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An Open Letter to the Music Industry: Top 3 Worst Albums of the Decade

January 1, 2010 Leave a comment

Dear Music Industry,

I forgive you.

There, I said it. I forgive you for your offenses. I suppose you want an explanation, especially considering both my and Andy’s recent compliments on some of the fine music you’ve provided my ears over the past ten years. But, quite frankly, that barely validates some of the crap you’ve assaulted my ears with. You need a list? Fine, but know this is in no way exhaustive, and in no particular order. You see, I’ve been Music Director for eight months, and, while I’ve been on the forefront of discovering such beauties as Passion Pit’s Manners and Phoenix’s Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix, I’ve had to slog through some crappy music. So much crap that takes crappiness to such a new level that if I even tried to be exhaustive or create some sort of crap hierarchy, my brain would melt. I’ll be updating this list as I get pissed off, so check back often.

Now, on to some of the biggest offenders of the century.

Brokencyde – I’m Not a Fan… But the Kids Like It

Alright, so at least these guys are honest in their intentions: they announce in their album title that they aren’t into it, but they’re sure as hell going to sell out where they can. Let’s take a brief listen. I’m sorry for doing this to you:

So, right from the start, we get a zither (probably synthesized), followed by the triumvirate of CRAP. We get barely-passable hip-hop and the cutesy going-to-hit-puberty-any-minute male vocalist, but those aren’t the worst offenses. No, if you listen, there’s a guy whose primary job is to scream incoherently (secondary job: looking like the devil-spawn of Steven Tyler and James Iha, tertiary job: singing occasionally to keep his vocal cords from shattering). This crap is atrocious, an atrocity to the point of hilarity. Much of this humour comes from the fact that these guys seem to think repeating “Get Drunk/Get Crunk” for five minutes is worthwhile songwriting. Yeah, John Lennon just rolled over in his friggin’ graves, assholes.

Guns ‘N Roses – Chinese Democracy

So this one is special. We waited for this one for longer than this past decade; hell, the recording of Chinese Democracy started back in the ’90’s, including cameos from seemingly every worthwhile musician on the planet. Hell, Tommy Stinson from The Replacements and Buckethead were both in this band at some point (see Wikipedia for a full list of everyone who contributed to this monstrosity). Note that almost none of these cameos actually made it to the disc. What did make it, though, was this:

I don’t even know what the hell inspired that (I suppose it was a leftover idea from the Buckethead experiment that wasn’t executed appropriately when Axl tried it himself). This crap came from the band that gave us “Sweet Child O’ Mine” and “Welcome to the Jungle.” Say what you will about it, but those songs are anthems. Those songs rock. This crap doesn’t. Want to know why? It likely sucks because everyone from GnR Classic is no longer in the band. Yep, no Slash, no Duff McKagan, none of them; actually, they’re all in the questionably-good and now dismantled Velvet Revolver. This GnR is slimmed down to just Axl, and let’s just say that this vintage sucks for the band. Fifteen years of festering didn’t do this thing any good.

Weezer – Raditude

What happened to the days when Weezer rocked? There was once a day when this band put out the legendary Blue Album, and even the mighty Pinkerton, but now frontman Rivers Cuomo has a Harvard education and absolutely no remnants of songwriting talent. Back when Rivers was a Dungeons & Dragons-loving teen, he wrote “In the Garage,” and it felt natural. Fourteen years and three uninspired albums later, we get the Red Album, where Cuomo moans about his high school days and how much of a badass he was. It was so forced and calculated that no one expected there to be any echelons left for the band to fall to, then we get this in 2009:

Yes, 2009’s Raditude redefines the Harvard alumnus’s plummet toward relative obscurity and shameless, calculated album sales. Yes, it’s official, Lil Wayne has now appeared on every human being’s record, including the giants that put out “My Name is Jonas.” This album is so bad that I retroactively hate 90’s era Weezer.

I’ll likely add more to this list as I go, but for now I’ll leave it be. Like I said, there’s too much crappy music out there, and I try to repress my memories of it anyway.

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Categories: Roundups Tags: ,

Happy Holidays!

December 25, 2009 1 comment

The WRBB Music Dept. would like to wish you all a non-denominative, equal-access, non-impositioning Happy Holidays!

