Thursday, February 24, 2005


The Capitol Years
Let Them Drink
(Burn And Shiver)

Last year saw the release of the Beatles boxed set The Capitol Years, which compiled the recorded material of the Fab Four from whence America first fell in love with them. Meanwhile, almost forty years later, a quartet from Philadelphia named the Capitol Years releases their third album, Let Them Drink, replicating the pop-laden innocence found in that almost mythological era. Coincidence?
Critical favorites the Capitol Years, led by popsmith Shai Halperin, may indeed be a retro-rock band but they stand out amongst today’s plethora of homage acts as a sincere and legit tribute to the mop-topped days. The second song on the newest release, “Mounds of Money” is reminiscent of the genuine excitement found in “Twist & Shout” while later on in the record, “Solid Gold” channels the bluesy edge of the Yardbirds. But this is not to say the Philly Four are stuck in the intimidating nostalgia of the golden era. Opening track, “Juicers” could be a Guided By Voices outtake while “Ramona” recalls the hip-swaying assurance of the perennial Canadian underdogs Sloan. Overall, Let Them Drink incorporates its influences and then channels them out for us to absorb from the thundering amps of genuine rock and roll. Let us drink indeed--to more years of music like this.

The Sights
(Scratchie/New Line Records)

There are no houses in Detroit. Just garages. Rows and rows of garages. Because the Michigan city, previously known as the automotive capitol of the world, is now better known for churning out a regular stream of garage rock bands. Surely there must be enough garages to compensate for them all. There’s the Go, the White Stripes, the Von Bondies, the Soledad Brothers, etc (honestly, the list could go on). And now add to the registry of Nuggets Boxed Set imitators, the Sights. Hailing from—you guessed it—Detroit, Michigan, Eddie Baranek, Mike Trombley, and Mark Leahey present us with their debut album of dirty rawk influenced by the psychedelic R&B sound that white people got so freaky over in the mid-60’s. Opening the record with “I’m Gonna Live The Life I Sing About In My Song,” Baranek howls and growls like a desperate man looking for immediate pity or at least, a few shots of Jaggermeister. The record’s first single, “Circus” is complete with an already-familiar bluesy swagger, demented organs, tortured vocals, and a mini-guitar solo uncharacteristically ripped out of the early-Van Halen solo book. Ultimately, there are unique touches sporadically flavored throughout like the softer Zombie hook of “Scratch My Name In Sin,” but you’ve heard it all before. In fact, if you currently live in Detroit, you’re hearing it all the time.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005


On Sunday, I made the mistake of turning on the TV and watching MTV.

It seems that they have a new show called "My Super Sweet Sixteen" which is about Sweet Sixteens that are preferably super. And just in case you thought the Sweet Sixteen was yours, the title of the program points out that the event in question is "My Super Sweet Sixteen." You have nothing to do with it. You are to stay at home and wonder why your parents weren't rich and obnoxious. You are left to question whether it's a good idea to really bring children into a world that condones such regressive programming choices.

Never one for harping over the plight of third world countries and famine-stricken lands, I sat here and watched a fifteen-year-old order her father around. I watched said fifteen year old (now a newly anointed sixteen) hunt and kick a freshman out of her party because, well, when you have three hundred people around you dancing, losing themselves and having the time of their regularly blogged-about lives, it's hard to lose focus on the fact that there is one freshman there. I mean, how can you concentrate on a $50,000 event while there is a girl one year junior enjoying herself as well? How can we stand by and allow such an atrocity to occur? Worse than prefume in a bunny's eyes. Heinous with a capitol “hey, world, I'm a moron and will never live my brattiness down."

Perhaps, though, MTV deserves more credit than I am giving them. Perhaps this is their social criticism on the self-involved emptiness of American teenagers. Maybe "My Super Sweet Sixteen" is an unflinching editorial on the moral and substantive wasteland that passes through the halls of our local high schools? Nah. On second thought, MTV is more or less responsible for all of that.

With "reality shows" like Road Rules, Real World, Newlyweds, The Ashlee Simpson Show, Punk'd, MTV has proved time and time again that shallowness and stupidity is worth celebrating. [I should note here that Boiling Points is a pretty decent show that teaches us to be patient even in stressful situations so I applaud MTV for this one]. Even the videos full of scantily clad women and bottles of champagne inspires thousands with a certain work ethic--work hard and you can get all of this. "My Super Sweet Sixteen," on the other hand, says be born in the right family and do nothing and you'll be "adored" by all. In fact, during one of the two episodes I traded my soul in for, the focus of the show's classmates all swore to love her (some even admitted that they had no idea who she was but that would change thanks to her party) because she was rich. Now, that's a lesson I want to teach the youth of America. Really, the FCC shouldn't really care about Janet Jackson's breast. One breast doth not maketh a country morally bankrupt. Programming like this will.

