Thursday, December 25, 2008

Friday, October 24, 2008

Concert Review: Silver Jews


“Time to go to work.”

My jaw dropped as the tall, lanky figure in a grey suit sauntered past. David Berman had just walked into the Picador.

The frontman of Silver Jews, Berman is arguably one of the best songwriters in America. Despite garnering critical acclaim and minor indie scene stardom, Berman and company only recently started touring in 2005.

I felt some apprehension after my initial excitement when I saw the Silver Jews were coming to Iowa City to play at the Picador in support of their recently released album, Lookout Mountain Lookout Sea. What if they weren’t good live? I’d seen some YouTube videos of the band playing live where they just looked flat and lifeless onstage. However, my fears were unfounded.

After a puzzling and entirely overlong encounter with opening anti-folk act The Mattoid, Berman and his band took to the stage. Starting with the opening track off of 2001’s Bright Flight, “Slow Education”, Silver Jews played a career-spanning set. Berman’s rough, gravely, whiskey-tinged voice was the first sound heard out of the Jews singing, “When God was young/ He made the wind and the sun/ And since then/ It's been a slow education.” Towering, bearded, and balding and equipped with a shiny oversized belt buckle that read “Joos,” onstage Berman comes off like a beat poet with a great backing band, wobbling all over the place, leaning on the micstand, and gesturing along with his lyrics. I caught myself chuckling at many points during the concert, Berman’s semi-absurd lyrics and gestures exposing new meanings to the lonesome, lyrically sprawling songs.

A rarity for bands touring on the heels of a recently released LP, only five of the eighteen songs on the Silver Jews’ setlist came from Lookout Mountain Lookout Sea. All six of the band’s LPs were represented with multiple songs. One of the highlights of the night came when Berman strapped on a bright blue acoustic guitar and played “Random Rules”, the lyrically brilliant jangly opener off of American Water. Featuring the opening line, “In 1984 I was hospitalized for approaching perfection”, voices from the crowd joined Berman’s as he took Iowa City across all the wrong rivers and for a walk down all the wrong halls.

On many of the post-American Water (1998) songs, Cassie, Berman’s wife and bassist, shared vocal duties on the choruses. The couple played off of each other onstage, Berman at times turning towards Cassie and singing parts of songs directly to her. This sounds cliche and kitschy, but for those in the audience it seemed natural, with a sort-of Johnny Cash and June Carter vibe to it.

Berman tore down all pretense to the concert, telling stories, dedicating songs to people in the audience he’d met before the concert, and often wandering around the stage during instrumental breaks in songs as if looking for something. After the last song of the regular setlist the rest of the band exited the stage. Berman stayed. Pointing out the ridiculousness of an inevitable encore, Berman stood onstage sipping a drink while the band filtered back through the door.

The show’s encore was solid. The crowd applauded when the first creepy, paranoid notes and thumps of “New Orleans” were heard. After the post-modern freakout at the end of “New Orleans”, Berman and company turned to a more conventional type of song, a love ballad. On the auto-biographical “Tennessee”, David Berman serenaded his wife singing, “We're gonna live in Nashville and I'll make a career/Out of writing sad songs and getting paid by the tear.” Silver Jews closed with one of their more uptempo songs from 2005’s Tanglewood Numbers, “Punks in the Beerlight.” The night ended with everyone in the audience singing the chorus. “I love you to the max! I love you to the max! I love you to the max!”

Moustache Salad gives the Silver Jews in concert a fu-manchu with side-burns. (4.5 out of 5)

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Concert Review: Ben Folds


"It's so weird to be back here."

Let me get this out of the way first. I’m a pseudo Ben Folds fan at best. I dig the stuff by Five, Rockin’ the Suburbs is pretty good, and Songs for Silverman is okay. They’ve all got their moments. While I’m not a huge fan, I went in to this concert with some decent-sized expectations. This is his third show here, so he’s got to be doing something right. Plenty of my friends have seen him before and all of them came back with shining reviews, so I figured I’d be in for the same. Real quickly, Missy Higgins was a good opener. Nothing I’d listen to again, but it was a cute set and fit the piano-rock atmosphere. She was adorable to boot. Onwards to the main act.

Standing in the second row of people against the gate right in front of the piano, I was a bit confused by the whole silhouette, flashing lights, and corny eighties intro. I know it was probably meant to be cheesy to the point of being humorous, but it came off as just cheesy. The first half of the set was pretty heavy with songs from his new album, Way to Normal. This totally makes sense as it was just released less than a month ago. That said, it doesn’t make the songs any less worse. Okay, that’s a bit harsh. Way to Normal isn’t terrible; it’s not even really bad. However, it’s mediocre for a Folds album and was a bit of a disappointment.

I just couldn’t get in to many of the new songs, and it was only made worse every time we had to hear an alternate version from their “fake leak” (for those not in the know, the band recorded joke versions of songs off the new album and leaked them early as a prank). I’ll give it to him; some of them are delightfully bad while others are better than their “real” version, but hearing two fairly similar songs in the same concert and even back to back occasionally was just too much. Another letdown came when I saw “Hiroshima”, one of the better cuts off …Normal, on the set list, but apparently it got cut for something else. Perhaps the biggest disappointment of the night came when the band played, “Landed”, one of my favorite Folds songs, only for this version they decided to half-ass it and remove any joy I could’ve had. Finally, the closer, while fun, was weak for a show ender.

Alright angry Ben Folds fans, you may be out for blood at this point, but put the torches and pitchforks down. I actually enjoyed the show and thought it was a pretty good time. As many negative things that I’ve said, I was very impressed every time he dipped into his older catalogue. I’ve always had a soft spot for Whatever & Ever Amen, so “Kate” was nice and “Fair” was incredible. Even the major hits that I’ve sort of tired of like “Rockin’ the Suburbs” and “Zak and Sara” were a treat to see. I have to give it to him on the Altoid-assisted “Free Coffee” too. That was just plain cool. Ben is a very energetic, little fellow. Watching him play was a blast, because he loves what he does and he’s very good at it. While I may not dig the new songs very much, he’s still an incredibly talented pianist. In the end, was it worth the seven bucks? Easily. Far from incredible, but at least it was fun.

Ben Folds gets a Joe Sixpack moustache (3 outta 5).

Saturday, September 27, 2008

RockNRolla Follow Up

Beginning with some sad news, actor Paul Newman (Cool Hand Luke, The Hustler and The Sting) lost his battle with cancer on Friday, September 26th at the age of 83.





















For something almost completely different...
My Excitement for Guy Ritchie's newest work, RockNRolla is running a little thin... at the moment anyway.
Here's WarnerBros. official site/trailer/thing:
http://rocknrolla.warnerbros.com/
Tell me what you think.

Then watch this one:
Much Better Theatrical Trailer For RockNRolla

Stupid WB...

Anyway, I'm really not sure what to think about it anymore. I followed it kinda closely for a while, but got annoyed with the lack of publicity. I rekindled my excitement when the first trailer hit, but lost it again when WarnerBros. came out with that piece of crap. My hope for avoiding the disappointment of 2005's Revolver, a fake-out gone wrong, is all but smashed. I mean, the first trailer was really dark and sexy and had Gerard Butler (300) and Tom Wilkenson (Michael Clayton, Eternal Sunshine...), who are also sexy, and Thandie Newton (The Pursuit of Happiness, Interview With a Vampire), whom is both dark and really, really sexy and it seemed to be strongly anchored by a painting and some real-estate mischievousness. Sure, Warner put out a "dark" and "sexy" version too, but it has all the hints and mystery taken out neglectfully removed. Where did the damn painting go!!?! Without all that central unification which teases and taunts us, no one's gonna want to watch this movie.

Maybe I expect too much from Mr. Ritchie after debuting with Lock, Stock... and Snatch. After all, one can't be on top of one's game 100% of the time... especially when you're married to Madonna (I'm still holding out for divorce news).
Perhaps I won't be disappointed with it... RockNRolla received a solid grade B at the Toronto International Film Festival '08, for whatever that's worth. It still looks like it could be really good.

So, TIFF 08 gives RockNRolla a Fu Man-chu (4 out of 5).
I won't even rate WarnerBros. right now... we have some heart-to-heart talking to do... or rather heart-to-my heart crushing fist talking to do.



Other coming attactions:

Quantum of Solace (Quantum of Awesome)


Max Payne

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Heads up!

If you head on over to http://wilcoworld.net/vote/ you can pick up a free download of Wilco and Fleet Foxes covering the Bob Dylan tune, "I Shall Be Released." All you have to do is pledge to vote in the impending election. They even have a link for you can even register to vote if you have been putting it off. So don't procrastinate about registering or getting this awesome cover.

Also, you can check out the YouTube vid that has been circling for some time now after the jump.


