Alternate Tuning

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Location: Charlottesville, Virginia, United States

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

This Is Not Acceptable

But, oh, only kidding, so it doesn't matter. I'll let it go with these responses from some smart writers here and here.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

I knew my writing lacked merit, but my looks?

Someone sent me this way today:

You would think Spektor fans would have a better sense of irony...

Oh, the review in question can be found here. I always reply to letters from readers, but either these were never sent or they're stuck in email purgatory.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Hey Canucks, Got What It Takes?

Probably not, but I'd be way more into this than American Idol...

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

New Releases This Week

At the Drive-In -- Anthology: This Station Is Non-Operational (Fearless)
Belle and Sebastian -- Push Barman to Open Old Wounds (Matador)
Alex Chilton -- Live in Anvers 2003 (Rykodisc)
Common -- Be (Interscope)
Robert Cray -- Twenty (Sanctuary) 3/5
Lucero -- Nobody's Darlings (East West) 2.5/5
Stephen Malkmus -- Face the Truth (Matador) 3/5
Meat Beat Manifesto -- At the Center (Thirsty Ear)
Shout Out Louds -- Howl Howl Gaff Gaff (Capitol) 3/5
Sleater-Kinney -- The Woods (Sub Pop) 3.5/5
Sparrow -- The Early Years (Absolutley Kosher) 3/5
Maria Taylor -- 11:11 (Saddle Creek)

Monday, May 23, 2005

Pick of the Week (5/23/05)

Dinosaur Jr. -- Where You Been (Warner Brothers) 1993

So you haven't listened to this album since you were a teenager abstaining from coolness and gym class? Isn't time you put it back on?

Friday, May 20, 2005

Cober-Lake on Marcus on Dylan

My review of the new Greil Marcus book on Dylan's "Like a Rolling Stone" is up today at PopMatters. Verdict: it's very good.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

New Releases This Week

Clearlake -- Wonder if the Snow Will Settle EP (Domino) 4/5
The Deathray Davies -- The Kick and the Snare (Glurp) 3.5/5
Robbie Fulks -- Georgia Hard (Yep Roc) 4/5
Memphis Bleek -- 534 (Def Jam)
Mercury Rev -- The Secret Migration (V2)
Van Morrison -- Magic Time (Geffen)
Nudge -- Cached (Kranky)
The Rocket Summer -- Hello, Good Friend (The Militia Group)
Superpitcher -- Today (Kompakt)
Paul Westerberg -- Besterberg: The Best of Paul Westerberg (Rhino)

I Can't Write Either

For the record, I just criticized another writer, but my last review (on the Magneta Lane) degenerated into typo-laced mid-level rant:

I'm disappointed in myself, too, especially since I was expecting some public response to this. I think I raise important issues about the critical application, artistic presentation, and mainstream fear of feminism, but it's all kinda garbled. Anyhow, the thoughts are there if you're into digging...

I'm taking comfort in the fact that nothing is f*cked, dude. ;)

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Case Study: Robbie Fulks and Georgia Hard

How to write a good review:

1) Have a knowledge of your subject
2) Use good prose
3) Do a close reading of some lyrics
4) Contextualize
5) Be insighful

How to write a bad review:

1) Confuse country, alt-country, and roots-rock
2) Listen to the cd once while doing something else
3) Completely ignore lyrics

For the record, I quite like this album, despite not generally liking country that much (a senseless bias, I'm sure, based on my enjoyment of most things folky or twangy).

Monday, May 16, 2005

Pick of the Week 5/16/05

Straitjacket Fits -- Blow (Arista/Flying Nun) 2003

More Flying Nun goodness. They've got a pop grounding, but noisier and dirtier. In some ways these guys remind me of Sonic Youth, but I'm not quite satisfied with that comparison. Surprisingly, this album tops Melt, which is also quite impressive.

It was my last listen before bed last night, and the first disc I played this morning. And I got it used for under $4.

Punk for Good

Here's a forthcoming release with proceeds going to an MS charity:

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Again with the Fiction

Due to popular dissent, I gave Spoon's Gimme Fiction a more dedicated listen. My initial response to the album was "It's good, but boring in spots." I now have a higher opinion of it, but I'm still not getting what the fuss is all about. It's a quality album, certain to make my year-end top-40, but there are too many dud tracks for me to really get into it. Are all you fans really playing this start-to-finish everytime?

My skippers: "Two Sides," "The Delicate Place," and "Was It You". The ones that really stick with me as standouts: "Beast...Dragon," "I Turn My Camera On," and "Mathematical Mind" (which was awesome live).

I can't stand by my earlier thoughts of boringness, though. There's a low level intensity that grinds throughout the album, and Gimme Fiction as you'd expect from Spoon, shows a great deal of craft (one of my favorite moments is the way the piano plays on that chord change at the beginning of "Beast" -- it comes out of nowhere but sounds perfect).

