Friday, December 19, 2008


1. The Walkmen - You & Me

Incredible in my mind. Saw them recently at the TLA in Philly…one of those out of body rock experiences (and I had a couple drinks). Random Fact - The lead singer looks like my sisters husband. Some think the album is too mellow compared to Bows and Arrows which had songs like "The Rat" and "Little House of Savages". I beg to differ. Yeah there are some mellow almost crooning tracks (Canadian Girl) but the style is completely unique and sonically its unparalleled. There are a number of upbeat tracks such as "In The New Year" and "Postcards From Tiny Islands". Bows & Arrows was truly a great album. You & Me surpasses it. We wont talk about the last Walkmen album - "A Hundred Miles Off"...too easy to comment based on the title. DOWNLOAD THIS: "Canadian Girl", "Donde Esta La Playa" & "The New Year"

2. Tokyo Police Club -Elephant Shell

I must be honest. When I heard their first album I was a little snobbish and thought they were indie brats..then I found out they were Canadian and everything changed. Ha! I like Canada. Seriously, the first album "A lesson in Crime" is good…darn good. A little raw and poppy but you'd dig it. Elephant Shell I'd say is 30% better. A lot more keyboard, a lot more parts-melodic. All in all it’s a pretty f-ing good record. I mean..I even heard most the album played while shopping in urban outfitters…and one of the hipster clerks was singing along…AND I DIDN'T GET PISSED. I guess I'm maturing…or just giving up. I had tickets to see TPC at the First Unitarian Church in Philly. They were playing the night of the final Phillies World Series Game. I'm a music freak but I couldn't’t pass up. Never heard how the show was but…poor Canadians trying to get out of the city on that night (google"World Fucking Champions") DOWNLOAD THIS: "Graves" & "Tessellate"

3. NoAge -Nouns

Just recently picked this album up after hearing "Eraser" on Subterranean. So refreshing. I absolutely love a two-piece such as Death From Above, Quasi, Black Keys or Mates of State but these guys in NoAge are truly a punk-rock duo. The whole album is just a raw collection of gems. That punk-rock mixed with some melody that...just works. After listening to the album I flipped through the album booklet (yeah I still buy cds) in which has a photo of their cassette tape collection. For about 10 seconds I honestly through it was taken from my room circa 1996. Morrissey stacked next to early Metallica, Fugazi and Public Enemy. From then I knew they were legit and not Avril Lavingne wearing an Iron Maiden shirt. The music is proof positive. DOWNLOAD THIS: "Eraser", "Sleeper Hold" & "Teen Creeps"

4. Vampire Weekend - Vampire Weekend

I really don’t need to say much about this band. They were hyped from the beginning…I snobbed up. I got beat over the head by people telling me how good this self titled album is. So I picked it up…only hearing APunk prior. Man, what a great album. There is really not much to dislike. Its rock/ska/Paul Simon? Whatever it is it was an album on repeat over the summer. You could put it on for kids/teens/old-folks and you couldn’t go wrong. Every track is a gem and the last track “The Kids Don’t Stand a Chance” is my absolute fav. If you can catch it on youtube/hulu/, they did “The Kids Don’t Stand A Chance” with Chromeo live at the MTV-U Woody awards. Unreal. Hopefully they won’t fall victim to the Sophomore Slump. DOWNLOAD THIS: “The Kids Don’t Stand a Chance”

5. Wolf Parade - At Mount Zoomer

Last album (Apologies to Queen Mary) was top notch…this one is parallel. Might take a few listens but you'll get into it. I still say the lead vocalist sounds like Beck but no one has fully agreed. Such a good band they will only get betterandbetterandbetter. Please pick up anything they've ever put out. DOWNLOAD THIS: "Soldiers Grin"
6. Girl Talk - Feed the Animals

First of all, the album cover is “so sick”. Secondly, the Girl Talk (aka DJ Gregg Gillis) album itself “Feed the Animals” is more of a mix-tape from the gods that anything else. It's an unreal blending of samples from 80-90-00’s acts ranging from Ace of Base to Wu-Tang. He takes some hard core 90s rhymes and throws it over a back-beat from some whitebread/euro 80’s pop acts…even some 70s freedom rock bands. I’d tell you to download a track but there are no tracks. I think it’s around designated “Track-6” (???) that he mixes early Radiohead with Jay-Z. Genius DJ skills. The record company f-ed up big time releasing this in the Fall as if “Feed the Animals” was released in May it would be summer incarnate…still has legs for summer ’09. DOWNLOAD THIS: Entire album.

