Friday, September 3, 2010

Jake Saw Autolux Last Friday. You Didn't.

I saw Autolux last Friday. You didn't. Tickets were only fourteen dollars at the door. What the fuck is wrong with you?

Remember Autolux? They were that shoegazy rock band from California that released their debut album called Future Perfect back in 2004. Their moderate radio hit "Here Comes Everybody" kicked around WFNX for a whole summer back in 2005. Not ringing any bells? Maybe it would have something to do with them not having a new album out for six years. Yeah that's right, they just recently released their new album Transit Transit to a #1 seller ranking on iTunes on the week of its arrival. How do you like those particular apples?

Along with a new album comes a new tour. Now, I had already seen them play last September at the Paradise and asked their frontman Eugene when the new album was coming out. His response was early 2010 (this did not happen obviously) because they were currently without a label. Since then, TBD Records picked up the ten track sophomore album and released it to critical acclaim. It's a well-rounded and refined album that pleases the hungry fans who haven't moved on (and if you're like me, got their high school and college diplomas in the time it took them to release a follow-up) and expected nothing less than a brilliant companion piece to Autolux's first audio excursion.

The show began around 9:00pm with a local band. The Boston-based band Dirty Dishes (a band I'd seen at the House of Blues recently) was the first opening act of the night. To me, it was another solid high energy performance that hopefully earned them some new fans. The song "Stolen Apples" was the highlight of their set to me. It has this chunky peanut butter sound (no I'm not hungry) to it with frontwoman Jenny Tuite's smooth voice blanketing over crunchy, distorted guitars to make a sweet hard rock song. All food metaphors aside, Dirty Dishes are going places for sure if they keep performing to this caliber.

This Will Destroy You appeared on the stage around 10:30pm and brought the doom and gloom into the venue. Their lyricless, ambient, lengthy tracks swelled and exploded and had fans and spectators hypnotized. My friend described their sound as "the type of music you hear at the end of 28 Days Later or something." Although it lacks highbrow eloquence, I'd have to agree with this statement. This Will Destroy You make some fucking epic tunes that beg to be slapped on a movie soundtrack for that climactic ending theme. Give them a listen. They lack lyrics, but get their point across without words.

Autolux came on the stage about five minutes before midnight. They were late for their soundcheck because of traffic on the way back from New York where they had done an interview earlier in the day. The crowd was restless to say the least at this point, but quickly hushed and became absorbed in the slow song, "The Science of Imaginary Solutions," (a new track off of Transit Transit) sung by their drummer Carla. From there on they kept the new tracks coming, blasting the audience's cobwebs away with songs like "Census" and the internet hit "Audience No. 2" to album-like perfection. Each track was slightly extended by the band's tendency to improvise and jam a little off of each other at solo points and endings of their songs. This sweetened the pot a bit for me, a long time fan of the older stuff, because it put a little twist on those tracks which are more familiar to me.

Eventually "Turnstile Blues" was played at the halfway point. This is where I witnessed how the band can play these older songs with ease and masterful precision of their instruments. Among the screeching distortions and rumbling drums, there is this piercing clarity and polish to the sounds of these well-known tracks that makes you forget this is a band that JUST released their second album, yet sound like they have had a large discography because of their clear wealth of music playing experience. Various keyboards and synths were used periodically, most notably during my current favorite new song "Highchair" which sounds like Radiohead meets Clinic meets Massive Attack...and that is a really good thing. This track was unfortunately played much too late to gather what was left of the crowd's energy since it was nearing 1:00am which is a shame since it is a highly danceable new song that I feel stands out significantly on the new album and would be a worthy radio single. It shows the band has tremendous range beyond the trademark frantic rock they are known for.

My recording of Highchair from the show.

