Weekly Sound Special #1: Record Store Day!

Hello, and welcome to the first Weekly Sounds Special, where instead of rambling about an album, I inform you on a relevant topic. Like a news report, but on not. Yeah.

So in case you didn’t know, every year in April the folks who run RSD help publisher, store owners, and collectors celebrate buying vinyl and the whole process of keeping your local record store alive. It started back in 2007 and hasn’t stopped since, spreading across the world and gathering tons of bands to help them out.

“So what’s so special about RSD?”, you ask aloud. Well, besides helping store owners and record labels keep their doors open another day, companies make special deal and releases on this day. This ranges to colored vinyl record, chances for give away, and even limited edition record players like this one that features the Peanuts!

In addition to that, the stores themselves may have special deals going on that day such as discounts, buy one get one free deals, or 25% off anything in the store. It’s just a way of saying thank you for the support.

Overall this is a day to celebrate your collection with people who love the same thing you do.  Who knows, maybe you’ll get a great find, or rub elbows with some bands who frequently show up to shops to autograph and celebrate. At the end of the day, RSD is for the people.

If you want to find a record store near you, check out the official website http://www.recordstoreday.com/Home 

Happy Hunting.

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Album 13: Power Windows by Rush

When talking about music with friends, which happens more often then I would have thought, we always end up coming back to the same question: Who would be in your dream band? It’s a tough choice that’s in constant state of flux, as sometimes I want John Paul Jones as bassist, other times I want Geddy Lee. No matter how many times I change my mind though, the drummer is always and will forever be Neil Peart, and I’ve got  Power Windows to thank for that.

Released in 1985 while Rush was experimenting with synthesizers, it features what I think is some of the best music Rush has put out outside of 2112 and Moving Pictures. Peart is on his game with the lyrics and of course his drums that go from carrying a beat to going all out on a non-stop two to three minute solo.

Lee is no slouch either, making some of the funkiest  bass grooves for  songs like The Big Money, Marathon, and Emotion Detector proving why I, and many others, consider him one of the best around at his craft.

You can feel the excellence coming from this album from the first track too. The Big Money grooves and moves in the best of ways and carries you all the way to the best song on the album, Marathon. Marathon is so good that when it comes on shuffle while I’m driving, I have no choice but to sing along because I love it.

Emotion Detector and Mystic Rhythms are wonderful songs and I will listen to this, but Marathon is the reason I still come back to this album, my first Rush album. Now I have Exit Stage Left and 2112, but I’ll never forget my first time hearing those sick drum solos that I’ll never be able to do in 100 years.

Album 12: On Oni Pond by Man Man

Man Man is one of the strangest bands I’ve ever heard. With names of current members like Honus Honus and Pow Pow, and past members like Kritter Krat, Chang Wang, and Turkey Moth, This is a band that prides itself on embracing the strange aspects of life, from living in a storage unit or jokingly starting an interview with a few good minutes of a suicide joke. That’s the kind of band they are, and you can hear every part of their strange life on their album On Oni Pond.

Continue reading →

Album 11: In the Aeroplane Over the Sea by Neutral Milk Hotel

My oh my, this shouldn’t be a surprise. When it comes to bands under the radar their is no album more contested than Neutral Milk Hotel’s In the Aeroplane Over the Sea. Some people call it the threshold that needs to be passed for every new album (and consistently rated in the top five albums of the 90s) , others (as one of my friends called it) ” a mess of hot garbage. It’s literally just young people complaining about life .” Personally I think it’s just… okay. Not perfect or garbage, just okay. Let me explain before everyone grabs some pitchforks and torches.  Continue reading →

Album 10: Crazy For You by Best Coast

This indie garage surf rock band in the local town of Los Angeles, Ca. is the epitome of LA  just by it’s name, Best Coast.

This group is true image in exposing the focused LA struggles. Relationships, my cat, the beach, my weed, but not necessarily in that order. Well that might differentiate amongst others but it is very accurate with Los Angeles hipsters. The vibe Best Coast ripple out in their songs are relaxed, fun, and original. I’d point out other blogs describe this group with a combination of other artists who have similar sounds, but I’m not musically inclined or educated enough in indie garage bands to give out great examples.

This album in particular not including its following albums(The Only Place and California Nights) has a taste for exposing crushes, fear of commitment to relationships and friends with benefits to a crisp T. Lead singer Bethany Cosentino sings of love’s roller coasters and wanting to be near “him” all the time and often romanticizes the beach and summer sunset.
This album is a taste of falling in love ( with someone who loves you back) for the first time. It’s  different and fresh, with this comfort you weren’t aware of that can electrify you in strange moments. Like shaking a can of soda and opening the lid slowly letting all that carbon fructose fizz spill out.
A lot of the songs involve Bethany crooning over unrequited love, but this in fact is a mislead in the lyrics. I believe this is the album, of crushes and falling in love. In Boyfriend Cosentino belts “I wish he was my boyfriend, I’d love him til the very end, but instead he is just a friend.” In The End she  admits “last night I went out with this guy, this guy, he was nice and cute, but he, he wasn’t you.”  Whoever this he is, she has fallen for him hard.

