Saturday, October 23, 2010

I didn't need you to reply.

Euphoria: –noun a feeling of happiness, confidence, or well-being sometimes exaggerated in pathological states as mania.

I don't believe there exists a better word to describe the state I was in post my first Flaming Lips show.

Before going into more detail, I'm going to address a few things:

1) I know Wayne Coyne doesn't have a fantastic singing voice, please don't feel compelled to point that out. It doesn't matter, he's a great performer/entertainer/song-writer.

2) My euphoria wasn't drug induced.

3) I know I'm a complete groupie, don't feel compelled to point that out either, kthx.

So, why didn't I write about this immediately after, you ask? Why not write about the greatest show ever immediately after you saw it? Good question, so glad you asked. I wanted to make sure I had time to recover, time to regain my perspective and get out of full-on "stalker/groupie” mode. I gave myself a week… I have come to the same conclusion: THAT WAS THE BEST SHOW I HAVE EVER BEEN TO AND WAYNE COYNE IS THE NICEST MAN IN ROCK MUSIC TODAY. And don't start with "But he was such a dick to Arcade Fire..." I don't care. Sorry Robbie, I don't.

Now, I was already a fan pre-show. But I am positive that anyone, ANYONE, can go to a Flaming Lips show and come out saying, "Wow, that made me a better person". If they don't they obviously abuse puppies...or worse, listen to Arcade Fire. Burn.

Anyway, besides the bubble, the balloons, the confetti, and the lasers, the best part of the show was...the love. Mr. Coyne interacts with his audience on a level I have never seen before. From interactive sing-alongs to rolling over the heads and shaking the hands of audience members, Wayne makes you feel like he genuinely wants to play these songs for you.

After an amazing set-list, I did some stalking...I got my Christmas on Mars EP signed and got my picture. But the man in the bubble didn't just give autographs and pose for pictures, he talked to every fan as if he legitimately wanted to be in that conversation.

Favorite quote of the night; a particularly zealous fan suggested that the Lips play Embryonic, from beginning to end, straight through at their next show. Eh...I like the album and everything, but I can't listen to it straight's... how do you say? Kinda dark and depressing. But anyway, Wayne summed it up brilliantly, "It (Embryonic) is good, but it's like pepperoni pizza, I only want about 5 slices, not 3 pizzas. I don't think enough fans would really enjoy that." THANK YOU SIR. Thank you.

I love the Flaming Lips, The Soft Bulletin and Yoshimi are two of my favorite albums ever. I would love these albums even if Wayne Coyne was a dick, but he’s not, and that’s fantastic. Just getting to ask him questions was enough, but the way he replied made him not just one of my favorite musicians, but one of my favorite people.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

They always seemed what? They always seemed really great is what they always seemed.

They pick up where your precious Echo and the Bunnymen left off...

If you've figured out who I'm talking about, good job, you earn 1238 Cusacks. If you haven't, go watch High Fidelity again.

We all know it took me a while to make good on my promise and listen to Psychocandy by the Jesus & Mary Chain. Well the good news is: It's a really great album. The bad news is: You won't see it that way at first. Psychocandy is like a peach...all covered in fuzz. But once you get past the fuzz, there's something delicious and...uh...juicy?...whatever. The peach analogy didn't play out like I'd hoped, but you get the point. The album is noisy. There are some pretty catchy tunes, like Taste the Floor and Something's Wrong, but the layer of distortion almost renders the catchiness un-catchable.

This album took me several tries to get through. The first attempt was on a plane, which was a mistake since I always get sick on plane rides, and post-punk noise-pop isn't exactly medicinal. Oddly enough though, there are some soothing, almost ballad-like songs on the album. Cut Dead, Sowing Seeds, and of course Just Like Honey are all beautiful. It should be noted though, Sowing Seeds and Just Like Honey have exactly the same beginning, just in different keys...I thought Sowing Seeds was Just Like Honey and skipped it the first time through.

The bottom line is: This is a good album, but you may have to listen to it several times because it's definitely an acquired taste. But it's a taste worth acquiring.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Come On Chemical-al-al-al-als! Or "Please Just Ferment".

Last night 2 AM: While trying to fall asleep, I listen to a soundtrack of the non-instrumental variety. I hear my cat crunching on kibble, my spaniel snoring, thunder rolling and my beer fermenting. I'm tired, if slightly wired, as the Belgian tripel I'm brewing tried to flood Sean's office about an hour before.

