he hates the chorus of this song.
Secondly, Chevy Chase is a legendary American actor staring in such memorable films as The Three Amigos and Snow Day. I will admit that he is many years past his prime, but he was at his peak in 1987 which added to the greatness of the music video. Chevy's "stupid grinning face" is why we love him and frankly I think it's all he has left.
Shame on you Jen's Lekman. Others may be able to put up with your mediocre music and Paul Simon insults but I cannot.
Jens Lekman Rating: 2 stupid grinning Chevy Chase's/10

Friday, March 21, 2008

Record Review: Destroyer: Trouble in Dreams

The indie rock band, led by the prolific, beloved Canadian singer/songwriter Dan Bejar, releases its follow-up to the well-received effort Destroyer's Rubies.

Rating: 4/5
Dream life is a natural world for Destroyer’s idiosyncratic Den Bejar to explore. Bejar’s poetry of loosely constructed phrases and images has always defied clear interpretation. "We live in darkness/ this is the light of dream, you see…" he says in the eight minute “Shooting Rockets.”

Trouble in Dreams is the work of a confident songwriter. Bejar is unafraid to be theatrical, obscure, and self referential. If Bejar compromised his style and shortened songs, cleared up meanings, and took out peculiar references, he would instantly lose his startling originality.

Bejar, unlike many folk artists, uses his music to compliment his poetry rather then just provide a background. His music accentuates and many times mimics the words. He stretches the folk form, which relies on simple chords, by making the music essential to the effect of the words. This is the charm of Destroyer, from Bejar’s poetic and musical collage, memorable phrases stick out.

Trouble in Dreams fully realizes Bejar’s strength. It is a dense, fragmented psychological portrait of Bejar and his dreams. Bejar’s character tumbles through his songs; a wine and coffee drinking urban poet, obsessed women, government, religion, animals, and landscapes. The strength of Trouble in Dreams is it’s literary, novelistic essence. It will piss off listeners looking for a quick and easy emotional payoff, but it will reward listeners willing to get beyond Bejar’s original weirdness.

-Matt Gasda

Destroyer - Foam Hands

Buy: Insound Amazon MySpace

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Wait! There's More!


This is a note to to all of us who thought Coldplay's upcoming album would be "Viva La Vida".


The title of the album has been finalized and confirmed as "Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends."


Sorry for the confusion and seemingly unending number of posts about Coldplay.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

New Music: Death Cab for Cutie, RZA

Death for Cab Cutie - I Will Possess Your Heart (album version)

(from the forthcoming Narrow Stairs LP, due out May 15)

Other than its typical Death Cab title, "I Will Possess Your Heart" sounds nothing like the Death Cab you and I know. I mean, really. The album version stretches out to eight and a half minutes, all of it unsettling and insistent, from the tumbling piano chords to the drifting, droning guitar to unrelenting bassline. The vocals don't even emerge until close to five minutes in, and even then Ben Gibbard isn't spouting his usual "I love you, you love me" bullshit. He sounds possessed, not proclaiming "I will possess your heart" as a playful advance, but rather as an unavoidable future event, an absolute truth. Between Gibbard's inspired, almost intimidating vocals and the perfect instrumental build-up to them, well...I never thought I would say this, but Death Cab kicks ass.

RZA (feat. Inspectah Deck) - You Can't Stop Me Now

(from the forthcoming Digi Snax LP, due out this summer)

Oh, 8 Diagrams. Didn't like it when it came out, and only feel slightly more positive about it now. I came to realize how thoroughly Raekwon tore shit up every time he rapped, but still...too much U-God and RZA, not enough Ghost, and at no point does the Clan offer the jaw-dropping fire of yesteryear Wu. While "You Can't Stop Me Now" came from the 8 Diagrams sessions, it's surprisingly good. The RZA sounds uncharacteristically focused and under control, while everyone's favorite Rebel INS spits a decent verse of own. Certainly suggests more Diagram-type production for Digi Snax, but maybe RZA can mend fences with Ghost and Rae and hit 'em up for a couple guest verses, and, uh, leave U-God, Cappadonna, and Masta Killa (no, Masta Killa isn't that great; anyone who thinks No Said Date was some great Wu feat is misguided) to do their own business.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Viva La Vida


Coldplay's upcoming album will officialy be called Viva La Vida (Long Live Life).
The album has also been pushed back from a projected May release date to June 16th.
Thanks for the tip Mike.
Also, Viva La Vida will have nothing to do with Ricky Martin.