Sunday, September 21, 2008

Burn After Reading


In a major departure from their last film, the Coen brothers move from the dark and brooding to the ridiculous and perverse. Burn After Reading, their latest flick, is a slapstick star-filled comedy packed with quick lines, outlandish scenarios, and visual gags. After last year’s incredible but bleak No Country for Old Men, I couldn’t wait for the brothers to get back to a comedy. I’ve enjoyed their previous works, and this one is no exception.

The movie opens with Osbourne Cox (John Malkovich) being demoted from his position in the CIA. Furious, he quits, takes to the bottle, and decides to write a memoir of his rather dull life. To top things off, his adulterous wife (Tilda Swinton) has made a copy of all his confidential files to prepare for their upcoming divorce. When the disc is lost at a local gym, two unwitting employees (Frances McDormand and the lovable Brad Pitt) convince themselves these documents are of the utmost importance. Determined to reap a monetary reward, they begin to search for Osbourne. Of course, things go wrong for everyone and, like other Coen brothers movies, the characters are headed down a slippery slope from one to disaster to another. I’ll leave it at that, although I could go on about George Clooney, Richard Jenkins, and J.K. Simmons. To put it simply, there’s a lot going. The Coens find a way to intertwine every character’s story with each other. However, unlike other movies where the cast is connected through intricate, plot-driven details (i.e. Pulp Fiction, City of God), Burn After Reading uses a less traditional method (i.e. everyone is screwing everyone). While it may sound complicated, everything is relatively simple to grasp while watching it.


Despite a slow start, the movie finally begins to pull its weight at about fifteen to twenty minutes in. As you can tell by the name dropping I pulled earlier, this movie is packed with major actors and actresses. Pleasantly surprising, laughs come from each and every person in this flick. Sure, some take up a majority of the comedic bits (Brad Pitt, and I’m not just saying that because of my man-crush, he’s absolutely hysterical), but each cast member does their part, gets some jokes in, and really adds something. Simmons’ role was also one of the biggest treats. He may not have many lines, but he sure does make ‘em count. There’s also some incredibly unexpected laughs, the strongest example being Clooney’s secret basement contraption which had everyone either gasping or cracking up.

As much as I enjoyed this movie, I’ve heard many conflicting views. I saw it opening night in a decently packed theater with a very reactive audience and loved it. However, I’ve talked to others who were the only ones in the theater or who sat with unresponsive audiences. They got much less out of the movie than I, so the environment you see it in may affect what you think. Either way, the Coen brothers have released another solid movie. If you’ve liked their previous comedic flicks, be sure to give this one a go.

Burn After Reading gets a Fu Man Chu (4 out of 5).

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Noah and the Whale Rocks!?!?!

They do now anyway. Recently I watched La Blogothèque's segment starring the Brit-Folk group Noah and the Whale. I have followed the band for what has almost been a year, and they remain pretty consistent with pop-folk melodies. Their songs, which have been likable, are not something that I would think would evoke this type of behavior on stage. Granted, they are no KISS or AC/DC, but for what it is, these guys give a great stage presence.

Check out the vid.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Concert Review: My Morning Jacket

Alternately touted as the best live band in America and America’s folky answer to Radiohead, My Morning Jacket had a lot of hype to live up to during their concert at the Uptown Theater in Kansas City. The Louisville, Kentucky band was touring to support their recently released fifth album Evil Urges. Befitting their album title, the band entered the stage to hellish lighting and clouds of smoke. Frontman Jim James swaggered out wearing a cape as the band immediately kicked into opener and title track “Evil Urges.”
My Morning Jacket’s records are immersive, but nothing prepared me for the impact of their live show. The band’s double guitar attack accompanied with Jim James’ otherworldly vocals, Two-tone Tommy’s incredible bass playing, and Patrick Hallahan’s Bonham-esque drumming plummeted the audience into the depths of a rock n’ roll inferno, that has become iconized through greats such as Zeppelin, AC/DC, and KISS. All the new material off of Evil Urges sounded great live, although an over reliance on the new record lessened the energy of the first half of the show. As consolation, the backend of the show was heavy with It Still Moves and Z era pieces. A little after the halfway mark, MMJ broke out “Mahgeetah,” which is when the band really started to not only shine, but glow. Previous to this, however, the band still held down a solid show with heavenly cuts like “Gideon” and “The Way That He Sings”.
One of the more unexpected moments of the Evening with My Morning Jacket came when Jim James disappeared off stage during “Steam Engine” only to materialize on a balcony a minute later. James proceeded to solo twenty feet above the crowd with all eyes on him. Their regular set ended with the band playing “Touch Me I’m Going to Scream Pt. 2”, the funky and soulful omnichord driven closer off of Evil Urges. The band dashed off stage as James cued up “Good Intentions”, a brief snippet of noise and voices.
My Morning Jacket’s encore was incredible. Beginning with “Wordless Chorus”, which had everyone in the audience attempting to imitate James’ angelic wails, followed by “Highly Suspicious”, cementing in my mind the ingenuity and overall balls to the wall rock of the controversial song, the encore proved to be the highlight of the set. Jim James’ manifesto about “peanut butter pudding surprises” was trailed by “Anytime”, a blazing rocker off of Z, the energy in the theater spiking considerably. However, My Morning Jacket had saved their ace in the hole for last. When the opening shriek of guitar from “Run Thru” sounded in the theater, the place went nuts. One of the coolest spectacles I have ever seen at a concert is the drum breakdown about halfway into “Run Thru”, the drummer illuminated in a strobe light, raising his sticks into the air, mouth wide open looking like a kraken arisen from the depths of a roiling sea. I figured that “Run Thru” was their last song, thinking nothing could top this. When the last piercing notes of “Run Thru” seamlessly segued into the high hat opening of “One Big Holiday” I felt the energy from the band course through the crowd. When Jim James opened his mouth to sing, hundreds of others opened as well roaring, “Wakin’ up, feelin’ good and limber!” The guitar freakouts, slamming of drumsticks, and thunderous bass left the whole audience with one fact: that every MMJ show is One Big Holiday.

Moustache Salad gives Jim James and the crew a Fu Manchu with sideburns (4.5 out of 5).

My Morning Jacket - One Big Holiday ft. Kirk Hammett (Live at Bonnaroo
'08)


The setlist can be found here

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Intimacy.


Bloc Party's third album, 'Intimacy' will be available August 21. It can be pre-ordered now via the band's website:
http://blocparty.sandbag.uk.com


The album will also be available as a CD which will be delivered from October 27 and feature additional songs. Anyone pre-ordering the CD will also receive the digital album from August 21.

Bloc Party alerted fans to 'Intimacy's existence, as well as their ability to purchase the record instantly, when they hosted their first ever web chat on August 18. The album follows on from the release of their hit single 'Mercury' released on 11 August.

The album produced by Paul Epworth (Silent Alarm) and Jacknife Lee (A Weekend in the City) was recorded in Kent and London. Some songs are Bloc Party at their most wildly experimental, while other tracks are simply classic Bloc Party, fitting in seamlessly amongst fan-favourites 'Helicopter', 'Banquet' and 'So Here We Are'.

Bloc Party recently played a run of sold-out American shows and are due to play Reading and Leeds Festival this weekend and headline the Hydroconnect Festival on August 30.

August
23 - Reading Festival, Reading
24 - Leeds Festival, Leeds
30 - Hydroconnect Festival, Scotland

The track listing for Intimacy:
01. Ares
02. Mercury
03. Halo
04. Biko
05. Trojan Horse
06. Signs
07. One Month Off
08. Zephyrus
09. Better Than Heaven
10. Ion Square

Mercury CDS

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Tropic Thunder: Review

“Hot damn.”

Not much time, so I'll make this fast.

Tropic Thunder was one of the few movies I was keeping track of. From the moment I saw the first preview, I knew I’d see the film the day it opened. An all-star cast, a huge budget, and legitimately funny jokes? It’s about damn time. As it drew closer, we were teased with a short skit by the three major roles, Ben Stiller, Robert Downey Jr., and Jack Black. Yesterday, I met up with a few friends and we headed to the theater as a “final-day-we’d-all-see-each-other-before-heading-back” event. I was very disappointed when, opening night, there was only about five other people in the theater, while every other film was decently filled. Hopefully, it was just because it opened mid-week, because this movie deserves to be seen.

Before the film even starts, we’re treated with fake trailers for the latest movies from Tugg Speedman (Stiller), Jeff Portnoy (Black), and Kirk Lazarus (Downey), all of which are hilarious takes on what Hollywood has become today. Then, the film really begins, but with more of a whimper than a bang. Sure, there are a few chuckles now and then, but nothing spectacular. It’s not until twenty or so minutes into the film that it really takes off. To sum up the plot details, three actors from different backgrounds (Speedman the action hero, Portnoy comedy, and Downey as very respected character actor) are hired to film the translation of “Tropic Thunder”, a book by famous Vietnam vet Four Leaf Tayback. Unhappy with the pampered, pompous stars ruining the shots, Tayback and the director decide to go for a more gritty approach by dropping them in the jungle and telling them to just go with the flow. Unbeknownst to the entire crew, however, is the presence of an armed group of locals.