The trio of Autolux gave the Middle East a hell of a show on this night, proving that good things come to those who wait in terms of their album and, ironically, their performance. My knees felt locked up, ears were completely shot to hell, and I was rather thirsty at the end of the night (1:30am), but my Autolux itch had been thoroughly scratched. Eugene and Carla thanked the audience for sticking around so late multiple times before exiting the stage. My answer to them is, "No problem guys," because they don't disappoint in one aspect of what they do. This is why I will continue to see this band live. I will continue to wait x-amount of years until their next album. I will continue to stand and wait 40 minutes for them to set up all of their equipment before they send me to another sonic dimension. I saw Autolux last Friday. Why didn't you?

HERE IS A LINK TO THE CONCERT FOOTAGE PLAYLIST: Autolux @ The Middle East August 27th, 2010

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Top Five Guilty Pleasure Songs (Jake's Picks)

5. Interpol - Obstacle 2

I know, you're thinking, "Jake is feeling guilty for enjoying an Interpol song...but I thought they were his favorite band?" I assure you, dear reader, I am guilty for loving this song for very simple reasons. One reason being that I actually enjoy it more than Obstacle 1 which is Interpol's breakthrough track from their first album Turn On The Bright Lights which contains Obstacle 2 as well. I am guilty of loving this song due to it's more straightforward (if not "poorly written") lyrics.

Exhibit A:
"I'm gonna pull you in close
I'm gonna wrap you up tight
I'm gonna play with the braids that you came here with tonight
I'm gonna hold your face, and toast the snow that fell
Because friends don't waste wine when there's words to sell"

This is a nice way to open a track after hearing so much enigmatic metaphor up to this point in the album. It's romantic in the simplest way, and totally straightforward. Loving where it's going...until the next part.

Exhibit B:

"I feel like love is in the kitchen with a culinary eye
I think he's making something special
And I'm smart enough to try
If you don't trust yourself for at least one minute each day,
Well you should trust in this, girl, cause loving is coming our way."

"I feel like love is in the kitchen with a culinary eye. I think he's making something special and I'm smart enough to try?" Holy shit, that is horrible! Those lyrics are just some of the worst I've ever heard. It's not that I don't get what it means, or even that the word choice is out of place. It's that it was such a forced rhyme that gets to me every time I hear this track! I would've loved to have been in the room when Paul Banks picked up his pen and paper, wrote the lyrics, recited them a few times, then proceeded to say, "Wow, these lyrics are horrible, but they will do." At least I hope he said that...for the sake of all Interpol fans.

4. Modjo - Lady

Could any song be more representative of French house music? I doubt it. Blah, blah Daft Punk, blah, blah Stardust, blah, blah. Yes, I know Daft Punk came before Modjo. Yes, I know they are pretty much the most popular French musical act in the world. But, they didn't write Lady and probably couldn't these days now that they are fucking robots. They don't even make house music anymore! Lady has a human quality to it anyway that I love. There is no digital synth sound. Only some fresh beats put over a sweet bass mixed with a nice dose of loudly chirping guitars. Those elements drizzled over a boldly repetitive lyrical concept (beginning every single verse with the word "Lady"...*thumbs up*) makes for an exhilaratingly fresh sound to your ears.

So it isn't a brilliant lyrical exploration. So-fucking what? It's catchy, fun to listen to, fun to dance to, and you can impress your friends by actually recognizing the track the next time you are in a club that is "hip" enough to actually play it (*double thumbs up*). Lady offers a chance to go nuts, get on the dance floor, embarrass yourself, earn hipster cred, and reminisce about the great French house music that was being made during George W. Bush's first term in office. Oh, and I'm pretty sure the video is alluding to some kind of threesome. Good shit.

3. Cheri - Murphy's Law

This is somewhat of a novelty song that relies heavily on a bouncing funky sound that is sung over by the Montreal dance duo. It's a fun song. You know, one of those songs you pop on in the car when you're on a long trip to New Hampshire or some shit that puts a smile on every person out of sheer amazement of how quirky and awkward it is. Through the chipmunks on helium sounding voices that repeat "got it all together, dontcha baby" throughout each chorus, and fumbling bass and horns, there is a catchy-as-hell quality to it.

