Wednesday, January 28, 2009

kol/cwk against pitchfork

both of these reviews were written for my downtime column months ago, and although they are very brief each article hits key points. it is funny i say "review" but really i am selling the record to readers, trying to give people good shit to listen to instead of jonas brothers. that being said if you want to buy either of these records, go buy "only by the night" and then download pieces of "loyalty to loyalty". this blog is also a continuation of my last post against pitchfork, so i suggest reading both pieces accordingly. also a fun fact, both these records came out on the same day.

also note these are note the edited versions that were published, just to go along with my raw writing on the rest of this blog, if anyone can't tell, none of my posts are edited.

Kings of Leon – Only By The Night (RCA)

Kings of Leon are always youthful but now they add wisdom to their docket on their newest disc: Only By The Night.

On opening track, “Closer” the Kings use new tricks with an echoed guitar effect that plays through the whole song with heavy drums and mournful howls.

The first single from the album is “Sex on Fire” which also marks the Kings of Leon’s first number one hit on the U.K. charts. The song is infectiously catchy with a big hook that will have you singing along before you know what the words are.

Tracks like “Manhattan” and “Revelry” add depth and tracks like “Crawl” and “Notion” add rock to the album to make it very well rounded.

Only By The Night lights new fires and chills new bones. The Followill brothers (and one cousin) have successfully expanded their sound to new heights, which keep the Kings the band to beat.

Cold War Kids – Loyalty To Loyalty (Downtown)

Southern California has seen its share of bands come and go, but none quite like Cold War Kids. A band of young twenty something teachers and art students, they got an amazing start with their debut; Robbers and Cowards. Their newest album is Loyalty to Loyalty, and even though it may not be as strong as their first, Loyalty is no sophomore slump.

Opening with “Against Privacy” the Kids bring back their slow echoed jams, and then break into track two; “Mexican Dogs” which comes in with the same kind of rhythmic sensation of their first record.

“I’ve Seen Enough” starts with the same piano chord being hit, but after twenty seconds the song explodes into the most full piece that Cold War Kids have ever produced. “Every Man I Fall For” is a slow beautiful song that has reverb heavy guitar just coo lightly over slow basic rhythm.

and this is why i hate pitchfork media

when i was around twelve years old i heard the strokes "is this it" record for the first time. it can easily be said; that album changed my life. a whole new world was opened to me, a world of tight fitting jeans, sloppily played guitars and ridiculously good looking women. since the strokes i have took off running and never looked back. but i remember a very particular day when i was still young and very influenceable and i googled "is this it".

what came up was a review by a website called "pitchfork" which i could only guess meant that they sifted their way through all the bullshit. well come to find out, no, they are pure bullshit. "is this it" was shit on the writers, giving the record a good score but basically saying they are not half as cool as people say they are. "no rock pioneers here" is basically the message they sent and i was a very distraught young teen. well almost a decade later me and a shit ton of other people can give a big "ha ha, fuck you, you were wrong" to pitchfork, because the strokes are simply one of the best bands in history, and i will stick to that statement my entire life.

okay, i will admit, sometimes they (at pitchfork) will be right on, like giving the new animal collective record almost a ten, (that record is damn near perfection, and i will have more on that later). also "juan's basement" is one of the best "vlogs" (video-blog, that word sounds sexual to me) every created, especially when the walkmen played.

but it just pains me to no end when pitckfork tears an album to shreds just to go against the "norm". FOR INSTANCE, pitckfork absolutely destroyed the new kings of leon album "only by the night". okay, i get it that frontman caleb followill loves to sing about sex, but that is fine with me. does sex ever get old? no. "sex on fire" annoyed me at first too, i thought they sold out, but by the third listen any hipster will be forced to uncross their arms, that song is just damn good. no matter how possibly trashy and how amazingly popular that song and kol are on both sides of the atlantic, they are a good band.

my specific point is that pitchfork gave "only by the night" a 3.8 out of 10. that record happens to be very listen-able record and almost any resourceful music listener will comment that kings of leon are pushing their boundaries in good directions on each album. my favorite kings album is "aha shake heartbreak" but i am very bias due to the fact i have listened to that album at least twice a week for the past five years. i really do love kings of leon. i have watched every single "home video" they published on youtube (watch them, search kings of leon only by the night home videos, they are hilarious and very informative) i have bought every kings album, every band i have ever been in has done a kings of leon cover and that is mainly because i can play every song from "aha" on the guitar. in fact i just saw kings of leon live last monday for the second time within six months. the kings are an amazing live band and caleb's voice echoes to every corner of whatever venue they play. my friend ended up meeting the band at a bar on msu campus later (the show was at the aud) and they bought her shots for her birthday, therefore, making them nice guys.

