Saturday, June 20, 2009

Saturday Music Definitions - Thrills

three very different songs from three very different artists, enjoy.

Michael Jackson - Thriller [mp3]

The National - The Thrilling of Claire [mp3]

AC/DC - Shoot to Thrill [mp3]

The Thrills - Midnight Choir

just discovered this band when I google image searched "Thrills". cool album art, cool song.

interview: The Static Jacks

The Static Jacks are currently recording their third EP, which will hopefully see a release this fall. I am absolutely addicted to their first two EPs, a collection of eight brilliant songs to satisfy anyone's thirst for unbridled garage rock.

I had a chance to ask the band a few questions, so read on below:

Where did the band name “The Static Jacks” come from?

Henry: We wanted to be classified as something… like a Velvet, a Ramone, a Stroke, a Jack. We just thought Static Jacks sounded cool. It’s just a name. Plus, there are plenty of letters in there to make a good design out of.

What inspired you all to make a band? Did you set out to make music for yourselves or did you always want to share the music with a larger audience?

Ian: We started such a long time ago that we never really spoke about where we would go with our music… I know that all of us dreamed of being big rockstars but I don’t know how many of us thought we would actually become musicians.

The musicianship is surprisingly advanced for how young you guys are. Were any of you in band in school or did you just pick up guitars one day and decide to learn how to play?

Henry: When I was younger I took piano lessons privately for eight years and then I played trumpet for about five years through school. I had always really wanted to play guitar since I was young but for some reason never had the courage until I turned thirteen to ask for one. I think I just didn’t feel like I was ready. Mmm.

Michael: I developed a solid ear for rhythm and structure playing percussion in elementary school all the way through to my high school years in the drum line. I picked up an electric guitar and learned how to play when the desire to express myself through melody had struck me!

Nick: Literally, in 4th grade they assigned me drums and I was never given a lesson. I just listened to a lot of music and mimicked it. Green Day, The Strokes, The Who, The Killers, I just listened to these styles until I had my own.

You guys have played Bowery. Do you prefer playing for smaller audiences? Is intimacy lost when a band plays for thousands of fans?

Michael: I prefer playing sold out stadiums.

The first EP is much more varied sonically. “The Waltz” sounds like something from the fifties. Where do you draw inspiration for your music?

Henry: I had always really wanted to write a waltz and at the time I was listening to Abbey Road a lot which has a few of George Harrison’s waltz on there! Besides that everything else is just a strong combination of different things. We draw inspiration from our 19 years of life experiences whether they’re exaggerated at all or the straight truth. I like things to feel pretty cinematic. Usually a good sign for us if a song is good or not is if we can picture it in a movie trailer.

A lot of the lyrics seem a little too dramatic to be real. Where do you draw the line between fact and fiction? Is music better if it is based on something that’s already happened, or if it draws from the imagination?

Henry: Well both Ian and Nick handle a majority of the words. Ian has a very dramatic style where everything feels like it is some epic wasteland scene in the big apocalyptic blockbuster of the summer…and Nick has a very straightforward style where he claims how much he likes a girl and then claims how much the girl sucks. We’re still only 19-years-old so of course everything is going to be an exaggeration of what actually happened and of course it’s all going to be related towards girls.

Nick: Dramatic is good, when you attempt to tap into a feeling or mood that you think is important enough to acknowledge. And it works…that is the ultimate goal. Too many indie bands out there write about obscure, ridiculous things that I don’t relate to at all.

Ian: Most of our lyrics ought to be considered fact, at least at their core. We occasionally blow things out of proportion, but I think it’s the job of teenagers to blow things out of proportion.

Michael: I think creative lyrics are a rare gem to come by these days and I’m glad to be part of a band with such creative/imaginative minds!

The band is still in its early stages. Are you guys working, going to school, what?

Spencer: A few of us have part-time jobs. Nick’s working at Crumbs Bakery, I’m working at Pier One, Mike’s always starting a new job, Ian’s always trying to work at Rockn Joe’s Café and Henry’s always trying to do freelance graphic design work through Craigslist.

Ian’s singing reminds me a lot of Joe Strummer. Are you guys fans of The Clash? What bands do The Static Jacks love?

