Thursday, June 4, 2009

Here's to Shameless Self-Promotion

Download the new "Wire." EP from Bearstronaut for FREE!!!!!!


Thursday, May 7, 2009

Wango Tango, Baby!

Now normally I would not write so off topic, however, I felt compelled this afternoon. I have a handful of music sites that I check for news and updates. Today, while on I stumbled upon a true gem. Something that said, "ya know, Freedom isn't free!" It was the story of a young Brianna Curry who sadly is suffering from a brain tumor. However, through the Make-A-Wish foundation, she was able to meet one of the greatest Americans to ever grace this beautiful land. Who is this man? Well my friends, none other than the Motor City Madman himself, Mr. Ted Nugent. Apparently, Curry is going to spend four days with the Nuge, and she will get to be a part of his nature show down in Texas.

In all honesty, this is one of the best things I have read all year. I am, in fact, a self-admitted Ted Nugent fan. That man can play guitar and that's that. But I could not help but think about how this girl's family reacted when she said, "Yes, I would truly love to spend what could quite possibly be the last of my days with Ted Nugent." This is the same guy who once became a 17 year old Hawaiian girl's personal guardian in order to have sex with her. These colors obviously do not run.


Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Sometimes I summer in the Burg...

With one sibling living in, arguably, the hipster belly of the east coast, I only tend to make out there during the summer. I love going there to have my sister show new places to see shows, get tattoos, have a meal, or go thrifting. A dear friend of mine from high school started going to NYU two years ago. His first dorm was in Manhattan, then he moved to Chindatown, and finally he moved to the Burg over the summer. I began to notice with each month of him living in the Burg his clothes got a little tighter and his barely-beard status was more present with each week. I was annoyed and struck with admiration by his style, I can't lie. I saw it as obnoxious, yet encouraging to incorprate these trends into my own style. We were in bands together in high school, but we split up in college and each started separate projects. Nowadays, without a doubt, he looks like he is in a Burg band. Now the following clip does not share my own personal views on hipsterdom or the stereotypes that come with such a group, but I found it entertaining, so here ya go:

The !!! Dance

I feel it is past due that I take some time to highlight a certain man and his stage presence. Nic Offer is the lead singer for !!! or Chk Chk Chk. He was also the one of founding members of 1990's dance outfit, Out Hud. Offer's incredibly entertaining performances on stage round out the large ensemble that is !!!. Their shows are inevitable dance parties where even the stiffest hipster has to bust out some embarrassing dance moves. Myth Takes, their most recent release, is a polished synthesis of dance party, indie, and witty lyrical composition.

Check out these moves:

and if you have never heard their music:

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Dark Was the Night

Going off of my recent Dirty Projectors obsession, I must shed some light on the newly released "Dark Was the Night" compilation. The Dessner brothers of the National joined forces with the Red Hot Organization who promotes HIV and AIDS awareness. Huge names are involved with the tracklisting of this album in cluding the following:

"Knotty Pine" - Dirty Projectors and David Byrne – 2:23 (mp3)
"'Cello Song" (Nick Drake) - The Books featuring José González – 3:54
"Train Song" (Vashti Bunyan) - Feist and Ben Gibbard – 3:02
"Brackett, WI" - Bon Iver – 4:03
"Deep Blue Sea" - Grizzly Bear – 3:46
"So Far Around the Bend" - The National and Nico Muhly – 3:43
"Tightrope" - Yeasayer – 3:18
"Feeling Good" (Anthony Newley and Leslie Bricusse) - My Brightest Diamond – 3:54
"Dark Was the Night" (Blind Willie Johnson) - Kronos Quartet – 3:51
"I Was Young When I Left Home" (Bob Dylan) - Antony Hegarty with Bryce Dessner – 4:55
"Big Red Machine" - Justin Vernon and Aaron Dessner – 4:39
"Sleepless" - The Decemberists – 7:54
"Stolen Houses (Die)" - Iron & Wine – 1:07
"Service Bell" - Grizzly Bear and Feist – 2:23
"You Are the Blood" (Castanets) - Sufjan Stevens – 10:14