pitckfork rips on the new kol for cheesy lyrics, has anyone ever listened to bruce springsteen? his lyrics are pure cheese but the music is so fucking good you believe the boss, and the same is to be said with the kings. the lyrics may seem cheesy but really they are just honest and that what makes it beautiful music.

what bothers me the most is that next to "only by the nights" 3.8 the newest cold war kids album, "loyalty to loyalty" , received a 5.1. by no means in hell is the cold war kids album better than the kings of leon record. i love cold war kids also, their debut record "robbers and cowards" is one of the best of the 00's, but in all painful honesty, "loyalty to loyalty" is 75 percent junk. there are some really good songs on the cwks record, but even after repeated listens, there is no soul tying it all together. "against privacy" and "i've seen enough" are amazing songs on the cold war kids album, but that is about it. "revelry" is my favorite off "only by the night" but that is with an arsenal of other tracks, including singles "sex on fire", "use somebody" "manhattan", the inventive "closer" and the amazing dirty thick "crawl." i wrote very brief reviews of both records for my weekly column that i will repost on this blog very shortly after this post.

but every kings of leon album has a soul. because the followill brothers (and cousin) really give a fuck. they are actual nice guys from tennessee who happened to get lucky and ran with it in all sorts of directions, but they ran as hard and as fast as they could and that is why i tip my hat to them.

as for pitchfork, i give them a fat middle finger with fine print reading "get some better fucking writers". so heres to kings, heres to me, hint hint, maybe pitchfork should hire me.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

just better bass lines

this is a blog i wrote for a separate blogosphere (i hate the word blog but love blogosphere) when i was on my two year vacation from this one, this is just a semi interesting little essay explaining how every band today is simply a band from yesterday with better bass lines, read your heart out (right:nick of the virgins; the man behind rich girls)

Saturday, May 31, 2008

just better bass lines
Current mood: amused

i feel like every band now

is essentially a band from another point in time

and the only reason for this specific new band's success

is due to their catchier bass lines

let me explain

there are a lot of bands out there. thousands. hundreds of thousands. due to the internet and easy recording and guitar tabs and synths and drum machines, any asshole can start a band. one does not even need a band to create a myspace for said band. i'm one of these people

but what i'm getting at is that there is a lot of good music, once you shift through the shit you can find some gems, which i feel i am pretty good at. maybe i should be a shit shifter. or not. but either way, i have found good songs, and they all seemingly belong to the same genre; indie.

i.e. my entire life

now, the strokes. they really stirred shit up. i've already gone through the whole "anyone could say whatever fuck band started the movement" but lets say, for this piece, the strokes did, or at least did something.

there is this band (a fucking amazing band who i'm seeing again on thursday) called the virgins. just another the band. i think not. the virgins have so much of a future ahead of them its disgusting, almost as disgusting as their body odor (literally they smell, i m et them, but at least they are nice) their song "rich girls" has already hit cable (gossip girl, the new oc, even created by the same guy; josh shcwartz) and they are kicking asses left and right. the reason for this

they are the strokes; with better bass lines

another band that is literally on top of the world hanging out higher up than any other indie band in years, they are literally as big as the white stripes circa 01-03, and they didn't even have a cd til january. i have also seen them. if the virgins were the dark side of new york indie rock, vampire weekend is definitly the bright sunshine in-your-face side. less smells and more awesomeness. an amazing show live, and also nice guys, a little too smart for a lot of people i think, but if you can keep up, nice guys. but (and they fucking HATE this comparison but if you listen to boy in a bubble and then their cd you will laugh)

they are paul simon; with better bass lines

and the last band i shall talk about is my most recent affair. somehow from new zealand with no affiliation to lord of the rings or flight of the concords- cut off your hands. they rock. literally, simple, four piece, with a power trio set up and a crooner on vocals. this has been through so many times it gets gross, and it gets tired (editors really ran me thin) but cut off your hands are so damn up beat you can't help but say holy shit they are awesome. my case in point; the barenaked ladies said "it's all been done" and that may be true but i will say now "it can still be done better" but heres to the tunes, they really do spin me right round. and i especially tip my hat to cut off your hands, even through the over zealous hair cuts and guitar jabs i do love you, no slamming

they are the smiths; with better bass lines


ps. this all really really makes me wonder if i am the latter to some comparable situation, the only band my band has been compared to was band of horses with no lead guitar. but now we have a kick ass bassist. but me myself. maybe i will be like the economist adam smith but

