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Tuesday, February 24, 2004

  MTV2 reads IfSix, gathers the perfect storm

Dashboard Confessional performing REM's Automatic for the People in its entirety. That idea is so brilliant that I can't believe it actually happened.

For the seven or eight people who actually have MTV2, the concert, originally performed last November, will debut on March 8 at 5pm Pacific. Here are some pictures.

Now if we could get Carabba to do Plastic Ono Band...
Bren 9:56 PM

  Mixin' It Up

You probably havent heard it, but youve read about it - it seems like every music magazine on the planet is talking about DJ Danger Mouse's The Grey Album. If not, a quick primer: a British dance producer has taken the music from The Beatle's white album, and vocal tracks from Jay-Z's The Black Album, and mixed them together. Since its illegal sampling from not one, but two, albums, you cant find it in stores, but in this wonderful world we live in, you can find it on the internet with a modicum of effort.

I had resisted checking it out, because the concept didnt interest - im neither a Jay-Z or Beatles fan, and most "mash-ups" are nothing more than novelties. But I got a great review from a friend and decided to check it out, and now Im ashamed I didnt get into this earlier.

The Grey Album is GREAT - an absolutely masterful piece of work that is dense enough to classify as an all-new album. Far beyond a mash-up, DJ Danger Mouse has reconfigured the music to match seamlessly with Jay-Z's vocals. Im ashamed to admit Im not enough of a Beatle's fan to know recognize ANY of the music on this album (despite what Ive read, I doubt the drums are reconfigured from the white album), but I doubt this is how either album could have ever intended to be used. Track's like "Encore" or "Change Clothes" use acoustic guitar and clavinova, respectively, to supply a solid backing to Jay-Z's vocals better than what I could imagine being on the original album. Its not the old fashioned ripping of riffs, a la 80's rap, but a reconfiguring of original material to sound fresh, resulting in one of the best albums that will be released this year. That is, if it's officially released ever...
Andy J 7:28 PM

Saturday, February 21, 2004

  Coppermine - Seven One Eight

I first downloaded On and On, Runway, and Bresdon online from several years ago. The distorted but soothing distorted quality of Buck's voice was simply beautiful, and when layered atop hard driven guitars, accented by horns, bass, and the occasional use of electronica, came together to complete quite an impressive package. The song structures were interesting, and not so typical of what you would find mass produced throughout the industry today.

This newest album, in general, Coppermine finds themselves in danger of retreating on this effort into all well treaded waters and into that cautious territory of falling into the commerical rut. It feels as if the band, for some reason or another, is holding back the energy and strengths that made them so appealing to me in the first place. Chalk it up to production? I find that hard to believe... since Jonathan Buck himself produced the promo. To tell you the truth, I'm confused.

I've tried to remain as unbiased as possible, and not compare these newer songs to those three earlier songs, but I've found that it's fairly impossible not to do so. This isn't to say that their progress in sound is a bad move, or even a wrong move. To fire on this particular discussion, I'll start by addressing the alternate version of On and On that Coppermine includes on the promo. The promo version is less raw and driving than the "original", with the electronica muted out for much of the song replaced by acoustic guitars that provide relief for the same progressions. The electric guitars appear to have been downplayed as well. The distorted quality on Buck's voice has been removed, not only for this reworked song, but for the entire studio effort for Seven One Eight. This perhaps is the most disappointing aspect of the promo that I've encountered; however, Buck's voice still has that magic. But, often times, it appears as if I'm searching too hard during songs to find that magic. Other times, it comes right out and hits me hard, and I altogether remember why I am enamored with Coppermine. Regardless of the changes in this studio effort, On and On remains a beautiful song, with great songwriting, innovative vocals and well formed use of traditional instruments to generate a unique sound that I've come to identify with Coppermine.

On the promo, especially in the efforts of Down, I'll Be Waiting, and Save Yourself, it's hard to find that Coppermine sound. My beef with the loss of sound that I bring up is not that the sound isn't exactly like the sound I've experienced with their earlier efforts of On and On, Runway, and Bresdon. My beef is that the sound Coppermine has developed for this studio effort is in danger of retreating into all "well treaded waters and into that cautious territory of falling into the commerical rut". And I should not say that this is my beef with their sound - and reiterate - that this is my concern with their sound.