Tropic Thunder lampoons Hollywood while never becoming a full spoof film. It stands on its own. It’s filled with so many bust-up laughing moments that you won’t be too put off by the more vulgar attempts at humor (especially the much-billed executive cameo, which wears thin pretty damn quickly). Jack Black seems like he was wasted on incredibly poor or boring dialogue. He has a moment or two, especially towards the end of the film, but he could’ve been so much more. Stiller does a fairly good job at landing jokes, with only a few groaners scattered throughout. The real treat here is Robert Downey Jr. who, more or less, makes the film. In glorified black-face, Downey finds a way to come off as completely hilarious with out being offensive. He’s kept in check by Brandon T. Jackson, a rapper who’s bitter that the only leading role for an African American was given to a white Australia-native. Downey has so many one-liners and out-there monologues that he carries the whole film on his back. Humor also comes from smaller bit parts and sight gags (when I saw “Black Power” and fist on Downey’s helmet, I couldn’t help but crack up).

The film, while not perfect, is still genuinely funny and one of the best comedies of the summer. Tropic Thunder sports a Fu Man Chu (4 out of 5).

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Fleet Foxes Live on Letterman

Last night as I was flipping channels, I stumbled across Fleet Foxes playing on The Tonight Show. Best surprise of the week. They played "Blue Ridge Mountains", a song that I had initially overlooked but am now getting into in a major way, thanks in part to their set at the Pitchfork Music Festival a couple weeks ago. Fleet Foxes are incredible live, and this is probably the best video approximation of what it's like to be at one of their shows. Judging from the applause after the song ended, I can see that Fleet Foxes were able to create their unique atmosphere in the span of just one song, an impressive accomplishment, especially on a late night show.

Monday, August 4, 2008

100 Posts! Vampire Weekend "Remix!"


Even though it is our 100th post, we have a present for you!

A "remix" of Vampire Weekend's "Oxford Comma."

Enjoy,
The Moustache Salad Staff

P.S. If you are near Columbia, MO this Friday, you should come to Mojo's to help us celebrate our 100 posts by seeing Witch's Hat.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

RIP, Alexander.



Rest in peace, Alexander Solzhenitsyn. The Nobel Prize-winning Russian author was one of my favorite authors and has written some works which stuck with me for some time. Alexander spoke out against the tyranny of the soviet gulag, inspiring millions with the message that integrity conquers corrupt totalitarians.


"He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1970, an unusual move for the Swedish Academy, which generally makes awards late in an author's life after decades of work. The academy cited "the ethical force with which he has pursued the indispensable traditions of Russian literature.""


Outspoken opponent of Stalin and his policies, Solzhenitsyn served as a front-line artillery captain in World War II, where, in the closing weeks of the war, he was arrested for writing what he called "certain disrespectful remarks" about Stalin in a letter to a friend, referring to him as "the man with the mustache."

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

TV on the Radio Pushes the Boundaries of Album Titling


TV on the Radio is back with a new album due out on September 23rd. The album is entitled Dear Science, and is their first since 2006's lavishly praised Return to Cookie Mountain. The comma is included in the album title there, giving TV on the Radio's new album a good shot to break the record for most times incorrectly printed. Here's the tracklist from the album courtesy of Pitchfork.

01 Halfway Home
02 Crying
03 Dancing Choose
04 Stork & Owl
05 Golden Age
06 Family Tree
07 Red Dress
08 Love Dog
09 Shout Me Out
10 DLZ
11 Lover's Day

And last but not least here's a track from TV on the Radio's 2003 EP, Young Liars. TV on the Radio go all barbershop quartet on "Mr. Grieves" from Doolittle, producing a damn fine, yet still original, cover.

TV on the Radio- Mr. Grieves (Pixies Cover)

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Pitchfork Music Festival Day Two: How a Ressurection Really Feels or "Fuck That Folk Shit"

I'd give it a 3.5


Day Two of the Pitchfork Music Festival in Chicago started off rainy, a light drizzle turning into a steady downpour, soaking the grassy park. Saturday’s crowd looked considerably younger than Friday’s. Gone were many of the crusty middle-aged men attracted by Mission of Burma and Sebadoh. In their place thousands of neon-clad, wayfarer wearing, American Spirit smoking hipsters congregated on the lawns of Union Park.

Titus Andronicus kicked off Saturday’s festival with their New Jersey bred sprawling garage punk. This six-piece band, whose stellar debut album The Airing of Grievances is in rotation at Moustache Salad, played an entertaining show, opening with Pulp’s “Common People” and hitting the sloppy, screaming anthems of Grievances and closing with the epic “Fear and Loathing in Mahwah, NJ.” Frontman Patrick Stickles was all over the stage, climbing the lights at one point and waving a big yellow Don’t Tread on Me flag, all while half-coherently singing along. The crowd seemed to be digging Titus Andronicus, fists pumping and heads nodding along with their anthems.

At about 2:45 in the afternoon, fifteen minutes before Fleet Foxes’ set on the Aluminum Stage, the sun pierced the clouds, and what had recently been a soppy and muddy crowd quickly became a hot, sweaty crowd. We were in good position to see Fleet Foxes, about eight rows back from the stage. As Fleet Foxes set up for their set, Caribou played on the Connector Stage. Caribou as viewed on the Jumbotron and with little prior knowledge of their music other than “Melody Day”, looked like a worthwhile band to see live."They've gone to plaid!!!"

The self-proclaimed “dirty men” of Fleet Foxes strode out onto the stage to considerable applause. Apropos the recent weather change, they opened with the mostly a cappella “Sun Giant.” Fleet Foxes sounded just as good at a large open-air festival as they had sounded in the much-smaller venue Mojo’s in Columbia, bringing their almost spiritual church-like atmosphere to a crowded park in the middle of Chicago. A new drummer had been acquired, along with a good deal of confidence (in a positive way) and stage presence, since we had last seen them in March. The new drummer, Josh Tillman, brought a heavier sound to some of their songs and also lent his excellent voice to the group’s harmonies. Robin Pecknold, lead singer and songwriter, after having just performed the first three songs from the Sun Giant EP, addressed the crowd and had a special message for Pitchfork. “We’d like to thank Pitchfork for basically enabling our existence,” quipped Pecknold, directly and humorously tackling an issue that many of the other new artists seemed to shy away from. Pecknold seemed stunned that such a large crowd would turn out to see his band. He joked around saying the crowd looked like a big pack of wolves. Tillman then cracked, “They’re all wearing sunglasses. Very cute wolves.” Fleet Foxes then launched into their most famous song, “White Winter Hymnal.” The opening harmonies washed over the crowd, with everyone mouthing or singing the words, “I was following the—I was following the…” Three quarters of the way into the set, the band left the stage leaving just Robin and his acoustic guitar. Robin played two of the most beautiful songs I’ve ever heard live, his voice soaring over Union Park, everyone dead silent in awe and admiration. Pecknold covered Judee Sill’s “Crayon Angels” and then played the great closer off of Fleet Foxes’ self-titled debut LP, “Oliver James.” The band returned and played a couple songs, closing their transcendental set with “Blue Ridge Mountains.”

Dizee Rascal, over at the adjacent Connector stage, opened his set immediately after Fleet Foxes closed theirs, loudly proclaiming, “Fuck that folk shit! Fuck that folk shit!” However, Fleet Foxes proved themselves unfuckable today with a handle-bar performance (5 out of 5).

We can’t think of a more appropriate band for a summer festival than the next band we saw, Vampire Weekend. With their danceable afro-pop and lines such as “First the window, then it's to the wall/Lil' Jon, he always tells the truth,” Ezra Koenig and the rest of VW create a sound to which indie-kids across the world can get their groove on. Vampire Weekend’s performance at Pitchfork was not only a massive dance party, but also all around a great live show. The band sprayed the audience with energy and witticisms. Their live sound was extremely full and realized, despite the fact that strings are used in some songs on the studio version of their self-titled LP.
Don't Lie About This

Although Vampire Weekend was really fun to see and experience, it was our least favorite of the four main bands we saw that day (Fleet Foxes, Vampire Weekend, The Hold Steady, Animal Collective). We say that, however, only because the other three acts had such a heroic feel that we could not place this show in the same tier. The factor that kept this show below the rest is mostly the music. The music of Fleet Foxes, The Hold Steady, and Animal Collective is so superior and inventive (or in the case of The Hold Steady, a reinvention that brings us back to true rock, which has been lacking in music for too long).
Holistically, the experience was truly pleasurable, and for that we give Vampire Weekend a Fu Manchu (4 out of 5).

