Sunday, September 28, 2008

Indie Effects

Artist: Radiohead
Song: “House of Cards”
Rating: B

It’s probably the most-talked about music video of the year, a year where music videos almost, sadly, feel passé. But then Radiohead goes and pulls something slightly cool like this and everyone jumps onto YouTube to watch and enjoy.

I like this video. It’s cool and it fits the song well, and it really is something different from everything we’ve seen before, even with all of the CGI that floats along the music visual highways.

I really like the part, say about 1:20 into the video, when Thom’s head starts dissolving slowly. It’s pretty. Ultimately though, I can’t give this video an A; the scratchy rendering parts irritate me to no end.

BONUS: Watch the behind the scenes video, it too was pretty cool.

Friday, September 19, 2008

shut up shut up shut up

Artist: The Ting Tings
Song: “Shut Up and Let Me Go
Rating: D-

There’s so much to dislike about this video from catchy British duo, The Ting Tings. From the trippy, if not nauseating, triangle montage (a trick ripped straight from one of music’s more classic music videos), to the queasy color schemes and graphic slices to the retarded fight sequence halfway through.

Seriously, this video just sucks. It synchs up, but it’s horribly boring and naïve for a band who’s songs sound pretty damn good, so its a shame this video does it such terrible justice. I'd also like to comment on the desperate lack of sexual energy between Jules De Martino and Kate White (who is actually really hot), despite their obvious attempt to achieve that kind of tension to the level of The Kills. It just ain't happening here in this cut-and-paste craptastrophe. I give this video a low grade based on its massive lack of appeal. Really, there’s not much more to say.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Sit Outside and Dream review

Originally published in Scene Magazine, September 2008

CD: Sit Outside and Dream
Artist: WoolEye

Ever since Hendrix rocked 20 arms on the cover of Axis: Bold As Love, Hindu imagery has been psychedelic rock’s colorful totem. But don’t let the Tridevi on the cover of WoolEye’s latest effort fool you; the trippiness comes in bits and pieces.

While the far-off space guitar is present in a handful of tracks, Sit Outside and Dream is dominated by a boppy jazz rock sound, heard across the synth landscapes and hooky keyboard. What lifts WoolEye above the archetypal fusion four-piece is a willingness to dabble in genres far outside their range without compromising their jazz-based approach. Most of the time, it works.

Try the neon bluegrass sound of “Cherokee Bill” – though the lyrics feel uninspired, there’s something surprisingly fun about the rocking electric piano and guitar bridges.

The Technicolor techno-pop of “New York Spinnit” is aural deliciousness. The succulent synth keys bubble when mixed with vocalist Michael Rouse’s rock n’ roll drawl. It’s speedy and clever and catchy as hell. “Tune For The Sun” is another überfun stretch with vocals and piano embracing an Elton John elegance.

Occasionally, the genre-bending polish wears off and leaves the listener with a failed experiment - the stiff dub rock of “Snapback Fission” - or peculiar contemporary rock that takes way too long to pay off - the itchy “New Dawn Plowing”, which takes off about four minutes in, when the instrumentation picks up on that psychedelic flavoring mentioned earlier.

But you gotta give it to them; Sit Outside and Dream proves that as long as it fits, it doesn’t have to belong.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The iPod effect

Artist: Silversun Pickups
Song: “Well Thought Out Twinkles”
Rating: C-

I had the unexpected pleasure of seeing the Silversun Pickups take the stage at the gorgeous Red Rocks Amphitheatre this Saturday, in between Vampire Weekend and DeVotchKa. It was a gorgeous concert, but then again, every show you see at Red Rocks tends to be a chunk of splendor. Lead singer Brian Aubert, between songs: “This is probably the prettiest venue we’ve ever played.”

I loved the Pickups live; they thrashed to the beat and each performer seemed to have character (the crazy drummer, the shy bassist, the cool slick-haired guitarist/vocalist) but it is rather unfortunate that they couldn’t bring the same aesthetic to this video. I do realize it came out in 2006, so maybe they were just playing to the visual style of the time: washed-out figures rocking out to raw music, a style undoubtedly born of those quickly tiresome iPod commercials.

I watch this video, and that’s all I can think of- iPod commercials. C’mon guys, this is a pretty badass song. I suppose I’m glad they could’ve done worse; it’s scarily easy to picture the guy-chase-girl story that permeates some of the videos of some of the better songs out there. But this isn’t much better.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Common Anomaly

Originally published in Colorado Music Buzz, September 2008

It’s hard to tell if Nick LoFaro is joking when he lays out the pre-show ritual for his band, Common Anomaly.

The others laugh, but no one attempts to refute, so I let my guard down. “We don’t really try to drink any substances or drink or anything like that, but we all slap each other in the face before we go on stage,” LoFaro says, laughing.

