Tag Archives: Rock

The Full Picture: The Black Keys

Probably the most necessary of the Full Picture articles that I’ve written so far, what’s becoming a forgotten history for The Black Keys is that they were a very significant act earlier in their career as part of the blues-rock music scene. The band’s always been a duo of Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney, and this article is going to try and look at their rise to national prominence and point out just how their sound evolved to allow that to happen. This whole process starts back in 2002 when they released their debut album named The Big Come Up

The Black Keys- The Big Come Up (2002)
The Black Keys- The Big Come Up (2002)

The debut might surprise you if you’ve never heard it before in how raw the sound is, but it gives you a good idea about the roots of the band. The style is straight-forward for the listener, which is more the result of a two-person band than anything else, and it has a strong blues-rock feel to it for sure. That’s to say that while the guitar doesn’t have an overly-complicated role in the song it’s still got a prominent role on every track, and the songs themselves don’t get overly focused on choruses. Tracks progress naturally to tell a story, and that’s something which defines the early Black Keys tracks very well. There’s more attention placed on the instruments than the later work which is a nice change up for listening to them, but they also improved a lot after this album so other earlier works end up defining the band better. They’re cover of “She Said, She Said” is fantastic though.

Track Picks: “She Said, She Said“, “I’ll Be Your Man“, “Brooklyn Bound

The Black Keys- Thickfreakness (2003)
The Black Keys- Thickfreakness (2003)

A terrific album from the group which meant a lot for them getting attention as a premiere Blues-rock group and showed that the sound on The Big Come Up wasn’t a band which struck gold once. Auerbach’s vocals right from the start of the title track are nearly indiscernible in a classic blues-rock sense, and the band’s guitar dominated style seemed to benefit a lot from the band’s label switch to Fat Possum Records. The Black Keys were a young band that was playing energetic-guitar music and had a cool-vibe attached to them which was hard to argue against, and began to grow a good sized fan base because of this. Once again my favorite track on this album’s a cover as the group did a take on the classic Sonics song (and originally Richard Berry) “Have Love, Will Travel” and knocked it out of the park in the process.

Track Picks: “Have Love, Will Travel“, “Set You Free“, “Hurt Like Mine

The Black Keys- Rubber Factory (2004)
The Black Keys- Rubber Factory (2004)

Rubber Factory gets it’s title because it marks a change in the recording environment, as the band shifted out of Patrick Carney’s basement and into an old abandoned rubber factory for the sessions. When you read that you’d expect a larger change in sound then what actually translates to the album though, as the different acoustics and stylistic approach don’t seem to make to much of an indent on the actual recorded sound surprisingly. A good album which marks the first time the group ever charted, but probably best to re-visit for singles more than the whole product. Once again I’m a big fan of a cover song on this album in “Act Nice and Gentle” which was originally done by The Kinks, a huge stylistic difference but one that again ends up working beautifully well for the group, something that speaks volumes about their taste in music in my opinion. “The Lengths” deserves mention here too because it isn’t often mentioned as one of the group’s premiere songs, but I love their slower and sadder material and that track is one of the best examples I can give of why. The song is a really sentimental and emotional listen which is what the blues is supposed to be all about, and it’s a treat to listen to.

Top Tracks: “Act Nice and Gentle“, “The Lengths“, “All Hands Against His Own
Continue reading The Full Picture: The Black Keys

Song-A-Day: January 6th

Happy Birthday to Arctic Monkeys frontman Alex Turner who turns 28 today. The Arctic Monkeys exploded onto the scene with Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not back in 2006, and since then the band has developed into becoming the premiere modern english rock group, with Turner’s improvement as a lyricist being cited as a major reason for why. Our Song-A-Day celebrates Mr. Turner’s Birthday and comes off of the band’s sophomore album Favourite Worst Nightmare: “505″

I’m going back to 505
If it’s a seven hour flight or a forty-five minute drive
In my imagination you’re waiting, lying on your side
With your hands between your thighs

Stop and wait a sec
Oh, when you look at me like that, my darling
What did you expect?
I probably still adore you with your hands around my neck
Or I did last time I checked

Not shy of a spark
A knife twists at the thought that I should fall short of the mark
Frightened by the bite though it’s no harsher than the bark
Middle of adventure, such a perfect place to start

I’m going back to 505
If it’s a seven hour flight or a forty-five minute drive
In my imagination you’re waiting, lying on your side
With your hands between your thighs

But I crumble completely when you cry
It seems like once again you’ve had to greet me with goodbye
I’m always just about to go and spoil a surprise
Take my hands off of your eyes too soon

I’m going back to 505
If it’s a seven hour flight or a forty-five minute drive
In my imagination you’re waiting, lying on your side
With your hands between your thighs and a smile!