A mass of people started pushing towards the stage after Vampire Weekend made their quick exit, rockers ready to see some of The Hold Steady. This was one of our most anticipated acts at the festival. After a whole year of falling in love with The Hold Steady’s studio albums, we were ready to witness the party that Craig Finn and company bring wherever they strap on their guitars. They lived up to their legacy as a great live band. Craig Finn is manic on stage, wildly gesturing, fiddling with his largely unplayed guitar, and mouthing lyrics even when he’s not singing (or yelling). The crowd loved Craig. Craig loved the crowd even more, feeding off the energy from the fans. The area in front of the stage literally turned into a gigantic party pit, everyone connected, sweaty, and swaying and lurching as one to the music hands outstretched punctuating the lyrics with gestures similar to Craig’s. The Hold Steady’s music is meant to be played live, and the new songs off of Stay Positive didn’t disappoint. “Sequestered in Memphis”, “Lord I’m Discouraged”, and “Slapped Actress” all shined in their live incarnations. The band’s entire discography was well represented, with even Almost Killed Me getting some love with “The Swish” and surprise encore “Killer Parties.” After “Killer Parties” Craig Finn showed his appreciation for the audience, reminding the audience that “We’re all The Hold Steady.” As if to allude to the Salad, Franz Nicolay’s facial accessory proved we all got handlebars that day (5 out of 5).
"Good to see you're still in a bar band, baby."

After being plowed to the front row by the crazy Hold Steady fans, we were positioned for a mind (and eardum) blowing show as the Pitchfork Pet, Animal Collective prepared to take stage. On the Jumbotron we watched Jarvis Cocker perform. During our wait, we felt no feelings of regret for not seeing him, but soon following, that mindset was even more prominent. Avey Tare, Geologist, and Panda Bear all scurried about the stage, setting up gear while the former Pulp front man played a set of songs that we maybe should care about, but in reality do not. After what seemed like decades, Mr. Cocker left the stage to a tidal wave of cymbals and distortion, and all eyes turned to the Aluminum Stage. The epic finale to the odyssey of music began with an Animal Collective signature remake of an AC song, “Chocolate Girl.” Following this was an omnipotent remix of Panda Bear’s “Comfy in Nautica.” The white light pulse that coincided with the thunderous bass, which rivaled Public Enemy the previous night, reverberated inside my chest, soaking its way into my bones. Following “Comfy in Nautica” were three new AC songs, “House,” “BearHug,” and “Lion in a Coma.” “House,” an amazing new piece, which AC have been breaking in lately, is a great dance song that should definitely be on LP9. Minutes later, we heard that nonsensical static that could only mean one thing: “Peacebone.” When the beat became regular, the crowd went insane. We were pressed up against the people in front of us, and would have fell if the crowd was not packed so close that is was impossible to even budge. During the song, it was almost like the fans were a breathing, cohesive being, undulating to the sounds of one of the most adored bands by kids that spend way too much time on blogs (like you). The set wrapped up quickly, for a 10 o’clock curfew had been set on the festival. With “Lablakley Dress/Fireworks/Essplode/Fireworks,” the band could not have closed with a better suite. This mashing of songs signaled the audience to mash into a mass of flesh, dancing, and Avey Tare imitation “do-doo-do-doo-do-dos” that make the song “Fireworks” unmistakable and legendary. Which also are the words we would use to describe that day.
Animal Collective gets a Fu Manchu with a soul patch (4.25 out of 5).

This is Animal Collective playing one of their new songs, "House".

Here are some set lists for the obsessive fans.

Fleet Foxes
Sun Giant
Drops in the River
English House
White Winter Hymnal
Your Protector
He Doesn’t Know Why
Crayon Angels (Robin Solo)
Oliver James (Robin Solo)
Mykonos
Blue Ridge Mountains

Vampire Weekend
Mansard Roof
Campus
Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa
M-79
Bryn
(New Song)
A-Punk
One (Blake’s Got a New Face)
I Stand Corrected
The Kids Don’t Stand A Chance
Oxford Comma
Walcott

The Hold Steady
Constructive Summer
Hot Soft Light
Chips Ahoy!
Sequestered in Memphis
Navy Sheets
Banging Camp
Massive Nights
Party Pit
Lord, I’m Discouraged
The Swish
Magazines
Your Little Hoodrat Friend
Slapped Actress
Encore- Killer Parties

Animal Collective- Get the audio over at You Ain't No Picasso.
Chocolate Girl
Comfy in Nautica
House (New)
Lion in a Coma (New)
Peacebone
Daily Routine (New)
Bearhug (New)
Fireworks/Essplode

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Pitchfork Music Festival Day One: Public Enemy Almost Killed Me, or “It Takes A Nation of A Millions to Hold Us Back”



After a mile and a half walk because of our ignorance of the public transportation system, we finally arrived at Chicago’s Union Park; the location of the 2008 Pitchfork Music Festival. The three members of Moustache Salad (Clint, Ira, Kyle) passed through the virtually nonexistent security, and into the still uncrowded confines of the park. As if Mission of Burma knew that the Salad had arrived, the first notes of the Vs.
(1982), floated across the crowd and grass. Being unfamiliar with the album, only having listened to it a couple times, we agreed that it was easier to appreciate live. After the first few songs into Mission of Burma’s set, we sneaked our way over to the Aluminum Stage where Public Enemy was slated to perform at 8:30. Despite the distance between us and Mission of Burma, their songs still grooved and hummed among the diverse hip-hop heads that were slowly gathering to kneel at the distinguished altar of Chuck D and Flavor Flav.
Following the epic Vs., Sebadoh (or as the emcee thought “Suh-bee-dough”) started in on their 1993 album, Bubble & Scrape. Aptly titled, the album indeed scraped live, although not necessarily in a good way. Sebadoh switched instruments between almost every song, bringing what should have been an album-like experience to a crawling, meandering mess. These frequent halts lowered the crowd’s energy, which had a negative effect on the band as well. The coup de grace on Bubble & Scrape came when the Bomb Squad began dramatically testing their equipment, letting loose a bowel-shaking bass thump that had to leave everyone within a two-mile radius wondering what the hell had just happened. The Bomb Squad got shut down by the festival coordinators about twenty seconds into their assault, which happened to coincide with an acoustic Sebadoh song. Chants of “Sebadoh Sucks!” arose from the crowd, quickly changing into a raucous chorus of “BOMB SQUAD! BOMB SQUAD!” Sebadoh finished their set, and slunk off the Connector Stage, as thousands raced to get a somewhat decent spot behind the already sizable horde gathered for Public Enemy.


All Your Bass Are Belong To Us.

As dusk settled on Union Park, the Bomb Squad thoroughly warmed up the crowd with their “New Dub Music”, cleansing the festival’s collective palette of Sebadoh. Hank and Keith Shocklee brought a “trunk o’ funk” to the lily-white audience, prompting mass uncoordinated dance moves. Most of the Bomb Squad’s new stuff has a reggae feel to it, unlike their earlier work with Public Enemy. After twenty-five minutes of beats, Keith Shocklee finally decided that the crowd was ready for Public Enemy. When a member of the audience requested sirens from the Bomb Squad, Keith responded, “You want the noise, you make it!” Upon hearing this, a legion of mouth-sirens started blaring from the audience.
The sirens and cheers grew louder when the S1Ws marched on stage, clad in Persian Gulf camo. A shortened version of “Countdown to Armageddon” was played before Chuck D hopped out onto the stage for It Takes A Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back for the first time in its entirety, beginning with “Bring the Noise” inquiring in his Marv Albert inspired flow, “Bass. How low can you go?” We grew concerned about half-way through the song, when Flavor Flav was still nowhere to be seen. Chuck D was wondering the same thing, exclaiming immediately after the song ended, “Where the FUCK is Flavor Flav!?!?” This query was followed by thirty seconds of confusion and curse-laden inquiry before Flavor Flav made his grand appearance. The Clocker-rocker was weighed down with gold and ice, and of course his signature timepiece. Flavor claimed he had been held-up trying to get his family through security. After a rousing round of applause for Flavor, the duo launched into perhaps the best party jam off of It Takes a Nation, “Don’t Believe the Hype.” The audience responded, jumping and rapping along with Chuck D, “Back, caught you looking for the same thing.” With Flavor Flav on stage, Public Enemy exuded energy, driving the crowd wild with Chuck’s political and social rhymes with Flav’s nonsensical humor.
The track that followed displayed Flav’s particular humor, “Cold Lampin’ With Flavor”, Flavor’s only solo track on the album. He told the back story of the song, explaining how a New York City DJ played their first radio single, “Public Enemy No. 1” and completely dismissed it with the now immortal quote, “No more music from these suckers.” (which coincidentally begins the song). Other highlights of the night were “Terminator X to the Edge of Panic” (which was dedicated to their former DJ, Terminator X), “Night of the Living Baseheads”, and “Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos”, which was performed by Public Enemy’s live backing band. Chuck D is electric live; his voice booming, hands gesturing, jumping all over the stage even at the age of forty-seven. It Takes A Nation of Millions closed with “Party for Your Right to Fight”, during which Chuck and Flav simultaneously rapped back-to-back, cementing the album as both a political and party masterpiece.
Everyone expected the show to be over with the album finished, but Chuck and Flav had other plans. They treated all the sweaty fans to what was basically a short greatest hits, including “Welcome to the Terrordome”, “911 is a Joke”, and “Can’t Truss It”. Public Enemy closed their show on a high-note with the anthem “Fight the Power.”
We’d never been to a hip-hop show, let alone an entire festival devoted to music. We each entered with different expectations and indeed experienced different things. Some of these experiences were absolutely fantastic and some not so great. However, none quite compare to the experience that the Illustrious Kyle Mitchell had at the Public Enemy show. Here begins his account of those events.