Beck once had a song entitled "MTV Makes Me Want To Smoke Crack." I think if he had written the song today it would have been called "MTV Makes Me Want To Smoke Something Stronger Than Crack Because Crack Isn't Doing It Anymore."

Thursday, February 17, 2005

THE BEST ALBUMS OF 2005...YES, 2005.

Sasha Frere Jones, a writer of very strong repute, has a blog like most people. But unlike the rest of us, Sasha writes about pop music for the New Yorker. Jones has a regular column in perhaps one of the most respected publications in America which makes him pretty damn special. But I can imagine it also makes him just as pretentious as the well-financed magazine's comics.

In a recent post on his blog (found here:, Jones has already listed his favorite albums of 2005. Yes, the coming year. Unbeknowest to you, he hears music that hasn't been recorded yet which is pretty impressive. I know some people that just want to be able to carry a tune.

So I conclude that if Sasha can do things like this (it's so weird for me to refer to him especially considering a) I don't know him b) I only read his blog once when Jenny pointed it out to me and c) his name sounds like a fried southern tofu dish), then surely I can too. After all, I can see The Gates from outside my window--I must be worthy of something great.
And maybe if I do list my prophecies for best albums of 2005, then perhaps I will be next in line to be the pop critic of the New Yorker. It seems likely considering I have interviewed many of the same artists that he has (i.e. Keren Ann, M.I.A., The New Pornographers, etc) which therein leads me to believe that both Sasha and I have similar tastes. Really, what's the difference between us?
Huh? Talent? Oh, dang. You're right. Forgot about that.

Well anyway...without further adeui, I present my favorite albums of the past month and a half, and the great ones that will be coming out in the coming nine and a half more.

1. Spoon - "Gimme Fiction" (Merge Records) -
The Austin quartet serves up another heaping scoop of sophisticated indie rock. Britt Daniel is the only lead singer that can make nasal sound sexy. Standout track: "I Summon You."

2. Doves - "Some Cities" (Capitol Records) - Recalling the grandeur of Pink Floyd and the Moody Blues, the Doves releases its third record of hazy British rock. Songs that will fill the room, like a mild air-freshener, but never overwhelm you.

3. The National "Alligator" (Beggars US) - There are two New York bands heavily influenced by Joy Division but one of them, Interpol, denies ever listening to them. The National, on the other hand, have listened to Joy Division, have internalized their limited output and then figured out how to go beyond the depressing aesthetic, bringing us to the point of joyful innovation.

4. M.I.A. "Arular" (XL Recordings) - With a keyboard and a sampler, Maya Arulpragasam adopts the persona M.I.A. to create an unconventional rap/party record that has music journalists wetting their trousers. Despite that being the case, you should still check out the album. If only to see a music journalist in wet trousers.

5. Stars "Set Yourself On Fire" (Arts & Crafts) - A year after Morrissey made his comeback, this Canadian group ups the drama ante. Consisting of members from the Broken Social Scene (which mean they're five of like, a hundred and twenty people), Stars shares in the disappointment of heartbreak so effectively, that you would expect the record to come with a gallon of Ben & Jerry's.

6. Low "The Great Destroyer" (Sub Pop) - Harmonies so entangled and serene, only a husband and wife both madly in love could produce them. The Great Destroyer is the notorious "slocore" trio's foray into rock. and the outcome is an album of autumn leaves and barren trees. Overall, this is the soundtrack to a beautiful season.

7. Beck "Guero" (Interscope) - Beck has brilliantly won the admiration of music fans, the mainstream audience, and countless hipster women. The uncontested musical genius is this past decade's John Cusack--women want to date him and guys just want to talk about their record collections with him (using the word "dude" as often as possible).

8. Regina Spektor "Soviet Kitsch" (Record Collection) - Blending Joni Mitchell, Tori Amos, Ani DiFranco, vaudeville, and Russian folk music....wait. No, it's actually a great album.

9. Lou Barlow "Emoh" (Merge Records) - An acoustic collection of songs that pack a potent whallop unlike anything else from his vast back catalogue. Barlow's voice is so sweet and real, it will remind you that words like "whallop" actually exist.

10. 13 & God s/t (Anticon) - Germany's Notwist teams up with California's cLOUDDEAD to record an electronic-ambient hybrid that sounds like your brain after you've drank a frozen Slurpee really quickly but only in a good way.

