Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Observations about Shows: Specific & Otherwise

Last night I saw Steel Train and The Starting Line, and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. Like, omgzz, such a fun show. While waiting between sets and the two bands I didn’t like (Four Year Strong & Bayside), I began to formulate this blog in my head. So, here goes:

The Good:
--Jack Antonoff (of
Steel Train) is the best guitarist I’ve ever encountered. His fingers moved so fast across the strings, they became a blur of color.

--Antonoff is a spaz on stage. He convulses every part of his body, including his hair. And I love it.

--Last night, Antonoff wore a red sweatshirt. With a COW on it. HE’S MY NEW BEST FRIEND.

--Hands down, the guys of Steel train are nicest band dudes I’ve ever met. After their set, I went to the merch table where Jack and Merch Guy (don’t know his name) were, and I told him that I love their set and how much I loved their ablum. He shook my hand and gave me hug. Everytime he saw me after that, he rubbed my arm. Then, later on I went up to Evan and told him that they did a great job. He gave me a hug as well. I told him I thought I was the only one who knew their songs, and he said I was--he saw me in the audience. Like Jack, he rubbed my arm everytime he walked past me.

--Evan said they’re coming back next month. I can’t wait. If you get a chance, go and see them. You will not regert it.

--THE STARTING LINE. Yep, that’s all for this observation.

--The Starting Line played two of the songs I was really hoping they’d play: A Goonight’s Sleep and Surprise, Surprise. Definitely two of my top five favorite songs from them.

--I love when you see all the band members leave the stage except for the singer because that means you’re in for an acoustic treat. And it for sure happened last night. Kenny played The Drama Summer. It was magical.

--I loved how when I looked around the crowd last night and almost everyone knew every song he played. It was as if I and the crowd had formed a special bond; singing all the words and swinging our bodies to the beat.

--Kenny showed the crowd his nipples.

--Kenny can’t dance. And I love him for it. All his moves made me giggle.

--Favorite in-between-song banter quote from Kenny: I’m not going to make a gay speech, but I’m going to miss you guys.

--Encore song? Best of Me :)
The Bad:
--Girls who seemingly only go to shows in hopes of fucking merch guys/tech guys/etc. There’s one in particular who was at the show who I’m not too fond of; however, I’m not going to talk shit on here about her.

--I know it’s ridiculous for me to say it, but I hate that there were people who came to see The Starting Line and were only familiar with Based on a True Story and/or Direction.

--Kenny is really really cocky.

That’s all for now--I’m sure I’ll be adding on to it, though.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Review: Hanne Hukkelberg's Rykestrasse 68

Norwegian import Hanne Hukkelberg is sure to astound folk and indie music enthusiasts alike with her upcoming sophomore full-length, Rykestrasse 68. Equipped with a daring experimental repertoire not widely implemented, Hukkelberg vividly demonstrates a range of musical prowess through a variety of instruments and vocal incantations. A deft composer and masterful lyricist, Hukkelberg guides the listener along a glazed surface of poignant songs, occasionally surprising one with ironic bursts of ferocity. Delving into the rich sources of her environs, she creates willful masterpieces which simultaneously conjure reality and idealism.

In “Berlin,” one of two highlighted tracks, Hukkelberg displays her remarkable ability to capture life within words. Subtly, yet decisively, she draws out a narrative set on the streets of Berlin. In the second track, and with an undeniable similarity to Billie Holiday, she plays upon this distinction in fan-favorite, “A Cheater’s Armoury”. Moving through the lyrics with an eye toward aesthetics, she pulses along delicate harmonies, retelling the age-old dilemma of living with liars.

