The Sound Opinion
Music criticism, opinion and random thoughts
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May 25, 2007
New Blog- Letters Home From Camp
dudes...since myspace sucks & i have been completely lax in updating Sound Opinion...i've started a new blog...that hopefully i will update somewhat regularly....for your reading pleasure.... http://lettershomefromcamp.blogspot.com
Posted at 08:53 am by Sound_Opinion
Feb 3, 2007
Hey everyone. This is Ryan from 102.1. I wanted to ask the masses their thoughts about Modest Mouse.
My experience with Modest Mouse: I missed the boat when they were truly an indie band. And I still usually plead ignorance when it comes to the band pre 2001.
But I know people that WERE really into Modest Mouse back then. And when Good News For People Who Love Bad News came out, they abhorred it. And they hated the concert tour to promote that CD. I don't know if they just didn't like the material, or if they were just upset that Modest Mouse wasn't their little band anymore...for whatever the reason, I don't think I had ever seen so many diehard fans turn on a band like that.
Enter Johnny Marr. Enter We Were Dead Before The Ship Even Sank. Enter "Dashboard".
What do you think of the state of Modest Mouse? Do you have a sense what the old school MM fans think of the new song? Honestly, I like it a lot, and I'm glad that we play it on a somewhat regular basis at the station. But I'm interested to see what the people in the trenches (yes, you reading this) think.
Posted at 05:25 pm by Top Ten Albums
Jan 15, 2007
E$'s Girlfriend's Top Ten
For those of you who don't know me, my name is Annie a.k.a E Money's girlfriend. My tastes are a little "blunter" than my significant other's, so here goes...Ann's rawkin top 10.
10. Impeach my Bush - Peaches
The title alone amuses me enough to put this on my list. And what can I say, I'm the kind of juvenile who still giggles when she hears songs like "Tent in my Pants" and "Rock the Shocker". But seriously, the electronic stuff is fun and her more punk-rock pieces like "Boys Wanna Be Her", "You Love It", and "Give 'Er" are exceptional.
9. At War With the Mystics - The Flaming Lips
The kind of album that makes me wish I had a few tabs of acid in my freezer. Fun, all the way through. The first album I have probably ever bought where the instrumental track was my favorite - but "The Wizard turns on the Giant Silver Flashlight and Puts on his Werewolf Moccasins" is three and a half minutes of pure funkiness, and I love it.
8. Show Your Bones - Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Karen O is holding it down for all the hardcore ladies out there. Just a lovely rock voice combined with great guitar and great lyrics. I love her because she's a warrior, and sometimes she does get bigger than the sound.
7. Ta-Dah - Scissor Sisters
Guilty pleasure here...I wanted to hate this group so much, but I can't fight it. If JT is bringing sexy back, these cats are bringing disco back. They basically just grabbed the baton from Elton John. This is the kind of album I love to dance to, but only when nobody's watching. I guess the secret's out though.
6. Yes, Virginia... - The Dresden Dolls
Hooray for brechtian punk cabaret! Amanda Palmer is one fiesty little pianist, and Brian Viglione is the sickest drummer around. This album makes me want to laugh, cry, fight, drink, wake up and do it all over again. Badass live show, and officially the best boy/girl duo since the White Stripes (who they hilariously impersonated at an excellent show at the Metro - Amanda was Jack, Brian was Meg, and they did a great rendition of "My Doorbell"). Also, their live cover of "War Pigs" is frigging' awesome.
5. Senor Smoke / Switzerland - Electric Six
Electric Six put out two albums this year, and frankly I couldn't pick between the two. Senor Smoke is a just exciting disco rock while Switzerland is gritty and nasty. Dick Valentine's scratchy, deep voice is probably the best in rock right now. Also I have to give it up for the lyrics on both of these albums. Highlights: From I wish this song was Louder: "The need to turn it up is overwhelming". From Germans in Mexico: Sing Everybody, Deutsche Deutsche! Vaya con dios, amigos! From Rock and Roll Evacuation: "Mr. President I don't like you...you don't know how to rock!" FYI these guys are from Detroit...so you know, you're welcome.
4. Broken Boy Soldiers - The Raconteurs
So obviously I am a little skewed here, what with my Detroit-ness, but good God I love Jack White. I miss the Stripes, but an outing with the boys has done the Jackster a world of good. Bluesy grooves with a touch of twang. For me, this became an instant classic.