I thought “The Hold Steady Almost Killed Me”

Let’s start this off with some back story.

I was really excited for this weekend to happen. I think that really goes without saying but I just wanted to make it clear that I had been anticipating its coming from the moment directly after Ira asked me, “Dude, have you heard of ‘The Pitchfork Music Festival?’”
In the 36 hours before attending Night One, I had obtained only an hour and a half of sleep and ingested a package of toaster pastries, a granola bar of sorts, and a bottle of water; and all during a six to seven hour car ride through the giant, majestic corn field that is Northwestern Illinois. Upon entering Union Park at about 6:30 p.m. we were instantly greeted by a good number of people soon followed by musical tones from Mission of Burma. We watched some of that set, Ira got his picture taken by a guy from The Riverfront Times who noticed his St. Louis Cardinals baseball cap, and then decided to get a spot for Pubilc Enemy, as the spaces to stand in front of the Aluminum Stage were already starting to be filled. There we waited for two hours before any sign of performance life from the A-Stage, where we eagerly waited.
A premature sonic blast from behind us quickened pulses and reawakened the anticipation that I felt for Public Enemy. Much to my chagrin, it would be almost 45 minutes before my appetite for annihilation would be quenched. When The Bomb Squad was finally allowed to launch their assault, we had managed to be only four people away from the front rail but there was really no way to distinguish one person in the crowd from another. As the volume went up, hands went up and bodies went up and the battle was joined, as it were.
Bomb Squad roared for…forever. I began to think to myself, “I really hope I don’t overdo this.” Turns out, I had probably already overdone it. I welcomed the short break in between The Bomb Squad and the obliterating noise that was soon to be brought. I was able to catch my breath a bit, but I had developed a weird twinge in my leg, almost like a periodic pulse of electricity; I ignored it best as I could. When DJ Lord gave the introduction for Public Enemy and Chuck D appeared on stage, the slightly subdued mass of bass-heads erupted in a manner as I have never heard or seen a crowd of any sort do. The crowd surged forward as one and Lord guided Chuck into “Bring the Noise” sans Flavor Flav. I was confused and worried at this. As, you read earlier, it wasn’t too long before he made his appearance and after that, things never settled down. I mean, the crowd quieted a bit to hear what one of these legendary gods of hip-hop wanted to quip to it, but for every song, every mouth screamed every lyric.
At the end of the album I was exhausted and drained. For almost ninety minutes I had been dancing and pumping my fist and screaming as loudly as I could manage some of the most deadly serious rhymes ever written. That was only half of it… For another hour, the geniuses behind Public Enemy treated their fans to their greatest of hit songs and histories behind the band and hip-hop in general. I wish I could say that I made it to the end of that, too. Instead, somewhere in the last four songs, my exhaustion and dehydration took over and my head began swimming. I tried to shake it off but when another song found my ear, my body took hold of my brain and said, “It’s time to get the fuck out of here.” Again, I tried to resist and Mr. Body countered by causing a nosebleed. I grabbed Ira’s shoulder to steady myself at which time he noticed the red faucet that had appeared on my face. I think I mentioned that I knew it was there, turned, and fell into Clint. Pushing through the crowd with Clint keeping me from falling over was a difficult process; there were people everywhere. It took almost four minutes to reach an area where there was space enough between people that I could sit. I remember a few people laughing at my situation, thinking I was way strung out on some substance or another. I also remember thinking, “If you don’t move, I’m gonna hafta bleed all over you.”
By the time I had recovered enough to realize I had stopped bleeding and tell Clint I didn’t need the paramedics, Chuck D was beginning his exit speech. I had to get some water so I shakily stood and found my way to the water fountains, again with Clint’s assistance (of which I am exceedingly grateful). Slightly re-hydrated, I found that I wasn’t seeing Public Enemy; that I was missing the end of the greatest show of my life thus far. “Dude, we gotta get back in there!”
By the time Clint and I found our way close to where we were before, Chuck D had already exited and Flavor Flav was saying his goodbyes: a parlance against racism, the current military conflict, and President George W. Bush… but most importantly, a plea for the like-minded individuals in the crowd to preserve their peace with each other and themselves.
There really can’t be much more said than that…
Except, maybe, this was certainly an incredible way to end a night and an incredible way to begin a weekend music festival…
And I say, “Goddamn!” That was a dope Jam.

Public Enemy's performance of It Takes A Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back receives a much-deserved handlebar moustache (5 out of 5).

Friday, July 18, 2008

We Made It

In a room, a few blocks away from Union Park, sits three-fifths of Moustache Salad. Prepping for Mission of Burma, Sebadoh, and the iconic hip-hop outfit, Public Enemy, we are fueling up on all out favorite (cheap) foods and beverages. That's all there is to say right now, but expect some irregular posts throughout the weekend and ensuing week.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Concert Review: Wolf Parade


“Shit gets crazy.”

Ever since one of my friends introduced me to Wolf Parade (stating “Give me your eyes, I need the sunshine” in a dead pan, almost creepy tone) I’ve been obsessed. As I said in my last WP post, “Apologies…” is one of my all time favorite albums, and its follow-up “… Zoomer”, while not living up to the debut, is an all around solid album. When tickets went on sale for a mere twenty dollars, I snapped them up as soon as I could. In the time that I knew I was going to see them, I went to several other shows (Iron & Wine, Radiohead, Modest Mouse) and while these are some of my favorite artists, the Wolf Parade show was still the one I was anticipating most.

On the road trip up to Chicago, I began to think about the show more critically. I had been building it up so long, constructing the perfect set list and such. After months of anticipation and other stellar shows, not to mention being only SLIGHTLY disappointed with their second LP, I couldn’t help but worry that Spencer, Dan, and crew wouldn’t be able to live up to my self-built hype. Spending a day wandering around Chicago took my mind off these fears, however, especially the advice I received from one very outgoing and outspoken cabbie. After criticizing our pipe smoking, we were practically given a paraphrased version of Alan Arkin’s speech from Little Miss Sunshine. “You, you’re young, you’re not babies, but you’re young. You should no be smoking, you should be fucking the girls. Find girls, fuck them”. Hiding my smirk, I thanked him, but he continued. “I have two kids, I tell same thing every day. To drink, some, but not too much… es good. To go school, great. But to fuck… excellent.” Words of wisdom I’ll never forget.

Finally, the day of the show. We headed out about an hour early to sit in line outside the House of Blues. With only about twenty or so ahead of us, we knew we’d have a decent spot in the pit. Eventually, the doors opened and we nabbed second row center, about four or five feet from the stage. Striking up a conversation with someone directly in front of us, we got to hear about their past experiences at Wolf Parade shows, from their opening for Arcade Fire to their headlining tour. Asking what it was like yielded the dry response, “Shit gets crazy.”

I was really pleased with opening band Listening Party. I had never, and still haven’t, heard anything actually recorded by them so I was hesitant seeing only two people come on stage, one with a guitar and the other with a drum set made up of a plastic trashcan, a Home Depot bucket, and a cowbell, all held together by duct tape. Both men had great voices and were very talented musicians. Most of their stuff was backed by either prerecorded tracks or loops made on the spot. They had a pretty stellar set, and I would love seeing them live again.

The moment was at hand, and the crowd knew it. The pit, where once everyone was standing calmly, giving each other space, had suddenly become full to bursting with everyone trying to inch their way forward. I was separated from my party, them moving backward and I, luckily enough, being pushed to front row center, clutching onto the protective metal barrier to keep my new spot. After a brief announcement about where the emergency exits were located, the curtain rose and Wolf Parade took the stage. The crowd, of course, went insane. With that, Dan grabbed his guitar and hit the opening chords of “Language City”, one of Zoomer’s better tracks and a phenomenal opener. The band’s intensity was apparent early on as Dan screamed and spit the vocals and Spencer slammed his keyboard, all the way up to its climactic finish. With the first song alone, the band set the tone for the rest of the night.

