Wednesday, January 24, 2007

M. Ward, Entrepreneur

So I have tons to blog about but my late nights are now spent exclusively playing Wii. (I want to blog about the upcoming Wilco album (called Sky Blue Sky) and the upcoming Bjork album (featuring the only singer Jen hates more than Bjork - that being Antony, who duets on two tracks. Oh joy of joys!). I'd also like to point you out to this free mp3 from the upcoming Innocence Mission album, We Walked in Song:

The Innocence Mission - Into Brooklyn, Early in the Morning [mp3].)

But since I've been too busy playing Zelda to even listen to that clip or to blog about Wilco or Bjork, or anything else, leaving you to stare at John Mellancamp while humming Linda Linda to yourself, I've only just now posted Records I Buy's exclusive camera phone photo of the side of indie rocker M. Ward's van, which he's been seen driving around Hoboken in, delivering coffee.

I'm not sure what the ramifications are for his musical career, but it's probably not a good sign. Every single one of you who illegally downloaded Chinese Translation - shame on you! no attention to the man behind the curtain.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Linda Linda - The Blue Hearts

Today, after Matty's raves, I attempted to purchase a Wii -- but was rebuffed ("Come back tomorrow....before 8 AM.") So, instead I cracked out my Nintendo DS and conquered another level of Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan (a Japanese import musical rhythm game so wonderful it warrants it own entire post at some later date).

However, after being unable to save the world from a cataclysmic asteroid impact with my rhythmic cheering, I was happy to find that one of my favorite J-Pop punk tracks from the game, Linda Linda, was finally on iTunes. I stupidly purchased it before realizing you could find the freebie MP3 here.

I don't have much to say about this song -- other than that the overwrought beginning is one of the biggest fake outs in pop music ever. Once it kicks in, it's pure gold. It's sung in Japanese (which improves the experience), but the constant references to the very Western sounding "Linda" give us English speakers something to latch onto. Defnitely worth a listen -- Joanna Newsom should look to incorporating this sound into her next project.

(Also, there's apparently a School of Rock-like movie called Linda Linda Linda about a group of misfit girls who learn to play Linda Linda for the school talent show. Can someone with NetFlix see if it's on there?)

Linda Linda (mp3)

This Is Our Country (And John Mellencamp's Wallet)

What John Mellencamp says (in tomorrow's Daily News, about what his new song "The Americans" is about):

"How we see ourselves, not how we are. I think that's an image that should be strived toward. If I had written about how we really are, it would have been negative. If [I was writing about] the Midwest, it would be, 'I'm narrow-minded and don't give a f---- about other cultures.'"

What John Mellencamp means:

"Middle America enjoys its ignorance - and I enjoy my paychecks."

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Monday, January 15, 2007

We Walked In Song Early Review

UPDATE: My own review has been posted here.

From Keith Abbott:

We Walked in Song may or may not be the band's finest album to date depending on who you ask. I tend to prefer their recordings with Steve Brown. But even if this album is not your cup of tea, there are plenty enough treasured moments to connect with..that with each note, each word and each phrase that, in my opinion, are worth every tiny sip.[READ MORE]

Saturday, January 13, 2007

We Walked In Song Teaser

Click on the above photo to hear clips from The Innocence Mission's upcoming album, We Walked In Song.

Beautiful, as expected.

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UPDATE: Keith has posted his flash animation it on YouTube, so I'll post that here as well. I still highly recommend you check out his site, though.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Box in a Box

Is this funny? Or is it lame because she's basically just ripping off an SNL sketch (and lip syncing)? I'm going with funny because it made Jen laugh, but I could easily be swayed.

My Box in a Box blog.

(Via Paper Thin Walls.)

Thursday, January 11, 2007

RIB's Reading List: The Definitive Illustrated Encyclopedia of Crock

Jen's parents bought me The Definitive Illustrated Encyclopedia of Rock, edited by a blind man named Michael Heatley. After a cursory search, I couldn't find it on Amazon, so no link.

Her folks have done a great job of getting me rock books - I am currently reading another one they got me, the Neil Young bio Shakey by Jimmy McDonough, and I thoroughly enjoyed the Jonathan Cott-edited Bob Dylan: The Essential Interviews. I like TDIEoR well enough, too, but I have to take everything it says with a grain of salt after reading the following in the bio of much-blogged-about-by-me-lately R.E.M.:

Reveal (2001) was a return to the Automatic harmony formula, yielding strong singles like 'Daysleeper'. Around The Sun (2004) sounded like a bad painting by numbers for the first time with 'Bad Day' literally repainting 'It's The End Of The World As We Know It'.

Um. Not quite.

