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Monday, August 27, 2012

Here We Go Again (Isaac Edition)

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Well, great. Just great. Here we go again. I guess four years without a visit from Uncle Hurricane spoiled us because it looks like we're in for it. Pray for our state and coast, and hopefully this thing will just blow itself out before it gets here. I would rather only be able to count the number of top 20 most costly natural disasters I've been through on one hand. Add another, and it will take two. Considering I am only thirty, that kind of sucks, but that's everybody here in the boot. I also don't like how this one has a Biblical name. It sounds like judgment or something, or like one of The Children of the Corn, except in Extreme Weather Edition. Get that knife away from me Isaac, you're freaking me out!
Gas is already out everywhere, but thankfully we already filled up and stocked up on batteries (got the last pack of D's at Wall's Mart!).
Anyway, tallyho or something. Catch you later.

The Dismemberment Plan -- A People's History of the Dismemberment Plan

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7/10

The Dismemberment Plan end their recording career with an album of fan-made remixes. Obviously, this is odd. Re-mix albums are usually chock-full of glitchy, repetitive versions of songs one would never choose to listen to over the originals. This one has a few of those. But overall, A People's History of the Dismemberment Plan is an enjoyable collection. Many of the remixes are original and fun enough to warrant repeat listens. Several incorporate new instrumental tracks into the songs altogether, creating music that is at once foreign and familiar. It's almost as if the future found The Dismemberment Plan's recorded works, could not comprehend them, and translated them into its own language. Better yet, it's kind of like a musical game of telephone. Sometimes the message (Duh, by "message," I mean "song." It's a metaphor...are metaphors just excuses for people who don't know how to talk clearly?...NOTE TO SELF: Figure this out) is almost unrecognizable, but contains just enough original detail to reveal it's lineage. Sometimes the message gets the point across, even if the words are completely different. For instance, Ev's new version of "The City" contains all of the urgency of the original, but with a completely new rhythmic identity and a burning trumpet solo to boot.

I wish The Dismemberment Plan could have left us one more album of original material, but as a document of what their music meant, one can't do much better than A People's History...

RE-MIX

After announcing their breakup, The Dismemberment Plan had one more album up their sleeves. Disappointingly at first, this album turned out to be not new material, but a collection of remixes done by fans and others interested in the project. While A People's History of The Dismemberment Plan does fall victim to a few of the shortfalls common to remix albums, the entire picture it paints is pretty beautiful. I'm not sure why I just brought painting into this. Actually, maybe I meant painful, as in what this review is to read. Moving right along...
The weakest tracks on A People's History... simply chop up The Dismemberment Plan's work into a disposable mess. Most of the re-mixes are rock solid throughout, though, sometimes adding just enough bump and reworking to sound fresh, sometimes re-recording the majority of and transforming the songs altogether. I really love what Quruli and Noise McCartney do with a "A Life of Possibilities." It sounds like the world has ended and gone black, but whatever pieces that remain have suddenly come together to attempt to perform the song.

I will freely admit (why not just say "I admit?" Unless someone is putting a gun to your head, aren't you doing it freely anyway? Bah.) that I don't give this album as many spins as The Dismemberment Plan's original work, but for what it is, it is quite good. I enjoyed ending these Dismemberment Plan reviews by listening to it repeatedly, and now that I'm done with them, I will listen to it still. Freely, I guess.

 2003 DeSoto
1. The Face of the Earth (remixed by parae) 3:02
2. What Do You Want Me to Say? (remixed by Drop Dynasty) 4:12
3. Academy Award 4:34 (Cex)
4. Following Through (Cynyc) 4:18
5. The Other Side (Justin Norvell) 3:49
6. A Life of Possibilities (Quruli/Noise McCartney) 4:06
7. Pay for the Piano (Grandmaster Incongruous) 2:09
8. Time Bomb (ASCDI) 5:01
9. Automatic (Deadverse) 3:15
10. The City (Ev) 4:43
11. The Jitters (Ender) 4:09
12. Superpowers (Erik Gundel) 3:07

