Monday, September 29, 2008

Record Reviews: Ohtis and Monkey

Tiny Mix Tapes recently posted two reviews of mine - the first one being the second release from the band Ohtis. Their new album is called If This Country Had A Heart That's Where I Was Born and it is just as catchy and clever as the title suggests. I was first introduced to Ohtis thanks to Prussia who brought them up to Detroit a couple of times - first for their CD release party and then for Summer Smash. Ohtis is actually responsible for my favorite Summer Smash memory: Early afternoon on Saturday while we were still getting things ready for the day, Ohtis and Prussia rolled in as they were playing earlier sets. They started unloading and I went about checking stuff and prepping before folks started arriving. A little while later I walked out into the backyard of The CAID to find Sam Swinson of Ohtis and their touring bass player (I sadly can't remember his name) inside an empty garbage can in their underwear holding a running garden hose. I am guessing the expression on my face said, "What in the world are you doing?" as they looked at me and said all innocently, "Is this OK?" Apparently they'd been on the road for awhile and were desperate for a shower. :) I thought the whole thing was hilarious, particularly when I went in and told the rest of the folks that Ohtis was taking a group shower in a trash can in the back yard - thanks to the security cameras, we were able to back up the footage and everybody saw for themselves that I wasn't making up stories (for once).

My other review is of the new Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett project Monkey. I used to love Damon Albarn, but that was back in the 90's when Blur vs. Oasis could be counted on as the cover story for every other issue of Q and NME. For me there was never a second thought - Blur hands down! I still love Parklife and think that The Great Escape, despite its many detractors and the blatant slagging of my husband Morrissey, is a fine record. But I never really got that into Gorillaz. That said, I was pretty geeked about the idea of Mr. Albarn working on a Chinese opera related project - which is what Journey To The West is. Alas, it didn't quite live up to my expectations, but if you are willing to take me to London to see an actual production of the show, I will gladly accompany you and give it a second chance.

Wonder Twins Review: Friendly Foes CD release @ The Berkley Front Friday Sept. 26

Friendly Foes managed to equal the fantastic-ness that is their new album Born Radical, with an equally fantastic CD release party. From what I could tell, fun was had by all and cupcakes were consumed. Mmmm... cupcakes. The Metro Times "Music Blahg" for some reason allows us to report in our own serious, hard hitting, non-partisan way about various Detroit music events, and so for your reading pleasure, here's our take on the evening. Do not forget to pay proper homage to D'Anne's Foes Blingee either - it's pretty sweet.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Record Reviews: Mason Proper and Tindersticks

The other day on my way to work I was listening to the new Mason Proper record in preparation for my review, and I started to think about the whole Freemason thing - mostly about how little I understand about the organization as a whole, and about that Simpsons episode where Homer joins "the Stonecutters" and they sing that song about how their secret organization is behind everything, including Steve Guttenberg 's stardom. Before my mind was able to drift to Police Academy, I saw a billboard that featured a younger man and an older man with the phrase, "Michigan Masons: Share the Secret." What? This supposed secret society is actively recruiting through billboards? Are they hard up for members? Did that whole shooting the guy in the face thing really cause that much of a drop in those willing to be initiated and possibly also shot in the face? The Michigan Mason's even have a web site, which I am not going to link to here, for fear that I might suddenly disappear in the night. But suffice to say it seems all innocuous and normal. That makes it way creepier to me. But what I WILL link to, is my review of the new Mason Proper album found in this week's Metro Times.

Moving on, Tindersticks have long been one of my favorite bands, and their new album The Hungry Saw is finally out here in the states. So, so good. I reviewed it for Detour. I saw them at 7th House, a venue in Pontiac that the young people most likely don't recall, many years ago and it was one of the best live shows I've ever seen. Elliott Smith opened the show - his album Either/Or had just come out and not that many people knew who he was at that point. It was impossible to guess that a couple of years later he'd be on stage with Celine Dion and Trisha Yearwood looking uncomfortable and out of place during the Oscars. Looking back that was probably a sign of the impending apocalypse... I am fairly certain another such sign was when I caught a moment of Martha Stewart's show a couple of years ago and her guest was Maya Angelou. You know, now that I think about it, I bet the Freemasons know a thing or two about both of these incidents... Damn you, Freemasons!!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Record Reviews: The Oscillating Fan Club and Calexico