Don’t listen to this in dim lighting with a candle burning or headphones. Save that stuff for Iron and Wine. Save it for when you’re driving around at 2 am to a local party or during a quick run at a 7/11 for some kick ass slurpees. It’s meant to be felt with headlights on the road ahead and wind in your hair.

This album exemplifies love in its yearning and longing for someone in its lyrics, but ricochets a summer vibe great enough to play at a party, bonfire, or if lucky enough a mix for someone special, and yes people still do that.

Album 9: The Mysterious Production of Eggs by Andrew Bird

Halfway through my Sophomore year, a friend tried introducing me to a very strange mix of Imitosis by someone called Andrew Bird. It didn’t turn me on to the sound but it planted the seed and beat for me to discover years later, when I heard this. I then spent hours listening to the entirety of The Mysterious Production of Eggs.

Lyrically, there are few musicians I like more than Andrew Bird. It’s hard to describe his songs as each one is kind of  its own little story. Every little song is a unique look at some of the creative parts of Bird’s mind back in 2005.

The entire A side plays off like so deceptively  innocent, as the first few times you listen to it you won’t notice the lines that talk about “accidental suicide, the kind where no one dies” in Sovay, or “you really should have died, stretched out on the tarmac” in  A Nervous Tic Motion of the Head to the Left (which is one of my top ten favorite songs of all time).

Of course Fake Palindromes takes the cake of for A sides deceptively nice song, with it’s fun beats and electric violin, which is a real instrument that I never knew I needed in my life. Why is it so frightening? Perhaps it’s the lyrics that describe a “dewy-eyed Disney bride” who has formaldehyde in her blood, has committed  fratricide ( or the murder of one’s brother or sister), has blood in her eyes and wants to “drill a tiny hole in your head.” Nightmares guaranteed!

Luckily we get a break from the Lovecraftian nightmares on side B about skin so pale and cold that it is transparent again the buildings downtown in Skin Is, My or how MX Missiles tells us that the subject of the song was “in the ground in late November” because that they weren’t as impervious as they thought. Did I say

Even more bleak is Tables and Chairs, which is just about the end of the world. Bird croons that “after the fall there’ll be no more countries…we’re gonna live on our wits, throw away survival kits.” Of course all is not doomed in the cheerfully bleak future as the song ends claiming that even after all this, there will be snacks.

Then there’s the ultimate gut punch in the form of Happy Birthday Song, the closer for this album. There’s no veil here, Bird just wants someone to sing it to him. He knows that it’s a bit cliche and maybe you don’t mean it but sing it anyway. Sing it “like it’s gonna be your last day here on earth.”

So go ahead, no matter how bleak tomorrow is, face it with a smile and beat that makes you happy.

 

 

Album 8: West Side Story Original Movie Sountrack

As we come to the end of February, it’s impossible not to reflect on the meaning of relationships. Is it really just some kind of biological need to make more people, or is it a real choice that we have? No matter what boat you fall in, we can all agree that there are those who take it to the extremes, and yet are somehow the ultimate love birds. Yeah Romeo and Juliet, I’m looking at you. Lets look at the most famous adaptation of Shakespeare’s famous story that is West Side Story.

I’ll be honest, I hate this show with every fiber of my being. Perhaps it was the connection to my least favorite Shakespeare play, the way death is romanticized, or the fact that having to watch this in school took something away but no matter the cause I can never go through a full showing of this movie. I always stick to the few songs I enjoy.

West Side Story set the standard for movie musicals at the time, and outside of Singing in the Rain is still one of the most successful in its genre.It’s a important film that many view as nearly perfect, or having very little flaws. Well, outside of the whitewashing by getting a white actress to play a Puerto Rican, but it was another time period so there’s no way that would happen today, right?

Right off the bat, the Prologue does a wonderful job creating a great urban atmosphere. You feel the city for all it’s dirt and grime, hear crowds and cars. It’s a wonderful piece of that when added to the Overture is one of Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim’s best. Then all that slips as we get to the Jet Song. While the intro line of ” Once you’re a Jet…” may be famous, the song itself isn’t.

Luckily after the short but enjoyable Something’s coming, we hear more of that wonderful orchestra in Dance at the Gym, which is just a blast. Outside of one other song, which we will get to, this is my favorite piece. A fun time to listen to, this song makes me want to dance.

Of course, this being the month of love, there’s two songs we are here for. We’ll start with the obvious in Maria. A song that is tried and true, Maria may just be the song I like the least in the whole film. It’s sung beautifully but it’s just, somehow desperate. You just met this girl, that’s not love!

At least Tonight is a wonderful ballad, lyrically it’s much better. The stage version in particular does a great job of showing the great contrast of this budding love and the impending doom of the two gangs preparing to fight. Of course, we only remember the duet and fact that these kids have known each other for hours!

Why can’t all these songs be like the great Officer Krupke and tackle the fact that the Sharks feel like they’ve been let down by America (the place) so they owe nothing to no one! Perhaps even the fantastic America (the song) where you have to face the fact that “…things are alright in America, if you are white in America!” Lyrics that some still hold true today when you look at the political climate.

Nope, we stick to the “sappy” story of two kids thinking just based on looks that they were meant to be, and that life is fun and games until you stab someone to death.