Friday, August 24, 2012

The Dismemberment Plan -- Change

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9/10

For their last trick, The Dismemberment Plan progress naturally while subverting all expectations. Front man, Travis Morrison, refers to Change as The Dismemberment Plan's "night album," but the artwork consists entirely of photographs of a mid-day sky. Yep, Change is difficult. But it's easy, too.
No, I'm not going to do one of those AV Club style editorial reviews where what I am writing lives or dies on me tying what I am reviewing into some abstract element of life. I mean, nothing against the AV Club, but if I'm reading a review on a show about a high school teacher who cooks crystal meth and blows up people, I don't want insight on how this is just like my own life. I shop at Wal-Mart and get dizzy when my two-year asks me to spin him. I watch shows like the one about the meth-cooking school teacher because it has NOTHING to do with my own life. Man, Breaking Bad is awesome. Anyway, what was I doing?
Oh, yes, reviewing The Dismemberment Plan's last album of original material, Change. Change is kind of about change, and I have spent quite a few nights the last decade or so listening to this album in the dark, wondering what the heck I am going to do with my life. Change is also a change of pace for the band, musically. There are no frenetic moments. The keyboard is more atmospheric and less computerized apocalypse. If anyone ever wanted to toss the term alternative toward the band, they could do it here, if that term even means anything. Travis Morrison never freaks out once, instead often singing in a smooth falsetto. The band don't really lose any energy in the process, though. Change contains a lot of atmosphere and ambiance that The Dismemberment Plan's magnum opus, Emergency and I, does not, even if it isn't quite as engaging and immediate as that album. Or to cut the crap, Change isn't perfect like The Dismemberment Plan's previous album, but it's still really, really good.
Change begins with a trio of musically interconnected songs. "Sentimental Man" rises out of a haze of morning, sounding at first like an atheist manifesto before revealing itself to be multiple viewpoints of unexpectedly sentimental men. This leads directly into "The Face of the Earth," a metaphysical reflection on a short-term relationship that stretches The Dismemberment Plan's dynamic skills to a pretty lovely place.

This leads directly into "Superpowers," a brooding, reflective song that again proves my theory that The Police transferred their consciousnesses into The Dismemberment Plan members' heads after Synchronicity. I don't need any evidence because this song proves me correct.

Man, I have listened to this album so many times over the last decade, I might as well just keep going track by track. Sorry, slow readers... "Pay for the Piano" is a high energy track about owning up to things, before "Come Home" takes things down a couple levels. "Secret Curse" is a paranoid song about being so unfortunate, a hex is the only plausible explanation. The song is dead serious, and I sometimes wonder how an earlier iteration of the band would have performed it. As it is, it's a decent middle to the album.
"Automatic" is The Dismemberment Plan's only acoustic song, though it does include some nice little electronic touches, and it ain't happy. "Following Through" is though, and it is a good pick me up. It leads into "Time Bomb," similar to the stay away from me attitude of "Secret Curse." Man, being an adult is difficult sometimes.
The strains of every stressful moment of Change are tied together in "The Other Side," a beautiful song featuring an unbelievable performance from drummer, Joe Easley, and also the bass line from The Police's "The Bed's Too Big Without You." As usual, my theories are always correct. Did that previous sentence contain a double positive, therefore creating a negative? Is that even a thing? What am I talking about? Here is the song.

Beside Joe Easley's hand-blistering performance (the nerds at the D-Plan show I attended couldn't even keep up with the rhythm, which made me sad for them), "The Other Side" has the remarkable power of achieving its title. It's like a strong wave carrying the listener to the ultimate "it's all going to be okay" of "Ellen and Ben." "Ellen and Ben" focuses on two people the singer apparently knows who become so into each other over a couple of years, they virtually break contact with everyone else, then breakup and never see each other again. Then Morrison suddenly finishes the song with his own status update: "Well, I'm doing fine/I'm staying busy hanging with my nephew/ and trying to keep my eyes on the prize/ you know how it goes/ and so do i so call me if you can now/ you know how i love a surprise."

