Dreamy, lo-fi, almost ethereal pop, so light and airy it feels like it would blow away if there were a gust of wind; really soothing and relaxing listen, it might be one of my favorite '09 releases so far
So, I think I've discovered the perfect way to get past a shitty mood. What you need is a good metaphorical kick in the ass by a friend, followed by three hours in the center of a beer-soaked moshpit which results in two days of impaired hearing, and finished off by the early-morning exercise of making a melancholy mixtape that turns out more hopeful than sad in the end. Therapy through music, bitches; tested and proven.
As you can probably guess, this is that tape. I like it a lot. In fact, I think it's close to my favorite mix that I've ever made, that's how well it turned out. It's not what I would call 'happy' (I didn't intend for it to be), but it has a strange stream of reassurance and optimism running through it. Aside from a couple of tracks it's very subdued, and almost the entire thing is acoustic. If there's any mix I've posted that I think everyone should at least try, this is it. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.
Title: Bad and Beautiful and Strange (Full Circle Sing-Along)
1. Bon Iver - "Flume"
2. Cake - "Friend is a Four Letter Word"
3. American Football - "The Summer Ends"
4. Bob Dylan - "If You See Her, Say Hello"
5. Carissa's Wierd - "So You Wanna Be A Superhero"
6. Nick Drake - "Road"
7. Bishop Allen - "Butterfly Nets"
8. Elliott Smith - "Christian Brothers"
9. Beck - "Lost Cause"
10. Broken Social Scene - "Anthems for a Seventeen Year Old Girl"
11. Bright Eyes - "First Day of My Life"
12. Big Star - "Thirteen"
13. Beat Happening - "Indian Summer"
14. E - "Hello Cruel World"
15. The Blue Seeds - "My Fair Weather Friend"
16. The Smashing Pumpkins - "Tonite Reprise"
17. The Matches - "The Barber's Unhappiness"
18. Michael Leviton - "If Sense Were Really Common"
19. Belle and Sebastian - "The Boy Done Wrong Again"
20. Get Set Go - "Music Makes Me Want to Die"
21. Eels - "Things the Grandchildren Should Know"
I hope you enjoyed guilty pleasure week, but now it's back to normal posts (which I'm sure you enjoy more).
This band gets labeled as folk punk quite often, but I feel like this release has more in common with rougher, gravelly-but-poppy punk rock in the vein of Off With Their Heads, Chinese Telephones, etc. These guys sing about things that suck but do it with a smile on their face. Definite summer album. I think a lot of my readers are gonna dig this.
As years have gone by since its release, I've become less and less guilty about liking this album; I think that's partly because it just gets better with age. This album is immensely enjoyable, and is a great example of how danceable pop rock doesn't always suck. And while the band seems to have been floundering on their most recent releases, we will always have this great debut to remember them by.
We have reached the guiltiest of my guilty pleasures. I don't know that I would call this a good album; however, I also can't say that I don't enjoy listening to it every once in a while. It's overblown, cliche, and totally ridiculous emo-ish alt rock; that can be fun sometimes. I won't really try to justify liking this album, because honestly it's not good music, but maybe some of my readers will like it as well.
Okay, back on track.
I am not exactly in love with Relient K. In fact, I hesitate to say that I even like them. The whole 'ROCK FOR JESUS!' thing gets really tiresome, really fast. That said, this is a fun album. While the aforementioned subject matter is certainly touched upon on more than one occasion here, I find it somehow easier to overlook on this album than on their other work. This is just a really catchy, fun pop-punk release. Give it a chance, you might be surprised by what you hear.
We'll be back to guilty pleasure week tomorrow; I just feel like saying a few words about this.
As I'm sure you know by now, "King of Pop" Michael Jackson passed away this afternoon. I've spent the last seven or eight hours thinking about this, and I've found that instead of trying to collect my thoughts on the matter, I've mostly been trying just to wrap my head around it. Trying to process it. Trying to grasp the full significance of what has happened today.
