Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Maritime - "Paraphernalia"

I've been a little out of sorts this last week...and my lack of quality posts has become somewhat of an annoyance for me. Not because I think the world is anxiously awaiting my next musical proclamation...but because I feel like I've had a lot to write about (musically), but I've had a hard time actually making sense of all the half-thoughts jogging about in my brain. If I can't put together a solid, coherent, musical thought I just as well should spare you, the reader, from having to wade through my nonsense. With all that out of the way, the mid-week palate cleanser is from one of my new favorite bands: Maritime.

If any of you had any good-taste moments in the late 90's you were more than likely a fan of The Promise Ring. They were the "pop" side of the "emo" spectrum back in the day...and delivered a handful of albums that were fun, upbeat, and had loads of hooks. It was music you could bounce your head you could dance to...without all the trappings of having to look like you played keytar in The Faint (and without the suck-factor that came along with everything associated with The Faint). It was great music without the pretense. This brings me to Maritime, a new band fronted by Davey von Bohlen. It's amazing slices of pop goodness...mixed in with a nice nod to bands like The Cure and The Smiths/Moz. Full review of their record will come tomorrow, but until then please sit back and enjoy their new video for "Paraphernalia".

Buy their record...thank me later.

Note: This video was actually shot amidst a raging Wisconsin blizzard. That's real wind and snow for all you West Coast people. No fake wind machines = awesome.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Weekend Picks - 04/01/11

This week my playlist was dominated by Kathleen amazing singer and songwriter from Canada. Sure, Canada has given us some clunkers over the years but Edwards easily makes up for it with her perfect voice set to an alt-country soundtrack. The one song of hers that stands out to me is "Copied Keys", and song about moving to a new place for someone...and trying to build a life around one that is already rooted. It reminds me of when I moved to Canada back in the day...I knew one person and was thrown into a life that already had 20+ years of stuff in it.

"...and your favorite find is just my second-hand secret..."

Brilliant. While I was devouring her "Back To Me" record, I also found time to listen to some other great bands. Again, my music tastes are usually all over the map stylistically...and this week was no different. I have never had a tough time listening to Swedish metal, only to hear Johnny Cash with the next song. Great music IS great, regardless of the genre...and everyone should have room in their play lists for In Flames, and Adele! Enjoy...

Weekend Picks - 04/01/11

-Kathleen Edwards - "Back To Me"
-Stars - "The Five Ghosts"
-Creeper Lagoon - "Remember The Future"
-At The Drive In - "Relationship Of Command"
-Killswitch Engage - "As Daylight Dies"
-Hey Mercedes - "Loses Control"

Buy these records...thank me later.

Note: Here is a great live video of Kathleen Edwards performing the incredible "Copied Keys". I'm always a sucker for a Pedal Steel...

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Ok Go - This Too Shall Pass

For the mid-week palate cleanser you're going to have the opportunity to view the greatest music video ever made. That's a big statement..."the greatest music video of all time"...but seriously, when I saw this video for the first time I needed a doctor to physically remove my jaw from the floor. Ok Go has been known for their clever videos, but this one trumps all of their previous videos, and every other video ever made. It was performed in one camera trickery...and the video doesn't even have a cameo by T-Pain! The video is based on a massive "Rube Goldberg" machine...a device, or apparatus that is a deliberately over-engineered machine that performs a very simple task in a very complex fashion, usually including a chain reaction. It's like watching those falling dominos that make cool patterns...but it uses an entire garage worth of stuff to do it. From what I've read, Ok Go brought in a bunch of their fans who were engineering students to build it. The high nerdery level, coupled with the band's sense of humor, make this one awesome piece of performance art. I challenge you to show me a video that is better...that is more artistic...more entertaining...and more fun. You cannot do it, for it is impossible! Enjoy...

Buy their records...thank me later.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Top 7 Driving Songs

For the record, I'm a huge...wait...massive Nascar fan. I was fortunate enough to witness the pure awesomeness of Nascar this last weekend in Fontana, Ca. 150 laps, 43 cars, 170+ was a blast...and it was easily the loudest event I've ever been to. Spare yourself from thinking of some clever way to mock me in comment-form...I've heard all the jokes from my friends who usually pose questions like "when did Josh become a hick?", or "what life altering event caused Josh to start enjoying a bunch of cars going in circles?". Oh well...their loss. Nascar is no amount of chiding could ever break my fanatic interest in the greatest sport on Earth. Since I was basking in the roar of V8's this weekend, I thought I would do a list featuring my top 7 driving songs of all time. There have always been certain songs that seem to lend themselves to being played at high volumes on the open road...and since I have spent a lot of time traveling those roads I thought I would compile the best for you, the avid Maniccompression reader. Enjoy...

