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Wednesday, December 31, 2003

  You May Ask Yourself, "How Do I Work This?"

I just so happened to be listening to Stop Making Sense when I stumbled onto this gem of an article:
David Byrne, an accomplished composer, photographer and lead singer of Talking Heads, has evolved -- some would say devolved -- into an unlikely artistic medium: PowerPoint.

Best known for vocals in "Psycho Killer" and "Burning Down the House," Byrne originally intended to spoof the ubiquitous software as a dumbed-down form of expression between communication-addled business executives.

But after spending several hours designing a mock slide show, Byrne became intrigued. He decided to experiment with PowerPoint as an artistic medium -- and ponder whether it shapes how we talk and think.

In his book and DVD compilation, "Envisioning Emotional Epistemological Information," Byrne twists PowerPoint from a marketing tool into a multimedia canvas, pontificating that the software's charts, graphs, bullet points and arrows have changed communication styles.
I'm not completely sure that that's a correct use of the word "epistemological."

Personally, I'm of the mind that most PowerPoint presentations are lame because the people making the presentations either have a general dearth of creativity or are not sufficiently comfortable with computers to feel confident tapping into their creative energies. PowerPoint presentations can, in principle, be basically anything you want them to be.

On a more music-related note, this passage struck me as peculiar:
But by fixating on PowerPoint, Byrne -- idolized by millions as a rock star for intellectuals -- has stoked a fierce debate.
Is Byrne really thought of that way? As "a rock star for intellectuals"? I think of Leonard Cohen and John Cale as having that sort of reputation, but not Byrne, really.

P.S. - Gary and Camille: still waiting on those ballots. Procrastination should be reserved for school work.

Paul 1:59 AM


Tuesday, December 30, 2003

  God Save The Queen, Part 2: Because Andy needs another English Metal Band to Call His Own

No long intro, Ill get right into it: The Cooper Temple Clause is the best new metal (not nu-metal) band since Tool. No other band has such an original sound, or one so fitting of the anger and fear that a good metal band sound have. The best way to describe their sound would be Gun N Roses meets Radiohead, which works in ways you couldnt possibly imagine - hard guitars mixed with atmospherics that combine to make the harder songs scream and the slow songs haunt.

CTC's first album, See Through This and Leave, released in the UK in 2001, was a raw, dense blast of noise with a enough paranoia to make Thom and Axl look like little schoolgirls tromping through the grassy meadows. Songs like "Panzer Attack" and "Been Training Dogs" blasted out the gate and sounded best turned up loud enough to scare your neighbors ("Panzer Attack" alone is responsible for 80% of my hearing loss in 2002). It promised good things from CTC.

Their newest album, Kick Up the Fire and Let the Flames Break Loose, trades some of the intensity of the first album in exchange for a stronger sense of structure in their songwriting. The results are mixed - while songs like "Promises Promises" could fit onto the new Saliva album, "Talking To A Brick Wall" and "Music Box" deliver with intense songs that both rock and haunt at the same time.

The Kick Up the Fire... is being released stateside in March, and theyll be touring then - expect to hear a lot more about them. Theyd have received a few points on my album tally for this year, but I wanted to play nice because my suspicion is that itll probably pop up on other folk's lists next year.

Oh, and if The Mars Volta counts as a metal (I consider them emo - dont ask why), then they would technically be above CTC. But not very high above.
Andy J 10:36 AM


Monday, December 29, 2003

  This One's For You, Andy

As I've been thinking about the ifsix end of the year poll, and so I thought, self, what are RS and Spin saying? Here's what they came up with:

The Darkness made RS's top 50 albums of the year and also came in 25th for Spin's top 40 of the year. AND The Mars Volta ranked 21st, again in Spin's top 40. I thought that was kind of neat, since both Andy and my brother love the Mars Volta, while apparently Rebecca and I are not so hot on them.

Also featured were Kings of Leon (yay for Brandon), and, somewhat shockingly, Dashboard Confessional (shocking, because A Mark, A Mission, A Brand, A Scar was not that great) and The Postal Service (shocking to me, because I didn't realize critics were listening to them). So congratulations largely to our guys, your reviews sync up with the "pros" :)

And if anyone needs an obscure wuss rock gift, what with giftcards and all, I recommend 430 N. Harper Ave. by Jude Christodal. I'd vote for him if he hadn't put it out in 1999.
Camille 10:48 AM


  Defying McCain-Feingold for the sake of Nelly Furtado

Yes, this would constitute an issue ad within 6 weeks (er, 3 days) of the polls closing, but I can't help myself.

I had all of my poll rankings worked out, but when I bought Folklore, a readjustment was clearly in order. How do I enjoy this album? Let me quantify the ways:
-- Best use of a banjo in pop music in recent memory. Of course, it doesn't have much recent competition. (Beck's "Sexxlaws"?) And of course, it doesn't hurt to have Bela Fleck around to help you out with some plucking.