Put your mind in the era for a minute with me. The year is 1982. Music is becoming more and more experimental as technology develops, disco is long dead, and Reagan is in office (think about how that is relevant for a minute...nah, it doesn't mean shit). What kind of obscure shit are people (white, Canadian people included) going to dance horribly to? How about a song where it sounds like Alvin and his fellow chipmunks are singing the chorus? HELL YES! God, people will always say, "This kind of song wouldn't reach the Billboard these days." I say, are you out of your fucking mind? Have you heard the gimmicky bullshit (autotune/Bieber) that we are force fed through our radios everyday? Give me chipmunk singing any damn day over this intolerable rubbish, PLEASE!

Oh, and this song reached #39 on the Billboard charts and reached #1 on the Dance chart back in '82 so how do you like them particular apples?

2. The Psychedelic Furs - Love My Way

Okay, we're still trapped in the 80's, but give me an era with more guilty pleasures in music than that one and I'll turn off my Atari console and go to sleep. Moving on to a song that captures a darkly romantic tone that the 80's seemed to be filled with, we have Love My Way, a rumbling, synth-laden, xylophone packed tune that came straight from England. That's right, I said XYLOPHONE! Strange instrument=even guiltier pleasure. Now, this band had lots of early commercial success so I'm not basing all of my picks from the unknown areas of music. Richard Butler and company gave us the song Pretty In Pink which was later used as the title and main song of the film by John Hughes after all. Good shit, but it doesn't make my list. We're going for the obscure sound here.

Watching the video for this track makes me want to buy a Fisher Price xylophone and play that badboy into the night with Richard Butler's haunting vocals chanting to me like some heartbroken dark priest of a new wave, coke snorting, cult! Just listen to those sidewinding synths. You know you want to either dance in a darkly lit club with a goth chick or play GTA: Vice City right now...or maybe not.

1. Sharyn Maceren - Hard To Get

Let me start first by saying this woman is a sweetheart and one of the nicest musical artists out there. She makes every effort to stay in contact with fans old and new and really appreciates every one of them. When I became a fan of her via her song "Hard To Get" three years ago I sent her a message (which she quickly replied to) saying how hard I searched for the singer of the song and that I was happy to see she was actually making music. I had thought it was an older song possibly made in the 80's or early 90's since it had this old school freestyle sound that I thought had died out. PAUSE: Yes...old school freestyle music...the guiltiest genre next to country music where I'm from.

I don't know where you're from, but I'm from a rusted out chum bucket of a city that isn't exactly thriving in the club/freestyle scene. Sharyn Maceren is from San Francisco. I've never been there, but I'm pretty sure it isn't Lynn, Massachusetts on the West Coast. Still, the song has resonated with me for years now, and her honest lyrical style appeals to my senses. "You're so hard to get/You are the only one I can't forget/You've got me wonderin' since the day we met/You're so hard to get." Catchy, simple, rhyming, poppy stuff. It isn't exactly rich in metaphor, but fuck it. It puts me in a good mood, makes me think of brighter places, and gets me moving all the time...when no one is around.

Top Five Guilty Pleasure Songs (Joe's Picks)

5)  Miley Cyrus - See You Again
I do not watch Hannah Montana.  Please do not assume so because I like this song so much.  “The last time I freaked out, I just kept looking down…” is a chours that is always upbeat.  It’s one of those tunes where you feel like jumping up and down (yes, I have before) and quasi-fist pumping.  Please refrain from calling me names such as “pedophile” and “creepy” it is a good song and you should give it a try.   

4)  Sean Kingston – Take you there

I chose this song because the lyrics are so awful that I like to listen to them for amusement purposes.  I actually stooped so low as to buy it from iTunes as opposed to illegally downloading it (what an impulse buy).  Sean talks about how he can take a girl “to the slums where the killers get hung”.  Let me tell you one thing, who in their right mind would actually want to go see that?  I like to relax on my vacations, no watch someone lose their life.  He thinks that since he is from Jamaica by “taking you there” no one is going to try to attack you?  They are called the slums for a reason Sean!  People will do anything regardless who you are.  And by the way, your loaded, why wouldn’t someone want to jump you (oh, I forgot because your from there… IDIOT).  Why would you even offer someone to go to the slums?  I once went to Tampa with my family and drove through the projects at night.  I was scared shitless.  For the first time in my life, I was the minority and let me tell you I didn’t like it.  Four white tourists trying to find the freeway.  The doors were locked and I still didn’t feel safe (last time I checked, bullets can penetrate locked doors).  So Sean, stick to the good parts of the Island please, and realize I only like your song because of how stupid the chorus is.    

