The Ghost and the Guest is an interesting album that was recorded in a simple bedroom studio and was released last year by LDS artist Jake Workman. Loyal Linescratchers followers may recognize Jake from his days with the group “The Sweater Friends”. Prior to listening to this album, I had never heard any of his music, and knew little about him. So, it was with a completely fresh and unbiased perspective that I was able to sit down and listen to his music.
I reviewed the album in a digital download form and found that the download contained much more than just music. Graphics from the album are included, as is a scanned copy of a handwritten thank you note from Jake. Most interesting though was a large booklet, which was conveniently provided in a number of different e-reader formats. Right about here is where things started to get weird, interesting, or sentimental – depending on how you look at it. The included e-book comes in at over 40 pages. In the preface, we learn that the songs were inspired by the life of Henry Pickett Pratt, who was born in 1866, and left a journal about some of his early life – a journal which was read by Jake Workman. Something about this man and his experiences struck a chord (pun intended) with Jake, and provided the inspiration for the songs on the album. The e-book includes portions of the journal that provide a backdrop of sorts for the songs. Jake has intended for the journal and the music to be enjoyed simultaneously in order to get the full experience of what he intended to create and capture.
Continue Reading →
Crossposted in a slightly different form at A Motley Vision.*
Blair Hodges, whom you probably know best as an insightful reviewer of smart-person books you never quite manage to read, also does drums and vocals (usually backup) and kazoo for the band Jiminy Finn and the Moneydiggers. We’ll talk more about the kazoo later.
Continue Reading →
I finally loaded Da Korum’s latest EP into iTunes yesterday. Based on all the hype surrounding Worlds Without Numba, I was expecting a masterpiece.
It’s a piece alright. This was the longest 11.5 minutes of my life. I have had visits to the dentist that were less painful. I would rather see Betty White naked (and confess it to my bishop) than listen to this album again.
I will spare you the horror of listening to this album by describing this (I hesitate to call it “musical”) train wreck. So horrific, in fact, that I’m sure it will cause many “Nights without Slumba”.
A quick run-down of the tracks:
“Back (4 Tha Furst Time)”: My main recollection of this song was that they said “yo” an awful lot and mentioned R.L. Stine. Though the Goosebumps series would hardly qualify as high literature, I was pleasantly surprised to hear they read at all. A third grade reading level is apropos; that seems to be their emotional age.
“U Don’t Understand Me” feat. Grizelle: I had already assumed Da Korum were a couple of 20-somethings still living at home. This song confirmed my suspicions with the line, “when I turned 18, I ran away from home and worked at Arby’s for two weeks until I moved back home.” Is it even possible to run away from home once you’re 18? Though I can hardly stomach listening to a couple of spoiled adult children rap about how rough their lives are, I actually felt sorry for the dude who went to summer camp and didn’t earn a single merit badge. He breaks down and cries right in the midst of recording. Why didn’t they edit that part out? I’m guessing they spent all their allowance and had no money left to cover the costs of re-doing the vocals. Studio time IS expensive. Despite all of that, this song is probably the highlight of the CD. I am impressed with the female vocals. I am amazed that they even speak to girls, let alone convince them to appear on a record. She probably just works for the studio.
“Worldz Without Numba”: This is easily the worst astronomy lesson ever taught. If the members of Da Korum actually received high school diplomas, they should be taken away immediately and all their teachers should be fired. Do they even teach spelling in school anymore? They change “care” to “ker” so they can rhyme with “err” (which is their new version of “air”). Did you not realize “care” and “air” already rhymed?
Da Korum seem to be sadly ignorant of how sadly ignorant they are. They even attempt to dazzle us with their knowledge of the Theory of Relativity. I wouldn’t be surprised if Einstein starts to haunt them for this botch job.
Can they just hie to Kolob and never come back?
When Syphax first emailed the Linescratchers’ author list about Haun’s Mill, I was instantly intrigued:
… an awesome group from Texas called Haun’s Mill (formerly Haun’s Mill Massacre). They do old-timey music but it’s more of a Southern Gothic-type thing, and their stage show includes weird and admittedly creepy projector movies. A lot of their lyrics deal with old dark times, like the Spanish Influenza epidemic or the Great Depression, etc.
I immediately replied that they sounded awesome—like someone had tapped into my id and found the music it secretly wanted. An hour and fifteen minutes later, he wrote back to say he might be able to get an album sent to me. It was too late because I had already bought it. My id would not be denied!