I will be the first to admit that I have never been an avid listener of Jackson's music, and I don't believe I have ever called myself a Michael Jackson fan. That being said, I have always (save for my short "pop music sucks" phase when I was younger) enjoyed his music, and have always recognized and appreciated him for what he was: the perfect pop star.
I make this claim with not even a hint of apprehension. When I think 'pop star', I typically envision a pre-packaged, manufactured entrepreneur. Someone who is flashy and extravagant and makes pretty for the cameras, but who most will admit has little-to-no artistic talent or drive. This is not what Jackson was. There wasn't some middle-aged businessman pulling the strings of his musical endeavors. The music, the lyrics, the beats, the moves, the image, it was all HIM. He not only created the idea of what it means to be a pop star, an idea that we are now surrounded by every day on the covers of our magazines and the screens of our televisions; he perfected it. He has been imitated ceaselessly since his heyday, but not once has he been matched. The man was not just a pretty face. He was an entire persona. He was the real deal.
He created some of the finest pop music of all time, with a slew of classic albums in the '80s and '90s, one of which to this day is the biggest selling album of all time. It seems like the man could do no wrong. Every song grabbed you in just the right way, every hook came in at just the right time, every dance move was choreographed and executed perfectly. He completely changed the face of pop music, and you'd be hard pressed to find anyone calling themselves a pop artist today who isn't influenced by him in a big way.
What amazes me most, though, is just how ingrained he is in the culture of not only the United States, but the entire world. I've seen outpourings of mourning today from every corner of the world and every way of life. His music seems to have done what almost no art can ever accomplish; it stretched across the entirety of human culture. Everyone, no matter their age, race, nationality, belief system, or taste in music, seems to have a story to share of a memory in their life that was soundtracked by Michael Jackson. Whether they were sitting on their plastic-covered couch with their children as he performed live on TV with the Jackson 5, dancing to "Thriller" at their senior prom with all their friends, or finding his albums in their parent's old music collections, everyone has a story.
I think that's what I was always overlooking when I thought about Michael Jackson before today. I knew he was a perfect pop star. I knew he made great pop music. And even though I certainly had a vague, unfocused notion of him being a pop culture icon, all I really saw him as was just another artist. It took his death to truly open my eyes to how much of an impact he has had on our culture, and on virtually everyone in the world, including myself.
When reports started surfacing this afternoon that he had been rushed to the hospital, it's like the world simply...stopped. For the next hour or two as we learned the sad finality of the situation, the reaction only intensified. As soon as major networks started reporting him as dead, I started getting phone calls. And text messages. And e-mails. And IMs. Every news source had the same headline, every internet forum had the same top discussion, every Myspace and Facebook and Twitter account was updated as people expressed their shock and grief. For a few hours, the entire world seemed to be talking about one thing and one thing alone. Michael Jackson. To put things in perspective, when Ronald Reagan died, I don't think I had anyone contact me about it until the next day. But within minutes (yes, minutes) of Jackson's death, I had six or seven dialogs going. And while some might see this more as a testament to our increased interconnectivity in today's modern age, I see it as a display of just how much this man meant to the world, even though many of us (such as myself) didn't really realize it.
I think that perhaps the most significant thing that happened today was not Jackson's death, but what it showed us. It allowed us to gain perspective on just how important a simple entertainer can be to the world. It allowed all of us to see what he really meant to us. To all of us.
I don't mean to undercut the significance of his passing; it has certainly affected me and millions (billions?) of other people across the world, and is especially disheartening as he was on the verge of a comeback. But Michael Jackson was not just a man; he was a cultural force in his life, and he will continue to be one in death. I predict that his influence in our culture will actually increase over time, as his death eclipses the unfortunate events of his later years, and he becomes more and more of a legend than he already is.
Really, the thing that matters most is this: People are going to be talking about Michael Jackson and his music forever, and everyone alive today is going to remember this day for the rest of their lives. And that's exactly the way it should be, because a man like this deserves no less.
