matt pond PA - Several Arrows Later

August 1st, 2006

matt pond PA - Several Arrows LaterMy exposure to matt pond PA was very limited before this album. I had only listened to the songs available to download from the official band website. I liked what I heard and was excited to learn about the latest album (October, 2005). A few guitars; a bass; a cello; drums; and the occasional keyboard, the recipe is a simple one to generate an enjoyable album from matt pond PA. Even though some of the songs blend together at the middle of the album, which makes them difficult to decipher from one another...

01. Halloween This is a representative song of what I like about matt pond PA. The sound is relaxed but not slow. Your subconscious takes over before long and you're tapping your foot or bobbing your head.

02. So Much Trouble If they have not yet taken it down, the video for this song is available at matt pond PA's myspace page. This song would go well on a mixtape with the Postal Service.

03. The Trees And The Wild As the song starts I feel that the music might be boring. It is simple and a little slower, but that does not mean is has to be boring. It works well here. Decent track.

04. Several Arrows Later The title track is a good song to appreciate Matt Pond's voice. The contrast between slower vocals and up-tempo music sounds pretty good.

05. It Is Safe There is nothing too remarkable about this song, and nothing really worth mentioning. It is a solid track as we enter the middle of the disc.

06. Emblems The music shakes you awake while the vocals rock you gently to sleep. Emblems leaves you slightly confused, though entertained.

07. City Song I think it's the cello that adds the slower element to the album. It's good, but this is a song where it is more noticeable.

08. From Debris This is one of the better songs on the album. The music grabs you right from the beginning. "From Debriiiiiis...you and meeeee...." Sing it with me.

09. Brooklyn Stars This song is a great example of what I consider to be a strength in lyrics on this album. It seems a pretty simple story that may not be so simple after all.

10. The Moviegoer I like this song now. The comparison to The Strokes - Last Nite drove me crazy for awhile, but it is not so bad anymore. It is a good song with a fun beat to it.

11. Spring Provides The album really ends strongly. Not to say that the earlier tracks are not good, but it is just heavily weighted on the end. Spring Provides...provides more proof of that.

12. Devil In The Water After Halloween, Devil in the Water is probably my favorite song on the album. They seem to have held nothing back as the album draws to a close. Not that this song is packed with loud energy, because it is not.

They took some good songs and wrapped them in two great ones. There is no negative connotation when I describe this as a good "rainy day" album, when your energy level may match the weather outside. That might be one of the best times to listen to Several Arrows Later, though not only time. Check it out for yourself.

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Guster Live 7/26/2006 w/ Ray LaMontagne

July 27th, 2006

I saw a great concert last night at The Meadow Brook Music Festival. I missed the opening act (The Fruit Bats) so I cannot speak to how well their set went, but saw all of Ray LaMontagne and Guster.

This was my first time hearing anything by Ray LaMontagne, which was cool. It was nice to hear an artist's work for the first time live for a change. Going in I knew very little about him. The best lead I had suggested a comparison to Van Morrison. I would not agree with the comparison, but his gritty voice did remind me some of the new Gomez album. I am still not convinced that my comparison is any more accurate than Van Morrison, but it was the best I could come up with when I wondered whose voice I thought sounded so familiar to Ray LaMontagne's.

Some of the songs he played were very good. I think I will check out his album Trouble for at least a second listen. I think my favorite was Forever My Friend (lyrics).

The Guster set was great. They are so much fun live. I have not seen them on in 4-5 years, so I was a bit worried that with this new record deal (and this fourth band member?!?) that things would be different, and not for the better. I am not a huge fan of their latest album Ganging Up On The Sun, but went to the show with an open mind. I was overwhelmingly pleasantly surprised. Not only did the songs from the new album sound better live, but Guster played many of their older songs. Too many bands today will tour solely to promote their latest album and play only the new songs during the primary set and then play one or two old favorites during the encore set. Guster rocked the (unfortunately relatively unpacked) house with hits new and old from the moment they came out on stage. Ryan's distinct voice really is made for the stage. He projects so well for sounding like somewhat of a dork (sorry...).