So give one to the Spoon-ers in that my opinion of the album has gone up (even if I stick with my somewhat-flippant 3.5/5 rating). I'd rank this one below Kill the Moonlight but above Girls Can Tell.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

A Music Nerd Must-Read

Neal Pollack's Never Mind the Pollacks is the funniest book-length satire I've ever read on rock and rock criticism. And even though that sounds like a narrow category, if you're into rockcrit at all (or rock history), you should pick this up. Pollack's fictional version of himself (as narrated by an overly intellectual colleague) introduces Iggy Pop to decadence, helps Elvis with his tunes, and competes for Joan Baez's love (or at least her body). The game would wear thin if it lasted much longer, but Pollacks jabs and over-the-toppery manages well for the book's short duration.

Worth one Book-It! star.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

New Releases This Week

Athlete -- Tourist (Astralwerks)
Boredoms -- Seadrum/House of Sun (Vice) 2.5/5
Electrelane -- Axes (Beggars Group)
FannyPack -- See You Next Tuesday (Tommy Boy)
Gush -- NÖRRKÖPING (Touch and Go)
Hal -- Hal (Rough Trade)
The Headphones -- The Headphones (Touch and Go)
MC5 - Are You Ready to Testify?: The Live Bootleg Anthology (Sanctuary)
Picastro -- Metal Cares (Polyvinyl) 2.5/5
Platinum Pied Pipers -- Triple P (Ubiquity)
The Robot Ate Me -- Carousel Waltz (Kill Rock Stars) 3.5/5
Sloan -- A Sides Win: Singles 1992-2005 (Koch)
Spoon -- Gimme Fiction (Merge) 3.5/5
Weezer -- Make Believe (Geffen)

Monday, May 09, 2005

Pick of the Week (5/9/05)

Bubba Sparxxx -- Deliverance (Interscope) 2003

It's country hip-hop, and absolutely not gimmicky, which is what I had expected until enough trustworthy people recommended it to me.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Deep Thoughts with M.I.A.

PopMatters has an absolutely amazing feature on M.I.A up today. She's been written about somewhat extensively for an indie act, but this is the best piece I've seen on it (and, yeah, I'm biased, but really this is great):

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Wasn't This Settled Years Ago??

Is this really where we're at these days? From

School board bans band from performing 'Louie Louie'

May 5, 2005, 7:21 AMBENTON HARBOR, Mich. (AP) -- A pop culture controversy that has simmered for decades came to a head when a middle school marching band was told not to perform "Louie Louie." Benton Harbor Superintendent Paula Dawning cited the song's allegedly raunchy lyrics in ordering the McCord Middle School band not to perform it in Saturday's Grand Floral Parade, held as part of the Blossomtime Festival. In a letter sent home with McCord students, Dawning said "Louie Louie" was not appropriate for Benton Harbor students to play while representing the district -- even though the marching band wasn't going to sing it. Band members and parents complained to the Board of Education at its Tuesday meeting that it was too late to learn another song, The Herald-Palladium of St. Joseph reported. "It's very stressful for us to try to come up with new songs for the band," eighth-grader Laurice Martin told the board. "We're trying to learn the songs from last year, but some of us weren't in the band last year." Dawning said that if a majority of parents supports their children playing the song, she will reconsider her decision. "It was not that I knew at the beginning and said nothing," Dawning said. "I normally count on the staff to make reliable decisions. I found out because a parent called, concerned about the song being played." "Louie Louie," written by Richard Berry in 1956, is one of the most recorded songs in history. The best-known, most notorious version was a hit in 1963 for the Kingsmen; the FBI spent two years investigating the lyrics before declaring they not only were not obscene but also were "unintelligible at any speed."

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

New Releases This Week

Caribou - The Milk of Human Kindness (Domino)
Mike Daughty - Haughty Melodic (Ato)
Elkland - Golden (Sony) 2.5/5
The Go-Betweens - Oceans Apart (Yep Roc)
The Hold Steady - Separation Sunday (French Kiss)
Aimee Mann - The Forgotten Arm (Superego)
Mice Parade - Bem-Vinda Vontade (Bubble Core) 3.5/5
Nouvelle Vague - Nouvelle Vague (Peacefrog) 3/5
The Ponys - Celebration Castle (In the Red) 3.5/5*
Populous - Queue for Love (Morr Music) 3/5
The Raveonettes - Pretty in Black (Sony)
V/A - I Love Guitar Wolf (Narnack)

*The third comment below my review is a bit overstated, but awesome nonetheless.

The Stycast

If you haven't been doing it already, you need to start getting your daily dose of the Stycast.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

The Geniusness of Bright Eyes

Thanks to JH for this link:

Monday, May 02, 2005

Pick of the Week (5/2/05)

Beat Happening -- Jamboree (K / Sub Pop) 1988

A messy, lo-fi album that's one of those albums you have to know before a record shop would hire you. Somehow, it plays as if none of the members have much talent (and little sense of pitch), yet it ends up being impressive.