Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Quick Music Jerk 3: Seryn, Facebook and Your Weekly Album Mandates

This is Seryn--which I think is Spanish for "Rob's favorite new band".  Oh wait, that's ridiculous.  I meant "Roberto", of course.

Greetings from St. Pete Beach, Florida.  To answer the question I'm sure you're asking, the answer is yes.  I did go to the beach.  Nothing worse than going to the beach and being unable to jump in the ocean on a beautiful day.  So I guess I'll blog instead.  Yeah, that's just as good.

1.  So I've been quietly whipping my friends for the last week or so about this band--Denton's very own Seryn (hit play above).  It's like someone took Fleet Foxes' vocal harmonies, mixed it with The Dodos penchant for hard-charging precision percussion, and added in a heap of unadulterated Ra Ra Riot-esque string-heavy passion.  And they do it with five members who all take lead vocal duties at any given time.  iTunes allows for you to select a genre for any album you import and I just have a hard time picking one.  Maybe I'll create one called "Dodoriotfox".  Look, I'm not saying this band is creating a style of sound we've never heard before--I'm just saying that they've taken their influences and merged them better than any band I've heard in a long time.  And damn if their sincerity doesn't come pouring out of the speakers.  They mean this and it sounds important to them that you to know that--as long as you still have a good time listening.  And I think you will.

2.  This blog now has a Facebook page.  Click here to go to it.  Why did I decide to create a page?  A couple reasons.   Part of it has to do with growth.  A public page makes it easier to spread the message (I'm kind of a disciple) of good music.  And wouldn't the world be better with more influence from me?  Some questions answers themselves.  Logistically, it makes sense to have a page so that I can post my blog entry--but also because it's easier to post random links to great music without having to devote a blog each time I want to share some gold with you.  Finally, I just think it's cool in some way.  In short, you're welcome.

3.  Three albums I'm listening to this week for a variety of reasons and, therefore, you should be listening to:

This Is Where We Are by Seryn: For all the reasons stated above.  This band creates movements as much as actual songs.  The album is rich and rewarding but never a burden.  This album is a joy to listen to and a strong early contender in my best of 2011 list.

No Color by The Dodos: Their new album sees a return to the leaner, more muscular sound of the highly-acclaimed Visiter.  While I their last album Time to Die seemed to get a raw deal from critics, I have to admit that No Color's sharper edges make for a more compelling listen.  Great beats, great time signatures, great energy--you'll dig some melodic rock that embraces a good pounding.
A Thing Called Love by Johnny Cash: There is nothing I can say about Johnny Cash that hasn't already been said.  If I have to tell you who Johnny Cash is, well...well I'd say you're like those people who actually need the flight attendant to explain how the seat-belt works.  Anyway, this chick I know found this old record while out shopping and gifted it to me--which was pretty great.  I'd never heard any of these Cash songs before, but found them to be absolutely classic and gorgeous.  We all know the "hits", but it is often these forgotten gems that distinguish the greats from the legends.

From St. Pete's Beach, Florida, I bid you goodnight.  The beach and the beers have made me....yaaaaaawwwwn....

Friday, March 25, 2011

Playlist of the Week: Blue Ash

And when the only "choice" you're given is Skyline Chili, you long for a "City of Choices" instead.

Live from CVG after a week in Blue Ash, OH. Go ahead and scroll down and hit play. Beginning to think these instructions serve to enhance your reading experience so hard. I'll wait.

Today, I am dangerously low on profundity (yeah, I used that word). But luckily for you, I'm high on music enthusiasm for a couple reasons:

1.  Based on blog stats, last week's playlist entry is my most popular playlist in the blog's extremely modest history.  Great job, internet!  While I certainly enjoy the twisted metaphorical roads I choose to navigate in this space, I know that the unifying concept is always the music and how awesome I am for choosing it.

2.  So much great new music has come to my divided attention lately, even I have a hard time messing up a playlist these days.

So a dozen random/unconventional thoughts/observations for/of this week's dozen tunes, track by track:

1.   If his voice sounds familiar, it should.  Julian Plenti is the solo side project of Interpol's lead singer--who isn't actually named Julian Plenti.

2.  This song embodies the concept that if your band--in this case The Rapture--is gonna peak early, peak LEGENDARY.  Even if it's only just the one song.  Sidenote: Awesome use of song and scene in The Rules of Attraction.

3.  I think there's some law concerning interstate commerce that says a new Strokes song is required on all internet playlists this week.

4.  I like Beach Fossils--especially their name.  They adopted the Fight Club naming convention/philosophy.  But please, please talk about Beach Fossils.

