Posts Tagged ‘ music ’

Against Me! release ‘True Trans’ acoustic EP for free download

Download 'True Trans'

Via Laura Jane Grace on Facebook:

For a very limited time the new AM! “True Trans” acoustic ep is available to download for free at http://www.againstme.net/

You’ve likely heard live versions of one or both these songs already on YouTube, but download the acoustic two-song EP here.

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Life is Music April 11, 2013: ‘Accidental Racist’ is awful, not accidentally

It’s another rudieTuesday, which means another day where I equate a news event with a song! This week’s rudieTuesday falls on a Thursday, because, well, life happens. But it’s worth it, because this week is a playlist instead of one song.

You may have heard about this week’s story on or before rudieTuesday. It may have prompted face-palming, eye-rolling, or laptop-across-the-room-throwing.

That’s because this week’s news story is the existence of and subsequent viral nature of Brad Paisley and LL Cool J’s hit single, “Accidental Racism.” Whoops!

Most articles written about this song have had a decent grasp on how bad this song is, and why it’s so bad. Unfortunately, but as to be expected, not everyone realized this.

The Village Voice’s take on the song, for instance, is disappointing at best, and offensive at worst. Author  Alan Scherstuhl calls the song “imperfect” at worst and “more complex than the simpleminded reactions it has stirred” at next-to-worst. Oh, how now even close that is. I adore the Village Voice and hoped for better, but I guess I shouldn’t have expected more from someone writing about country music in NYC.

This song is awful for a lot of reasons. One of those reasons is that racism is still a problem. The generalized white guy in the song’s biggest problem is his t-shirt is offensive and he’s ignorant. The generalized person of color in the song’s biggest problem is that he’s likely to face discrimination in education and employment, and be targeted by police who assume he’s a criminal because of his skin color. Brad Paisley’s biggest problem is he probably thinks this song is a positive step towards stomping out racism. LL Cool J’s biggest problem is he thought participating in this song would be a good idea.

In response to this inane song, The Atlanic posted a list of songs about racism on the non-awful end of the spectrum. I thought the idea fit with the spirit of this blog, so below is my own short playlist. Enjoy! And, ya know, smash racism. (Some lyrics NSFW.)

The Coup – “We Are the Ones”

Brother Ali  – “Uncle Sam Goddamn”

Mos Def – “Wahid”

OPM – “Unda”

Operation Ivy – “Officer”

Blogger’s note: You may have noticed this playlist is half the length of The Atlantic’s playlist, and still not all punky music. This is because, while a number of punk bands do tackle the issue of racism, few of them are people of color themselves. It’s an interesting tie-in to this issue. Punk is dominated by white dudes. As a result, this playlist is short, as to not also be dominated by white dudes.

Your favorite band, in graphs

Your favorite band, in graphs

Listening to: “Hopeless Romantic” by Bouncing Souls

It’s a cool idea for graph nerds, but I think a lot of their categories are too subjective for charting.

Says the blog:

Enter any band name, and his creation, which runs on The Echo Nest’s data, presents you with graphs and other science sure to amaze and amuse. Oh, and it also lets you listen to everything on Rdio.

The chart plotting the “danceability” for the Bouncing Souls, for instance, came up as very low. I would argue that their danceability is extremely high. (Excuse me while I go blast “Hopeless Romantic” for a bit.) Also, “liveness,” “speechiness,” and “hotttness”? Is the latter a purposeful typo, a reference to Echo Nest that I’m not aware of? These categories all seem relative to me. Fun to make up a plot for them, sure, but chances are I’ll disagree with what’s posted.

I appreciate the ability to stream music online, but I don’t have a Rdio account and don’t plan on getting one. I also searched for bands/artists via iTunes, Spotify, or last.fm, which is probably where I’ll listen to them.

Saying they can fetch data for “any band” is getting a bit ahead of themselves, because I searched for quite a few that aren’t up yet.

Fun idea, some interesting graphiness, but kind of a gimmicky app overall.

Freas’s vocals …

Freas’s vocals are probably the best part of the whole album. Not that Canino is bad, he has a perfectly fine voice and a great yell when he needs it, but as a friend told me recently, “I’m sick of dude voices,” especially in punk. They’re everywhere and a lot of them tend to sound the same, so the tracks where Freas takes the lead are real stand outs.

From a friend’s review of the latest RVIVR album, The Beauty Between. (You should probably go check out his blog, because it’s awesome.) I was going to write my own review on this album, but then I read his. And it’s basically pretty much everything I wanted to say about it. So read his review, and it’ll be like you’re reading all the things I would’ve written in my review. Also, I’m proud to say I’m the quoted friend who is sick of dude’s voices, especially in punk music. Yet another reason this album is awesome.

