Let us cross over the river, and rest under the shade of the trees.
What It Is We're Doing Here
This is a place where I post anything my friends and I feel is relevant to the music we like. The kind of music in question can be seen pretty easily by checking out the playlists posted. I post a playlist every month and regular record reviews. By regular I mean 'when I get the chance'.
It is my sincere hope that any reviews or commentary you read here will not remind you at all of reviews you can read in Rolling Stone or Pitchfork or NME or any number of other professional music reviewers.
Why? Because for the most part, those reviews are just really, really boring and they kill the fun of music. No one (aside from guys who write those reviews) sits around with their friends and mentions how 'the deeply melodic tempo shifts emanating from the counter-intuitive and soulfully rhythmic jazz fusion guitar lifts us to incomparable ...'
Incomparable heights of bullshit, maybe. Not gonna happen here. (I didn't tell you this, but I still visit Pitchfork every day, but only for the articles, yeah.)
It would be a lie if I said there will be respect for a variety of musical tastes here, there will be no such thing. Some music, no matter how popular it is, just sucks. That doesn't mean this is a haven of indie rock snobbery by any means. There's plenty of well-regarded indie shit out there that is just fucking awful. Grizzly Bear, I'm pointing at you and nodding my head.
Really there are no limits to the kind of music we'll listen to, so anything goes. Forward on anything worthy that has not been discussed in enough detail.
If we miss something newsworthy or get something wrong, let us know. If you agree or disagree with an opinion here, let us know. It will not change said opinion, but you will probably feel better than if you kept it in. So go ahead.
How I Rate Music
When I post my thoughts on a record, I use the standard 1-5 stars format for a couple of reasons: 1) It works just as well as anything else and 2) Most people use an iPod, I rate my songs on my iPod, the iPod has a 1-5 star ratings system and therefore it's a common language to both of us.
Here is how I define my ratings:
5 Stars: Totally awesome. A great song. Permanent favorite. Think 'Fans' by Kings of Leon (before the hairstylists), 'Mahgeeta' by MMJ, 'Fight Test' by the Flaming Lips, that sort of thing. A rare rating, though.
4 Stars: Very good. I'll listen to this song again and again, I'm happy I bought it, I will refer to it in conversation as 'one of the songs I like on that album'.
3 Stars: Just OK. Nothing wrong here, it's just not that memorable and maybe if I listened to it three or four times I'd like it, but if it was really that good, I shouldn't have to, so that brings us full circle and therefore it is 'Just OK'.
2 Stars: Irritating. A bad song. This rating means something is really wrong here, and perhaps we should sit down.
1 Star: A sin against music. Why did you record this? Do you not have any friends who listened to this with you and said 'Wow, this is incredibly, incredibly bad'? This is the kind of song that totally pisses me off when I hear it.
A few songs almost automatically fall into 1 or 2 star category, in particular the trend gaining popularity with bands to once again put one minute snippets of music or horrible noise on an album. Spiritualized, I am talking to YOU. 'Harmony 6 (Glockenspiel)'? I mean, fuck you.
How I Make Playlists
Any 4 or 5 star song usually ends up on a monthly playlist. If an album is so good that it has more than three or four songs that warrant being added to a playlist (ie Windmill, Deer Tick), I'll space the songs out and put them on a subsequent month's playlist.
Playlists are generally 35 songs or so. Any more than that and you'll just never listen to some of them, any less and you'll just get bored because there's not enough music. I realize this makes no sense, I really just needed an arbitrary cutoff, so 35 it is.
Built To Spill – 10/14/09 – Music Hall Of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, NY
The first time I heard Built To Spill was at a bachelor party.My head was twisted – bruised mind darting in a million different directions -- and “The Plan” came on and seemed to pick me up and wrap me around a telephone pole.From up above, I saw dudes eating massive amounts of Maryland crabs and chugging brew, but the reality is that it was all just a visual.At that moment, Doug Marsh’s spiraling guitar was the only thing I could contemplate.
Not long after that I basically bought every BTS record that had been released.I loved them all but I was especially psyched with “There’s Nothing Wrong With Love”, which had a handful of songs that remain in my music rotation to this day – “Big Dipper”, “Dystopian Dream Girl”, “In The Morning” and, of course, “Car”.On Wednesday night, they played all of them except “Big Dipper”.
The theme of these four NYC shows – varying set lists with no repeats – seems to be at odds with the fact that each night appears to be a greatest hits showcase.I’d bet that most everyone has walked out of these NYC shows saying, “Wow, I can’t believe they played [insert awesome song here}!”Of course, what this made me realize is that not only does BTS have a million good songs, but they have a ton of legitimately GREAT songs.And perhaps even more importantly, they really don’t have any bad songs.
The last time I’d seen these guys was 2001 and I decided to go back in 2009 for the simple fact stated above – you will never get anything worse than a good BTS show.They just have too many good songs and on top of that, Marsh and Co completely thrive in the live setting – jamming out songs and twisting and bending them in the same way they did on “The Plan”.Aside from the solos, Marsh is constantly revered as a Neil Young 2.0 because the songs themselves – the vocals, lyrics, delivery – are all Young-esque.In other words, even without Marsh’s guitar god heroics, these shows would still be incredibly enjoyable because the tunes stand on their own.When you take them out to left field, as Marsh did on “Carry the Zero”, “Wherever You Go” and “Goin’ Against Your Mind”, it adds up to some real rock n roll goodness.Add to that the tremendous euphoria of “Car”, the chilled out groove of “Strange” and some nice songs from the fantastic new LP, and you’ve got yourself a damn good show.
You can download or listen to the whole show here.
Three Years Ago Today In The Morning Strange Life's A Dream Distopian Dream Girl Done Wherever You Go Nowhere Lullaby In Your Mind Planting Seeds Alarmed Carry The Zero
Randy Described Eternity Car Goin' Against Your Mind