Monday, July 30, 2012

Ravings PII: All music blogs are terrible and useless.

While we* were at the Newport Folk Festival this past weekend ("we" being actual "we," not our fond royal "we"), we were pondering something. We're not exactly sure how to put this, but here's where the idea was started: during one of the sets, it started raining. Another media-type beside us (most likely, tag hidden under a coat) started texting or tweeting or some sort of thing on his phone. While it was raining. Drops hit on the screen, and still "bip, bop, boop" and all that good stuff.
Here then, is the thought: how stupid are we? As in "we, the media," not people in general or us in specifically, the royal "we."
We specifically are pretty awesome, as far as media(ish)-types go.

Still, we're reporting (or soon to report) on the Newport Folk Festival, a live venue obviously, and how useful is it to you, the music purchaser (commonly known as "y'all") to hear what we have to say - or tweet - well after the fact. It is one thing to recommend an album you guys may go into the record store to pick up, but to give a review of bands you may or may not have wanted to see, and well after you're able to see them, what good does that do y'all?
We think we have the solution.

The problem, first, is that blogs are terrible. They are brown-nosing, grubby, tweedling little trolls that thrive on coolness law of "I was there, therefore I am." This only makes brown-nosing worse. While we respect that bands and musicians take years, not months or weekends or coffee breaks, to learn their instruments, and several more to hone their sound and develop their voices, honest media show respect through, erm, honesty. Really. Not that we care about all that, but we've heard good things about it. Just so y'all (the readers) know where we all (reviewers) are coming from.

We get free music. We review said free music, and get why a person might get antsy to write something good about it. So in our honest experience, we find the large music-bloggery to be largely a waste of time. Play Scrabble instead. Walk the dog already. In who-knows-how-many-years we still haven't found a good critic with our particular tastes, so we're not expecting you to, either. Yes, really. Don't be afraid to turn off the computer, cause is not the only place that will play Super Ultimate Superband's "Super Single." If they're really that good, you'll probably hear them around somewhere else, right? Deductive reasoning, b##ches.

(Obviously, it's important to keep on your $800 iPhone through rain and snow and tornadoes - no exceptions.)

Blogs come and blogs go, but that cash spent on "A Salt-n-Pepa Christmas" never comes back. Keep that in mind when you can't scrape two nickles for an old Creedence vinyl.

*All of that ranting above - we're obviously the exception. Of course. Certainly feel free to comment below on where/how you find good music, it can sometimes be quite a process. Above all, enjoy,

Friday, July 27, 2012

Kiwanuka's debut takes us home... yet again

Michael Kiwanuka - Home Again
Interscope Records
-out now
3 / 5

The heartfelt Brit has been making quite a splash on the other side of the pond there; his debut full-length has garnered comparisons to soul icons including Bill Withers and vintage vinyl sound. Sonically, these comparisons are fairly accurate: take a warm voice and soft guitar, and maybe you get one of James Talyor's contemporaries. Maybe. But as much as we like the opener, Taylor's session-man Kiwanuka is not - if you get that particular grammar. The title track is a fairly run-of-the-mill "gotta be movin' on" kinda thing, and if you peruse the other titles on this album, you'll pretty much come up with the rest of the songs on your own. The thing is, Kiwanuka really does have a good voice, but the material doesn't come up to challenge that; moreover, it doesn't let Kiwanuka bare his teeth, it doesn't show anything other than a sweet, sentimental singer crooning a few out before you push your shopping cart around again. That is to say, despite his good voice (and the fantastic production values - check out the muted trumpets, flutes, half an orchestra), Home Again hits the "again" note more than the "home" one: this debut is a diminishing return to the age of classic singer-songwriters, baring heart but not wisdom. It's nice for a spin or two, but we're going to hold out until Kiwanuka really startles us with something new. Take a pass for now.