Guster seems to just have fun on stage. When the band appears to be having such a great time performing, the show is that much better. They're funny, though not too much so. Some bands get up and try a little too hard, but Guster knew its boundaries. They spent about an hour and a half on stage. That included their main set and essentially two encores. They bring a ton of energy on stage and leave you completely entertained (and not just from Brian's bongo drumming).

Check out the remaining tour dates for a show near you.

Pictures from the show are available here. I do apologize in advance for the Guster pics. I only took a few because they were turning out so poorly. The stage was backlit which was not good lighting for me from where we sat. (At least not for what little I know how to use my camera for.) (Luckily?) it was still light out when Ray LaMontagne was on stage.

O.A.R. Live 7/14/2006

July 17th, 2006

I had the pleasure of attending the O.A.R. concert at the Meadow Brook Music Festival over the weekend. O.A.R. was appearing with special guest Jack's Mannequin. Due to extenuating circumstances we, unfortunately, were late to the show and missed that act and a song or two of O.A.R.'s set.

O.A.R. @ Meadow Brook Music Festival

Unless they started with a few amazing songs that we missed, I am underwhelmed overall by the playlist for the night. Sure they played Crazy Game of Poker, which was the highlight of the evening, but they reached into their bag of tricks and pulled out some lesser songs to play. That and a ONE-SONG ENCORE were my main gripes with the concert. They played Love and Memories for the lone encore song, which would be expected..., along with two other songs. Are the days of the three-song encore long gone? Has it been that long since my last concert?

O.A.R. is not a show you got to if you want to be wildly entertained by outrageous acts by audience members or constant quirky interaction amongst band members, but they do have a full host of great songs. I just wish they had played more of the better songs.

As is the cookie-cutter venue design, Meadow Brook is set up in pavilion with lawn seats. We had pavilion seats, which was nice since we had to show up late. It rained pretty steadily through most of the show which was great for the people on the lawn and in the last 10 (or so) rows in the pavilion (which included us). I am not being sarcastic with that. It actually added a common bond among concert-goers apart from an appreciation for the band. Now we all like O.A.R. and we are soaking wet, let's enjoy the show! Ok, so I am not explaining it very well, but it was fun.

The show was a lot of fun. I am very glad we were able to go. If you are interested in the pictures I took at the show, go HERE.

Hip-Hop Prediction

July 7th, 2006

The rap world has turned into too much of a business. With the record label pyramid scheme where each artist signs his buddies from the hood for one hit song that allows them to make $7 while there is windfall profit across the top, the emphasis is not on the hit record anymore, it's all on the hit single. What will sell for 15 minutes and then we'll move on to the next hood rat who has one good hook in him. That and as much as Atlanta stormed onto the scene it has bastardized the face of the game to the point where loud redundant beats play over a repetitive hook and there is no more flow. What is catchy sells. Not who has talent.

In that regard: Watch out for reggaeton. It is the next hip-hop phenomanon.

Gomez - How We Operate

July 3rd, 2006

Gomez - How We OperateI did not follow Gomez much through their first few albums. I was very familiar with them because my brother is a big fan, but I never spent much time listening to them. From what I am able to gather, How We Operate is slower than the four albums previously released by the quintet from the UK. Ben Ottewell, Ian Ball, and Tom Gray all try their hand at lead vocals. The tag-team approach works well in some instances, but poorly in others. There are a few great songs on it, but the album as a whole is decent but not great. To me it is an album that if on, I'll listen to it, but I will not necessarily suggest it get played (in its entirety anyway). This album is an example of why iTunes is so practical. Gone are the days when we would buy this album just to have the few good songs. Now we can just buy them individually and spare ourselves the rest.

01. Notice This is a solid first track. Lead singer Ben Ottewell softens his (signature) gritty voice well for this slower song. There is some twangy guitar in the background that may be a bit much for this song, but I'll give them the benefit of the doubt and say good song.

02. See The World This is probably my favorite song right now. I cannot seem to get enough of it. This is just a great "feel good" track that can lift you out of most, if not any, slumps - if only for 4 minutes... Favorite song right now, but maybe only my second favorite track on the album. Go figure.

