death to cd's

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

how will we know?

The Flaming Lips' "Zaireeka" was certainly the most megalomaniac and self-indulgent album ever released, spanning four separate CD's that had to be played simultaneously in groups of two, three or, preferably, four. Not only synchronizing the multi-disc playback proved to be quite hellish but, alas, just being able to find four stereos was already a damn difficult task.
Back then - the record hit the shelves in 1997 - it seemed that Wayne Coyne had definitely lost the plot, especially because the music contained in "Zaireeka" was distinctively awkward, even by the Lips' odd standards. Now, with the benefit of hindsight, it looks like this album was a decisive step in their musical development, which was crowned by the fantastic "Yoshimi battles the pink robots", their most accomplished record yet.
Anyway, back to "Zaireeka": technology is a wonderful thing and now you no longer need four stereos to play it properly. So go forth and enjoy a stereo mix of the sixth track of "Zaireeka", the rather good - yet maddening - "How will we know? (Futuristic crashendos)".

Here's what Wayne himself had to say about this track:

CAUTION: CDs No.1, No.3, and No.4 contain extremely high and low frequencies that can cause a person to become disoriented, confused, or nauseated. Each speaker contains a high and low frequency. CD No.1’s frequencies are 20hz and 14khz. CD No.3’s frequencies are 10hz and 14khz. CD No.4 contains 7hz and 10khz. These tracks should NOT be listened to repeatedly at high volume. Make sure infants are out of listening range. This track should not be listened to while driving. CD No.2 contains the “ear friendly” part of the composition, it has a normal frequency range…The reference for this song is the untrue urban myth that goes something along these lines: “being exposed to extremely high and low frequencies at high volumes for extended periods of time has some strange psychological side effects – though their hearing was temporarily impaired, the participants reported feeling as if they could predict the future”..?

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

los hermanos

Los Hermanos are my favourite brazilian band (of all time, probably). At some point in the future I'll write a proper, more elaborated post on them, because they're renewed the brazilian musical scene in many ways - both artistically and comercially.
For now, here's a track off their fourth album, the aptly named "Quatro". It's called "Paquetá" and, even though it's hardly representative of their musical output, it's one great little ditty that evokes hazy, sunny sunday afternoons. Rodrigo Amarante sings with luscious nonchalance over a backing track that mixes and matches latin salsa, brazilian popular music and pop. Upon listening to this is nigh on impossible to imagine that Los Hermanos started out as some sort of The Clash-meet-Antonio Carlos Jobim punk rockers.

Download: Los Hermanos - "Paquetá"

spongebob and patrick confront the psychic wall of energy

While we all cross our fingers in eager anticipation hoping that the Flaming Lips' forthcoming 2006 album will be every bit as good as the wondrous "Yoshimi battles the pink robots", here's a track by Wayne & co featured in the soundtrack of the Spongebob Squarepants movie. It's actually pretty damn nice and zany, as you'd expect from the Lips, much in the same vein as the stuff on "Yoshimi".

Download: The Flaming Lips - "Spongebob and Patrick confront the psychic wall of energy".


Patrick, you see, I'm growing a mustache
And though I know I must ask you
Does it really make me look like a man?
Spongebob, being a man is just a tough job
I hope you're picked to be the best spongebobs ever had
Working like a dog at the Krusty Krab
Now wait a minute
I think we hit a wall
I think we hit a psychic wall
Maybe we're just young and we won't know 'til we're old
Too young to free ourselves from this lonely fish bowl
Some kind of wall
Some kind of psychic wall
Some kind of wall
Some kind of psychic wall
We can get a burn