Each track on the album stands on its own as a poetic force to be reckoned with. So it’s no surprise that with the flow that comes from each track lined up together, Rykestrasse 68 will stand out as one of the best folk/indie albums of 2008.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Album Review: Jaeger Wells--Bastard Pop

Jaeger Wells, “Bastard Pop” (0/5)

Bastard Pop
: the perfect euphemism for an artist that produces illegitimate offspring off society’s well-loved genre of Pop. Coincidentally, it’s the title of Jaeger Well’s debut EP, and I’ll let you know right of the bat, I sincerely hope it’s his last. Now, don’t judge me as unfair. I gave the him every opportunity to redeem itself; however, Wells refused to comply.

In order to better equip myself for this review, I checked out the Wells' Myspace. Under the his name, the genres are listed as Folk/Pop/Acoustic, which ultimately makes me question the his credibility considering it took me nearly ten minutes to hear any semblance of those genres, and even now I’m being generous. To add injury to insult, listed under their influences are Bruce Springsteen, Jimmy Eat World, and—I can’t believe I’m about to write this—The Get Up Kids. In a way, you’ve got to hand it to him for having the audacity to claim such influence.

Pushing all of this aside, I focus more clearly on the Wells' lyrics. Roughly one minute into the first track “Dirt”, I begin to quietly giggle. Yes, giggle; and here’s why: “Could you hand me my sweater,/I feel the flu coming on.” At this point, I’m pulling my hair out and only wish for this torture to cease. The rest of the four intolerably-long tracks are about as giggle-inducing as the first.

As I finish this review, I feel as if I should find something positive to say. But really, it’s too damn hard and this band blows.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Four-Word Song Titles Amount To Awesome Shit

Yeah, it's pretty much the raddest shit I've heard all year in new muisc. I almost can't believe Four Letter Lie has managed to produce something that competes with Let Your Body Take Over. Let's hope this trend continues with the other tracks.

Listen Here:
Nothing But A Ghost by Four Letter Lie

A close second to
Four Letter Lie's new music, are the tracks currently being featured on The Audtion's Myspace. They're upbeat, a bit rebellious, and hook-a-licious (note, I just coined this word so don't steal it, mmk?). If you're interested, I'd recommend checking out in particular, Hell To Sell and Warm Me Up. They're both sure to induce a sexy time, if I do say so myself. One of the new tracks is called Have Gun Will Travel which is also the same title of one of my favorite Western television series. You're probably lame and don't know what I'm talking about, though. Lame-os.

Listen Here:
Hell To Sell by The Audition

Update: Four Letter Lie recently finished recording their sophomore release for Victory Records, entitled What A Terrible Thing To Say. It hits stores 2-19-2008. If you're cool enough to live in their homestate of Minnesota (like ME), then you should buy tickets to their Release Show at Station 4, 2-23-2008.

Update: The Audtion's new album, The Champion, hit stores 1-22-2008 under Victory Records.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

I'd Name It "This Week In Music," But Those Bastards Over at VHI Stole It

Finch is back. They're going to be playing in Minnesota at the Triple Rock, February 6th. You're probably lame if you aren't going.

Panic at the Disco has taken the ! out of their name....Apparently, this makes a big difference??! Yeah, I didn't think so either. And, the name of their new album which will be finally released March 25th? Pretty. Odd. I have a feeling the name will fit the tone of the album. 'Odd', in that it will differ from A Fever You Can't Sweat Out significantly. For, if it didn't differ at least marginally, I believe the Panic guys would kill themselves--they sure do hate that album. They have a demo up on their Myspace, you should check out--I enjoy it, even though it's highly indicative of what they think of their popularity. If you want to hear another demo, you can check out this video that was filmed at their Honda Civic Tour Announcement. The opening acts for the Honda Civic Tour are set to be The Hush Sound and Motion City Soundtrack. I am not happy on either account [correction: I just gave The Hush Sound another chance, and I'm kind a diggin' 'em. Much more indie than I was aware]--but hell, I wouldn't pay that much for a concert anyway. Unless, of course, it was Something Corporate or Jack's Mannequin. Duh.