03. How We Operate This album's title track may have been better placed at the beginning or end of the CD. I think the change in mood from track two to three and then to number four is too up and down. The song is ok; nothing remarkable, good or bad.

04. Hamoa Beach This is a good song. It seems to grow on me more each time I hear it. I really enjoy the lyrics in this song, maybe the most (start to finish) of all the songs on this album.

05. Girlshapedlovedrug This is my pick for best song on the album. I like the slow feel of the album brought to a boil a little with this song. The tempo is picked up a bit from the other tracks and it works well. This is a good foot-tapper.

06. Chasing Ghosts With Alcohol My suggestion would have been to release the album with only eleven tracks and leave this one off. The song starts poorly and seems to only get worse. Remember the tempo I talked about on the last track? Gone. Zero. When is something going to happen in this song?! Careful what you wish for...because you get an earful of screechy guitar feedback to wake you up from the gentle slumber the first two minutes of the song forced you into.

07. Tear Your Love Apart This is another song that is growing on me. I cannot put my finger on it yet, but it sounds a little too much like something hidden in the back of my mind. Until I can pinpoint it, the song gets thumbs up. Hard to imagine they picked up the pace since the last song...

08. Charley Patton Songs This song is decent. I think the lead sounds a little too much like Ben Gibbard, of Death Cab for Cutie and Postal Service, for my taste. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy the work he does on both projects, but I don't want to have to listen to Gomez to enjoy his sound.

09. Woman! Man! This is another track that showcases the lead vocals well. The song does so well until the chorus. "Shalalala woman. Shalalala man." Does nothing for me. Some reviews I have read celebrate this as the band's ability to not take themselves seriously. Unfortunately I don't take them seriously either for the same simple hook.

10. All Too Much This song is decent. I like the pace and the vocals, but the guitar is a little too dominant at times. Turn it down a little bit and let me focus on vocals and I think we've got a good song.

11. Cry On Demand This is a sleeper track hidden near the end of the album. I hate to sound like a broken record, but the guitar gets to be too much again, but the two- or three-part harmony employed sounds great; I would absolutely recommend they write more sings in this style.

12. Don't Make Me Laugh Death Cab meets a down-on-the-range (country) guitar sound. Weird that I have now eluded to Death Cab twice. Anyway, with an album that has its ups and downs with tempo, I had hoped they would end on a high note... I'll just have to get used to disappointment.

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June 27th, 2006
Snow Patrol - Eyes Open - Chasing CarsIf I lay here...if I just lay here...would you lie with me...and just forget the world...

Brian Wilson - A Friend Like You

May 25th, 2006

Brian Wilson - A Friend Like You

In 2004 Brian Wilson -- of Beach Boys fame -- released a solo album titled Smile that was met with critical acclaim. This song is from another, lesser-known solo album Wilson released in 2004 called Gettin' In Over My Head. The album features Elton John, Paul McCartney and Eric Clapton (Paul McCartney specifically on this track). This is yet another song that I thank internet radio for showing me. A fun song that offers tribute to that true friend in our lives for whom we are just so thankful. It's sentimental, sure. And I cannot imagine actually playing it for my friends, but if you read this you can take it as an indication that this song says some of how I feel about having you around.

Bedouin Soundclash - When the Night Feels My Song

May 17th, 2006

Bedouin Soundclash - When the Night Feels My Song

I went months without knowing the name of this song, or by whom it was made. I seemed to only catch the end of it when changing stations on my radio. I would even listen through commercials in hopes that after the break they would tell me the artist and title of the last song played. Finally one day it paid off. The song is very subtle and low key, but it puts me in a good, relaxed mood when I listen to it. There should be a button installed in my car that I can press when it rains to hear the part of this song that goes, "A beautiful day...a beautiful day..." to make it not seem so cloudy. Good song indeed. I guess the album came out a long time ago, but the song was not released as a single until relatively recently (in Detroit anyway). If you were looking for it, here it is. You can even watch the video.