It has finally hit me that it is hard to find the Coppermine sound in these songs because they are myrred by traditional and typical progressions that water down the effort. The driving guitar riff of Down is nothing new, and even the beginning vocals seem somewhat uninspired and forced. As the song progresses, it's almost like the band falls into place, shaking off the shackles of production and delving into the heart and energy of their music. As a result, the vocals and music as Down hits midstride begins to hit and then attain the familiar energy of On and On, Runway, and Bresdon.

I'll Be Waiting is a nice song, but once again more typical progressions and vocal styling mixes in with and ultimately hides Coppermine. Once again, by the end of the song, Coppermine falls into place and that familiar energy is there. The song itself has transformed by the end and is completely different than the beginning because of that energy. Coppermine shines as the song comes to a close. This energy is reflected in the vocals, in the guitars, in the bass, in the drums, and finally, Coppermine is there. The chorus of Save Yourself also shines of Coppermine vocal, guitar, bass, and drum stylings.

The highlights of the promo are Reason and Child. From the moment the bass tunes in from the beginning of Reason, you can tell that this is going to be a memorable song. The vocals showcase another quality of Buck's voice that was quite unexpected to me. Actually, it has just occurred to me, this quality can be seen on portions of Down, I'll Be Waiting, and Save Yourself as well. I like what Buck has done with the vocals on this studio effort. The absolute gold mine of Reason is the guitar progression leading into and through the chorus of Reason, which is definitely and uniquely Coppermine. The lyrics for this song are penned well, and the delivery is definitely and uniquely Coppermine. Reason is an outstanding effort and gives me a definite reason to keep believing in the viability of this band.

Child is my other favorite from this promo. Everything is there that makes Coppermine what it is, a great band with good ideas, and a way of using their talents to craft songs that are soothing and relaxing and at the same time rocking and moving. Child alternates from one to the other and into both then back... Child is an emotional rollercoaster, which is fitting, given the choice of lyrics and topic.

To conclude, this studio effort is a promising one. If I had to stick with the numbers game, Seven One Eight is batting Three Four Six. Reason and Child are definitely the standout songs, and the alternate working of On and On is refreshing. Down, I'll Be Waiting, and Save Yourself are nice efforts, and with little reworking, could find their true potential in exploiting the qualities that make Coppermine one of the better emerging artists I've come across.

I'd like to end by thanking the band for sending out a promo CD; I appreciate it, and I wish you all the best.
Gary 12:53 PM

Thursday, February 19, 2004

  An interesting story that suggests a stronger correlation between image and sales than I would have suspected.
Ageing post-punk band The Alarm have scored a top 30 UK chart hit - with a stunt disguising themselves as an unknown younger group.

Recording under the pseudonym The Poppyfields, they are at number 28 after selling more than 4,000 copies of their 1970s-style punk single 45RPM.

In its accompanying video The Alarm are replaced by teenage Chester rockers The Wayriders who mime along to the song.

Singer Mike Peters said it was done to prove how much image affected sales.
I've always been of the mind that if a song did poorly on the radio, that had more to do with the nature and character of the song than with the image of the musician(s). You can hear the song here and judge for yourself whether it would be a hit if everybody knew the band that had recorded it had formed in the mid-'70's.
Paul 3:48 PM

Wednesday, February 18, 2004

  Let's get down to Incubusiness

I'm a pretty big Incubus fan, I must admit. I think of all the major turntable-ish, rap-metal-ish hard rock bands out there, they're the band with the greatest potential for transcendence. 2001's Morning View, poopoo'd by some as a sellout, was in my view a big step forward for them, as that power-packed, yet touching and intricate album showed that they had mastered the art of dynamic tension in rock music: Get out your copy and listen to the unexpected mixes found in the prechorus of "Nice to Know You", the mildly-distorted verses of "Circles" and the turntable-powered breakdown of "Blood on the Ground".

Their latest effort is the energetic A Crow Left of the Murder..., available for $9.99 at Best Buy! Or so I've heard.

This is a pretty lengthy record for a band that gets the amount of pop-rock airplay as they do. That length comes not from sheer quantity of songs, but from some very patient choices by the band. There are a number of jams on A Crow that result from decisions to meditate on a striking musical passage, and expand on it, particularly in the magnificent Rush-meets-RHCP jam from "Pistola".