NEW WOLF PARADE WAAA?


The following statement was released this evening on wolfparade.nonstuff.com:

"After many months of speculation and anticipation about the new Wolf Parade record, we’ve finally been given some news from a very reliable source. The source states the following: The record is done and will be officially released in June. It will have 9 songs, some short and some long. Everyone in the band is really happy with it and they will start touring in July. A press release from Subpop is due out very soon with the full track list and title."

OMG! I'm so excited that all the rumors that I had been hearing are real! I can't wait until June, but hey, at least it's not that far off, and at least it's finally confirmed. This will tide you over, in the meantime:

Wolf Parade - Language City (Live)
Wolf Parade - Billy J (Live)

Monday, March 17, 2008

Record Review: The Dodos: Visiter


On their second album (and first on French Kiss), the San Francisco duo offer up intimate, exuberant psych-folk gems like they’re going out of style, resulting in one of the best indie albums this year.

Rating: 4/5

Magnetic Fields’ Distortion will take the prize for most accurately titled record of 2008, but the Dodos’ came up with a perfect title of their own for their sophomore record. Visiter is a warm, inviting, unassuming, happy-that-you’re-listening, come-on-in-and-have-some-cookies affair, one that even during its more solemn moments still can’t contain its ebullience. We’re visiting our favorite relative minus the inconvenience of travel, and our favorite relative is, uh, offering gorgeous, addictive indie folk to celebrate our arrival.

The Dodos brings to mind some of the best indie bands of recent years, recalling the Microphones’ intimate, homespun aesthetic and both Animal Collective’s Sung Tongs-era acoustic craziness and that band’s more recent, “Purple Bottle”-type percussive backbone. Thinking back even farther, the lovesick “Winter” and the precious “Undeclared” bring to mind Magnetic Fields minus the synths, and, like many a modern left-of-center folk act, the Dodos have a little bit of Neutral Milk Hotel in them.

Well then, what makes the Dodos so special? Above all, while this album’s acoustic guitar-drum sound is a bare, straightforward one, guitarist/singer Meric Long and drummer Logan Kroeber are distinctly in tune with each other’s every musical impulse, with Kroeber’s percussion constantly propelling Long’s already lively strumming to even greater levels of unhinged zest. At the same time, Kroeber smartly steps back and leaves the brief, more contained ditties “Walking” and “Undeclared” for Long to handle solo. Kroeber’s drumming makes an impact, but never as the center-of-attention, and rather as an underlying force, perfectly setting the limelight on Long’s catchy acoustic trickery and infectious vocal melodies.

While the two Dodos work superbly together, Visiter sounds undoubtedly like the work of two musicians. John Madden-like obviousness since, yeah, it’s the work of two people, but a point nonetheless worth emphasizing, because this makes for a very uniform sound…one that might be a little too uniform for some listeners. The duo occasionally adds some horns to the drum-guitar arrangements, but there’s little sonic variation on Visiter. Yet, the Dodos excellently compensate for the homogeneous blueprint with their relentless energy and by effectively alternating between quicker, fleeting numbers and freewheeling epics.

The latter category gets to claim the album’s best track, the six-plus minute “Jodi.” The attentive blog-surfer will recognize it as one of the two pre-release tracks from Visiter (along with the uber-catchy “Fools”), and, unsurprisingly, nothing on the rest of the album upstages it. The song was the first thing from the Dodos that caught my attention, and, with its instantly memorable chorus and the Avey Tare-like hollering during the closing minute, stands as one of my favorite songs of 2008 thus far.

The Dodos aren’t the kind of crossover, blog-to-MTV band like, let’s say, Vampire Weekend, but Visiter doesn’t really want to be shared with the world anyway. “Jodi” and “Fools” and “Winter” and “Red and Purple” are made for campfires, not for stadiums. Return home at your own risk.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Harry Potter Movie News!!!


Recently there have been some rumors floating around regarding the director of Deathly Hallows and the possibility that the movie will be released in two parts. The rumors were finally put to rest by producer David Heyman in an interview with the L.A. Times. Heyman said that the movie will be directed by Order of the Phoenix and Half Blood Prince director David Yates despite rumors of big names like Speilberg. He also confirmed that the film will in fact be split into two parts with the first being released in November 2010 and the second in May 2011. Yates commented on the split by saying, "Unlike every other book, you cannot remove elements of this book. You can remove scenes of Ron playing quidditch from the fifth book, and you can remove Hermione and S.P.E.W. and those subplots...but with the seventh, that can't be done."

