Curse Your Branches – David Bazan

Bazan - Curse

It took a while, but David Bazan has finally gotten around to releasing his first true solo LP. Curse Your Branches, unlike his previous solo release Fewer Moving Parts, has a sound that is distinctly separate from his past projects.

While Bazan is more than solid with just his acoustic guitar in tow, it’s only when his songs are fully fleshed, as is the case on this album, that he achieves his artistic peak. The overall sound of the record feels simple and stripped down without actually being so. There’s quite a lot going on, but there is never a sense of clutter or weightiness. The brightness and lightness somehow better punctuate the singer’s moments of sorrow.

Curse Your Branches starts off with it’s best foot forward on “Hard To Be.” The way instrumental mix interacts is spot on. The song features Bazan working in what his lyrical wheelhouse examining/questioning Christianity. It specifically deals with the idea of why people are so bad, skillfully alluding to the story of Adam and Eve:

“Wait just a minute you expect me to believe
That all this misbehaving grew from one enchanted tree?
And helpless to fight it we should all be satisfied
With this magical explanation for why the living die?”

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Album Hierarchies By Artist – Vol. 2

Plans

Round 2 of ranking the albums of some of my favorite artists. The best is listed as at the top and it goes down from there. Here are some more…

Death Cab for Cutie

Plans
The Photo Album
You Can Play These Songs With Chords
Transatlanticism
Narrow Stairs
The Open Door EP
We Have the Facts and We’re Voting Yes
Something About Airplanes

Foo Fighters

The Colour And The Shape
There Is Nothing Left To Lose
Foo Fighters
Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace
In Your Honor
Skin And Bones
One By One

Franz Ferdinand

Franz Ferdinand
You Could Have It So Much Better
Tonight: Franz Ferdinand

Green Day

American Idiot
Warning
Dookie
Bullet In A Bible
Nimrod
Insomniac
Kerplunk!
Shenanigans
21st Century Breakdown
1,039/Smoothed Out Slappy Hours

The Hives

Veni Vidi Vicious
The Black And White Album
Tyrannosaurus Hives
Barely Legal

Who Will Be The Band of Our Generation?

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The room is alive with the clanging guitars of The Rolling Stones’ “Jumpin’ Jack Flash.” As Mick Jagger wails over Keith Richards’ hot licks, something becomes startlingly evident. These guys are still around.
While they are easy fodder for “old” jokes – overshadowed only by John McCain – what The Stones have accomplished is truly remarkable. They are adored by generations of music fans, both young and old. But it raises the question: What musical artist of our generation will be around and selling out stadiums as we grow old? What music will we be able to share with our kids, and perhaps our kid’s kids? There has to be a band like The Stones or U2, or even The Eagles that is currently residing on the modern radio dial. But who?

Before we delve further into the topic, one major ground rule must be set: The artist needs to have current mainstream success. For example, while a select few in future generations might dig The Decembrists, they do not have a solid enough base in the current mainstream to be huge down the line. Basically, an artist needs radio hits. Apologies, cool underground bands.

Without further ado, let’s look at some of the contenders:

Death Cab for Cutie

Death Cab’s consistency over each album, mixing peppy tunes and slow sad songs, leads one to think they might survive the long haul. However, since the band members have clear interests outside of Death Cab – Chris Walla and Ben Gibbard both do solo work, Walla produces, drummer Jason McGerr has his own recording studio – it would not be shocking to see them split in the name of individuality. It’s also really hard to imagine Gibbard wanting to continue to toil on the road when he’s got Zooey Deschanel waiting at home, and really, how could anyone blame him?

Odds – 30:1

Lady GaGa, Katie Perry, Black Eyed Peas, Any Other Pop/Dance Artist

Here’s a type of music that doesn’t hold up in the slightest. Do people even listen to pop music of Britney Spears or the Backstreet Boys unironically anymore? Exactly.

Odds – 1,000:1

Pearl Jam

It’s easy to forget about Eddie Vedder’s crew, but they just keep on trucking along. At first glance one would think they lack any huge recent success, but they keep on touring and releasing new material that their massive legions of fans adore.

Odds – 8:1

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Modest Mouse Trek Through Spokane

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Isaac Brock hates his job.

Now I’m not quoting him on this, but after seeing Modest Mouse for the fourth time last Saturday night at Spokane’s Kitting Factory it’d be hard to argue otherwise. His disposition is the number one thing holding Modest Mouse back from being a really good live band. It doesn’t seem like he wants to be there. It never seems like he’s enjoying himself while playing. He seems like he wants to be a grumpy curmudgeon and acts the part. Because of it, despite a tight sound, the band never achieves anything special live.

Opening the show was The Night Marchers, led by former Rocket from the Crypt frontman John Reis. The group did a solid job of mixing punk rhythm with blues leads for a fairly straightforward rocking experience. At times their set brought to mind elements of Springsteen or even Against Me! Reis’s stage banter was the only real drawback. He came off like an old guy who was a bit to juvenile and trying to force a goofy, cocky, fun-all-the-time demeanor down the onlookers throats.

Modest Mouse came out of the gates with “3rd Planet.” The set mixed songs released since Good News For People Who Love Bad News with a surprising amount of material off of The Moon And Antarctica (including “Gravity Rides Everything” and “Wild Pack of Family Dogs”). The band sounded about as on as they could be. Yet Brock’s bitterness seemed to cast a harsh cloud over it all. In his defense, he claimed to have suffered a broken jaw while on tour. Still, he didn’t seem pleased at all to be playing. When a fan shouted out, “Cowboy Dan!,” he agitatedly spouted something along the lines of, “Sure, this one’s called ‘Cowboy Dan’…only it’s not,” before launching into “The View.” While it’s fine to ignore yelling fan requests, there’s no real reason to be a dick about it. Continue reading

Blink 182’s Reunion & the Music of Youth

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We love to hold onto vestiges from our youth. Maybe that’s why months ago I bought tickets in preparation to make the trek across state to see Blink-182 on their reunion tour. Now Blink is an easy band to bash, but I don’t care. I have a ton of friends who know and don’t care. It’s a bond that combines the reality of what the band is with a borderline irrational connection.

Most Blink fans love the band with all their hearts, but know that the group’s talent is not a reason why. Even among hardcore enthusiasts it is universally acceptable to say that guitarist/vocalist Tom DeLonge can’t sing (though usually in much harsher terms). It’s a fact. And while bassist/vocalist Mark Hoppus is clearly a superior singer, he’s no world beater. The only supremely skilled band member is drummer Travis Barker, arguably the best drummer in modern rock music. The talent in the band is like the inverse of the McCartney/Lennon and Ringo Starr dynamic.

To further the point, Blink-182’s music was never art. The band’s songs never dealt with major societal aspects, unlike The Clash or even Green Day’s American Idiot. The music itself was never horribly complicated either. The things an experimental band like Animal Collective strive for (and pull off) are so far beyond simple pop punk songs in an aesthetic sense. Yet, if given a choice to listen to one of the two, I’d probably go Blink 98% of the time. It defies all traditional logic with regards to culture consumption.

Perhaps it’s is because Blink epitomized junior high era/early high school mindset. The relationships the band often sung about were like the ones that kids at this age had; not overly deep, but endearingly sweet. Hoppus and DeLonge’s trademark dirty, immature joking stage banter and joke songs mirrored every conversation teenage boys had in the back desks of health class. Listening to Enema of the State is akin to looking back at a junior high yearbook and reminiscing. Continue reading