5.  I know I just put The Streets on a playlist a few weeks ago.  But it's a new song from a newly-released album.  So there.  I mean, get your own music blog.  Jerk.

6.  I love PJ Harvey for her music.  But I'll also always love and remember her for this picture.  Sigh...  Sidenote: Guy sitting next to me in airport just looked over at my computer when I pulled that picture up either in awe or in judgement or likely a combination of both.

7.  The next movie about a young and promising band that met a tragic end before their time should be made about these guys.  And I should play their wacky, hard-partying, fun-loving manager--whether that guy existed or not.

8.  See #5 and replace "The Streets" with "The National".  And that especially goes for YOU.  Yeah, you know who you are.

9.  I kinda hate these guys sometimes--but they make a song like this just enough to keep me coming back.  Some analogy regarding a bad girlfriend who is also really hot that I can't quite form at this moment could be inserted here.  Let me know if you come up with something good.

10.  Johnny gets it.  Especially about the way that sometimes we just don't get it.

11.  Tied for my favorite song title that also serves as a statement of universal truth.  The other?  "Truth Doesn't Make a Noise" by The White Stripes.

12.  Seryn will be huge--a similar statement to the one I made regarding The Head and the Heart recently.  I plan to see them in a couple weeks while the gettin' is good.  Don't believe me?  Check out #1 on this SXSW recap by Paste Magazine.  Sidenote: I occasionally pronounce "huge" as "yooge" just to keep things interesting.  Try it.  "I have a yooge crush on Rob and his super rad music blog."  Yes, you have to say the whole sentence just like that.  Hey, I don't make the rules.  It's science.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Quick Music Jerk 3: Real Estate, New Music Fever, and Your Weekly Album Mandates

Other than being a tough Google search, there's really no reason you shouldn't know about the greatness that is Real Estate.


1.  Go ahead and click play.  What you're hearing are the sweet beach guitar grooves and sun shower vocals of a little New Jersey band called Real Estate.  And yet I am sad.  Why, you ask?  Two reasons: 1.  I am shocked/disappointed at how many of my friends who I consider to be "plugged in" to good music drew a complete blank this past week when I asked them if they knew who Real Estate was.  2.  This means they've obviously not been reading my music blog/listening to my playlists as much as they claim or they'd know EXACTLY who Real Estate is.  When are you people going to realize it goes 1. Oxygen 2. Water 3. Food 4. Rob's music blog 5. Everything else?  Their debut album was a 2009 best of selection by the only music source in your life who really counts--me.  Anyway, Real Estate are coming to Dallas' venerable Club Dada on Friday, April 8th (tickets) and I will be there which means that Dallas' cool quotient will get a much needed boost.  Check out this band over the next couple weeks and decide if you'd like to join me.  We'll see a great show, eat some great Tex-Mex at Ojeda's, say hi to my mom--it'll be a great little weekend.

For starters, check out Real Estate's self-titled debut here.

2.  I've got the new music fever.  And the only cure is more and more and more new music.  Or wait, is that a symptom of the disease?  Help?  Anyway, from The Dodos to The Strokes to recent releases by everyone from PJ Harvey and Peter, Bjorn and John to Lupe Fiasco, there's a little something for everyone and no site I care to affiliate myself with does a better job of collecting each week's list of new releases with links to songs and purchases better than Salad Days Music.  You can find the link on the right side of this page (or you're a real genius and already clicked on the hyperlink I just provided).  Bookmark it, add it to your Google Reader, tattoo the URL to your face so you see it staring back at you in the mirror every Tuesday, but either way, use it.  And then come back to my site and find out what's really good, of course.

3.  Three albums I'm listening to this week for a variety of reasons and, therefore, you should be listening to:

What a Pleasure by Beach Fossils: Slightly hazy, dreamy, but still keenly-focused chillwave--this newly-released EP adds some new layers to the band's sound.  A little more synth-y, but a step forward and a really good listen,

Angles by The Strokes: Who isn't listening to this album this week?  Don't let the answer be you.  Still spending time with this album, but my initial impressions are good--a balanced marriage between their classic early sound and a cool step forward which in many ways is a step backward to the 80's with some New Wave electronic beats.  Worth a listen and still Strokes-y enough to make you happy, no matter what all the haters say.

Computers and Blues by The Streets: More wicked raw beat poetry than rap, The Streets is really one man--Mike Skinner.  And this is officially his last album under this moniker.  The first two albums--Original Pirate Material and A Grand Don't Come For Free are classics that measure up to any music I own.  The last two albums have been bloated disappointments.  This seemingly final installment--while not at a classic level--represents ending on a high.  Skinnner's sincerity, vulnerability, and sharp wit are back.  A concept album on love and "romance" in the modern technological/social networking age.  I dig the beats, the words, the whole thing.