It's as if he's avoided other's drama and moved past his own to reach some place of happiness. I blame this song for breaking up the band. And from The Dismemberment Plan, this is it. Except for that weird re-mix album, which I will review tomorrow. Also, life doesn't just end when you are happy. Other stuff happens to wreck your life up, and then you have to deal with that, and you're happy for a while, and then other stuff happens, and then on and on and on til you die. Okay? So time to start making some new music again, guys.

2001 DeSoto Records
1. Sentimental Man 4:16
2. The Face of the Earth 4:46
3. Superpowers 4:48
4. Pay for the Piano 3:23
5. Come Home 5:05
6. Secret Curse 2:50
7. Automatic 4:16
8. Following Through 4:38
9. Time Bomb 4:24
10. The Other Side 3:45
11. Ellen and Ben 5:01


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Dismemberment Plan/Juno -- Juno & The Dismemberment Plan

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7/10

I almost forgot to review this EP, which I guess doesn't say much for it. Rock bands, The Dismemberment Plan and Juno, each turn in an original and a cover song. "The Dismemberment Plan Gets Rich" sounds like the kind of song the band could write in their sleep. It's goofy fun, and not meant to be anything more. Juno's original, "Non-Equivalents," is pretty good, and their cover of DJ Shadow's "High Noon" (Remember DJ Shadow? I do not remember DJ Shadow) is decent, but kind of pales after their hard-rocking original.
The final track and easy standout is The Dismemberment Plan's cover of that horrible Jennifer Paige song from that horrible year of music. Man, even horrible stuff from the 90's makes me miss the 90's.
"Crush" (seriously, that year had some terrible music) as done by The Dismemberment Plan becomes a slow, dire, downer of a song. I can't help but laugh every time Travis Morrison works his way to the chorus, transforming the line "It's just a little crush" into the most depressing outcome possible. Few people actually understand what irony means, but the humor inherent in seeing that The Dismemberment Plan is going to cover "Crush," and actually hearing their cover is quite exquisite. So is talking about something that is funny with smug, pithless language, then doing it again in order to highlight that you are doing it.

And then the EP is over, fifteen minutes well spent, but most likely not often repeated often.

2001 DeSoto Records
1. The Dismemberment Plan Gets Rich 2:22
2. Non-Equivalents 3:26
3. High Noon (DJ Shadow) 3:46
4. Crush (Jennifer Paige) 6:14


The New Project 86 Might Be the Best Album of the Year, and You Are Doing Yourself A Disservice If You Do Not Listen To It, So Click the Link Below And Do It Now, Because If You Don't Nothing Will Happen, But It Would Be Sad If You Never Listened To It, But You Probably Should, Unless You Don't Like Rock Music, In Which Case, What Do You Like, You Crazy Person? Also, Should That Sentence Have Ended In A Question Mark and Had So Many Commas?

That's about it. Think I said everything I wanted to say in the title.
http://www.project86.com/coupons.cfm
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Monday, August 20, 2012

The Dismemberment Plan -- Emergency and I

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10/10

One late night near the end of 1999, I drove home from work through downtown New Roads feeling isolated and desperate. Suddenly, through the courtesy of my local college radio station, a song of isolation and desperation filled my White 1996 Ford Thunderbird. I will put my musical tastes as a 17-year old up against anyone's musical taste (Wait, should one be singular and one be plural? Also, you don't eat music. That expression is weird!) now, including my own . At nearly 18, I already liked and listened to a lot of good music, but with The Dismemberment Plan's "The City," I had finally found something with which I truly connected and identified.