Nick: We do love the Clash. We do love The Strokes. We love Sam Cooke. The Pixies. The Replacements, The Buzzcocks. Bruce Springsteen. Punk is great, but it has to have pop sensibility.

You guys have two really great EPs so far, eight songs in total. Have you had to scrap a lot more than that? How does the refining process work?

Michael: We have had to scrap a decent number of songs, but we usually realize this within a few weeks of writing them. It’s hard because sometimes you can get really excited just by the fact that you wrote a song and it worked out. You have to give it time to listen to it and realize that it actually sucks.

Henry: We recycle a lot though too. A lot of times we’ll take parts from these scrapped songs and combine them to make one ultimate song.

I usually don’t like remixes of songs, but I am digging the RAC Maury remix of “Fire on the Bridge and in the Tunnel below”. How did that come about?

Henry: I’ve always loved RAC remixes and only heard about them because of the work they do with bands we’ve played with like Tokyo Police Club and such. So one day I contacted them just to let them know I was a big fan and how someday I would love to work with them on a remix for one of my band’s songs. André from the group emailed me back immediately saying how much he liked our stuff and then passed us along to Andrew Maury who also works there. Andrew did the remix for us and we all hit it off right away. And now he’s currently producing our next EP, which should hopefully be out in the fall!

Is there a song that you guys love to play more than the others? Maybe a song that you’ve realized really grabs people’s attention?

Ian: We very much like playing our new songs, just because we are so excited about them. In terms of the songs that are out already, I really enjoy playing “Stay A Lover,” because it is probably one of our wildest songs live. We all go pretty crazy by the end of it, and its really fun.

Michael: I enjoy Parties and Friends (and Bullshit)- which will be available on our upcoming EP! - because the guitar parts make me move in strange ways. People seem to enjoy that.

If you could tour with any musician, dead or alive, who would it be?


Henry: A young Elvis Costello.

Nick: I’m going to say The Clash. They would bring guns and shit, it would be insane.

Ian: Joy Division

Spencer: Lil’ Wayne

visit the band on MYSPACE where you can listen to all 8 songs in their entirety, as well as the RAC remix of "Fire on the Bridge". my favourite is "The Waltz"--a song with such sugary guitar licks you might just get reprimanded by your dentist for indulging in it


and buy their stuff HERE
I really recommend both EPs, even though I slightly prefer the first, Sonny Halliday.

The Strokes Post #121

"I love New York. The only thing is, when you're here, you constantly feel like you've got to get out. Human evolution didn't mean for people to be in a city like this all the time. You get so fucking aggressive about everything. You want to fight all the time, because you're so pissed off with people living on top of you." - Julian Casablancas

their live renditions of "NYC Cops" are always so wicked:

new video: Franz Ferdinand - No You Girls

someone must have told Alex Kapranos and co. that this is my favourite track off their fantastic album, Tonight: Franz Ferdinand, because they went and made a second video of the thing! I actually prefer this video (directed by the band themselves), because it has that cool tv inside a tv inside a tv thing (etc) going on. I've had an affinity for those trippy illusions since I was a wee lass.

click HERE to watch the original video and HERE to watch an incredible performance of the song on Letterman

Friday, June 19, 2009

Band of the Week: Black Lips

Most people I meet have never heard of this band, one of my absolute favourites. I tend to describe them to people as "highly catchy lo-fi garage punk with crazy stage antics and incredible presence"

their original guitarist Ben Eberbaugh was tragically killed by a motorist in 2002. may he RIP.

the current line up consists of:
Cole Alexander- vox, guitar
Jared Swilley - vox, bass
Ian Saint Pé-vox, guitar
Joe Bradley-vox, drums

you see, they all sing. it's incredible. does anyone know how to rip DVDs? because I have some really cool footage that came with a 7" I bought that has Black Lips playing a great set at a house party. it's called "Rob's House" and I'd love to post it on youtube to share with other Black Lips fans

Black Lips really love to play shows in other countries, particularly places that don't have a vibrant rock n roll scene. they got banned from India. yes, that's right, they were kicked out of a country. well, actually, they had to escape, fearing inevitable incarceration. you can read more HERE

their Israel performance is really funny, as the audience is dead. observe:

(that video also showcases their drummer on lead vocals. also, it's my favourite Black Lips song, and can be found on their 2007 release Good Bad Not Evil)

this band has released 5 fantastic albums, and their latest--200 Million Thousand-- is one of the year's best.

they love to release singles, I've lost count of how many 7" I have of theirs...

for new listeners, I'd recommend starting with their fourth album Good Bad Not Evil and then moving your way backward.

without further ado, you should give them a listen!