-- The idea held by some music writers that this is a "folk departure" is supported by little more than the title of the album. Particularly the "departure" part, because Folklore feels like the logical next step after 2000's Whoa, Nelly. The music itself is more diverse, both stylistically and regionally, than on its predecessor, and Track & Field's co-production with Nelly provides the album with plenty of atmosphere without punching the listener in the gut.

-- More on the production: A couple of the more pop-rock-oriented numbers, notably "Try" and "Picture Perfect", could have been painfully overwrought and hyper-polished in the hands of a Shania, a Shakira or even a Sheryl. The drums in those two songs are great examples: At first listen, they may seem to lack a certain "oomph" usually found in power ballads, but their subdued position in the mix serves the greater good of album continuity.

-- There are slight hints of Ani here and there, but the dreadlocked one can't touch Nelly's ear for an appealing chorus melody. At least a half-dozen songs on Folklore have dynamite chori, in particular "The Grass is Green", the almost Joplin-ish "Picture Perfect", and the lead single "Powerless (Say What You Want)".

-- While giving up most of her "ba-da-da-ching"'s, Nelly has come a long way vocally. There is a lot more weight to her pipes than on Whoa, which was loaded with a playful, nasal brattiness that's virtually non-existent on Folklore.

-- For the best example of her vibe, try the first 30-45 seconds of "Explode".

-- Give a listen to a swell semi-acoustic version of "Powerless" from her secret site while you're at it.
This concludes my illegal issue ad.


P.S. According to my sister, who just returned from Rome, The Darkness is just as big there as they are in the UK and on this blog.
Bren 3:16 AM


Friday, December 26, 2003

  Helloooooo Out There!

Sorry to break the deafening silence around here - what're you hippies doing, meditating? - but I wanted to remind people to send in ballots for the IfSix year-end poll. I understand that everybody's on break, but seriously, what could be a more entertaining way to spend your time than by pretentiously quantifying your musical preferences? Get with the program, people.
Paul 11:21 PM


Wednesday, December 17, 2003

  Whippin' The Llama's @$$

Winamp 5 is out. It's really groovy. I thought Winamp 3 was great, but 5 is better simply by virtue of the fact that the programmers gave up the "we want to develop our own programming language" thing and got back to the basics - making Winamp 5 not just more powerful, but also faster and less bloated. It's also completely backwards compatible. It also has really cool access to streaming TV stations. And killer control over your media library.

I understand that certain other programs may have various advantages over Winamp - such as the ability to buy digital tracks - but Winamp 5 is much sleeker and faster. It's the way to go. Forget ITunes and Napster; get your mp3s from BuyMusic.com.
Paul 2:13 PM


Tuesday, December 16, 2003

  OK, so I had a few minutes this evening and basically reassembled the code from what I could find in Google's cache of our page. I think it's mostly like what we used to have, but if anybody remembers something in particular that's different now, let me know.

I still don't know what happened earlier. I'm saving a notepad file with out template on it in case this happens again.

Update: Andy pointed out that the line spacing used to be different. The center column is now double-spaced, which I think does look more like the site before.
Paul 10:16 PM


Saturday, December 13, 2003

  The Year In Review

I don't think we had a list this past Friday, but I think we are going to make up for that with a big, year-in-review list. I propose the following mechanism - based on the Village Voice's "Pazz & Jop" poll - for the generation of two lists representing the aggregated opinions of all If Six Was Nine contributors and, since our readership is probably not tremendous, any readers who would like to participate:
  1. There will be two categories: "Best Album of 2003" and "Best Song of 2003"
  2. Only albums with 2003 release dates are eligible.
  3. Only songs from albums with 2003 release dates and songs released as singles in 2003 are eligible.
  4. Each participant will be given 50 points to be distributed among selections in each category - that is, 50 points to distribute among albums released in 2003, and 50 points to distribute among songs released in 2003. This distribution will be subject to the following constraints:
    1. Only whole points - no fractions of points - may be given.
    2. No more than 15 points may be awarded to any one album or song (the idea here being that if you're truly inclined to give substantially more than 30% of your points to any one album, you've probably been seduced by some kind of novelty.) Point allocations in excess of 15 will be rounded down to 15. (The idea here being that this site is full of would-be cheaters.)
    3. You need not allocate all 50 points in either category - in case you are, for instance, disillusioned with the past year in music.
  5. Point allocations are to be emailed to pbruno@uclink.berkeley.edu no later than 11:59 PM on December 31, 2003. I will compile the results.
That should cover everything.

