Thursday, July 31, 2008

Thursday Youtube

Maybe the best song ever:

(HT: La Vie En Robe for the inspiration. Yeah, I'm saying that Dan inspired me to post a youtube video. Faint praise, I realize... Whatever, just watch the damn song!)

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Lolla Lineup Cliff Notes - Sunday

Rounding out our preview of Lollapalooza, here are the acts playing on Sunday at the six main stages in chronological order - along with my gut-check synopsis of each one and a rating from 1-10 of how interested I am in seeing them. Feel free to add your own say-so!

The Schedule

Ha Ha Tonka - 8 Definitely in the vein of Kings of Leon only just a touch more intense. Only negative is they occasionally waver close to pop country. But such instances are rare.
Office - 7 New Wave retread that is just revised enough that it actually works pretty well. Halfway between Koufax and XTC.
The Octopus Project - 8 Electronic music that pops with (occasional) vocals delivered in a harmonized, whispery chant. There's some real fire to this music. And now I'm pissed. We had all those shitty bands on Saturday and of course Sunday morning starts with three interesting acts playing at the same time. Lollapalooza, you really suck. I mean a lot. This is bullshit. Dammit!
The Blakes - 5 Pretty much straight up rock. Vocals are a bit uninspired, but they rock a decent beat.
Kid Sister - 4 Dancey hip-hop, it's light and fun, but not very powerful.
White Lies - 5 Interpol if they were actually British. And whinier. So like The Bravery, I guess.
Wild Sweet Orange - 7 Shout Out Louds meets Bright Eyes. I mean, that's a good thing, no?
What Made Milwaukee Famous - 5 A bit too sweet for my tastes, they remind me of a modern version of the Mamas and the Papas with no female voices. Yeah, I know that's a stretch. They're not quite as straight as Snow Patrol, but pretty close.
The Weakerthans - 4 Their myspace page says "Folk Rock." That is correct. They sound like nice boys who don't get into much trouble.
The Whigs - 6 They are soooo from Athens, Georgia. Pretty straight rock, but you get the feeling they really mean it. Like a Southern Social Distortion.
Tally Hall - 2 Quirky with all members singing. Really, really, really not my thing - just too brainy.
John Butler Trio - 1 Neo-hippie acoustic rock complete with stupid lyrics about fast food, only if Anthony Kiedis was the singer.
Nicole Atkins & the Sea - 6 Kind of a less country, darker Neko Case without quite the same chops (but still pretty solid).
Brazilian Girls - 5 A modernized version of the Velvet Underground, except without all the artistry getting in the way. And reportedly more danceable (see the comments). You see how I rated such an incarnation.
Newton Faulkner - 1 I could describe this music, but instead, just take a look at this guy. I think that sums up how awful this dude is better than I can.
Amadou & Mariam - 7 Afro-beat is all the rage, huh? That's what these two from Mali play, but with an acoustic soul bend. Also, they're both blind.
Chromeo - 3 Electronic boops and beeps with pretty low-key vocals. Like LCD Soundsystem without everything that makes it good. Pretty much dance techno.
Black Kids - 6 You may recall that Kyle profiled this band here back in April. So I'm going to borrow straight from his description. With their infectious dance rock getting recognition from everything from Pitchfork to Rolling Stone, you'll have as much fun listening as they appear to have had playing.
Iron & Wine - 6 This is the band that I'm supposed to be more into than I am. Soothing, acoustic roots music. Everyone seems to love Sam Beam or at least his beard, and they always seem pleased with his sets. Just really, really mellow.
Eli "Paperboy" Reed & The True Loves - 8 Clearly influenced by Sam Cooke and Otis Redding, Eli's got some serious soul for a white boy. If he's got a tight band, this could be fun as hell.
G. Love & Special Sauce - 1 I think this dumb band has played at Lollapalooza every year since its Chicago incarnation. I don't really mind since it keeps the hippie rabble down at one end of the festival.
Saul Williams - 7 The darling of both Trent Reznor and the Sound Opinions guys, Williams is a poet first and a crazy ball of energy second. He's supposed to be great live. I'm not finding much intriguing about his records, so maybe you have to see him to get it.
Flogging Molly - 6 I was briefly into this band about seven years ago. They do the whole Gaelic punk thing and don't really distinguish themselves that much. Still, their songs are pretty slick and snappy. Say that last sentence with a comical Irish accent and it sounds a lot better. See, they're on to something.
Blues Traveler - 1 I think this dumb band has played at Lollapalooza every year since its Chicago incarnation. I don't really mind since keeps the hippie rabble down at one end of the festival.
Love and Rockets - 5 It's tempting to assume that just 'cause a band is old and has been around a while that you need to see them. Formed in the aftermath of the more important Bauhaus, their tunes sound dated today. And I can't fathom they're going to give major energy up there. But they might be worth examining.
Gnarls Barkley - 7 After showing up clad in Wimbledon-ready gear two years ago, they impressed nearly everyone who saw their uber-modern version of slick soul music. Their new album is pretty killer, too.
Girl Talk - 8 The mashup-master from Chicago, Greg Gillis, does it all with his I-mac, but you won't be able to help from groovin and smiling every time you recognize one of his myriad of samples. Word has his new album has over 600 of them. At Pitchfork last year, there were major issues with too many people crowding the smaller stage. He's on a smaller stage again. The best plan may be to find a clear spot in the wings where you can get down unimpeded.
The National - 8 Took me a while to find my way with these guys, but their last release, Boxer, is brilliant in its mopey way. I'm particularly obsessed with the track "Apartment Story." They may really not pull off the festival show, but I'm excited nonetheless.
Mark Ronson - 1 Some cheeseball producer guy who's worked with Macy Gray, Amy Winehouse, Poofy Poppy, and Jimmy Fallon. He made that boring Lilly Allen cover of the Kaiser Chief's "Oh My God." Have at it suckers.
Nine Inch Nails - 10 Somehow, it has become very fashionable to hate on NIN in recent years, despite the fact that they're one of the most fan-friendly bands available these days. You don't need me to describe them to you as they're one of the biggest bands on the planet. I think they're going to play out of their minds and close the festival on fire. Or you can go watch the most overrated rapper since Poofy Pops.
Kanye West - 4 George Bush doesn't care about black people.

I was gonna try to say something profound to wrap this up, but instead I'll just remark that despite all the chimp poo they flung at us on Saturday, the overall lineup is pretty impressive. They've also done a better job of putting bands in sequence that make sense. Like having Gnarls Barkley, Mark Ronson, and Kanye West back to back on the same field. Things always seemed more complicated in previous years. Anyhoo, when I collapse from exhaustion on Sunday night, somebody drag me to the blue line so I can get home, 'kay? Kay.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Lolla Lineup Cliff Notes - Saturday

Continuing our preview of Lollapalooza, here are the acts playing on Saturday at the six main stages in chronological order - along with my gut-check synopsis of each one and a rating from 1-10 of how interested I am in seeing them. Feel free to add your own enlightening comments!