Up next were a few more songs from their second album, including “Call It a Ritual” and “The Grey Estates”. I was completely surprised when, very early in their set, came “Sons and Daughters of Hungry Ghosts”, the first song all night from Apologies. Once the crowd recognized the opening notes, shit got crazy. Everyone literally exploded. Where there was once at least some order, there was now just mass hysteria. To put it simply, it was awesome. One of the greatest aspects of the show was how the band really kicked up every song, especially those from Zoomer. Even my least favorite Wolf Parade song, “An Animal in Your Care”, was just incredible to see live, and contrary to my thoughts prior to show, I really enjoyed it. Following that came my favorite track off their new album, “Fine Young Cannibals”. While I loved every single second they were playing it, I noticed something that disappointed me as I was the only one to yell out in joy during the opening chords. The crowd, at least the people surrounding me, became subdued and much less responsive during Zoomer songs, and many people kept turning to me and asking, “What’s this one? What’s it from?” Regardless, “Fine Young Cannibals” was still one of the highlights of the show.

Next up were a couple more from Apologies, “Shine a Light” and “Grounds for Device”. The latter came as a very pleasant surprise. Having talked to several people before the show, I learned that none of them had never seen or heard of “Grounds…” being played live. Once again, the opening chords alone erupted the crowd. The crowd throughout the show was hit or miss, depending on where one was standing. According to some reports, some parts got overly violent. Also, apparently one intoxicated fan decided to not lose his spot by urinating in the middle of the full-to-bursting pit. At one point, Spencer turned to the audience, pleading, “Hey guys, be nice to everyone, the crowd surfing stuff. We’re all just here to have a good time.” Where I was everyone was mostly considerate of not totally destroying others while still jumping around, bumping, having a good time. However, it was a little before this point that a guy about a foot and a half taller than me and at least twice my weight began beating on me to try to get his way to the front row. Most of his time was spent attempting to slam me against the fence or beating on my back, but I knew I wouldn’t lose ground at this show. At the same time, I was trying to protect a girl next to me who was short enough that only her head popped above the guard rail. For several songs I had to balance between keeping my spot and protecting this tiny girl from getting smashed by this meat head. Eventually, he worked his way right beside me by pushing away the person formally standing next to me. “What the fuck?” he yelled out, clearly upset about losing his position. “DUDE, I MISSED THESE GUYS WHEN THEY PLAYED WITH ARCADE FIRE I’M SORRY BUT I HAVE TO DO THIS”. “Why’d you miss it?” the recently moved man asked. “SKIN CANCER, DUDE, SKIN CANCER. FUCKIN’ SUCKED, SKIN CANCER.”

The band took a brief break, all of them meeting on the center of the stage to have a brief discussion. Spencer looked a bit worried, asking something along the lines of “Are you sure?”, but he returned to his keyboard. He leaned forward, “Okay, so we haven’t tried this one live yet, but we’re gonna give it a shot.” With that, Spencer began with the familiar, eerie sounds and vocals of “Bang Your Drum”. For its first live playthrough, the song went without a hitch, fitting perfectly with the rest of the show. Once again, I had a new found respect for another Zoomer song. “Bang Your Drum” transitioned without a break into “Shine a Light”, another song that worked to jumpstart the crowd into even more of a frenzy, followed by “California Dreamer”. “This Heart’s On Fire” came next, and once again the crowd showed their love for any Apologies song. With every single song, the crowd kept building up and building up, screaming along louder, dancing, jumping around more furiously. This was the perfect lead up to the normal set’s ender, “Kissing the Beehive”. When I first heard this song, all I could think about how grand it scale was, just how huge it sounded. Prior to the show, I knew this would be a highlight, but the guys really made it more than anything I ever would have expected. As Dan’s gritty, guttural, pure-rock voice battled with Spencer’s all-over-the-place vocals, the whole band slammed out the monstrous tune. Eleven minutes of pure, intense rock. The final note rung out, and the band left the stage.

With the crowd begging for more, the band came out once again. They had already played all of At Mount Zoomer, so everyone knew it was Apologies or EP material for the encore. Once again, it would be Dan who began the song, playing the opening of “It’s a Curse”. Finally, the moment was at hand. Everyone in the crowd had been waiting for it. The instantly recognizable opening notes of “I’ll Believe in Anything”. Once again, shit got crazy. As Spencer screamed out, “Give me / Your eyes / I need/ The sunshine”, the whole venue went insane. Wolf Parade’s show had easily turned into the most intense pit I had ever been in. The entire crowd became united, singing (well, screaming) to each other, “I’ll believe in anything if you’ll believe in anything!” All the band members changed various bits of it, Arlen switching up the beat from time to time and Dan playing different riffs throughout. It was absolutely perfect. Finally, keeping up the momentum, Wolf Parade closed their show with “Fancy Claps”. I realize that my vocabulary has been pretty limited this entire review, and I keep repeating myself, but I can’t put it any other way: They rocked it. Wolf Parade absolutely destroyed the House of Blues with their high energy, excellent set list, and stellar, precise sound.

Best show of the summer. Best show of my life.

Handlebar Moustache (Five out of five.) ‘Nuff said.


Wednesday, July 9, 2008

The Dragon Re-emerges

I don’t know if you know this, but it is summer. Come 80-degree weather, my playlists change. They become more fun, brighter, and also more goofy. Such was the case when I was scrolling through my iPod to find the 2000 hit “Thong Song.” I punched the center button, and was taken back to “those finer things in life.” I found myself singing ALL the lyrics with all the enthusiasm as my 11-year-old self did eight years ago. I began to wonder where this silver-headed Casanova, Sisqó, had been for nearly a decade. After some in-depth (wikipedia) readings on the subject, I discovered quite a bit about Mr. Mark Althavan Andrews (including his name!).

Before his solo career, he was the lead singer in the R&B group, Dru Hill. In 1999, the group broke up, each going to pursue a solo path. Sisqó was the only member to achieve any kind of success. His debut, Unleash the Dragon, had only moderate popularity until the drop of the second single, and inspiration for this article, “Thong Song.”

Chances are that you are familiar with the track, so I will not describe it in any further detail than the most quintessential MTV (Real World/Road Rules/Spring Break – Cancun-era) song that could ever be penned. Riding on the coattails of its predecessor, “Incomplete” helped propel Unleash the Dragon to sell four million copies.

After a failed attempt to reunite Dru Hill, Sisqó decided to pursue not only another album, but also a film and television career. Sisqó’s Shakedown premiered on MTV. It was a short-lived dance competition program that he hosted. In “film” he acted in “Get Over It,” a movie about a breakup and “Snow Dogs” a comedy with Cuba Gooding, Jr. (which I think is all that needs to be said about that).

Sisqó’s career in acting and television hosting didn’t take the climb he had hoped, so he put out another album: Return of the Dragon. Despite its unique and clever title, the album’s singles “Can I Live” and “Dance With Me” failed to perform. In light of the lack of radio play, the album eventually reached platinum by the massive amounts of people wanting another “Thong Song.” What these masses don’t realize is that magic like that is a once in a lifetime shot, and Sisqó nailed it. So well in fact, that people, including myself, can’t let it go.

It is a good thing, at least for Mr. Andrews, that we can’t let it go, because of late he cometed on the CMT show Gone Country, which had non-country artists compete for a country recording contract. (Damn you, Julio Iglesias, Jr. for winning!). But, even though he didn’t win, we can take solace in the fact that later this year, he is releasing the final part of the trilogy! The to-be released album, Last Dragon, has already delivered a single with a video to go along with it. “Who’s Ur Daddy,” which features the new artist E-money, is a poignant tale of Sisqó’s desire to impregnate a certain lady. His desire for conception, but his lack of triumph can be envisioned at 1:33, where the video shows a man failing to complete a handstand. However, Sisqó’s determination, confidence, and his goal-oriented personality bring him to victory come the end of the single when the video takes on a Photo Booth “Glow” quality. To me this represents Sisqó’s “glow” of being a new father.

Reflecting on this artist’s work and his various hair stylings, which include, according to wikipedia.org, “a bleached blonde Caesar, a platinum-colored Caesar (colored with silver spray-paint), blonde cornrows, a neonred dyed Caesar, and a bleached blonde Mohawk,” I can’t help but be consumed by the fervor of eventually Mark Althavan Andrews jumping out of my iPod video.


Monolith Music Festival

I started this post over a month ago, saved it, and never posted... So, here it is now, in no less glory.


