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Friday, October 21, 2016

Pavement -- Terror Twilight


I was doing the thing all seventeen year-old dude's love, giving my younger sister and brother a ride around town. They wanted to go to Wendy's, so I pulled off of Florida Boulevard into Dave Thomas' baby's parking lot, only to find the window's boarded up, and letters hanging off the sign. My lovely siblings began to serenade me with their lovely songs of "Nice job, idiot," but then the first notes of "Major Leagues" stretched out of my car speakers and everybody shut their pie holes. We just sat in the parking lot, as KLSU worked the kind of magic that won it the 225 "Best Radio Station in the City" award that year. I started college the next year and became a DJ there, and they never won another award, but I am sure that is just a coincidence.
"Who is this?" my sister asked.
"Pavement, I think," I said, even though I knew it was Pavement, but I used to preface a lot of things I said back then with "I think," which maybe wasn't that bad of an idea.
KLSU played a Those Bastard Souls song next, but they never announced who it was, and it took me like 12 years to figure it out, but that review is four letters away, and now it is time for Pavement's final album, Terror Twilight.
I love Terror Twilight. I like that, while it is unarguably a rock album, it contains a multitude of sounds, is relaxed, but never runs out of energy. I love that every time I listen to it, I feel better by the end than I did before I listened. I love how it sounds like it is going to end all dark and stressed out, then presents a jolly nonsensical "everything is going to be alright" album closer, whose title begins with an ellipses. I love how "Folk Jam" incorporates a genre that isn't necessarily my favorite, and creates a charming rock song out of it. I love how "Platform Blues," doesn't incorporate the blues in any way, but is still a great song (and I like the Blues). Most of all, I love "Major Leagues," and I love how relaxed it is, and how it is hypnotically calming, and makes me feel so good. It is such a great song.

After I decided how much I loved Terror Twilight, Pavement fans tried to tell me that it wasn't any good, and that Pavement's older albums were where it's at. I listened to those older albums, and they sound like they were made by a talented band who is purposely trying to sound bad--vocalist, Stephen Malkmus, singing bum notes, guitar solos in three different keys, production lousy. Previous Pavement sounded like the ultimate, we could be awesome, but just to be ironic, we won't be band, and I don't understand the appeal in listening to that.  
However, their final album, Terror Twilight was produced by Nigel Godrich, who has produced every Radiohead album since OK Computer. If that doesn't impress you, he also produced Beck's Sea Change, which is generally regarded as one of the greatest albums ever recorded, receiving perfect scores from such established publications as Billboard, Rolling Stone, Slant, and The Nicsperiment. Nigel Godrich is not about to put up with Pavement's bullcrap. On Terror Twilight, Malkmus sings in key, and the instrumentation retains Pavement's unique character, but sounds professional. Plus, you get Godrich's spacey touch. So Terror Twilight contains all the pros of Pavement's "slacker" vibe, and none of the cons, while containing loads of atmosphere, and featuring Malkmus' strongest songwriting to date. If that's selling out, sign me up. I wish the band could have recorded ten more with Godrich instead of immediately breaking up.
BONUS: The reason the sitcom How I Met Your Mother won me over: the eleventh episode, Drumroll Please, ends with the blissful "Spit on a Stranger," causing me to say, "Holy crap, Pavement. This show knows its stuff (Except how to end properly. They should have paid better attention to Terror Twilight)!"

1999 Matador
1. Spit on a Stranger 3:04
2. Folk Jam 3:34
3. You Are a Light 3:54
4. Cream of Gold 3:47
5. Major Leagues 3:24
6. Platform Blues 4:42
7. Ann Don't Cry 4:09
8. Billie 3:44
9. Speak, See, Remember 4:19
10. The Hexx 5:39
11. Carrot Rope 3:52

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Pavement -- Wowee Zowee


The summer before senior year of high school, Pavement released their final album, Terror Twilight. The local college station played "Major Leagues" from that, and I loved it, and I bought that album, and I tried to get into Pavement further, but their other albums don't really sound like Terror Twilight. The other albums have this raw, lazy sound that I guess endeared them to their fans, but to me sounded like a man singing badly over a rock band playing badly. For some reason, I did purchase their middle album (third of five), Wowee Zowee, an aimless, wandering piece of work apparently fueled by massive amounts of marijuana usage. None of Wowee Zowee's eighteen songs stand out, and every time I listen to it, I think the guitarist has to be hitting the wrong notes on purpose. Still, the "slacker rock" does send out some great 90's vibes for 56-rambling minutes, and I don't mind tossing this on in the background. As far as active listening goes, this and the three other Pavement albums not titled Terror Twilight don't do much for me. I guess I prefer good music over irony.

