Give It Away, Now: Free Mute Math download

Mute Math’s song “Typical” is available for free download. Never heard of Mute Math? This is what Bullz-Eye’s Mike Farley had to say about them:

On one hand, New Orleans four-piece rock band Mute Math is a throwback to ‘80s synth-pop a la Flock of Seagulls or Power Station, and at times they have an alt-electronica feel akin to Radiohead. But most of all, Mute Math’s slickly produced Warner Brothers debut is an amalgamation of sounds that are blended to create something way greater than the sum of its parts. Deftly mixing guitars, keys and electronic loops with the unique gravel-infused vocals of Paul Meany, Mute Math is a band that is going to win over a wide range of listeners – from the college kids to the music snobs who read “Spin” to the dudes who grew up in the ‘80s that are looking for something new to stick in their musical pipes. The first two singles, “Chaos” and “Plan B,” are representative of the album, but when these guys scale things back, as they do on the stunning track, “You Are Mine,” their potential as your new favorite band goes way up.

To download the song, click here.

K-Fed’s career already K-Dead?

According to a blurb on IMDB.com,
two of aspiring rapper Kevin Federline’s live performances have been cancelled.

Mr. Spears was planning to launch his new CD, Playing With Fire, with five guest appearances around the US, but lackluster ticket sales have already caused two and possibly three shows to be cancelled. His November 9 gig at House of Blues in Cleveland, Ohio has already been scrapped, so no road trip for the Medskers. The crazy thing is, tickets were only about 20 bucks! Even crazier is that the other cancellation, at the House of Blues in Atlantic City, were only about 15 bucks!

Actually, I’m just being polite. Accepting fifteen bucks for a ticket, let alone paying it, couldn’t get me to a K-Fed show.

Notes From the Orphanage Part 3

When my editor told me he started this bit, I was the happiest person of all. Not only because all CDs come through me first before they are assigned and the pile is as high as a New York skyscraper. But because that means more artists get some kind of coverage. So here’s to you, Mr. Pulling Orphans Off the Pile Man…..

NOTES FROM THE ORPHANAGE

Avi Granite: 5 (Pet Mantis Records)
Old school jazz with dirty horns and distored guitars. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say this is thinking man’s jazz. Or even better, jazz for the stoner in you. But no matter what you call it, guitarist Avi Granite and his band are incredibly talented musicians.

Sam I Am: Whatever’s Got You Down (Hopeless)
A pretty good rock band with pop and punk flavors, but the lead singer sounds like (and I can’t think of any other way to say this) Fred Flintstone. It’s like I keep waiting for him to shout “WIL-MA” in the middle of each song. Seriously, singer Jason Beebout is just too distracting to keep this thing in your CD player for very long.

Dirty on Purpose: Hallelujah Sirens (North Street)
This is the kind of guitar-driven alt-pop that is perfect for kids who want to chill out in college dorms or for radio stations anywhere below 90 on the dial. Some of it is downright depressing, but in a good way. Did I just contradict myself? I think I did. Well, check this album out and see if you disagree.

Mushroomhead: Savior Sorrow (Filthyhands/Megaforce)
This is the kind of stuff that Beavis and Butthead would raise index finger and pinky to. And while it rocks and screams like you would expect from this Cleveland metal band, the songwriting on the album is pretty damn good, too—particularly on “Simple Survival” and “Save Us.”

The Beautiful Girls: Water (Cornerstone RAS)
This is not a band of hot chicks, as you might expect, but rather it’s four dudes who make music that sounds like Jack Johnson mixed with a bit of G. Love & Special Sauce. It’s good stuff too, especially the title track; and lead singer/songwriter Mat McHugh has a compelling voice. Now, someone please pass me the marijuana.

Cute is What We Aim For: The Same Old Blood Rush With a New Touch (Fueled By Ramen)
A pretty good band with some pretty catchy songs if you like the sort of pop/punk in which the lead singer puts a clothes pin on his nose while singing. This is MTV bordering on VH-1. But for the love of God can we please stop with the long band names and long album titles? I mean, does anyone think this is a good band name? Why not call yourselves Sally Looked at Me in English Class and I Think I Got A Two By Four In My Pants?