The Schedule

Krista - 0 Worse than anything all day on Friday. Major pro-tools implemented on horrendous diva tunes. Meredith Brooks meets Evanescence, but without their collective talent.
De Novo Dahl - 2 Better than Krista at least. But extremely reminiscient of New Radicals. Hence the 2.
Witchcraft - 4 Sabbath-esque fuzz-rock from Sweden. Except it's more Kansas than Sabbath, alas.
Margot & the Nuclear So and So's - 4 A bit like Travis, but with less of an edge. Very sing-songy.
Does It Offend You, Yeah? - 7 Kind of all over the map in terms of genre, but at their best when they fire up the boops, beeps, and buzzers in an aggressive manner.
The Postelles - 4 Directly halfway between The Replacements and Vampire Weekend.
The Ting Tings - 5 I shared a flight to Amsterdam with these guys (or, their gear at least). But that's neither here nor there. With a four-on-the-floor dance beat with, they're as close to disco as indie music can get. I hate disco, but this isn't so bad.
Ferras - 1 It's like Billy Joel crossed with Billy Joel and some Rob Thomas sprinkled on top. What the christ is this guy doing here???
Mason Jennings - 2 A mix of Dylan-esque folk and Ben Harper-esque crap. Saturday is really beginning to look extremely disappointing. Just hashing through this pap is disenheartening.
Dr. Dog - 6 Soulful, relaxed, southern indie rock... from Philadelphia. They're a bit too poppy and the vocals are a bit too Bright Eysey for me, but I can see why they're getting so much attention.
Innerpartysystem - 2 The songs each start out with some promise of decent industrual rock until the cheeseball vocal assault (complete with protools overlay). Likely to show up on the soundtrack of a romantic comedy someday... starring Julia Stiles.
Foals - 5 Rhythmic, almost chanted vocals with minimal guitar and drums. I wish it were the other way around.
Dierks Bentley - 1 The worst kind of country music. Case in point: "Girl that's kiiiind of the waaaay I'm feelin'. Tryyyyin' to stoooop your leavin'." Somebody shoot me.
The Gutter Twins - 7 Mark Lanegan of The Screaming Trees and Greg Dulli of The Afghan Whigs combine forces to make dark, creeping tunes. The songs are good and have their emotional peaks, but I wonder how well this will play at a festival.
Steel Train - 3 At moments, they sound a bit like a cheerier Wolf Parade. But in others they sound like a bar band.
DeVotchKa - 5 The easiest way for me to describe them would be to say that they're a more earnest version of Gogol Bordello. It's not as intense, and certainly prettier. I'd actually rate them higher, but a set at the Wicker Park Fest last year was just too unintense to work.
Booka Shade - 2 Walter Merziger and Arno Kammermeier play tedious German techno. Just like you'd expect them to. I just don't know why they're not on Perry's stage.
MGMT - 7 What Beck should be doing. Squawky, white boy pseudo-soul with a slick, electronic beat. Closer to TV On The Radio than anything else.
Serena Ryder - 4 Not sure if you'd call this folk or country, so let's go with Americana. Only the voice is Stevie Nicks meets Katherine Hepburn. Click on the myspace and you'll see what I mean.
Explosions in the Sky - 9 If you read this space regularly, you know how much I appreciate them. Major symphonic compositions played by a four-piece rock band. Clearly, this ain't the right venue, but they've played enough festivals by now, maybe they have this thing down.
Brand New - 2 More cheese. Practically a blink 182 cover band except they break into Dashboard Confessional screaming. They even have a song called "Jude Law and a Semester Abroad." I don't know who booked Saturday, but they suck.
Spank Rock - 5 Excited booty rap. The dude's vocally agile. I'm afraid I don't have much more to add to that. Anyone seen him live before?
DJ Bald Eagle - 6 Really aggressive electronic beats with various characters rapping over them.
Okkervil River - 9 I've been dying to see these guys ever since I had to miss their Schubas show two years ago for overseas business meetings. I once called them halfway between Tom Petty and Arcade Fire. Obviously this is a good thing. I stand by that assertion.
Jamie Lidell - 5 He played Pitchfork last summer. Of his performance, I said, "He basically has two types of songs. On some, he beatboxes and does all kinds of electronic mixing and theremin playing behind a table. On others, he gets out in front and sings Motown-fashioned whiteboy soul with a backing track." I remember thinking he was all right.
Uffie - 2 French electronic female hip-hop. I don't like the major effects being put on the vocals. It's very pedestrian, except the lyrics are raunchy. I think if I knew a hot chick, I could create this band on my PC. Yes, she's pretty hot. That's why 'cause she got a 2.
Broken Social Scene - 10 I have attended seven Lollapaloozas in my life. I don't know how many performances I've taken in across all of those fests. But I know what the top two of them are. #1 (by a nose) was Arcade Fire in 108 degree heat at the initial reincarnation of the festival here in Chicago. #2 was Broken Social Scene two years ago in a completely stunning 45 minute set. #3 would be well behind those two. Lolla has been owing them those extra fifteen minutes since that time. There's no way I'm missing this.
Battles - 8.5 Largely instrumental, mathy, in-your-face rock centered around former Helmet drummer Jon Stanier. I was a bit disappointed by their Pitchfork set last year, but others were raving about it.
Lupe Fiasco - 7 Creative, adroit hip-hop from Chicago. Worth seeing. They really screwed us with this time slot.
Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings - 5 Soul with a pretty tight band, but the vocals are nothing special, which basically means the soul is nothing special. Could be good live, though.
Toadies - 6 Stompin' Texas Rock reminiscent of Queens of the Stone Age. Had a big hit in 1994 with "Possum Kingdom," but have evolved a bit since then. They'll lead very well into the headlining act.
Wilco - 7 It often seems weird that these Chicago roots rockers became as huge as they did. Their songs are overly catchy, and they never had a megahit with any of them. But they certainly have plenty of great ones.
Rage Against the Machine - 10 Last time I saw this fiery, politicized, angry rock-rap act, it was at Lollapalooza - in 1993. They kind of stole the whole show. Their current incarnation is being mocked as all reunion tours are, but I think they're going to burn the whole damn place down. I can't wait.

Sunday's Cliff Notes Preview will be up tomorrow morning. Again, please feel free to add your two cents...

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Lolla Lineup Cliff Notes - Friday

I did this exercise for Pitchfork and it proved to be not only helpful (at least for me), but surprisingly accurate in its predictive power. So now, I am going through each of the acts on the Lollapalooza Lineup. The number is a 1-10 level of my interest in seeing them and is followed by a brief, "from the gut" synopsis of the band. Click on any of the band names to get to their myspace and listen for yourself! Let us know what you think and what you're pumped up to see in the comments section.