3. Public Warning - Lady Sovereign
The brits have a few things to teach us in the ways of hip hop. The biggest midget in the game's long awaited first full album was everything I hoped for and more - the kind of album you put on at a party to get things started. It has moments that make you want to dance, and moments that make you want to mosh. It packs a superb flow and hot beats in a tiny package.
2. Death by Sexy - Eagles of Death Metal
Have you ever listened to an album and thought, did I fantasize this so hard it became real? That's how I felt when I listened to these guys for the first time - they're my ideal. Cheezy cock rock with some meat to it, with just the right amount of swagger. The best tounge in cheek album all year. Jesse "Boots Elecrtic" Hughes put the sex back in rock n' roll and, Josh Homme let us know he's better than us at drums as well as all the other instruments he rocks.
1. The Hardest Way to Make an Easy Living - The Streets
Latin phrases? Instructions on conning the dishonest? How to's on making art of a trashed hotel room? No one can accuse Mike "The Streets" Skinner of rapping about the same old crap. I remember someone playing the Streets for me years and I thought they were crap. Randy, I owe you an apology. This album is touching, exciting, and funny. Skinner has matured and it shows in his music, but it's clear he's still figuring things out and enjoying the journey.
Light Grenades - Incubus
What can I say, it speaks to my 18 year old sensibilities. Brandon Boyd continues to have an impressive voice. It didn't make it on this list because I feel like I'm outgrowing this band, and because the track Love Hurts is inexcusable sucky. I don't know what they were thinking, keeping that crap on the record.
Posted at 08:13 pm by Top Ten Albums
Jan 13, 2007
Hello all. Hope the new year is going well for everyone. 2006 was a great year for music, and without further ado, the ten best albums of 2006.
10. The Decemberists- The Crane Wife
I'm admittedly late to the Decemberists bandwagon, but after hearing this effort, I'm definitely on that bandwagon. Very diverse shifting from poppy to shanties to prog to hard rock effortlessly. A very good listen
9. The Strokes- First Impression of Earth
I don't know what took the Strokes so long, but they finally found a producer that makes them sound like the dark rock band that they are. It may or may not have their strongest songs yet, but the sound is huge, the album grabs you and shakes you silly. The perfect example of what the right producer can do with the right band
8. Pearl Jam- Pearl Jam
Riot Act was definitely a let down, but Pearl Jam more than make up for it with this effort. The songs are tight, and the playing inspired. Lean and stripped down, Pearl Jam show they can still rock with the best of them
7. The Dresden Dolls- Yes, Vriginia.....
Probably one of the most interesting bands out there. Also one of those bands you definitely have to see live to fully appreciate. Although some of the lyrics are lacking, the melodies and playing are very strong. Brian Viglione is one of rock's great secret weapons on drums
6. Broken Social Scene- Broken Social Scene
This album missed the cutoff for this list by 2 weeks, but I didn't get it until this year, so I'm including it! Definitely one of the more exciting bands in indie rock right now, they can sound ramshackle, but incredibly coherent at the same time. Highlight is the epic closer "It's all going to Break"
5. The Walkmen- A Hundred Miles Off
WIth this album, the Walkmen officially made thier way into my top ten favorite band status. There's a 3 album limit for that club by the way. No one is better at capturing that feeling you get about 3:30 in the moring and you're watching tv convincing yourself that you should have some water, but end up getting that next beer anyways
4. The Secret Machines- Ten Silver Drops
I really can't believe that this album wasn't on anyone elses's list. They could be our generation's Pink Floyd. Just great, swirling psychadelia that rocks when it has to, but can also be just above a whisper. Amazing live band as well.
3. Gnarls Barkley- St. Elsewhere
So, I think it's time we really start asking ourselves if we are seeing the next genius right in front of our eyes. After the Gray Album, the last Gorillaz album, adn stuff like Danger Doom, I think Danger Mouse officially is a genius. Also, "Crazy" was the song of the year by far. Don't bother arguing, I won't listen
2. Band of Horses- Everything all the Time
The amazing thing about this album isn't it's originality, but the fact that Band of Horses are so freaking good at what they do. Everything All the Time is just simply the best overall collection of songs that came out this year.