If you're a subscriber to
AlternativePress Magazine, you probably know that Paramore was chosen as Band of the Year for 2007 by AP's readers. I understand that in terms of the 'music scene,' they hit it pretty big last year and are considered fairly important; however, I don't like it one bit. To me, Paramore is another band with popular hooks--the only difference is they have a female vocalist which many people consider some sort of novelty. Nevertheless, what pisses off the most, is that Jack's Mannequin was on the cover of AP only one month before Paramore. Jack's Mannequin should have been on the cover of AP long before that. God dammit.

Leave me some comments, and we can argue. Please?!

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Red Fox Grey Fox

We’ve all encountered moments in our lives when we come across a band that is so unlike any we’ve heard before we’re almost hesitant to give them a second listen. Such is the case with Red Fox Grey Fox. The first song I heard by them is entitled “Bring Back the Coast,” off of their recently-released album, From the Land of Bears, Ice, and Rock. It begins with a drawn-out lyrical sequence sung by Red Fox’s lead vocalist, Pete Miller, who is both a keyboardist and guitarist in the band. At once, Red Fox reminds me of Copeland’s vocal methods, but with a more subtle, soothing aspect. In further comparison to Copeland, Red Fox’s music is more of the minimalist variety, which, surprisingly, allows the listener a more in-depth experience. This minimalist approach, however, doesn’t imply that Red Fox is missing a fundamental element of the music process. Instead, it lets the listener know that each instrument and set of lyrics receives special treatment. Red Fox Grey Fox completes itself with drummer/keyboardist Stephen Lindquist, guitarist/keyboardist Jeremiah Satterthwaite, and bassist/keyboardist Ben Pien. On some of the tracks, Lindquist even plays the bells!

As a self-described aficionado of music, I am always first struck by a band’s musical arrangements. If I’m satisfied, I begin an over-the-surface analysis of the band’s lyrics. With Red Fox, my journey was no different; however, the lyrics I heard immediately resurfaced memories of when I studied American Transcendentalist poetry, which is poetry that is heavily impacted by nature. My shock was apparent; even more, my respect was abundant. It isn’t often that a band manages to reflect standardized poetic techniques. Furthermore, for a band simultaneously to create both music and poetry that are able to stand alone without the aid of the other is rare indeed; so to find a band like Red Fox Grey Fox is quite the feat, but to discover such talent within your own city is nearly unbelievable.

UPDATE: Red Fox Grey Fox’s album, From the Land of Bears, Ice, and Rock, can be purchased through their Myspace.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Four Letter Lie: More than Even the Average Minnesotan Expects

Some might label them as hardcore for their influx of screamo. Some might label them as an overrated band unable to choose merely one genre (how dare they not be mainstream!). Then again, some might label them as an upstart band that’s an ill-bred product of the punk-rock alliance. Personally, I call them my first introduction to the Minnesota music scene.
It was the end of my freshman year in college, and looming before me was the deadline for a twenty-page paper on the Napoleonic Code. Sounds fun, right? So, what’s a girl to do when desperately trying to avoid the word document glaring at her from the screen? Well, I’ll tell you what I did. I began listening to an online radio service and came across
Four Letter Lie . With the now-minimized document still on my mind, I became instantly intrigued. At this point, I did what any other product of this generation does: I looked them up on Myspace. Unexpectedly, their geographical locale was listed as Minneapolis/St. Paul. Cliché as it sounds, they had me hook, line, and sinker.
Four Letter Lie’s sound consists of a distinct, infectious blend of the punk-rock (post-hardcore, if you will) and emo genres with a subtle screamo influence I had yet to come across in my own musical journeys. Unlike most bands, they place a special emphasis on each instrument within the musical composition, treating each instrument’s part as if it’s the most significant to the overall quality of the piece. With devotion like this, how could anyone not be at least marginally excited?
At last, here is where I reach the actual purpose in writing this article (yeah, I know, it took me long enough). Those of you who are taking the time to read this (i.e.: the friends to whom I sent the link) may be thinking, “Hey! Four Letter Lie isn’t new! And they’re signed to freakin’ Victory Records!” Well, I can’t argue with you there; however, I will point out that Four Letter Lie is just the sort of overlooked, often mislabeled band that can remain under the radar to those living within their own hometown while making headlines in the indie-world across the nation. For this reason, I hope to hit upon someone, somewhere within the vastness of Minnesota who is unfamiliar with not only Four Letter Lie, but the richness that is the Minnesota music scene and become, like me, irrevocably addicted. As Brian Nagan, co-vocalist of Four Letter Lie says, “We embrace everything and…never forget where we came from.”