Black Lips - O Katrina! [mp3]
a song about Hurricane Katrina. "O, Katrina, why you gotta be mean?" the simplicity and repetitiveness of the lyrics is oh so Ramones. love it. oh, and the video emulates "Reptilia" by The Strokes:

visit them on MYSPACE

tour dates (if you want to have the time of your life, I'd highly recommend you check out their live shows):

19-06-09 Baltimore, MD, Sonar
26-06-09 Athens, GA, Athfest
27-06-09 Nashville, TN, Sonar
18-07-09 Chicago, IL, Pitchfork Music Festival
24-07-09 Seattle, WA, Capitol Hill Block Party

when I saw them, Cole drank his own piss. yeah.

video: Phoenix - 1901 (Letterman)


video: The Dead Weather - Hang You From the Heavens (Conan)

I really love how Alison sings like Jack White does. I like her delivery on Dead Weather songs a lot more than her work with her primary band, The Kills.

gotta love all the focus the drummer gets in the video ; )

I am jealous that Conan already got a hold of their album...

The Strokes Post #120

The Strokes - You Only Live Once (Zane Lowe Session, 2006)[mp3]

this takes the lyrics from "I'll Try Anything Once" and combines it with the tempo of the final studio version. it's pretty sweet.

thanks Tara!

I tried to download the songs and interview from She's Fixing Her Hair but it wouldn't work. if anyone knows where I can get a hold of the entire session (or even part of it), I'd be much obliged.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Clash- Westway to the World

there's an employee at the Rasputin record store in Berkeley who loves The Clash. months ago, she recommended that I watch the documentary about the only band that matters called Westway to the World, and wrote down the name on a slip of paper for me. I recently found the paper, and last night I watched it.

the film is quite excellent, it starts at the very beginning, before Topper joined the band, and it even goes into why Mick and Topper were both kicked out. it has loads of ace live footage and is vital watching for any fan of the Clash, casual or obsessive. I consider myself in the latter category and I still learned loads

the entire thing can be viewed on YOUTUBE. check it out!

The Clash - Guns of Brixton [mp3]

this track off London Calling has always been one of my favourite Clash tracks. it was written and sung by bassist Paul Simonon (whom I still have a massive crush on), reflecting his ongoing fascination with reggae tunes.

Little Joy on DAYTROTTER

the sunshiney band stopped by the Daytrotter studios to perform two songs, "No One's Better Sake" and "Keep Me in Mind"

the article ends: "Little Joy is this fountain of gorgeous optimism that will always force your day into turning out better than it otherwise would have."
I couldn't agree more.

read the article and download the free songs HERE

is it just me or is the guy all the way on the right the guitarist from The Dead Trees?

new video: Beirut - The Concubine

ah, I adore this song, it was a quick favourite off Zach Condon's latest musical offering--double EP March of the Zapotec/Holland

The Strokes Post #119

The Strokes - Heart in a Cage (live, TOTP) [mp3]

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

new Modest Mouse song: Autumn Beds

it's a soft, acoustic number with a remarkably Americana feel. the composition is a bit messy but that shouldn't come across as strange to someone familiar with Modest Mouse's music.