The Schedule

We Go to 11 - 2 Teenage brothers - really sloppy heavy rock.
K'NAAN - 6 Peppy hip-hop with ambient backing music and socially conscious lyrics.
Bang Camaro - 5 18-person hard-riffin metal act. The thing is, 14 of the members play "lead vocals." Pretty much a joke, but a welcome one.
Sofia Talvik - 3 Bright, shimmery acoustic pop, plus she's cute.
Black Lips - 7 Bouncy garage rock, with irreverent shouty vocals.
Holy F*ck - 7 Not just a great name, they feature dirty, aggressive beats. Would be much better after dark, though.
Magic Wands - 3 Pretty low-key. Reminds me of Drugstore, but sleepy.
Manchester Orchestra - 5 Very Bright Eyes, but with just a bit of an edge. Do with that what you will.
Butch Walker - 1 Standard, boring straight ahead adult contemporay rock. What is he doing here? Get your ass back to Lite FM!
Rogue Wave - 8 I always struggle to describe these guys. Pretty indie rawk. It's too pretty, but I still likes it.
The Parlor Mob - 1 Cheesy blues-rock with hair-band vocals. Like, say, Aerosmith's "Same Old Song And Dance." How fitting.
The Go! Team - 7 Their sound has tired for me since they played Lolla 2 years ago, but this cheerleader-led, bubbly outfit played a darn good set then.
The Enemy UK - 3 Almost impossibly British. But beyond that, they sound just like Dashboard Confessional. So let's call 'em Windscreen Confessional.
Yeasayer - 8 Probably considered experimental folk. After a few listens, I've been really won over. They have the potential to give a GREAT performance. Or a mediocre one. But I'm excited to find out.
Electric Touch - 2 Overproduced, cheesy guitar rock meets cheesy dance rock.
Duffy - 5 Acoustic soul residing between Norah Jones and Amy Winehouse.
Louix XIV - 6 Punchy, ramshackle rock always on the verge of breaking apart w/ intentionally raw vocals and either strings or piano on nearly every track.
The Kills - 7 The dark side to Mates of States' light. Male/female duo with just drums, guitar and their voices.
Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears - 3 Really groovy blues with an attempt at soul. But the dude can't sing very well, so what's the point?
The Black Keys - 7 Raw, dirty blues coming from just one guitar and a simple drum kit, but they manage to fuzz their way to a variety of powerful tunes.
Gogol Bordello - 9 They call their music Gypsy Punk, and that's probably about right. Eastern European punk with acordians. You understand.
Free Sol - 5 Soulful Hip-hop, like a baby Gnarls with a splash of NERD.
Cat Power - 7 Chan Marshall sports a soft but powerful voice and has gotten over her difficulty with live performances that used to derail her shows.
Your Vegas - 1 A really, really cheesy version of Stabbing Westward meets an even cheesier version of The Killers meets Keane (who is cheesy enough on their own). Have fun with that.
Mates of State - 8 Totally won me over when they played two years ago. Husband and wife duo playing cheery, beautiful indie pop.
Grizzly Bear - 8 Technically folk, with four-part harmonies and all kinds of instruments in the mix. Not sure how it will play at a festival as it requires patience, quiet and attentiveness. But I'm hopeful.
The Raconteurs - 5 Jack White of the White Stripes and Brendan Benson. It's basically rock with the slightest twang. I can't seem to get into them. Plus, they only have clips of their songs streaming on myspace, not the complete tracks. That's annoying.
Cadence Weapon - 2 I don't know why, but this gives me the feeling of the creators of South Park rapping. It's too fast and monotone. And it's giving me a headache.
Bloc Party - 9 Their initial release, Silent Alarm, was one of the best new albums we've received. The follow-up, more meh. But I'm still psyched to see this high energy, rockin' outfit from London.
The Cool Kids - 4 Modern hip-hop. Thin instrumentation focused mainly on the vocals.
CSS - 6 Dance rock akin to Basement Jaxx or Justice w/ female vocals and busy beats, but also venturing into more straight-ahead indie rawk. My brother says they're hilarious.
Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks - 3 The former frontman of Pavement has never done it for me. He played Pitchfork last year and didn't do it for me then either. Maybe he does it for you. That's your perogative just as it is mine to be thoroughly bored by him.
Radiohead - 10 Never seen 'em. Had the chance to go to the 2001 Hutchinson Field show that made these Lollapalooza festivals possible and like an idiot chose not to go. It's rare that we get a chance to make up for missed opportunities, but there you are.

So that's an even stronger day than I initially believed. Saturday and Sunday notes will be up later tomorrow and Tuesday, respectively. Your thoughts on any bands I may be overlooking would be much appreciated!

Jim Derogatis' Preview

Friday, July 25, 2008

A Few More Dark Knight Notes

OK, so after seeing the latest cultural phenomenon, I wanted to weigh in on a few more points. Please note two things. 1) There are spoilers here. Do not read more if you plan to see it. Also, if you haven't seen the movie and you're over 11, go make it happen. It's a major evolutionary step in the comic book superhero genre, and a hell of a film. 2) I have been in media silence mode since its release, so if these are obvious points that have been pointed out a million times already, I apologize, but they seemed significant to me as I was watching the picture.

Bullet Points:

  • I couldn't help noticing all the buildings in Chicago that were put into play. I'd say at least a third of the film took place within two blocks of my office. I'm not complaining, but it kind of stood out to me. It made Gotham more fictional, which is hardly a major problem.
  • Heath Ledger was clearly channeling Andy Rooney as the Joker. It was a brilliant performance, but the mannerisms and delivery, even in angry moments, seemed to be ripped straight from the mouth of 60 Minutes' favorite curmudgeon. Did anyone else notice this? "You know what I don't understand? Why all you mafiosos don't do something about The Batman..."
  • The Joker's abilities to accomplish elaborate schemes (even though he implies to Harvey Dent that he's incapable of such accomplishments) were a bit over the top, but in a way that I was totally willing to forgive. Questions abound regarding his ability to run a crime syndicate when he consistently kills his accomplices, let alone how he can put so much infrastructure into place quickly. It just doesn't matter. This is where "Why so serious?" would be an apt question. Perhaps he owns a time machine (an plot point for the next movie?), but I chose to just go with it after a point.
  • This is quite clearly Ledger's second best performance. He's been in so many fluffy movies, but shows that Brokeback Mountain was no fluke. It makes his death all the more a shame. Andy Rooney or not, he was phenomenal and the screen was alive every time he was on it.
  • I couldn't help contrasting Gary Oldman's performance with his role in The Professional. This was completely opposite that one, even though it was a similar situation. He totally delivered on the Commissioner Gordon we've all been waiting for. Er - we don't care about Commissioner Gordon? Well, he was excellent anyway.
  • Maggie Gyllenhaal seemed a bit over her skis on this one. It was not the right role for her. She's too quirky and hip to play this character. Katie Holmes would have done a better job as would several other young leading actresses. It's not a knock on Maggie, who is generally great, but I just feel she was improperly cast.
  • It's a long film. I don't need to see it again for a while, but I am certain that I will see it again some day. Is it the #1 movie of all time as the IMDb currently has it? Absolutely not. And we'll see that ranking drop in the coming weeks. Is it as good a Batman movie as anyone could possibly make? I'm guessing yes, but I'm also willing to keep an open mind about Christopher Nolan's abilities. Certainly, with the box office and critical success he's earned the right to make a third caped crusader.
  • I kept wanting to call Bruce Wayne "Patrick Bateman." Am I the only one?