For those of you who aren't R.E.M. nerds, Daysleeper was the first single from Up (1998), not Reveal (the book makes this mistake twice, actually listing "Reveal, 'Daysleeper'" among R.E.M.'s "CLASSIC RECORDINGS" on the opposite page). And Around The Sun, while indeed like a bad painting by numbers, does not include Bad Day, a non-album track that was originally a demo from the Lifes Rich Pageant (1986) sessions and was later re-recorded for their Best Of album, In Time. (Additional note: Known for years as (PSA) Bad Day, the unfinished song actually was re-worked into It's The End Of The World As We Know It, making it a precursor, not a rehash.)

Yes, I am a music geek and a longtime R.E.M. fanatic. But this is just plain lazy, if not wholly negligent. And not very definitive.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

My 7,000th iTunes Song & The Czech Blind Date It Brings to Mind

This evening, I ripped my 7,000th song onto iTunes.* No. 7,000 comes from Cechomor's 2002 live album (called, simply, Live).

The CD is a Christmas gift from the Hrabaneks (my former landlord's family, specifically his daughter Michaela) in Prague and it arrived on my doorstep yesterday. Since the 7,020 tracks I now have include some podcasts and some spoken word stuff and the like, let's just give every track on this album credit for being No. 7,000.

Cechomor is a Czech folk group who sing exclusively in their native language, although their 2001 album Promeny contains an English version of the title track, which was all over the radio when I was living in Prague. I remember singing along with Promeny, in Czech, and having no idea what the words meant until I got the English version: Promeny translates as "Transformations" and it's a Czech folk song about a woman changing into different shapes in order to escape some poor sonofabitch who's hopelessly in love with her and doesn't want to take no for an answer.

"I'd rather turn myself into a squirrel and run across high branches, to get away from you," sings the female character in one part of the song, "I'll never give myself to you; I'll never give my body to you." Replies the man: "And I will get my sharp axe from my little woodshed, and cut down those branches and you will fall to my arms. Sure as the sun shall rise, I know God will make you mine." Great song.

Why does this bring a blind date to mind? Was I stalking some poor Czech girl? No. Actually, the CD I ripped earlier is culled from the band's two-night stint at Sky Club Brumlovka in Prague in April of 2002. On one of those nights, I was in the front row, on a blind date with a Czech girl who looked a little bit like Sloth from Goonies.

I really shouldn't be so mean - she was an incredibly sweet girl. The ugliest girl I met while living in Prague, yes, but I don't regret going out with her one bit. The concert was great and even though some of my Czech friends thought I was lame for liking a radio-friendly local folk group, I could get away with it because I was a foreigner. While I lived in Prague, I was all about Czech and Slovak pop music - easy to sing along with and easy to form emotional attachments to.

* With apologies to the thousands of songs I've deleted (purposely and otherwise) or just never ripped.

Cingular, Here I Come


Or maybe I'll just wait until it gets unlocked for multiple carriers. Either way, I love it with all my heart.

UPDATE: Can't wait? Make your own!

UPDATE 2: Note to Idolator readers: Sadly, I did not receive a test model. LOL.

Monday, January 08, 2007

R.E.M.: Hall of Famers

In what comes as absolutely no suprise, R.E.M. has been elected to the Rock 'N' Roll Hall of Fame, along with Patti Smith, the Ronettes, Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five and Van Halen. Congrats to R.E.M. and the others.

Personally, I would care more about this if R.E.M. weren't elected, then I could use the awesome power of You to complain and have the Hall eventually reconsider. As it is, I have nothing to get annoyed about, so I'm going shopping instead.

Hey! No Cars Go

Arcade Fire has announced the tracklist and cover art (see right) for Neon Bible. There's also a stream of the first single, Black Mirror, available on the band's Web site (it's in Win's scrapbook).

I have to admit, I am not overly impressed with either Intervention (see earlier post) or Black Mirror, but I am withholding final judgement until I own the record and I am still excited. What struck me most about the tracklist was that No. 10 is No Cars Go, which currently is my favorite Arcade Fire song, at least the one on their debut EP. Will this be the same recording? I sure hope not. Hopefully, like The Long Winters' recent instant classic Ultimatum, it will be as good if not better than the original EP version.

We'll see on March 6.

UPDATE: There's a snippet of No Cars Go in this teaser video, along with bits and pieces of other songs.

Death of Karen Peris' Father Is Inspiration For We Walked In Song

According to (via IMDiscog), the upcoming Innocence Mission record, We Walked in Song, was influenced by the death of Karen Peris' father, who passed away sometime during the making of the album.

TIM keeps their personal lives pretty private - and they don't exactly attract much media attention - so this is news to me.