"The City" is the ninth track on The Dismemberment Plan's magnum opus, Emergency and I. The best thing about Emergency and I, though, is that it is not all desolate pessimism. Sure, the apocalyptic "The Jitters" and "8 1/2 Minutes" are about as cynical as songs can get. This was released at the very end of the millenium. A lot of people thought the world was about to end, technologically, religiously, or both. According to one of the best movies from that year, it already had. At the same time, though, Emergency and I contains some pretty incredible feelings of optimism to counter this negativity. There's a brilliant sense of conflict between the benefit of being connected to the world and others versus being disconnected, as well as all sorts of other really great stuff that makes this album still stand out to a 30-year old...just as much as it did to a kid a few weeks away from 18 (should I put more dots? I feel like this sentence is never going to end...). Also, the music is really good.
No rock band's rhythm section has sounded better to me than the one on this album. Same thing with what the band does with the keyboard. The guitar playing sounds like a futuristic version of The Police if they had gone toward punk instead of chamber pop. Everything I've mentioned above can be found on this song below.

Travis Morrison's vocals and lyrics sound(s? Anyone read a grammar book? They don't teach that stuff in college.) like Travis Morrison. On one hand, he sings on key here instead of the "whatever note I please" style of past releases. On the other hand, he still ONLY sounds like Travis Morrison. This man should have been the voice of my generation. I'm not sure who the media will give that title to, but in my head, it will always be him.
With that said, Emergency and I has been one of my favorite albums for a long time (at least as far as my lifespan now measures). I thought I would write a lengthy review for it, but I feel like I've already written all that I've needed. Time for a big closing paragraph that makes some huge, controversial statement:
Because this is literally the music of my life, I am probably biased about its greatness. Then again, there is a reason people are still talking about, listening to, and connecting to Emergency and I thirteen years later, while much heralded, over-hyped tripe like Animal Collective's Merriweather Post Pavilion gets tossed aside for whatever the next big thing is just three years after its release. It isn't because of run on sentences (seriously, how many times did you have to read the previous one before it made any sense?). Emergency and I is a true classic.

1999 DeSoto
1. A Life of Possibilities 4:34
2. Memory Machine 2:43
3.What Do You Want Me to Say? 4:18
4. Spider in the Snow 3:50
5. The Jitters 4:19
6 I Love a Magician 2:38
7. You Are Invited 4:52
8. Gyroscope 2:29
9. The City 4:26
10. Girl O'Clock 2:54
11. 8½ Minutes 2:57
12. Back and Forth 5:07

Friday, August 17, 2012

The Dismemberment Plan -- The Ice of Boston

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6/10

The Dismemberment Plan's short-lived tenure on a major label resulted in this solitary EP.  The first track, "The Ice of Boston," was the best track on the Dismemberment Plan's album previous this. I don't grudge its inclusion here. It would have been a great introduction to a mass audience if the band had ever had a chance to reach one. "The Ice of Boston" is followed here by three new tracks. The first, "The First Anniversary of Your Last Phone Call," is the first and only track by The Dismemberment Plan that I would call forgettable. It's almost like it wasn't deemed worthy of any of their full lengths, and was thus banished here. Also, I had a sentence with the phrase "the first" written three times in it, and I banished it to this review.
The second new song is "Just Like You." "Just Like You" is far more memorable than the previous song, but it's clear that the band are at the exact point in their career, during this very song, of attempting to reconcile their earlier freak-out style with a new, more mature style. Because of this, the song is a little bit of a mess, and far from The Dismemberment Plan's best material.
The final new track, and EP closer, "Spider in the Snow," a demo from the band's upcoming album, Emergency and I (fifth comma is the charm!), is a revelation. It features a keyboard that's more than a dissonant noise, the best, skippiest bass and drums interplay The Dismemberment Plan have yet featured, great vocals and lyrics from Travis Morrison, intriguing (I hate that word, but I hate its closest synonym, "fascinating," just as much. Maybe I have problems) guitar work, and it's also the best thing the band have yet recorded (haha, previous sentence, this one has TEN commas!). "Spider in the Snow" ends this strange EP on a very high note and builds great anticipation for whatever it is The Dismemberment Plan are about to do next.


1998 Interscope
1.The Ice of Boston 4:57
2.The First Anniversary of Your Last Phone Call 4:42
3. Just Like You 4:40
4. Spider in the Snow 3:50

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Socialism Seems Evil Until...

