Latest Blog Posts

by Corey Beasley

8 Nov 2010


Modest Mouse, more than perhaps any other band, embodies the strange place indie rock has come to occupy in the 21st century. It is, of course, no longer an “indie” band by definition—the group is signed to a major label and has seen an enormous amount of crossover success. The group’s 2004 song “Float On” went from quirky single to near ubiquity in a matter of months, while We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank (2007) debuted at a surreal number one on the Billboard charts. Though a guest spot on The OC and allowances for its songs to be used on American Idol and, why not, Kidz Bop earned the band plenty of ire from indie purists, Isaac Brock and company had long solidified their place in the contemporary canon before they actually started selling records. The Moon & Antarctica (2000) blew critics’ minds wide open with its hallucinatory edge and indelible hooks, and the album handily topped many of those recent Best of the Decade lists. To many fans and critics alike, The Moon & Antarctica represents Modest Mouse at its best, giving us the band’s purest synthesis of ambitious artistic sentiment and irresistible pop songcraft. That may be true, but the band laid the groundwork for that stratospheric success in the equally seminal 1997 album The Lonesome Crowded West. If Moon sees Isaac Brock lifting himself above the Earth into full-on acid prophet mode, The Lonesome Crowded West has him firmly rooted on solid ground, an American visionary of singular strength.

If anyone claims Issaquah, Washington, as a place unlikely to give a rock band its start, do your part and correct them. Issaquah, hailed by Brock as the type of deadly boring suburban wasteland that America so excels in creating, typifies the kind of setting that could breed the restless ingenuity he and his band have managed for nearly two decades now. Brock writes songs about sprawl and distance, both emotional and physical, and the scenes in New York or Los Angeles would’ve been too urbane, too cosmopolitan, to birth the group. Modest Mouse is the anti-Brooklyn band. Brock’s country-fried roots, his wholesale incorporation of banjo-and-brass Americana, his bizarrely Southern accent: these are not borrowed Bushwick affectations, but the product of his trailer trash (to borrow his term) childhood in Issaquah. He is a blue-collar poet in the best American tradition, and The Lonesome Crowded West is his opus.

by Jason Mendelsohn and Eric Klinger

5 Nov 2010


Klinger: Ah…that opening riff…the salacious “Oh yeaahhhh…”, that sweet, sweet groove…Truly, my friend, I think you’d be hard pressed to find a better side one/track one tune than “Rocks Off” from the Rolling Stones’ Exile on Main St. And from there the rock just keeps coming, for 67 glorious minutes. I’m not gonna lie to you, Mendelsohn—Exile is quite possibly my favorite album of all time. And while the critics were slightly less than effusive at first, they seem to have come around, as it’s firmly ensconced in the Top Ten on the Big List over at acclaimedmusic.net.

Mendelsohn: You forgot the mention the horns, man, the horns!

Klinger: Oh, dear lord, yes, the horns. That kick of trumpet and sax right before they roll into the chorus—Jim Price and Bobby Keys deserve some sort of unsung heroes award.

Mendelsohn: I’m going to get this out of the way as quick as I can—my first run in with the Rolling Stones was Mick Jagger’s appearance in Freejack, which came at a precarious time in my musical development and pretty much turned me off of the band until many years later. Conversely, it was David Bowie’s performance in Labyrinth that turned me on to his music. Go figure. Regardless, I climbed on the Rolling Stones bus just a couple years ago, but I love what they’ve done to and for the American blues.

Klinger: I’m glad to hear that the damaging effects of Freejack were only temporary. From the synopsis on Wikipedia (which, by the way, is nearly 750 words long), it sounds like it could have been quite scarring. I, of course, didn’t see it, because I have the sense God gave a billy goat.