"Well-Alright" - Spoon – 2:46
"Lenin" - Arcade Fire – 4:06
"Mimizan" - Beirut – 2:43
"El Caporal" - My Morning Jacket – 3:33
"Inspiration Information" (Shuggie Otis) - Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings – 4:06
"With a Girl Like You" (The Troggs) - Dave Sitek – 3:27
"Blood Pt. 2" (Castanets) - Buck 65 Remix (featuring Sufjan Stevens and Serengeti) – 3:36
"Hey, Snow White" (Destroyer) - The New Pornographers – 4:26
"Gentle Hour" (Snapper) - Yo La Tengo – 5:31
"Another Saturday" - Stuart Murdoch – 2:56
"Happiness" - Riceboy Sleeps – 8:37
"Amazing Grace" - Cat Power with Dirty Delta Blues – 3:34
"The Giant of Illinois" (The Handsome Family) - Andrew Bird – 4:45
"Lua" (Bright Eyes) - Conor Oberst with Gillian Welch – 5:54
"When the Road Runs Out" - Blonde Redhead with Devastations – 3:28
"Love Vs. Porn" - Kevin Drew – 3:57

This compilation is exceptional to say the least. The incessant acoustic guitar on the first track featuring David Byrne and Dirty Projectors is amazingly simple. While TV on the Radio's Dave Sitek does a tremendous job with his Trogg's cover. This album is truly a jem in the pile of releases from this year already. The album was recenlty performed in its entirety at Radio City Music Hall.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Arnold Palmer: Great American Hero

As quite possibly one of the best deals on the market today, Arizona Ice Tea 24 oz. beverages are convienent and satisfying. They're perfect for hangovers or just for casual companion during a meal. With such a wide array of flavors they have so much to offer and are consistent with their types of teas, lemonades, and juices. For me, the hands down winner is the Arnold Palmer series. With the mixture of half lemonade and half iced tea, they have truly come up with a winner. These drinks are available at most corner stores and thankfully for UML students, at the campus book store. The greatest thing about these drinks are their 99 cent price tags. How could you lose?

Top 3 favorite Flavors:

1. Arnold Palmer Half & Half Green Tea

2. Mucho Mango

3. Green Tea Red Apple

Get into it.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Dirty Projectors

This is a band that initially I heard about and made an awful face because I thought their name was pretentious and that they probably were not that good. However, I was firmly mistaken. Dave Longstreth is one of the most ingenious arrangers and songwriters that I have heard in the last couple of years. Channeling some David Byrne is his quirky deliveries and vocal styling, Longstreth has made his band known with their compelling and versatile live performances.

The first time I realized how incredibly talented the Dirty Projectors are was when I saw the live video for the title track off of their album Rise Above. Their harmonies were frighteningly clear and their presence was subtle, yet intense. Longstreth along side Angel Deradoorian and Amber Coffman keep you listening with their offbeat rhythmic harmonies and delightfully contrasting vocal styles. Stillness is the Move EP has just recently come out as a prelude to their upcoming LP, Bitte Orca. The title track is something worth sitting down for. They are also touring with TV on the Radio this summer.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009


Metric's new release, Fantasies, is not necessarily a let down but certainly a bit disappointing for the almost 4 year wait. Some songs were released during the fall via the Myspace show they played. However, some versions of those songs did make their way on to the final cut of the album. The song "Twilight" was performed with a full band performance originally, but on the album it became a solo Emily Haines and keyboard track. Haines, who most recently found some more success with her own album and tour in between albums seems to be channeling those same feelings with the rearranged "Twilight Galaxy." I found this to be most unfortunate.

Anyway, this album does not lack the typical Metric hooks that may not grab you initially, but over time begin to replay themselves in your head. Three tracks that were played at summer shows like All Points West and Coachella, include "Satellite Mind," "Gimme Sympathy," and "Stadium Love," remained in their original form on Fantasies. With my first listen, I felt like the melodies were redundant and lyrics were kind of empty, which was kind of ridiculous because they posted a video just before the album's release explaining how Emily needed to escape in order to write "better" lyrics.