1. Comets on Fire- Avatar
Wow, this is definitely my best find this year. This album is flat out intense. Unabashedly classic rock, think of Led Zeppelin covering Phish songs. Roaring vocals, searing guitars and drums that threaten to injure you. From the head spinning rock of "Dogwood Rust" to the smoldering blues of Lucifer's Memory, this is the album of the year. Take a chance on this one, you will not be disappointed
Posted at 10:40 pm by Top Ten Albums
Dec 29, 2006
ERIN HEATHS FAVORITE ALBUMS of 2006
Drumroll please... In no particular order, here are my most fabulous albums of 2006
Tapes n Tapes- The Loon
Beirut- A Gulag Orkestar
The Walkmen- A Hundred Miles Off
Destroyer- Destroyer's Rubies
TV on the Radio- Return to Cookie Mountain
Grizzly Bear- Yellow House
Badly Drawn Boy- Born in the UK
The Decemberists- A Crane Wife
Yo La Tengo- Im Not Afraid of you and I will beat your ASS!
Camera Obscura- Let's Get Out of this Country
The Format- Dog Problems
Band of Horses- Everything All The Time
Posted at 07:53 pm by Top Ten Albums
1. Destroyer- Destroyer’s Rubies
2. Belle and Sebastian- The Life Pursuit
3. The Walkmen- A Hundred Miles Off
4. Islands- Return to the Sea
5. Cat Power- The Greatest
6. Crystal Skulls- Outgoing Behavior
7. Midlake- The Trials of VanOccupanther
8. Tapes & Tapes- The Loon
9. Joanna Newsom- Y’s
10. The Decemberists- The Crane Wife
Sprinkle in albums below and you have Chad's Top Ten of 2006
Ratatat- Classics, Hot Chip- The Warning, Beirut- The Gulag Orkestar,
Band of Horses- Everything All the Time
Posted at 04:38 am by Top Ten Albums
Dec 28, 2006
1. Belle & Sebastian: The Life Pursuit
2. M. Ward: Postwar
3. Flaming Lips: At War with the Mystics
4. Hot Chip: The Warning
5. Jenny Lewis & the Watson Twins: Rabbit Fur Coat
6. The Decemberists: The Crane Wife
7. Camera Obscura: Let's Get Out of This Country
8. Yeah Yeah Yeahs: Show Your Bones
9. jarvis: jarvis
10. Neko Case: Fox Confessor Brings the Flood
Honorable mentions (disqualified for technical reasons and skullduggery):
Tom Waits: Orphans (B-sides)
Sufjan Stevens: The Avalanche (Outtakes)
The Shins: Wincing the Night Away (Not out)
Posted at 10:30 pm by Top Ten Albums
Kevin Brandt - Top CD choices 2006
As I begin, I would like to apologize in advance for my lack of insight into the world of music. I am not an afficianado by any stretch of the imagination. I just like the music that I like. Unfortunately, it takes a while for me to get to current music or for the current music to grow on me. That being said, here are a few selections that stood out for me personally this year.
Bruce Springsteen – We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions
The last time I heard “Old Dan Tucker”, Steve Zahn was singing it to a group of aspiring seven year-old beauty queens in the movie “Happy Texas”. I have to say that Bruce’s version is much more compelling. Being a lifelong hardcore Springsteen fan, I approached this compilation with much trepidation. After the first listen I was hooked. As I have said on many occasions, take Bruce out of the equation and this is still a flat out great album. A collection of great forgotten stories that
Willy Porter – Available Light
It is unfortunate that people in Milwaukee think of Willy Porter as a “local” musician. Anyone who has the opportunity to listen to his work or see his performance will concur that Willy is truly one of the best singer/songwriters of his generations. His ability to take simple ideas like wiping out on a pedal bike in “Loose Gravel” or just remembering your dad (Me and My Old Man) provide an intimate connection to the music. They say everyone has a gift given from God and it is up to them to find it. I for one am thankful that Willy found his.
Glen Phillips – Mr. Lemons
I loved Glen as the leader of Toad the Wet Sprocket and I love him just as much as a solo artist. Mr Lemons, is his latest release and in true Phillips songwriting form addresses love, spirituality the the frailness of the human condition. Nothing spectacular here other than a nice listen and a very interesting re-arrangement of the Huey Lewis hit “I Want a New Drug”. If you like Glen you’ll like this. If you don’t, that’s cool too.
Mary Karlzen – The Wanderlust Diaries
Having played with Mary for a couple years I have develop a deep affinity for her music and talent. While this album will not be released until 2007 (Dualtone, has pushed the release date back), the initial cuts that have been released are indicative of her exceptional songwriting skill. Songs like “Friends Along the Way” and “Oh My’” capture the range of emotions found in relationships both good and bad. The album also offers two great covers – Tom Waits’ “The Heart of Saturday Night” and The Replacements “Skyway”. In both instances, her voice fits perfectly with the music and the mood of the songs. While not officially a best of for 2006, this will be a must have for 2007.