Kristy Frank: Freedom (Ruffnation)
This is teen pop but with a rock edge, ala Michelle Branch. And what are they putting in the kids’ milk these days? Kristy, a California native who is part Swedish, is only FIFTEEN. And this album is surprisingly catchy and well produced. I smell an MTV darling.

Mix Disc Monday: Whatshername

With all due respect to Angie, Amie, Beth, Mustang Sally, Maggie May, Alison and the one with the phone number 867-5309, they aren’t the only girls in the pop song universe. Heck, we could make this list using nothing but songs by Material Issue (“Diane,” “Renee Remains the Same”) and Ben Folds (“Losing Lisa,” “Carrying Cathy,” “Give Judy My Notice,” “Julianne”). However, in the issue of equal time, we’re limiting them both to one song each.

And, just to spice things up a bit, I’m getting the girls themselves involved: if we have a model whose name appears in one of these songs, you can look her up right here. And please, don’t ask me if I have their phone number, or know how to reach them, etc. I don’t. Girls that look like our models don’t talk to me. The only exception to that is my wife, and I only succeeded with her by getting her really, really drunk. That, and foot rubs. Lots and lots of foot rubs.

“Valerie Loves Me,” Material Issue (International Pop Overthrow)
One wonders what guitar pop would sound like right now if Jim Ellison hadn’t made the fateful decision to check out as early as he did. If it meant only one more song like this one, wouldn’t it have been worth it?
BE Girl Next Door: Valerie, April 2003

“Kate,” Ben Folds Five (Whatever and Ever, Amen)
I just love the first line of this song: “She plays ‘Wipeout’ on the drums, the birds and the squirrels come.” Everyone wants a girl that can play “Wipeout” on the drums, don’t they?
BE Girl Next Door: Katie Not a 100% match name-wise, but way too cute to pass up.

“Everybody Loves Jill,” Cowboy Mouth (Easy)
This song is surely written about the Jill that my friend Garrett just married. Not only does she have fiery, spectacularly untamed red hair, she loves the color red to boot, which matches the “She’s got a red house, that goes with her red boat” sing-song lyric to a tee. I’ll never forget Jill’s nieces (ages eight and under) all singing this song to her (first time they’d ever heard it) at her wedding reception.
BE Model: Jill, May 2002
BE GND: Jill, April 2002

“Laura,” Scissor Sisters (Scissor Sisters)
According to iTunes, I’ve played this song 25 times. Multiply that by about 20, and that should cover the times I’ve played it in the car, on the stereo, in the iPod or Discman, or put it on a mix for a friend. If you’re feeling melancholy, there is also the just-as-awesome “Laura” by Billy Joel, from what I consider his best album ever, The Nylon Curtain.
BE Model: Laura, August 2004

“Goodbye Lucille #1,” Prefab Sprout (Two Wheels Good)
Or from the album Steve McQueen, if you’re on the other side of the pond. This is the slow-jamz part of the mix, but there was something about that line “Life’s not complete ‘til your heart’s missed a beat / And you’ll never make it up, or turn back the clock / No, you won’t” that appealed to both the hopeless romantic and eternal pessimist in me.

“Veronica,” Elvis Costello (Spike)
Admit it: even though you know that Betty would never break your heart, you still want Veronica just the same. Come on, do you know any Bettys that look like this?
BE Model: Veronica, May 2006

“Who Killed Tangerine?,” Tears for Fears (Everybody Loves a Happy Ending)
No, I don’t know anyone named Tangerine, either, but since the lyric that follows the title in the song is “prettiest girl I’ve ever seen,” it counts. Besides, I take every chance I get to pimp this awesome, awesome song.

“Calling Sarah,” Jellyfish (Bellybutton)
Yes, I’ve listed three Jellyfish-related songs in the last two weeks. Click on the link below, and I think you’ll cut me a break.
BE Girl Next Door: Sarah, January 2003

“The Jessica Numbers,” New Pornographers (Twin Cinema)
The one moment where the archives dictated the mix disc: I originally pegged “Jackie, Dressed in Cobras,” from the same band and album, for this slot. But we had no Jackies on file. And frankly, I’m surprised we only had three Jessicas. Isn’t everyone in their twenties named Jessica?
BE Model: Jessica, September 2006
BE GND: Jessica, August 2002
BE Model: Jessica, September 2001

“Kelly Watch the Stars,” Air (Moon Safari)
If you’re feeling really adventurous, look for the mix of this that Moog Cookbook – aw, damn it, yet another Jellyfish reference – did of it for the soundtrack to the little-seen movie “Splendor.” Groovy, baby.