OWR: The Dark Knight

84: Sensational*

*Note: Blatantly stolen from Michael Phillips, but I couldn't come up with a better OWR. Sue me.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Pitchfork Sunday

Another overnight downpour led to more mud, but also more solutions by the festival workers. Plywood boards covered the swampiest areas and more wood chips were laid in places of high traffic. I can not stress enough how smoothly they handled this. Ohio's Times New Viking, the only band on the Pitchfork lineup named for a font, kicked things off with a set more based on fun and enthusiasm than beautiful chords. After claiming that "this song is not about drugs" they went into a dissonant but catchy song with a chorus that went "I need more money 'cause I need more drugs." This band really can't sing very well, and would probably be served very well by adding a bassist, but it really didn't matter that much. The peak of their set came with a song whose chorus was, "I don't want to die in the city alone." People were really getting into them at this point. After their half-hour ended, it was probably enough, especially since most of their songs were only two minutes each. But a great way to start off the day.
I can't say the same for the Dirty Projectors. I found their music intolerable, and I wasn't even anywhere near the stage. If you took Peter Cetera's worst outputs, dumbed them down, and added a lot of warbling, you'd get pretty close. Ugh. Please, let's move ahead before I get nasty. Um, nastier.

A evidenced by the packed crowd, a lot of people seemed pretty pumped to hear Boris. But none of us knew what to expect. With a gong behind him at the ready, drummer Atsuo was clearly the centerpiece of the group. Not only that, he was wearing an unbuttoned silk white shirt and white gloves. At the sound of the gong and the initialization of the smoke machine, the band charged into their punk/metal riffing. Their sound was loud and rumbly, a winning combination. While lead singer Takeshi mumbled through his long hair, Atsuo punctuated his drumming with a series of "Woooh!"s and the occasional "1-2-3-4!" He made wild eye contact with the crowd and frequently stood up with his drumstick raised above his head. He's the closest thing I've ever seen to Iggy Pop incarnated as a drummer.The songs were more diverse than you'd expect, and each one ripped straight into the next one, but I don't know how well the band speaks English, so it's not like they could have engaged in banter even if they wanted to. I'm not sure how you say "Wooh!" in Japanese, but my guess is it's a universal word. After just a half-hour into their alloted one hour slot, clearly something had gone wrong. Some portion of the sound dropped out (though it was still loud as hell), and Atsuo stood up, shrugged and casually tossed his drumsticks aside. He hit the gong, got on the mic and said with a thick accent, "Heh, heh, not enough electric power." Then, with a big grin, he toppled his own drum kit in a sprint to the area where the moshing had been most fierce for a stage dive. People were raving about this set all day, and even though it was cut short, it was a very full half-hour. See Boris if you get the chance.
HEALTH is a wild band, playing their brand of largely vocals free rock with abandon. Speaking of their brand, it ain't pop. I kind of dug their grating approach even though it clearly was nails on the chalkboard to the rest of my friends. My big question about them, they play like this all means something important, but how can we possibly tell. I endured the complaints and while I'm not about to go out and buy their record, I won't avoid them. Was that the biggest backhanded compliment of the day or what?
Looking like a cross between Omar Sharif and Sinbad on acid, King Kahn led his band with fire. The band didn't sound great. There was far too much bass, and Kahn's voice was breaking from the beginning of the set. But it was fun as hell even if the music left much to be desired. After urging the audience to "Sing from your ovaries!" and to "toss some garbage in the air - come on, throw garbage!" he stripped down to his skivvies and continued through what everyone in attendance considered a fantastic set. Unfortunately, the balance stage was running late all day and I had to go because...

I wasn't about to miss whatever Les Savy Fav would do on the Connector Stage. They started a few minutes early, sending people running to that end of the field. Looking like a deranged junior high science teacher (is that redundant?), frontman Tim Harrington began wearing a gaudy tie-dyed t-shirt and shiny red leggings that only covered one leg. When they quickly got to their recent single, Patty Lee, the crowd up front moshed gleefully. Harrington then played with rubber surgical gloves and said hello to Prince "Hi little guy..." He kept asking his bandmates which song was next to which he'd say "Oh, I love this song. Oh. Mmmm." His delivery in these moments reminded me a lot of Mitch Fatel, except he was struggling to make much sense most of the time. I suppose that's part of the act. Then, wearing a Sherlock Holmes getup, he rode one of the black garbage receptacles into the audience. A bit later, wearing nothing but his leggings, he was covered in mud. All the while, his band played pretty furiously behind him. I didn't know how to make any sense of it all, and on top of it, fatigue was really setting in for me. After two and a half days, I was running out of gas and sat down to watch the second half of their set on the monitors with my umbrella up to shade me from the midday sun.
Lucky for me, they were serving Sparks. I'd never tried this manufactured concoction in a can before, but it's some ingenious combination of sugar, alcohol, and caffeine (among other uppers). After downing a Sparks Plus (less sugar, more booze), I got a bit spastic and found myself talking too fast. A bit cornholio if you will. I don't drink much caffeine and for the first hour it was a bit uncomfortable. I demanded that my friends forbid me from having another, even though I had mighty cravings.

M. Ward played a more rockin' set than I anticipated. I didn't pay close attention (partly because I was friggin' high), but he sounded good.

Spiritualized came out humming with two female backup singers doing a lot to round out the sound. With the drums really movin', and the organ jacked way up, their first song broke down into a beautiful sonic disaster. From there, they went into an amazing version of "Shine a Light." Whatever issues with sound may have been afoot last year obviously not an issue this time around (bookended perfectly by Mission of Burma's opening set and this one). The crowd was totally attentive for the quieter segments, and heads were bobbing and banging for the more intense parts. There were none of the Les Savy Fav antics here. In fact, Jason Pierce didn't utter one word throughout the set, not even a "thankyou" at the end. Perhaps the Sparks played a role, but I found myself feeling elated throughout their performance. On "Come Together," the bass, organ, drums and vocals all hit high points, each doing their own thing, but building the sound together. This crisp performance was pretty much as good as someone can play at a festival. It was overpowering.