- U2 - "Where The Streets Have No Name": This song transports me to some mysterious place every time I hear's the perfect mix of lyrical imagery, and tempo that make it my not only my favorite U2 song of all time, but the best driving song of all time.

- Wilco - "ELT": The pedal-steel guitar line in this song floats above the that reminds me of driving through the depths of the U.S. on some lonely road somewhere. It's "americana" at it's finest...and it is my instant transport so someplace quiet. I could listen to this song over and over while watching the mile markers click by.

- The Emergency - "Slowpoke": When I wasn't touring I would make a daily commute down the 405 freeway in Orange County to work a temp job at a mortgage company. A 5 mile drive usually took 45 minutes...and this song got me through that horrible experience. It's full-blown, unapologetic rock, with more swagger than you will probably be able to handle.

- Social Distortion - "Highway 101": Social D did an excellent job with this song because every time I hear it I have a vision of me driving up the California coast in a '63 Corvette convertible...without a care in the world. The perfect driving song for a summer afternoon.

- Hot Water Music - "Remedy": This song was easily played 5000 times on a tour we did in 2002. I remember driving through Montana, blasting this perfect slice of punk rock. Everything about this song makes me want to

- The Exit - "Trapped": I was driving from Jersey to Penn after a show to visit some friends, and the only cd in the car I borrowed (thanks Chris) was The Exit. This song ended up on repeat for much of my trip. It was 2am...the snow was falling...and this was my soundtrack. It made an endless sea of toll plaza's a little more bearable.

- Cave In - "Big Riff": This song reminds me of driving back from shows in my little '86 Honda. I only had working speakers in the back, and this song would come close to blowing them every time. When it would end I would hit rewind on my tape player and play it again. A massive song that was heavy...spacey...and was perfect for an audience of one: me.

Buy these records...thank me later.

Note: Honorable mention goes to Starflyer 59 for "I Drive A Lot"...I was going to list it yesterday but got busy doing other things. It was brought to my attention that my list was sorely lacking without it...and that, coupled with the fact that I do love the song, means it gets a message now.
Check out this great video here if you have a chance.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Weekend Picks - 03/25/11

This week finally brought us the new record by Richard Ashcroft...former front man of The Verve...all around awesome singer and songwriter. The Verve have been one of my favorite bands for over a decade, and the voice of Mr. Ashcroft is one of the main reasons I got into them. It's soulful...and I have heard more than one person say his vocal prowess is "sex" personified in voice. To each his/her own I guess...all I know is that his vocals are amazing...and this week he released his 4th solo album, "United Nations Of Sound". If you haven't heard his solo work I would recommend it...the song writing is more concise (in a "pop" sense) than his work with The Verve...but the instrumentation still sounds rich and multi-layered. What I am really saying is that his solo work is great...and you should be listening to it religiously. While Ashcroft was on rotation this week, I also broke out some records I hadn't listened to in a while. Shiner, Josh Rouse (a great songwriter), and Saves The Day (which brought me back to my younger days) all had repeated listens...and since I did a post on heavier music (riffs to be exact) I broke out "Oceanic" by Isis (massive, massive, and massive) and listened to the song "Firebreather" by Thrice around 100 times. It's a wide range of stuff this week but hopefully you, the listener, find it enjoyable. Good times...

Weekend Picks - 03/25/11

-Shiner - "The Egg"
-Josh Rouse - "Dressed Up Like Nebraska"
-Saves The Day - "Stay What You Are"
-Isis - "Oceanic"
-Richard Ashcroft - "United Nations Of Sound"
-Thrice - "The Alchemy Index (Volume 1)

Buy these records...thank me later.

Note: The link for Thrice is going to take you directly to them performing "Firebreather" live @ The House Of Blues. It's a great performance video...try not to rock out too hard in your cubicle.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Top 7 Huge Riffs (+1)

Coalesce live
I've always been a fan of huge guitar riffs regardless of the genre...rock, hardcore, metal, post-hardcore. If there is a down-tuned guitar (we used to call it "drop-d goodness" back in the day) with any sort of groove...I'm usually into it. I remember when "grunge" broke, and major labels were signing every band that was somewhat heavy. This signing binge included great bands like Helmet (who had already released music on Amphetamine Reptile) and Quicksand (who had done an EP for Revelation Records)...bands that took the art of riff writing to a higher level. These were bands that sounded nothing like what was happening in Seattle, and they were more akin to the hardcore bands I'd been eating up in the early 90's. Helmet, Quicksand, Rage Against The Machine, Shift, Burn...these were all bands that I got into in the 90's...and these bands were able to write monstrous guitar riffs...riffs that were focused more on the groove, and less on guitar "shred". Since then I've been a sucker for a band that could write a good this is my amateurish attempt at putting down a list of what I consider to be the best hardcore/post-hardcore riffs.

