Portlandia Does it Again, Sees Through the Phoniness

This video is brilliant in so many ways. You may recognize Jeff Tweedy from Wilco making a nice little cameo here, singing about topics to which he has no relation. Fred and Carrie, acting as producers, call him out on his feeble attempt at songwriting.

After Tweedy gets personal in his lyrics (by hilariously describing a fire detector), he becomes an instant success. The lesson here is that no matter how mundane the subject, music is always better from the heart. Right, Mark Kozelek?

So many musicians make music just to see how cool they can be without actually having any significant life experience, and you can usually see right through it. I even have problems with poorly executed covers when the singer has absolutely no connection to the source material.

I’m so glad Portlandia exists so I know I’m not the only one who sees through the phoniness.

karmin

New Music Tuesday – 3.25.14: Karmin is Wonderful Chaos

This week was almost a disaster, musically speaking, but there were some teeny bright spots.

So in cases like this when I have very little to say and you don’t want to read, I’m returning to my old custom rating system. That is, a more qualitative value than quantitative number.

Please let me know if this week yielded anything better:

Karmin - Pulses

Rating: Like riding a wooden rollercoaster

If you block out pop culture and the force-feeding from the music industry, Karmin can be an enjoyable listen. But I can see how you could despise them.

Their chaotic sing-song girl rap is more digestible than Nicki Minaj (whom I have completely forgotten about), but rickety enough to give you motion sickness. Songs such as “Acapella” are a wild ride and they remind me of my first time I was on a wooden rollercoaster: I thought I was going to die, but man was it exhilarating.

I hope that the entity of Karmin is authentic and not just not another product from BIG MUSIC. I’m still healing from the last batch of letdowns. I do not know Karmin’s story and I think that’s for the best.

Memphis May Fire - Unconditional

Rating: Tolerable rage

You can’t survive on death metal screams alone, which keeps bands like Memphis May Fire, Sick Puppies and Issues interesting. Mix in quality vocals and instrumental textures, and the next wave of hard rock doesn’t look so disastrous.

Content wise, we don’t extend far beyond inner struggle and outward aggression. But it sounds cool and somewhat more melodic than their last album, though not radically different. “Possibilities” and “Speechless” are standouts.

The Colourist - The Colourist

Rating: Alt. pop by the books

I was hoping this would be the saving grace of the week, but it didn’t have enough spark. It wasn’t bad, but it deserves a few more listens before it gets a proper assessment.

Without even researching, I can tell you that this band is from California. The Colourist gleam with that kind of brightness and this is a great album to celebrate the coming of springtime.

For comparison, these guys (and gal) fall in the same realm as Passion Pit, Grouplove or Youngblood Hawke. I feel like the alternative pop phase has run its course, but that may be premature.

Updated Best of 2014 playlist:

Once again, that Lykke Li song is worth mentioning. When “Love Me Like I’m Not Made of Stone” hits the 2:55 mark, I’m convinced the odd spacing was a result of her crumbling to tears mid-recording. It’s magical.

Zedd_Skrillex-590x442

New Music Tuesday – 3.18.14: DJ Hugs All Around

My St. Patrick’s Day went like this:

Flogging Molly;

Dropkick Murphys;

Shamrock Shake.

It reeks of phony Irish blood.

We had a solid week of music, though:

Skrillex - Recess

EDM DJs are adorable. Skrillex, Zedd, David Guetta, Kaskade, Steve Aoki – they are all capable owning an entire arena despite being relatively unassuming in appearance. They look more suited for hugs. Continue reading

AB

New Music Tuesday – 3.11.14: 311 Trudges On Through the Time Warp

I’m in a mood, so some of these are not going to be very nice:

Aloe Blacc - Lift Your Spirit

Other than a cool stage name and album cover, I don’t see much in Aloe Blacc. “The Man” is exceptionally dry as far as self-affirmation songs go, and the same can be said of “Wake Me Up.” It’s soft, not uplifting. Continue reading

pharrell

New Music Tuesday – 3.4.14: Arby’s Hat of Destiny

The seamless triangulation of the logos for Linkin Park, 30 Seconds to Mars and A.F.I. was very well done:

Tri

So clever.

If you haven’t heard, they announced Tuesday that those three bands will go on one of the most ballistic tours of all time, the Carnivores Tour. I don’t know how audiences will handle so much energy. Needless to say, I want to be there.

Now for the releases:

Continue reading

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