7. Sloan - Parallel Play

Sloan…another great band from Canada. Another 120 minutes pick-up when I saw the video for “Everything You've Done Wrong” (album - One Chord to Another). I was hooked. Got me through a lot in HS/College/NYC and still does to this day. After “Between the Bridges” the albums lacked…then something just fell back into place a few years ago when they released a 20+ track rock gem called “Never Hear the End of It”. It was like a punk-rock discography a bunch with 1-2min songs but rock-pop. “Parallel Play” came out earlier this year and I was psyched. Went to see them at the relatively smaller venue The North Star Bar in Philly with some Brooklyn friends who came down. Unreal rock show. Bought the album on site. They brought back the power-pop excellence that I loved from the 90s. Such a straight forward rock album. Please pick up their entire catalog (except Action Pact and Pretty Together). Navy Blues is my fav. Their double disc live record “Four Nights at the Palais Royale” is phenomenal as well. I don’t like many live albums (Fugazi excluded). DOWNLOAD THIS: “I’m Not a Kid Anymore”

8. Deerhunter – Microcastle/Weird Era. Cont.

Was never that into this band until now. I must admit the top rating on Pitchfork swayed me to impulse buy the album. That and the top-recommendation of my buddy Chris-B. I’ll let him give the more in-depth review on Cugerock later as he knows more about the history. The music ranges from indie pop to psychedelic to somewhat punk. A stellar eclectic mix of styles. The bonus disc “Weird Era” has a better pace in my opinion and is actually my fav of the two. DOWNLOAD THIS: “Nothing Ever Happened”

9. Trail of Dead - Festival Thyme EP


10. The Anniversary - The Devil on Our Side (B Sides and Rarities)

I know a B-sides album shouldn’t be placed on a best-of but whatareyagonnado? The Anniversary is one of many bands I loved dearly that made two albums and just ducked out of sight (see also: HUM). The early millennium album “Designing a Nervous Breakdown” ranks up there in my top 10 albums of all time/thus far. They might as well of named the album “Woodside Queens” as I listened to it non-stop the 2 years that I lived there (00-02 also brings back some more unpleasant memories of 9/11 but…like all music it helped me muscle through it). The Devil on Our Side is basically a continuation of “Nervous Breakdown”. A few unreleased tracks sounding like the latter “Your Majesty” album (too produced but not bad) but mostly the indie rock rawness with a dash of male/female vocal harmonies with some synths mixed in. I was so happy…not one of those b-sides records put out for $$$ that is basically garbage. DOWNLOAD THIS: “The Heart is a Lonely Hunter”

Friday, December 12, 2008

Album Review: Fucked-Up – The Chemistry of Common Life

This wont be a long review cause I don’t have much to say expect this band is about as ROCKIN as you can get (can’t you tell by the name?). Now the album leads in with some solo-flute notes...then all hell breaks loose…sort-a. The music on the album is something you just want to crank when you’re psyched about something in your life or incredibly pissed about something in you life. It’s straight up hard-rock with a dash of indie/fuzz elements (if that makes any sense). I honestly never heard of this band. I think they are former Canadian hard-core kids. I was “intrigued” by the title. Pitchfork made them out as metal but anyone who knows metal knows this isn’t metal (say that phrase as fast as you can). If they were hardcore they’ve sonically moved on but there are some ghosts in the album.

CAVEAT: One thing to note is the Fucked-Up vocalist is a little harsh if you can get past that you’ll love this album. You can take the hardcore out of the music but not out of the vocals.