Arctic Monkeys - Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not

May 11th, 2006

Arctic Monkeys - Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm NotThere are enjoyable tracks on this album from the band that hails from Sheffield, England. Their Brit rock meets Indie rock sound is, however, a little too much like Franz Ferdinand (and others) for me. After much deliberation I think overall the album is not as good as I originally thought it to be. The first time I listened to it I had the volume up, windows down, and I was alone to enjoy it. I tried after to put it on with someone else in the car thinking to incite a surprised appreciation for a relatively unknown band. The problem was in starting from the beginning. The strength of the album starts in the middle. The tracks tone down a little and are more enjoyable. This was a very highly praised album coming to us from England; I must say that the lofty expectations created by the hype set the bar a little too high for the Arctic Monkeys. I would not be surprised if you, like me, find yourself saying, "You know who this band sounds like..." more than once before this album is over. You may hear traces of Sublime, The White Stripes, Franz Ferdinand, The Kaiser Chiefs, The Strokes and more...

01. The View From the Afternoon A pretty unlikely candidate for a song to find yourself moving to, but don't be surprised when and if it happens. It is a decent song overall, but not my favorite.

02. I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor This is the first single to be released. The high energy of the band is exhibited well. I think it was a good choice to let listeners have this song first. Some singles are not very representative of the rest of the album. If you have heard this song it is consistent with the other songs on this disc. It is a good mix of the fast and the slow songs that follow.

03. Fake Tales of San Francisco This is a track has some guitar interludes that are a bit more than I can handle. The guitar adds a slight sentiment of hard rock that may or may not agree with you.

04. Dancing Shoes This was an early front runner for my top pick on the album. It starts out very well, though does not end as strongly. The bass keeps a good beat, though the guitar drowns it out too much.

05. You Probably Couldn't See For The Lights But You Were Staring Straight At Me This song is just ok. I may be the only one, but I keep waiting for the lead singer to belt out "I bet you look good on the dance floor..." in this song. It may sound a little too much like track 2.

06. Still Take You Home I like this song. I like the picture painted by the lyrics. Someone at the bar who the lead singer seems to think he is above, though he'd still take her home. There are few glimpses into the talent of the guitar player on this album, though some are evident in this song.

07. Riot Van A gentle ballad about underage drinking. This is the slowest song on the album. It is a decent track.

08. Red Light Indicates Doors Are Secured This song more than the others sends my mind in circles. There are so many influences from other bands in this song that I try to pick them all out, though I cannot identify any specifically. Maybe I made it up. Though I doubt it.

09. Mardy Bum The tempo in this song fits my preferences best of all songs on the album; they tone down the guitar and slow the lyrics. I like this song a lot.

10. Perhaps Vampires Is A Bit Strong But... This song is interesting from the perspective that it seems to predict a critical reaction to the album. From a band with 19- 20-year-old band members making their first record, the lyrics that tell "although you pretend to stand by us, I know you're certain we'll fail."

11. When The Sun Goes Down A slower song like "Mardy Bum" complete with references to lyrics from The Police. The story is about a man with a certain nocturnal habit for women he chances upon on the street, but do not let that deter you. This is a good song.

12. From The Ritz To The Rubble This is an ok song. It seems that at a few times it will get too "hard rockish," but then it reigns itself in. This song is more like the earlier tracks on the album.

13. A Certain Romance This song is a nice gem tucked away at the end of the album. Do yourself a favor and don't stop listening before you get to it. It really is amazing how much better they sound when they take the hard guitar riffs out of their music.

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Head Automatica - Beating Heart Baby

May 5th, 2006

Head Automatica - Beating Heart Baby

Heard this song for the first time streaming across the internet a few months back and loved it right away. A few weeks/months ago it finally made it to the radio here in the Greater Detroit Area, though I do not listen to the radio very often. I have managed to avoid it being overplayed if it has become so to other people. I still perk up when it comes on. I would love to build a mixtape around this track, but am not nearly familiar enough with whatever genre you would lump this into. Any thoughts?

(Thanks to youtube.com for another video.)