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August 10, 2006

team america

it took me awhile to finally catch team america: world police. i don't know why it took me so long, but i think i ended up watching it for the first time earlier this year when i was in new york for something or other. the more stuff that happens in the world, the better the movie gets. beside being politically relevant, there's just some great funny moments in the movie. one of which has to be the what happens after the bar scene. there are some classic songs too. of course i can't forget this guy.

america's obesity epidemic. it's one thing to have some "meat" on the bones... it's another when you can't fit into an x-ray scanner.

american's aren't just getting more obese, they're also becoming disconnected from each other... as technology helps us connect more... but not really. no offense blog buds, but there's something about doing things with real people i can't get from looking at a screen and typing.

to go along with the digital connects... remember friendster? for that matter... remember six degrees? i had an account on that thing... but i think i only logged into it something like 5 times total sometime freshman year in college.

here's a kind of bizarro/coolio link. upload a picture of your facial profile, and it will scan it and show you which celebrity you look like.

calgary's getting big. are the city's boundaries the same, or has it kind of grown like metro toronto?

it'd be kind of cool to fly from buffalo to amsterdam, and pick up a brownie... if we get a new airline serving the airport.

this has got to be a joke. what kind of platform is he gonna run on? i was the govenor of new york, and i led it nowhere. actually... i made it worse... note ALL of upstate. taxes are still high, businesses and people are leaving, and the unions are unbreakable. which is why you should vote for me to be your next president.

here's a review from the low show i went to last weekend. they played some great b-sides. westminster taxi squad, crying like a postcard, along with some old favs like rosy and grey. also if you're looking for new music, i suggest you check out pilot speed/pilate, who was one of the openers. i dug their sound.

i might dig for artifacts this weekend. kind of cool that they let you keep one thing that you find... and maybe i can find someone who wants to see the ballad of ricky bobby too.

lastly... remember when you used to go to shows and sometimes you might be in the pit or at the edge and think... dude... you're taking this way too seriously. for anyone that hasn't seen this picture. the only thing funnier than the scary mosh girl... is the guy's face behind her.

enjoy the weekend.

October 31, 2006

Sloan

Wow, well J's written an amazingly in-depth review of Sloan's latest album, Never Hear the End of It. (I could probably make a stupid joke about how I thought I'd never get to the end of his review, but I seem only to be able to get away with dumb things like that at the office, where the silliness provides necessary levity. Plus I really like what he's done and don't want to besmirch it for a cheap laugh... or groan.)

I've listened to the album five times through now, each time from start to finish, and I haven't really dabbled with individual tracks. Reading the review has me listening to the album a sixth time now. (I ended up taking a break from it, and from rock music in general, and focusing on classical music for a bit. I always oscillate between the two, and sometimes the periods are longer than others. I had a really long rock music phase recently, and now I'm in a half-and-half phase.)

Anyway, I've listened to the new record enough times to have general opinions of it, but I'm not ready to do a track-by-track review yet. (I don't know when I'll have time for that.) I really don't dislike any of Sloan's releases, except perhaps the Peppermint EP, which I think they bettered in every way with the release of Smeared. However, I do think some of their albums are stronger than others. I agree with The Onion AV Club's Hall of Fame that their masterpiece is Between the Bridges (henceforth referred to as BtB). Pretty Together was hit or miss, Action Pact was rockin' but perhaps a bit monolithic in its approach, and now we have, in my estimation, Sloan's best album since BtB.

What do they have in common? Aside from blending the songs together (something that was done masterfully on Side B of The Beatles' Abbey Road) and generally keeping them short in length, there's a very musical flow to the way the songs are arranged that makes it easy to listen to the full record, despite its overall duration. When the individual members of Sloan are at the top of their songwriting game, and all four are making quality contributions, something magical happens. They provide a variety of styles, which is what makes them so fun to listen to... again like The Beatles. (Jason's gonna harp on my bringing them up like this, but they're undeniably an influence, and always have been.)

The thing that surprised me the most about this album is the number of Andrew songs in it - and how good they are! After being shut out of Action Pact, probably by choice, he's come back with a vengeance. His contributions are my favorite this time around. His voice is great, his songs don't have the occasionally self-indulgent quality that Jason was complaining about, which has been evident on some of his tracks in earlier albums. I think Andrew had some really terrific material on Pretty Together, and of course the culminating "Delivering Maybes" on BtB, so I'm happy to hear that he's carrying it forward.

Jay... Jay does his best work since BtB. His music is so unabashedly happy here! I don't want to seem to take Chris and Patrick for granted, but they've put out so much material over the course of their careers (and dominated the last album) that I don't really have anything new to say about their work. I like what they do. Patrick's been getting harder and Chris has been turning out some really pretty ballads... sort of a flip on their roles earlier in the history of the band. They are both very skilled in both genres, but I just get the impression that there's been a gradual shift of focus from one to the other.

So in summation, Andrew's work here has me going back to appreciate his earlier work, and Never Hear the End of It has me switching back and forth between it and BtB. Both albums don't work so well on iPod shuffle mode, and so what? I'm such a fan of musicians that really craft albums as a whole, and the new one falls right in line with my sensibilities. Simply, it makes me happy to listen to it, the whole blessed thing, from start to finish, every time. For a newcomer, I'd still recommend BtB first, because I don't know how the uninitiated would react to the sprawling new album (and they may not be amenable to the Sloan sound), but Never Hear the End of It would be my follow-up recommendation. Definitely.

March 12, 2007

Spider-Man 3 and Arcade Fire

I'm getting pretty excited about the upcoming release of Spider-Man 3, and the media blitz is feeding that anticipation. YouTube has a murky pirate of the new trailer that's attached to the ridiculous new movie 300. Ain't It Cool News has a behind-the-scenes thing. Best of all, Yahoo now has the 7-minute preview of the beginning of the movie, which was shown during NBC's Heroes (great show) last week, available to stream/download in HD.

Arcade Fire released Neon Bible last week, their much awaited follow-up to their extraordinary debut album Funeral back in 2004 (and their EP from the year before). The new album is different enough, in the best sort of way, that when you first listen to it you may be taken off-guard by how it's different from their first album. But it has really grown on me with each listen, the same way that my favorite music has always done. I'm a rabid consumer of classical music, but I'm stingier with my time and money when it comes to rock. I think a lot of rock music today is derivative and lame. Arcade Fire is the first band to truly draw me in since Jason and my freshman year roommates turned me onto Radiohead. I highly recommend that you check them out.

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