You compare things like this:

http://richkidsofinstagram.tumblr.com/

to this:

http://finance.yahoo.com/blogs/daily-ticker/u-poverty-hit-highest-level-40-years-165914572.html

Then it all just gets confusing.
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The Dismemberment Plan -- Is Terrified

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8/10

The Dismemberment Plan drop some of their post-punk tendencies and create the kind of music nerds can dance to on Is Terrified. Just because they're terrified doesn't mean they aren't dangerous, though. Travis Morrison's lyrics are even more threateningly intelligent, and new drummer, Joe Easley, drops previous drummer Steve Cummings' bang-away approach for a more sophisticated, hoppy style. Hoppy like a bunny or beer, or both, take your pick and let your imagination run wild. Eric Axleson's bass playing has somehow gotten even groovier. Meanwhile, the guitar interplay between Jason Caddell and Morrison has grown more sophisticated, sometimes spazzy, sometimes relaxed, but always interesting. So why is this the kind of music nerds can dance to?
I don't know, I just opened with that sentence because it sounded like the opening sentence of somebody's Dismemberment Plan review. Wait, this is somebody's Dismemberment Plan review: MINE! I am 6 feet tall and about 190 pounds, and the last time I saw The Dismemberment Plan, I had a good fifty pounds on everyone else at the show (except for The Rabbit), and all these little people were dancing. So that's what I'm basing my first sentence upon. Bite me Pitchfork. Also, I'll end a sentence with a preposition whenever I want...to. Anyway, I was reviewing something.
Oh, yeah, the second Dismemberment Plan album, Is Terrified, which is a nice step above their debut, !. Comma Exclamation Period
The obvious highlight here is the part-spoken word, "The Ice of Boston," one of the greatest holiday songs of all time. Since its release, I'm still not sure why everyone doesn't just follow Morrison's New Years example of dumping a bottle of champagne on his head. I want to do that everyday, so if I'm just going to do it once, I might as well do it on New Years. The song really gives the first notion that The Dismemberment Plan can be a popular, or at least populist band, not on a major scale, but with people with a penchant for listening to music that both espouses solipsistic ideals and does not. Wait, what? I don't know what that meant. I think Pitchfork just hacked my review.
Erm (Erm?), here's "The Ice of Boston."

Anyway, if you have a brain, and you enjoy good music, you should check out Is Terrified. It's doesn't feature The Dismemberment Plan at their peak, but it does feature a band climbing to the top of something, even if they are scared out of their minds. Or the title doesn't mean anything, and The Dismemberment Plan have been around a little while now and are learning with time how to create better music. Probably the second one. That one is reasonable, and not just something someone wrote so that they would sound smart. Pitchfork, I'm not like making fun of you throughout this review or anything, but I definitely am.

1997 DeSoto
1. Tonight We Mean It 2:55
2. That's When the Party Started 3:49
3. The Ice of Boston 4:55
4. Academy Award 2:26
5. Bra 3:06
6. Do the Standing Still 2:01
7. This Is the Life 4:06
8. One Too Many Blows to the Head 4:04
9. It's So You 2:17
10. Manipulate Me 2:38
11. Respect Is Due 12:35

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The Dismemberment Plan -- !

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7/10

The Dismemberment Plan's debut, !, is a DIY-sounding rock album with punk rock energy. Most of this energy comes from vocalist, Travis Morrison, and his manic and jittery, "oh no I just drank too much coffee!" delivery. The strangely danceable musical performances (danceable because of bassist, Eric Axelson's, work; strangely because lesser bands' bassists would just strum with the guitars) in ! follow suit. Then again, this album is called !, so this paragraph was useless.
While ! sounds like it could have been recorded in a garage, Morrison's "I'm the smartest guy here" lyrics, while still developing, welcome any listener who's sick of stupidity (Yes, I know there is a song called "Onward, Fat Girl" here. Yes, leave me alone.) and the music...sorry, I made this sentence too long and I lost my train of thought. Let's try this paragraph again.
While ! sounds like it could have been recorded in a garage, the lyrics are more incisive than average, and the album contains several musical moments that hint at possible greatness. !'s closer, "Rusty," contains nearly the least amount of ! on the entire album. It's hard to listen to "Rusty" and not get the feeling that any band who could close out their debut with a track like this will soon be on to something better. Man, I lost my train of thought on that sentence, too. Whatever. The end.


