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Archive for the ‘Musiq’ Category

Me vs Me (Circa June 2010)

Posted by Matt on August 24, 2011

I decided to go back and look at my top ten favourite albums. For lazy people, here’s what I said in June 2010:

10. Revolver – The Beatles
9. Midnite Vultures – Beck
8. Excitable Boy – Warren Zevon
7. “Heroes” – David Bowie
6. SMiLe – Brian Wilson
5. Amnesiac – Radiohead
4. Pet Sounds – Beach Boys
3. The Mollusk – Ween
2. OK Computer – Radiohead
1. Low – David Bowie

There really aren’t that many changes I would make, but I definitely question some of my choices here. For example, why is Amnesiac so high? I still really like; it’d probably be my 3rd favourite Radiohead album. There was even a point where I would rank it higher than Kid A. But I could have sworn that was a few years ago, not last year. I am now pretty solid in my belief that Kid A is a far better album. I think it might have taken me longer to come to that conclusion; Amnesiac‘s best tracks, like “I Might Be Wrong”, I think are easier to get into. But after a few listens, I realized that Kid A really starts out strong, and basically never lets up. Those songs just sound so strange and alien, heights that it’s follow-up doesn’t reach.

The second upset would probably be replacing “Heroes” with Station to Station, which I think is a far more recent decision on my part. I remember having a hard time picking a second Bowie album for the list (and there had to be a second Bowie album because Bowie is the best at everything); Hunky Dory and Aladdin Sane were both in the running. “Heroes”, like Amnesiac, is a great album, but I think having listened to Station to Station several times over the last few months, I think it edges out the rest of Bowie’s discography. I think what helps is that it’s a short album, which it doesn’t feel like because the opening track is 10 minutes (and 10 minutes of endless greatness). It’s got a feeling of conciseness; the Thin White Duke has a musical point to make, does it, and then leaves. There’s no missed beat on any of the tracks. And the songs are just so fun. “TVC15” and “Golden Years” and “Wild is the Wind” manage to find a halfway point between Ziggy/Aladdin Sane Bowie and Berline Trilogy Bowie, and it just took me a little bit of time to realize that. So yeah, that’s a definite switch.

Other than that, I’d move around a couple albums, too. But let’s actually look at what my favourite album list looks like right now:

10. Revolver – The Beatles
9. SMiLe – Brian Wilson
8. Midnite Vulture – Beck
7. Kid A – Radiohead
6. Excitable Boy – Warren Zevon
5. Pet Sounds – Beach Boys
4. The Mollusk – Ween
3. Station to Station – David Bowie
2. OK Computer – Radiohead
1. Low – David Bowie

Top two don’t change, because it’s gonna take a titanic effort from someone to take down Low and OK Computer from their thrones. Those two are PERFECT albums.

After that all that Station to Station talk, I decided that it goes in the bronze spot. I just like it that much!

The Mollusk is still amazing, another album I can listen to forever. I saw that AV Club had recommended it to people as well. Good for them.

Pet Sounds is Pet Sounds. Not much to say about that.

I ranked up Excitable Boy, because that’s another really fun, easily re-listenable album. It’s more than just “Werewolves of London”, folks. Any of these tracks could be an eternally remembered Zevon classic.

Kid A is lower-ranked than Amnesiac was on the last list, even though I do think it’s a better album now. It just didn’t have the impact the rest of these have, is all.

Apparently, nobody has told Beck that Midnite Vultures is his best album. Real shame. Because it is.

Then there’s SMiLe and Revolver, both albums I have nothing interesting to say about.

See you next year, me!

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Christmas Post 11/12

Posted by Matt on December 25, 2010

Almost there.

Here’s a song my friends like:

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Christmas Post 7/12

Posted by Matt on December 21, 2010

I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before, but the holiday season is a double-edged sword for me at work. On one hand, I don’t have to listen to the shitty store radio music that plays incessantly for an entire month. On the other hand, there is a new line-up of shitty store radio music that plays incessantly instead. And there’s less of it, so I hear the same songs (and different versions of the same songs!) over and over again all day, every day. There must be almost half a dozen versions of every Christmas classic, and I have listen to most, if not ALL, of those versions in one day, and then again the next day, and again and again. It’s maddening.

I mean, there’s gotta be more pleasant holiday music than just Jingle Bells, Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Frosty the Snowman, I Saw Mommy Kissin’ Santa Claus, and Silent Night, is there? Today I heard a dumb country Christmas song I never heard before, but that’s a rare experience. I don’t even hear the Beach Boys’ Christmas songs on there anymore, and they were basically my few break points from the monotony. It’s maddening.

Also, Jingle Bells, It’s Cold Outside, and Let It Snow are not really Christmas songs, just being about winter in general. So why do we only hear them during this time? Is it because outside December, no one wants to be reminded that it’s winter?