Posted at 09:04 pm by Top Ten Albums
Dec 27, 2006
so much music... so little time.
Thanks go to Matt for initiating this "all things music" year end review. And thanks to a world where we get to listen to music all of the time and call it "work".
10. TV on the Radio - The new PROG! This is a headphone record, made for a new generation of headphoners. Underneath all of the fun and sound is a very political cd and one of the most musically liberated recordings in a long time.
9. Belle & Sebastian/The Life Pursuit - This is the sound of a band continuing to evolve its sound without sacrificing its core identity. While their melodic hooks are huge, it's the lyrics that draw me in deeper and make this a top 10 CD. Like some kind of drug, this bands sunny sound always makes me smile.
8. Joanna Newsome/Ys - You have to be willing to let it all go and take the journey to see what's at the end of the map, here. Van Dyke Parks has led epic journeys before with other unique partners (Brian Wilson) and like those recordings, Ys is demanding but rewarding. "Emily" opens the album quietly with Parks' strings poking in and around Newsome's vocal melodies and sets the tone for this adventure. With Steve Albini sitting behind the recording decks, and Jim O'Rourke adding sonic colors, this CD is worth the investment of the time and belief it takes to discover its beauty.
7. The Decemberists/The Crane Wife - Full of whimsy, ambition and erudition (no review of a Decemberists CD should be without a word that you need to look up!). The voice, intelligence and smarty pants humor of Colin Meloy always reminds me of Robin Hitchcock (and I am hoping that this will cause a resurgence in Robin's career), but "The Crane Wife" stands alone, full of gothic romance, 19th-century balladry and high-flying language. I don't know when this kind of stuff became cool... but hooray!
6. Calexico/Garden Ruin - Initially, the straight forward sound of "Garden Ruin" comes as a shock, given the bands past music filled with rich and strange soundscapes (can you say mariachi?). But after tossing aside my expectations, "Garden Ruin" shows that the bands real power all along has been their song writing, which "Garden Ruin" highlights beautifully. Mean and beautiful can be a good thing.
5. Cat Power/The Greatest - Nakedly honest. Confessional. But somehow distant. Lots of room for the songs to breath on what is a brilliant choice for a a pairing; Chan Marshall and the Memphis ghost of the great original Al Green recordings. Understated country soul, muttered and slurred as only she can. I may have played this CD more than any other all year.
4. Ray LaMontagne/Till the Sun Turns Black - His deep, painful and instantly recognizable rasp carries the conviction and intensity of a man who has a Hellhound on his tail. His first CD was a sparse effort that focused solely on his voice. "Till the Sun Turns Black" features delicately arranged strings, horns and organs that serve to show that his voice reaches well beyond the first recording. There is no hit single, like "Trouble" here and believe it or not, this record and his career are all the better for it. This CD stands tall on the shoulders of all of the songs on it, not just one. His career, white hot from the strength of that hit song, now will be allowed to take its own time to become whatever he wants it to be. While I do worry that he will succumb to his demons, I revel in the beauty and honesty that they create.
3. Jenny Lewis with the Watson Twins/Rabbit Fur Coat - Hooray for Jenny Lewis. Hooray for Mike Mogis. Hurray for Matt Ward. Acoustic country gospel has never been so beautiful and... who else can sing so sweetly with swear words? Jenny Lewis is like a modern-day Laura Nyro and each of these songs tells a beautiful story, enhanced by the David Lynch-like harmonies of the Watson twins. This CD sounded great right out of the box and incredibly, it gets even better with every listen.
2. Neko Case/Fox Confessor - As good as this CD is, I find it amazing that Neko Case has been ignored for all of these years prior after some very strong recordings. It's almost as if this CD was so powerful that she could not be denied bigger awareness this time. Not that she campaigned for it, but she was on the covers of the right magazines and she deserved them. The depth of the music and instrumentation on this CD is amazing. The quality of the recording as well. This would be the best CD of the year, were it not for... M. Ward.
1. M. Ward/Post War - Knowing the title of this CD in advance, it was tempting to assume that Post-War was a scathing take on Bush's America after Iraq. I am not disappointed at all to say that it is not. These stories internal and small do not take on terrorists and politicians, but instead they detail our most intimate relationships with friends, lovers and acquaintances. He expresses the power, vulnerability and hopeFULLness of love ever so simply in "Poison Cup" by saying: "If love is a poison cup, then drink it up." This complex simplicity is beautiful in his poetic delivery and it resonates throughout "Post War", making this my recording of the year (and who sings background vocals on it??? Neko Case, of course!).
almoooooost... top 10, but not quite.