1995 DeSoto Records
1. Survey Says 2:08
2. The Things That Matter 2:25
3. The Small Stuff 3:02
4. OK Jokes Over 4:27
5. Soon to Be Ex Quaker 1:26
6. I'm Going to Buy You a Gun 3:06
7. If I Don't 2:17
8. Wouldn't You Like to Know? 4:27
9. 13th and Euclid 2:50
10. Fantastic! 4:14
11. Onward, Fat Girl 2:46
12. Rusty 4:29

Friday, August 10, 2012

Addendum to My Best of 2011 Music List

I just added this to the end of my best of 2011 music entry from Dec. 31st, 2011.
ADDENDUM:
Album That Should Have Been On My List Last Year (2010):
Rosetta -- A Determinism of Morality
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This album combines almost all of my musical interests: space, metal, ambiance, atmosphere, and raw, unbridled emotion. The growled vocals just sound like another instrument (I mean that as the highest compliment), but there is one, and only one sung line. It happens on "Release," in the direct middle of the album: The problem with now is no matter how much we want it to, it doesn't last forever. I wish this album could. Around the time that I first heard A Determinism of Morality, I was reading Edgar Allen Poe's masterpiece of an only novel, The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket. Track six, "Renew," soundtracks the final chapter of Poe's novel brilliantly.
Here's the illustration from the last page of an old edition of Poe's book, with a YouTube of the song underneath.
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Man, I Really Like The Dingees/Man, What the Heck Tyrann Matheiu/Man, I Don't Want to Stop Blogging

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As I sit here pondering my life and all the changes I am facing, I am really happy with the last set of reviews I got to complete. While I enjoyed some of the Dingees work before, going back and examining their catalogue has revealed a band of surprising depth, skill, and attitude. Their first two albums are good fun, but their second two are on a whole nother level. That means if you want to relax your mind, their music works, but if you want to expand it, their music works just as well. I wish our star defensive back would have realized that music is the best drug.
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RIP Honey Badger. Seriously, dude, how did you not learn your lesson last year? If you do drugs, you're not gonna play. And if it wasn't drugs, then whatever you did, I'm sure you knew you weren't supposed to do it. I know you come from a troubled background and all, but you had a chance at a brighter future than about 99% of the population of the rest of the planet. You would have never had to worry about money. You know who has to worry about money?
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Me! And I have to worry about how to feed, clothe, and house my wife and my kid. Through the process, it would be nice to not have to quit blogging. The links I have been picking up recently have been giving me more excellent traffic than I can remember. I'd hate to stop now, even if I don't have any free time or money. My plan is to keep trying, despite the fact that I'll be going back to sporadic posting most likely, instead of daily. I really wanted to break 200 posts this year, 150 of which would be reviews. Guess we'll see. In the meanwhile, I've got to go fight Darth Vader or something.

Friday, August 03, 2012

The Dingees - the Rebel Soul Sound System

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9/10

The Dingees' Rebel Soul Sound System is an album with the weight of the planet on its shoulders. This is the most global-sounding album the band have ever released, and the most slowed down, filled with sound. It's also the most political work by the socially conscious band yet, as the nine years since the Dingees last album have only seen the state of the world grow worse. That's not to say that Rebel Soul Sound System is a downer. It's just as fun as The Dingees' previous releases. The album just feels heavier.
Dissonance is a major element adding up to this weight. The Dingees' have never layered this many sounds atop each other: guitars, bass, drums, percussion, horns played both conventionally and unconventionally (and not just trombones or saxophones--also flutes, clarinets, flugle horns, etc.), music and voice samples, multiple keyboards, organ, electronics, and multiple vocals of both sex. With this much going on, the band lose most of their dirtier punk edge (but not all, and certainly not in attitude), but increase the reggae influence, and pick up some hip-hop and drum n' bass tones. What results is a thick, internationally flavored stew of an album that flows steady and unstoppably through musical streets as graffiti-drenched as its cover.
The weight of time is upon this album, as well. The samples and horns especially give Rebel Soul Sound System a both timeless and timely feeling, as if it represents the oppressed throughout history.
Overall, the Rebel Soul Sound System isn't really what one would expect from a Dingees' release, but it's an extremely satisfying album, and like all of the band's work, sounds like no one else. Who else has nine minute songs in whatever genre this is?