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Posted by Matt on September 27, 2010

Because I don’t feel like doing another write-up, here’s a review I wrote for the newspaper about the Flaming Lips concert I went to last week:

Oklahoma-based psychadelic rockers the Flaming Lips are famous for putting on a one-of-a-kind concert, and I can report with confidence that this is the case. It is DEFINITELY the case.

The opening act at their Winnipeg concert, Haunted Graffiti, were able to set the mood pretty early on. Although they are certainly a more straightforward rock band than the Lips, their use of keyboards and harder sound created a similar vibe, as did its strange frontman, who was entertaining in spite of the fact that I couldn’t understand a thing he said.
The Flaming Lips themselves started strong and never let up during their dozen-or-so song set, which pulled primarily from their three 2000s albums, but also included a classic from the 90s, She Don’t Use Jelly. Everyone was on game, and not even short technical difficulties hurt the intensity the band put into every song, nor ecstatic mood of the audience. Frontman Wayne Coyne kept the place jumping by spending a moment between songs to talk to the audience and encourage everyone to join in.

As for the show itself… it is probably the most visually entertaining thing I’ve ever seen on stage. Every song brought in new, weird effects; confetti gushed down at any given moment; there were women in yellow shirts and hats dancing on the sidelines for the entire show; large balloons were bounced around in the audience for a whole hour; and the band members interacted with the visuals displayed on the giant circular screen. Coyne himself went out of his way to entertain, first by jumping into the floor audience in a giant bubble, and following it up throughout the show by, for example, sitting on the shoulders of a man in a bear costume, or using giant hands to reflect laser lights onto two disco balls. Of course, words can’t really do the show justice: you really need to see it to get how crazy and awesome it was, and to know the feeling of how entertaining it was just to anticipate what could happen next.

So, as one can tell, the Lips show is everything you’ve heard it was, and probably more. And it’s not just for the sheer sense overload provided by what’s going on stage, either; there’s a genuine love of the music there. Coyne repeatedly talked about how much happiness he finds among the band’s fans, and it’s easy to see where he’s coming from when you see a large group of people singing along to Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots and Do You Realize??

Here’s some videos from it:

I also saw the Arcade Fire last week. It was also a good concert.

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Pain Inflicting

Posted by Matt on September 6, 2010

My last list of songs I hate that play incessantly at work was rather weak, as I forgot several major offenders. Now I remember them, and I give them to you all because I hate. I HATE.



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Posted by Matt on August 10, 2010

Mid-90s arcade games presents RAP:

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Posted by Matt on August 4, 2010

Because I’m sure you’re all wondering what I’ve been doing in my free time for the past month or so, and I because I actually want to do something different on here:

Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie
I finished it a month ago, after starting it last year and stopping after 300 pages (it was for a class). I felt really bad about not getting any further into it sooner, because I really quite liked it. I’ve now read two Rushdie novels (this and The Satanic Verses, his two most famous books), and I really quite like his style; his combination of the dream-like and the real world, his blending of the modern day and the old eastern mythologies, and his depictions of real human tragedy.
I think, for the most part, Midnight’s Children surpasses Satanic Verses for the first 60% of the book: while I find the ideas in both intriguing, the former was able to grab me more. Maybe it’s because Saleem is just a more likable protagonist than the two in Verses , who are both…kind of jerks. I also think the fantasy and ‘real’ elements of MC blended a bit more seamlessly, and was just a bit more fun to read. I will say, however, that Children featured some real squirm-inducing moments for me, which weren’t really present in the other book, even if it went in a much darker direction.
Which brings me to the one point that I felt Verses exceeded Children: the latter part of the book worked a lot better. The ending of Verses really saddled the lines between being sad, poignant, and then ends on a note of pitch-black comedy. Children, in contrast, kind of loses itself, feeling a bit rushed (which is even acknowledged in the meta-story), and kind of getting a little cute in the end with its metaphors and imagery. I would recommend reading both, as from them you get a good picture of Rushdie’s idea of the ‘Indian experience’ (both in the west and east). Plus, despite their flaws, they’re just really enjoyable reads.

Tommy
Quadrophenia

by The Who

Yes, it took me this long to get to The Who’s two ultra-famous rock operas. But I did get to them. So screw you all, invisible detractors.
I don’t know how much I have to say about these two; despite me really liking individual songs from both, I think I need to give them both another listen-through in order to definitively say how they cohere as albums. As for initial impressions though: both manage to contain lots of good music, despite the pretense of trying to tell a story possibly getting in the way (Quadrophenia especially). They also generally manage to avoid the problems that plague most concept albums, where the music is interrupted by often very very dull non-music stuff (Tommy has a few ‘character’ songs that are kind of weak, though). Quadrophenia is definitely my favorite of the two, and I think comes pretty close to Who’s Next for the title of best Who album.

