Friday, August 24, 2007

Rockingest Accordion Ever?

Apparently Gogol Bordello has been around for a while, but their recent album "Super Taranta" was my first exposure to them. I don't know exactly how to classify this music (err...seems to be a theme of mine on this blog), but I guess you could call it Eastern European Gypsy Rock. Whatever the hell it is, I like it. There is indeed some rocking accordion playing, as well as violin and the usual rock band instruments (and, um, fire buckets). The lead singer slips in and out of Ukranian and heavily accented English, but what lyrics I can understand are fairly entertaining. One of my favorite tracks is "American Wedding":

Have you ever been to American wedding?
Where is the vodka, where's the marinated herring?
Where is the supply that gonna last three days?
Where is the musicians that got the taste?

Indeed, where are they? I'd love to see these guys live. I like to play this album loud on Friday in right now while I'm posting this. It's incredibly energetic, fairly ridiculous, but ultimately very entertaining. Imagine Olaf from Clerks singing "Berserker" crossed with...Fiddler on the Roof? I dunno...just give it a shot.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Are You Havin' a Laugh?

The British version of The Office would be a hard act to follow for anyone, but Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant make a good run of it with Extras. I just finished watching the rest of the second season the other night, as well as all the bonus features, which were nearly as funny as the show. I was consistently amazed at what they got some of these famous actors and actresses to do.
A lot of it is just as painful as parts of The Office, but that's part of the charm. I think Bison Whisperer would back me up on that. Definitely worth checking out.

Wackity Schmackity Doo!

If you're in the mood for buying a comedy CD, I would recommend Patton Oswalt's Werewolves and Lollipops. It's dork humor at its finest. It comes with a DVD of most of the set.

At midnight I will kill George Lucas with a shovel...

Monday, August 13, 2007

Weird, but in a good way

So as you guys probably know (or might assume) I haven't been seeing much live music lately. Actually none since Linus was born. But that changed Saturday night. Annette's cousin's boyfriend has been traveling the US this past summer as a member of the band Bluegrazz Berlin. A dean of their college back in Berlin who's in his 70s now has been dreaming for years of assembling some of the more musically talented students into a band and taking them on tour. He plays the banjo and is passionate about bluegrass (he's American), and this summer he made his dream come true. He took anywhere from 5-8 twenty-somethings--the band size fluctuated a bit over the summer--and took them all over the country. They came from a very international school, so besides the Germans and a few Americans, the lead singer is Polish and the fiddler is Hungarian.

So yeah, that a long way of saying I saw a German/Polish/Hungarian/American Bluegrass/Jazz fusion band Saturday night, in some rich person's back yard in Amherst, MA. If it sounds weird, it worked surprisingly well. The Polish singer's voice was really good, and the alto-saxophonist (who comprised the jazz portions of things) integrated his instrument into the bluegrass and folk songs relatively seamlessly. The weather was perfect, though I guess it's a little hard to keep a banjo in tune on a somewhat humid summer night. But the stars were out, the crickets were chirping in the was pretty sweet.

I don't really know why I'm sharing this, other than that it was one of the more surreal musical experiences I've ever had. I know they did a few things in the studio and recorded most of their shows, so if Bluegrazz Berlin comes out with an album I'll let you know...

Friday, August 10, 2007

Underrated Albums

1. Joy Division: Closer. I have this on vinyl, and I recently got it digitally. Oh so great sad homo music.

2. Jawbreaker: Unfun. A formative punk album of my youth that just keeps getting better.

3. The Unicorns: Who Will Cut Our Hair When We Are Gone. Stupidly dorky fun.

4. Courtney Love: America's Sweetheart. I love that coked-up bitch.

5. Toy Dolls: A Far Out Disc. 80's comic punk, and still funny (and fun to dance to).

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Top 10 albums of 2007 so far

In response to DNAguy's question about top 12 albums of 2007 so far, here's mine (in no particular order of importance):

1) Spoon: Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga
2) Andrew Bird: Armchair Apocrypha
3) Menomena: Friend and Foe
4) Wilco: Sky Blue Sky
5) Fountains of Wayne: Traffic and Weather
6) Feist: The Reminder
7) Bright Eyes: Cassadaga
8) Gogol Bordello: Super Taranta!
9) Modest Mouse: We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank
10) Sarah Borges and The Broken Singles: Diamonds in the Dark

This list is subject to change without warning

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Three Albums Everyone Should Hear

Though I've been listening to a lot of new music lately, there are three older albums that I really want to push on people. They're albums I've purchased within the last couple years (though at least one is probably around three years old now) that I would consider the musical equivalent of comfort food. Generally when I buy a CD, I listen to it 3-5 times, copy it onto my computer, and then I'll sporadically hear songs from it if it pops up on my iPod. But I listened to these CDs a lot more, and I continue to listen to them in fairly regular rotation. Please consider checking them out if you haven't done so already:
1) Matt Costa - Songs We Sing
These are not particularly complex songs. I can't even tell you exactly why I like this album so much. It's a lot of poppy, generally happy hooks. It's kind of Jack Johnson-y (and I think the two are actually buddies) in that his voice is pretty easy to listen to and there's that surfer laid-backedness to it all. It's also one of those rare albums that I liked after the very first listen, and I have yet to introduce it to anyone who hasn't subsequently liked it (though I never got DNAguy's opinion, so maybe he hated it). This album is probably the lightest and easiest to listen to of the three.

2) Jim White - Drill a Hole in That Substrate and Tell Me What You See
This album might take a little more warming up to for some people. The songs are long--some as long 5-6 minutes. It's also kind of a country-ish album. Not Garth Brooks-country (am I dating myself with that reference? Sorry...), but it's definitely a little rural sounding. But Jim White has a way with words that make the songs sound not so much written as crafted. Here are a couple lines from what's probably my favorite song on the album, "That Girl From Brownsville Texas":
"Guess I been busy killing time counting bullet holes in state line signs./ I led a life of lonely drifting trying to rise above the buzzards
in my mind. /You get dizzy chasing 'round the tail of what you need to leave behind. Oh sweet Jesus, won't you help me?/'Cause all I'm trying to do is plant them seeds of love with that girl from Brownsville, Texas."

Anyway, it's good. If I knew how to put audio up here, I would. It's easier to appreciate if you hear him singing it.
3) Andrew Bird - The Mysterious Production of Eggs
And finally we have the album that I've probably listened to the most in the past two years. Andrew Bird plays the electric violin, he whistles, and he makes music like nothing else I've heard. This is his second to latest album. His new album, Armchair Apocrypha is very good, as are the two albums before TMPOG, but it's this album that initially got me hooked. Another album that I liked upon my first listen, these songs are much more complex both musically and lyrically compared to the previous two. Even after multiple, multiple listens, I still pick out bits of songs I hadn't noticed before. And though whistling can often sound gimmicky, it really works here. I really can't recommend this album enough. He's also incredible live--easily the best show I've been to since I've been back in Boston. Please check him out if you haven't done so already.

P.S.--sorry for the crazy font sizes. I tried to fix it but they just seem to be stuck.