The Full Picture: Wilco

Before there was Wilco, there was an alternative country band named Uncle Tupelo which enjoyed moderate success with the dual lead singers Jay Farrar and Jeff Tweedy. The issue with Uncle Tupelo proved to be that the label “dual” only ended up being true in terms of song credits because Farrar and Tweedy grew to detest each other as they spent more time in the project, continuing up until Farrar decided to quit the band in 1994. This left the remaining group members in a bit of an awkward situation, but likely one that Tweedy was glad to find himself in as all of the other members of Uncle Tupelo sans-Farrar decided to stick with him post-split. The band got renamed to Wilco, a purposefully ironic term which is short for “Will Comply”, and released their debut album A.M. in 1995.

Wilco- A.M. (1995)
Wilco- A.M. (1995)

A.M. stayed true to the alternative-country sound that the band had been accustomed to playing in Uncle Tupelo in many ways, but don’t get that classification confused with the travesty of what is today called country. It was more Americana then that and by many accounts a successful debut album for the group which lent the band some credibility that they would still be releasing good music. Tweedy took over full ownership for vocals and song-writing, but a lot of people at the time held the opinion that Wilco would prove to be the less successful group in comparison to Farrar’s new project Son Volt and their better reviewed debut Trace.

Top Tracks: “Box Full of Letters“, “That’s Not the Issue“, “I Must Be High

Wilco- Being There (1996)
Wilco- Being There (1996)

The opening track for Being There is named “Misunderstood”, and that track is infinitely more ambitious than anything that A.M. could claim. The message is sent that the band was going to try and take a step away from their previous sound and try to create a more meaningful brand of music, and it was met with better reviews and more album sales than their debut, an impressive feat for a double album which was written and recorded in the span of a year. In hindsight I actually end up preferring to listen to their debut over this, but the reason for that is because in terms of Wilco’s discography they went on to progress way past what was being accomplished on Being There. Still, this album served as a good starting point for the sound which would evolve into Summerteeth.

Track Picks: “Misunderstood“, “Forget the Flowers“, “The Lonely 1

Mermaid Avenue
Billy Bragg & Wilco- Mermaid Avenue (1998)

Mermaid Avenue was a projected that started when Woody Guthrie’s daughter approached Billy Bragg and asked him to record songs using a collection of never-before-recorded lyrics which Guthrie had composed. Bragg obliged and recruited Wilco to help out with the project, and today it’s actually evolved to include Mermaid Avenue, Mermaid Avenue Vol. II, and Mermaid Avenue Vol. III (which get combined into the box set Mermaid Avenue: The Complete Sessions). Good recordings to listen to, but unfortunately not-overly significant for the purpose of this article as it was a two artist collaboration where neither one was responsible for the lyrics.
Continue reading The Full Picture: Wilco

Jared’s Top Ten Albums of 2010

So it’s that time of year again, when all the blogs are buzzing with their picks for the best albums of the year.  I figured it was only right for me to get in on it!  I had quite a tough time deciding what albums to pick.  I can think of at least 20-25 albums I had in heavy rotation all year, and there are a bunch of albums I never really got a chance to fully listen to that I know I would really enjoy (The National, anyone?).  I was able to come up with a list though, as well some some honorable mentions.  So without any further ado, here it is!  My top ten of 2010.

  1. Titus Andronicus – The Monitor (XL)
  2. Fake Problems – Real Ghosts Caught on Tape (SideOneDummy)
  3. Superchunk – Majesty Shredding (Merge)
  4. Make Do and Mend – End Measured Mile (Paper + Plastick/Panic)
  5. Ted Leo and the Pharmacists – The Brutalist Bricks (Matador)
  6. Arcade Fire – The Suburbs (Merge)
  7. The Menzingers – Chamberlain Waits (Red Scare)
  8. Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra – Kollaps Tradixionales (Constellation)
  9. Envy – Recitation (Temporary Residence Limited)
  10. Crime in Stereo – I Was Trying to Describe You to Someone (Bridge 9)

Honorable Mention

  • Bad Religion – The Dissent of Man (Epitaph)
  • The Gaslight Anthem – American Slang (SideOneDummy)
  • Free Energy – Stuck on Nothing (DFA)
  • LCD Soundsystem – This is Happening (DFA/Virgin)
  • The Magnetic Fields – Realism (Nonesuch)
  • Grinderman – Grinderman 2 (Mute/Anti-)
  • Trash Talk – Eyes and Nines (Trash Talk Collective)