3)  Ricky Martin – Cup of Life

There is something about this song where I just can’t let it go.  Is it because it was written by Ricky Martin (possibly), is it because it came out when I was rather young (yes), or is it because it was the anthem to the FIFA World Cup? (God no, Soccer sucks) This song just keeps me entertained with its “Ale, Ale, Ale” chorus.  It keeps me going with it’s fast pace.  

Also, I like to listen to it when I work out (and when I am not)… “Push it along, gotta be strong, push it along, right to the top!” Call me what you want, but Ricky Martin knows how to bring it.  Some guys enjoy heavy metal, some enjoy nothing, but I prefer the song written by a person that no one has heard from in years.  I didn’t choose “Living La Vida Loca” because it was such a huge song and too cliché.  I also like it because I can seem like I know Spanish.  Do I?  Absolutely not, but I try my best and probably get every word wrong (song makes me seem bilingual).  So congrats “Cup of Life” I do “really want it” every time I listen to it when no one is around.    

2) Fergie - Big Girls Don’t Cry

This song actually has a story behind it, however you need to see the music video to understand.  The fact that I can sing the entire song makes me feel more worthless than I already am  “I hope you know, I hope you know that this has nothing to do with you…” is a catchy chorus that keeps me entertained.  The lyrics flow, however, this is Fergie (no one should like her music unless she is with the Black Eyed Peas).  She is a horrible singer and she is not good looking at all.  I mean I tried to find her attractive, but I got nothing, not even a tingle.  The beginning of the music video shows her in her underwear, please put some pants on!  Not only do I know the lyrics, I get into it.  When it is on, you can see me swaying my head back and forth as I lip sync to awful, awful song (however, I always hope no one is looking).

I should not like this song.  Why should a guy sing Big Girls Don’t Cry?  There is no excuse for me singing this song when it comes on.  Not only would I listen to it on XM at work, I would replay it at least twice.  While typing right now, I am lip sinking to this shit.  Go ahead judge me….  

1)  Madonna - Just Like a Prayer

Look, it’s Madonna, enough said.  I actually blast this song when no one is around and I have been doing this for years.  I know I am not the only one who likes it; I just may be the only male to admit it.   The lyrics speak for themselves…However, I just discovered the music video does not. (which is a reason that it is number one) 

Lets begin with a woman getting stabbed by a group of white males and then dying (bet you didn’t think that was going to be included).  Oh, it gets better… A poor African American tries to help her out after the group flees, but actually gets arrested for the crime (the police conveniently show up).  No blood on him, no questions asked just taken into custody.  So what does Madonna do?  Touch a statue of a black man and watch it come to life.  This has to be one of the dumbest things I have ever seen, what’s the point?  There isn’t one.

 Since we are discussing guilty pleasures why not mention something that only my ex roommate knows…Madonna proceeds into an all black Church and begins singing with the choir.   God do I want to do this!  Find one of those old fashion churches where you get to wear robes and rock to gospel music.  Sway to the left, (Clap) sway to the right (clap).  No one will judge me as long as I am preaching God’s good word!  I also want to get down and just dance.  If I was to try that at my Church I would be looked at funny, but not at an African American Church. I would actually feel like I fit in.  Also, I would go every week, but there is no such Church in this area.  Admitting you love the song is one thing, but to say you think the music video is amazing, is something that you should keep to yourself and enjoy alone. There are crosses burning in the backround, am I supposed to like this music video or repent my sins after watching it? Either way it is my number one guilty pleasure.