UPDATE: Four Letter Lie recently finished recording their sophomore release for Victory Records, entitled What A Terrible Thing To Say. It hits stores 2-19-2008.

Linden is: the Future

I’ll be honest with you: female-led rock bands rub me the wrong way. For whatever reason, I tend to believe women cannot properly ‘rock out’ like I expect members of a rock band. And maybe, very secretly, it’s because I like to look at hawties (i.e.: men) singing and grooving with their mic (think Adam Lazarra) to my favorite songs. Consequently, it was against my better judgment when I decided to check out a band I’ve come across on local-music flyers for quite some time. I was marginally impressed by their sound, and by ‘marginally impressed’ I mean, “OMG!? Where have you been my whole life?!!?” Their name is Linden.
To my ever-loving dismay, though, Linden is from Wisconsin— Menomonie, Wisconsin that is. Fortunately for me and my fellow Twin Citians (I just made that up), Linden’s following is fairly sizable in the Metro area. With recent additions of three Minnesota musicians, drummer Matt Decker, lead guitarist Jacob Sharbono, and bassist Zac Ojeda, there’s no denying that Linden is as much a Minnesota band as it is a Wisconsin band. Along with the addition of Minnesota musicians, they threw into the mix fellow Wisconsin musician, rhythm guitarist Steven Keller. You may be asking me (or rather yourself): yeah, but who are the original members? Well, I shall tell you. As I mentioned earlier, Linden is a female-led band; moreover, they have two female members, both of whom work equally to create a foundation for the band. And! Get this: lead vocalist Kara Carlson is 18 and co-vocalist/keyboardist Casi Carlson is 17! At this point, Linden has quite the recipe for something amazing.
So, what exactly is Linden’s sound? The Linden sound is based heavily on the keyboard and an emphasized undercurrent of percussion, with undulating guitar hooks, and just the right amount of electric smoothness from the bass to produce a unique vibe that is reminiscent of poptronica, but much more endurable. Oh, and did I mention Kara and Casi can actually sing?
In short, Linden is the sort of band that knows what they’re doing and are prepared to guarantee that you are able to revel in their absurdly delightful creations without hesitation. Plus, it’ll only take roughly three minutes and forty-four seconds of your time to be completely enamored with Linden’s music forever. Who doesn’t have that sort of time?

UPDATE: Linden recently released a five-song EP entitled The Future Is…, which is available for purchase online through their Myspace.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

The Starting Line, so to Speak

An official blog for the unofficial. Isn't that what blogspot is all about? I hope so, because that's why I'm using it. If you haven't noticed, my blog is going to be about music. For the most part, I will use this blog as place to gather all my articles and album reviews I write for AjiSignal and Suburban Roads Magazine, respectively. In addition, I may post opinions about current music trends (why the fuck is Paramore Band of the Year according to Alternative Press' readers?), why I still enjoy bands that you think has become a sell-out (Fall Out Boy anyone?), etc. I realize there are approximately 459830 bloggers that write about the same things; however, I'm different because most of my music will not be obscure, indie bands whose vocalists couldn't sing their way out of a box (not even a studio-produced box) nor will I be referencing underground-popular bands that aren't around anyone (The Cure) because, honestly, I could care less. Music is now, and I'm a forward-looking' kinda gal.