So from Cincinnati with love, I wish you a good week, my friends.  Let me know what I need to be listening to and if I like it, I'll be sure to find a way to say I actually found it first.  Haha.  Mostly kidding.  Ha.  Ahem.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Playlist of the Week: MSPC13

Walk left.  Stand right.

Scroll down and hit play.  You know you want to.  It's Nina Simone.  You'll like it.  Go on.  I'll be here when you get back.

Here we go...  Greetings from MSP.  C13.  Minnesota sunset crafting an outline over shuttle trains flying by, airplanes sitting at gates like elephants waiting for their cue at the circus, herds of rollerboards tumbling down the plain that is the concourse.  722 PM.  Two hours, thirteen minutes before I depart for OKC.  I've become one of those guys who speaks of destinations in airport codes.  Some like OKC are easy to decipher--others like MCI and BDN become my little easily discovered-via-Google secrets.

Before I got this job, I lived in Oklahoma.  Two and a half years later, I realize that I live in America.  This country--even this world--is a much smaller but no less brilliant and fascinating place to me now.  My previous travel weariness was largely due to the psychological burden of "feeling" the "distance" on a map between states.  But now everything is segments and connections and layovers and good airports vs. bad ones, good wireless vs. poor, good restaurants vs. Chili's-Too.  And suddenly states and cities no longer mean the same in your head--especially when your average stay in any one place is about thirty-six hours.

No, America is now quite singular to me.  And I'm out in it and I'm finding more and more to be--if not always fond of--at least fascinated by.  All I have out here is God, my work, my music, my suitcase, my laptop, my phone, and my expense account.  And while we're always led to believe this is all part of a shallow, exhausting, ultimately bankrupt existence, I couldn't disagree more.  Out here I am sharper, more focused, more thoughtful, more independent, more friendly to strangers, more joyful at the sight of little moments.  Little moments of love between families, lovers, and friends have over time become greater than the sum of their parts.  Conversely, I've looked in the eyes of solitary strangers who carry a pain in their eyes I sometimes empathize with--and other times can't conceive of.  Little moments that define all of us at various ends of that confoundedly indecipherable spectrum.

Young soldiers with that look of dread--and others with that easy look of relief.  Men and women on cell phones laughing or crying uncontrollably.  The woman changing out the trash cans or the man mopping the bathroom whose life I know nothing of--I see how some of them look at the travelers sitting at the gate so longingly--wondering what it would be like to get on that plane and exit this life.  And yet others smile so effortlessly with that knowing look that says that this shift is just the time spent between the next party or gathering.

The airport--the road--is humanity at its best and worst and most tangible and shamelessly artificial.  It is iPads and newsstands and endless coffee shops and moving walkways and never ever stopping combined with hurrying up to wait.  It is all that I am and all that I am not.  America and even the world are simply one big series of arrivals and departures where there is only one place you will truly call "home".  And that is anywhere you, my beloved friends and family, can meet me for a drink, a conversation, or a laugh--hopefully all three.  Being out here totally alone with absolutely everyone is a gift--because out here I know what all of you and all that I call "mine" mean to me.

Sun is down.  Neutral Milk Hotel just finished.  Goodnight.  The best night.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Quick Music Jerk 3: The Walkmen, The Boom Bang, and Your Weekly Album Mandates

These shadowy figures are music men.  Gentlemen.  Walkmen.

Stuff.  Here goes.

1.  Just saw The Walkmen in concert the weekend before last at the incomparable Granada Theater in Dallas.  Please allow me to break some revolutionary music opinion-related ground and proclaim that they are a pretty great band.  I'm a man who is dealing, who is comforted by a nice drink, and who feels things while not losing my balls.  I am a man who is therefore grateful for the kind of soundtrack that bands like The Walkmen provide and certainly part of their target demographic--if I even believe they have such a thing.  For my Oklahoma and north Texas friends who have never seen them, you have a golden opportunity--Saturday, April 30th at the Norman Music Festival.  Which in case I need to say it, is in Norman, Oklahoma.  And the even more golden-y part?  Admission is 100% free.  Make a road trip.  Come see them.  Come see me.  And if you're going to the Arcade Fire show in Dallas that same night, it's okay.  It tells me everything I need to know about you, your music taste, and our friendship on multiple levels.

2.  The Boom Bang chose a band name that fully endorses the ethical principle of truth in advertising.  And their live show thus delivers--even if it's a gut punch, it's one you thank them for later.  My friend and business partner Clint wrote a great review of their new album (more to follow below) on his blog that says it better than I ever could.  Don't worry about all the music references he makes that only about five people in the world probably get--he's saying the album is really, really good.  And it is.