I knew this could go either way. It could be my fate to love this band because, really, how could I not like a gothfolkMormoncreepoöldtimey band? Or it could be that, with my expectations running so high, even the greatest gothfolkMormoncreepoöldtimey band ever to play Kolob could not live up to what I envisioned.
Continue Reading →
For a few weeks now, I’ve been listening to the latest effort from the Aquabats, and contemplating my critique. Having done a number of reviews and critiques over the years, this one has been the hardest, because it is such a unique project. I have heard of the Aquabats but had never heard their music until now. So, rather than review this by comparing and contrasting it with past works, I am simply going to focus on this particular body of work.
So, to point out the obvious… this is not your “typical” band. With their spandex “rash guard” super hero shirts and their anti-negativity helmets, they not only deliver everything you would want from a world famous rock band, but they also travel the planet in their highly customized Winnebego fighting crime, including notorious bad guys like Gasface and Kitty Litter.
Or at least that’s what I hear.
So, on to the music… It’s juvenile, cheesier than cheetos in nacho sauce, completely over-the-top, borderline ridiculous, and… FUN! It’s actually refreshing to have something on my iPod that is fun, light-hearted, energetic, and full of satire. Continue Reading →
For your consideration, a two step formula for judging art: 1. Identify what the artist attempted to accomplish 2. Assess whether the artist accomplished it.
Low is never as monolithic as you remember them being. One word summaries (slowcore) hide the most important and interesting part of Low–their focus on relationship. Dynamics are Low’s secret: within a harmony, a song, an album, and increasingly, a discography. Like the Beatles, like Nirvana, revisiting the back catalog is always a pleasant surprise because the precious space we have in our brains to categorize popular music doesn’t let us retain the exceptions to our heuristics. And it’s the exceptions that make those bands stand the test of time.
Continue Reading →
Album: From Where to There
Launch Point started in the summer of 2006 after the band Chevallier had decided to move from Vegas to Austin to pursue their efforts the live music capital. With members not following through with the plan, and others pursing other venues of creativity it was time for a new direction. Jon ‘Evs’ Evans, the drummer from Chevalier, decided that, rather than waiting for everyone else to make a decision on whether it was worth making music together, to keep moving forward.
“Creating an album 100% on your own can be empowering and therapeutic.” – Jon Evans Continue Reading →
When a member of The Aquabats! gives you free backstage passes to one of their shows just to give you a signed copy of his book, you know that he really feels strongly about the message contained therein, and that’s exactly what happened with A Sound Salvation: Rock N’ Roll As A Religion by Ian Fowles. As soon as he handed it to me, I opened it up to a random page and saw a large section on The Hold Steady, and knew I was going to love it. The basic premise of the book is that traditional religions in the United States, such as Christianity, have steadily declined over the last century, especially among young people, and that, for many, Rock N’ Roll has taken its place. Fowles argues that Rock N’ Roll is not just a past-time; for some, it functions precisely in the way religion does for its adherents.
This is not a new idea. Most scenies, hipsters, and people in the musical community are aware that some approach Rock N’ Roll religiously, devoting their time and energy to it and hailing its saints as more than human. Fowles’ book is unique in that it makes a point-by-point argument for this idea, using the definition of religion from the Encyclopedia of Religion, edited by Eliade. Though I was skeptical at first, his entertaining and easy-to-read book had me fully convinced by the end, with one crucial qualification, noted below. Interested readers and fans of Ian Fowles might want to know that the first run of 300 copies are all hand-numbered and signed by the author. The link to get a copy is at the bottom of this review. Continue Reading →
Just before Thanksgiving, I had the opportunity to listen to the Vestiges EP from Arson Car. In the madness around the holidays, it should have been easy to just forget this completely… but I didn’t. There is something both catchy and calming about their music, and it stuck in my head.
Vestiges is not your typical gigging band. They are comprised of 4 members, 3 “thirty-somethings” and a “twenty-something”. They haven’t played live in 7 years and they have a fragmented existence as a band due to the challenges of balancing families, jobs, and school with their music. The Vestiges EP was a project 5 years in the making, with tracking starting in 2004 and being finished in 2009. Continue Reading →
I first heard “Only The Young” from Brandon Flowers’ new solo album last week, and I was completely entranced. It had such a relaxing, Annie Lennox-ish rolling pop vibe and the video was beautiful and flowing. In the following days I have seen several conversations arise in some Mormon circles (including our new friends at This Week in Mormons) over whether or not the video contained “Mormon imagery.”