Off the Wall
Immature? Check. Simplistic? Check. Repetitive? Check. Sometimes annoying? Check. Awesome pop-punk that everyone secretly loves? You bet your ass.
blink ruled the fucking world in the '90s and into this decade, and as we all know, they recently reunited (fuck. yes.) for a tour and a new album. These four albums are listed not only by release date, but by how much I personally love them. But don't take that to mean that any of them are anything less than a double mega-dose of stupid childish fun.
Enema of the State
Take Off Your Pants and Jacket
If you keep up with the iTunes Singles of the Week, you might remember this band from a few years ago. They make me think of what it might sound like if Paramore were less influenced by Jimmy Eat World and Sunny Day Real Estate, and more influenced by Cheap Trick and Heart (or, in non-namedropping terms, they have a female vocalist and make energetic pop-rock/punk but with a hard-rock slant). They're kinda cheesy, and hard to take especially seriously, but they're a good time.
I think this pleasure is a bit less guilty than the last few, and a bit more shared by, I dunno, everyone in the universe who knows good music from bad. It's amazing how many awesome alt rock hits these guys had in the late 90s that people still listen to without even knowing who sings them. If you don't like this album, well, I don't like you.
Eeeeugh I don't feel like keeping up the two-per-day pace, and I also don't feel like talking about this album much; it's really fun dance rock and you should listen to it, enjoy
Yeah that's right, I'm doing two posts a day during Guilty Pleasure Week, because seven albums just isn't going to fucking cut it for me. I've got a lot of musical skeletons in my closet. Deal with it.
Brand New's debut is easily one of the bitchinest pop-punk/emo albums in recent memory, or if I'm being even more honest, ever. "Mix Tape" and "Jude Law and a Semester Abroad" are pretty much the definition of 'the shit', and anyone who has a pulse knows it. In face, there's no reason anyone should feel guilty about loving this album. Download this motherfucker and blast it with pride out of your junky little rice rocket that I know you drive, and if anyone tries to give you shit, just get in their face with "YOU'RE JUST JEALOUS CAUSE WE'RE YOUNG AND IN LOVE!". That'll show 'em. Rock and roll, bitches, rock and fuckin' roll.
The guilty pleasure.
Everyone has them. No one wants to admit it. But here at Watch the Tapes, I've decided to take a week to show some respect to those artists and albums that might not be all that respectable. Feel free to download and enjoy these albums without the mocking eyes of the jaded record store clerk, silently berating your lack of taste. I won't tell. It'll be our little secret. Promise.
I'm kicking things off with Taking Back Sunday, and their classic (yes, classic) debut album. This album shows Adam Lazzara going through a young breakup, and judging by lines like "you could slit my throat / and with my one last gasping breath / I'd apologize for bleeding on your shirt", it's a fuckin' doozey. Call it pop-punk, call it emo, call it 'melodic hardcore' if you have to; whatever you need to do to justify listening to this album, do it, because it's a blast.
I posted their other two and figured I might as well toss this up too; it's a bit less energetic and more artsy than Decomposer and E. Von Dahl, but it's still really enjoyable punk rock
E. Von Dahl Killed the Locals
New album from this indie pop due from Brooklyn, the critics all seem to have trashed this disc, but personally I think it sounds like the Broken String Part 2, and I have no problem with that at all
Summer marches on, and here is another mix for your listening pleasure! I've been working off-and-on on a mix for the past month or so, and if I may shed my modesty for a moment, it's totally fucking awesome, and one of the best I've ever made. However, this is not that tape (that will come later, but only if you're good). This particular tape is made up of the remnants of the first, and all the leftover songs that needed a home after I mercilessly cut them. But of course I padded it out beyond that, and shook things up a bit.
Despite the title that was lovingly contributed by our friend Tom DeLonge, and despite the message that this tape seems to be conveying (unintentionally) throughout a lot of these tracks, there is no sob story of lost or unrequited love behind this. I think my subconscious is just a bitter asshole. But fuck it, it's summery and happy enough and I like it (and besides, it's not like it isn't true; Tom DeLonge knows what he's fuckin' talkin' about).
This tape is definitely schizophrenic, and possibly obnoxious in more than a couple places. But surely somebody will get a kick out of it.