Albums That Probably Would Be on This List If I Listened to Them More

  • The National – High Violet (4AD)
  • Iron Chic – Not Like This (Dead Broke)
  • Kanye West – My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (Roc-A-Fella/Def Jam)
  • Sufjan Stevens – The Age of Adz (Asthmatic Kitty)
  • Young Livers – Of Misery and Toil (No Idea)

Albums That Are Kind of Mediocre But Have a Few Awesome Songs

  • Against Me! – White Crosses (Sire)

Well, there it is.  My top lists of 2010.  Hopefully you enjoyed reading it!  I certainly enjoyed making it.  I urge you to check out all the records listed.  Go out and buy them if you can!  See y’all in 2011!

Jared

WCDB Rock Director

New Xiu Xiu and Roy Montgomery/Grouper split

Xiu XiuDear God, I Hate Myself (Kill Rock Stars)

Noisy, loud, DARK, songs, generally having more pop tendencies than not. More discordant and experimental than the last few releases, Dear God, I Hate Myself does some exploring where the debut LP Knife Play left off. A wide array of percussive elements are explored, including; a bumpin’, seemingly ragamuffin drum machine, eerie clinking chimes, clunky pots & pans, and other crazy things I’m not even sure of. Jamie Stewart’s voice is a mad powerhouse of trembling torment, displaying quite a range of of intensely scary (but catchy) melodies. Chirping and whining weird electronics make insane noises in explosions of indescribable overlapping sounds. Songs that contemplate life (possibly through death) and other heavy subject matter including eating disorders and self mutilation give the album an overall disheartened and dejected vibe that is certainly brightened by the mostly upbeat tones of the instrumentation. Through the wonderful feedbacking, whaling mess of distortion lies a modicum of hope in the horror of life, a light that is slightly brighter than it once was.

Roy Montgomery/GrouperSplit 12” (Self-Released)

Roy Montgomery’s side consists of one 18-minute flanging monster track that was recorded LIVE. It’s drony, cool, calm psych (with intensified moments of buiding anxiety) that progresses through multiple movements and manages to stay on point, with only a few subtle reversions. Though it is eighteen minutes long, it is not “jammy shit.” I assure you I do not typically like “jammy shit”. However, I do like this, probably because I do not consider it as such (even though parts were probably improvised). This is most defintely structured, each riff gradually leading to the next, strummed chords on a guitar that almost sound like a sitar. There is a bright, serious energy focused in points of this song that soothes the mind, transporting one to a place of ecstatic joy, hovering blissfully in an other-worldly realm. Dreamy, whirring notes floating in the air, bouncing around wavering with reverb’d twang, sounding an echo.
Grouper (Elizabeth Harris) begins her side of the record in a hissing haze of ambient melancholy with waves of ancient lament emerging from the fallow fog drifting around. The EP contains no guitar that I can hear, which is typically what accompanies her vocals, but rather, makes use of some electronic organ. “Vessel” and “Hold the Way” employ this, making for tremolous, dreamy, piano-like tones covered in fuzz and dust, void of much light. Liz Harris’ voice is the most impressive instrument on the record, carving out smooth melodies of angelic murmuring, opening space for more fluttering coos and harmonizations that overlap, shining in pools of painfully beautiful serenity. Her fourth track closes with an organ groove fading-out to field recordings of barking dogs and dripping rain. Sparse, crackling songs that, even though somewhat uneventful (compared to pop songs), flow down with a sorrow and strangeness that’s chilling (in an almost happy way).
WARNING: THESE ARE NOT POP SONGS, JUST AMBIENT TUNES WITH GREAT MELODIES!

Written By Antony the Tank
on WCDB Monday Nights 10pm-12am

B-Fargz’s lists/thoughts

In regards to this whole decade thing—the mid to late 90’s were infinitely better than the 2000s. FACT

Here’s to you 2009!