“Fly High Michelle,” Enuff Z’Nuff (Enuff Z’Nuff)
They hit the scene at the peak of hair metal, and they had absolutely nothing to do with the other bands on the scene…aside from the hair, that is. Upon hearing this ballad, I thought, “Man, if only Cheap Trick had done this instead of “The Flame.” We have more Michelles in the archives than we can count, but here are my two faves.
BE Model: Michelle, March 2006
BE Model: Michelle, March 2005

“Celestine,” Kirsty MacColl (Tropical Brainstorm)
This song should be the theme for Ali Larter’s character on “Heroes,” the dual-personality Niki. “Oh yes, she’s hot, she’s hot, she’s hot / She’s just a wild and wicked slut / And she lives inside my head, and stops me sleeping.” Yes, yes, and yes.

“Summer Moved On,” A-ha (Minor Earth, Major Sky)
My heartfelt apologies to “She Sheila,” the Producers song that originally held this slot. I originally planned on this piece consisting of more traditional names, but I’d already broken that with “Who Killed Tangerine?” And besides, this way I get to plug both a tragically overlooked A-ha song from 2000 and a girl who actually deserves the name Summer. Does anyone watch “The O.C.” anymore?
BE GND: Summer, June 2004

“Susan,” Aimee Mann (Bachelor No. 2)
After writing a slew of songs with boy’s names in them – “David Denies,” “Long Gone (Buddy),” “’J’ for Jules” – Mann penned “Susan,” with a melody so bouncy that you’d hardly notice its remorseful undercurrent. If this one doesn’t do it for you, try her song “Goodbye Caroline,” from the great The Forgotten Arm.
BE GND: Suzi, August 2005
BE GND: Susie, February 2002

“For Nancy,” Pete Yorn (musicforthemorningafter)
‘cause it alllllready iiiiiiiiiiis…..

Bonus track: “Darling Nikki,” Prince and the Revolution (Purple Rain)
I’m only including this because we have a gaggle of Nikkis in our library. Check-ch-check-check-check, check them out.
BE GND: Nikki, March 2006
BE Model: Nikki, January 2006
BE GND: Nikki, September 2005
BE GND: Nikki, June 2005

Weekend Video Vault for October 27, 2006

Trick or treat! Oh, it’s all tricks this week, kids. Seeing how Halloween will have come and gone by the time the next video update caresses your eyes, I thought I’d do something a little different this week. Instead of the usual professional videos gathered for your pleasure, this time I scoured YouTube for some really great clips of regular people just lip syncing to songs in front of their web cams. It’s good and good for you, and maybe you won’t find the razor blade tucked away inside the chewy goodness! So have a great weekend, and Happy Halloween to you all.

“pcp lol dumbass boring lip sync” If this is just a joke, it’s hilarious as is. If it isn’t a joke, then it’s twice as funny. It is placed in the “comedy” category, so we’ll give dakingpcp (who made the video) the benefit of the doubt. I dunno what the hell the song is he’s lip syncing to, but the hand gestures and facial expressions are pure gold.

“i want you to want me” boybandlover001 hits us over the head while lip syncing (By request, even!) to Lindsay Lohan’s cover of Cheap Trick’s “I Want You To Want Me.” This one takes a little while to load for some reason, so give it a little time. You gotta love folks who look at themselves in their monitors instead of straight into the camera. Place your bets now on if you think this girl even knows about Cheap Trick.

“Lip-sync” Bendyfreak004 gives us this disturbing video of her lip syncing to Celine Dion’s cover of Eric Carmen’s “All By Myself.” The audio isn’t too good, but that video…ah…what’s the phrase for it? “Illegal in 45 states,” I think.