Okay okay, this is my last RVIVR post for a while since I know I’ve been posting obsessively about them lately. (At least until they put out a new music video. Or do anything else otherwise awesome.)

In which, Lucero

Listening to: Well, see below

I was planning on writing about women in the punk scene this week.

But it’s late, and I’m tired, so that blog entry will have to wait for tomorrow.

It’ll be a good one, though.

Until then, here’s some Lucero that refuses to leave my brain:

An excerpt of the lyrics that is especially embedded in my cranium this evening:

So what if all my heroes are the losing kind?

We ended up with nothing, but we put up a fight

And most of it was choices we never asked to choose

The rest of it was luck and now we’ve run out of that too

What are you willing to lose?

What are you willing to lose?

I spent every dollar just to try and earn a dime

I’d try to make you hate me just to try and make you mine

It doesn’t really matter if I’m telling you the truth

What you see is all that’s left, the rest is up to you

What are you willing to lose?

In which I accidentally review another album: “Vacation” by Bomb the Music Industry!

Listening to: “Vacation” by Bomb the Music Industry! Vacation

Note: My plan for this entry really wasn’t to make it a review, but that does seem to be what happened.  Again. Maybe there is something to this stuff?  Anyway, whether or not you’ve heard BTMI’s “Vacation” yet, read on to find out why it’s a solid summer album.  And why second chances are always important.

A QUICK CRITIQUE OF ONE OR TWO SONGS

Today’s “Listening to” album brought to you by music-rudie-thinks-she-hates-the-first-time-around-then-changes-her-mind-about. (yes, I ended that sentence with a preposition.  Sorry, grammar nerds.) I was so, so disappointed in this album the first time I heard it.  (I promise this isn’t the Junior Battles review all over again… done with parentheses now, I also promise.)  I thought the three singles I had heard before the album was released–namely, “Everybody that You Love,” “Hurricane Waves” and “Can’t Complain”–were the only good tracks on the album.  And even out of those, the first one was the only one that really stuck with me.  The second song on the album, “Vocal Coach,” sounded just repetitive, kind of like a “this is the song that never ends…” ditty.  Even with a few listen-throughs, I felt really let down.  BTMI’s last album, “Scrambles,” was a masterpiece in my mind.

Then I vaguely started to remember something.

The first couple of times I listened to “Scrambles,” I thought it was awful.  Where was the insane ska/punk/hardcore/undefinable band I knew and loved from prior albums, who came up with songs like  “I’m Too Cooooool For Music” and “From Martyrdom to Star(tyr)dom” and covered entire Weezer albums at shows?

See, the thing is, BTMI! grows through their albums a ton more than many other bands.  Some bands do a great job of progressing and growing together through their albums while keeping true to one sound–with ska bands, The Slackers are great at this, for example.  In pop punk, every Ergs! album is trustworthy.  But BTMI! doesn’t do things this way, and it’s part of what makes them so awesome.

For instance, one track on the album, which I just now remembered because it just came on, is a 38-second tune that sounds like it was pulled out of the score from “The Little Mermaid.”  It’s part of the reason that when I first got the album, I thought I was being trolled and had downloaded the wrong thing.  I still think it could be shoved into any Disney movie, but now I respect and accept it as part of what makes this crazy album so great.

This is the problem I first had with “Scrambles.” BTMI! doesn’t follow any guidelines or rules regarding genres or style in their music.  Jeff Rosenstock, who writes most of the band’s music, is an incredible, forward-thinking musician.  He helps BTMI! progress their music through each new release, regardless of the style or feeling set up in a prior album.  The reason I was upset with “Scrambles” and “Vacation” was that they weren’t what I was expecting.  After a few listens to really let the music sink in, I realized that’s part of BTMI!’s appeal.  It’s nice to know when you like a certain style of music, but why tie yourself down to it?  BTMI! completely breaks down that idea; they seem to say, “Here’s a new song, kids!  Parts of it sound like the background music to Donkey Kong for SNES mixed with Dillinger Four! Enjoy!”  They don’t let themselves or kids who listen to their music and go to their shows fall into a rut of the same old  junk.

Though I thoroughly love “Album Minus Band,” “Get Warmer,” “Goodbye Cool World” and “To Leave or Die on Long Island,” I feel like the songs on earlier these albums could easily be interchanged from one record to another without me noticing.  With “Scrambles” and “Vacation” (and also “Adults!!!…” even though I haven’t really mentioned that album in this entry), when I hear a track I can immediately place which album it came from.  With the direction these guys are going, I can’t wait to see what’ll be on the next album.  I wouldn’t be surprised if I go through the same dejected, confused, wondering-what-happened-to-them phase for the first few listens, and then fall completely in love with the new album.