Title: Girls Are Such A Drag (I'm On Fire)
1. Bedouin Soundclash - "Until We Burn in the Sun (The Kids Just Want A Love Song)"
2. Eels - "What's A Fella Gotta Do"
3. Cut Off Your Hands - "Oh Girl"
4. Das Racist - "Combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell"
5. X - "Your Phone's Off the Hook, But You're Not"
6. A Wilhelm Scream - "I Wipe My Ass With Showbiz"
7. The Octopus Project - "Music is Happiness"
8. The Rural Alberta Advantage - "The Ballad of the RAA"
9. Hightide Hotel - "Wordsearch"
10. The Matches - "Between Halloweens"
11. Slow Club - "It Doesn't Have to Be Beautiful"
12. P.O.S - "Low Light Low Life"
13. blink-182 - "Dysentery Gary"
14. Michael Leviton - "Summer's the Worst"
15. Off With Their Heads - "Heroin in NYC"
16. Andrew Jackson Jihad - "Skipping Stone"
17. Screaming Trees - "Troubled Times"
18. Thom Yorke - "Atoms for Peace"
19. Another Breath - "I'm Pro-You-Shutting-the-Fuck-Up"
20. Mos Def - "Quiet Dog Bite Hard"
21. The Summer Set - "She's Got the Rhythm"
22. Team Dresch - "Freewheel"
23. Tiger Army - "Prelude: Signal Return"
24. Captain Dan & the Scurvey Crew - "Ladies in the Scarlet"
25. Motion City Soundtrack - "The Future Freaks Me Out"
26. Bishop Allen - "Butterfly Nets"
27. The Apples in Stereo - "Energy"
These Sacramento dudes make a crazy mixture of prog, math rock, krautrock, post-hardcore, and indie rock, and yet despite the usually-serious nature of those genres, this album is an incredibly fun listen; you've never heard anything quite like this
First and (so far) only album from Michael Leviton, a Brooklyn-based ukulele player; this is a very chill and relaxing listen, definitely nice for those downbeat summer days
Second album from these Oakland chaps, less poppy than their debut but still firmly rooted in pop-punk, basically they just got really weird (and if you ask me their vocalist got his vocal chords swapped with a chipmunk's) and decided to use an army of producers to make an art-punk album (although if you go into this expecting something like Wire, you're going to be very very confused); this is kind-of a love it or hate it album, but I'd say give it a shot especially if you liked the last one I posted
E. Von Dahl Killed the Locals
Brand new acoustic EP from these Philly emo lads, and as per their last release it was posted totally free on their Myspace; they also have a split 7" with By Surprise that was recently released on Runner Up Records, and even though once my copy comes it will probably (read: definitely) end up on the blog, it's only 5 bucks and there's a limited number being printed, so go get yours quick
Debut album by these snarky Canadian punks, this was back when they were stupid and immature instead of trying to be all quasi-metal and rip off Fucked Up (what the fuck am I even talking about, I should stop making these posts at night, shit)
This is a 128 rip for the moment, and I'll probably up a better one sometime, but let's not kid ourselves; this is a fuckin skate punk record from the early 90s, so if you're looking for good sound quality let me point you in the direction of that rack of Simple Plan CDs at your local Wal-Mart, I'm sure that'll suit you just fine
Now an alternative rock legend, PJ Harvey had yet to become a household name when recording and releasing this dirty, grungy, gritty, moody, sexy, dangerous, and totally unforgettable debut album that would prove itself to be easily one of the best records of the '90s; I could go on all day about how fucking great this album is, but just do yourself a favor and listen it
I'm still missing a couple of odd tracks here and there, but this is pretty much everything they have that wasn't on their album
Oxford Comma (Rehearsal Version)
Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa (Teenagers Remix)
Walcott (Insane Mix)
The Kids Don't Stand a Chance (Radio Edit)
The Kids Don't Stand a Chance (Chromeo Remix)
Oxford Comma (Live)
Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa (Live)
I Stand Corrected (Live)
Ladies of Cambridge (Live)