Potential best of 2005's that I haven't heard yet:
Stephen Malkmus "Face The Truth" (Matador)
Animal Collective feat Vashti Bunyan "Prospect Hummer" (FatCat)
Built To Spill (Warner Bros.)
Idlewild "Warnings/Promises" (Capitol)

Wednesday, February 16, 2005


"So, what are you afraid of?" she asked.
"The leap," he said.
"The what?" she asked again. She understood many things in life but one of the things she didn't understand was he.
"The leap. You know--taking the leap. It seems like this constant concern in my life. Like a reoccurring fear. It doesn't have to apply to a specific leap but just the general idea of it. Motivating myself to take that initial jump. It's very intimidating."
"Go on."
"Well, this question keeps popping up in my head; is it our hesitations and fears that are blinding us from realizing our true desires? Are they there right in front of our faces but we can't see them?"
"Like maybe our complacency forces us into denying ourselves of the truer things in life. The bigger picture."
"Yes. That's exactly it," he took another sip of his chamomile tea slightly burning his tongue on the hot water. "Ouch. It's hot--well...yeah...this is what I'm saying. We get comfortable in our comfort zone. It's so hard to move from a safe place. Who would want to subject himself or herself to uncertainly, to risk-taking, to chance? There is so much involved."
"Like what?"
"Like heartbreak, disappointment, frustration..."
"But there's always a chance that none of the sentiments will ever be experienced."
"True. Very true. But that's the risk. This is why the leap is hard because as much as you want to be a part of something wonderful and new, something truly great, there's always this thought in the back of your head like a pestering child tapping tapping tapping away reminding you that there is a possibility that you will walk out of this with certain scars. After all, you've experience them before--what makes you think this time is different?"
"That's such a negative attitude. You're like this cynical girl out of an Avril Lavigne song that thinks her life is one big drama. It's not always like that."
"But how do you find a medium. A spattering of skepticism in an overwhelmingly positive attitude."
"We're talking in too many ambiguities. I need examples."
"But that's exactly it. I'm not talking about anything specific. I'm talking about life as a whole. Where am I now?"
"In a bar."
"No. No. That's not what I mean. I mean it in a larger sense. Where am I in this world? Where did all the hours go that I could have written that book already, learned how to play guitar better, record an album, become better read? How did I let them all slip away? Because in some sense it all stems from not taking the leap. As the years go by, I lose my angst, my passion, my flexibility. I become a hardened branch with the only option of hardening further or ultimately breaking."
"Maybe fear is healthy though. Maybe insecurities and fear is what keeps us humble and angry. You can definitely tell the difference between passionate artists doing something because he or she believes in art. That song, that picture, that book--they're like children, birthed and raised, nurtured and loved. But you can tell the difference when someone becomes comfortable in their own skin. Life becomes a boring series of events. Pretty soon, you regress from a color television to a black and white photo."
"Staying hungry, eh?"
"No one says you have to know everything. No one says that the leap involves knowing what you're leaping into. I feel like that is a total misunderstanding. The fear, the doubt, the uncertainly--my friend! This is all what makes living worthwhile. Day to day, month to month. Life is a series of random events but be open to the randomness. The safety will not make room for that."
"So you're saying that once we aknowledge that taking the leap is the only certain thing about the leap...then we'll be more inclined to take them."
"Exactly. No one else is involved in the taking of a leap. If someone else was hypothetically involved then it becomes a push. You're being pushed. So ultimately the only person holding ourselves back from realizing our potential is ourself. Ego is nothing. Is that what keeps us back from confronting failure like a super villian? Not knowing what could happen...that is everything."
"Yes, ego. Why don't we take chances? Afraid of embarassment? Disappointment? Hurt feeling? Poo to all of them. When we believe in ourselves, our ability, none of that will matter."
"Remember those animals they told us about when we were kids? The ones that jumped off cliffs?"
"The lemmings?"
"Yeah...the lemmings. Well, I remember thinking how unfortunate thar was. That they would en masse take their own lives into their own paws or claws and just jump off a cliff."
"It does seem pretty ridiculous. Like almost a waste of an animal."
"Totally. What a waste."

Sunday, February 13, 2005


Kanye West really thinks he is indeed Jesus. The rapping newcomer from Chicago truly looks in the mirror and sees the son of Mary. Which is totally wrong because he's neither Jewish nor James Caviezel.

John Mayer wins a Grammy for "Daughters" which doesn't seem really fair considering he was already nominated for the same song last year. But only then it was called "Your Body Is A Wonderland."

Melissa Etheridge; thank you for the nightmares I will now have tonight.

Loretta Lynne is someone's grandmother.

Janis Joplin wins the Lifetime Acheivement Award after having been dead for over twenty years. Shouldn't they be honoring someone who actually had a lifetime?