3.  Three albums I'm listening to this week for a variety of reasons and, therefore, you should be listening to:

World War Fun by The Boom Bang: Loud.  Noisy.  Fun.  Most importantly, good. (Should be on iTunes any second now)

12 Desperate Straight Lines by Telekinesis: One of my new favorite music sites, Old Waver says it best--  90's power pop reminiscent of Matthew Sweet fused with the fuzz of a Dinosaur Jr. or pre-suck Weezer.  In other words, people my age feel a little like a teenager again listening to this album.

The Head and the Heart by The Head and the Heart: I told you guys that this band might be the next big thing--and after seeing them live as openers for the aforementioned Walkmen gig, I feel even stronger in my conviction.  Think late-era Whiskeytown (Ryan Adams pre-solo band) with more layered instrumental and harmonic skill combined with the energy of Mumford and Sons without all the overwrought Brit-Irish attitude (not that that's not occasionally a good thing).  Either way, I can't stop listening to this album.

That's all for now my loves.  Playlist arrives Friday.  Here's hoping I'm looking California while feeling Minnesota the next couple days.  Also, 8tracks--the site I use to create my playlists has an iPhone app coming any day now.  So that dream of listening to my playlists while on-the-go?  Keep it close to your heart, your wallet, your bedside table or wherever you keep your hopes and dreams these days.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Playlist of the Week: Illusioneering

I'm not saying that this is what it looks like under my splint.  But I don't know that it doesn't.  And neither do you.  Wouldn't that just be rad?

I am not an assassin.  Seriously.

A while back, a friend of mine noted my seemingly never-ending string of 24-36 hour business trips and formed a hypothesis:  That I am a covert assassin.

My response?  That it's totally understandable how you could look at me, consider my intelligence, agility, and details-oriented modus operandi and think I have what it takes to be an extremely effective hired killer .  But alas, while my travel schedule and general awesomeness mirrors that of a James Bond-esque agent of style and calculated mayhem, I am still just a plain ol' technology sales consultant a la Schwarzenegger in True Lies.  (see what I did there?)

I am a man of many layers.  I am a somewhat successful professional.  I'm now a part-time concert promoter.  I'm even the co-founder of a record label.  Sure, we haven't put out a record yet, but don't worry about that.  I mean, I'm pretty much exactly like Jay-Z if you ignore a few scant details regarding money, fame, power, and a hot wife.  Yeah I'm pretty close on this one.

From afar, my life may appear to be more or less interesting to others depending on who you talk to.  When the movie Up in the Air came out, many (hundreds, possibly thousands) of friends asked if the film was an accurate reflection of life for a man on a seemingly endless business trip around America's airports and hotels.  "What a ridiculous question," I said.  "My life is WAY more kickass than George Clooney's in that movie."  Other than the fact that my airline status is slightly lower than his character's and other than the fact that I may or may not stumble in to as much random sex with hot women...and there's a slight chance I may not be quite as handsome or charming as George Clooney--a panel of scientists in Stockholm are supposed to deliver some results to me soon--I have it ALL over the guy in that movie.

I mean, did George Clooney get to drive a 2011--not a 2010, mind you--Ford Fusion around northern Tennessee for two days last week or get to tell the story of his broken wrist dozens of times to semi-attractive flight attendants like Christopher from Delta Airlines?  I think not.  But that's okay.  Not everyone can have my high grade, full throttle life and I will just have to keep Mr. Clooney in my prayers.

I am a man of many layers with very few people who know exactly who I am and what that means.  And that's fine.  While most people in this world are adamant about making sure that everyone knows the real them or the Facebook/Twitter version of themselves that seems to be perpetually witty, topical, and well-adjusted, I've become more comfortable with abandoning the bit as time has gone by.  I mean sure, there are people who think that about me.  But there are also people and even friends who think I'm kind of a prick and others that think I'm a really nice guy or who think I have an adventurous life or a boring "corporate" life or a lonely life or no life.  Let's just say that over the years, managing your own PR campaign becomes exhausting.  So who am I?  Well, if you even care to know, I'm sure whatever you think is probably right.  And whatever I think of you is insightful and accurate since I'm so smart.

I'm a man of many layers, but also probably very few in a lot of ways.  What's important is I know myself and like you, I alternate between liking and disliking, loving and hating me.  Is there a nice neat answer to the question of  who I am?  The answer is YES and I know it and I have it written down somewhere or hanging on my fridge at home.  But I'll never tell, just as I'm sure you wouldn't really tell me.  I mean, what fun would that be?

Enjoy this week's music.  I've got another operation/trip/mission/presentation to plan.