Oh, and by the way I don’t care how old Madonna is, I would still bang her before Fergie.

- Joe        

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Situation

I was listening to multiple radio stations and both mentioned in their "Entertainment Updates" that Mike "The Situation" Sorrentino could make 5 million in 2010.  My take on this issue? I think he should have made more...

Without "The Situation" on MTV's "Jersey Shore", the show would just stink (and probably would not have been signed through season 3).  The guy has made terms such as "GTL", "Grenade" and "The Shirt Before The Shirt" popular around the college crowd.  If I knew I was going to be back for a second season on a popular show I would do the same.  His fifteen minutes of fame will be up soon enough so why not make money off of it?  Other male cast members cannot support the show without him.  Pauly D is great ("don't get it twisted"!), Vinny has occasional one liners ("Jenni’s tits definitely defy gravity. I think Albert Einstein should come back and rewrite his laws of physics and work it around Jenni’s tits") and Ronnie, well they could  just do without him.

Mike is usually the one who brings women back to their suite and is constantly why the show can tease and keep you watching to the end.  If I could make up to $50,000 and episode I would give it my all too!  Go party bang girls and get paid?  What kinda guy wouldn't want to do that?

Oh, when the season is over, Mike knows how to keep busy...

According to the Hollywood Reporter, his appearance fee can range from anywhere from $15,000-$50,000.  This is amazing.  Hell, if there are two clubs in the same area and I only needed to show my face for a little bit, I would book two a night!  It keeps getting better!

'The Situation" is going to be endorsing "Devotion Vodka" that contains Protein.  Does yours truly drink Vodka?  NO, but I will, and why?  Because it is endorsed by him.  Carry that bottle around at a party and it is a great conversation starter with a woman (we shall see, because I plan on doing it).  He also raps.  It's not like he's not working for this money, I am sure a lot goes into planning and he gets tired, but keep on trucking, because it will be all over soon.  
Who is to blame for all this?  POP CULTURE.  Am I a fan?  (of course)  will I watch every Thursday? (of course) and will I feed his 15 mintues of fame (Yes) and why?  Because MTV knows how to suck in thier viewers.  I only watched it because my friends started calling each other bros and referencing the clever one liners.  

One last point why he deserves all this money?  "The Situation" has given me confidence (this is not easy to do).  Now, I always wear "fresh" shoes when I go out and do not wear the same shirt while pre-gaming before I leave.  The littlest things make me a fan.  Until his time is up, I hope "The Situation" pulls in as much money as he can, because you know as well as I know that we would all do the same!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Green Day shows they still got it

It was hot and humid and I feel like I lost at least 5 pounds of water weight jumping up and down.  When Green Day took the stage, I knew I was in for an amazing show and of course Billie Joe (vocals/ guitar), Tre Cool (drums) and Mike Dirnt (bass) did not disappoint. 

They opened up with “Song of the Century”, and then went into their title track “21st Century Breakdown”.  After getting the crowd pumped, they played their first released single “Know your Enemy”.
After those, the show was in full force.  Billie Joe then pulled a young child on stage (Kevin) that needed to be saved during “East Jesus Nowhere”.  He waited for a big bang before pushing the child’s head knocking him to the ground to show he saved a sinner.

This concert was for any true Green Day fan.  They played music off of Nimrod (“Minority", "Hitching a Ride"), Dookie (“When I Come Around”, “Basket Case”) American Idiot (“Boulevard of Broken Dreams”, “Jesus of Suburbia”) and even songs from thier second studio album, Kerplunk (“Scattered”, "One for the Razorbacks").  Before playing these old songs, Billie Joe asked the crowd if there were any old school Green Day fans, in which the entire crowd let him know they were.
Billie’s stage presence was nothing short of spectacular.  He invited people up on stage to sing/dance to “2000 Light Years Away” and made sure the crowd know that “tonight you’re not at your job, and there are no bosses here”.  He kept informing the crowd that he was going to play forever and was not going to stop.
One of the highlights of the show was all the covers that the band played.  Halfway through their set, they busted into Billie Idol’s “Dancing with Myself”, eventually played some of Guns N’ Roses “Sweet Child of Mine”, and even played the chorus to AC/DC’s “Highway to Hell”.  This is my fourth time seeing them, and this was a good change to their standard “Shout” cover, which they did play.  This was interesting because Billie played drums while Tre sang, and then handed the microphone to Mike, who gave his bass to Billie while Tre returned to his instrument.