They didn't let me down though. It is definitely not their best by any means, but it is a Metric album. It plays a cohesive united blending elements from both of their previous releases Live it Out and Old World Underground.
The first single "Help I'm Alive" I thought was a dud when I heard it on the myspace stream before the album even came out. After a few listens on the album, I changed my opinion and it is now one of my favorites on the album. I guess I'm a sucker for some electro-acoustic grooves once in a while.

That is what Metric is good at, for the most part. They don't write songs that pull you in close right away. The songs that I have loved by Metric over the years take many listens to fully appreciate them, for me anyway. "The Police and the Private" off of Live It Out is tucked away into that record, but it was another reason for me to keep listening to them even after I thought that "Glass Ceilings" would be the only song I would like.

So when you start listening to Fantasies, don't sit down hoping for your new favorite album. Instead, just keep a close ear to find some hidden jems that may be your new guilty pleasure. It isn't one of my favorites of 2009, but it is a dance-pop record.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Hipster Mecca of the Summer

The All Points West Festival was held at Liberty State Park last year as one of the new three day summer concerts. The line up last year included Radiohead, Kings of Leon, Animal Collective, Metric, Chromeo, CSS, The Roots, Jack Johnson, and Duffy. 

The line up this year has one upped itself. They include an excellent variety of old classics and promising new talent. The first day consists of the Beastie Boys, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and Vampire Weekend for the mainstage headliners. Tool, My Bloody Valentine, and Gogol Bordello are the bigger names for day two. For a third day, they round out the schedule with Coldplay, Echo and the Bunnymen, and MGMT. 

This show is one of the few summer multi-day events where the bro and hipster community can join forces in harmony. Though I was not present for some "Banana Pancakes" last year on day three, I did become aware of Radiohead's unfortunate draw from bro culture. The tickets are $199 for a 3 day pass, and a single day will cost you $89. However, you will need to not only buy your ticket for the concert, but a ferry pass for each day is necessary as well, which will run you about $30. 

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Crack the Skye

While every year more and more sweep-picking obsessed metal bands grace us with their presence, some stay true to their sound and continue to put out material worth listening to. The new year has proved to be a satisfying year for metal thus far with the release of Lamb of God's Wrath, and as of last week, Crack the Skye by Mastodon.

Two years ago Blood Mountain showed that the band could hold their ground with their quick licks and even faster drumming, but with some more serious songwriting and less focus on the works of Melville. However Crack the Skye is a culmination of Mastodon's ever developing repertoire of material. With Brann Dailor's lyrics based both on dead sister and time travel, the vocal harmonies of Brett Hinds and Troy Sanders, and the overall techinical virtuosity of Mastodon as a unit, they Atlanta natives have created a seven track album is a lead contender for my favorite album of 2009.

The opening track, "Oblivion," draws you in with a the new voice of Brann Dailor, who struts impressive confidence as a singing drummer, and is then immediately backed by Hinds and Sanders on the overly catchy chorus. While the first single, "Divinations," seems to pick up where Blood Mountain left off, in the same vain as "Colony of Birchmen" with intense guitar parts leading into an airy, but engaging chorus. This is what I find to be most appealing about Mastodon.

They are technically sound, but they don't hold back on writing a song for the sake of showing off their shredibility. The songs on Crack the Skye are accessible for even the most novice of a metal fan. They have transcended the side stage of Ozzfest where I saw them first burying their audience with "March of the Fire Ants" and have achieved progressive-metal royalty status.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Catch You Up to Speed

So in case there are those of you who still don't quite understand what a Hipster is, here you go:

They are a rare breed of individuals, but they provide a depressingly unique social standard of living. I will admit to being a part of this pathetic "counter culture." But what is it that makes it so appealing? The everlasting hangovers? The absurd fashion sense that is proudly displayed in even in the most inappropriate functions? Is it the dead end jobs and need constant for self evaluation? Watching this video was a bit of a reality kick in the ass for myself, I won't lie. I think it really hit home during the "rally around a civilian to judge them, hard" part of the video.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Top 10 Songs to Walk to