I'm not sure I agree with that 'cause we need all the quidditch we can get, but I'm very excited about this epic two part ending.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

New Music: Peter Moren, Clinic, Hot Chip

Yeah, so I have not posted anything in like a week, but have no fear...I've returned. I was on spring break, so there. Anyway, I am bringing you some new music now to make up for my inexcusable absence.

Peter Moren - Social Competence

Peter Moren's main act had that midly popular song back in 2006, and while the lead single from Moren's solo record ain't no "Young Folks," the finger-picking guitar and vocal hook are catchy enough to hold your attention for a few listens.

(From The Last Tycoon LP, due out April 8)

Clinic - The Witch

I haven't actually heard Clinic's forthcoming Do It! LP as of yet, but if "The Witch" is any indication of the record's sound, we can almost certainly expect another Internal Wrangler rehash. Is that a good thing? Kind of, I suppose, if the songs themselves are strong enough, though the band has been trying to recreate Internal Wrangler for some time now with only moderate success. In any event, this particular track kicks ass.

(From the Do It! LP, due April 8)

Hot Chip - My Brother Is Watching Me

This one's from the Ready For the Floor EP, though it probably could have displaced one of the weaker end-of-album tracks from Made in the Dark. "My Brother Is Watching Me" is a bare, dark ballad, but one with a gentle electronic pulse than Dark's slow numbers sorely lacked.

Buy: Amazon

And oh yeah, this isn't related to the above songs, but the first acts announced for the Pitchfork Music Festival lineup (Animal Collective, Public Enemy, Vampire Weekend) are pretty ballin'.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

And so it begins...


Pitchfork TV. It was really only a matter of time. As you would expect, we're getting documentaries, videos, interviews, live sessions, etc. Further, according to Pitchfork, "With all content available on-demand, we're putting you in control of the music you want, how and when you want to see it. Soon, we'll add personal playlist capabilities, so you can watch all your favorites in a row. And later this year, as part of a massive redesign effort, Pitchfork.tv will integrate with its parent site, presenting innovations and further advancements to the world of online music journalism."

The future is now. And I'm getting dangerously close to the point where I may be on laptop 24 hours a day.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Record Review: Real Emotional Trash (2008)


The new record from the former Pavement frontman sees him and his Jicks taking the longer, jammy songs he has always experimented with and fleshing them out to make an LP. The results aren't necessarily the best thing.

Rating: 3/5

I need to begin this review by stating an obvious disclaimer. I am incredibly biased towards Stephen Malkmus, as I am a huge Pavement fan. I love basically everything he does. From Slanted and Enchanted to Face the Truth, I enjoy it all. That being said, Real Emotional Trash was sort of a letdown for me. Not that it's a bad record, by any means, because it isn't. I definitely enjoy listening to it, but trying to review the record from the standpoint of a casual listener makes me feel a bit disappointed.

Tracks like "Dragonfly Pie," the title track, and "Baltimore" are clear standouts that will likely be remembered as highlights of Malk's solo career. The chief problem with this album is that the whole thing is too jammy. While Malkmus has certainly gotten exponentially better at guitar over the years, there is no way that he has the technical ability to jam for an hour and keep it interesting. Steve has always been at his best when he writes pop songs, and sadly, this album does not have such gems. Sure, the occasional jam song can be good; I enjoy "Hopscotch Willie" and "Wicked Wanda." And hell, even the songs I listed as clear standouts are pretty jammy themselves (the title track is over ten minutes long!) However, when the record itself is just 60 minutes of SM wailing on his guitar, I tend to get a bit bored.

This is a solid record, I can safely say that. And if you like Stephen Malkmus/Pavement, especially some of the more crazy Wowee Zowee-era stuff, then by all means, take a listen to Real Emotional Trash. You will probably enjoy it. But if you are just a casual fan who has heard about the Pavement frontman, but never actually took a listen to his work, you are probably better off listening to 2005's Face the Truth, which is more accessible, poppy and generally more enjoyable.

Stephen Malkmus - Dragonfly Pie

"Artist of the Week" Video: Ghostface

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