Singer Brandon Boyd -- yes, a prettyboy -- is all over the album, begging to impress. He does so in two ways: One, by holding a variety of very high notes perhaps only to prove he can ("Made For TV Movie"), and two, by making unexpected word choices, like appendages, megalomaniac (the title of the kickin' first single), meander, amalgamation, and girl. Sometimes his hyperconscious lyrical tendencies fall flat, or seem a bit adolescent ("Talk Show on Mute"), but they hit more than they miss.

The album gets around a 7 in my book, because some of the songs, while well-intentioned, don't draw me in musically, and there is a sense that hooks have been occasionally relegated in favor of increased complexity ("Sick Sad Little World"). Also, the steamy-wet "Southern Girl" is as gooey as molasses, dipped in syrup, dipped in Uncle Kracker.

For a good time, though, check out "Megalomaniac", "Agoraphobia", "Pistola", "Zee Deveel", "Made For TV Movie" and "Smile Lines".

For another perspective, here's a review by friend, student and former music critic Alex Charlow, who recommends the bonus DVD that comes with some editions of the album.
Bren 2:17 PM

  Linkin Park, P.O.D., Hoobastank, Story of the Year ALL IN ONE! I DO NOT LIE!

Yes, two weeks ago I attended this concert in Long Beach with several of my friends. Don't get me wrong, the music was loud and more loud, but for some reason, not knowing the words to every song played with exception to portions of the chorus on a total of 3 songs makes enjoying the concert somewhat difficult. I still had a great time, rocked out until I was damned sore, and the night was capped off by several women flashing our portion of the crowd.

Anyways, I promised a review for the Coppermine CD and well, I just don't have the time. When I get the chance I'll put it down.
Gary 12:40 AM

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

  Oh well, whatever, nevermind

You'll all be disappointed to know that former Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic has decided against running for lieutenant governor of Washington.

His reason? He would have been running against an incumbent from his own party.
"I found out firsthand that it's really considered bad form to run against an incumbent of your own party," Novoselic said Thursday.
That, and he'd be about three times as tall as Governor Locke, his immediate superior.
Bren 5:41 PM

Tuesday, February 10, 2004

  Hey Ya!

The 30th (or 31st) Annual Pazz & Jop poll is out.
Paul 8:08 PM

Monday, February 09, 2004

  Those crazy Apple users.
The top-of-the-line iPod music player from Apple Computer can hold four solid weeks of music. But what if you just want a little peace and quiet? As it turns out, Apple sells that too - sounds of silence for 99 cents.

Steve Halberstadt of Raleigh, N.C., made such a purchase last week after discovering that Apple's iTunes store, the Web's leading downloadable music outlet, had added "The Whitey Album," a 1995 release by Ciccone Youth, a jokey side project of the rock band Sonic Youth. The album's second track album, "Silence," consists of 63 seconds of exactly that. (The band has said, with tongue in cheek, that the track is a version of John Cage's famous silent composition "4'33"," only speeded up.)

After checking out the 30-second preview, which "seemed to be very representative of the rest of the song," Mr. Halberstadt said he could not help but make the purchase.

He described it as "the best 99 cents I've ever spent'' in an e-mail message last week to Jack Miller, the editor in chief of the news and gossip Web site As the Apple Turns (

Paul 11:25 PM

Friday, February 06, 2004

  40 years later,

CNN wants to know if the Beatles are still relevant. (this poll will probably be gone in a matter of hours, so hurry!)

UPDATE: Final results were something like 65% Yes, 35% No.

Are the Beatles still relevant today? Of course they are! We all remember that time in 1966, during the English Premier League Championship Match, when George Harrison performed with Nancy Sinatra during the intermission, and he suddenly...
Bren 8:15 PM

Studying to: Pet Sounds, The 'Mats

Blog: The Facts Machine

Email: camstar(at)
On Rotation: Elliott Smith

"Too sweet for TV"


Blog: CalJunket

Upcoming Album Releases:
Ani DiFranco - January 20
The Coral - January 27
Moby - February 3
Jonny Greenwood - February 24
The Hives - February 2004
Melissa auf der Maur - February 2004
Garbage - Early 2004
The Vines - Early 2004
The Who - Spring 2004
Wilco - Spring 2004
Beck - Summer 2004
Ben Folds - 2004
Chemical Brothers - 2004
Eels - 2004
Interpol - 2004
PJ Harvey - 2004
Queens Of The Stone Age - 2004
R.E.M. - 2004
U2 - 2004
Coldplay - Late 2004
Paul McCartney - Late 2004
Oasis - Late 2004

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