Wednesday, October 29, 2008

My band is no ripoff

I had a good laugh when it happened to Avril Lavigne.
I can't remember a more exaggerated smirk pooling on my face then the time it happened to the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
Probably the best musical ripoff to ever take place? Well, that'd be when Nickelback ripped off themselves. Nothing will ever fucking top that.

But for one of my favorite bands of all time to get hit with that painful accusation of plagerism? Say it ain't so!

I'll let you read the article for the details, but basically this guy is charging that the riff off of The Hives' "Tick Tick Boom" is lifted off of a track he put together in the late 90's. This story ends with a sigh of relief though; take a quick listen to the opening sections of both tracks and it's easy to tell that, while the riff is indeed somewhat similar, it's clear these are two completely different songs. Chalk up another for the Swedes.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Live Review: Santogold, Mates of State, Trouble Andrew

Note: I didn't happen to take the video, that honor belongs to YouTube user adventurefit. I'm sure he/she won't mind a few more views, right?

I traveled down to Denver’s almost-intimate Gothic Theatre for a three-act show earlier this October: pseudo-rock group Trouble Andrew, indie rock duo Mates of State and then headliner Santogold.

While its structure and acoustics might not be much different from several other Denver venues (it has an odd similarly to The Ogden Theatre in that the standing room sections is divided into thirds while special VIP high rises line the walls), the Gothic generally showcases college radio acts and as such, typically draws a young and eccentric crowd. The sound carries well in the Gothic’s high hall, but to really watch the show is to stand in the front section. There, one’s ears can surf on the finest timbre while dancing with the crowd.

Opening act Trouble Andrew was undoubtedly the weakest act of the night, barely rousing the crowd members out of their stand still positions with their quirky downbeat skateboarder jams. Lead singer Trouble played up a strong stage presence, talking with the crowd and promoting the acts that were to follow. But it couldn’t excuse the fact that Trouble’s pitch couldn’t keep in tune with the backing guitar or bass melodies, and he constantly struggled with his intervals. I was particularly disappointed to listen to the offbeat live version of “Chase Money”, a song where Trouble’s uptempo delivery flows perfectly with the mellowed out melody. At the Gothic, however, he could barely keep up.

Following Trouble Andrew was Mates of State, a band I had only experienced a couple of times prior to the show, never really forming much of an impression. They did a decent live show, the two never moving from behind their microphones and Casio keyboards. Harmony is an essential in the music of Mates of State, who put forth forward energy throughout their set, their songs often lapsing into one another. Their set, which kept a fluffy up-tempo dissonance, was a stark contrast to the previous moodiness, throttling me into a bubblier attitude. By the end of this set, I was dancing along with the erratic nigh-nonmetric fills.

In the moments before Santogold took the stage, two schoolgirl uniformed dancers wearing oversized sunglasses high-kneed their way on, exciting the crowd with a minute-long synchronized stiff dance. They’d flank Santogold for the rest of the night, purveyors of minimalism in a setting that flickered between drone dub and jungle dance beats.

Santogold’s standout performance was “LES Artistes”, a fan-favorite track that builds off a mixed meter electro-percussion beat, eventually blooming into an orchestral synth chorus. Santogold nailed her vocal accentuations, allowing me a newer pleasant access to the hope-under-stress emotions I was filled with during my first listen earlier this year.

The only disappointment of the show was a decision to perform a bare-bones version of “Lights Out”; Santogold turned a song that has pretty pop chorus and succinct guitar riff into an acoustic solo vocal performance of the opening verse, and then promptly transitioning into the next song’s melody. When an artist performs a stripped-down version of their song, he/she owes it to their fans to make sure it sounds good without a backing beat and the other six-sevenths of the song.

She closed out the set (excluding her unspectacular encore) with jungle blaster “Creator”, inviting up some colorful characters from the very front up on stage to dance along with her. Santogold navigated through the crowded stage fairly easily, dropping each verse with a smile on her face and an occasional laugh at one goofy guy she stared down during delivering the final zipping verse.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Reject Responsibility!

Artist: Tom Waits

Song: "I Don't Want To Grow Up"

Rating: B

Ok, I fucking hate videos that get some guy and dress him up and have him run around like a moron, like the devil in the first minute of this video. It'd be the death knell for this unusual video for a song that feels a little run-of-the-mill. But damn, I laughed when Tom Waits emerged from the curtains onto that tiny stage. He's a kind of weirdness all artists going for avant-garde should study before they even put their pencils to the stanzas.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Xiren undergoes strange journey in 08

Originally published in Colorado Music Buzz Magazine, October 2008

Considering the scams, bus crashes and wedding vows, 2008 has been a monster year for singer-songwriter Xiren, real name Daryl Xiren Kenny. And it’s not over yet; he believes his new album, Trip-R, could be the breakout recording he’s been seeking since his move from Detroit to Denver 12 years ago.

“When we look back at all the great records that were ever made, the people making them knew that they had something special at the time, and it’s a little bit of that feeling,” Xiren says. “We’ll see if there’s any legitimacy in that.”