Download the entire album for free at the band's behest! 

EDITOR'S NOTE: This might be the last you hear from me for a while. Take care.

2010 International City
1. Sound Depression 3:00
2. Test the Champion - The Hardest Game 4:48
3. Blackout! 3:20
4. street vs. state - Global Tribal - reconstruction 6:26
5. Capital Imperial 1:58
6. Still on the Move 4:20
7. Port Royal Sound 3:26
8. Mercy Triumphs Over Judgement 3:19
9. Smoke Signals 9:42
10. Who Stole the Soul in Rock N Roll 5:06
11. I'll Be'Neath the Canopy 5:38
12. Everybody Today 2:10
13. One Inch Equation 4:48

Thursday, August 02, 2012

The Dingees -- The Crucial Conspiracy

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10/10

The Dingees' Crucial Conspiracy combines the punk and reggae of their previous releases, removes some of the ska, and adds a little more of the dub. Also, it's perfect.
The vocals, musical performances, songwriting, and album flow all leave nothing to be desired. The band's experience, combined with Frank Lenz and Chris Colbert's production talents, make for a flawless listen. The songs sound as full as possible without overloading. In addition to the usual rock band setup, horns, keys, organ, samples, and other accoutrements keep every moment interesting. "Summer" shows off many of the The Crucial Conspiracy's key elements.

This album is so good, it actually makes me want to redact some of the previous tens I've given into 9.9's. That's because there is no "I love this, but I wish they'd..." on this album. The only thing I can think of is, "I love this, but I wish it wouldn't have taken them nine years to follow it up."
Album favorites include every track, from the opening attitude of "Spray Paint," to the earnest reggae of "Dear Sister, Dear Brother," to the forlorn trippiness of "Latch Key Kids (my personal favorite from this album)."

The album's honest themes of perseverance, and rebellion against evil systems (along with some fun government alien-cover-up conspiracy stuff on the side) are incredibly resonant. "Moving Underground," starts off as a sunny ska story of record executives asking the band to tone down their sound, and ends in a punk fury.

This song highlights who will enjoy this album. If you require your rock music to have a pop sheen, move on. If not, I don't know what more you could want here.
Also, IT'S ON VINYL
FINAL NOTE: The summer of this album signifies the end of an era. It's the summer before 9/11, the summer before everyone started hating each other more, the summer before optimism died, the summer before diversity in music wasn't only ironic, the last summer of the Sega Dreamcast (and the southern California setting of many Dreamcast games certainly fits this album). If you want to paint a line in American History across this end of the summer of 2001, you can paint an arrow pointing backward that says <--------FUN, and an arrow pointing forward that says -------->NOT AS FUN. Or maybe I just feel that way because I turned twenty that year, and I miss being a teenager. Either way, it's time for a return of FUN.

2001 Tooth & Nail Records
1. Spray Paint 3:03
2. Middle Man 2:14
3. Summer 3:41
4. Dear Sister, Dear Brother 4:21
5. Christina Fight Back 1:41
6. Ronnie Raygun 1:15
7. We Rot the Voodoo 2:52
8. General Information 2:17
9. Latch Key Kids 3:44
10. Moving Underground 4:10
11. Whole Scene 3:43
12. The World's Last Night 4:37
13. Declaration 1:39

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Leave Michael Phelps and Chick-fil-A Alone, Jerk Journalists!

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These two things. Leave them alone.