This week's Metro Times, along with having yet another must read Jack Lessenberry piece about Sarah Palin, has my review of Feverish Dreams As Told By the Oscillating Fan Club. Speaking of feverish dreams, I had a dream last night that my sister and I worked at the Detroit Film Theater, when out of nowhere, BAM! this wrecking ball comes through the window sending debris and glass flying and people scrambling and running for cover. I ran outside to see a group of art students shouting at and trying to block the path of what appears to be a Segway scooter with a giant makeshift (yet clearly effective) wrecking ball componenet attached to it. The driver of this contraption is threatening to run the students over if they don't let him "finish his descruction." He is sporting a shiny blond mullet and black spandex shorts with yellow stripes down the sides. That is all I remember. I think this counts as a feverish dream because I woke up all sweaty and freaked out.

Still dreamy, but much less feverish, is the new Calexico. Detour has my review. They are coming back to the area - Thursday November 20th at the Crofoot to be exact. I missed them where they were here for Cityfest, so I'm glad they are coming back. Plus the sound in the Crofoot ballroom is great, and they're the type of band I'd rather see in a real venue than in a crowded outdoor festival setting where people are eating BBQ pig on a stick. But that's just me.

Oxford Collapse, Love As Laughter and New Grenada at the Pike Room tonight, DIY fest in Ferndale Saturday and Sunday, PLUS the make up date for the People's Art Festival at Russell Industrial Center on Sunday, not to mention you can get your freak on at Noir Leather's Silver Anniversary Bash at the Crofoot Saturday night... Kinks (like, the proclivities, not the band), crafts, and music filled weekend!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Record Reviews: Okkervil River and Damien Jurado

Detour has two more of my reviews up. Damien Jurado's excellent new one Caught In The Trees is a continuation of the sad bastard music he has so perfected. If you like to cry for fun (like I do), check it out. The new Okkervil River is great - a bit more subtle than last year's The Stage Names but equally strong. "On Tour With Zykos" is one of my favorite songs of the year. This song is also the reason I now know who Zykos is. And it turns out they are really good. In a similar vein, "Bruce Wayne Campbell Interviewed on the Roof of the Chelsea Hotel, 1979" wins the prize for best song ever about Jobriath. I honestly don't know if there are any other songs about him. I am surprised that Morrissey doesn't have one, seeing as he is the whole reason I've ever even heard of Jobriath.

As a matter of fact, I became a Morrissey fan the same way Morrissey became a fan of Jobriath. As a maladjusted, shy youngester with music as his only true friend, Morrissey was browsing at a record store when he saw an album cover that just struck him. He had never heard of the artist before but felt compelled to get it. It was Jobriath's self titled debut. Morrissey obviously became a big fan seeing he penned the gushing liner notes to the Jobriath retrospective that came out a few years ago. Similarly, when I was browsing at the record store while still in junior high I saw the cover to Kill Uncle and something about it just stuck with me. I had no idea who he was, but a few days later, this skater kid a few years ahead of me who wore a Misfits shirt at least twice a week passed me in the hall, and I saw that same mysterious man from the album cover gazing back from his T-shirt. So I went back and bought a Morrissey album. They didn't have the Kill Uncle one I had seen, but seeing as I was going in blind, I figured I'd just get what they had. I got Bona Drag. A week later I went back and bought The Smiths Meat Is Murder. Still today I love everything the man has done. This is why I think Morrissey and I are destined to be best friends. Right? Right.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Wonder Twins Movie Review: Battle In Seattle

The Wonder Twins Review: Battle In Seattle

My sister D’Anne, also a freelancer, occasionally gets unsolicited review copies of movies in the mail for her consideration. Tonight, we watched the new Woody Harrelson/Charlize Theron movie Battle In Seattle, a film so important, DHL sent it next day delivery. How did we feel about our viewing experience? Well, in order to cleanse ourselves of the incident, we decided to debrief with our first Wonder Twins movie review....