Come on, let's find a way to be happy
Not like Plankton, he will never be satisfied
Always complaining about his life
To his computer wife
You think he would've found by now
To be sought as a king
We don't need a burn

attention deficit disorder

Allmusic calls them "restless sonic chameleons". The mp3 blogosphere champions them as inventive and nutty. So I raised a suspicious eyebrow and gave the Fiery Furnaces a try. I sat down, closed my softly-focused brightly-colored little eyes [har har!] and listened to their sophomore album "Blueberry boat". About twenty-minutes later I smashed my CD player to smithereens with a sledgehammer.
Really, what is there to like about this band or, at the very least, about this album? This is isn't a "breakneck tour through different kinds of music", as Allmusic puts it. Actually, wait a minute, it is, only it's absolutely no good. How many times can you shift the melody and the harmony within a single song? How many musical genres can you play out in three minutes? Well, really, who cares? This is pure artifice; just a silly gimmick. Music that wants to be liked for its own cleverness, which can only be obnoxious. They never develop properly their melodies, coming up with them and then throwing it away like spoiled brats. Definitely a post-modernist's wet dream, but hardly my cup of tea. It's cold. The vocals and lyrics are trying to hard to be witty and brainy. The sonic palette isn't even that original or charming to begin with. All tracks seem to blend together in a hellish mess.
"Blueberry boat" isn't a 'difficult' album. It's just trying real hard to be. Beneath all the flashiness, there's no substance. It's just like that kid at school who wore unmatching clothes because he wanted really bad to be eccentric but always failed to impress anyone and just ended up being an accountant.

it runs in the family

Originally released way back in 1972, Neil Young's rather good "Harvest" can be considered in many ways the great-grandfather of Wilco's splendid "A ghost is born". Both albums definitely carry the same genes, with weary, mellow country-tinged rock. Sure, "A ghost is born" has the Neu!-ish motorik of "Spiders (kidsmoke)" and offers more crunchy rawk moments, but in essence there's the same vibe throughout both records.

"Harvest" is still the most popular Neil Young album to date, featuring ubiquitous songs such as the tear-jerking "The needle and the damage done" and "Heart of gold". My favourite pick off that record though is the album opener, "Out on the weekend", which bears a bit of a ressemblance to "At least that's what you said", as both are moody pieces, with an all pervasive melancholy and weariness.

Download: Neil Young "Out on the weekend".

Monday, December 12, 2005

out: wordpress; in: blogger

From now on this blog will be hosted at Google's very own, as you can see. In case you missed it, this is the blog formerly located at There are some old posts there, so you might want to check it out, but from now on the only page being updated will be this one.
Please update your bookmarks!

new order, "turn"

I still haven’t gotten around to compiling a proper best of ‘05 list, but I’ve been devouring just about every list other fellow mp3 bloggers are publishing. The albums and tracks picked are refreshingly varied, even though National‘ “Alligator” & Sufjan Stevens‘ “Illinoise” have become all-around favourites among the community; however I couldn’t help to notice that New Order’s “Waiting for the Siren’s Call” has been conspicuously absent from most end-of-year polls. Alas, scrap that: it’s even worse, they are nowhere to be seen (and I’ve checked over 30 lists so far). Now, that’s appalling and puzzling.

Waiting for the siren’s call” was New Order’s triumphant return to form. Whereas “Get Ready” tried to hard to sound like the Primal Scream-meet-Oasis, this album sees them cherishing the gorgeous melodies and dancefloor-friendly beats they’re best known for without ever losing that ragged rock edge. It feels more organic than the overproduced sounds of “Get Ready” too: that record sounded like a band who was trying real hard to be New Order. “Waiting for the siren’s call“, on the other hand, sounds like they know they’re bloody New Order and they’re very comfortable with that. It’s more relaxed and spontaneous and personal. Bernard Sumner’s voice has such a lovely and charming frailty that goes perfectly with the jangly guitars, the moody synths and Peter Hook’s trademark bass.

Strong tunes, the occasionally goofy lyrics (”You had the brightest future / Writing songs on your computer”), organic synth lines: a classic New Order album, you could say, and definitely their best since the unparallaled greatness of 1989’s “Technique“.

So, today’s download is the standout track of this album, the utterly brilliant “Turn“. Pay special attention to the guitar riff during the intro and the heartfelt lyrics (and Bernard’s deeply moving vocals). One of my favourite songs of 2005; this is everything a pop record should sound like.