Before I get to my list I have to make two clarifications: 1) Anything even remotely considered nĂ¼-metal is automatically excluded due to the overwhelming sense of "suck" that most bands in said genre exude (much to your dismay I'm sure). 2) I tried my best to steer away from what I consider "metal". That is a beast entirely unto itself...and my minimal amount of brain activity couldn't sort through which At The Gates song I would have to exclude (which is quite a chore seeing as though every song on "Slaughter Of The Soul" is awesome).

So here it short list of the best hardcore/post-hardcore riffs. Enjoy...

- Quicksand - "Lie And Wait" - lot's of dynamics. This song swells, and the riff is epic. Easily my favorite Quicksand song. Most of my friends will bust me for picking this song over "Land Mind Spring" or something else...but I think this song rocks the hardest.

- Handsome - "Lead Bellied" - One of the most ignored bands of all time...featuring members of Quicksand and The Cro-Mags. This song is's just a shame that only a handful of people bought this when it was released. I consider anyone who owns it my friend, and musical soul-mate.

- The Deftones - "Elite" - The only description I can give this song is "brutal." It's one of the most intense songs I've ever heard. I liken it to having your ears filed off with a power-sander...and enjoying every minute of it.

- Thrice - "Firebreather" - If you looked in the dictionary under "massive" it would have a footnote siting this song as personifying the word. Thrice has always perfectly balanced punk, and hardcore...but this song showcases their knack for dropping one huge riff.

- Helmet - "Smart" - Although I wasn't a huge fan of their "Size Matters" album, this track was everything great about Helmet. It's classic...and the guitar line tops everything else Paige Hamilton released...and that's a tall order considering his catalog of work.

- Coalesce - "What Happens On The Road Always Comes Home" - I've always considered Coalesce a hardcore band...and this song has what I consider their most swinging riff.

- Snapcase - "Harrison Bergeron" - I have always loved Snapcase...and this is, hands down, my favorite song by them. The drums, bass, and guitars work perfectly together to create a gargantuan wall of sound. It was heavy, without the cliched "chugga" riffs that were coming out of the hardcore scene at the time.

- Rage Against The Machine - "Bombtrack" - The first RATM album was chock full of great riffs...and "Bombtrack" is one of the best. It's proof that one guitar, one bass, and drums can create something that has an incredible amount of groove.

Buy these records...thank me later.

Note: The picture above is the mighty Coalesce...blowing away everyone in the audience, and obliterating the stage with their mid-west brand of hardcore insanity.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Ryan Adams - "How Do You Keep Love Alive" (Live)

Ryan Adams has been in constant rotation for the last few days...and he is also the mid-week palate cleanser. I've been a fan of his since I first heard Whiskeytown back when I was dj'ing in Calgary. I've always thought his music was a perfect marriage of "americana", country, and The Smiths...a mix of influences that probably doesn't do him (or his work) justice. It's thousands of times better than some pithy description I could come up with...all I know is that his music resonates with me, and today's video is one of the most beautiful songs I've ever listened to. The music, coupled with incredible lyrics, make this song one of my favorites by him. Enjoy...

Lord, I miss that girl
On the day we met the sun was shining down
Down on the valley
Riddled with horses running
Crushing them with flowers
I would have picked for her
On the day she was born
She runs through my veins like a long black river
And rattles my cage like a thunderstorm
Oh my soul

What does it mean?
What does it mean?
What does it mean to be so sad?
When someone you love
Someone you love is supposed to make you happy
What do you do
How do you keep love alive?
When it won't

What, what are the words
They use when they know it's over
"We need to talk," or
"I'm confused, maybe later you can come over"
I would've held your mother's hand
On the day you was born
She runs through my veins
Like a long black river and rattles my cage
Like a thunderstorm
Oh, my soul

What does it mean?
What does it mean?
What does it mean to be so sad?
When someone you love
Someone you love is supposed to make you happy
What do you do
How do you keep love alive?
When it won't
How do you keep love alive?

Buy his records...thank me later.