D'Anne: Do you remember when the WTO protests happened in Seattle?
Laura: I do now.
D: Meaning you’d forgotten?
L: No, meaning I did not realize the bulk of the responsibility for the protests fell on the shoulders of Andre 3000.
D: Um...
L: This was a documentary, right?
D: No. A documentary might have actually been good.
L: Why did you make us watch this movie?
D: Because I got it for free in the mail. When I first heard about it I thought it was going to be a documentary. Then I learned that Charlize Theron was in it. And Woody Harrelson. And Norah Jones...
L: It wasn’t Norah Jones. It was Michelle Rodriguez.
D: Oh. Well, I thought I read that in the PR info. And then even after realizing it wasn’t her I couldn’t bring myself to believe it.
L: You were in Norah Jones denial. Regardless, any movie based on a recent political left-leaning event starring Charlize Theron and Woody Harrelson should raise immediate red flags.
D: Yes. As should any movie touting an “ensemble cast.”
L: Yes. Oh! Unless it is Steel Magnolias. Moving on, what did you learn about the World Trade Organization from this film?
D: That people in cardboard turtle hats don’t like it. That tear gas stings your eyes. And that the governor of Washington is Asian.
L: I learned that the protests leveled against the WTO showed, on a macro level, that there is a lot of homegrown grassroots opposition against it. I also learned that, on a micro level, these same homegrown people have such emotionally vapid, bullshit filled conversations that although the police clearly went overboard, I myself wanted to smack them. The feeling of wanting to smack some of those people welled up in me many times during the film.
D: Yes. The film inspired violence. In the audience. Against the movie. Especially when Andre 3000 tried to get the bus full of arrested protestors to join him in a rendition of “Don’t Worry Be Happy.” I’ve never before wanted to be arrested, but I wish I had been on that bus to kick him in the nuts.
L: If there’s any song that would incite people to violence, it would be that particular song.
D: Amen.
L: Let’s try to sum this movie up.
D: Okay. You first.
L: Charlize Theron was in Seattle during the World Trade Organization protests and the World Trade Organization, um, what would you call it? A meeting? A conference? A gathering? A powwow...
D: A powwow, yes...
L: All right. She was unaware of the powwow or the protests because she lives inside a mall where she sells expensive bags and expensive things to expensive people. She’s also, it turns out, five months pregnant, which means that she’s very excited about bringing a new life into this world because it will expand her worldview to include Baby Gap...
D: ...which provides her with an excuse to ditch work to shop with her co-worker friend.
L: Yes. That is probably as close as she has ever come to sticking it to the man.
D: True. The man, i.e. Woody Harrelson, stuck it to her. Seeing that she’s pregnant and all.
L: You are dirty. Maybe you should mention that bald Woody Harrelson is her husband in the movie.
D: You just did.
L: He knows about the scary world outside of the mall, because he is an officer of the law. I found it very creepy that he looked exactly the same as he did in Natural Born Killers and yet he was playing a cop.
D: Yes. A cop who hits hippie kids with nightsticks.
L: Anyway, the WTO police standoff got so heated that the people inside the mall were forced to stop shopping and were shoved out into the streets.
D: The part where they were forced to stop shopping was really intense. But since they had never been outside before, they had no idea where to go. And Charlize Theron got lost in the crowd of protesters.
L: In a horribly, unfortunate twist of fate (that nobody could’ve ever, ever predicted), pregnant Charlize Theron is hit with a nightstick in the belly. By a police officer.
D: Which sours her against her husband who is a police officer and all. So she goes and hides out at her mom’s.
L: And cries a lot.
D: Remember in Monster when she cried a lot and got all puffy in the face?
L: I didn’t see the movie so I don’t understand what that means.
D: You are dumb.
L: You are dumb. And I don’t think it is appropriate to be referring to a lesbian serial killer here. Charlize Theron is much more than that.
D: Anyway, what else happens in the Seattle movie? I can’t stomach much more of this.
L: Me either. There were bullhorns. There were arrests. There were a lot of hippies who looked like they smelled bad. There were poignant moments when the police officers looked into the faces of children and saw the future in their eyes before opening up a can of whoop ass on their parents with nightsticks and tear gas.
D: Stuart Townsend should be ashamed of this script. It’s sad that he made the people he’s trying to glorify with this movie look like such idiots.
L: I don’t really know about idiots so much as just self-righteous. It just gives peaceful protesters a bad name. People should rightfully be outraged about and reminded of what happened there, but this isn’t the vehicle that is going to cause that to happen.
D: No it isn’t. All this movie is going to outrage folks about is the $9 they forked over to see it. I recommend those who really want to see it wait until it’s on Lifetime.
L: Or when it is on DVD packaged as a “Charlize Theron: Based On A True Story” budget two-pack with Monster.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Record Reviews: Chad VanGaalen, The Shaky Hands, Kimya Dawson

