Archive for November, 2003

Jet – Get Born

November 30th, 2003

Come Fly With Me

The garage rock revival marches on with Jet’s debut album Get Born. Hailing from Melbourne Australia, they are set to make their footprint much in the vein of another Australian band, The Vines. This retro lo-fi rock seems loaded with bands reminiscent of their inspirations/predecessors. The Hives sound like old Iggy Pop, The Vines sound like Nirvana crossed with Beatles-era ballads, and much akin to that Jet sounds like late sixties Rolling Stones. Fortunately, the similarity is not derivative. Jet rocks along with precision and cocksure swagger. Read more…

By Raymond Flotat Posted in Reviews

G-Unit – Beg For Mercy

November 30th, 2003

Begging for no reason

Hip-hop has always had it’s dark side, with lyrics describing drive-bys, drug deals, death, and many other ugly, disturbing, real world problems. Not many have glorified these tales as much as G-Unit, the new offering from 50 Cent and his crew, featuring Tony Yayo (currently in lockdown), Lloyd Banks, and Young Buck. As G-Unit takes us through a tour of being an OG (Original Gangsta) from killing, stealing, drug dealing, womanizing and such, they have forgotten that things like this aren’t a positive thing to help promote black culture in society. Read more…

By Fred Pilarczyk Posted in Reviews

From Ashes Rise – Nightmares

November 28th, 2003

From Basements Rise…

If you’re a fan of hardcore punk and you haven’t heard of From Ashes Rise, prepare to get schooled. This Tennessee outfit has been making noise for over six years, steadily building a strong DIY fan base along the way. Since their humble beginnings in the southeast’s underground circuit, FAR have changed their home, in more than one sense. Brad, John, Billy and Dave are now living in the punk mecca Portland, and their 4th LP Nightmares is the new kid on the block at Jade Tree records. Neither move has done anything to compromise the band’s raging sound or lyrical impact, however. Read more…

By Steve Mangione Posted in Reviews

Basement Jaxx – Kish Kash

November 25th, 2003

Kish Kash? More Like a Mishmash

While critics and electronic music elitists will indubitably cream over the Basement Jaxx’s new record, older fans of the British duo may find this release pretty hard to swallow. Kish Kash, the third album from Jaxxers Simon Ratcliffe and Felix Buxton, may well be considered their “concept album”–one opting for radical experimentation rather than the danceable house that made them famous. However, while experimentation is generally a good thing, too much of it can result in chaos and a lack of direction. Some Basement Jaxx fans will surely find that Kish Kash unfortunately falls victim to the second scenario.
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By Ben De Leon Posted in Reviews

P.O.D. – Payable on Death

November 24th, 2003

Nu Metal’s Otherside

In a genre filled to the brim with lyrics representing painful and tumultuous childhoods, dismal hatred and crippling depression, P.O.D. provide a refreshing breath of uplifting subject matter with positively charged lyrics. However, the band walks a very delicate line, straggling a fan base that includes many fundamentalist Christians mixed with those who could be described as anti-religious. Nevertheless, P.O.D. wear the neo-religious flag with pride and thus suffer the consequences of being alienated from a large group of consumers who might have otherwise taken to the band’s sound. That being said, the band lets their music speak for itself while still blending in their beliefs, as presented in Payable on Death, the follow up their multi-platinum CD, Awake. Read more…

By Taylor Whipple Posted in Reviews

The Strokes – Room on Fire

November 23rd, 2003

Blue Collar Doesn’t Mean Bad

Some people say that to be good music, it has to be experimental. I don’t quite understand that sentiment. Sometimes, music can just be “good.” It doesn’t have to start any trends, push any envelopes, or make anyone mad. It can just be solidly written music. Read more…

By Elizabeth Halvorsen Posted in Reviews

Beth Gibbons and Rustin Man – Out of Season

November 23rd, 2003

It’s Rustin’ Dummy

Beth Gibbons and Rustin Man’s collaboration Out of Season is the work of an unusual alliance. Gibbons made her name as vocalist for counter culture sensation Portishead, while Rustin Man (a.k.a. Paul Webb) is an alumnus from eighties new wavers Talk Talk. The two friends decided upon collaborating for this release following Portishead’s last tour. The result is a mixed bag of so-so rekindled ballad reminiscent of forties and fifties jazz crooners and some eerily beautiful songs punctuated by Gibbons’ haunting delivery.
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By Raymond Flotat Posted in Reviews

John Mayer – Heavier Things

November 12th, 2003

Growing Into Heavier Things

John Mayer’s next album is a complex listen, perhaps appropriate considering its title: Heavier Things. Mayer’s hip words and smart puns are still present, but he seems to have matured in his subject matter. Compared to his breakthrough album Room For Squares, mostly about puppy love found and lost (and found again), Heavier Things deals with concepts of divorce, depression, life cycles, and parent-child relationships. The album seems very consciously and purposefully written, though he may not have known where he would end up sonically. Read more…

By Thea Cooke Posted in Reviews

Questions in Musical Chaos: An Essay Page 3

November 12th, 2003

The public is bored, and people are starting to tune out. It’s because of these “generic artists” that things like the Now music series do so well. Instead of buying heaps of albums to get one track off of each, they can buy one CD, get the songs they want, and ignore the rest. People don’t think the music is that good, and don’t really find it worth their hard-earned buck (especially when they will only listen to the album in full once, maybe twice). Instead they download via programs like Kazaa, while unknowingly leaving their systems open for the RIAA to prosecute them.