TANGENT ALERT: It’s a recurring attribute for certain “alt” bands such Sleater Kinney (Corin Tucker), Fugazi (Guy Picciotto), Pissed Jeans, Blood Brothers (Johnny Whitney), Modest Mouse (early albums before they sucked), The Kinison etc…etc. Either you love-em or hate-em. I happen to absolutely love all of them albeit most of them are out of commission/on-hiatus. But I am honestly still warming up to this Fucked-Up vocalist. It took me an album or two for Sleater Kinney back in the day as well. The Fucked-Up music is so damn good I think I’ll get past it.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

M83: Starlight Ballroom - Philadelphia, PA (11/15/08)

M83 is one of those bands (yeah it’s now a live band) that you love to throw on a record but never think you would ever catch them live. Kind of like a number of brit-pop acts I enjoyed growing up (Suede I’m looking in your direction). M83 is basically one guy from France (Anthony Gonzalez) that weaves guitar, synths, pounding drum-machines and muted vocals into unreal tracks. There are definitely some additional elements (female backing vocals) but that is basically it in my opinion. That said I didn’t know what to expect when my buddy Chris had given me the heads-up about the show. Result – Unreal live performance. I heard in the recent past that Anthony used to get on stage solo and have everything pre-recorded (aka – it sucked). Not this time – Full on band. The most amazing part for me was the drummer who was incased in a plexi-glass cage in order to amplify the beats and make them more crisp (?) or less drowned out by the other instruments (replicating the sounds on the albums). I only had heard a handful of tracks from the most recent album “Saturdays = Youth” but from what I understand they played most all of them including "Kim & Jessie” and “Graveyard Girl” which were awesome. I “caught wind” of this band back in ’05 or ‘06 (still weird to call it a band) with the “Before The Dawn Heals Us” album. I heard a few tracks on MTV2 late night and I was hooked. Hence, when I heard them start up on tracks like “Don’t Save us From The Flames” or “Teen Angst” at the show I was pretty psyched. Incredible live. (please download every track I've mentioned thus far). The Starlight is a “unique” place to see a show for sure. The crowd was great...from hipsters to hardcore kids…and guys like Chris and myself. I’d like to think of us as “Aging Scenesters”. (applause) If M83 comes to your town please go see them. If not, pick up the last two albums. Haven’t heard any of the earlier stuff (comments welcome). Such a solid show.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

...And You Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead - Festival Thyme EP

In my mind ...the And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead album, "Source Tags & Codes” is one of the best albums of all time (behind Sebadoh’s Bakesale…my #1 until I die). Not because the 2002 TOD release from the Austin TX natives was the only album that ever received a Pitchfork 10.0 rating (the only one I’ve ever seen)…cause lately I haven’t taken too much stock the pitchfork reviews (some current recommendations I did not agree with…too critical/wordy...even for me). The basics of a review in my mind are - Does it rock? How does it rock/sound? What genre of music is it? Life-changing? How does it compare to their past work/other bands? Is it a “grower”?

The TOD ep “Secrets of Elena’s Tomb” immediately following Source Tags was phenomenal as well (download “Crowning of a Heart”). Theeeen something happened with the following two albums “Worlds Apart” & “So Divided”. They completely side-stepped the “pounding guitar/drums, experimental stop/start, interlaced with backing melodic vocal” aspects. Ha! Worlds Apart was a wannabe in-your-face follow-up to STAC but turned into a pop princess that tried to be “edgy”. It’s like the sophomore slump for a 3rd year freshman. “So Divided” went for a prog-rock-opera-esque something or other. Slow and experimental…aka boring. Every time I would see TOD live they would get drunker and drunker and drunker with the music that suffered (“they blew it”). Piss poor shows combined with the post STAC releases made me “write them off”. Don’t get me wrong…there are a few rockin tracks on WA & SD but nothing comparing to the aforementioned STAC and SOET ep (I work in marketing…acronyms are my game). There were a few older albums before STAC…raw, fuzzy and unorganized. Not bad…but not essential to your collection.