1995 Matador
1. We Dance 3:01
2. Rattled by the Rush 4:16
3. Black Out 2:10
4. Brinx Job 1:31
5. Grounded 4:14
6. Serpentine Pad 1:16
7. Motion Suggests Itself 3:15
8. Father to a Sister of Thought 3:30
9. Extradition 2:12
10. Best Friend's Arm 2:19
11. Grave Architecture 4:16
12. AT&T 3:32
13. Flux = Rad 1:45
14. Fight This Generation 4:22
15. Kennel District 2:59
16. Pueblo 3:25
17. Half a Canyon 6:10
18. Western Homes 1:49

Friday, October 14, 2016

Patrick Doyle -- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack


My cousin Amber and I are contrarian jerks, and we mocked Harry Potter nerds for years until one day we saw this commercial.

We then had a clandestine meeting where we decided to go to see Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire in secret, perhaps while wearing fake glasses and mustaches (we settled for hoodies). The movie gave us everything the commercial promised and more, and we bought in to the series fully, reading all the books, watching the previous films, going to see the future films at midnight. That was a special time in life (on a double-nerd level, the edge of town cinema we stealthed off to played music from the Chrono Cross soundtrack before the movie started!), and this film has a special place in my heart.
Still, composer, Patrick Doyle, had the unfortunate task of following up longtime series composer, John Williams. No big deal or anything, just keep up the consistency and quality of the greatest film composer of all time.
Obviously, in comparison to the maestro's work, Doyle's soundtrack for this film at first underwhelmed me. Where was all of the sophisticated low-end work one expects from a John Williams soundtrack? Where was the mind-bending complexity of themes?
It turns out, once one gets their Williams-bias out of the way, its easy to realize that Doyle has done a pretty great job for this one Harry Potter film he scored. His music works very well within the film, and really only suffers during action scenes, where Williams cannot even be imitated, let alone matched. Doyle does a great job of evoking emotional movement, and has perhaps produced the most diverse of the Harry Potter soundtracks. In the midst of the more traditional orchestral film music, he works in a quick Irish jig, an Eastern European march, a bunch of gorgeous waltzes, a beautiful choral piece, an old-timey Fox-hunt-evoking English horn parade, and a beautiful instrumental hymn--not to mention a handful of apt new themes for heroes and villains alike.
Bonus: when Doyle's work is done, the soundtrack keeps on going, with three wizard rock songs performed by nearly half of Radiohead and a bunch of all-star British musicians. The songs are played during the film's Yule Ball, after the waltzing stops, and the kids get to party. "Do the Hippogriff" is a Billy Idol-esque rager, "This Is the Night" is a more atmospheric mid-tempo song, and "Magic Works" is a so-earnest-it's-awesome slow-dance song about wizards looking for love.
Overall, it's difficult to be disappointed by such a complete, greatly-paced soundtrack, full of so much variety and fun. It may not be Williams, but...even if he's "Just Patrick," Mr. Doyle has done this series of films proud.

2005 Warner/Sunset
1. The Story Continues 1:31
2. Frank Dies 2:12
3. The Quidditch World Cup 1:52
4. The Dark Mark 3:27
5. Foreign Visitors Arrive 1:30
6. The Goblet of Fire 3:23
7. Rita Skeeter 1:42
8. Sirius Fire 2:00
9. Harry Sees Dragons 1:54
10. Golden Egg 6:10
11. Neville's Waltz 2:11
12. Harry in Winter 2:56
13. Potter Waltz 2:19
14. Underwater Secrets 2:28
15. The Black Lake 4:38
16. Hogwarts' March 2:47
17. The Maze 4:44
18. Voldemort 9:39
19. Death of Cedric 1:59
20. Another Year Ends 2:21
21. Hogwarts' Hymn 2:59
22. Do the Hippogriff 3:39
23. This Is the Night 3:24
24. Magic Works 4:02

Thursday, October 06, 2016

Paramore -- Paramore


Paramore are too young for me. My millennial wife asked me to buy her their second album, Riot!, shortly after it was released, and I did, and I wasn't impressed. A year later, my millennial wife asked me to buy her the Twilight soundtrack. More Paramore. The next year (2009), I streamed their then newest album, Brand New Eyes, and was even less impressed than before, except for with the closing track, "All I Wanted."

