Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Moving day!

The site's moved over to my personal server, Please adjust your browser accordingly.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

The Dropper

Band: Medeski Martin & Wood
Album: The Dropper
Best song: The title track.
Worst song: I don't know enough about this record to make this distinction.

Today is the second anniversary of the saddest day of my life. It goes without saying that May has now become a dreaded month; Memorial Day is not the celebrated holiday I love anymore.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Five Man Acoustical Jam

Band: Tesla
Album: Five Man Acoustical Jam
Best song: No idea. I guess "We Can Work It Out" isn't a total disaster, but it's pretty bad. "Signs" was a hit, for what that's worth.
Worst song: Gah. This album is a mess.

Technically, this isn't an album that I own, but rather an album that I borrowed. Thanks to the good folks at the Prince George's County Library System, I took Five Man Acoustical Jam out from the library, largely on the success of the band's minor success in its cover of "Signs." So, let's be clear: I don't own this album.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

A Tramp Shining

Band: Richard Harris
Album: A Tramp Shining
Best song: "MacArthur Park" is both the greatest and worst song.
Worst song: See above.

As evidenced by the beautiful Scarlett Johansson, actors-turned-singers need to have some grounding in musical theater to successfully make the transition to just singer. Richard Harris's background in musicals make him someone who could phrase songs properly. The Irish actor's turn in Camelot a year before made him perfect to intone songwriter Jimmy Webb's songs.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Anywhere I Lay My Head

Band: Scarlett Johansson
Album: Anywhere I Lay My Head
Best song: "Town with No Cheer" is admirable
Worst song: "Song for Jo" is terrible.

Mitch Hedberg was an outstanding comedian, a stoner-generation's Steven Wright. One of my best jokes was about how he'd been asked to write a screenplay by some Hollywood folks because they'd seen his standup act. He then compared it to a chef: "You're a good cook, but can you farm?"

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Ray Guns Are Not Just the Future

Band: The Bird and the Bee
Album: Ray Guns Are Not Just the Future
Best song: I'm kind of a sucker for tributes to, say, David Lee Roth ("Diamond Dave"). The title (?) track, "Ray Gun" is pretty nice, albeit a cheap Cardigans ripoff in some ways. "Birthday" sounds album like an Asian pop song, in a good way. "Fanfare" is awesome.
Worst song: "My Love" is just OK.

OK, so I've been swamped at work the last couple of weeks, so to keep on a normal publishing schedule, I've written something of a review. It's in haiku form. Double haiku, actually.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Dark Side of the Moon

Band: The Flaming Lips (with Stardeth and White Dwarfs)
Album: The Dark Side of the Moon
Best song: Let me say that I don't think the album is really all that good, but rather kind of daring. The version of "Money," while not necessarily to my liking, is a really intersting update. That's probably the best song on the record.
Worst song: Hmmm. "Eclipse" isn't 1/10 as good as the original and is pretty boring.

I love the Flaming Lips. The single greatest rock and roll show I've ever seen is the Lips on the first leg of the Soft Bulletin tour in Columbia, Mo. in 2000. It was before the band had started playing arenas. Soft Bulletin had broken, but the band hadn't created the arena-show side of it; instead, Wayne & Co. simply had a projector, a bunch of puppets and a fuckload of moxie. It was awesome.

Monday, April 19, 2010


Band: Boston
Album: Boston
Best song: Every song on this record is amazing, but "More Than a Feeling" is the best.
Worst song: "Let Me Take You Home Tonight" is not the best song on the album, but it's damned fine.

Friday saw my first byline in the very reputable Atlantic Web site. The Atlantic is something of a high-minded publication, not dissimilar to the New Yorker and its ilk. The magazine focuses on some more analytical thinking and interesting subject matter. You know, the type of publication that publishes real writers.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Un' ora con Ennio Morricone

Band: Ennio Morricone
Album: Un' ora con Ennio Morricone
Best song: So great. The main theme to The Good, The Bad and The Ugly is classic.
Worst song: All enjoyable.

So, I guess I haven't actually written about my week in Sicily yet online. It's been amost a month since my trip. Mostly, I haven't been writing because I've been super busy at work and home. I'm transitioning to a carless existance -- bought a bike, buying a scooter, etc. -- and my truest non-Nino love (softball) is back. Which is to say I've left writing by the side of the proverbial road.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

I Am Come

Band: Part Chimp
Album: I Am Come
Best song: The title track is perfect.
Worst song: It's only five songs and all are great.

While working earlier this week, I found myself in a Wikipedia loop. You know, one of those things where you look something up on Wikipedia, end up clicking on of the site's many interesting internal links and just keep clicking. It never ends. Wikipedia is nearly endless in its amount of interesting articles. I am a firm believer in the genius of Wikipedia.

Sunday, March 21, 2010


Band: Uzeda
Album: Stella
Best song: "What I Meant When I Called Your Name" is amazing. "Wail" has an unstoppable riff.
Worst song: "Camillo" is just OK.

By the time you read this, I will be in Sicily, the province in Italy that is the historical home of my family. My father's family hails from a town called Caccamo, about 40 km from Palermo, the capitol and largest city of the island (the city where I'll be staying during my weeklong visit).

Sunday, March 14, 2010

A Moment of Stillness

Band: God is an Astronaut
Album: A Moment of Stillness
Best song: The title track is perfect.
Worst song: It's only five songs and all are great.

