Archive for the ‘The Soundtrack of Our Lives’ Category


StuckinthechimneyThis is the second Parasol records Christmas sampler.  I was more excited about this one, but it turns out to be similarly mid-tempo and kind of dull.  Even the band I was excited about The Soundtrack of Our Lives created an uninspired song that I’d never listen to more than once.

THE SOUNDTRACK OF OUR LIVES-“Jingle Hell (Stuck in the Chimney)” Done to the basic music of “Blister in the Sun” (but slightly different and on keyboard)—a punk blast which then gets really silly full of nonsense.  If this had been an indicator of the rest of the album, I may have enjoyed it more.  THE GREEN PAJAMAS-“O Holy Night” Guitar based, pretty if a little slow.  WHITE TOWN-“December” Nice harmonies a pretty song (even if the lyrics are rather dark).  NEILSON HUBBARD-“Merry Christmas (Whereever You May Be)”  I love that it opens with a toy piano (always fun) but then it slows down way too much.  ABSINTHE BLIND-“Silent Night” Guitar version (which is a nice change).  This is a quiet song with lots of singers—pretty but not sappy.  FONDA-“Last Christmas” I don’t generally like this song (what a weird sentiment) but this version’s simple strummed guitar is cool.  SUKILOVE-“X-Mas for Aliens” Slide guitar and a blues riff propel this slow, funny song.  GEORGE USHER GROUP-“Christmas in the Lion’s Den” Rocking guitar with a heavyish riff.  JENNIFER JACKSON-“Blue Christmas” Slow sad version of the song on simple guitar and vocals.  ERIK VOEKS-“Cruel Tide” A slow minor key riff lets you know this song is not a happy one.  DOLEFUL LIONS-“Jesus Christ” A slow song (I mean jeez look at their name) about Jesus’ birth.  VITESSE-“Ice & Ribbons” a new wave sound, but rather mopey.  FRIENDS OF SOUND-“I Don’t Want Presents” Cool guitar notes and interesting sounds but slow drawly female vocals.  JOHN HOEFFLEUR AND REBECCA RURY AND STEVE UCHEREK-“Christmas @ Friedrich’s” With his deep voice folkie guitar (sounds a bit like Mike Doughty) this song (which is kind of funny) is probably the catchiest song on both discs.  TOOTHPASTE 2000-“7-ELEVEN CHRISTMAS” I enjoyed Toothpaste 2000 on the other disc too.  This one is weird sounding fun and of course it being about 7-11 is also amusing. Then a rocking guitar comes in, and it’s even better.  JOE ALGERI-“Computer Xmas” Light song about getting cool stuff for Christmas.

Overall this disc is better than the first one.  But it’s not something I want to put on a lot.

[READ: December 15, 2014] Tune: Vanishing Point

I love everything Derek Kirk Kim does.  But this series may be the best one yet.  It is funny, it has great art and it is ever surprising.

Andy Go, an art student wakes up to find himself in, a replica of his house being watched by a whole bunch of aliens.  What the heck?

We flash back to see Andy and his two art school friends congratulating themselves on finishing yet another year of school.  They bemoan their lack of coolness until Yumi, the girl who Andy has a massive crush on, comes over.  She celebrates with them and they all wonder what they will do next year.  Until Andy says that he is dropping out of school.  He says he doesn’t need a piece of paper to say that he is an artist.  He has applied for jobs all over the place and they should just come pouring in.  You know what that means. (more…)

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 nothing canSOUNDTRACK: DJANGO DJANGO-Django Django (2011).

220px-Django_Django_Album_CoverI heard about this band when “Default” became a kind of alt rock standard.  It got a little overplayed, but there was something so catchy and yet so slightly odd about it that I really wanted to hear more.  So when I heard how catchy and fun “Hail Bop” proved to be, I knew it was time to check out the whole album.

And the album is full of quirky, delightful songs.  In fact, despite how weird the album cover art is, it actually represents the sounds of the album pretty well.  It’s a kind of arid looking desert but with a futuristic weird alien thing scampering amidst it.  Thus, there are acoustic twangy guitars underpinning the songs that are liberally sprinkled with oddball sci-fi sounds and tweaks of gloriously fun synths.

The album has a completely cohesive feel (which I believe comes from the sunny vibe and the beautiful harmonies), and yet there is a great amount of diversity in the music.  Many of the songs are synth heavy and catchy, but not dance rock at all.  “Waveforms” is a strange song with synths being manipulated over a heavy drum beat.  But it’s those vocals (especially in the chorus) that elevate the song above the mechanical nature of the music.  “Zumm Zumm” is even weirder with the kind of sci-fi effects that get thrown around, and yet that chorus once again is really pretty.  And “Default” sounds like it is skittering and repeating as it pounds away–a strange and infectious single.

But for all the weirdness, “Hail Bop” is a supremely catchy sweet song.  And “Firewater” is propelled by a low bass with acoustic guitars on top.   Reference points for me include Super Furry Animals and The Soundtrack of Our Lives, neither one glaringly obvious sign posts but they have that same harmony filled vibe.  See especially “Love’s Dart” another catchy song with a fun twangy Western feels.  There’s mellow guitar on “Hand of Man” and there’s a surf guitar stomper in “Wor” and more stomping drums in “Storm.”

My album contains some extra remixes.  I’m not a big fan of remixes so these are needless additions (and add about 20 minutes  to the total running time).  But that’s got little to do with the album itself, which is really a treat for fans of poppy quirky rock.

[READ: August 2014] Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong

Sarah gave me this book for my birthday because we both like Faith Erin Hicks (and we both like First Second books).  And I was not disappointed.

Obviously, a title like this leads you to conclude that everything will go wrong, and it pretty much does.  The cover image doesn’t quite convey what’s at stake in the story, although closer inspection reveals a kind of geeks (the ones with glasses) and cheerleader (the ones in uniforms) vibe.  Which this story certainly has.

Nate and Charlie are old friends.  Charlie is the captain of the basketball team and Nate is the president of the robotics club.  But unlike a typical pairing of these two types, Charlie is laid back and totally mellow while Nate is neurotic and angry with a huge chip on his shoulder.

As the story opens, Charlie has just been dumped by his girlfriend, the head cheerleader. Charlie doesn’t seem so upset by it but Nate is furious (as usual).  Of course, he is mostly furious because he thinks that Charlie is still with Holly and because the cheerleaders have declared war on the robotics team.  Specifically, they are trying to take the science funding to use for new uniforms (can this actually happen in school?  It happens in fictional schools all the time).  Obviously there’s nothing that Charlie can do about it, so he just goes home, allowing Nate to stew.

But mellow Charlie also has a dark storyline.  There’s a note from his dad telling him to call his mom to which he says “Yeah, that’s not happening.”  We learn a smattering of information about why Charlie is mad at his mom, and it is clear that their feud is going to build to a head before the story ends.  So tension is definitely present in the story. (more…)

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