Of course, ready to be overpowering in their own way, Dinosaur Jr's set was one of the most anticipated of the weekend (at least for me). The crowd in front of the stage was evenly mixed between die-hards and people there to check out these legends of indie rawk. When the guy introducing the band thanked sponsor eMusic, a dude to the left of me yelled "Buy records!" Later, he called out "Bubble and Scrape!", the name of the Sebadoh album played on Friday night (Dino bassist Lou Barlow is in Sebadoh as well). Then the guy left the performance halfway through. I guess he was on both sides of the fence

With three stacks of amps behind him, J Mascis set about to shredding and wailing with his guitar in the way that only he can. Last time I saw them, I commented on his gigantic hands and theorized that it helps him make these solos look effortless. The audience response to his riffing was pure adoration. In previous performances, I never noticed what a strong drummer Murph was. Either the mix was different, or I was paying more attention, or he had a really strong day. No matter the reason, I couldn't help but note how powerful and energetic he was. On the right side of the stage, strumming his brains out, Barlow seemed to be having a great time throughout the set. The vocals were totally buried and nearly inaudible. One can only assume this was intentional, and not really a problem anyway. You don't go to a Dino show for the vocals. You go for the wall of sound, which was amply available. The only complaint to be had about the set was that in between each song, there was a lot of random dithering and tuning, but this is nothing new for the band. At one of their own shows it's not as big a deal, but with the festival time limit, it's costing us rawk... The high point for crowd energy was definitely Feel the Pain, which was a surprise to me. Maybe it was a bigger hit than I realized. On the whole, the crowd was a bit droopy. This was nearing the end of three long days. Perhaps they all should have downed a Sparks... Dino came through with a blistering set, and I was just super-geeked that they played "Freak Scene" as were a lot of the other Dino die-hards.
Dinosaur Jr. Pitchfork Setlist:
Been There All The Time
Back To Your Heart
Little Furry Things
Out There
Feel The Pain
Pick Me Up
The Wagon
Forget The Swan
Freak Scene
Sludgefeast (encore)

I gotta be honest, they sounded great. But unfortunately after the last two acts, their set came off pretty weak and flat. I'm not sure what they could have done after the rich waves of sound from Spiritualized and overpowering riffs from Dino, so it's not really their fault or anything. The vocals sounded great and they played most of their hits. People were dancing all across Union Park even though they were tired. It was a nice way to end the weekend.

Aside from Friday, I didn't have very high hopes for this particular Pitchfork. But I came away elated, and not just from the caffeinated alcohol. The weather cooperated for the most part, and the organizers handled the rest. There was great food, and they took care of the mud better than we had any right to expect. The folks at Pitchfork really know how to put together a lineup, too. There are always some bands that you've never heard of before that truly impress, and there are always a few old favorites you always feel blessed to see, even if it's for a shorter set. Hell, three days of even mediocre music is going to get me pumped. At the end of it all, I was exhausted, but wholly content. I kind of felt like these people:
See you next year!

Jim Derogatis' Review
Greg Kot's Review
Muzzle of Bees Review; and here
Stereogum Review, and here
Live Music Blog Review

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Unyielding Commissioning Fears The Future

They Shall All Drown In Lakes of Blood - Surely by now you've heard that there is a Conan the Barbarian remake in the works. As far as I know, they haven't cast Conan yet, but the part of Thulsa Doom is apparently set. Djimon Hounsou will do his best to emulate the amazing performance turned in by James Earl Jones in the original. Hounsou has been great in everything he's done, and always seems to engender empathy in his characters. One of the most compelling things about Jones' performance was the way he played a purely evil character, yet had a sense of calm that nearly put us under his spell as well. Hounsou has the blueprint for what to do. Now don't go yelling and mess it up.

Awww shucks - I have a friend who hates Disney more than he hates Ohio State. And he really, really hates Ohio State. He hates a lot of things, actually, but I don't know if there's anything he hates more than Disney. There's some more fuel for his fire now. Roger Ebert and Richard Roeper have decided to depart their Disney-owned show, At the Movies. Now, shows end all the time and this one had a 33 year run. Nothing to sneeze at. But I am all up in arms because according to Ebert's press release, Disney has decided to "take the program in a new direction." You can guess what this means. Tons of positive reviews and celebrity gossip. I have long believed that the film industry hates Ebert because he wields so much power and has proven to be a critic of great integrity. He is one of the few people that fights for us to keep seeing good movies and is someone that can help derail a project like What Happens in Vegas. He and Roeper have both hinted at continuing their show with another company. Ebert and the Siskel estate hold the rights to their Thumbs Up/Thumbs Down reviews, so the new version will not be able to use them (in fact, Roeper and his guests have ceased using them as of late).

Ben Lyons and Ben Mankiewicz will take over "At the Movies," but the show will likely be irrelevant without the big-name critics. Here's hoping that we keep Ebert on TV in some fashion, even if it's just his name as he continues to recover from complications due to jaw cancer. We need him, and we need his voice to be as powerful as possible.

Kill Your Television - Eric's Top Ten TV-to-Movie Adaptations

Monday, July 21, 2008

Pitchfork Saturday

Overnight downpours and a wet morning made much of Union Park a sloppy mess. But the organizers were on the case, throwing down woodchips in the high traffic areas, and it seemed like a lot of people took their time in arriving. No matter, there was rock and roll to be had.

I arrived a bit too late to check out the Boban i Marko Markovic Orkestra, which was too bad. But I was able to catch Titus Andronicus' set from the beginning. Even though they were heavier and less thematic, they reminded me of The Alarm. Something about their song construction. Halfway through their set, lead singer Patrick Stickles, wearing an old-school Batman t-shirt, climbed up the light tower on the side of the stage, singing and blowing his harmonica. They came out with a ton of energy and started off the day as if the rain was irrelevant. It certainly was to them.
Hawk and a Hacksaw's set did not begin remotely close to on time at the newly moved Balance Stage. So I circled back to the main stage to catch Jay Reatard's set. If I could sum it up quickly, I could call it jolly idiocy. I couldn't understand a word through the wavering vocals. Perhaps he was making strident statements, but based on his head-banging mop-top and the Flying V guitars, I'm guessing it was more about dirty punk for its own sake. Despite how pumped up the band was, they're certainly no Buzzcocks and I found the performance pretty lacking after a couple tracks.