Modest Mouse - Autumn Beds [mp3]

the verdict? I like it. it took a couple of listens, but it definitely grows on you.

tour dates:


  • 17 – Halifax, Nova Scotia – Forum Multipurpose Room
  • 19 – Montreal, Quebec – Metropolis
  • 20 – Kingston, Ontario – Ale House
  • 21 – Toronto, Ontario – Sound Academy
  • 24 – Columbus, OH – Lifestyle Pavilion
  • 25 – Chicago, IL – Aragon Ballroom
  • 28 – San Diego, CA – Street Scene
  • 30 – San Francisco, CA – Outside Lands


  • 01 – Salt Lake City, UT – In the Venue
  • 02 – Denver, CO – Fillmore Auditorium
  • 03 – Billings, MT – Alberta Blair Theater
  • 04 – Missoula, MT – Wilma Theater
  • 05 – Spokane, WA – Knitting Factory
  • 07 – Seattle, WA – Bumbershoot

The Strokes Post #118

just found this yesterday, it's amazing:

The Strokes - You Only Live Once (live, TOTP) [mp3]

The Dead Weather play Conan tomorrow (Thursday, 18 June)

it'll be their first television performance, and it'll give you a chance to check the band out before deciding whether or not you want to get their record. Jack White's latest project has already snagged a SPIN cover

visit them on their OFFICIAL WEBSITE

new album from The Dodos in August

everyone's favourite folk duo from San Francisco have reeled in a third member, Keaton Snyder on vibraphone, and will release their third album on August 31st.

lead singer Meric Long said
"I knew we wanted to make a rock record. Being an acoustic band - primarily, at least -sort of works against this idea, but Phil [Ek]'s production showcased that side of our band."

this sounds fantastic. I can hardly wait.

visit the trio on MYSPACE and catch them at Outside Lands this year!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Strokes Post #117

The Strokes - Ize of the World (live, oxegen festival) [mp3]

the best song on their third album, in my opinion. gives me chills every time I hear it.

record review: Phoenix - Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix (repost, sans mp3)

Phoenix are a band for all occasions. In the mood for something funky and beat driven to play at a club? Their second album Alphabetical will do the job right. Need a mixed bag? It’s Never Been Like That is your best bet. Or maybe you want to move past the straight up electronica fad. Maybe you’re in need of something a bit more layered and complex, but not any less accessible.

Well, fear not folks, because the fantastic French band have evolved to accommodate these tastes as well. Their latest offering, Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix is riddled with nods towards the classical direction, but with a Phoenix twist. But I’m sure you could discern that from the title.

Lead single and opener “Lisztomania” is an allusion to Franz Liszt’s piano concerts. The song itself steadily builds on clapping percussion and twinkly keys and an irresistible vocal delivery: “it comes and goes/ah! Lisztomania/Think less but see it grow /Like a riot like a riot oh!” to the final looping keyboards which make you honestly ponder what a classical composer in the 18th century could do with modern technology.

But by far my favourite thing off the album is the epic “Love Like a Sunset”, a song so interesting and futuristically awesome that will keep you on edge until you forget that there should be vocals at all, leaving you pleasantly surprised at the final minute and a half when Thomas Mars begins to sing alongside blissfully weightless harmonies.

Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix dropped on May 25th and is available for purchase and obsessive listening bouts. Highly recommended.


record review: Morrissey - Years of Refusal (repost, sans mp3)

I realize that this review is a bit behind the times, as the album dropped four months ago. Regardless, I actually have time to listen to music now (which makes me very happy) and for this reason, I’m reviewing albums that I’ve been meaning to post about for ages.

If you’re a Moz fan, you probably already own this album, but just in case you don’t, let me tell you why you need to listen to this album immediately.

Steven Patrick Morrissey isn’t like communism; he is good both in theory and in practice. He fronted The Smiths for five glorious years, producing four of the greatest albums of our time. He then went on to work on his own solo career, and Years of Refusal is his ninth studio album since 1988. He has deemed the album his “strongest work to date”, which is accurate on many levels. First, this album is loud. Really loud. Long gone is the Morrissey singing sweet reminisces on Strangeways Here We Come (The Smith’s final release).

The album’s title is actually quite perfect, as the songs are nothing less than a culmination of Moz’s frustrations with the world, and his refusal to acquiesce to its ridiculous demands. On “That’s How People Grow Up”, he declares: I was wasting my time/Trying to fall in love/Disappointment came to me and/Booted me and bruised and hurt me” and follows that sentiment with “So yes there are things worse in life than/Never being someone's sweetie”. Morrissey has always remained ambiguous about his sexuality (I personally consider him as a transcendent being who needent define himself by our baser human instincts), but he’s never been as forward about it as he is here.