His fifth original recording, Trip-R swings like a designated hitter, wielding supersonic sensibility and aggressive theatrics and a theme of “rock n’ roll revenge.” It’s a style similar to that of U2, a group Xiren “holds up on the pedestal.

Besides the music, there’s the Irish heritage he can identify with; Xiren’s father is an Irish migrant who gave him the Gaelic middle name he goes by now. Perhaps above all, however, Ciren admires the international supergroup’s humanitarian efforts. It’s why he works charity into each of his concerts: the Trip-R release party last month donated a portion of the tickets sold to The Chanda Plan Foundation, a group dedicated to making Eastern physical therapy available to those with physical disabilities.

“There’s so much self-promotion in music,” he says. “Your name and photos are on flyers and marquees, and my god; it has got to be about something else.”

Being kind to the world doesn’t necessarily mean it’ll be nice in return. In May, Xiren journeyed into India to participate in an organized tour with ten other artists from around the world. What he’d find there, however, was “a relatively well-executed scam of some level.” It was discovered that the promoter running the show had created his own record label, taking on several identities with various cell phone numbers and email addresses, and had barely booked the artists; Xiren says his two shows were booked at a flea market and a tiny bar. He says the company that had set him up with the tour via contest, Sonicbids, had assured him that he’d was partaking in a legit operation.

“They obviously didn’t vet the client at all,” Xiren says. “There’s no selection process, no background check, no credibility check. Pretty much anybody can sign up. They start taking independent artists’ money and literally offer nothing. I think it’s possibly the biggest fraud perpetuated on the independent music community today.”

Things looked to be on the up upon his return with a nationwide tour with his backing band. Three weeks in, a devastating bus crash scrapped those hopes and left ruined equipment scattered across a Midwest highway.

It also shook up several band mates to the point of resignation, and Xiren is currently seeking replacements. He says those interested should check out his Jack-o-Launch show at Pumpkinfest in Aurora on October 12 and catch the band after the show.

Life’s been much better to the man lately; besides dropping Trip-R, he married his long-time girlfriend in August. But looking back on the year, he says the hardships had their place: “It’s like Jane’s Addiction said: ‘Sometimes to realize you are well, someone must come along and hurt you.’”

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


Artist: Passion Pit

Song: "Sleepyhead"

Rating: B+

Look at me ma, I'm cruising like a madman on the blogosphere, playing up bands like I know what I'm doing.

I admit, I don't really know what I'm doing. I put on this facade, but any sharp-eyed internet reader will know I pulled this creative flip book-box vid from Stereogum. At least I've got the gall to admit it. I am a responsible, respectable blogger who delivers nothing but the truth and full disclosure to all three of his readers.

But I'm going to give a go at generating blog-buzz too, just because I read about it all the time so I'd like to at least fancy myself as someone who's taste and writings actually influence the market.

So, yeah. Passion Pit. Based out of Boston. They're like a tangy MGMT with an extra layer of sugar added on top. Besides making fun songs, it looks like they'll be stacking together a strong collection of music videos, considering the crowd they worked with for this video.

This video is cool-looking, synchs well with the music without trying hard or even being 100% on time. You know you've got a good video on your hands when you can get away without perfect synchroization. I also like the flip book effect in this video; might not be entirely original, but again, it's doing so WITH CUBES! Who else has done that? Maybe many, but none come to mind. I challenge you, dear reader, to prove me dumb.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Rocky Mountain Electro-Emo: The Epilogues debut review

When I told a friend I’d be reviewing the Epilogues’ debut album for Scene, she caught me by surprise with her fawning: “It made me fall in love again… and I’ve never been in love.”

That’s a special kind of passion, no doubt. But for me, The Beautiful, The Terrifying is more like a post-breakup medicinal, good for any lover without a warm body to cling to: heavy on the synths and the woe, it starts off with ache-breaky melodies before transitioning into danceable “loving-the-single-life” synth rock.The Epilogues must have studied some arty encyclopedia on somber electronica in preparing their debut, as their sound draws a wide variety of comparisons. Singer Chris Heckman’s vocals have a coolly punch, comparable to those of Morgan Quaintance of Does It Offend You, Yeah?

Openers “King Arthur” and “Hurting You” especially reflect this. And like DIOYY, both sail on an unmistakable electro-emo beat and catchy chorus. It’d get repetitive if not for a few gems of different color: standout track “On The Radio” rides on a sullen Radiohead-esque synth line as Heckman muses on the complexities of escape. “Caroline” is a similar slow-burner about desperate jealousy lined with throbbing mental images of exes embracing new lovers.

Comparisons aside, there’s a fair chunk of dance amidst the bleakness, particularly apparent in “The World is Yours” where rampant hooky guitar breakdowns remind us that it’s okay to move on.

Ultimately, this heart hasn’t been moved, but I’ll be keeping The Beautiful, The Terrifying handy for the next time some girl breaks it.