I bought the album on my way to class (despite being late) at a local CD shop near campus, and gave it a listen that afternoon. I was floored. The music was indeed good, but the most striking thing to me was the fact that the album is a long tale of redemptive explicit spirituality, and it was obviously intended to be interpreted so. Leave it to Mormons to overlook an entirely and intentionally spiritual album, straining over whether an image of Brandon Flowers in a pool of light has something to do with Joseph Smith.
Yet it’s a pretty well-accepted fact that, once you explain a joke, it completely destroys the chance that joke had at ever being funny. Likewise, I think that the spiritual tale contained in Flamingo really works best without extracting and exposing it, because I’m not sure it would stand as well on its own. However, being that I’m the creator and owner of the only website online devoted to promoting Mormons in the world of music, I guess that means I should at least share my thoughts. I’m happy to oblige. Rather than destructively over-analyzing his lyrics, I’ll just post excerpts (as well as I can hear them) and let you figure it out.
Flamingo is a loose tribute to Western Americana, a cautionary tale of the wonders and pitfalls of Las Vegas, and a curious insight into the spiritual battles happening there and in Brandon Flowers’ mind. It’s an ambitious conglomerate of ideas, for sure, and Flowers may not have quite reached his lofty goal, but he actually said more in trying than I really would have expected. I never did listen to The Killers too much (they really peaked when I was on my mission and I never got caught up), so I can’t provide a meaningful comparison to that, but Brandon Flowers has proven himself to be a far more spiritual being than I knowingly gave him credit for. Continue Reading →
Album: This Wildfire Magic
Recommended if you like: Spoon, Phoenix, Tokyo Police Club, Futureheads
I first heard Bearcats on Facebook some time ago while dorking around between classes and was instantly amused with what I found. Since the release of their recent album, my initial response panned out to be much more than my usual affection towards local band. Bringing a chilled out Pixies-esk tone to the table with a big dose of British indie drive and hook, Bearcats show some real maturity for their first venture as a band. Formerly called Alt Alt, the group itself currently calls Provo home, but hails from Brigham City in Northern Utah. The three-piece stems from high school friendships (which by my judgment wasn’t that long ago) and have since found great cohesion musically. Continue Reading →
The Backgrounds: uncommonly good music from a commonly-named musician.
Andy Martin, lead singer of The Backgrounds, laments the fact that there are so many other musicians named Andy Martin. “I think there’s an ’80s hair metal guy, and maybe a killer trombone player named Andy Martin. I got tired of so many other musicians named Andy Martin. It kept me up at night,” says Martin, who is originally from Pittsburgh and now resides in Philadelphia. Martin followed up his eponymous 2007 debut album with the 2010 release of This Town, which was released under the new moniker The Backgrounds.
Despite the name change, Martin remains the driving force behind the music, which showcases a fusion of folk, blues, and classic rock elements. Other than keyboardist Mikel Azpiroz, none of the accompanying musicians on This Town played with Martin on his 2007 self-titled debut album. Rather than being part of a collaborative effort, Martin does most of the legwork in composing and executing his vision of the music. “I have no idea how to jam,” Martin freely admits. “I work out most of the songs and structure myself, and then try to share [my vision] with everyone else.” Continue Reading →
The Other Side of Down is the latest offering from LDS singer and American Idol alumni, David Archuleta. Being LDS, a musician, engineer, and producer may qualify me to critique this album, but my greatest qualification might actually be that I am the father of 3 young girls who fit a significant demographic portion of his fan base. Also, I’ve had the wonderful opportunity to hear David sing live, in a very “up close and personal”, accapella performance – so I’ve seen his talent in its most raw and simple form, and was eager to compare that to the production of his newest album.
David’s producers have tried to squeeze him into a radio-friendly, tween-compatible, pop format. For the most part, they’ve succeeded, but stylistically this album feels just a bit “forced” at times. Sure, it fits the format in many ways – catchy melodies, electronic beats, loads of synth sounds, lots of layering and production quality, and of course the terribly over-used “telephone” sounding effect on vocal delays and overdubs. But there are noticable differences between this album and many of the cookie-cutter masses. Continue Reading →
Album: Through the Chaos and Clatter
Artist: Good Morning Milo
Home Town: San Diego, CA
Recommended if you like: Fall Out Boy, Panic at the Disco, Second Hand Serenade, or Paramore.
Imagine Fall Out Boy and Panic at the Disco having a baby that could play the guitar better and you’ll have Good Morning Milo. Their full-length album Through the Chaos and Clatter is a great mixture of poppy over-the-top vocals placed on the melodic layers that constitute the rest of the group. Continue Reading →