Categories: Uncategorized

WRBB Statistics: Top 10 Albums of the Decade by Spins

December 19, 2009 Leave a comment

Alright, so now for the objective Best-of-the-Decade according to how often the album was played on WRBB in the past ten years. The albums below are ranked based on numbers of on-air spins from January 1, 2000 to December 19, 2009. These are NOT my opinion, but are ranked from our own Spinitron catalog.

  1. In an Aeroplane Over the Sea – – Neutral Milk Hotel
  2. Gimme Fiction – – Spoon
  3. In Rainbows – – Radiohead
  4. You Forgot It In People – – Broken Social Scene
  5. CROSS – – Justice
  6. Discovery – – Daft Punk
  7. I Get Wet – – Andrew WK
  8. In Case We Die – – Architecture in Helsinki
  9. Absolution – – Muse
  10. The Body, The Blood, The Machine – – The Thermals

There you have it, the most typical 21st Century college radio top 10 list ever.
In An Aeroplane Over the SeaGimme FictionIn RainbowsYou Forgot It In PeopleCROSS
DiscoveryI Get WetIn Case We DieAbsolutionThe Body, The Blood, The Machine

Categories: Roundups Tags: , , ,

Statistics for 104.9FM WRBB: Top Albums of 2009 by Spins

December 13, 2009 1 comment

So, before I go into my own sort of top ten, I figure I’ll let you know what albums WRBB has spun the most. The albums below are ranked based on numbers of on-air spins from January 1, 2009 to December 13, 2009. These are NOT my opinion, but are ranked from our own Spinitron catalog.

  1. Veckatimest – – Grizzly Bear (While I knew this would be up there, did NOT see it being #1!)
  2. Manners – – Passion Pit (Saw this coming, so deserved it)
  3. Merriwether Post Pavilion – – Animal Collective
  4. Idlewild South – – Allman Brothers Band (What the hell?! I wish I were joking when I put this up here, but this is literally #4!)
  5. Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix – – Phoenix
  6. Fleet Foxes – – Fleet Foxes
  7. Noble Beast – – Andrew Bird
  8. Fantasies – – Metric
  9. Monsters of Folk – – Monsters of Folk
  10. It’s Blitz! – – Yeah Yeah Yeahs

So, as you can see, with the exception of #4 (which makes NO SENSE), it’s a pretty steady college indie rock lineup. Stay tuned for my personal top ten of 2009, since Judd already started nailing the decade.

Categories: Roundups, Uncategorized Tags: ,

El Ten Eleven at the Middle East Downstairs (courtesy of Matt Burton)

December 10, 2009 Leave a comment

El Ten Eleven opens their Monday night show at the Middle East with an upbeat, punchy bass line, followed by a layering of melodic and harmonic lines that sounds like it would take three or four guitarists to handle. Yet El Ten Eleven is only two people, Kristian Dunn (bass) and Tim Fogarty (drums). Although fans are quick to recognize the iconic double neck Carvin guitar/bass that is responsible for many of the bands songs, Kristian says that he considers himself a bassist, “Most of what I do on guitar is just messing around,” having grown up working out songs from his favorite bands in his youth. “We didn’t have tabs back then,” he says, “I’d spend hours in my bedroom trying to figure out songs” from his favorite bands. As the band follows up their opening song (from their currently in progress next album) with two songs off of their second album “Every Direction is North”, it’s easy to see that this perseverance has paid off. The two-piece sounds as tight live as they do on the recordings, which is impressive considering the amount of material and gear they have to manage. But unlike electronica duo Ratatat, to whom the band is often compared, you won’t find any laptops on stage. While Kristian relies on looping pedals to achieve the band’s sound without additional members, Tim combines an electronic drum kit with his normal acoustic set, everything is done live and manually. Tim says that his electronic kit offers more diverse sounds than he can get from even a truckload of snare drums. El Ten Eleven combines electronic and pop influences into a tight, instrumental package.