Caribou played their entire set clustered closely together in the middle of the stage. A relatively packed crowd had gathered and gave the band their full attention. It became immediately clear that this is a tight outfit. With so many cross-cutting parts, at times, you felt you were hearing imagined sounds that were part of the music - random beeps if you will.
Throughout their performance there were moments of real subdued power. Nobody was playing overly hard or loud, but the way the music fit together captivated the crowd and even got heads banging. The only real downer was when they whipped out a recorder which only served to wimp up the show and took away from the musical purity on display otherwise. They more than made up for it with three people wildly drumming at once near the end of the set, all perfectly together. Probably the best set of Saturday. I can't wait to see them again.

Looking like they had stumbled off the set of Robert Altman's Nashville, Fleet Foxes began their set with the a capella line, "What a life I lead in the summer." It was just beautiful. I'm a sucker for multi-part harmonies and theirs were fantastic. Unfortunately, a lot of other people thought so, too, and I couldn't get very close. Being stuck pretty far away, I couldn't seem to avoid Chatty Cathys who refused to pay attention. It was at this point that I realized I was getting a bit cranky. Maybe it was the heat or perhaps I was just getting tired, but rather than continue to be perturbed I chose to check out the other stage. In retrospect, I should have hung tough and enjoyed the rest of the set.

The only thing these hipsters like more than their ironic t-shirts are their cigarettes of all varieties.

Fuck Buttons were setting up late on the Balance stage, an issue that would persist throughout the weekend. The music is pretty good, but the stage show couldn't have been less interesting. It's really just two dudes facing each other and occasionally hitting different buttons. It's visually monotone, if that makes any sense.
Ruby Suns were next on the Balance stage. Their music had a peaceful, upbeat feel, but the two of them were very matter-of-fact on stage. I felt like I should be at home cooking dinner or something. When Amee Robinson called out the crowd for not dancing enough, calling us "stoned," the reaction was generally negative. They weren't doing anything on stage either. We didn't pay money to come here and entertain them. This photo is pretty indicative of how things were going:

When it came time for Vampire Weekend, I did something I should have done earlier in the day. I sat down for a bit. And for this particular act, it was probably the right way to go. Mellow and inoffensive, their music fit my relaxed mood at the moment. I don't find anything all that compelling about this group. It's like if Andrew Bird were a boring ska band. But they play their instruments well and can sing all right. I guess I'd liken them to Jimmy Buffet for a moire enlightened generation, though I realize that's not saying much.

After the placid set from VW, !!! came out on fire. With an opening with a riff reminiscent of Funky Good Time by James Brown, Nic Offer gesticulated wildly and ran all over the stage. It was a sign of things to come. The most energetic band of the day, they made up for a lack of talent and musicianship with attitude, but it only got them so far. Part of the problem was that the mix appeared to be off. There was a ton of bass and everything sounded muddy. Considering this stage had excellent sound throughout the day, I'm tempted to blame the band. They're no LCD Soundsystem in terms of quality, but you have to admire the showmanship. A really fun performance despite the lack of technical precision.
The Hold Steady took the stage with the setting sun bathing them in yellow light. From the moment he walked out on stage, Craig Finn was a wild man. Part muppet, part Robin Williams on speed, and part Martha Rae, he wandered all over the stage, waving his arms and yelling to the crowd even when he was nowhere near a microphone. It didn't matter that no one could hear him. Alternately doing a smiley caricature of a Mick Jagger impression and an arm see-saw, his manic behavior doesn't really match the band's straight ahead rock, but makes for a great show. An early shoutout to the Fireside Bowl got the audience on his side, not that he needed the help.
The band's music is charmingly basic. There's nothing profound or intense about it, but that's kind of the point. I'll never love their albums, but I'll see 'em again next time around.
Jarvis Cocker was busy throwing a kind of Sinatra-does-rock-n-roll vibe, replete with snaps, points and pseudo-poetic hand gestures. His Brian Ferry-styled vocals and grooved rockers made for a relatively smooth set. There was not much reaction from the crowd, despite his histrionics, but I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt and say that they were tired from the heat, rain, and mud. It was a solid set of rock n roll, but never gripping.
Unfortunately, due to a prior commitment, I had to bolt before Animal Collective took the stage. Based on reactions the next day, people who were already into them thought it was a great set. People who weren't did not, saying that there were a lot of boops and beeps. I guess since I'm not really into them, that means I didn't miss much. On the day, Caribou and Fleet Foxes were the two most impressive acts, with The Hold Steady's fun set a bit behind them. More rawk to come on Sunday. See you then!

Jim Derogatis' Review
Greg Kot's Review
Muzzle of Bees Review; also here, here, here, and here.
Stereogum Review
Live Music Blog Review

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Saturday Review coming soon!

But first I gotta go back for more rock on Sunday. Stay tuned for all the Saturday results. In the mean-time, take a shower, you dirty birds!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Pitchfork Friday

When I reviewed the Mission of Burma Double Door show from January of '07, I said "Mission of Burma’s sound is just as powerful, and every bit a wall. However, instead of having it wash over you all at once, they choose to catapult piles of bricks, sans mortar, directly onto your head." That is certainly still the case, but my perception of their performance on Friday at Union Park was a bit different. They actually started playing before their designated 6pm start time, which technically meant I arrived late. They tore through a handful of songs that served as a warmup before Roger Miller said, "I guess it's time for us to start playing the album?"This set was part of Pitchfork's "Don't Look Back" experiment where bands perform a classic album in its entirety. I have always been skeptical of this concept, but in this case, it was clearly a creative success. The band's ramshackle sound is offset by their punchy, precise professionalism. Even though the sound may feel like a musical disaster, everything is overt and every note is placed with pinpoint accuracy. Drummer Peter Prescott is clearly the "angry" one in the band, with his vocals bordering on deranged screams. His highlight moment came during "Learn How" when he not only screamed to mom that "all he wanted was a Pepsi" (a sonic shoutout to Suicidal Tendencies), but had Bob Weston looping his wails right back at him. By the time the album ended and Roger Miller was taking photos of the audience, I began to realize that appeal of this whole "play the album" thing. They had elaborated on the songs enough to make the whole thing extremely compelling. All in all, a blistering set by a band whose best days may yet be ahead of them.

After skipping Sebadoh, and eagerly awaiting Public Enemy's performance of "It Takes A Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back," we were treated to the Bomb Squad with a dub-reggae warmup. Hank Shockley and his son Keith spun records and tried to get the crowd amped, but it didn't seem to do much for anybody. Some in the audience vocally replicated the sirens that start the album, hoping they could pull PE into action. When the set finally began, it was an auspicious opening. Chuck D's vocals were nearly inaudible (I could hear the enthused audience members shouting the lyrics much more clearly than him), and Flavor Flav was nowhere to be found. He showed up for the second real track. Especially disappointing as he's supposed to know what time it is! Between each song, the group paused to address the audience. Some of these chats were welcome, like when we were told that "Caught, Can We Get a Witness?" had never been performed before. But there were other moments when Flav lauded his own reality TV success. I mean, the dude did Red Sonja, but you'd think that was enough of an accomplishment that he wouldn't need to boast about it.