Having a soundtrack to your walk around campus or downtown is essential, in my opinion. It accommodates a solo trip somewhere and reassures confidence in a powerful stride. Finding the right song to support such an act can be surprising, but is always satisfying. Depending on your mood, these songs can range from a somber acoustic jam to a keyboard thick celebration of dance or maybe even a diminished chord heavy hardcore track. I like having good background music to do people watching in cities, using public transportation, and mostly for judging people unknowingly. My recent top 10 songs to walk to are:

1. Myth Takes- !!!
2. Young Love-The Mystery Jets
3. The Breaks-Kurtis Blow
4. 69 Faces of Love- King Khan & His Shrines
5. Racetrack in France-Gil Scott Heron
6. Drivin' Down the Block- Kidz in the Hall
7. Lovesick- Friendly Fires
8. High Voltage- Eagles of Death Metal
9. Little Girl- Death from Above 1979
10. The Casualty- Cursive

What are yours?

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Lamb of God Review

Wrath is Lamb of God’s latest release and is one of the most polished albums of 2009, thus far. The sixth effort from the Virginia quintet was worthy of being #2 on the Billboard 200 chart when the album was released. With each album the band reclaims their status as one of the tightest and most consistent metal groups in the last ten years.

They went from minor appearances at New England Hardcore and Metal Fest and New Jersey’s Hellfest, to playing in front of thousands upon thousands at Download Fest in Europe and supporting Slayer on a national arena tour within the last five years. Mark Morton, Randy Blythe, John Campbell, Willie and Chris Adler have created their own form of groove-metal established by the late, great Pantera, and put out album after album of inspiringly fresh metal for shredders and head bangers a like to enjoy.

Wrath still brings the long, exaggerated breakdowns that make you fear for your life when you go to their shows. But this album also has very melodically delicate sections with complementary brutal rhythms from Mark Morton and Willie Adler that is reminiscent of early Metallica .

But they didn’t water down their riffs for the sake of appealing to new audiences or keeping up with up and coming bands. Morton and Adler pull out their chops on tracks like “In Your Words” and “Contractor” to remind their peers of their shred credibility. Chris Adler’s presence on the drums is brilliant, as always, and proves to be just as vital to the songs as the vocals.

Lamb of God would not be the same band without Randy Blythe as the lead singer. His raw phrasing and energy is prominent through out all of Wrath. A true sense of maturity has come to their songwriting over the last two albums. They are one of the few bands that have found a niche in the metal community and stuck to it with each album. However, unlike other bands, they have not put out the same album repeatedly. They have built upon a formula gradually, where the first two albums established their musicianship and the last three have shown exponential growth in their abilities as songwriters.

While the traditional use of half time sections, or “breakdowns,” is overused in most hardcore and metal music these days, Lamb of God maintains a level of classic metal necessity. The songs are Wrath are entertaining for musicians for their virtuosity, but Lamb of God also manages to keep the live audience in mind for what will get a rise out of their fans on tour. The bridge sections on this album stray away from the standard “let’s slow everything down and kill each other in the pit” mentality, and instead deliver a more Vinnie Paul and Dimebag Darrell power-groove break for fans to almost dance to.

By the end of Wrath, you know that you’re listening to Lamb of God and that it’s some of the best work they have released to date. Blythe’s screams are visceral and full of feeling backed with an assault of impressive fret work, while the rhythm section pummels the ears with beats only Chris Adler could think of. Lamb of God has proven again why they have maintained their versatility this long with Wrath.

More titles from Lamb of God, Walk with Me Hell dvd, and Killadelphia dvd.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

What Happens When Bros Invade Hipster Culture?

Just Don't Steal my Gil Mantera's Party Dream...

Do you remember when MGMT was first getting notoriety just over a year ago? Or the first time you heard “A-Punk” by Vampire Weekend? How about six months later when a kid with side-cocked, white hat said “’Time Pretend' That's my jam man!”? Yeah, I remember that. I remember it very clearly. Large companies and sponsors snatched up bands like MGMT and Vampire Weekend, for national ad campaigns. These bands went on to get submerged into mainstream radio and video play, which in turn planted them amongst obnoxious bro-party jams.
This past summer I visited the hipster mecca of McCarren Pool in Brooklyn for one of their free shows featuring MGMT and the Ting Tings. As I stood in line with my sister and father, I began noticing the abundance of plaid shorts and K Swiss in the line. For some reason it not only confused me but rather infuriated me. As if these bands were mine, and the bros were infiltrating my personal belongings. Granted I was standing in line with my dad, but I’m proud to say that I attend shows with my dad and he has educated pallet for music.

