Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Blame It On

When Blame It On the Youth came out a reviewer in the Phoenix New Times cried foul. I delayed buying the new disc... not because of this sort of backlash - or that I didn't expect the album to be good - but because I'm trying to cut back, thank you. This new disc was a bit of an unknown... and after the Content Protected mess I wasn't hopeful.

Then Rhapsody finally got the disc and I listened to it. It's good. It's very good. So now my wariness was turned to attempting to kick back at the backlash; and adventurousness, if you will. Plus I was happy that the plastic-wrap had a 3.5" diameter sticker on it warning you that this was a DVD. You didn't have to parse a sea of text to pick out the warnings... it fully dominated the front cover.

See, they did not release this on CD. At all. It's available on vinyl and on DVD. The DVD has 14 videos... as well as 14 .wav files... which are the same thing you'd find on a CD. If you have access to a computer with a DVD drive you can open up that folder and copy the .wav files to a computer. You can then play these files there, copy them to a compatible digital music player... or burn them to a blank CD. I burned them... then ripped mp3s for use on my Creative (it could've played the .wav files... but I didn't want to take up that much space.)

So I'm totally pleased. I have a good album and I have it on my Creative. I was able to use someone else's DVD-drive to get the files. And if I ever used a CD player I have my own copy ready to go (and it's burned from .wav files so it's far better quality than a CD burned from mp3s.)

And if I want to watch the videos they're there. It's not like they're going to be repeated endlessly on MTV. I've watched 4 or 5. They don't make me wish for a video for My Girlfriend's Best Friend... but they're interesting enough that I'll watch them all. And there are bands where I wish they'd do a video for every song.

So all this cost me, compared to a CD, is one blank CD, a bit of sharpie ink and a bit more time (which was a one time deal.) That's a reasonable price for 14 videos.

There's nothing wrong with Blame It On The Youth by the Sun.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005


I just finished Pitchfork's history of twee which includes lines like "There were points where cuteness felt like a caricature, and a pose: when girls went around carrying Strawberry Shortcake lunchboxes instead of purses, being twee seemed less like a rejection of cool and more like the creation of a new, worse form of it."

I recommend the whole thing, and not only because they talk about a fuckload of good bands.

I also find the review of Rehearsing My Choir quite interesting as well. I enjoy it more than their reviewer did (4.0/10)... but James DiGiovanna would probably say that my "natural body chemistry is more valium than methedrine."

The start of the glorious conclusion of the review on the Fiery Furnaces CD: "It's a spectacular experiment, groundbreaking and perverse, bloated with possibilities and prime for parsing. But its practical function is unclear."

I don't catch Pitchfork very often and it's usually not as good as these two bits. That being said I probably should read Pitchfork more often... keeping in mind the idea that paying attention to one music tastemaker - be it Rolling Stone, Pitchfork or Under the Radar - is silly.

EDIT: Apparently the Ho at My Indie World linked the same Twee As Fuck article and wrote about the Fiery Furnaces new album (though, unlike I wrote in his comments, didn't link the Pf review) in a post just after noon.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Brian O'Nolan

I have been reading At Swim Two Birds by Flann O'Brien. It is quite delightful if rather slow. It is rather slow because it is rather incomprehensible... which is to say it is hard to say, exactly, what the plot of the book is. Things happen but any novel-encompassing design is clear.

There is a University student who doesn't seem to take his studies too seriously, a few of his friends and extended family, and then various characters in his writings... and those writings themselves are also full of stories and authors and characters. It plays off much like some of the work of Pirandello or Queaneau except that the language reminds one of, yes, Joyce and Beckett.

Extract from the text, demonstrating the foregoing: On occasion an owl or an awkward beetle or a small coterie of hedgehogs, attracted by the splendour of the light, would escort them for a part of the journey until the circumstances of their several destinations would divert them again into the wild treachery of gloom. Conclusion of the extract.

I am having much the same reaction to this as I did to Rainer Maria Rilke's The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge... I am intoxicated by the text but at the same time I wonder if it makes sense to continue reading.

Saturday, October 15, 2005


I was just at the Ticketmaster website checking on prices for the Red Wings/Coyotes game tonight. I submitted a search and the word verification was "forgery."

I am not, in fact, going. Ticketmaster only has lower bowl seats that are way expensive and even what I've seen from craigslist is more than I really wanna pay right now. If I had thought more seriously about this earlier... then I'd be locked in.

Oh well. My plan now for going to a hockey game this year is to pick an off-game, preferrably on a weeknight. If demand is low then the kind folks selling tickets outside the venue will be desperate, eh.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Rock on

I caught the Phoenix Symphony Orchestra tonight at the recently renovated Symphony Hall.

The venue is still big and spacious with great sound but the interior is now all light wood which makes the concert space very bright which can be distracting. Other than that, however, their normal home is much better than the Orpheum where they played last season (and where I saw the Gerswhin program on the 30th.)

Scottsdale resident James DePreist conducted the orchestra. The setlist was as follows:

Gabriel Faure: Pelleas et Melisande Suite
Ernest Bloch: Schelomo (with special guest cellist Alisa Weilerstein)
[encore break]
Jean Sibelius: Symphony 1 in e

The Faure was, well, what one would expect. I'm not a big fan of French Impressionists whether we're talking painters (Monet) or composers (Debussy, Faure)... it's too pastel, fluffy, slight color variations for me. I like it all right and this piece is fine but, eh.

After the first piece (there was, by the way, no opening bands) Alisa came out with her cello and a hush went through the crowd, we knew they were going to pull out something special. I was kinda hoping for Dvorak's Cello Concerto and someone yelled out for some Bach sonatas (she wasn't going to do a solo, man) and another screamed for Some Red-Handed Slight Of Hand but these were nothing compared to a pair of idiots, one who was requesting All Right Now and the other for some Neil Young song (no cello, folks!)

Well, once she had sat down and started playing we (or atleast I) realized it was going to be Schelomo. I like the few Bloch pieces I've heard, this one was quite strong. It's not quite a cello concerto though it plays like an oddly structured one done as a single movement. The cello was fiery, the orchestra was lush, everything sounded good.

We clapped and clapped and I wasn't sure they were going to come back, many folks even filed out... but it looked like almost all of them came back when that clarinet solo started. Ahh, my heart jumped. I never thought in a million years that they'd play that early work. It ran a bit awkwardly at times and Sibelius certainly did have better symphonies (6, if you're wondering) but this has the cymbal crashes and fugues all in the right spots... and the brass, the brass sounded wonderful this evening. They played loud and powerful without blasting, without overblowing. The strings at times felt more tentative and less full than they needed to be but for the most part they held their own, for the sweeping, soaring bits that Sibelius is justly famous for they got the job done.

All in all it was a good show. The good news is they're coming back. I have tickets for their show the day after Thanksgiving but I may end up having to swap those for something else as that weekend may end up being full.