Any American who stayed up late every night to watch the Beijing Olympics during August of 2008 surely has fond memories of watching Michael Phelps pull off miracle after miracle. The barely twenty-seven year old swimmer has been working in the pool for twenty years, and has participated in the last four Olympics. After bringing so much pride to his country, it has been pretty disconcerting to see all the news stories attacking his performance at this year's London Olympics. Phelps is obviously past his prime, and is yet still winning medals. Yesterday he tied, then broke the Olympic record for overall medals with a silver in the 200 meter butterfly, and then a gold with his team in the 4 x 200 meter freestyle relay. This is an incredible achievement which could stand forever, and Phelps has the chance to win a couple more before he retires at the end of the 2012 Games. The seems like a pretty triumphant finish to a career to me, but from news stories, mostly published by Yahoo, you would think that Michael Phelps murders babies. As I checked my Yahoo e-mail numerous times throughout the day yesterday, I saw multiple stories with headlines like PHELPS DISAPPOINTS, and yet I never saw one article pertaining to his later victory and record breaking. Geez, Yahoo, leave the guy alone. Instead of focusing on the fact that Phelps got second in a race he has dominated for twelve years, why not highlight the fact that the guy dominated the same race for TWELVE YEARS, and just won his NINETEENTH OLYMPIC MEDAL. That stat is insane. Why focus on a barely there negative when there are such huge positives to be told?
Even Bob Costas, a sports reporter I usually respect, joined in the piling on, grilling a freshly victorious, still smiling and excited Phelps about the fact that he isn't as good as he used to be, instead of discussing his victory. Phelps, usually quite good-natured, and still somehow civil in his replies, simply stated that after dedicating twenty grueling years to being the greatest swimmer on the planet, he decided that for his final competitions he just wanted to have fun. Shouldn't that kind of "not winning is not the end of the world" attitude be lauded? This guy is the greatest Olympian to ever live. If he wants to let off the gas a little, why criticize him?
This morning, Yahoo got even uglier, as their lead and headlining article briefly mentions Phelps breaking the record at the end, but instead focuses on and is titled on Phelps' mother mistakenly thinking Phelps won gold in the 200 meter butterfly, and includes several closeup photographs of her changing, happy to sad expressions. You jerks! Not only neglecting this victorious American's accomplishments, but mocking his mother? What is wrong with you, Yahoo? What is your journalistic imperative? If you keep this up, you'll barely have time to continue focusing your energies on trying to force me to decide where I buy my chicken sandwich based on the gay-marriage opinion of the CEO of the chicken sandwich company.
If you haven't heard, the CEO of Chick-fil-A recently made the apparent mistake of mentioning that he believes marriage should be between a man and a woman. Yahoo has posted article after article on the matter, including a make your own alternative Chick-fil-A sandwich that begins with the nauseatingly manipulative sentence:
"Chick-fil-A fans have been tearfully vowing to stop eating at the fast food chain since the privately owned company's president, Dan Cathy, told a religious newspaper that he and his company are against gay marriage."
Yahoo, you can go to hell. Whether I am for or against gay marriage, my greatest day to day struggle is attempting to feed my family, and if you think I am going to base the purchase of my food on the marriage beliefs of a company's CEO, you can die slowly in a fire. Should I stop eating the food my mother makes when I visit my parent's house? And screw you, too, Ed Helms. The Chick-fil-A CEO didn't say he didn't like gay people, he just said he supports a traditional nuclear family structure. How about I boycott one-dimensional, geeky screw-up, but seething with rage on the inside characters (that's two characteristics, not two dimensions).
I get it, Yahoo. You think we should pull against our own Olympians, and choose our food based on company owner political beliefs. Awesome. About time to find a new e-mail address.
And to the mayors of Boston or Chicago, who are publicly striking down Chick-fil-A building proposals in their towns because of the aforementioned CEO opinion:
Sweet! I always knew I would live in a fascist nation someday! What else should I do with my life, and where should I eat, most wise political leaders? And finally, here's an excellent article on Phelps' performances and attitude last night from ESPN.
POSTSCRIPT: I just noticed that Yahoo's default image is a Chinese gymnast, which is not a surprise at all.