But let's start at the beginning, why am I brewing a Belgian tripel when I can go out and buy a bottle of Chimay or Golden Monkey? The answer is twofold: my love for cooking/baking and my "involvement" in chemistry ( I say "involvement" as chemistry and I aren't in love at the moment. As facebook would say "it's complicated").

Sean knew that I was yearning to brew, so for my birthday, he bought me the appropriate supplies and ingredients (a kit for beginners, so you don't have to worry about mis-measuring). Sean and I decide the only way to brew beer is to drink beer while brewing. We head to World of Beer on Gulf to Bay where I pick up some Victory Golden Monkey.

Brewing starts off with cleaning, lots of cleaning and sanitizing, as bacteria will contaminate and create off-flavors in your beer. Next you steep the grains. In my case crushed aromatic malt. These were allowed to steep for 2o minutes in a muslin bag from which a pleasant sour-doughy smell wafts. Sean thinks it stinks. Sean is so wrong so often.

The water is then brought to a rolling boil and the malt extracts, maltodextrin, and candi sugar are added. The hops are added according to a "Brew Day Schedule" and everything boils and fills Sean's apartment with a less pleasant scent, more sour but with a tinge of molasses.

All of this gives you a liquid known as "wort". My wort looks kinda like pond scum. Before adding the yeast, the wort must be cooled to about 75 degrees F (a decrease of about 125 degrees). The instructions suggest a sink of ice water...that lasts 2 minutes, as all the ice melts and the water heats up. Sean suggests a bathtub of ice water. That works but it takes a while. I'm a little worried about contamination...

Finally, the yeast is added...not much is happening. Come on yeast, eat that sugar! Nom nom nom... I attach the airlock and shove the carboy under desk so my yeast can eat in peace.

Fast forward to 24 hours later, and the yeast have definitely been gorging themselves. There is quite a head on my tripel, and now I'm a little worried about over-flow. Yup, thar she blows. A bucket is placed under the carboy, and sanitized foil covers the opening while I clean the air-lock and sean rigs up the blow-off tube. I think the doom is avoided, but I still worry about pesty bacteria. One good thing, Sean and I notice that the overflow smells

So as I try to sleep, with my dog snoring and my cat crunching, I comfort myself with the the thought that, even though this beer may possess "off-flavors", at least I know it will contain ethanol. Which is pretty awesome.

It should also be noted that I woke up with the Willy Nelson/Toby Keith duet Whisky for My Men, Beer for My Horses stuck in my head...what does it MEAN?

Monday, August 2, 2010

"We Can Say That We Invented a Summer Lovin' Torture Party."

There is one thing you can always count on during summer, and that's record companies and iTunes releasing awful "summer soundtracks". Well, now that I have my own little blog that no one reads,

My official soundtrack for summer 2010 is The National's High Violet. Surely, I jest? "What a depressing summer soundtrack", you say. Well, you're right. The National is depressing, haunting even. But we already knew that. We knew that before we bought High Violet (and I'm assuming you did buy it), but we bought it anyway, obviously. I started my summer with a National concert and listened to High Violet pretty much every day for the rest of the season, and it's been awesome.

Matt Berninger might have the most depressing voice on my iPod, save for Stephin Merrit, but he's currently one of my favorite front-men. I love the way he wanders around on (and off ) stage while crooning and nursing a bottle of white wine. In my mind that bottle contains Pinot Grigio...

Anyway, let's ignore how "elegantly depressing" The National are for a moment; let's focus on why High Violet is the perfect summer soundtrack. You know what? Let's play it and go through song by song.

1. Terrible Love - Ah, summer lovin' is quite terrible isn't it? Especially if it's that song in Grease. Oh burn Olivia Newton! That's what you get for being annoying on Glee! But in all seriousness, that first stage of falling in love is pretty awful. That horrible feeling/obsession/nausea that keeps you from eating/sleeping/being normal sucks real bad. As Matt points out, "it takes an ocean not to break" , and though I would love to make another horrible Summer pun, I won't. I'll just point out how fucking true that lyric is. Being in love can be terrible, you feel like a crazy person.

2. Sorrow - Ok, this song is really depressing. This must be about the terrible break-up after the terrible love. But really, I think that this a great road-trip song. It's beautiful and contemplative and I find the high-pitched harmonies really dreamy. I also love Bryan Devendorf's drumming. I love that man.