The stage was small, but the band made due with that they had.  The backdrop was simple and changed from song to song.  My only gripe came with songs that I felt should have been played.  I would have like to have heard “The Static Age” off the new album, but was surprised when they played “J.A.R.” off of Dookie.
When playing “Longview”, Billie Joe picked “Green Man” to come on stage and sing the lyrics.  The lead singer felt he did so well, he gave him the guitar that he used to play the song.  One funny aspect was when Billie asked the crowd to hold a note and at the end told us we held it longer than New York.  He also made reference to the Boston accent saying “wicked retated” to get a laugh from the crowd.  Billie even dedicated a song to all the people that went to the 1994 near riot show at Boston’s Hat Shell.

The pyrotechnics included sparks falling from the ceiling, fire shooting from the stage and mini explosions to signal the end of some of the songs.  The pyrotechnics were not overused and were a good addition to the small stage.

All in all, Green Day came to rock and they did just that.  They provided a double encore and ended with their signature song “Time of your Life”.  Green Day played a whopping thirty-three-song set and played for 2 hours and fifty minutes.    This band has yet to disappoint me, and their ability to pour their heart and souls into every live show continues to be one of the reasons I call them my favorite band.

10 OUT OF 10 STARS!!!  * * * * * * * * * *

Annual Gathering of the Juggalos Gets Nasty

 Every year they gather, and every year no one cares. However, this year was different. Of course, I am talking about the annual gathering of the “Juggalos”, which takes place at Cave in the Rock, IL. People with painted clown faces meet for a weekend of unknown bands and finish off with a full set from the Insane Clown Posse. There seemed to be no issues until Tila Tequila took the stage.
Now, any man should enjoy her performance. Her singing skills may be god awful, but she does have a gorgeous body. This should make these “people” happy. They consider themselves “different” and “special”, well, they truly showed it.

Once Tila took off a shirt (something that would keep my attention) the fans started turning against her performance. It was reported that they threw rocks, and bottles filled with urine and fecal matter from the porter potty.

First off, what kind of person picks up fecal matter from a porter potty? I’ll tell you who, a juggalo. This is one of the most disturbing things I have ever heard a group do. Green Day, for instance, had mud thrown at them at Woodstock ‘94, the Blues Brothers had glass thrown at them through a cage (movie), but not someone’s poo. Poo. It baffles me that anyone would stoop this low. Honestly, other than the obvious Vanilla Ice, (who was in attendance and did not have any problems) what person sings so poorly that it would make you have the urge to run to the nearest porter-potty, grab some nice, heaping piles of human excrement, and throw it at someone? Not to mention the poor security guards, who had to stand in front of that no talent poo magnet and knock down anything that came her way. Trying to diffuse the issue, Tom Green, a former comedian who has not been relevant since the movie Road Trip, came on stage to try to take attention off of her, but to nobody’s surprise, the man who wrote an entire song dedicated to his butt did not help anything.

Even when the performance ended, the Juggalos  followed her to her in trailer and broke the windows while she was inside, according to websites. I understand these people are drunk, teenaged, and future inmates of the Illinois correctional system, but they assaulted her. Tila is in the process of suing the festival and stated through her twitter account that the festival will be bankrupt.

 Who is to blame for this ordeal? You decide. She could have gotten off stage at any point, and the people who signed her could have known she did not fill the “MO” of the juggalos.
If you try to find a picture of her face, she looks pretty banged up. I have no respect for these people and never will. They wonder why people think of them so differently. Well, after Tila’s performance, they should now know.

By the way, the song she was singing at that time is actually kind of catchy, and by catchy, I don’t mean catching poo…