Audio issues continued to flare up during the album's performance. The crowd was a mix of indie kids whose main understanding of the group was clearly from watching "Flavor of Love" and pumped up devotees who knew every last lyric. In my opinion, the "play the album" concept served to highlight what a landmark LP "Nation of Millions" is, but took a bit away from the performance. Things are going to be a bit more rigid for hip-hop act, and when you know what song is coming next, the excitement for those songs is inherently less. But the from the time "She Watch Channel Zero?!" energized the audience, the intensity remained high the rest of the way. Throughout the set, Chuck D kept reminding Flav that there was a curfew and they were going to run out of time. When the album ended, I think we all assumed the show would as well. But Chuck quickly explained, "And after we finished that record, we did this!" as they launched into an intense performance of "Welcome to the Terrordome." This was followed by five more of their hits, ensuring that anyone in attendance came away overwhelmingly satisfied.Watching PE, you have to note how well this group of seemingly disjointed parts fits together. Chuck D is a unique talent. There are others who have a voice similar to his, deep and syncopated, but no one has ever matched that with his intelligent and powerful lyrics. Flavor Flav, on the other hand, brings a necessary levity to the mix. That's not to say his efforts are not in earnest. Put them together with the S1W and Professor Griff and you have a wholly unique act that represents the best that Hip Hop has to offer. After years of trying, I had never been able to see PE perform live. But this was way more important than simply checking them off the list. For the rest of the night, the feeling of accomplishment remained prevalent, that I'd been granted something special. You can be damn well sure that I appreciated it.

Public Enemy Setlist:
It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back (You don't really need me to write down all the tracks, do you? They played the whole album.)
Welcome to the Terrordome
Shut 'em Down
He Got Game
911 Is a Joke
Harder Than It Looks
Can't Truss It
Public Enemy #1
Fight The Power

Greg Kot's Review
Jim Derogatis' Review
Muzzle of Bees Review
Stereogum Review, Part I
Steregum review, Part II

Friday, July 18, 2008

Pitchfork Planning

All right. The day is finally upon us. Tonight begins the Pitchfork Music Festival. I've listened to something from every band and I think I know what I think I think. Here's my brief take on each act along with a 1-10 rating of my interest level. Order is chronological according to the schedule.

Mission of Burma - 9 Obviously, I wish they were playing a regular set because their new stuff is so good, but I'll take Vs. anyway.
Sebadoh - 5 They're a good enough band, doing their Sebadoh thing, but I just don't find myself caring all that much for some reason.
Public Enemy - 10 The most compelling act on the docket. I really wish they were able to go off script and play stuff from Fear of a Black Planet, but I'll take it anyway.


A Hawk and a Hacksaw - 3 Kind of intersting, creative stuff, but it's too hidden to play a festival crowd well.
Boban i Marko Markovic Orkestar - 6 Halfway between jazz and world with an eastern European flair
Titus Androincus - 7 Pretty fun, shouty garage rawk
Jay Reatard - 5 Beyond the offensive name, his music is kinda fun, but largely uninteresting
Caribou - 7 I've had their album since the fall, and they've grown on me a bit, though I'm skeptical of their stuff coming off in a festival setting
Icy Demons - 6 A little goofy, and they may be really flat live. But I'm curious.
Fleet Foxes - 8 Grizzly Bear meets Doves, but a bit stripped down - very strong vocals
Fuck Buttons - 8 Electronic, ambient - a bit trance-inducing, the music has a lot of potential in it
Dizzee Rascal - 4 English hip-hop. He's pretty good, but he's not making me care a whole lot
The Ruby Suns - 6 Quiet, electronic pop - almost world music/easy listening
Vampire Weekend - 5 Way too Paul Simon-y for me, but I'm curious about a live show
Elf Power - 3 Saw 'em at Double Door - one song was good, the rest utterly boring
!!! - 6.5 Like a dance-oriented Faith No More without the intensity, talent, or frontman - in other words, likely worthwhile enough
Extra Golden - 2 At their best, like the end of Peter Gabriel's "In Your Eyes"
The Hold Steady - 7 I can't get into their garage rock albums, but these guys are good live and play a festival well
Atlas Sound - 5 Spacey, but not overly compelling - not going to play that well I think
Jarvis Cocker - 6 Nick Cave-ish vocals with more straight rockin' tunes - kind of like Edwyn Collins without the swank
No Age - 5 Vocals are awful, but they do rock a bit
Animal Collective - 5 Experimental for the experiment's sake


Mahjongg - 3 Lots of beeps and other random acts of nonsense
Times New Viking - 7 Tons of dirty distortion - Eric's Trip meets Yo La Tengo meets White Denim meets Pinebender, ideally
High Places - 4 So quiet they're almost silent
Dirty Projectors - 4 Pseudo soul, but not really. Actually I'm not sure what they're trying to do.
Boris - 8 Punky, sloppy Japanese metal with sleepy vocals - what's not to like???
HEALTH - 6 Lots of drums - Battles comparisons are apt, but it's a poor man's Battles - it doesn't pop like Battles or, say, Don Caballero
The Apples in Stereo - 3 Just way too damn poppy for me
King Khan & The Shrines - 7 Potentially fun as hell - straight 60s blues rock with a ton of swaggering personality
Les Savy Fav - 9 Just crazy
The Dodos - 5 Nice and peaceful indie folk-rock, but nothing that stands out
Occidental Brothers Dance Band International - 2 Really cheesy world music - like something you'd hear on a cruise ship - there will be hippie dancing
M. Ward - 6 If Ben Harper had some real soul. You have to decide if that's a good thing
Ghostface Killah & Rakewon - 5 Honestly, I've never understood the Wu Tang Clan infatuation
Spiritualized - 7 A spacey Spoon? They've always been a bit straight for me, but I'll check 'em out for sure
Bon Iver - 6 Acoustic with high, plaintive vocals - a bit like M. Ward, actually - might not come off well at a festival
Dinosaur Jr. - 9 I know this will disappoint to a degree - too short a set and too many people who won't "get it", but any Dino is good Dino in my book
Cut Copy - 5 Dance music - VHS or Beta versus the Petshop Boys
Spoon - 6 They play pretty well live, but they only have a handful of songs I dig - another early departure is a possibility

What's your opinion?

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Unyielding Commissioning Brought To You By the Number 7

Free To All - Or you can pay for it. It's now all the rage. Girl Talk enters the name your price fray with a new release called Feed the Animals. Pick up your mp3s here. For further info, check out Jim Derogatis' review which glows like ET's chest.