Continuing down the path of music review madness, here's two more Detour reviews: Chad VanGaalen and The Shaky Hands. The Chad VanGaalen post also features a bonus video for the song "Molten Light." The song alone was bone chilling and now with added visuals, look out Creeps-ville! Mr. VanGaalen himself did all the animation and, creepiness aside, it is really stunning. The Shaky Hands album is pretty good stuff, though I do not have any animated videos to add. Maybe somebody should get on that and make them a cool video. Maybe Chad VanGaalen should do it.

Also, today marks my debut as a writer for Tiny Mix Tapes! I'm a big fan of the site, so it's really fun for me to be writing stuff for them now. You can read my review of the new Kimya Dawson album Alphabutt there. Alphabutt is a children's record, and although I questioned whether I was really the right person to be reviewing anything children related, I think it turned out okay. :) For the record, I don't hate kids or anything like that, but I do typically hate when children sing. Organized kids singing - like choirs and slickly produced children's music - not the type of unencumbered singing kids do to amuse themselves, that I usually find amusing and occasionally adorable. I once listened to a little girl sitting behind me on a plane ride sing the most impassioned, epic song to herself about static electricity. The words were, "Static electricity, static electricity, STA-tic elec-TRICITY, STAAAA-tic EEEEE-lec-TRICITYYYYYYY..." After a few minutes I turned around to take a peek at her and the look of pure intensity on her face was awesome. It was the kind of look that rock stars make to show they "really mean it," whereas kids make that face because they really do. It was also then clear to me why her song had gone on so very long: her father was totally head back, mouth open, drooling, oblivious to the world, asleep. That was years ago, and yet the static electricity song still occasionally pops in my head. It's funny to think I may very well remember that moment long past the point where the girl herself does. Oh, our funny little world...

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Limerick Record Reviews Vol. 1

Oh, yes. I figured it was high time I created a new segment in which I take recent releases and relay my feelings about them in limerick form! Now, I am not a poet (this lady is for real), but I do write a mean limerick (it is not bragging when it is the truth). So I figured I would combine my obsession with music and my love of limerick writing, ala this new occasional installment. So please enjoy...

The Ugly Suit – The Ugly Suit (Quarterstick)

Yes, they’re called The Ugly Suit
But despite such a name, they’re quite cute
Like Wilco meets So-Cal
Though Oklahoma’s their locale
And the music’s pretty (not ugly) to boot!

Emiliana Torrini - Me And Armini (Rough Trade)

Oh yes, Emiliana’s a treat
Hip, with a downtempo beat
Like Bjork mixed with pesto
Add synths, stir, and presto!
Mood music to turn up the heat

Wovenhand – Ten Stones (Sounds Familyre)

On Ten Stones Wovenhand sheds light
On the darkness of humanity’s plight
His mercy-drenched redemption
Will grab your attention
And indie-Jesus will save you tonight

The Broken West – Now Or Heaven (Merge Records)

Their name is The Broken West
They play influences close to their chest
But when the cards are dealt
It confirms what I felt
They like Spoon and Cheap Trick the best

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Record Reviews: The New Year and Invincible

The New Year's third record is out today, and I am very excited about this. The album is creatively titled The New Year. Seeing as albums one and two were called Newness Ends and The End Is Near respectively, I was holding out for something more post-apocalyptic. Maybe Nothing Is New And You Are All Dead By Nuclear Warfare or something. Detour has my review, and seeing as the album is one I'm currently nuts about, I will this accept this self-titled nonsense.