Dudes...
I know I probably won't be going to this, but if you can afford the time and money I can almost guarantee it will be the best weekend of your lives.

The Monolith Music Festival in Red Rocks, Colorado will be two night in September surrounded by walls of red sandstone, lots of screaming rock and indie fans, and the sounds of 50 or more bands on 5 stages. The single day passes are about $52 a piece, two day passes go for $110, and the VIP passes top out at $225... You may be balking right about now, but when you see the line-up of performances they have combined with the scenery and ambiance of Colorado, I'm almost certain your insides will begin to wriggle around, just like mine did.

Included in the list of performers that I mentioned above are Band of Horses, TV on the Radio, Silversun Pickups, Del The Funky Homosapien, and a legitimately funky group called Hercules & Love Affair...

Here's an example of them:

Hercules & Love Affair–Hercules Theme


"My God!" is exactly what you're thinking, right? I know.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

This is not the time

Bloc Party dropped their newest single, Mercury, in grand Flux-esque fashion.

Kele stopped in on the Zane Lowe show (who covers all the greatest and latest including my favorite Magistrates) to give them the first pleasure of listening to the track. I would have posted up in advance if I hadn't the technical issues, but I digress.

Enjoy the trippy and surreal video which dropped alongside the single.




Finally download and learn to love the track, MERCURY.
Seeing as it will be what we're going to see from kele and friends in the very near future, get used to it.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Fleet Foxes Black Cab Session

Hello Moustache Salad readers. I'm back from my journey to the East, and ready to start posting again after my five week government-enforced respite from blogging. In China, amidst all the smog, haze, concrete, and skyscrapers, I found myself turning time and time again to Fleet Foxes to provide me with the sunshine and natural beauty that eluded me in Beijing and Shanghai. Here's a video of Fleet Foxes' lead singer Robin Pecknold performing for Black Cab Sessions. He covers Judie Sill's "Crayon Angels", a song I hadn't previously heard. Pecknold has one of the best voices in music, powerful and capable of many different textures and emotions. After one listen to his version of "Crayon Angels", I'm interested to seek out some of Judie Sill's work.



You should also check out the My Morning Jacket Black Cab Session. "Touch Me I'm Going to Scream Pt. 2" in a cab? Bloody brilliant.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Concert Review: Modest Mouse

As a member of Moustache Salad, I go to many concerts. Bars, rock clubs, and theaters: there are many different venues to see a show, each with a certain charm. But the variation in venues seems negligible when compared to the vast differences in personalities of the concertgoers. From the 13-year-old girls at the Death Cab show to the AARP members at the Wilco extravaganzas, I encounter virtually every demographic by the time I see a couple dozen shows. However, never have I been surrounded by such a diverse group as I was at the July 1st Modest Mouse show in St. Louis. Before the show, I saw the teenagers hanging out at the front of the line 4 hours before the show started. In Vintage Vinyl I saw the scenesters buying their favorite Feist record on vinyl. And with me were a rock n’ roll die-hard, a health nut, and a Sam Beam fanatic. (Granted, I boiled my three friends down further than I normally would, but I use this illustration mainly to demonstrate the diverse group of people at this show). Before the show I pondered these differences, and how we were all united by a love for Modest Mouse.

This unification was strengthened once we were packed into the pit at the Pageant. When surrounded by hot, sweaty bodies, one must, in order to have a good time, submit to being hot and sweaty (and often the sweat is from others). This brings about a sense of community during a show. Concerts are meant to be experienced by a group of people. Whether the group is 10 or 10,000, the people make a connection with the others that can’t be broken. Not only is it music that brings people together, it is the entire experience. For example, it seemed that everyone in the audience was smoking Camel Lights. There was one kid, who was probably smoking for the first time, and he smoked what had to have been way too much for his body, because after looking nauseous for some time, he passed out in two of my friends’ arms. The health nut checked for signs of life, and then told someone to call 911. One of the bouncers picked up the kid, and took him outside. After the hustle, people went back to filling the Pageant up with smoke. Looking up, I could see the smoke from different people mingle and become one large cloud.

After watching the smoke sweep across an empty stage for an excruciatingly long time, Modest Mouse finally hit the stage. Isaac Brock came out in a Corona poncho and sombrero. He also brought out a bamboo plant. They launched into “Dance Hall” which set the mood for the rest of the show, because for the rest of the show, the pit was full of dancing. While Modest Mouse went crazy on stage, the sound guys at the Pageant must have been asleep, because the feedback was almost intolerable for the first three songs. It wasn’t Modest Mouse’s fault, but it is the only factor that keeps this show from the legendary handlebar.

Brock was the madman that he is on stage. He gripped his axe as if it were really a bladed tool. His crazy eyes would have made me turn the other way if I had seen him out in public, but in the confines of the venue, I only felt awe.

For the past month and a half, The Lonesome Crowded West consumed me. However, when only one song off LCW made the setlist (Trucker’s Atlas) I was more than content, because the energy was higher than any other concert I have experienced. Surrounded by cigarettes, booze, dancing, weed, and sweat, I could not think of a better place to be. Some unexpected highlights were “Here It Comes” off Everywhere and His Nasty Parlor Tricks and “Talking Shit About A Pretty Sunset” off their debut This Is A Long Drive For Someone With Nothing To Think About. Also, they played the unreleased “Satellite Skin” which is a song I really look forward to being able to hear on a studio release, or even a bootleg for that matter, because it was damn good.

Apart from getting to see one of my favorite bands, there was another part of the show that I was really anticipating: getting to see Johnny Marr. I love The Smiths, so getting to see Johnny Marr was very pleasing.

Brock and the boys played the singles, which admittedly, I was dreading, but really it was fucking great. The energy hit a peak and everybody was dancing and bumping into each other. When they played the closer off Good News For People Who Love Bad News, “The Good Times Are Killing Me,” all I could think of was that kid who passed out. (He turned out to be fine, in case you were wondering). After the first set, they came back to do their encore, finally ending with “Spitting Venom,” which is the most epic track off We Were Dead Before The Ship Even Sank.

After the band walked off stage, the smoke hung like a shadow from a nuclear blast. Everyone walked around in awe and excitement. Laughing, smiling, and already reminiscing, I knew that we had experienced community in a great way, and that we weren’t just blowing smoke.

I give this a Fu Man-chu with sideburns (4.5 out of 5).

Modest Mouse - Broke

Modest Mouse - Here It Comes

Modest Mouse - Talking Shit About A Pretty Sunset

Modest Mouse - Paper Thin Walls (Live off Baron von Bullshit Rides Again)

Friday, July 4, 2008

There Will Be Blood


Ok... I know. Where have I been?!

Paul Thomas Anderson's American Epic starring award winning actor Daniel Day-Lewis, is just that, epic. And it's been, what, nearly half a year since its widespread release in January earlier this year? To answer your question, I haven't been anywhere, thank you very much. That's why I didn't get out to see this wonderful piece of art.

It's really no excuse.

Any who, if you haven't taken the time to see this, and believe me, you'll have to take the time at 158 minutes long, do yourself a favor and find it (both the time and the movie).
It is pretty much sight and sound, tit-for-tat the novel "Oil" by Upton Sinclair. Not really word for word or, you know, in book form, but you really get the feel of dirty, grimy 1911 oil-county in the newly forming American West.
As for the technical stuff that I always like to get into, There Will Be Blood is almost a monster movie than it is a character study of a man whose only love is for success and his son. Almost...
The camera work only seems to get in the way of the whole experience a couple of times (i.e. stuff hitting the lens and slightly shaky camera handling) but the sounds and scenery of the film are breathtaking.

So... see it...

I give it the Jason LaRue Porn-stache (5 out of 5)




P.S.
I haven't been to my home in a while to access my parents' TiVo to finish up my last post about AFI's 10 top 10... I'll try to get there soon. Either that or I'll post a link to the site where you can read about everything there.

[EDIT]
P.P.S.
Apparently, TiVo got sick of the "10 Top 10's" antics and deleted it from the hard drive...
so here's this

AFI's 10 Top 10

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Local Sensation: Josephine Collective.




By far one of the most influential bands from the Kansas City area in the past few years, wouldn't surprise me if they became the next Get Up Kids.

Saw them for the first time open for Angels and Airwaves in 2006, since i've seen them tear up local stages on Warped Tour, all the while signed to Warner Bros.' record label.

Their newest release, We Are The Air shows how much they've matured and how legit they're ready to be.

They've had a few style changes over the years, getting more poppy, but I think they've settled into a more rigid Pop Punk/Alt Rock scene. I think I can succinctly describe them as a more generic taking back sunday who grew up this side of the post-hardcore scene.


Enjoy a few tracks, hit em up with some love. And if you get the chance to catch a show, do it. Its one of the best non-hardcore acts you'll see from any local band.

