Tuesday, August 25, 2009

"Real Fan?"

I try to keep my posts positive. There is so much music to try to write about so it would be silly if I did a review of Celine Dion, and gave it the treatment it deserved. That would accomplish nothing as I have never been a fan of hers. But, I will write from time to time about bands that I love that later make me say, "say it ain't so."
One such case is Pearl Jam. I got a listen to an advance copy of Ten by a good friend of mine. I was hooked and showed up at the Music Warehouse to buy my cassette copy the day it was released. I delivered pizzas at the time and was in my car 40 hrs a week and played nothing but that album for a few months. I physically destroyed two copies of the tape from playing it so much. I subsequently was at the music store to purchase both Vs. and Vitalogy. I saw them play at Lollapalooza and saw them at Soldier Field off Vitalogy. I bought a bootleg box set of 5 cd's called Hallucinogenic Recipe for $125.00. I knew all the arcane trivia (pre -internet) from reading every interview possible.
Then came Merkinball with Neil Young in 1995 and Eddies vocals and the bands sound has never been the same. I am not a Neil Young fan and like his effect on other musicians even less. After this album Eddie's vocals and the Pearl Jam sound changed. The ensuing album, No Code is the lowest point of Pearl Jams sound. It is a straight forward classic rock tinged pedestrian sound. The band was way too young to be turning into a classic rock band. I bought the following album, Yield , hoping the previous one was a mirage. I can't tell you how many people said it was "better than No Code". Well, that's saying something.
Now I hear everyone say how great Pearl Jam is. Maybe they are one of the few 90's Seattle bands left so people are giving them a wide berth. As I often have people tell me, that's what "real fans" do, they support whatever the band does. Wow, I couldn't disagree more. The reason you got into the band in the first place is because the music moved you so much.
It seems to me that the band may have been given an ultimatum and Eddie ended up with way more say to the finished product than he should. Maybe he learned how to co-opt a band with a power play, from Neil Young who was deft at elbowing his way into other bands (Crazy Horse, Peter Paul and Mary).
And now comes news of the Target deal with Pearl Jam. Can't wait to see those commercials. Shades of Bono's news conference from K Mart or Metallica's Versace get up and videos and blues-stomp rock for The Black Album. Sometimes a band can disappoint you so much that you know you will never make your way back.
Say it ain't so.

Album Review- Perishers - Let There Be Morning (Nettwerk 2005)

From the beginning of the piano chords on the opening track "Weekend"the simple melodies of this album suck you in. This Swedish group fronted by Ola Kluft's at once whisper quiet and the next moment soaring vocals are reminiscent of the likes of Coldplay, Travis and Snow Patrol. They are certainly their own band though as they have been making music for over 10 years.
Blurts of bright sounding guitar "My Heart" is used selectively throughout the album to good effect. The sleepy strings on "Still Here" brings this group close to the formula that one too many groups use with the piano lead with the lush strings that has been overdone for some time now, but they skirt this line nicely as each of the band members has input, like bass player Pehr Astrom on"Sill Here" and makes them sound like a band and not a one man project.
With a group like the Perishers one of the most important facets is the songwriting which is very strong on Let There Be Morning. On "Pills" Ola slyly sings 'I hope my smile can distract you I hope my fists can fight for two'. At times the lyrics are winsome and at others are a mellow, hazy and happy like on the title track.
At first listen this band is similar to a lot of bands, the piano lead, whispered vocals and strings. What separates this band is that they are a band. You can hear the influence of each member. Nice little surprises like the trumpet and the hint of a organ on the title track keep the listener from falling into a rut. The melodies here are spot on the songwriting very strong.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

My iTunes Wishlist

I tunes is a great service. It allows you to archive all of your music for free. It has the genius and dj modes to mix your own music. It is very intuitive and expandable in many ways. It has become the brand name of the mp3 like Jello is to gelatin. But, like everything, it could use some improving. It is amazing to think it has not evolved more since it has the cash backing of Apple and all of the overpriced music it sells there.
My gripes are as follows:
1) you should be able to change the genre description to something that makes sense to you. When I uploaded my collection of Bebel Gilberto it put her music into 3 different categories, where I would only put it in 1. I would love to be able to call a grouping "Net Music" or "Jamendo", because in my mind I don't think of the music by style as much as by where I found it.
2) You should be able to get a complete list of your albums on iTunes the same way you can get a list of songs.
3)Also when you backup your music it only allows you to back all the music up or music since the last backup. Well then if you are backing up to a dvd it's hard to tell exactly how much music you've added since the last back-up. It should have either a list of those songs or at least a mb/gig number. I have over 1700 albums, so it's hard to keep track of.
There are more right things about iTunes than wrong, but I would really love it if I could do these few things. Maybe some of these are frowned upon by the record labels and their dwindling influence still has sway on iTunes. Can't wait until the big labels are completely neutralized.
If you have any thoughts on this, or if I can already do some of these things I'm complaining about and just don't know it, please leave a comment.

Concert review : Trashcan Sinatras at Schubas in Chicago

I recently was turned on to the Scottish pop band the Trashcan Sinatras by a good friend. Unfortunately I did not get to listen to all of their stuff before seeing the concert, so I didn't know it by heart. I did listen enough to know the melodies though and really enjoyed them live. The Sinatras have a full sound that reminds me a little bit of Crowded House. Both bands craft songs that feature well written and heartfelt songs that are accompanied by killer melodies and all band members chip in which leads to the "full" sound I spoke of.
Schubas is my favorite place to see shows in Chicago. The sound is very even and the sound carries thanks to the gratuitous amount of wood in the room. About 150 people fill the room so it's cozy. The crowd at the Sinatras show was filled with many fans who have seen the band all over the world. I talked to people who had seen them in Japan and Ireland. After watching the band perform both passionately and professionally, I could see why fans travel to see this band. They connected well with the audience and played off one another well.
If you get a chance to see them I highlt recommend it.

I'm Back

It's been a little while since i've posted. I have moved for the 7th time in ten years and am just coming out of the end of fixing the place up. Lots of painting and woodworking and shopping. Now i'm ready to start posting again.