Business in Front, Party in the Back - The gang at have put together a list of the 25 Top Mullets in Rock History, complete with insightful and hilarious commentary. They did a fine job, but notably forgot Mr. Richard X. Heyman: Speaking of Naming Your Price - Tonight! The Pitchfork preshow at Pritzker Pavilion is paid for. Or rather, it's totally free. So I guess you can't name your price on this one. Bands set to perform include Fleet Foxes, Extra Golden, Boban i Marko Markovic Orkestar, and A Hawk and a Hacksaw. Be there. It's free. (ht: Dero)

A Festival We Can Believe In - Rumor has it that Barack Obama will make an appearance at Lollapalooza in a few weeks. The Daily Swarm is reporting that he has an open spot in his schedule and that he pals around with Kanye West and Wilco. Unfortunately, since I won't be watching either of those acts, you'll just have to tell me how it went.

Thursday Youtube

You must check this out!

Where the Hell is Matt? (2008) from Matthew Harding on Vimeo.
(HT: Adamriff)

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

OWR: Penelope

34: Sloppy

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Feist on Sesame Street

This is so sexy.

(HT: BV)

One Word Review: Mondovino

54: Slow-aged

Unyielding Commissioning Is Already Applying Sunscreen

Pitchfork is this week! -- Have you figured out your plan yet? Well, since there are only three stages and it's a rather compact area, you don't need to map it all out like Lolla. So just go an enjoy the fest. The forecast currently calls for hot, rainy weather, but what do they ever know anyway? Jim Derogatis has his highlights picked out. The biggest revelation is that they have promised that the sound will be improved and they have moved the third stage from its cramped corner. It will now be where the poster fair has been in years past. For me, this is all about Mission of Burma, Public Enemy and Dinosaur Jr. From there, I just plan to be chill and check everything out.

18, Clumsy and Shy -- Roger Ebert's blog continues to raise interesting discussions and points. His latest posting is about the "movie of his life." He chooses La Dolce Vita. I honestly feel I'm too young to do this correctly, but the ones in the running so far would be Risky Business, Clerks, and Say Anything... Read his posting (it's rather brief) and then share the movie of your life here in the comments.

Don't Bring Me Down, Bruce -- In their most somber top ten yet, Eric from Scene Stealers lays out the Top Ten Untimely Actor Deaths. It's an excellent list, but lacks the usual jollity we expect from Scene Stealers on a Tuesday.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Full Immersion: First Blush Roundup Vol 3

Dinosaur Jr. - Beyond
I pretty much thought... that this album was a near seamless blend of what had always made Dinosaur work. And I called you a slacker. Sorry about that. You're not a slacker. Just a little lazy.

First Blush is cool because... "this is a classic Dino track. Stringy-haired gentleman across this land are bobbing their heads back and forth as we speak." Just a really heartening image in my opinion.
I'm obviously a genius because I said... "'Think about the future, let the past unwind,' which I guess kind of explains how we got to this point." I thought that was a pretty nice get on the fly and still rather profound in retrospect.
I'm obviously an an idiot because I said... "Verrry Thunderkiss ’65! (chun-chun-chugga-cha-chun-chun-chugga)" Really, that's not so idiotic, but it's the best example I could find. I was way on point throughout this review, if I do say so myself. OK, now I've proven my idiocy, right?
With the benefit of greater experience with the album, I now say... that I can't tell the difference between this latest Dinosaur Jr. release and everything they've done previously. And that's a good thing in this case. As I mentioned in the review, it's often difficult to keep Dino's song names straight. And now when I hear songs from this album, I have to think for a second about which release they come from. It's one of the band's strongest outputs, and the songs played great live as well. I can't wait for the next one.

I pretty much thought... that there were some positive aspects, but overall the album seemed a bit too homogeneous and lacked the substance and flair of the Pumpkins' greater achievements.
First Blush is cool because... of the free, Best Buy bonus track, I said, "So far this is like getting free fat on your steak."
I'm obviously a genius because I said... "I am getting concerned about the album just being hair metal at this point."
I'm obviously an an idiot because I said... "'Yes, Lord, I’m sinkin’.' I can’t recall a previous God reference in a SP song. Seems out of character for Corgan. Like he doesn’t mean it." I'm pretty certain that statement is not true. I mean, "I am One" was all about the Holy Trinity, right?
With the benefit of greater experience with the album, I now say... it's a near miss. Unfortunately, that what's missing is crucial makes it a pretty lousy album overall. Honestly, I admire what Corgan was going for. Nobody really rocks anymore except for bands like Slipknot who don't really mean it, and they approached these songs with some serious gusto. But the whole thing remains very lacking. I think I hit the nail on the head in the initial review when I said, "I wonder if they even had a chance to work through these songs before making the album. Usually bands can try things out in front of audiences first." And also when I said, "I can’t see myself slogging through this album over and over again." Perhaps they've improved the songs by working them out in their live set by now. There was a ton of potential in their approach. It was just errant potential. And all the self-congratulatory attitude in the liner notes aren't going to do much to endear people to the band. I still believe the Smashing Pumpkins may have one last great album in them. But this definitely wasn't it. I haven't listened to it all that much since it came out.

I pretty much thought... that the band was forging new ground and had come up with a handful of compelling and unique songs amidst some less interesting ones.
First Blush is cool because... "Now the vocals are louder, but so is everything else and I can’t make anything out except an accentuated 'fucking'."
I'm obviously a genius because I said... of All Fired Up, "2:00 – This is somehow lighter and heavier than a usual Interpol track at the same time. Like it’s dense and agile at the same time. Does that make any sense? 2:38 – “I’ve got this soul. It’s all fired up!” See what I mean? Heavy and light?"
I'm obviously an an idiot because I said...
"Almost kind of poppy. I don’t really mean that. I don’t know what I mean. But this track has a different feel than any Interpol song I’ve heard before. But it’s still distinctly them."
With the benefit of greater experience with the album, I now say... that it's a fine release, but not an all-time classic. I spun the hell out of it last summer leading up to Lollapalooza and thoroughly enjoyed it at the time, but my interest has waned a bit. I feel like this album came out three years ago. Perhaps that is because it fails to differentiate itself from anything Interpol's done before. As a friend of mine said recently, "Interpol made a great album, and then they made it again two more times." Above, I praise Dinosaur Jr. for making an album that fits in the greater scheme of their catalogue. So is this hypocritical for me? Not really because if this premise is true, Interpol doesn't really have a catalogue. Anyway, I still think it's a solid release, but it had about a four month shelf-life before it receded to the background of my CD collection. Or maybe it is forever tarnished by the fisticuffs during their Lolla set. Still, it's definitely a solid release, even if there's no track as gripping as "Evil" or "NYC."