with better bass lines

crank your subs for me, please

Monday, January 26, 2009

department of eagles - in ear park

every week i write a column called "down time" for the weekly LSJ publication called NOISE. after my sister and almost every other employee was laid off by Gannett during massive cut backs somehow i managed to keep my job at a whopping six dollars per column, i don't even know what i do it anymore, but either way, i will post the weekly reviews on here as well as occasional throwback reviews from my personal archives

on this particular review i really wanted to mention how much this record sounds just like grizzly bear simply without ed droste, but i try not to make comparisons within my massive 150 word columns. either way i like this department of eagles record a lot, even if it does "drear" a lot. i feel like i would be better friends with Daniel Rossen instead of Ed Droste, and another good track i did not get to mention on here is called "herringbone", check this stuff out

Down time: Department of Eagles
Adam Smith | Columnist for NOISE --

Department of Eagles is the project of Daniel Rossen and Fred Nicolaus that started in 2000 in New York, but was put on hold when Rossen joined Grizzly Bear in 2004. After experiencing success and musical growth with Grizzly Bear, Rossen returned to Department of Eagles and released "In Ear Park" (4AD) in 2008.

Simply put, "No One Does It Like You" is the best song on the record. The song uses subtle instrumentation to create a catchy rhythmic beat, glazed over with beautiful vocal melodies and filled out with a perfect bass line. "Teenagers" is another upbeat track that showcases shimmering guitars and multiple vocal tracks to create a spectacular hook. "Phantom Other" is a song that, like most of the record, is very slow, but builds up momentum and grows into a beautiful ballad.

Using a simple approach, Rossen and Nicolaus have created a perfect record for simply calming down.


this is a short story i wrote a long time ago and then found randomly and decided to do work on, this has a lot in common with many of the short stories i write, including the first person perspectives, metaphors and adoration for the female species, this is probably a lot like my in the works novel (dating her) will sound like. this is my oldest and shortest story, enjoy