But I don’t go trouncing around in my skinny jeans at OAR or Umphrey’s McGee shows. This is the true ignorant hipster coming out in me. I like bands that have names that you have never heard before that leave people questioning the reality of their actually existence. I like going to shows where people actually dance and don’t spend more time smuggling weed in rather than enjoying the performance of the band performing. It is an asinine rant, but it is a true value of hipster culture.
When hipsters find ridiculously named bands, they want to keep them for themselves. Chances are, those same hipsters will “only like the old stuff.” I find this spectacle of our hipster culture incredibly entertaining. So much so, that a close friend and I have started a game where we imagine bands with absurd names and manifest background stories to tell people about at parties.

For instance, have heard of We Made Sandwiches? Oh you haven’t? They’re really making it in Japan right now. They do this thing where they put a puppy in the bass drum and play double bass until the puppy dies. It is amazing.
My friend and I had a girl on myspace looking for this band for almost a half hour.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Inking It for Attention

The need for ink starts early. For me, it was half way through the first session my forearm. I knew that as soon as I got out of there I would start planning my next one. But once you have touch of ink in your skin, do you become a different person socially? Do you modestly hide the art on your arms, lower back, or legs? Even people who hate needles find the act of getting tattooed overwhelmingly satisfying.
Even in moments of drunken stupidity, tattoos seem entertaining and absolutely worthwhile. On a college campus, countless stories of regretful decisions to get inked can be heard. Whether it is the Pantera themed gates you have on your arm in honor of a fallen guitar player or the stick figure celebrating pleasant days on your inner thigh, they're still there for show and tell. I will put off credit card payments and other financial necessities to spend a paycheck on a tattoo. 
Tattoos without meaning are obvious. They're either poorly done or are so idiotic on first impression that you are baffled at the idea that someone would actually pay money for such a thing. A good friend of mine receives tattoos all the time when he hangs out at his local shop. He knows that a majority of his tattoos are out of vice and don't have a lot of meaning.  I find myself trying to get my friends to join me in getting ink with me, simply because I want to hang out, and why not get a tattoo to commemorate? With all this in my mind, I like to pursue my tattoo endeavors abiding by the Jesse Hughes theory which is based on not having your tattoo necessarily be important, but as long as it reminds you of period or time in your life. 
Another weird aspect of tattoo culture is how artists always have some of the worst pieces. The best and first artist I went had some of the worst looking devils and skulls all over him. Skulls seem to be an artists must, like they had to get them in order to become really talented at giving other people tattoos. Maybe all the best tattoo artists in the world got the worst work done, realized, and then decided to help everyone out by giving them great work? I don't know, that just seems to be a constant when I go see someone to get work done. 

John Reardon Tattoos

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

What if Pitchfork Rated Your Life?

As an avid reader of sites like Pitchfork Media and BrooklynVegan, I tend to enjoy the obnoxious analysis of the hierarchy of hipsters. Between record reviews and general band news, those sites spread the wealth of their pop culture knowledge to anyone who will read while they decide what records are worthy of listening and which band should be shunned from festivals and Brooklyn pool parties. 

Pitchfork is notorious for their brutal social commentary. BrooklynVegan on the other hand, is merely a display for hipster culture and updates for selected bands and events. If you have received a poor review or post from a Pitchfork reviewer, then they will consistently bash you for your poor music or live performance. This aspect is a rather unfortunate blemish on this site's reputation. 

For instance, the latest album from the Black Kids "Partie Traumatic" received a hilariously insulting assault from Pitchfork. They had been praised for their first EP, but then their full length came out and was deemed terrible by Pitchfork. Also, if you're interested in comically negative feedback, then check out the review of Jet's latest album. 