No matter, though, Exile on Main St is unassailable, and anyone who says different probably listened to the album incorrectly. Perhaps they were vacuuming while they were listening to it, or they were on the phone with their mother. Perhaps the CD was in the player upside-down. I don’t know, but I do find it interesting that one person who refuses to give Exile its due is none other than Mick Jagger. I find that quite telling indeed.

by Chris Colgan

4 Nov 2010


When I first listened to the 2008 album Armamentarium by German metal group Neaera, I enjoyed it, but I didn’t find it particularly impressive. It was fast, harsh German melodic death metal—the kind also played by Heaven Shall Burn, Maroon, and other German bands. However, after a lot of listens since its debut three years ago, I have come to realize that this album is one of the best expressions of aggression and ferocity in all of music. This album truly brings out the most extreme emotions that music can create. It excels both musically and lyrically beyond the abilities that most bands have.

The album’s musical strength comes from guitarist and primary songwriter Tobias Buck, who may be one of the most well-rounded guitar players in all of Europe. While he may not have mind-blowing solos, his lead lines and chord progressions are some of the most well-put together compositions a melodic death metal band can have. Sebastian Heldt’s drumming also intensifies the musicality of the album immensely, providing solid rhythm lines and great fills for slower sections. These two musical forces together create the immense soundscape that encompasses this album. Slower guitar parts are matched with machine-gun drum sections, while lightning fast guitar riffs are combined with slower, groove-oriented drum parts. Both combinations create a dense layering of sound that give the overall instrumentation greater strength and depth. “Spearheading the Spawn”, “Tools of Greed”, “Synergy”, “The Orphaning”, and “Mutiny of Untamed Minds” are the best examples of this.

by Zachary Williams

3 Nov 2010


The Rolling Stones = Rock & Roll. It doesn’t get any cooler than Mick Jagger strutting around while Keith Richards—cigarette hanging from his mouth—nonchalantly riffs like a king. The Stones always had the attitude, but were firmly in the Beatles’ wake for the early portion of their career. It took bucking psychedelic trends and embracing the sleazy British white boy country/blues/R&B they perfected for the band to find its footing. Who would have known back when they started out as practically a covers band that Jagger/Richards would become such a force? While unquestionably the leaders of the band, each era of Jagger and Richards’ band can be defined by the second guitarist. Brian Jones’ versatile experimentation, Mick Taylor’s heavy Gibson virtuosity, and Ron Wood’s second-rate Keith Richards impersonation break up the Stones career in three distinct chapters. With 15 years separating their first and last classic album, Jagger, Richards, drummer Charlie Watts, and bassist Bill Wyman (plus one) were the rock and roll institution of the 20th century. The Rolling Stones bill themselves as “the greatest rock & roll band in the world,” and well, it doesn’t get any more rock & roll than that. Below are my top 10 Stones studio albums.

by Jason Cook

1 Nov 2010


“Night Flight” is perhaps the scariest and most effectively ambient of the thirteen tracks offered by Ennio Morricone on the soundtrack to Exorcist II: The Heretic. It moves slowly, echoing beautifully thin strings and pads beneath an atmosphere that evolves into full-on soundscape, incorporating the various “post-exotica” elements with which many of the album’s other songs are befit: There comes the whip cracks and babbling, the moans, chanting, and simple skin-drum sequences. It builds over five long minutes into an orgiastic climax, finally including hints of the film’s coda, sounding much at its denouement like the filmic satanic cult of Rosemary’s Baby (1968), preparing to defile and ravage. This track is interrupted in its playlist sequence by “Interrupted Melody”, a tune elsewhere examined in this series, followed by the closing song, “Exorcism”, a 58-second queue in which George Crumb’s threnody “Night of the Electric Insects” is channeled for the last time on the soundtrack. There is a flute sequence, a woman’s aria, bells do chime. It concludes The Heretic and tells us something: This is not over.

//Mixed media
//Blogs

Ubisoft Understands the Art of the Climb

// Moving Pixels

"Ubisoft's Assassin's Creed and Grow Home epitomize the art of the climb.

READ the article