At about this point, I realized something: I love Hayley Williams' powerful voice. In fact, Williams is one of my favorite vocalists. Her surprise duet with The Chariot on "Then Came to Kill," is one of my favorite guest spots ever. However, outside of a very small handful of tracks, I didn't care for any of the music Williams' own band made.
After the release of Brand New Eyes, Paramore underwent some rather intense personal stress, and bled out its two co-founding members, the Farro brothers. Left without its drummer and presumably its chief songwriter/guitarist, Paramore seemed to be done for. I then wished that Williams would move on to a new musical endeavor I found more interesting, so that I could finally enjoy her voice free of music I did not enjoy. She did, and the name of that endeavor is Paramore.
Paramore's self-titled album features none of the personality-free, ready-for-radio punk pop of the band's previous work. Rather ironically, this actually makes Paramore far more ready for radio. With the band whittled to a trio, and electrifying guest drummer, Ilan Rubin, ready to show off his chops,  Paramore fires off great song after great song, adhering to no single genre other than "good music," a genre that surprisingly few bands ever fully explore. Paramore's music sounds unique, still at times containing some of the driving sound of the band's past, and all of the energy, but with a virtuoso polish and a newfound skill in songwriting diversity. There's a definite 80's influence here, be it the keyboards,  slap-bass, or rhythms, but more than anything, this sounds like a real live band--singer, guitar, bass, and drums--jamming in perfect sync. This is enhanced by a great album flow and song sequencing, with the album starting off bright and energetic, but going to a darker, introspective place in the middle, before coming out even brighter than before. Also, the closer is eight minutes long, and mostly music, an optimistic, beautiful skyscraper of sound reaching up to space, and a truly unexpected touch. The band's hard work is on full display here, and the success this album has achieved is well-earned and deserved.
I should also mention the lyrics, which are less about stealing boyfriends, and more about growing up and moving on, looking to the future with positivity and wonder.
Also, who knew the bass player was the most talented member of the band. Just listen to the way he carries the Grammy-winning "Ain't It Fun," on his back. Man, am I looking forward to...what's that?
He just left the band?

2013 Fueled by Ramen/Warner Bros.
1. Fast in My Car 3:42
2. Now 4:07
3. Grow Up 3:50
4. Daydreaming 4:31
5. Interlude: Moving On 1:30
6. Ain't It Fun 4:56
7. Part II 4:41
8. Last Hope 5:09
9. Still Into You 3:36
10. Anklebiters 2:17
11. Interlude: Holiday 1:09
12. Proof 3:15
13. Hate to See Your Heart Break 5:09
14. (One of Those) Crazy Girls 3:32
15. Interlude: I'm Not Angry Anymore 0:52
16. Be Alone 3:40
17. Future 7:52

Friday, September 30, 2016

The Nintendo 64 Museum: Doom 64

Here's another video game review, this one for Doom 64, which is surprisingly enjoyable, despite its archaic roots. If anything, the variety of things I've reviewed this month has been...diverse.

The Nintendo 64 Museum: Doom 64: Released on March, 31, 1997 by Midway Games for the Nintendo 64, Doom 64 sends the space marine from the PC original back to hell once more...

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

So Much for O

So O, you are now done. You were strange, short, and now you are... Over.
Poor O, you are going to be followed by "P." None of your albums scored "10's," but whoa Nellie are some "P" albums going to score tens. In fact, "P" might win this whole thing...
Starting in October on The Nicsperiment, "P."
That doesn't really work, though.
Let's try this whole thing over again.
Whoa Pellie, coming in Poctober, "P."
Also, October is the tenth month, not the eighth. Why isn't it called "Decaber." Or Decatober." Nothing makes sense!

Monday, September 26, 2016

Owsey and Resotone -- A Smile From The West (EP)


Sometimes at work, I'll just click a song on Youtube, minimize the window, and let it go. Youtube has some sort of algorithm that picks more songs like the one you are listening to, and keeps on playing recommendations until you tell it to stop. Once for me, it landed on a "Chill Mix," featuring an Owsey and Resotone song.  I liked it, found Owsey and Resotone's bandcamp, and bought this EP. I put a link to the EP below. It is pretty good stuff, glow-y sounds over chopped up movie and song samples and some pretty nice beats and piano lines. With emotional quotes from films like Atonement and The Noteback spliced in, it can be a little much at times, but I'll let you decide. It's not a bad way to spend 25 minutes.

2014 Self-Released
1. A Smile From The West 6:46
2. Almost Crying With Confetti In Her Hair 6:43
3. Lucky Girl, On Board A Ship 4:23
4. Come To Me, Whispering Sea 5:09
5. Broke My Promise & Stared To The Sea 4:14