So, where does that leave current music? People aren’t buying CD’s, and it’s getting harder to find a program to download music from because of lawsuits and legalities. Instead, current music is just sitting at the music stores, taking up space, awaiting to move down to the 10 dollar bins (where, as of last week, I found about 30 albums less than 2 months old). The RIAA, instead of fighting music sharing apps like Kazaa and Limewire, need to figure out a way to use them to their advantage. Maybe the answer is having time sensitive mp3’s available that, once they are downloaded to a local machine, sync to the internal clock and expire after a certain time. Minute long samples of songs could work as well. There are hundreds of ways the RIAA could use these applications for good use instead of what they tend to be used for now.

The ITunes Music Store, by Apple, is one of the best solutions yet. Now available for both the Macintosh and Windows platform, users can sample, browse, and download music, for about 99 cents a song, or 9.99 for many albums. I have used this service myself, and while I like to own the albums, because I am a collector, this is a great way to sample an album legally, as well as to download an album at a more affordable price. The interface is clean and certain artists such as Eminem have songs that are exclusive to the ITunes store, a nice bonus for users of that service. They also have encryption on the songs, which are in a proprietary AAC format, so that they can only be used on 3 computers at a time (or on your Ipod), which helps in the piracy issue. This is such a great idea, which other business models could do well in simulating.

The music industry needs to re-think how it works, and how they are going to keep everyone in the music industry from feeling that they are being cheated, as well as keeping the listeners engaged and buying music.

Is it right downloading music illegally? No, it is not. There are many issues: piracy, the prices of albums, the quality of music out there, as well as things such as online music stores and the experience of buying music in a store. Unfortunately it is sometimes the only choice, especially when you have to choose between buying a CD or eating lunch for the week. The music industry needs to ask us (from the casual listeners to the music obsessives) what we think needs to happen to fix these problems; especially since it is the people who buy the music that keep companies like the RIAA in business. Until that point, people will continually download, and the RIAA will be trying to watchdog it. The RIAA needs to stop worrying about the money they are losing now, and worry more about how they could be losing more in the next few years if they don’t try to come up with a solution. I hope that this situation changes, since it’s really about the music, nothing else but the music. Read more…

By Fred Pilarczyk Posted in Features

Questions in Musical Chaos: An Essay Page 2

November 12th, 2003

I will admit that I have downloaded albums before. Of those three CD’s I bought the other day, two of them I downloaded the week previously and checked out. Even though this was illegal (although neither of these groups, >From Autumn to Ashes or Coheed & Cambria, are on the RIAA’s blacklists), I did it anyway. Why? There isn’t much difference between downloading an album to see if it is any good than renting a movie or downloading a demo of a video game. You get to try it out, but you don’t get the full deal (the CD’s the artwork, liner notes, lyrics, etc), until you pay for it. Staring at my CD collection, there are about 10 CD’s I currently listen to, then another 40-50 I keep because I may listen to them in the next year. About 20 more I have because of nostalgia, mainly because they remind me of times of my life. The other 200+ are albums from which I like one or two songs, or received as a gift. Will I ever listen to these? Probably not. Is it fair that I have so many albums that I don’t really want, just to make sure that the recording industry gets its cut? No. In the past two years, since downloading music has become insanely easy, every album I own, I really like and wouldn’t give away. During this time as well, I have bought fewer albums because I am more cautious with the increased prices of music.

Besides illegally downloading an album, there are other ways to sample an album before buying it. Unfortunately, these methods are far from perfect. For example, the general experience of listening to an album in a music store is a mission of aggravation. Take your average Tower Records for example. The “listening stations,” as they are called, are headphones sitting on hooks, usually down the aisle above the CD racks. The volume on the stations tends to be very low, with the volume dial usually broken. The headphones, if they work at all, give out one audio channel at best, and are not great quality. Besides this annoyance, listeners are standing directly in the way of people trying to look at CD’s for purchase due to the way the aisles and rows of CD’s are designed Other record stores have similar problems, Tower is not the only one at fault here. These experiences make the idea of checking out an album much simpler and less of a pain.

As stated earlier, music piracy is ruining the industry, just not in the way that the RIAA would have people think. Instead of people getting laid off or losing jobs, record labels seem more willing to give artists record contracts and tours, even if these artists lack any type of musical intensity, prowess, or fan base. In an industry that is talking about losing money from piracy, wouldn’t it make more sense to focus on artists that might sell, or be innovative, instead of cookie-cutter? The music industry doesn’t see it that way. Instead they follow the classic business model of “if it sells now then it’s probably a safe bet.” Yet again, the music listeners are the ones who suffer from this sort of mentality.

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By Fred Pilarczyk Posted in Features