Monday, March 31, 2008

Greatest Openers - The New Year

From an ambient sonic fog swells my favorite first note of any song. Death Cab for Cutie’s opener off their 2003 album Transatlanticism, “The New Year” has an energy that opens so quickly it is reminiscent of a black hole taking in a piece of matter. Instead of condensing the matter into a miniscule entity, it explodes like a red giant engulfing everything around it in a body of sound. The song doesn’t become static with this explosion of guitar. The turnaround turns down the overdrive, while Gibbard sings a sweet melody straight to his listener. Not to be caught going just one direction, Walla takes back the energy and over Gibbard’s sweet vocals brings the listener back with a flare of distortion. Death Cab knows the power of dynamics, and when the static descends nearing the four minute mark I realize the musical ride I just had.


Death Cab for Cutie – The New Year

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Greatest Openers - My Name Is Jonas

The famed fingerpicked acoustic intro of Weezer’s “My Name Is Jonas,” opens their first release, The Blue Album. Backed by a tambourine, the acoustic is soon electrified by distortion and power chords. This explosion not only ignites the song and propels it to greatness, but also proves to be a legendary launch into what is one of the greatest albums of all time. Rivers’s unmistakable vocals also drive the song into an anthemic piece of rock greatness. I don’t think I will ever listen to this song without a fucking righteous “AND YOU KNOW WHAT ELSE!” emanating from my tongue.

Weezer – My Name Is Jonas

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Greatest Openers- Rhymin & Stealin

The year was 1986. Three white Jewish kids from New York produced one of the all-time great hip-hop albums. Licensed to Ill was an instant classic, going to number one on the Billboard album chart, the first rap album to do so. The album was kicked off with the Beastie Boys' manifesto "Rhymin and Stealin". Backed by a massive Bonham drum-beat sampled off of Led Zeppelin's "When the Levee Breaks", Adrock, MCA, and Mike D proceed to tell everyone what they came to do. This song is just straight raucous, grabbing your attention whether you like it or not. Besides any song with the lyric "My pistol is loaded/ I shot Betty Crocker/ Deliver Colonel Sanders down to Davey Jones locker" can't be half-bad, right?

Beastie Boys- Rhymin and Stealin

Friday, March 28, 2008

Rap Single- Royal Flush

The supposed single off of Outkast member Big Boi's upcoming solo album, Sir Luscious Left Foot, "Royal Flush" has guest appearances by both Andre 3000 and Raekwon. This could be a song off of an Outkast album though, with Andre 3000 basically taking the song over half-way through with an incredible verse that tackles the connection between drug dealing and rap among other issues. Big Boi and Raekwon both contribute stellar verses but Andre 3000 seems to be on a whole other level, rapping, "Unfortunate that if you come up fortunate the street consider you lame/ I thought the name of the game, was to have a better life/ I guess it ain't, what a shame." If this is any indication of the quality of the tracks on Sir Luscious Left Foot, rap fans are in for a treat later this year.

Big Boi feat. Andre 3000 & Raekwon- Royal Flush

Greatest Openers- Random Rules

"In 1984 I was hospitalized for approaching perfection, Slowly screwin' my way across Europe they had to make a correction." This first line, sung wearily by David Berman, is pure poetic genius. The opening song on Silver Jews' 1998 album American Water, "Random Rules" features some of the best lyrics written in the past fifteen years. The song just has classic line after classic line, backed up by a horn section and some of Stephen Malkmus' most focused guitar playing. Bright Eyes? Give me Berman any day.

Silver Jews- Random Rules

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Greatest Openers: White Light/White Heat

Many great openers use a technique that brings beauty through rawness. The Velvet Underground’s title track off their 1968 album White Light/White Heat not only uses the droning distortion of guitars and backing vocals to provide a similar energy of a high, but the lyrical subject parallels the approach. Concerning opiates once again, Lou Reed crafts a song about the beauty of shooting heroin. Heroin, being a very hard drug, no doubt has the raw power to create and destroy, but the quality of the drug being white evokes a certain splendor for the user (and the listener). But as the song ends, and the high wears off, the guitars lose focus and gain drive, only to diminish into static crackles. After the short-lived peak of energy, a silence leaves the listener/user needing more.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Moustache Salad's Indeterminate List of Greatest Album Openers

Moustache Salad recently had a poll where we asked our readers which part of an album they thought most important: the opener, centerpiece, or closer. This poll was the result of a dinner discussion that stretched into a long debate with both sides presenting evidence to support their case. The poll was close. We held our collective breath as the closing date neared. When the scattered vinyl, CD's, and bruised songs were pushed aside, the opener stood as the narrow victor in this ideological album battle. As a result of your voting, and almost simultaneously with the opening of the MLB season , Moustache Salad will be presenting its unordered list of great album openers over the next couple weeks. We hope to have at least one new song up each day. Also, we encourage you to comment and tell us your favorite album openers.
These guys are super excited for the openers.
Their favorite opener you ask? Boston's "More Than a Feeling".