Listen to a few on his website.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Everything is Dawes Tour 2012

[Photo © Men's Journal 2011] So, these guys. Again. They're hitting up the Newport Folk Festival this year, and afterwards are pulling up their lobster traps in New England the following weekend.
So, we aren't the hugest fans of their sophomore album, we'll be quite honest, but we are big fans of these guys as musicians and, well, as guys. So much so that we're erroneously naming their opening for Mumford and Sons on several country-wide dates the "Everything is Dawes Tour, 2012." Let talent be called out: most of the NE dates are filled up, but we espy an couple openings in Vermont and NY *pshaw* for those lucky enough to grab them (July 31 and Aug. 7, respectively). Our fingers are crossed to catch them at the PPAC in little Rhody on the 6th... perhaps close enough to smell the Goldsmiths' hair...
Just kidding. Honestly. But we do recommend a quick recap of these guys-es stuff, starting with Taylor Goldsmith's collab on Middle Brother - "Blood and Guts" (monster pipes) and "Million Dollar Bill" (stellar penning) to name a couple. We're going to catch up on their debut full-length North Hills when we have a breather from overcrowding them at the NFF, and we strongly suggest you do, too. Not overcrowd, that's not nice; but we figure you all still have almost a week to snag a tic for you and a buddy/ potential date. Or a buddy's date, we won't judge. After she hears "Blood and Guts," she probably won't either.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Chris Price's debut a bit more than Homesick

Chris Price - Homesick
PTB Music
-out now
2 / 5

It takes an L.A. weirdo like Chris Price to record his debut entirely on an iPhone, and quite frankly, he made a pro call on it: Price has a kind of a very slight basement glaze over the audio, the kind that small acts pay a ton to get up to, or that big acts pay even more to take their sound down to. We appreciate his ear for the subtle color, and moreso his reasoning behind it - taking the recording process back to old school, via The Beatles and (yes!) The Kinks. Despite the trip down nostalgia drive, there is a sizable speed bump here: Price's material ain't a Tiger in the Tank. The songs on his solo debut run the gamut of foot-stomping pop - "Up in Flames" - to the tenderer stuff ("For All We Know," much of the others), but really, we're trying to scrap up a reason to replace your (unnecessarily) embarrassing John Mayer playlist with this album. There simply isn't much here that gives us a sense of how Price's personality; his acoustic guitar and often-gentle vocals don't really distinguish him much, if at all, from the ocean of like-minded sensitive contenders. And to be honest, The Beatles (and certainly neither The Kinks) weren't all saccharine and eye-gazy: "You Can't Do That," "Another Girl," "Norwegian Wood" anyone? Let alone the stuff they did after Rubber Soul/Revolver; if all they did was make girls swoon, they'd just be an early N-Sync minus Justin Timberlake (which, musically, is really a plus). We much appreciated his professional ear on the audio, but what we really needed was a hint of turmoil, explosions, darkness, something; not just another pop boy-prop on stage. Pass on this one.

Facebook it! He's on iTunes via that link.

Friday, July 6, 2012

A Newport Folk Festival question...?

So. All the tickets surrounding the NFF are sold out. Conor Oberst's solo concert in Newport went out in three hours - I didn't even have time to drive down. Everything else that's remotely related is gone, sold out, etc. etc. no more cookies left in the jar.
Except this one: Wilco on Fri.
Now we're guessing, what, with a brilliant new Wilco album out (finally! only waited like 10 years) there's still some standing room to catch these guys? So previous NFF years have been at the Tennis Hall of Fame (which was AWESOME, just so nice), and we're guessing there's a ton more seating for a solo performance at the Fort (plus Blitzen Trapper et al), but still, we're going out on a limb to say these guys are worth your 50 quid. We've caught Tweedy and the crew on more than a few occasions, and personally speaking, it has never been anything less than a total blast - even at the expense of missing the Red Sox breaking the curse. That was a conundrum, but honestly, they were up 3 games that day, and the tics were already paid for. Sorry sports guys/gals. It was the best ending to a show, however.
Asides regardless, this group is solid, "The Whole Love" is the other brilliant album we've been waiting for ("Yankee Hotel Foxtrot" is the first, of course), and if you're in Newport early that weekend, we strongly consider you check out their tracks and drop by. C'mon people, get your priorities straight!