This album begins with “Something is Squeezing my Skull”, a song that treads first into punk and then metal guitar territory but is strangely, completely, Morrissey. Years of Refusal combines sharp lyricism with powerful vocals and soaring music, especially through the incorporation of trumpets and keyboards. The drums establish a cadence that would be at home in any marching band: deliberate, consistent and ambitious.

The melodic sparkle of the single “I’m Throwing My Arms Around Paris” contrasts beautifully with the blatant egotism found in “All You Need is Me” and the melancholy rendition of “It’s Not Your Birthday Anymore”. Essentially, Morrissey is saying that he is impenetrable yet vulnerable; independent but brokenhearted; depressed yet fabulous. He ends the album with the anthem “I’m OK By Myself”, just to remind us how much of a paradox he is. Years of Refusal is one of the most transparently straightforward albums of our time, and yet, we will never truly know Morrissey. He will remain a mysterious entity, constantly trying to explain himself to the world, but not really. I think he revels in the ambiguity and, to be completely honest, that’s half of his music’s appeal.


Monday, June 15, 2009

Elvis Costello to play AMOEBA

the legend will be stopping by both the SF and the Hollywood Amoeba Record stores next Monday, June 22nd. He is supporting his latest record, Secret Profane and Sugarcane. Venture out if you wanna hear Mr Costello get down and dirty with an acoustic guitar

The Strokes Post #116

The Strokes - You Only Live Once (live, Oxegen Festival) [mp3]

simply spectacular.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Sunday Morning Covers

We The Living - Black Swan (Thom Yorke cover) [mp3]
a Wisconsin band that manages to sound very British.

Bell x1 - I Fought the Law (The Clash cover) [mp3]
this is just precious.
UPDATE: the song was originally by The Crickets, and The Clash covered it as a promo single

Death Cab for Cutie - Complicated (Avril Lavigne cover) [mp3, HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!]

Ben says "guys, shut up, this is serious!" a bunch of times. the ending bit is super hilarious. I kind of sang along to every word, a frightening reminder of what I listened to in middle school...

MGMT - Roger (Laid Back cover) [mp3]
the boys covering a song by a Danish synth/funk group from the 80's. nice.

Michael Andrews & Gary Jules - Mad World (Tears for Fears cover) [mp3]

a lot of people have been talking about this song because an American Idol contestant covered it, but I love it because it reminds me of Donnie Darko

Fiona Apple - Across the Universe (The Beatles cover) [mp3]

simply lovely.

Sufjan Stevens -Free Man In Paris (Joni Mitchell cover) [mp3]
Sufjan has such a distinctly haunting voice. nothing else affects me like listening to his music.

Travis - I Kissed a Girl (Katy Perry cover) [mp3]
two parts creepy, one part awesome, and no where nearly as annoying as the original.

Patti Smith - Gloria (Van Morrison cover) [mp3]

just found out that this song, off her intensely awesome debut album Horses, is a cover. although she did reinvent the song, kind of like...

Led Zeppelin - Babe I'm Gonna Leave You (Anne Bredon cover) [mp3]
hello, favourite song by Zep. like the Patti Smith song, it's found on their debut, and is much different than the original, which is a folk song.

Phoenix - Playground Love (Air cover) [mp3]
these guys have quickly replaced Daft Punk as my favourite French band. I can't get enough of any of their songs, and this cover is ace.

Adele - Last Nite (The Strokes cover) [mp3]
I don't really like this one, but people keep requesting it, so here you go

Max Vernon - I Kissed a Girl (Katy Perry cover) [mp3]
this one is much more trance-y, driven by pianos and Max's self-confident vocals.

Ben Folds - Lost in the Supermarket [mp3, HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!]
I couldn't help myself, when I heard the adorable cover of "I Fought the Law", I had to contest it with this cover, which is even more cuddly and un-Clashlike yet fun fun fun.

The Strokes Post #115

The Strokes - Last Nite (live, Oxegen Festival) [mp3]