This, they tell me, lounging in the parking lot behind the Aggie Theater, is just the typical brotherly love of the Common Anomaly family: Vocalist/guitarist LoFaro, synth keyboardist Ian Walsh, bassist Sean Joyce, and the true brothers of the pack, vocalist/guitarist/occasional violinist Paul Simmons and drummer Adam Simmons.

Listening to their style of catchy cruising garage rock, it’s not hard to imagine these five pelting one another till the energy is right.

But this isn’t screaming-mad music. The roots of Common Anomaly are actually set in the acoustics, beginning a year ago when LoFaro and the Simmons brothers first took their act to the stage.

“It was basically tailored to fit a small acoustic venue,” Adam noted. “A drum set would be a little too overpowering for that, so we did everything on a Jambe and acoustic guitars.”

The addition of Walsh “plugged our asses in”, as LoFaro describes, “to a huge sound scheme” and “a huge attitude and a lot more depth to a lot of our songs, which were originally very earthy at first”, while Joyce, who moved from Chicago to join the band in July, rounds it all out. While keeping a regular routine of shows in FoCo and Denver, these up-and-comers plan to start recording immediately at The Farm, a barn studio owned by FoCo musician Jonathan Alonzo.

The band says “family” is the term to describe the group’s chemistry, and expect it to be essential to churning out their debut album.

“(Family) gives you the opportunity to tell each other when we’re off or when we suck, or when we’re doing really well,” LoFaro says. “It’s flat honesty, hard love and good s#!t.”

I'm a Cat Cowboy

Artist: MGMT
Video: Time To Pretend
Rating: C

It isn't easy giving a less-than-stellar grade to the video of a song you happen to like, but I'm determined to remain firm in my writing. This smattering of clip art and cheesy computer graphics, brought to you by the boys of MGMT, does not deserve anything above a C+ (I took away half a grade because those assholes don't let users embed their video, and using a hyperlink is just so outdated these days, really.)

I'll admit, I got teeny tiny goosebumps early on into the video, when the drums kick in and we're treated to a sea of (who I'm guessing to be) Andrew VanWyngardens smashing away while lead singer Ben Goldwasser muses on. And the video plays along quite nicely with the song's concept of an imaginary life of excitement and meaning. Seeing Goldwasser (or maybe VanWyngarden... you can barely tell the fucking difference between the two) surf along the colorscape brought a smile to my face.

But trippiness is a little cliche, and because this song had so much potential, I believe the director just got lazy and scrambled on some "ironically cool" effects, synched it up with music, and the only real filming took place on some beach, where a group of ignorants dressed up like savages battling crab monsters (that released several hundred dolphins upon explosion, apparently) and riding giant cats.

And the constant barrage of images, ugh, it makes me a little queasy. Child psychologists, know this: the video for "Time To Pretend" is the kind of shit instills attention deficit disorder into 6-year-olds.

Thursday, September 11, 2008


ARTIST: Deerhunter

SONG: "Lake Somerset"


It'seasytocallthisshitbutiguesstheressomethingadmirableaboutdoingsomethingdifferentinthecasedressinguplikearetardaretardjayreatardandmakethisvideobutimonanothersugarbingeicantpeelmyowneyesoffanotherwinfor thefoggyfrontlinesinsideandalliguessthisvideoreallyisapersonificationofiraqortherussianinvasionofgeorgiaorthepeoplethatgotrunoverbyfranzferdinandshorsewhenhewasassasinatedbutidontcarethethingseemstosaywithhisgrufflookimjustgoingtosithereanditmypizza.

The Nerve Magazine writes:

“I wanted a video of a turtle eating a piece of pizza. A few days later I received a link to youtube in my e-mail,” Cox says. What he saw was a man dressed in a turtle suit eating pizza for almost four minutes. That’s it.

TLDR: Random makes not a good music video.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Your Money or Your Life

BAND: Adam & the Ants
SONG: "Stand and Deliver"

There are two reasons I cannot put this video at that treasured “A” grade, as trite as they might seem:
#1- The audio only really synchs with Adam Ant’s yapping jaws during the chorus.
#2- Somehow, this video pops into my head every single time I hear it. It kind of ruins the original mental imagery I had going originally (it involved spaceships.)

But who am I to care? The song is fucking fun, and the video almost lives up to its energy. I get the giggles every time Adam peers at me through the computer screen with his full-on goofiness. And there’s no denying the nostalgic charms of the early eighties production values.

For one, what the fuck is going on when Adam flies through the window during the King’s dinner? There seems to be at least five stand alone slow-motion sequences in this video, and that’s the only one that feels necessary throughout the “highwayman” bravado. During the slo-mo, our hero looks a little like Adam, but Adam mingled with a bit of bat DNA or some such shit. I cannot help but smile at that. Bravo!

BONUS: I highly suggest checking out Young Knives’ “Stand and Deliver” cover if you like fun.