“Cher Lip Sync” lordhazzard (of Lord Hazzard Productions) has a few hilarious clips available, but this one is the best. A perfect send up of everyone who takes themselves seriously when making lip syncing videos.

“James Blunt Music Video – You’re Beautiful” No, it’s not the official video, but rather a video made by PetrosBakalyan based on Blunt’s overplayed hit. Why can’t this song just go away? Don’t you see, it inspires people to make videos like this? My eyes!

“Lip Sync Madness” vialyone gives us this hilarious lip sync medley. Intentionally hilarious, mind you.

“Grillz Lip Sync” Here’s NJDevilBrodeur lip syncing to Nelly’s “Grillz”! I still think Mike Rowe does it best, but this is good and plenty as well.

“sexy love lip syncing” alvisjose is really feelin’ it in his lip syncing contribution to the Internet at large. Perhaps he’s feelin’ it a little too much. So many people post these videos with descriptions saying they were just bored when they did it, but we all know this isn’t the case. People wanna be stahz, kid!

“me n pussycat dolls” And underage girls everywhere get the idea to do a little sumthin’ sumthin’ like this, yo. darkdeceiver entertains us with some scintillatingly poor pixelated lip syncing, but as she says in the comments section you can just ask anyone if she can really lip sync!

“magic_moments” All right, we’ll close out this frightfest with flight0001 entertaining himself in front of his webcam. You have to admire a dude like this entertaining himself and everyone else. It uhhh…throws a bit of cold water on they who would take themselves too seriously while attempting a similar feat.

Welcome back to 1985: Andy Taylor leaves Duran Duran, again

We should have known that it wouldn’t last. Andy Taylor is the first to leave the reunited Duran Duran, allegedly due to disagreements with the band’s management. Here’s the band’s official announcement, from their web site:

To Our Fans

We know that there has been a tremendous amount of speculation over the past few weeks regarding Andy Taylor’s continued involvement with the band and we are sorry that we’ve been unable to provide you with more information until now. The past five years have been an incredible journey for us all – and having the original five back together was something that we had wanted to see happen for some time. As of last weekend, however, the four of us have dissolved our partnership and will be continuing as Duran Duran without Andy, as we have reached a point in our relationship with him where there is an unworkable gulf between us and we can no longer effectively function together. Although obviously disappointed and saddened about this, we are excited about the next chapter of the Duran Duran story and look forward to seeing you all soon.

Simon, John, Nick and Roger

Jesus. Here we go again.

Now, I’ll tell you why this really bothers me: as much as I love Simon, Nick, John and Roger, I worry that they are overwhelming the band’s sound, and as much as they may not like Andy, they need Andy, because he brings the ROCK, baby! My guess is that he probably heard about the collaboration with Justin Timberlake and said, “WTF?” And frankly, I can see why the band wanted to do it, and why Andy didn’t. Pity. I don’t think things will be the same after this.

So, is it too early to make fun of them again, especially Andy? A Duran Duran fan actually tipped me off to these, a series of hilarious MST3K-style clips making fun of Duran Duran videos. As much as I love the band, these are awesome. Best of luck with the next record, guys…but be prepared for people to stop caring about you again. Nothing personal, just the nature of the beast, ya know. I’m sure you remember what it was like when Notorious dropped.

Episode One: A View to a Kill

Episode Two: New Moon on Monday

Episode Three: Union of the Snake

Episode Four: The Wild Boys

Notes from the Orphanage, Part Deux

Like Herr Medsker, my history as a music critic can be tied directly back to one concept: getting free music. I went to a high school journalism conference in 1987, and one of the speakers assured his audience that if you sent a copy of your publication to a record label and told them that you wanted to review one of their albums, they’d send you a free copy. It’s still true today…except in our case, we send them a link to our site, and more often than not, we don’t have to request this stuff; it’s sent to us whether we have any interest in it or not. So here are a few rapid fire critiques of discs that I never really wanted in the first place, but, hey, they were free…

The 1900s, Plume Delivery (Parasol): These Chicago-based popsters are a little bit Belle and Sebastian, a little bit New Pornographers, and are influenced a hell of a lot by late ’60 pop and early ’70s bubblegum. This, their debut EP, is full of lots of pop goodness. Even the 7+ minutes of “Patron Saint of the Mediocre” are full enough of enough musical diversity to keep things interesting throughout.