The New Year will also be playing a show at The Pike Room in Pontiac with Jennifer O'Connor on Thursday October 16th. I am very excited about this show. I've been smitten with Ms. O'Connor since her 2006 Matador debut Over The Mountains, Across The Valley and Back To The Stars which was one of my top ten favorites of that year. Her new album Here With Me is one of my favorites so far this year... Between her and the brothers Kadane, it should be a fantastic show. Suffice to say, I would love to see you there!

Also for your reading pleasure: Between The Lines, Michigan's largest homosexual weekly, has my write up of local hip hop star-in-the-making Invincible's new album Shapeshifters. I hope to get a chance to check her out live sometime soon. She is currently gallivanting around Europe with Roxanne Shante from what I gather. This is good for Europe, bad for me. But I'm sure she'll be back soon.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Wonder Twins Review: The Silent Years CD release @ The Magic Bag in Ferndale, Saturday Sept. 6

Once again in a short manner of time I have convinced D'Anne to accompany me to a show, and so once again we bring you a Wonder Twins review of that performance. If you were at The Silent Years CD release party, you already know it was a fantastic evening. But did you also know that D'Anne wants to have Deastro's babies? You do now, and more will be revealed to you by following the provided link to The Metro Times "Music Blahg."

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Record Reviews: The Silent Years and The Music Tapes

Readith yee my review of the new kick ass record The Globe by The Silent Years for The Metro Times. Then get out your little planner and write (in pen) that you'll be going to their CD release party this Saturday evening at The Magic Bag in Ferndale. Deastro, Manna & Quail and These United States will also be there. The cost is $10 which includes a copy of the new CD. It is worth it, no? Of course, this Saturday is also Dally In The Alley, so you should basically spend the entire afternoon and early evening there, before heading to The Magic Bag, essentially stuffing your mind with awesome live Detroit music all the live long day.

Also up today on the Detour site is my review of the new Music Tapes album by former Neutral Milk Hotel member Julian Koster. It is called Music Tapes for Clouds and Tornadoes. Many wonder if they have found the next In The Aeroplane Over The Sea. The answer can best be expressed in the following hypothetical conversation between you and me:

You: The new Music Tapes album has finally arrived! It is so amazing! It is the next In The Aeroplane Over The Sea!
Me: (slaps you in the face) Listen to me... listen. There will never be another In The Aeroplane Over The Sea. Do you hear me? (slaps you again) Never. Just accept that!
You: But Julian Koster is a genius and used to be in Neutral Milk...
Me: (interrupts you by slapping you again) Yes, and his album is terrific - but you are living in a fantasy world. Stop trying to fool yourself! You are lucky you got ONE In The Aeroplane Over The Sea - you're just being musically greedy.
You: I guess you're right...
Me: (slaps you again) Oh, wait - did you say I'm right? I'm sorry about that last slap then.
You: That's okay I...
Me: (another slap) All right, my bad - now it's just kind of a reflex...

As an added bonus, Mr. Koster will be bringing his Music Tapes madness to The Pike Room in Pontiac for the "Elephant 6 Holiday Surprise Tour" on October 20th. I hope it is all the holidays combined into one celebration or at least half Halloween and half X-mas. Either way it should be fantastic.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Wonder Twins Review: The Silver Jews @ The Crofoot in Pontiac, Sunday Aug. 31

Despite the fact that illness knocked me on my ass most of this beautiful holiday weekend, I DID force myself to venture out to The Crofoot with my sister D'Anne for The Silver Jews show Sunday night. Despite primarily being a "stay at home lesbian," D'Anne occasionally accompanies me to various musical outings and we then write about it. The Metro Times then posts our rantings on their "Music Blahg" for all to see. So hop on over there and enjoy The Wonder Twins Silver Jews Recap.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Record Reviews: Love Meets Lust and Matthew Sweet

Happy Day of Labor everybody! To celebrate, you may want to read some record reviews - after all, it is a Labor Day tradition. The Metro Times has my review of local electro boys Love Meets Lust. They'll bring out your inner Depeche Mode fan for sure. Then head over to Detour and read the "Power Pop Day" decree which includes my review of Mathew Sweet's 10th album Sunshine Lies. Then you might want to consider going outside because that is what I would do if I wasn't getting over bronchitis.

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