Their new album, We Walked in Song is one of their strongest works, though there was great tragedy in the beginning stages of creating the album. "Sometime after the passing of her father, Karen Peris began to write some of the most heartfelt material I have heard from the band. I believe she turned to songwriting as a way of coping with this great loss and celebrating those she loves in her life," says Badman's Dylan Magierek.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Sunday Bloody Sunday

I shy away from politics on Records I Buy (I do enough bitching as it is, plus this is a music blog), but I happened to come across this a moment ago, after a long ride on my new bike (yeah!) and just as I was getting myself prepared for a day on the couch watching the Jets and then the Giants. Both teams are heavy underdogs, so it could truly be a bloody Sunday for the local football teams.

Anyway, whoever put this together did a fantastic job. And I've been on a slight U2 kick this week, so there you go.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

I Move the Stars for No One!

We were real busy at work yesterday (really, we were) but somehow we had time to discuss Jim Henson's 1986 classic Labyrinth, starring David Bowie and Jennifer Connelly, on which Ally and I grew up and Eric somehow was deprived. I did my best to sing "Magic Dance" to Eric ("You remind me of the babe" "What babe?" "The babe with the power." "What power?" "The power of voo doo." "Who do?" "You do." "Do what?" "Remind me of the babe.")

But the Most Valuable Song from this film is "Within You" posted below. "I move the stars for no one" is the perfect line to use on your significant other to either a) Refuse a ridiculous request or b) Refer to all the shit you've done for them but would never do for another human being.

Bowie's performance in this film actually got me thinking yesterday - what a great way for an artist to introduce himself or herself to a new generation of fans. I'm sure I would have grown up a Bowie fan regardless, but I like him so much more now because of this first association with him, when I was 8 years old and didn't know who the heck he was, other than a really cool, slightly scary goblin king who could walk through M.C. Esher paintings.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Snakes, From Midtown to Downtown

So I finally saw Snakes on a Plane last night with Jen. And guess what? It was terrible.

But, yeah, I was entertained. Snakes biting off a topless woman's nipple, a urinating man's penis, and an old, fat drunk woman's eye and swallowing another man whole, with clunky special effects, overacting and Samuel L. Jackson clearly making the easiest (and most enjoyable) buck of his career. How could you not be entertained?

But this is a music blog, so I need to tie it in somehow. The following is a video that plays over the film's closing credits. You might have seen it already, but if you haven't, you've missed out on a pair of wonderfully awful rap sequences.


Reporter gets sneak peek at Stipe's lyric sheet

Jan. 4, 2007 (Music Wire Services) - As R.E.M. converged on Athens, Ga. to begin work on their 14th LP, tentatively titled "The Sunny Sun That is Both Very Beautiful and Very Sunny", a hand-written lyric sheet belonging to lead singer Michael Stipe was inadvertently left in plain view inside the band's headquarters.

"Nothing is brighter than the sun," Stipe wrote in red crayon on wide-ruled paper. "Not the stars/Not the moon/Not even love."

The words continue, forming the would-be chorus of the as-yet-untitled song: "The sun is beautiful/The sun is happy/And the sun, sun, sun/Is fun, fun, fun."

The lyric sheet, adorned with a gold star sticker and attached to a refrigerator with a smiley-face magnet, was soon removed by R.E.M.'s staff, leaving only a tantalizing taste of what the alternative rock band has in store. While band manager and lawyer Bertis Downs would not comment on the lyrics, which appear to have a strong Beach Boys influence, he did reveal his opinion of the upcoming album based on early demos. “It’s very lush and atmospheric,” Downs said. “It’s really, really great.”

Downs’ description of the album conflicts slightly with reports from the band itself. Bill Rieflin, who will again try to fill the gargantuan shoes of departed drummer Bill Berry, told Music Wire Services, “I really have no fucking clue what is going on here. I am not actually a member of the band, so I can’t really tell them that I think their music is shit. I just smile, and hit the drum with a stick.”

Fans and critics alike await the new R.E.M. album, slated for release in the fall of 2013, with eager anticipation. “The Sunny Sun” is expected, also, to ease record execs’ fears over file sharing, as the lush, atmospheric, crystalline, real, howling and primitive tracks simply won’t cut it for music listeners as lower-quality mp3s.

Says R.E.M.’s bassist Mike Mills: “It’s going to be a real headphone record.”

(The above, posted to the blog by request of Moni, via Murmurs, is fictional of course. The previous blind item, is not.)

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(Read also: Mike Mills, World Ambassador of Peace and this assorted garbage. But possibly my all-time favorite is R.E.M., Busy Working on Next Album, Take Time to Relate to Real People. Oh, and R.E.M. Continue to Write Songs at Shocking Pace).