Orig. 2/20/07
Edit. 11/10/08
By Adam Smith

It was like one of those connections you could feel in the room before you knew what was happening. One of those things that was just like electric. When my own image arose out of the clutter of the crowd I could only guess I looked not to the best of my capabilities yet slightly heroic, with a beer. She had already started her way across the room and we made eye contact before you could say, “Eye fuck”. From across the room I saw her eyes, and I saw their depth. Her eyes were blue with glaciers of white ice, swirling slowly. Her hair was a slightly darker brown, but with an auburn tint from the light. This girl was beautiful.
She was just wearing jeans: tight fitting, suggestively themed jeans, and ballet flats. She looked normal, almost. Her hair was up, off her shoulders, carelessly thrown into a bun, she might not have known it at the time, but that was my weakness.
I was already lost in her. I was just staring, and I know my mouth wasn’t fully shut. I took a long hard blink, and then opened my eyes to make sure she was real. As she casually made her way across the room I got to see multiple angles. The angles of this woman, of this girl, were unspeakable. She had a basic hourglass shape but understated. She was tall, but not Brazilian model tall. She could model. Easy. Maybe she was a model. She had long legs. This did me in. Her legs went on for miles that I could never run. I could not see the flesh beneath the jeans, but my thoughts raced. I was taller than this girl, this fact made everything okay. I still had one thing on my side. At this point, I had at least one thing on my side and this was my height. When she went sideways her frame collapsed and I got to see a back view. I did not stare at inappropriate locations. Most of what I noticed was her upper back. Her hair was up so I noticed her exposed neck and shoulder blades. Her skin was a perfect healthy shade and she was not overly tan. Her skin was blown glass. She was dark and sexy but with a light heart.
A thin, but not sickly thin, brunette, hair in a bun, tank top with what I could only guess was a Forever 21 bar hopping top, jeans, ballet flats. Simple. Sexy. Complex. Charismatic. I found myself analyzing the situation before there was a situation to analyze. I had sat trying to sway my dizziness. “What song was playing?” I remember asking myself, thinking maybe that was a sign, as long as it wasn’t something like “Drip Sweat” or “Pull My Hair” I would be fine, just fine. It was a fun tune. This DJ has good taste. Now I sat up, looking up, taking in the sound with every ounce of thought as the girl still walked, forever walking. I know this DJ, because this is my iPod plugged into the speakers. “Girls and Boys” by Blur. Okay, awesome, fun, and although in the category of alternative indie rock (my specific department), still sexy and seductive, this song is about an orgy.
“Ok, Chill”, I told myself, “What’s the worst that can happen, she is actually looking at you? She is actually walking towards you?” I would grab her a beer from the counter. Maybe she doesn’t drink beer. She seems like a hard liquor woman. “You talk to attractive girls all the time why are you freaking out now?” I was lecturing myself into obedience.
By this time the girl had already stopped, visited with other girlfriends and continued onward with her journey. She was closer now than ever. Her hair sparkled in the dim switching light. She looked down at the floor occasionally, swept her bangs out of her face and behind her ear. She was walking slowly, but not walking to get somewhere. This girl was just walking. She knew everyone, of course she did. Why didn’t I know her? Maybe I did. No. I didn’t.
She stopped again. She hugged some guy. I hated that fucking guy. I didn’t know that guy, but obviously he was a prick. She took a drink, a glass. The glass could have had water in it. It was probably water; she was walking straight as an arrow before. She stayed in this spot with a small gaggle of people for a couple minutes, just as she had been with the original gaggle of people she was with when the two of us partook in visionary intercourse. Why was I not with a gaggle? Where was my gaggle? I had no gaggle. This was not good. I looked pathetic. This was because I was pathetic, at least semi-pathetic. She was talking, elegantly, but funny. I could tell. Her mouth, I had not noticed. She had slight lipstick, no, maybe Chap Stick. Her lips were perfect. I wanted to kiss her on the mouth. She would grab my hair, but not like a crazy porno, just like she cared.
I was trying not to stare at her but I was failing miserably. She leaned against a pillar. She was above everything going on. She was all that mattered. She rocked her head back and laid her sweet, soft hair against the pillar, or post, or whatever you call a building support. This was a support covered in finished plywood, not a dirty cinderblock one that could be found in basements. This girl was clean. She was looking up at the pitch-black ceiling. She closed her eyes.
She took a deep breath.
Time stopped. There was nothing else in this room. Both this huge room and the larger room it opened into were empty. No one moved. The music stopped. My thoughts were like mail trucks racing through my mind and I was the helpless dog trying to catch them.
She exhaled.
Everything fell back into place like someone turned on the gravity in a space ship. Time had now resumed, because she decided it could. She looked in my direction. I was gasping for air. We made eye contact. Again. Using the term “we” as referring to this girl and myself was too much for me to handle. I looked down towards the ground. I fumbled in my pocket past my phone. I put a mint in my mouth. “Fuck, that was dumb,” I thought. I crunched the mint. “Good.” Now no obstructions of teeth but okay breathe. Maybe. I looked up and this girl was moving in my direction, but not looking at me. My button down shirt held me tightly. French Kicks were playing. This meant something. One of my all time favorite bands, this situation just got a lot better. The song was “Sex Tourists”. Wait, what was with all this sexually themed music? It was a party. This was my play list. I was sexually attracted to this girl, more than a little bit. The drums calmed me. The guitar chimed in my ear and told me this was more than okay. I hoped this song had no underlying meanings of unhappiness. I was happy, mainly that this girl was so close.
Okay, perfect song. I came back. I stared, entranced. This could be the beginning of a beautiful girl involved in my life, or the end of one of the greatest chances to charm my life. Why was I talking to myself, and why in ultimatums? She was so close I could feel our electric buzz snapping and popping, no crackles though. I stood up straight, I smiled.
“Hi,” came a soft and soothing voice, almost seductive, but this could have been only to my ears. “I’m Roxanne.”

the boy is back in town

and by boy i mean me

it has been a long time since i have blogged, and mainly just because i don't seem to be fond of that word. in some ways i grew up and out of my blog, in others ways i grew younger like benjamin button and became too lazy to type.

but now, with my shortage of friends, and more time focused on writing, i am back to fulfill any and every blogging dream. blogging is a scary term, especially in the music world, which i have been a very large part of since my earlier days writing online. blogging is scary to music writers and musicians alike (of which i am both) because blogs can make or break you.

which is a little ridiculous because i could be some twelve year old x box player or some forty year old serial killer, no one would know the difference, but no one cares, and people make money off this shit.

not me though, because that is the way the world turns. it is damn near impossible for a person to get paid for doing something they really like. even my sister, emily, does not get paid for her amazing blog ( it is a pain but it is a passion, through and through

what i am really trying to say my blogging life is resurfacing, just for a quick breathe of fresh air, if i get a response or just really like to type to the world (with seemingly no one in it that reads my stuff) then this could be a long term affair.

other wards, who knows, i am a very hard guy to pin down, ask any girl that has ever met me. this does not mean i am a ladies man; actually the direct opposite.

much love to anyone reading and i hope to write to you and hear from you in the very near future