And yeah, the Darkness is pretty good stuff.
Paul 6:39 PM


Friday, December 12, 2003

  Killer Queen

It seems a lot of great 60's-80's bands are being reinvented in the good ol' 21st century.

For a little backwash of some Queen, see The Darkness if you haven't already caught them on MTV or VH1 etc etc.
Gary 10:37 PM


Wednesday, December 10, 2003

  Love is Hell: pt. 2

A quick confession which may disqualify the rest of the review - I liked Love is Hell: pt. 1. It certainly wasnt Ryan Adams' best, but it was a decent piece of material. It was very moody in a way Rock N Roll isn't, and in a way Gold isn't either, but Demolition both alternately hinted and overindulged. On the other hand, it was unnecessary dense, filled with strings and piano and massive fadeouts and other things my untrained ear couldnt pick up. I can forgive Lost Highway for not wanting to release it. While LIH1 didnt fully capture my imagination, I certainly wasnt going to pass up getting LIH2.

So along comes the other side of this duality - rest assured Camille and Brendan, its not LIH1: Continued. Ryan has gotten through his Sketches for My Sweetheart the Drunk period, and took a step back towards his alt-country roots. Few songs have the strange atmospherics of 1, replaced instead by simple instrumentation and beautiful songs. Gone are the strings and multi-tracking of LIH1, and the standard instruments are used sparingly and intelligently, in a way not seen since Heartbreaker. Rather than being moody for the sake of being moody, LIH2 is Ryan trying to make a decent record. "I See Monsters" and "Thank You Louise" have the best guitar sound Ive heard this year, and "My Blue Manhatten" is a soulful burn of piano and falsetto vocals. There are some gripes - the lyrics of this album are often even more inane than RnR, and it lacks the emotion LIH1 had in spades. It wouldnt surprise me if LIH1 is the album Ryan wanted to make and was turned down, while LIH2 is studio extras before RnR was recorded. While its not a complete return to form, its a step above anything else since HB. I can't wait to see what happens next - Ryan has apparently started working with Whiskeytown again, and a follow-up to Pnuemonia would be nice...
Andy J 9:28 PM


Thursday, December 04, 2003

  Love Is Hell: Part 1

It certainly is, and so is Ryan Adams's independent production. Now granted, I wasn't wowed by Rock and Roll, but this is certainly no better. I was actually really looking forward to this album because, purist that I am, I figured this is what Ryan was really trying to make until the label got all demanding and unreasonable. No wonder they sent him back to the studio; this EP is completely awful.

If anyone can find anyway to redeem Ryan, please do, because this thing is terrible.
Camille 11:56 PM


  Question for the Grammy types

Saw your nominees list. Fascinating.

But I'm receiving an incoming call from the representatives of 1996. It seems they want to know why you consider Fountains of Wayne a "new artist". The borderline-nerdy children of the mid-Clinton administration era often found themselves humming along to the reasonably listenable "Radiation Vibe" and "Sink to the Bottom". That would, to both myself and 1996, warrant an establishment of "public identity".

But anyway, category by category . . .
Coldplay (record),
WhiteStripes (album),
Zevon (song),
Evanescence (new, I guess),
McLachlan (fem pop voc),
George (male pop voc),
none (pop group)

. . . skipping to rock categories . . .

Lucinda! (fem rock voc),
Matthews (male rock voc),
Radiohead (rock perf, this will be a 3-horse race though),
WhiteStripes (rock song),
FooFighters (rock album, I guess)

. . . and "alternative" . . .

Radiohead (alt album, because Fight Test is not an LP)

Unforunately, in the oft-entertaining polka category, there's only one funny album title.

One last note (so to speak): From the looks of it, there is a distinct possibility that both Bill and Hillary could wind up with their own Grammys, his for spoken word album for children, and hers for regular spoken word. The only thing that stands in her way is Al Franken, this should be interesting.
Bren 7:58 PM


Wednesday, December 03, 2003

  Radiohead in Germany

A friend of mine is out in Europe this year on the EAP. She went to a Radiohead concert a few weeks ago in Germany during her stay there. The following is what she had to say:

"Radiohead was absolutely amazing. They played for about 2 and a half hours, it was great, fabulous, awesome, and all those other words used to describe something so unexplainably good."

So there you go you Radiohead fans. I contributed.
Gary 10:24 PM




Contributors
Andy
Email: antyanax@uclink.berkeley.edu
Studying to: Pet Sounds, The 'Mats

Brendan
Email: gforce1718@aol.com
Blog: The Facts Machine

Camille
Email: camstar(at)berkeley.edu
On Rotation: Elliott Smith

Gary
Email: jtluge@aol.com
"Too sweet for TV"

Eamon
Email: accordionmartyr@hotmail.com

Rebecca
Email: rcbrown@uclink.berkeley.edu
Blog: CalJunket



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