3. Anyone's Ghost - Maybe I should mention that my summer doesn't involve much tanning or partying on yachts. My summer is more of a "drinking Belgian beer while watching fire-flies after a day of organometallic chemistry" sort of summer. This song seems to fit in with that. It has a muggy, almost apathetic sound but still makes me bob my head. Also, this song gets the "Best Lyric Award" for "You said it should tear a kid apart/ it does".

4. Little Faith - This song is about pyromania and pretty girls being sucked into the sky by storms.

5. Afraid of Everyone - This is actually my least favorite song on the album. Kinda whiny. But I do like that Matt doesn't "have the drugs to sort this out". Several people told me it's their favorite though, go figure.

6. Bloodbuzz Ohio - Oh hellz yes. This song rocks. This song is sexy. He lifts his shirt up. This song is catchy enough to play at your pool party, and when you do, it'll get you more indie cred than building a bookshelf out of cinder-blocks and plywood.

7. Lemonworld - Arguably the "summeriest" song on the album. Getting out of the city, drinking pricey liquor and watching sisters try on bathing suits is what I spend 87% of my summer doing. This song also contains the notable lyric featured in the title of this blarg.

8. Runaway - This quietly desperate song portrays a disarming scene from that "not-quite-a-fight" that's more emotionally draining than the real thing. The songs message does seem to be that of perseverance, but just barely. This song is fantastic all year long, both lyrically and musically.

9. Conversation 16 - There are ZOMBIES in this song! It's also pretty catchy, for how dark it is. It feels familiarly dark though, like the lyrics were something I wrote down and forgot about. I'm not sure how this relates to summer, and I was hoping you'd be distracted enough by the zombies to forget about that theme. But I've pointed it out now...

10. England - This song starts out slowly and and builds up to something grand. And it's about England, where I would much rather be during the summer months, because Florida sucks.

11. Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks - I think the title should be enough for you. It's pretty awesome. This song is amazingly beautiful. I imagine it being sung around a campfire by those kids in the Walt Whitman Levi's commercials. It builds on itself exponentially (kinda like Fake Empire) and it shows that Matt Berninger has a wider (if slightly strained) vocal range than originally thought.

So there you have it, why The National's High Violet is my summer soundtrack of choice. Fuck Katie Perry and her California Gurls.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

This is a Blog About The Black Keys

I know this is not about the Jesus & Mary Chain. I know I told you it would be. I'm a fucking liar. Deal with it.

This is about my new loves, my new obsession. Since of Montreal seems to be out frolicking in commercial-ville, not to mention the conspicuous lack of a certain James Husband, I need a new sonic crush. Enter Mr. Dan Auerbach and Mr. Patrick Carney, with soulful (especially for white dudes) lyrics and hilarious music videos, I'm smitten.

Now, I'm a little embarrassed by how long it took me to get on the Black Keys soul train (I randomly picked up Brothers at an indie record store in Philly over July 4th weekend, mostly due to the packaging), but I now consider myself a fan. A blubbering, starry-eyed fan. I'm so much a fan that I spent most of tonight screaming "I LOVE YOU PATRICK!!" at the bespectacled percussionist of this Akron duo, whilst peering over the stage that came up to my nose. The set-list was a beautiful marriage of old and new, with the old being all the songs I didn't know but still enjoyed. Every song was sexy and stirring, and when Dan began Everlasting Light in that perfect falsetto of his, you could practically hear the panties sliding to the floor.

As for the album itself, I love it. Brothers is the first album I've been able to listen to, straight through without skipping a single song, in I don't know how long. The use of actual musical instruments is frankly refreshing, as is the return to the roots of American Rock and Blues. The Black Keys manage to be reminiscent of The Velvet Underground (on the track Howling for You) and good ol' Sly and the Family Stone ( see: Tighten Up) without sounding like rip-offs. The whole album feels older than it is, yet it's completely original - save of course, for the cover of Jerry Butler's Never Gonna Give You Up.

I could be over-hyping it, but I don't think I am. I rarely over-hype. I'm super excited about The Black Keys. So excited I can't sleep.

I know this wasn't about The Jesus & Mary Chain, but you'll get over. You know why? Because you're going to go buy Brothers, and you're going to love it. Then you'll say, "I forgive Claire for lying to me, because this album is so great." I recommend buying the CD, because the packaging is so awesome. The disc goes from black to white when it heats up!

You're welcome.