Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Tuesday Turntable 9.29.09

Lots of new releases today!

AFI released Crash Love today, and its first single is "Medicate." Very much a return to The Art of Drowning- style aesthetic, and by that I really mean a grateful turning-away from Decemberunderground, which seemed to value dramatics over music. Epic guitar solos and truly Davey Havok-unique lyrical themes aplenty.

Ghostface Killah's Ghostdini: The Wizard of Poetry in Emerald City was definitely much-anticipated in hip-hop circles. I don't usually follow rap too closely, but there are elements in hip-hop that I really enjoy - easy, down-tempo, non-sampled backing tracks, and free-flowing rhymes... and this track has all of that. Unfortunately, the rhymes are far between long stretches of auto-tuned harmonies.

Backspacer is Pearl Jam's first release since Eddie Vedder's solo sojourn for the melancholy soundtrack to Into the Wild, and frankly, I welcomely expected the next Pearl Jam album to have the same sort of mumbley introspection so present in all its other works, or at least some of the anger of the self-titled 2006 album. Instead, we get "The Fixer," which is utterly... peppy. Lots of 'yeah yeah's' and major-keyed power chords. Not Pearl Jam-my.

Monsters of Folk is a supergroup comprised of big-hitters M. Ward, Conor Oberst, Mike Mogis and Jim James, and "The Sandman, The Breakman, and Me" is everything I hoped this collaboration to produce (and everything I had hoped Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band would have.) M. Ward on vocals, it doesn't seem like anyone really fronts the band, they are all equal in folky-awesomeness.

Get a playlist! Standalone player Get Ringtones

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Tuesday Turntable 9.22.09

Today is a quiet day. Everything is kind of muted by the rain, and everyone is too bundled up to talk much. Therefore, today's theme is instrumental groups.

Explosions in the Sky is pretty much the most relaxing group I could ever imagine. This song, "First Breath After Coma," very much lives up to its name. It starts off slow and simple, echoing guitar, single notes. As you slowly awaken from this long sleep, the exhilaration of this first breath comes to an incredible, ecstatic climax that has you riveted the remainder of the song.

The problem I've always had with metal is the screaming. I think metal players have an amazing amount of skill, I respect them a lot. But when the lead singer starts freaking out and screaming at me, I feel like running and hiding! So the real deal for me is Russian Circles. An instrumental metal group, you get the same intensity and speed of the big acts in metal, without the terrifying screaming. "Micah" is your Russian Circles dose for today.

Nujabes is a Japanese instrumental / jazz hip hop act that I'm pretty crazy for. I love listening to this group late at night, when the room is dark, yet illuminated by the moon. I think "Kumomi" is a really perfect example of this type of mood.

Tristeza is sort of the same idea as Explosions in the Sky. "Bromas" is another one with an up-tilting tempo and movement. In essence, it sounds pretty similar to the other acts on this list, but the idea of this turntable is music you can zone to.

And finally, there is Meco. Meco is silly. Meco's song on this turntable is "Star Wars Theme / Cantina Band," disco-ized. The best part of this ridiculous disco anthem? It actually reached -NUMBER ONE- on Billboard's Top 20 in 1979. Legitimately, this was the most popular song in 1979 for a time. Enjoy.

To listen to this Turntable without having to stay on Wax Cylinders, click the Pop-Out Player button below the playlist. If your pop-up blocker is reluctant to allow this, try holding the control key when you hit Pop-Out Player.


Get a playlist! Standalone player Get Ringtones

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Tuesday Turntable 9.15.09

Green Day has made their 2004 radically-popular concept album American Idiot in to a stage musical. Don't believe me? I don't really blame you... but it's true.

In honor of this bizarre happening, this Turntable is dedicated to concept albums more deserving of a stage show than Green Day (as much as I love the little tykes.)

The Who's Tommy actually -was- made into a feature film. A weird one. But "Pinball Wizard," one of the enduring hits from the record, is a great song any way you spin it. The plot up to here - Tommy, the main character, is stricken deaf, dumb and blind after witnessing his father murder his mother's lover. (convoluted, much?) Turns out, though, Tommy is a total prodigy at pinball. Who knew? (HAHA pun...) "Pinball Wizard" is a really fun song, to sing along to and to appreciate for the fact that it means -exactly- what you think it means.

I have written (at length) about The Decemberists' new concept album The Hazards of Love, but I still think Colin Meloy would make a phenomenal Broadway front man in the production of this fantasy. This is a really nifty movement in which the Queen is first introduced, possibly my favorite villainess ever, anywhere. And, at the beginning, there is ostensibly a fawn playing the pipe organ, in the highest room in the tallest tower, I like to think. Fantastic image, there.

Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band is one of the most famous concept albums ever. Not shockingly, since it's The Beatles. However, it's somewhat controversial to call it a concept album. A few ideas were there in pre-production - at first, the album was meant to explore the concept of aging, then it morphed into the story of an ex-army bandmaster (Sgt. Pepper himself.) But, just like Sgt. Pepper, the idea met some problems, and didn't really end up in the final cut, except in name. Regardless, "Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite" is a song that could have it's own show in and of itself, being placed in the craziest circus setting in music. This especially comes through in this Eddie Izzard version, more theatrical than the Beatles version.

Most people in our generation don't take Styx very seriously. Maybe that's because their most famous song is "(Domo Arigato) Mr. Roboto." But come on, what could make a better stage show than this song?? Check out the full plot of the album, courtesy of Wikipedia:
The album's somewhat rock-operatic story tells of a future where rock music is outlawed by a fascistgovernment and the "MMM (the Majority for Musical Morality)". The story's protagonist, Kilroy, is a former rock star who has been imprisoned by MMM leader Dr. Righteous. He escapes using a disguise (according to the album's famous song "Mr. Roboto") when he becomes aware that a young musician, Jonathan Chance, is on a mission to bring rock music back.

Deltron 3030, who you will recognize upon listening as the rapper from Gorillaz, has made a pretty bad-ass rap concept album following Deltron Zero's dystopian fight against evil corporations, oppressive governments, and his quest to become the Galactic Rhyme Federation Champion. Think 8 Mile... IN SPAAAAAACE!

To listen to this Turntable without having to stay on Wax Cylinders, click the Pop-Out Player button below the playlist. If your pop-up blocker is reluctant to allow this, try holding the control key when you hit Pop-Out Player.


Get a playlist! Standalone player Get Ringtones

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Tuesday Turntable 9.1.09

Aah! It's September!!!!

Well... you know what this means.

There is only one possible theme for this week's turntable...

That's right.

Horses vs. Unicorns.


Allison's recommendation. I couldn't agree more.

First... a Horse! "Judy and the Dream of Horses" by Belle and Sebastian. Really, Belle and Sebastian is one of those bands that I really want to like a lot, but for which I can usually only muster minimal excitement. This song, however, I'm always happy to hear. A very sweet and simple beginning that keeps you focused on the lyrics detailing Judy's story builds to a nice, up-tempo latter half. As for our contest, the horse in this song is stolen by some girl in Judy's dream. Not a very good start, horses. Let's see what the unicorns have in store.

The best unicorn song, ever. "I Was Born a Unicorn," by who else but The Unicorns. A charming blend of punk and 50's pop, this song is a big smile-inspirer. Weird Vincent-Price-like breakdown in the middle of the song doesn't throw anyone off, it just makes this quirky song all the more lovable. Contest judgement: Unicorns score one for having a band named after them, but these unicorns keep getting left behind by Noah's Ark and have some identity issues. They are doing much better than our next horse though...

"Wildfire" by Michael Martin Murphy. AWW! COME ON! Yes, I am giving you the famously tear-jerking 70's ballad about a young girl and her beloved pony named Wildfire. A killer Nebraska blizzard hits, Wildfire busts out of her stall and gets lost, and the girl is doomed to run through the blizzard screaming for her best friend, who has tragically perished in the storm. How freaking sad is that??? It's the saddest thing. Horses lose.

"White Unicorn" is a pretty awesome Wolfmother song. Catchy as "Woman," but with more interesting instrumentation. Definitely holds up to repeat listening, whereas a few other Wolfmother songs get kind of old pretty quick. Contest: the unicorn in this song is really only a tattoo, but it isn't stolen, left behind from an ark, or killed in a blizzard, so unicorns have scored the first point of the game.

Finally, "Is There a Ghost" by Band of Horses. Has some of my favorite Band of Horses features: deep, echoey mastering, Ben Bridwell's unique vocals, and really accessible but fascinating lyrics. True, there is no horse in this song. But it is played by a whole band made of horses. Do you know how hard it is to play guitar with hooves? Didn't think so. Horses score 1, making our contest a tie game.

To listen to this Turntable without having to stay on Wax Cylinders, click the Pop-Out Player button below the playlist. If your pop-up blocker is reluctant to allow this, try holding the control key when you hit Pop-Out Player.


Get a playlist! Standalone player Get Ringtones