by: Sam Farzin, KUCI Music Director
My fellow Americans,
I spent a major chunk of this past 4th of July playing Rock Band. Rock Band is such a weird thing. It is ostensibly really, really worthless insofar as you spend a lot of time and energy playing fake instruments along to a video game, when you could put forth the same gross energy towards real instruments in real life BUT THERE IS NO SCORING IN REAL LIFE. There are no MULTIPLIERS when I plug in my guitar and rock out. I don't get to play a guitar shaped like a CHAINSAW in real life.
I also saw "The Fall" which was pretty and pretty good but maybe a little too sappy and silly and arbitrary but definitely pretty good.
Here are some Rock Band rulers:
Broken Social Scene presents: Brendan Canning - Something For All Of Us... [Arts & Crafts]
I think the Broken Social Scene presents CDs are sort of a weird deal. It is like they are selling the artist who they are presenting (a member of the SCENE) by the brand of Broken Social Scene. Of course that is the totally a-hole way of looking at it. They are just making ART. There are a lot of sounds on this disc, much like on any other Broken Social Scene record: bossa nova, disco (check "Love Is New" for a banger), power pop, etc. all put through the Canad-indie BSS filter. It's good.
The Hold Steady - Stay Positive [Vagrant]
I have begun to see this band as Social Distortions popular-indie rock dopplegangers. This is probably mostly unfounded due to my lack of more than cursory knowledge of both bands: however in my experience it would seem that both bands write story-songs embodying an American, individualist perspective, talk-sung over largely no frills rocknroll (different veins, obviously). Both have pretty rabid fans, too! In any case, check it.
Ratatat - LP3 [XL]
This is the 3rd Ratatat LP. It consists of: beats; guitars that sound like keyboards and keyboards that sound like guitars; effected manipulations of both previous things; samples; and sometimes a PIANO (once I think?). I once read an artist described as 'glare-core.' I feel like Ratatat could be glare-core. Their music burns really brightly.
Architecture In Helsinki - Like It Or Not [Polyvinyl]
Rainbow pop sounds on this EP featuring a new version of the titular "Places Like This" tune, a couple new jams, and a couple remixes, including one by El Guincho, the friendly Spaniard.
Abe Vigoda - Skeleton [PPM]
I am pretty sure Abe Vigoda hate the "tropical-punk" tag they have been given if only because that's basically all anyone ever says about them. This is way swell tunage though, mostly short songs that see-saw back and forth along non 4/4 beats, a unique reverberating, trebly timbre, and superbly-mixed vox. Check "Dead City/Waste Wilderness."
Love As Laughter - Holy [Epic/Glacial Pace]
Legit, grade-A independent rock sounds. It's hard to describe something that feels so homely - unpatronizingly of course. If you like that early to mid 90s sound that is not Nirvana, you will probably love this.
Inara George with Van Dyke Parks - An Invitation [Everloving]
Orchestral wizard Van Dyke Park teams with another uniquely voiced siren (of The Bird & The Bee fame). Result: gorgeous, lush songs with undeniable vocals. If you dug Joanna Newsom's Ys, this is like that, minus the thesaurus and books about fairies.
Digital Leather - Sorcerer [Goner]
Pretty much anything Goner records puts out literally kicks ass. This is no different. Electrosynth noise-blasting arpeggiated riffage with garage-rock drums and lo-fi vox tornadoes. It rules.
Xu Xu Fang - The Mourning Son [Self-Released]
One time I was going to buy a ticket to see Pretty Girls Make Graves off of CRAIGSLIST but then I didn't. The dude who was selling his ticket was in this band. This is border-stoner slash shoegaze bombast. Long songs with lots of repetition, dark and heavy but also ceremoniously light.
Alaska In Winter - Dance Party In The Balkans [Milan]
This guy puts on a very creative show. It consists of him, with a microphone and some keyboards; his band is projected behind him, each member in a box playing their part: drums, melodica, bass, whatever. Also, every member of the band is...him. So you are watching him play and sing in front of you while the screen behind him consists of many more hims playing and singing. The music is a mildly eastern European-affected affair with subtle electronics and subdued vocals. It is swell.
V/A - Life Beyond Mars: Bowie Covered [Rapster]
A bunch of rad folks cover rad David Bowie songs. David Bowie is a weird dude. Remember when he got a lollipop stuck in his eye?
Mad Tea Party - Found A Reason [Nine Mile]
Garage-rock radness with boy-girl vocals and thumping foot-drums. Some fiddles. If you like lo-fi 50s tunes with some tongue-in-cheek-ness, you will probably love this a lottttt.
Me First And The Gimme Gimmes - Have Another Ball! [Fat Wreck Chords]
Breesa's out being English so here's a punk (sorta) add in her stead. This band is made up of cool dudes from NOFX / Foo Fighters / Etc. They play covers, in a punk style. They are pretty popular. Sam is outta steam!