While comparisons to the aforementioned Ratatat and other electronic acts such as MSTRKRFT, equally abundant are comparisons to post rock bands such as Explosions in the Sky (of Friday Night Lights fame). One website describes their sounds as “Justice meets Tortoise”, although when I asked Kristian if bands like Tortoise and Explosions were much of an influence, his answer was “No. Honestly, it [post-rock] bores me. Our songs aren’t like that, they’re more like pop songs”. This is especially evident if you listen to their latest album, “These Promises are Being Videotaped”. With bass-heavy techno-style tracks like “Jumping Frenchmen of Maine” and “I Like Van Halen Because My Sister Says They Are Cool”, any musical similarities to Tortoise begin to fade – in fact, the band recently toured with Justice. Although the change in style from their previous two albums may have alienated fans, Kristian says they have been generally supportive and excited about the new tunes. I myself was a little on the fence about “Promises” (being more of a Tortoise fan than a Justice one), but after a few listens it definitely began to grow on me, and seeing them – no, hearing them play the songs live was amazing. Their set consisted of songs from all three albums and a few covers, including Radiohead’s Paranoid Android, and a new cover of Joy Divisions “Disorder” in the encore, along with fan favorites like “I like Van Halen…” and “My Only Swerving”.

Although they say they are currently thinking about signing with a record label, they’ve released three albums now without the help of one – all available for download from the bands site. Taking another page out of Radiohead’s book, the downloads are priced at whatever you want to pay (CD’s are also available for about $10). While some might question the financial savvy of essentially relying on your fans’ generosity, Kristian says that “We actually started making more money when we started doing the tip jar thing”. “A lot of people still download it for free, but then they come to the show and feel kinda bad and buy a CD. I think it’s great – if they didn’t like it, they wouldn’t be at the show or buying a CD”. Looking at the cheering crowd packed into the Middle East upstairs, I would say it’s definitely paid off. Despite difficulties on the road, like having their van broken into, the band presses on. If you ever get the chance, I would highly recommend seeing them live, but at the very least you should download their albums, whether you pay or not – you’ve got nothing to lose and everything to love about El Ten Eleven.

-This review was provided courtesy of WRBB DJ Matt Burton

Categories: Interview, Review Tags: , ,

“Rush” – – Black Gold

November 8, 2009 Leave a comment

These days, it’s impossible to label something with just a genre. You can’t be hardcore, you’re “screamo post-metalcore.” You can’t just be pop, you’re “psychadelic girlpop with a psychobilly tinge.” Part of it is musical evolution, and that’s a good thing. Black Gold’s debut is fairly good at this mixing of genres, but it makes the album a little hard to get behind, just because they haven’t finished their trek to finished band.

The disc starts with “Detroit,” a pop song with airy vocals and heavy beats. The piano adds a nice touch. Effectively, it’s like they’re taking the beats and legitimacy of Passion Pit and mixing it with the sexy pop of the Friendly Fires. The second track, “Plans & Reveries,” tries to be a pop anthem, but it just makes it generic but trying the big catchy choruses on for size. It’s hard to sing along to, which is a no-no for pop music.

Track three, “Breakdown,” has me mixed. Now the track is a sexy dance song, but it tends to fall flat in the chorus. Now, this was the moment that I remembered that I had seen this band live, opening for (lol) Jaguar Love. I remembered this track because it was hot as hell. It was a dance INFERNO in the Middle East Upstairs. The track on the album does not reflect this very well. This gives me hope that they just don’t translate to tape well.

Then we get to track 5, “Silver,” which is a Jet-a-la-Shine-On pseudo-folk ditty that just doesn’t do much for me at all, especially in the world we’re in that inundates everything with “folk.” Track 6, “Shine,” doesn’t improve much, though it does have a vaguely Sondre Lerche feel to it that I can appreciate.

Basically, the end of the line is that the first four tracks are some hot electro-pop, the next four are folk-y parlor tunes, and the album ends on some underwhelming Third Eye Blind/Semisonic type tunes. Grab “Detroit” and “Breakdown” and call it a day; seeing these guys live is totally worth it, but Rush leaves me mostly unimpressed.

Categories: Review Tags: ,

Exclusive Interview: Candice Night of Blackmore’s Night

October 24, 2009 Leave a comment

(It seems the link has expired; I will be re-uploading it shortly)
Categories: Interview Tags: ,