I'm not sure where to start or not to start here, other to acknowledge that I'm not much in the way of a writer, so whenever I actually deal with an editor on something I care about, I am reminded that I am not an editor. I sometimes fall in love with my own wording on stuff -- in my job, I don't do much writing, outside of some headlines and such -- but because I write the way I talk, I get annoyed when an editor wants to change a non-hard news thing to something other than my original idea. Which, really, is just pompous. We'll do it more straightforward, Ross. Your pith is not needed here.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Sex Change

Band: Trans Am
Album: Sex Change
Best song:  "Tesco v. Sainsbury's" is amazing and a snapshot of what Trans Am does best.
Worst song: "4,738 Regrets" isn't great.

I'm a passionate, passionate man and, recently, two of passions have collided to major press. Roger Ebert is one of my favorite writers in the world and Esquire is the best written magazine in the world. Will Leitch and Drew Magary -- both writers I enjoy and admire -- have weighed in and I've decided to do the same in my own little album-centric hole in the Internet. Ebert is appearing this week on ex-girlfriend-turned-close-friend (and, by the way, one of the most powerful women in the world) Oprah Winfrey's TV show and, of course, if you haven't read the Esquire piece, open this link now. NOW.

Sunday, February 21, 2010


(U.K. cover)

(U.S. cover)
Band: Gentle Giant
Album: Octopus
Best song: "A Cry for Everyone" is awesome.
Worst song: "The Boys In The Band" is mostly nonsense.

As previously mentioned elsewhere, I went throught a mini progressive rock period in my life. It was about a year long and I continue to hold a candle for the type of bands Roger Dean probably enjoys (he certainly works for them).

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Hot Buttered Soul

Band: Isaac Hayes
Album: Hot Buttered Soul
Best song: Four songs. Four classics.
Worst song: See above.

I think I've mentioned this before, but just after I graduated college and moved out here to the DC area, I shunned modern and independent music. I dove headfirst into 1970s soul and picked up as many Curtis Mayfield, Bill Withers, Teddy Pendergrass and Isaac Hayes records as I could find. I eventually got into the O'Jays and the Ohio Players. They were the only records on my stereo for about 18 months in late 2003 into early 2005. Hot Buttered Soul is the best of those records.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Collector of Cactus Echo Bags

Band: The Lonesome Organist
Album: Collector of Cactus Echo Bags
Best song: "The Lonesome Organist Theme" is great.
Worst song: All the songs are pretty short -- the longest is two and a half minutes -- so, even if you don't like it, you'll like the next one.

I don't remember which show Jeremy Jacobsen I saw open up, but I do remember the exact reaction I had when I saw him as the opening act: "Wow, this is totally awesome and totally unnecessary."

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Break Up

Band: Pete Yorn and Scarlett Johansson
Album: Break Up
Best song: "Relator" is really good.
Worst song: "I am the Cosmos" should remain Chris Bell's, thank you very much.

As the Pitchfork review indicates, it's tough to try and recreate the fantastic Brigitte Bardot/Serge Gainsbourg pairings of the 1960s. The Pitchfork review also compares it to She & Him record (an album I hope to tackle here at some point).

I don't think either comparison is all that apt. The She & Him record comes from a totally different atmosphere, a Williamburg-meets-Silverlake hybrid. The Gainsbourg/Bardot records, of course, are of a completely different vintage and let's forget ever comparing Pete Yorn to one of the great songwriters of the 1960s.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Only By Night

Band: Kings of Leon
Album: Only By Night
Best song: "Sex on Fire" is listenable.
Worst song: The rest of the album is ass.

I'm 28 years old -- I turn 29 next month -- and with my next birthday, I'll be one more year closer to my mental age of, like, 40. I'm not an "old soul" in the "wise" sense. I'm an "old soul" in the "curmudgeon" sense.

Sure, I like whimsy and strange, kitschy shit. I have bobbleheadsand a plastic sauropod and a framed picture of a T-Rex wearing a cowboy hat (this lovely fellow) all on my desk at work. I wear little buttons on my jacket and I wear sneakers approximately 340 days of the year. My apartment is solely decorated with the work of a one Jay Ryan.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Live Phish Volume 13

Band: Phish
Album: Live Phish Volume 13
Best song: Of course, it's really hard to screw up the Beatles, right?
Worst song: Just about any of the band's original material is kind of crappy.

I've never been a particular fan of jam bands, so I guess I'm particularly unsuited to write anything about Phish. I respect the hell out of the band's musical ability; these guys can clearly play the hell out of their instruments.

But, like too much metal, a lot of the masturbatory soloing doesn't strike me as much more than that. A near-15-minute version of band favorite "Harpua" doesn't strike me as much more than annoying.

Nevertheless, I own three Phish albums. The first is Round Room, a studio album my ex-girlfriend left at my house and never asked for back. The other two are Phish live recordings, four-disc sets of the band doing its "musical costume" for Halloween shows. The one reviewed here and Live Phish Vol. 15, the band's cover of Remain in Light. I bought both out of curiosity and don't love either.

Monday, January 11, 2010

No Depression

Band: Uncle Tupelo
Album: No Depression
Best song: "Whiskey Bottle" is a classic. The title track is amazing. "Factory Belt" is awesome. "Screen Door" is top-notch. Even with all those, "Graveyard Shift" is probably the best song on the record.
Worst song: "So Called Friend" isn't great.

One of the things that surprised me so much about the Rolling Stone 500 list (to which I devoted an entire year, by the way) was the total and complete lack of respect the list gave to country music in all of its forms. I don't say that as a fan of country music -- I'm not -- but rather as someone who knows a tiny bit about the history of rock and roll. To say country music has not influenced popular rock music is foolish, at best.