My Morning Jacket/Okonokos - Okay, it was a live CD, which I know are NOT eligible for top 10 status... but there are NO RULES for honorable mentions, right Matt? Having heard so many live Wilco recordings prior to their live cd's release, "Kicking Television" was kind of a letdown for me. But, "Okonokos" added more roads to the MMJ journey for me. These guys are simply the greatest band in the world.
Pearl Jam/ Pearl Jam - Nobody rails at Bush better than PJ. And this time they do it with vigor AND restraint (and compassion). This CD should have been enough to embarrass Bob Dylan out of his stint as a spokesmodel for Victoria's Secret and back onto the road of social change... but it was not. Shame on you, Bob and thank you, Pearl Jam.
Black Angels/Passover - An intense, mind-numbing work of sixties-tinged hard rock. Like their song, "The First Vietnamese War", this music speaks of today, using the past as an interpreter.
Silversun Pickups/Carnavas - I really liked "Pikul" because it dared to sound like todays version of another era, with no fear of people comparing it to other vegetables... oops, I mean bands. Than "Carnavas" comes out and all I can do is compare it to you know who.
Band of Horses/Everything All the Time - In a weird way, they are like a distant relative of MMJ (they may have listened to "It Still Moves", you think?). I really liked the vibe of the CD when I first heard it and then it just kinda lost steam with me. Still a nice surprise when it pops up on the shuffle or on KEXP.
and to sum the year up nicely.. i'll let the wisdom of the church sign speak to us all...
Posted at 05:03 pm by Top Ten Albums
Dec 22, 2006
CJ's Top Ten Albums of 2006
10. The Submarines - Declare a New State!
"Declare a New State!" is what happens when an ex-boyfriend and ex-girlfriend get back together to share their songs about eachother. Yeah, the concept sounds crazy, but the music is actually good. It's kinda sappy and laid back, but full of truthful and introspective lyrics. . . lame, I know, but we've all been there before.
9. The Yeah Yeah Yeah's - Show Your Bones
As a band, they've come a long way from "Fever to Tell," without really losing too much of the old Yeah Yeah Yeah's edge. They still rock out on some tracks, while Karen-O shows that she does have a sensitive side too.
8. Tokyo Police Club - A Lesson in Crime
The new Brooklyn kids' debut that is full of slick, bouncy, head bobbin' bass lines and quirky lyrics. Like nothing I've ever heard before.
7. Cold War Kids - Robbers & Cowards
Cool poppy and catchy indie songs with some grown-up lyrics. . .they don't sound like kids to me. Filled with nice, dirty guitar riffs. . .Almost what the White Stripes could sound like with a full band.
6. Ratatat - Classics
Head bobbin' downtempo with smooth guitar riffs. It's classified as electronic, but it sounds about 80% analog to me. It's stylistically all over the board, from the Southwest twang of "Montanita," to the Sgt. Pepper-y "Tropicana," to the Castlevannia-esque "Tacobel Canon." Reminiscent of RJD2 circa "Since We Last Spoke."
5. The Strokes - First Impressions of Earth
Keeping their garage rock roots alive, while evolving ever so slightly. They finally put out a bit of a slow, sensitive, introspective song with "Ask Me Anything."
4. Hot Chip - Warning
Paul McCartney meets the Beta Band, slathered in Lemon Jelly. Full of synths and digital handclaps. . . enough to keep all of those 80's kids happy.
3. The Black Keys - Magic Potion
Chock full of solid, catchy old school blues riffs. . . even more than their duo peers, the White Stripes?. Possibly. The Black Keys seem to never disappoint in keeping solid old blues alive and rockin.
2. Phoenix - It's Never Been Like That
They seem to have come a long way from their disco/pop roots. Overall, a very successfull indie-rock album from a bunch of French dudes. You will never lose interest. . . great album from start to finish.
1. The Shins - Wincing the Night Away
Yeah, I know, this album hasn't even come out yet. But I've been listening to it non-stop for almost 2 months now. . .Unbelievable. . .definitely an indie masterpiece. . . you'll see.
Casiotone for the Painfully Alone - Etiquette
Arctic Monkeys - Whatever People Say. . .
M.Ward - Post-War
The Raconteurs - Broken Boy Soldiers
Mason Jennings - Boneclouds
Posted at 08:12 pm by Top Ten Albums