Though at times it seems like a committee of music snobs runs the site, they are in fact the epitome of hipster culture and pompous music criticism. It is impossible to ignore their acclaimed status on the criticism front, no matter how degrading their words may come out. Their reviews, for the most part, are in depth and analyze the artist's new work with loaded criteria. So, even if they offend you for not liking the latest Kings of Leon album, you must abide by the mighty pitchfork as a member of the hipster community. 

So, if Pitchfork rated your life, what would they say? Would you clear the rarely seen 5.5? Maybe they would comment on your barely there middle aged hipster street credit. Perhaps they throw a few jabs at how you're still using "Time to Pretend" as your walking down Bedford Ave jam. They might commend you on your low income and mint condition Wayfarers. Either way, Pitchfork crushes many aspects of the hipster culture in order to build it back up and inspire new ridiculous trends to emerge. 


Monday, February 16, 2009

Dining Halls and Credit Card Debt

Why does Aramark make me feel more and more comfortable with my credit card debt? Each weekend I fear the options that will be offered to me from the sparse kitchen of the south campus dining hall. Due to the commuter based population here at UML, for some reason they cater to about half of the people who are actually here and present rather depressing entrees and sides for the Friday through Sunday menu. Not to say that their standard weekly menu is much better, but the weekends just feel so much more like a hunger punishment.
This just heightens my dependency on new fast food sandwiches that stain my credit card debt with delicious trans fat. Quizno's put me in the hole over $100 last year alone, but I mean I enjoyed every bite of it. My lack of interest in my prearranged/prepaid meal plan at UML keeps me anticipating the next "Loaded Steakhouse Burger" from Burger King. Yes, this may sound pathetic, I'm glad to be the go to guy in my group for what the new sandwich at any landmark on Burger Row may be. What can I say, I really enjoy knowing how to proper utilize the dollar menu to its full extent.
The Aramark provided food at our dining hall at UML is disheartening and leaves everyone I know unsatisfied and miserable. Considering the economic situation and cutting of state funding, one must accept the unavailability of certain food luxuries at a university. However, I also tend to consider the overwhelming amount of student loans I'll have to pay off once I'm out of here in a year and have a heavy load of credit card debt to deal with because of nights where going out to eat was of course the better option. All we're asking is to spice up the menu, put a little ingenuity and love in it so that I can stop looking for waffle sandwiches from Dunkin Donuts and Baja Chicken sandwiches from Quiznos.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Computer Illiterate

There are plenty of people who remain computer illiterate and accept their generational ignorance. As a college student and a federal work study employee, I'm forced to deal with these people everyday at the reference desk of my campus library. Today I had the pleasure of helping out a young woman who needed to find journal article via the Library research service online. This woman claimed she was in the process of receiving her doctorate degree, yet she was completely incapable of maneuvering around a Windows desktop to get to the internet. 
"I need journal articles for my 'Second Language Acquisition' class," she said. I told her to first start by clicking on Internet Explorer. She began to click the embedded text on the desktop rather than the actual icon. This may sound technologically snobbish, however, I feel like if you're receiving higher degrees of education and plan on pursuing a higher state of intelligence that it would probably be rather intelligent to keep up with the common practice with computers. 
This woman was merely a standard middle aged stranger to the internet and modern technology in general. My father is what most would consider "hip" for his age. He loves new alternative rock and follows popular culture closely. However, the idea of the cell phone baffles him. He has had the same brick, Nokia cell phone for the last four years, but he really doesn't understand how it all works. When it comes to computers, he truly struggles in comprehending the idea of the downloading/uploading of music online. I try to explain it to him in the simplest of ways, but he gets flustered and returns to enjoying his My Chemical Romance album in the living room. 
What is it about a majority of the Baby Boomers that deem technology inaccessible? Why wouldn't you want to explore and understand the options of the internet and new computer software? Every semester, my friends and I witness a number of professors who become frustrated on a daily basis trying to utilize the new computers suggested for use in the classroom. Watching them try to figure out Powerpoints and newly designed overhead projection units is depressingly entertaining. This of course takes place in a class room not normally based on technology. 
At this point I'm just hoping that I can maintain my technology savvy state through my middle age years and not end up scared and frightened from the post-Ipod generation.