When did Queen Latifah become a jazz singer? And could Da Brat pull of this transition as seamlessly?

When did we forget that James Brown is a convicted wife beater?

I'm only answering this question one more time: no, Gary Sinise and Anthony LaPalgia are not musicians.

"Across the Universe." Pronounced dead at 10:43 PM. Cause of Death: Butchering.

Sheryl Crow needs to put some clothes on because her body is, weird.

The President of the Grammy Association just walked up to the microphone....and now I'm watching the Family Guy.

Thursday, February 10, 2005


[to be continued]

Wednesday, February 09, 2005


Here are the top ten puns selected in the International Pun Convention. Enjoy.

1. A vulture boards an airplane, carrying two dead raccoons. The stewardess looks at him and says, "I'm sorry, sir, only one carrion allowed per passenger."

2. Two fish swim into a concrete wall. The one turns to the other and says,"Dam"!

3. Two Eskimos sitting in a kayak were chilly, so they lit a fire in the craft. Unsurprisingly it sank, proving once again that you can't have your kayak and heat it too.

4. Two hydrogen atoms meet. One says "I've lost my electron." The other says "Are you sure?" The first replies "Yes, I'm positive."

5. Did you hear about the Buddhist who refused Novocain during a root canal? His goal: transcend dental medication.

6. A group of chess enthusiasts checked into a hotel and were standing in the lobby discussing their recent tournament victories. After about an hour, the manager came out of the office and asked them to disperse. "But why?" they asked, as they moved off. "Because", he said, "I can't stand chess-nuts boasting in an open foyer."

7. A woman has twins and gives them up for adoption. One of them goes to a family in Egypt and is named "Ahmal." The other goes to a family in Spain; they name him "Juan." Years later, Juan sends a picture of himself to his birth mother. Upon receiving the picture, she tells her husband that she wishes she also had a picture of Ahmal. Her husband responds, "They're twins! If you've seen Juan, you've seen Ahmal."

8. These friars were behind on their belfry payments, so they opened up a small florist shop to raise funds. Since everyone liked to buy flowers from the men of God, a rival florist across town thought the competition was unfair. He asked the good fathers to close down, but they would not. He went back and begged the friars to close. They ignored him. So, the rival florist hired Hugh MacTaggart, the roughest and most vicious thug in town to "persuade" them to close. Hugh beat up the friars and trashed their store, saying he'd be back if they didn't close up shop. Terrified, they did so,
thereby proving that only Hugh can prevent florist friars.

9. Mahatma Gandhi, as you know, walked barefoot most of the time, which produced an impressive set of calluses on his feet. He also ate very little, which made him rather frail and with his odd diet, he suffered from bad breath. This made him (Oh, man, this is so bad, it's good)..... A super calloused fragile mystic hexed by halitosis.

10. And finally, there was the person who sent ten different puns to his friends, with the hope that at least one of the puns would make them laugh. No pun in ten did????

Tuesday, February 08, 2005


I am very proud to announce that Sup #14 is finally in stores. As Managing Editor of this incredible magazine, I am thrilled to have the content that we have whether it's interviews with the Arcade Fire, Dogs Die In Hot Cars, Keane, Bloc Party, etc or the Arguably Definitive Guide to Political Rock or Our Best of 2004 list, this is a wonderful and meaty issue. If you don't live near the stores below, you can also purchase a copy from our website at Help further our cause and we'll, in return, tell you what you should be listening to. We're good like that.
Thank you for your continued support and love. And hurry while supplies last.


Academy Records
Alife Rivington Club
Deitch Gallery Wooster
Fat Beats
I Heart
Kim's on St. Marks
Kim's Uptown
Knitting Factory
Mercury Lounge
Nom De Guerre
Other Music
Rock & Soul
Turntable Lab
Vice Store

Academy Records
Mini Mall

Thursday, February 03, 2005


Strange and Beautiful
(Red Ink)

Thom Yorke has lost his voice. Once there was a time when the lead singer of Radiohead had a monopoly on that unique falsetto, the one that could at some times lull you into calmness and at other times whip you into frenzy, but now it seems that every British bloke wants to be new Yorke. And with his first stateside release, Aqualung, aka Matt Hales, chooses to be just another sound-a-like. Hales’ fourth album, Strange And Beautiful, a compilation of his previous three European releases, will inevitably garner him the Coldplay, Travis and Keane comparisons but Hales’ melancholic voice and sparse arrangements, like on "Falling Out of Love" and the titular song, become monotonous and repetitive. Granted Strange And Beautiful may be a somewhat accurate descriptor but ultimately the album sounds like something—or someone—you’ve heard before.