This takes me to the review in question...the latest EP “Festival Thyme”. Verdict = Back to form. It totally rocks like Source Tags but has some new elements to it (i.e. title track). Kind of like the new Metallica album…Master of Puppets…with a twist. I feel that once Interscope dumped the band given the last two flops…they sobered up (literally) and got back to a more straight forward approach. The first track “Bells of Creation” is so refreshing. I thought – “Ahhh…they’re back”. This will be included on the TBD full length. More loud harmonies via Conrad Keeler vocals and loud-pounding guitar/drums. HOWEVER, this lead-off track has (machete mix) next to it. Doesn’t sound like a remix so I hope they don’t blind-side me with some crap LP. The second track “Inland Seas” is just as rockin as the first with some “LOUD then soft” aspects to it with piano mixed in but it doesn’t take away from their signature sound (not a ballad)…intro is pretty damn sweet. That’s what I loved about the band from the beginning…intros (download “Another Morning Stoner”). Title track “Festival Thyme” is a bit more light-hearted but catchy and brings in more piano melodies in which rounds out the EP. The final track “The Betrayal of Roger Casement and the Irish Brigade” is just what the title suggests…a long and obscure instrumental…but again…loud…it brings in some great harmonies and non-stop almost muted guitar at times that can cause you to zone out a bit…but very enjoyable nonetheless. The track titles worry me about another rock-opera attempt but the music is good so I really don’t care.

The Festival Thyme EP is not a “life-changer” but given what came before it’s clearly a solid listen. It’s not one of those EPs that has one good track packaged with 3 or 4 downers. “All and all” I have it on heavy rotation and I’m pretty confident that the new LP (comes out sometime in ‘09) will be good if they stick with this current formula. -TommyC

Friday, October 24, 2008


Man…what a great album. Name the artist and win…well umm…be happy you could name the artist.

Well, I thought I’d start a “blog”…seems to be the trend nowadays….more particularly a “music centric blog” or “music content themed blog”?...seeing as I’ve been passionate about music since I was in diapers…and I love writing (I also love the “…” which you’ll see) …seems like a good fit am I right? Cause there’s probably no music blogs around right? (eyes rolling). I’m actually a contributor on another “humor-centric” blog that is pretty much dead…last post was in April…most recent posts altogether are by me. Maybe I’ll transfer some posts over to this one…provided they are remotely music related.

My friend Carrie can be credited for pushing me to do this music blog thang…I gave her a mix for letting me crash at her & her man’s (my friend Eric) place in Brooklyn. The mix spurred on one conversation...then another…I have compiled more mixes in my day than I can count. They had a pseudo roof deck party where the conversation was centered around music as we were all going to see Sonic Youth at the final McCarren Park Pool show that balmy summer evening.

Hence the blog was born…

I moved to Philadelphia (“The illadelph”) from NYC after 8 years of extreme fun, extreme discovery and extreme frustration. It’s been about a year here in Philly and I think I’m just getting around to adjusting. I’m from the white-bread Philly suburbs originally…something I would hide when going to Lower East Side roof parties…now I’m older and done with being disillusioned about where I grew up…it wasn’t Philly…it was 30 minutes west of Philly and I was lucky to have trees and creeks and bored cops and field-parties and such.

Back to the music…

HISTORY: November 1976-PRESENT (Diapers to Pimples to Keggers to 401K)

When I was little my folks would listen to the typical soft rock of the late 70s/early 80s (see also: iTunes Essentials “Yacht Rock”…my mom also loves Anne Murray). My dad was/is a big rolling stones fan. I never really got into them until that helicopter scene in Goodfellas (I’ll tell you later). My pivotal bands growing up were normal in some respects – U2, REM, The Cure, The Smiths, Violent Femmes, B-52s, Replacements, Pixies….Nirvana, Teenage Fanclub, Matthew Sweet and many others in my jr high years (see also 120 minutes). My older sister’s friends were in bands in jr high and would make her mix tapes which she would give to me in elementary school. Now that I think about it…I guess it was a little strange listening on my headphones to Psychedelic Furs, Replacements, Sid Vicious solo work or the Circle Jerks on 5th grade bus trip to the Philadelphia Zoo. REM really sticks out the most when I think of my childhood.