Arcade Fire- "Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)"

We couldn't think of a more appropriate way to start this list than with a song containing the number one in the title. This song kicks off Arcade Fire's 2004 album Funeral. Starting quiet with a driving bass-line and tinkling piano part, Win Butler sings of "digging a tunnel from my window to yours." The song then expands with crisp drums and Arcade Fire reveals the full sound they're so well known for. "Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)" contains an indication of what else Arcade Fire brings to the table on Funeral: astonishing crescendos, meaningful lyrics, great instrumentation, and catchy wordless vocals; making it a truly great opener.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Fleet Foxes: EP and Concert Review

Vocal harmony is a powerful tool. Older bands such as The Beatles, The Band, and The Beach Boys used this to craft timeless songs. Fleet Foxes, a band from Seattle, utilize harmony and vocals to create immersive and intriguing tunes on their recently released EP, Sun Giant.
Fleet Foxes’ first release, Sun Giant delivers a compelling and surprisingly satisfying experience despite only containing five songs. All of the songs on the EP are centered heavily around vocal parts and harmonies. Robin Pecknold, the lead singer of Fleet Foxes (if such a thing could be said), has a rich and full voice that imbues the songs with emotion. His bandmates keyboardist Casey Wescott, bassist Christian Wargo, and drummer Nicholas Peterson harmonize with him on many of the songs, while Skyler Skjelset plays guitar. Perhaps appropriately, the album opens with the title track “Sun Giant”, a largely a cappella song that has a strong motif of nature and the seasons. This short track is followed by “Drops in the River”, a song that slowly builds, adding in a new instrument every so often. The next two songs on the EP are especially strong, “English House” and “Mykonos”. Both feature wordless harmonizing vocals at the beginning, setting the mood. “English House” tells a tale of a country house in Brighton where “a liar and a louse” live. “Mykonos” has cryptic lyrics, but has a powerful a cappella part where the music stops and the voices all cry, “Brother you don’t need to turn me away, I was waiting down at the ancient gate.” The final track on the EP is “Innocent Son” which features just Pecknold’s vocals and a single guitar. Pecknold’s vocals are just as powerful alone, evoking a less sexual Robert Plant on this song. The final lyric uttered by Peckold on the EP is “Run, rabbit run”, perhaps a reference to Jon Updike’s classic novel Rabbit Run. Fleet Foxes has crafted an excellent debut EP with Sun Giant.
I also had the fortune to see Fleet Foxes live in Columbia on March 17th. They played at Mojo’s, a venue notorious for its poor sound quality and loudness, not attributes suited for a Fleet Foxes performance. However, Fleet Foxes reproduced the sound of their studio performance very well. In fact, many songs had more emotion and intensity live, especially “Mykonos”. The concert was similar to a church service, with the crowd standing quietly in awe of Fleet Foxes’ gospel-like music.
Fleet Foxes also have an LP coming out in June on the Sub-Pop label. Anyone interested in Fleet Foxes can get a good idea of their sound by visiting their MySpace page. For anyone interested in rustic sounding music with strong vocal harmony, I would highly recommend Sun Giant.

Both Sun Giant and the concert receive the coveted Handle-bar moustache (5 out of 5).

Fleet Foxes- Mykonos

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Concert Review: Wilco

Des Moines, IA is a city that would surprise anyone driving on I-80 not expecting a major city. In an instant city limits appear. No suburbs, few billboards, and no warnings precede this island of urbanization. Similar to this was the show that Wilco put on there at the Val Air Ballroom on March 9th. The band dove straight into heavy material with “Ashes of American Flags.” They didn’t give the audience a light, easy rocker opener. They started with the main course.

Tweedy and the boys didn’t let up either, saying, “Normally we don’t do this but we are going to let you in on something tonight. We have a bunch of introspective songs at the beginning here, because that is what you requested.” That is one of the many great things about a Wilco show, the unpredictable setlist. Thanks to their request machine at, the band can play pretty much the perfect set for the crowd. One request, which was a standout performance, was the Yankee Hotel Foxtrot-era b-side, “Cars Can’t Escape.”

The band leaned on Summerteeth and beyond for their entire first set, not including a single song from Being There or A.M. I was strangely OK with that since I was experiencing what I could imagine would be the concert God would have if he had a party. Nels Cline, put all of those Steve Vai and Joe Satriani types to shame with his mastery of both technique and style in “Impossible Germany.” Glenn Kotche imploded skulls with his eruption of percussion in “Via Chicago.” And John Stirratt threw down the groove in a fan favorite, “Handshake Drugs.” The band left after playing their humongous hour and a half first set. Knowing Wilco, I knew at least one encore was coming. The band returned to the thunderous applause and here, in this set, is where they pinnacled. Playing five songs, almost in a row off Being There, Tweedy plastered a smile on my face. The first Being There song was “Kingpin.” This is my favorite track off my favorite album, and therefore my favorite song. Saturated with audience participation, and Jeff Tweedy’s scratchy yell, the song melted me.

Some nice freshly dusted gems were “A Magazine Called Sunset,” “Remember the Mountain Bed,” “Summer Teeth,” and “Red-Eyed and Blue.”

Just as the show started at full power, it ended with a second, one song, meaty encore: “I’m a Wheel.” And before I could count to nine, I was back in the car quickly reflecting on the night. I saw Des Moines sublimate into countryside, and I knew that nothing was going to beat being there at that show.