Friday, October 10, 2008

My Favorite Archduke

Band: Franz Ferdinand
Song: “Darts of Pleasure
Rating: A

Franz Ferdinand is going to be up there along with Radiohead and Queens of The Stone Age and a couple of others that I'm forgetting as one of the defining rock bands of the naughties. If we are so lucky as to have electricity 20 years from now, “Take Me Out” will be spun on classic rock stations for decades until the inevitable nuclear holocaust. They are fun, the music is original and catchy and they’re videos are all top-notch.

I admit, the main motivation behind charting up a video that’s just barely out of date is a sudden excitement for the band’s upcoming album, Tonight. Seriously, take a couple of listens to their new single, “Lucid Dreams”, spread out over several days and you’ll be just as hungry as me.

But I digress. This video is another golden chunk of Ferdinand video magic, stocked with color and clever shadowing techniques and absolutely super sweet editing. Lead singer Alex Kapranos has a face made for fronting a band and I’m so glad he doesn’t mind getting his goof on for these superb pieces (his entrance at bar practice with the single second shot of his bug-eyed glare makes me smile.)

Final points go to the mouth cam shots interspersed throughout. Kapranos probably isn’t much of a mouth breather, but for this video, I’m glad he’s letting his jaw hang loose; it makes for a fun ride.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

BOOM Money

Artist: Cadence Weapon
Song: “Real Estate”
Rating: B

I don’t know much about finances, but I’m still a student. A student who’s eagerness to learn is fueled almost entirely by a fear by a dark future devoid of much of the luxury I so thoroughly enjoy today. I’ll admit; without some financial support from Mom and Dad, this blog would not be before you today.

So, I’m doing as much as I can to learn about why the recent Wall Street implosion was as significant as it is and what I need to do to prepare for a future that no one can really predict. So bless the lord above for artists like Cadence Weapon, whose latest video hams up the bleak reality of things, all while he spins lyrics from the point of a view of a negligent real estate broker. The beat is catchy and the vocals/lyrics flow so superb, that is, whenever Cadence isn’t dropping that nauseatingly-repetitive chorus.

In conclusion, this is a decent video; cheesy, but not unbearably so. Cadence has got a new look, and be it in a business suit or chilling poolside with models, I like it. Maybe it’s the hair. It's obvious that Cadence isn't spinning a story here, but I've got to admit , I would've liked to see a few desolate faces of business execs and daytraders, burned by a few greedy business decisions

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Special Local Edition Music Video review: The Black Apples

BAND: The Black Apples
SONG: "20 Years At Sea"


The audio quality isn't perfect and this is, in fact, a video made by a good friend who has gone off to LA in pursuit of a career that won't ebb away at his soul. But most importantly, this was a Fort Collins band that I got the opportunity to interview earlier this year. They dropped their new album earlier this fall- "Enjoy!"- only made 100 copies and I couldn't make it to their farewell show (they too have flocked to LA for similar reasons, the idea being a record deal) and my sister somehow screwed up and got me a copy of another band that is good in their own rights, but The Black Apples are something special mark my words.

This video is fun, and actually quality for being filmed by a college student. Can't give it a perfect grade, because of the audio, but I will say this song is aural magic. The main reason I'm posting it is because I'm immediately taking advantage of their "super up-and-coming" status. Four years from now, when their first national release takes college radio (followed by commercial radio by at least the second album) by storm, I'm going to get the claim to major cool status and boost this blog by three more readers. Also, check out their other catchy-and-cool-as-hell songs.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Getting Better

I'm feeling down.
The day has been long and unproductive. I've been racked with guilt for making bad choices, the wrong choices. Instead of exercise, I take an extra hour of sleep. Later, I half-ass my way through a paper and an article, projects I put off for gratifications that left me just as quickly as they came. Recognizing this, I make a half-hearted pledge to do better in the future. Whatever.
At the end of the day, I don't do the assigned readings and tell friends I'm too sick to go out and socialize. It's one bad choice after another, but some days a guy just doesn't want to step out of his shitty dirty box, a comfort zone with a carpet of crumpled paper and coins and crumbs.
To ward off guilt and shame before bed, the keyword is "deformities." There's a million to choose from, but three or so usually will do. I can look at these people/human things/genetic disappointments and remind myself how good I have it. I don't feel very sorry for these people; they'd probably be just as terrible as me if they had all of life's greatness at their fingertips. That is what I tell myself as I lie down.
Tomorrow will be better.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008


Wired put out a fascinating article on the resurgance of the music video that I just had to blog about. Notice, if you so please, that there is heavy emphasis put on videos from indie artists. YouTube has fueled the coming of a new music video era, evidently, and I'm lovin' every minute of it.

It's a fairly fine selection (I highly suggest checking out Keith Schofield's awesome 'Toe Jam' video at the bottom of the list), but I would have to lodge my one complaint with the inclusion of Matthew Cullen's 'Pork and Beans'. I like the song, but damn, did he really have to go with a viral star-studded collection of internet celebrities (or their lookalikes) for a music video? I don't want to see all that shame bagged together in one scooping... ugh, come on Wired, you know you could've done so much better.