Umbrella Academy: Dallas by Gerard Way and Gabriel Ba
One of the reasons I read the first Umbrella Academy was because all the comic sites I frequent repeatedly compared it to Grant Morrison’s run on Doom Patrol, which is possibly my favorite comics ever. And while there was clear influence from DP on it, it didn’t really ‘hit’ me as the true successor of that series. It was good; very entertaining and definitely something up my alley, but I didn’t really go as far with the comparison as others did.
Dallas changes that pretty quick. From the end of the first issue, with the introduction of the time-travelling ‘fixer’ group with its army of openly disposable minions and then Jules and Vincent from Pulp Fiction with cartoon animal heads, the comparison is now solidified. This entire story is real Grant Morrison territory stuff, bringing back a level of gleeful insanity that Morrison has sort of drifted away from recently while he fiddles around with Batman and other stuff I have no real interest in. But even though it really feels like a Doom Patrol extension it times, the book never feels like a rip-off; aside form Ba’s great art really getting at the profound weirdness of the entire world these characters inhabit, the tone of the book is entirely its own, as well, often feeling more in line with the kinetic hyperviolence of something like Scud: The Disposable Assassin than with the sort of creepy funhouse weirdness that one got from Doom Patrol.
So…yeah. If you like this sort of thing, and I most certainly do, this is probably your best bet. And it really is a worthwhile read, especially if you enjoy fun.

Pluto Volume 1 by Naoki Urasawa
This one’s been gnawing at me for a while, so I finally picked up the first volume. I’ve never been a big manga reader, so this was the first time I’ve ever sat down to read a full story in the format (I was able to pick up the whole right-to-left reading thing pretty quickly). But this one had an intriguing premise, and one that revolved around robots, one of my favorite things to read, write, watch, or think about. The fact that is a really good story about robots is a nice bonus.
First and foremost, Urasawa’s art really makes this book. There are a lot of quiet reactions, many of them from vaguely cartoonish-looking robots as well as humans, but the art really sells it. I also marveled at almost every depiction of the future world of the story; the design and detail are stunning.
The dialog, at first, seems a little melodramatic (it’s been a while since I’ve seen so many exclamation points in sentences), which I could easily chalk up either to the translation, or maybe just to the fact that it’s different from what I’m used to. The characters, however, are all interesting, especially as we delve deeper into their pasts; the history of the world and the interactions between the humans and robots is introduced slowly, but it constantly makes me want to know more; and finally, I really want to see the unraveling of the central mystery, not necessarily because I want to know about the thing itself, but because I want to see how all these things tie together in the end.
I think I’ll be sticking around for the other seven volumes; each one is a little decompressed, being serialized, so it actually doesn’t take very long to get through them.

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You cannot escape the lists

Posted by Matt on July 19, 2010

Top Seven Worst Songs Played on the Store Radio Where I work

7. “Life is a Highway”, Tom Cochrane
6. “A Moment Like This”, Kelly Clarkson and Leona Lewis (They’ve played both versions. On the same day)
5. “Give a Little Bit”, Goo Goo Dolls
4. “Manic Monday”, The Bangles
3. “Clocks”, Coldplay
2. “Hey Leonardo (She Likes Me For Me)”, Blessid Union of Souls
1. “Welcome to My Life”, Simple Plan

Some of the much better songs they have played:

“Cult of Personality”, Living Color
“Cool the Engines”, Boston
“Let’s Dance”, David Bowie
“Man on the Moon”, REM
“Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm”, Crash Test Dummies (Yes, I do like this song)

Some songs I don’t hate, but have been soured by repetition

“Wake Me Up When September Ends”, Green Day
Pretty much every Tom Petty song they play

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A Week Of Lists Day 1

Posted by Matt on June 23, 2010

Because I’m just not full of ribald commentary at the moment, I’ll do something easy and enjoyable.

Day 1- My Personal Top Ten Albums

10. Revolver – The Beatles
9. Midnite Vultures – Beck
8. Excitable Boy – Warren Zevon
7. “Heroes – David Bowie
6. SMiLe – Brian Wilson
5. Amnesiac – Radiohead
4. Pet Sounds – Beach Boys
3. The Mollusk – Ween
2. OK Computer – Radiohead
1. Low – David Bowie

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Posted by Matt on May 5, 2010

Winding down, but at the same time getting busy. Ho hum.

Things done:

-Finally watched the first four episodes of Adventure Time. It’s a cartoon for people like me and it makes the world a better place simply by existing. I suggest you watch it legally (if American) or illegally (if you be forrin’).

-playing a combination of Pokemon SoulSilver and Super Street Fighter IV. Who needs anything else? Certainly not I. Not with Abel’s second ultra allowing me to crush opponent’s with its controllable delay and super armor.

-I listened to lots of Warren Zevon, because I hadn’t before. Excitable Boy and Sentimental Hygiene are both excellent albums.

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