Wilco deserves no less than a Handle-bar (even though Jeff has neckbeard nightmare).

If you want to live this, you are in luck, because Wilco just announced a new tour. Here are the dates:

Rochester, MN 4/30

Fargo, ND 5/1

Winnipeg, MN 5/2

Bozeman, MT 5/4

Missoula, MT 5/5

Grand Junction, CO 5/7

Colorado Springs, CO 5/8

Albuquerque, NM 5/9           

Austin, TX 5/11

Austin, TX 5/12

St. Louis, MO 5/15

St. Louis, MO 5/16

Charleston, SC 8/7

If we are lucky we might get a preview of what the band is, as I read in Rolling Stone, supposed to start recording at the end of this year.

Wilco - Cars Can’t Escape

Wilco - Impossible Germany

Wilco - Via Chicago (Kicking Television)

Billy Bragg & Wilco - Remember the Mountain Bed

Wilco - I’m a Wheel

Wilco - Kingpin

Friday, March 14, 2008

Oh, Mr. Gibbard, You Are Such the Tease

As many people already know, Amazon put up a clip of Death Cab's new single "I Will Possess You Heart." I looked and looked for it after I heard about it, but Amazon had taken it down. After I had almost abandoned my hope, and just planned to find it after the single dropped in four days, I visited my pal, Wikipedia. And on this glorious site, there was a link to the clip. I suggest you check it out. It is very much a jam. Some of you may recognize it as the same song that was previewed in their video on their site. Now, only 30 seconds are here, but they fucking rock.

How my heart aches for May 13th.

And now that Spring Break is ending for me, here you go.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Beat The Veil (Pierce It)

Pierce the Veil, underdogs from the newest generation of post-hardcore, have always been known to be cool guys with a great sense of humor. And for some months have surprised many skeptical audiences (touring with major acts, I'm sure many knew not of ptv) with live renditions of Michael Jackson's Beat It.

With a small, but ever-growing fan base, Pierce The Veil makes it easy to love them as trailblazers of this music scene. Perspective on their scene: Mayday Parade, Envy On the Coast, Metro Station, Emarosa, Love Hate Hero blah blah blah

As it turns out Fall Out Boy just put out a new cover of Beat It (featuring John Mayer on guitar solos),

which is as obnoxious as it sounds.
And dollars to donuts Pierce the Veil did it first, because they're cool like that.
Alas, that's not why we're here, we are here (wherever you are, I guess we haven't convened on any location) to listen to PTV's cover.

Either way its hard not to love this cover, especially if you love ptv.
And perhaps if that is not the case, it may change your mind.

Beat It (Michael Jackson Cover) - Pierce The Veil

other enjoyable, not covered, pierce the veil:
Cheap Bouqet
Yeah Boy and Doll Face

Black Kids Announce Single, LP

The single off the upcoming, and untitled debut album (expected in July 2008) by Black Kids is the obvious "I'm Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend How to Dance With You." The single will be released on Almost Gold Recordings in the UK on April 7. What this means for us stateside, I don't know, but I better be able to get my hands on this single somehow. "Boyfriend 2.0," as it has been deemed by Black Kids, is slightly reworked, but varies so little that anyone that hasn't listened to Wizard of Ahhhs on repeat since its release would have a hard time telling the difference. Tacked on the back of the single are two covers, "You Turn Me On" by Beat Happening and "Damn I Wish I Was Your Lover" by Sophie B. Hawkins. Also included if you buy off iTunes is The Twelves remix of "Boyfriend."

If you can't wait for the single to drop, one half of the single is streaming on their MySpace.

Don't Be a Brontosaurus

"Get Happy" by 90's pop group B*Witched carries a surprising subliminal message. This bouncy pop song opens with the line "Don't be a Brontosaurus." The sinister sirens command, "Don't you ever walk that way." The Jurassi-fascist B*Witched then proceeds to celebrate the extinction of dinosaurs, especially brontosauruses, with a disturbing chorus that orders everyone to "Get Happy." B*Witched was not an especially political group other than their obsession with the destruction of dinosaurs. One other exception to this political apathy was B*Witched's curious endorsement of Turok for U.S. President in 2000, apparently failing to realize the fictional nature of the dinosaur hunter.

B*Witched FUCKING HATES dinosaurs.

*Here at Moustache Salad we strongly support dinosaurs and any other extinct or existing species. If you want to walk like a brontosaurus, that's your own damn business.

B*Witched- Get Happy

Dinosaur Jr.- This Is All I Came To Do

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Happy Casimir Pulaski Day!

Well, it is the first Monday in March, and you know what that means…Casimir Pulaski Day! To celebrate, here are three versions of the touching song by the banjo-wielding Sufjan Stevens.


Sufjan Stevens – Casimir Pulaski Day (Off Illinois)

Sufjan Stevens – Casimir Pulaski Day (demo)

Sufjan Stevens – Casimir Pulaski Day (Live at the Bluebird Theatre)

(Check out that 'stache on Brigadier General Count Casimir Pulaski! Most definitely a handlebar)