My older cousins on one end (mom’s side) were a big influence…listening to Squeeze, U2, Talking Heads…in fact…my cousin Scotty gave me my first tape…EVER…which was Talking Heads – Little Creatures…followed by Run DMC – Raising Hell and Beastie Boys Licensed to I’ll (all on one birthday)….my other cousins (dads side) were more hard rock/metal…starting me off with classic rock (Led Zep/Hendrix) into arena rock acts like Boston and Rush then the 80s hair/thrash/heavy metal that followed (Metallica, Def Leopard, GnR, DRI, Megadeth, Slayer, Suicidal etc.). I honestly didn’t get into hardcore until my college years…highschool was all about Pavement, Weezer, Dinosaur Jr, The Sundays, Bouncing Souls, Blur, Charlatans, Suede, J-Church, Mudhoney, Sebadoh, Gene, Sonic Youth, Lemonheads, SLOAN, Hum, Sugar, Sunny Day Real Estate, Swervedriver, Punk/SKA (bosstones, pietasters, special, DHC, slackers, mustard plug, toasters, op-ivy and countless compilations). Oh and remember Ned’s Atomic Dustbin? There was a brief stint in highschool where I was into Phish and The Dead which I’m not particularly proud of…gross…respect the musicianship…but…gross.

With friends from NY/LI, Boston, & MD/DC my freshman-sophomore years in college opened me up to a whole new realm of rock, hearing (and seeing most) bands such as Avail, Turning Point, 311, Clutch, Fugazi, Minor Threat, Sublime, 7seconds, Black Flag, Beck, JS Blues Explosion etc. My second half of my college years gave me exposure to more “indie” (as was classified at the time) bands such as Beulah, Apples in Stereo, Ben Folds Five, Stereolab, Bell & Sebastian, Elliot Smith, Promise Ring, Get Up Kids, Quasi, Modest Mouse, Sleater Kinney etc….however if we had a party…it was always Beastie Boys, Desmond Dekker or the Funky Meters…that was a given.

Moving to NYC in late 1999 (Q4) I already had a lot of exposure under my belt but there I actually came into some more eclectic groups (the invent of Napster & MTV2 Subterranean helped)…old and new…such as DJ Shadow, Death Cab For Cutie, Broken Social Scene, Taking Back Sunday, Superchunk, Mates of State, Thursday, DFA 79, Tribe Called Quest, ATDI, Rilo Kiley, Neutral Milk Hotel, Guided By Voices, Thermals, Gang-Starr, The Anniversary, Cursive, the whole Hives/Strokes/White Stripes period…so many others…again these are the ones that stick out in my mind. In NYC you’d think it was all about following the trends in music but for me it was more appreciation of the old early 90s and 80s rock (reminiscing with people who grew up in other parts of the country) while keeping an eye on Vampire Weekends and Battles of the world. The trends were always in your face so you didn’t have to search very far. My cousin/roommate for a few years Danny…another music freak…joined me in discovering all things music in NYC…alcohol…like minded friends and the Village Voice (paper not website) helped.

An added bonus of moving back to Philly was the music. Philly is steeped in music history and is a top notch city to see shows and learn about music with a local scene that I have yet to know much about…which excites me…none of this Nokia Theatre crap. Although there is an “At the Filmore presented by Live Nation sponsored by Jostons class rings” element to any city.

There are local based bands that receive critical acclaim, rock acts such as Man-Man, Dr Dog or Pissed Jeans (not so much about “acclaim”) and hip-hop/dj acts like The Roots, RJD2 or Diplo that…again…I’m not going to pretend I’m a huge fan or know everything about them…cause I don’t. I have a pissed jeans album in which I only enjoy 1-3 songs and frequent a bar where one of the guitarists bartends. That’s the point of the “blog”…sharing/contribution.

Well…just gave you a taste of my life-music-story. I’ll probably refer back to some of these milestones in later posts. The top attribute of music (for me personally) is that certain songs or albums take you back to a time in your life whether good or bad…so vividly you can’t even explain it. I’ll have an “album memories” segment later on. The latest Walkmen Album – “You & Me” and Maritimes 07 – “Heresy & the Hotel Choir” will be two of those albums….sooooo good I can’t even describe.

Just had a thought - Can anyone relate to any of these experiences or am I twisted man in his early 30s? Oh well…I really don’t care….this is very therapeutic.

Anywho…I’ll try and post once per week…feel free to comment…good or bad…and spread it around and don’t worry…I will have more topical and shorter posts later on…the aforementioned was just a “purging” process.

Oh…and if anyone has extra Henry Rollins tickets for 11/2 in Philly…PLEASE…let me know…sold out…my b-day (toilet flush sound).