Of The Year (in no particular order):
1. Propagandhi – Supporting Caste
2. Me Without You- It’s All Crazy! It’s All False! It’s All a Dream! It’s Alright
3. Another Breath – God Complex
4. Dear Landlord – Dream Homes
5. Converge – Axe to Fall
6. Owen – New Leaves
7. Thursday – Common Existence
8. Summer People – Good Problems
9. Bomb the Music Industry – Scrambles
10. Russian Circles – Geneva

Honorable mention:
Brand New – Daisy
Chuck Ragan – Gold Country
Dinosaur Jr. – Farm
Dan Deacon – Broomst
House Boat – The Delaware Octopus
Japandroids – Post-Nothing
Polar Bear Club – Chasing Hamburg
Strike Anywhere – Iron Front
Between the Buried and me – the great misdirect

Most Overrated:
Animal Collective – Merriweather Post Pavilion (I just don’t get this band at all)

Most Disappointing:
Mos Def – The Ecstatic (talk about lame)

Thing about this year I found most confusing:
the fact that sarah palin is still relevant

If I had money I would have heard and probably placed:
The Banner Pilot
Kevin Devine

Best things to happen this year:
turning 21
discovering beer that wasn’t keystone light
being WCDB’s Rock director!!!!!!!
Polar Bear Club at the SUNY Chapel House
Seeing Have Heart’s last tour show

Worst things:
Having to say goodbye to my pup
Knowing I’m one year closer to death, and probably after finals are over, 5 years closer to death
Have Heart breaking up
Thorns of Life not releasing a record
twitter
Sarah Palin writes a book (she can write?)
graduating into the worst recession since the great depression (technically next year but I still want to bitch about it)
Senior thesis

top ten of the decade:
1. Radiohead – In Rainbows – No explanation needed. If you don’t think “Reckoner” is the most beautiful song you ever heard, you may not have ears.
2. Thursday – Full Collapse – Changed the way I looked at music. Still love it. An almost perfect album.
3. Against me! – Reinventing Axl Rose – Raw, honest, and awesome.
4. Elliott Smith – From a Basement on a Hill – Elliott Smith is probably my all-time favorite singer-songwriter. These songs are sad, and brutal to listen to sometimes. Incredible
5. Cursive – Domestica – Lyrically amazing and musically incredible.
6. The Lawrence Arms – the greatest story ever told
7. Sigur Ros – ( )
8. Broken Social Scene – You Forget It In People
9. Everytime I Die – Hot Damn!
10. Modest Mouse – The Moon and Antarctica

I’m sure there’s something (multiple things) I’m forgetting but here are some honorable mentions:

The Gaslight Anthem – the 59 Sound — too new to decide whether or not it makes my personal album of the decade list. Definitely loved it.
Ryan Adams – Love Is Hell
1905 – Voice
Dearly Departed – Believing in Ghosts — This band is criminally underrated
Hot Water Music – Caution
Explosions in the Sky – Earth is Not a Cold Dead Place
Converge – Jane Doe
Bane – Give Blood
Godspeed you! Black Emperor – Lift your skinny fists like antennas to the heavens
Latterman – No matter where we go … !

Belong on here but not doing two bands twice:
Radiohead – Kid A
Cursive – The Ugly Organ (I had a really hard time choosing between the two)
Broken Social Scene – S\T

B-Fargz
Rock

3 top 10 Lists from Jared C.

Top Albums of 2009

1.  Propagandhi – Supporting Caste
2.  Japandroids – Post-Nothing
3.  Phoenix – Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix
4.  Animal Collective – Merriweather Post Pavilion
5.  Converge – Axe to Fall
6.  Dinosaur Jr. – Farm
7.  Cymbals Eat Guitars – Why There Are Mountains
9.  Tortoise – Beacons of Ancestorship
10.  Dear Landlord – Dream Homes

Best EPs of 2009

1.  Animal Collective – Fall Be Kind
2.  The Lawrence Arms – Buttsweat and Tears
3.  Bon Iver – Blood Bank
4.  Modest Mouse – No One’s First and You’re Next
5.  No Age – Losing Feeling
6.  Paint It Black – Amnesia
7.  Torche – Healer/Across the Shields
8.  Snowing – Fuck Your Emotional Bullshit
9.  Pelican – Ephemeral
10.  The Loved Ones – Distractions

Honorable Mention

Banner Pilot – Collapser
Baroness – Blue Record
Brand New – Daisy
Built to Spill – There is No Enemy
Lucero – 1372 Overton Park
Shrinebuilder – Shrinebuilder

Top Albums of the Decade

1.  Modest Mouse – The Moon and Antarctica
2.  Radiohead – Kid A
3.  Hot Water Music – Caution
4.  Wilco – Yankee Hotel Foxtrot
5.  Against Me! – Reinventing Axl Rose
6.  The White Stripes – Elephant
7.  Arcade Fire – Funeral
8.  The Flaming Lips – Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots
9.  The Weakerthans – Left and Leaving
10.  Queens of the Stone Age – Songs for the Deaf

Jared C.
Rock
Thursday 10pm-12am