This album must be called “Vacation” for a reason, because listening to it just feels like summer.  Plus, you know, all the tracks about surfing.

…I LIED ABOUT THAT “QUICK” PART

Whoops?

MOAR RECORDZ

I will now go listen to this album on fancy schmancy orange and pink vinyl while wearing the shiny new BTMI! t-shirt that came with it and reading every single word on the album cover (kidding!…).  I suggest you do the same.  At least the listening part.

In which I post my first review because I realized “Idle Ages” by Junior Battles is the album of my 2011 summer

Listening to: “Idle Ages” by Junior Battles

I’m not much of a reviewer because I’m not very good at it.  And since reviews are my weak point, I’m not really keen on them.  It’s like one of those vicious cycle things.  Journalism I enjoy, editorials too, but critiques–not my thing.  But I’m going to try it anyway, because this is an album that deserves it.  Hopefully I’ll do it justice.

ON PAPER THE DISTANCE DOESN’T SEEM THAT BAD

On the bus home from work today with my headphones tuned into the aforementioned album, I was thinking about a different topic I planned to be writing about for this entry.  That’s when I realized “Idle Ages” has become the album of my summer.

It was surprising because I put together mixes filled with songs by other bands just for this summer.  I predicted other albums by other bands would become my summer anthems.  And the first few times I listened to “Idle Ages” I was disappointed because I thought Junior Battles’ self-titled EP was the one of the best pop-punk albums since The Queers put out “Summer Hits No. 1.”  But the day before on the bus home I had been listening to Lucero’s “1372 Overton Park” and I realized that album, no matter how summery it sounds to my ears, will forever be a winter album in my brain.  Today’s bus ride gave me the revelation that “Idle Ages” is the same way, but tied to the summer.

ARM IN ARM IN ARM IN ARM

A lot of times people listen to a song and think it must’ve been written for them because it describes their lives so exactly.  I’m no exemption, but I’m realistic enough to know the music probably wasn’t actually written about my life no matter how much it parallels it.  But “Idle Ages” manages this freakishly well for where I am in life right now.

The first three tracks on the album are called “Seventeen,” “Twenty Five” and “Nostalgia at 23.”  Aside from the fact that I’m nearly smack-dab in the middle of those ages–and that lately I’ve been noticing a surprisingly large number of bands have songs about being 25–the nostalgia that “Seventeen” and “23” evoke is impossible for me not to relate to. All the songs contain that same feeling of growing up and not knowing what the hell you’re doing, but somehow getting through it and trying to have as much damn fun as possible anyway.  In fact, that’s how the entire album feels.  Pop punk is definitely a good genre to pull that that off, but way too many pop punk bands don’t get that right.

The best seriously summery albums also make good use of what I like to call the “hopeful chords,” or what Hot Water Music refers to as “Trusty Chords” (I think HWM would concur with me on this one).  “Idle Ages” is filled with these chords without being overloaded.  The band slows things down with “Architecture,” a short 46-second track that serves as a kind of intermission.  It’s the type of song 16-year-old me would’ve skipped over for being too slow, but now it just feels beautiful.  And not in a corny way, even though I know that’s exactly how that sounds as I type it.

Plus, horns.  I’m a sucker for bands that stick a horn section or even just a horn solo into their music.  The track “Ever get the feeling you’ve been cheated?” has a horn solo towards the end.  I’m thinking it’s sax, but I can’t be positive because for all the love I have for the instruments, I can’t really for the life of me distinguish between them by sound alone.  Still, that solo rounds out the song, ending a great track with a truly relatable message on a striking note.

WE’LL STILL HAVE OURSELVES WHEN WE DON’T OWN ANYTHING ELSE

The parallels for my 2011 summer go on and on with this album. Losing touch with friends, wanting to fix that, but not knowing how is the theme of “Ever get the feeling you’ve been cheated?”.  I’d be lying if I said I don’t have bouts of feeling that way year round, but this summer especially has been one of ruminating on lost and distanced friendships.

Then there’s also moving into a new apartment, participating (read: getting thrown into) adult life/the real world/real life/whatever else you want to call it and just trying to wing it.  This is one of these parts of life that I think pretty much everyone goes through but only some people are able to write successful songs about.  It makes me wonder if I’d feel the same way about this album if I first heard it at age 15 or 30, but that’s something I probably won’t ever know.

THE CLOCK SAYS IT’S 2 AM, WE WAKE UP AT 4

I stole the titles for all the sections in this entry from Junior Battles’ lyrics on “Idle Ages.”  This one is appropriate because I’ll be waking up at 4:30 a.m. tomorrow for work. Is this song about me or what?

Also, drop me a line–is this “review” any good? Should I quit trying the review game and stick to commentary? Or is it even a review at all?  Comments appreciated!

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