Clementine - Josephine Collective

Living - Josephine Collective

Lye - Josephine Collective



myspace.com/JOSEPHINECOLLECTIVE

Friday, June 20, 2008

AFI's 10 Top 10

On Wednesday, June 17th, CBS aired a special put together by the American Film Institute, calling attention to, in the opinion of the Institute and several well-known actors, the ten best films ever produced in ten unique categories in all of filmdom. The categories include Animation, Fantasy, Science Fiction, Sports, Western, Gangster, Mystery, Romantic Comedy, Courtroom Drama, and Epic.
That being 100 movies in total (all of which you should try to watch sometime in your life), I will report to you their top choices with a little explanation and then list the rest in the category, finishing up with some of my own comments for your pleasure.

Animation

1. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)
This was the very first full-length animated film, though, as writer/director (of films like Jerry Maguire and Almost Famous) Cameron Crowe points out, it is difficult to imagine it as such, due to the finely crafted animation, skillful shots, and witty plot devices. The classic love story of Snow White is kind of lost on today's culture as we are no longer used seeing such a plain courtship as we do in that of Snow White and Prince Charming; girl wants boy, boy finds girl, boy loses girl, boy finds girl again, girl is poisoned by wicked stepmother and is doomed to sleep forever in a glass coffin, boy saves girl from eternal slumber and everyone lives happily ever after.

2. Pinocchio (1940)
3. Bambi (1942)
4. The Lion King (1994)
5. Fantasia (1940)
6. Toy Story (1995)
7. Beauty and the Beast(1991)
8. Shrek (2001)
9. Cinderella(1950)
10. Finding Nemo(2003)

The majority of these animated films were selected due to the appeal to both children and adults, which is understandable. You can't really have a successful picture if it is limited to a particular audience, especially if that audience really couldn't care less that they were watching a movie instead of drooling in a scaly corner somewhere (that's probably an exaggerated generalization of children, but you see my point). These cartoon movies are bright and colorful and fun, but they may also contain very deep and sometimes emotionally distressing
story, such as the violent murder of Mufasa in the Lion King or the even more morose calling of "Mother?" into the empty snowfall by the young prince after a single, unseen gunshot in Bambi.

Fantasy

1. The Wizard of Oz (1939)
A true classic, is Dorothy's tale of finding friendship when she thinks she has none and of realizing you have intelligence, compassion, and courage when it doesn't seem so. The issues of the movie are very adult, but are juvenilized. The story is told through the camera, as it shifts from the dark, imprisoning feeling we get in the scenes in Kansas, to a magnificence in the bold color that audiences of the time had not previously seen. Skillful camera angles work along with the color and beautifully wrought music to enhance our perception of the story as well as influence our mood in every scene.

2. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)
3. It's a Wonderful Life (1946)
4. King Kong (1933)
5. Miracle On 34th Street (1947)
6. Field of Dreams (1989)
7. Harvey (1950)
8. Groundhog Day (1993)
9. The Thief of Bagdad (1924)
10. Big (1988)

Motion pictures place us in a world outside of our own. They place us in someone else's life and let us live out the story as we see ourselves inside what was at one time just some character on a script on a desk somewhere. Inside someone else's experiences, we can accomplish fantastic things. This is where the appeal of the fantasy genre comes from. Through fantasy our dreams are realized on film, but the classifications of these films rely on more. (Get ready, I'm going to have a lot to say about fantasy films...)
In 1924, the feats that Douglas Fairbanks performed in The Thief of Bagdad were only dreamed about; no one could arouse an army into existence from nothingness or soar around buildings and high above the streets on a flying carpet or defeat a giant lizard belching smoke and flame. These were all special effects and tricks of the camera that no one had ever seen before on film. Still, today, these tricks seem clever and almost real, if not just purely satisfying when compared to the outrageousness we see in Hollywood's recent computer aided endeavors.
I can't stand Jimmy Stewart but Harvey is one of my all-time favorite movies and I think Mr. Stewart made conversations with an invisible, 6 ft tall, white rabbit more believable than any other actor could. Conversely, It's a Wonderful Life might be my least favorite, most hated movie... ever... of all time. I can't stand it! I find it almost sickening through it's softly contrived character flaws and almost stupid simpleness of dialog. George Bailey, being a successful banker with a great home and a wonderful family would not consider jumping from a bridge into an icy river. However, despite my uncontrollable dry heaves that occur because of holiday traditions, I may be able to see where people could like the warm welcomes and happy home scenes that they believe they can share with those around them.
I have an issue with Field of Dreams being on the list, but only because I think it sucked. It seemed longer than it actually was and I think Costner's Kinsella was just a whiny and unmotivated twerp. I love baseball... this movie isn't really about baseball, which is why I guess it was in "fantasy" as opposed to "sports" but the method used of getting around to showing that a grown man is having a mid-life crisis because of the relationship he never had with his father is a bit cheesy.
Miracle On 34th shows that an ability to act isn't always required to make a practical and great movie. The themes of this film are too solid to pass up; a city imprisons and institutionalizes a man who calls himself Santa Claus and a family (along with the city) trying to understand and develop faith.
Groundhog Day and Big are great because we see the development of a singular character throughout the entirety of both films. This technique really allows the viewer to place themselves in that character and they can feel what Josh feels when it's time to go home, or what Frank feels when he kills himself only to awaken immediately to the same thing over and over and over...
To finally wrap up the second tier, The Wizard of Oz was and always will be a technical and literary masterpiece, but I think there have been more influential pieces and, therefore, does not deserve the number one spot. In fact, I really wouldn't mind if they just scratched a few of the movies on this category and included all movies of the LoTR trilogy.

Science Fiction

1. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
What can really be said about this movie that can't be gathered from just watching it again and again? Unbelievably glorious music and camera work and writing and special effects. Simply put, it's just beautiful... even when it's ugly, it has this golden aura of beauty. In every way, this movie gives me goosebumps and deserves no less than being number one.

2. StarWars: Episode IV-A New Hope (1977)
3. E.T.-The Extra-Terrestrial (1982)
4. A Clockwork Orange (1971)
5. The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)
6. Blade Runner (1982)
7. Alien (1979)
8. Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)
9. Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)
10. Back to the Future (1985)

Science fiction is all about making us, as the audience think and dazzling or scaring the shit out of us at the same time. The best directors and writers are masters of this genre and make us think, dazzle us, and scare the shit out of us the best of anyone else. By using distinct and unique styles and combining their work with sounds from out of this world or dimension, we are taken on an exhilarating, existential enlightenment of our own lives. Not much else can be said apart the aspects of Sci-Fi combine together into a single thing that has a way of delighting everyone in one way or another.

Sports

1. Raging Bull (1980)
This film was set in the 40s but shot in 1980. Martin Scorsese, director, filmed the movie on a sort of fuzzy black and white medium that really makes it seem like a film shot in the 40s. There is something very intimate about the way the film was shot that makes this character study, of the angry, self-destructive, boxing force that is Jake La Motta (Robert DeNiro), an eerily truthful perception of what it was to be La Motta in and out of the ring.

2. Rocky (1976)
3. The Pride of the Yankees (1942)
4. Hoosiers (1986)
5. Bull Durham (1988)
6. The Hustler (1961)
7. Caddyshack (1980)
8. Breaking Away (1979)
9. National Velvet (1944)
10. Jerry Maguire (1996)

Sports films have a tendency to be hit or miss a lot of the time. But one thing they seem to be really good at, is capturing the comradery that occurs when a group of people gather for sport. They are also very good at lifting one character up from nothing and showing us that strength and victory are obtained through determination, hard work, and, most importantly, by those around us. Aside from Caddyshack, it's just good at making us laugh for decades.

Western

1. The Searchers (1956)
Many terrible situations reveal themselves to John Wayne's racist, bigot of a character in this movie but ultimately, as he searches for his niece and her kidnappers, he finds some peace in himself. That would be a pretty simple explanation of a complicated man that is Wayne here. He is dark, angry, and almost a twisted soul with out remorse or law other than his own. He is the hero, but not the hero that anyone wants.

2. High Noon (1952)
3. Shane (1953)
4. Unforgiven (1992)
5. Red River (1948)
6. The Wild Bunch (1969)
7. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)
8. McCabe & Mrs. Miller (1971)
9. Stagecoach (1939)
10. Cat Ballou (1965)

There is nothing more classically American than the classic American Western. They revel in showing off wide open plains, great and pure blue skies, and heroic figures of strength and justice... or evil villains of pure venom filled with a frightening blood-lust and dusty malintent. Westerns bring film to a level of dramatic tension and an emotional stagnation that draws on an audience to feel as a part of the film and we love them for it.


Well, that was a very long half. I'm tired now and have some obligation which I must attend to. I promise to be back soon with the other 50 greatest films of all time.