Doleful Lions, Song Cyclops Volume Two (Parasol): This album was recorded in the home of Jonathan Scott – who is, for all practical purposes, the Doleful Lions – in 1999, and there’s never a moment when you aren’t completely aware that it’s a bedroom production. I admit it, the songs – originals sitting alongside covers of the Beach Boys, the Misfits, and the Close Lobsters, among others – are all catchy as hell…but, damn, never before have I wished that I was Phil Spector, just so I could clean this shit up!

Jonny Lives!, Get Steady (Eleven Seven): There are way too many punk-pop bands out there who sound approximately the same for me to be able to write anything other than approximately the same review. These guys warrant at least a few extra words, though, because frontman / songwriter Jonny Dubowski seems to be interested in having his band be more than being just the next Jimmy Eat World. They’re not Sugarcult, but they’re certainly better than average…and lord knows that most of their peers are terribly, terribly average.

Read the rest of this entry »

Riki, please lose that number

First they skewered Owen Wilson in an open letter to his brother, Luke. Now the guys from Steely Dan (Donald Fagen and Walter Becker) have set their sites on Wes Anderson, writer/director of “Rushmore,” “The Royal Tenenbaums” and “The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou.” Apparently, Steely Dan is a big fan of Anderson’s first film, “Bottle Rocket,” but they feel that his subsequent films have been progressively worse.

These follow-ups have all concerned themselves with the theme we like to call “the enervated family of origin”©, from which springs diverse subplots also largely concerned with the failure to fulfill early promise. Again, each film increasingly relies on eccentric visual detail, period wardrobe, idiosyncratic and overwrought set design, and music supervision that leans heavily on somewhat obscure 60′s “British Invasion” tracks a-jangle with twelve-string guitars, harpsichords and mandolins. The company of players, while excellent, retains pretty much the same tone and function from film to film. Indeed, you must be aware that your career as an auteur is mirrored in the lives of your beloved characters as they struggle in vain to duplicate early glories.

Steely Dan goes on to outline two strategies to “help” Anderson get back on track, providing lyrics to two separate songs that they’ve written for his next project. But before they agree to work with Anderson, there are a few conditions…

Same thing for the mandolins and the twelve-string stuff and the harpsichord, they’re out. You yourself may be partial to those particular instruments. We’re not. Remember, we saw “Tom Jones” in its original theatrical release when we were still in high school, we had to listen to “Walk Away Renee” all through college and we fucking opened for Roger McGuinn in the seventies, so all that “jingle-jangle morning” shit is no big thrill for us, OK?

I find these letters fascinating, not so much for their flowery words or content, but for the simple fact that these guys from Steely Dan actually think that anyone gives a fuck what they think about a movie.

The only explanation I can come up with is that somewhere in this universe, there is a tear in the space/time continuum, which leads to a parallel universe where the guys in Steely Dan are highly respected film critics. And somehow these letters got through…damn wi-fi.

Idol face…or O-face?

I can’t believe it actually took five seasons of “American Idol” for someone to come up with this.

For those of you whose worst nightmare involves Taylor Hicks removing so much as one of his socks…you may not want to click the link.

Technically, the images themselves are entirely SFW…but the visualizations they encourage may need to be scrubbed from your brain immediately. With bleach.

Kurt pries the crown from the King’s cold, dead hand

Did you realize when you woke up this morning that it was in a whole new rock and roll era? Probably not. But we’re definitely in a new world, now that it’s been confirmed that Kurt Cobain has dethroned Elvis Presley as the top-earning dead rock star, having pulled in $50 million from October 2005 to October 2006.

Actually, I say “top-earning dead rock star,” but, in fact, he’s the top-earning dead celebrity, period; coming in second is Presley, followed by Charles Schulz (creator of “Peanuts”), John Lennon, and Albert Einstein. (Funnily enough, much of Albert’s bucks came courtesy of his name being attached to the “Baby Einstein” series.)

Either way, it’s clear that anyone who thought that Cobain’s popularity would dwindle within a few years of his suicide was, in a word, wrong.

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