Coachella 2007: Manu Chao

Manu Chao

So the Coachella lineup says that “Manu Chao and the Bomba Radio Sound System” will be playing. Why do I love this? Because the live DVD of Manu Chao is with the Bomba Radio Sound System (they’re his backing band), and that DVD is amazing. It takes the energy of his music from a 6 to an 11. A quick side-note, I will not pretend to know anything about Latin music, so take what I say with a grain of salt.Manu Chao plays a fusion of reggae, ska, and Latin music. I find it to be nothing like anything else I’ve ever listened to; it’s really fresh. Of course, once you take a second to translate the either English, Spanish, or French lyrics he’s singing, you will relize that he is singing about sex, drugs, and running from the police. But please, do not let this make you wary of listening to what he has to say. Like much of Latin music, there is a strong political message through his songs.Live, there are about 15 people up on stage, each playing some sort of instrument or providing back up yells and vocals. I will definitely be in the crowd dancing to this awesome mix of sounds (right before Rage Against the Machine, of course.)

Nine Inch Nails – Year Zero

the album cover of Year Zero by Nine Inch Nails

First statement: Trent Renzor has redeemed himself. While I didn’t think that With Teeth was a horrible as the rest of the musical community, this album surpasses it with ease. The statement that Trent has erased the ideas of pop music seems to be on target here.

Year Zero is nothing like With Teeth, so if you were hoping for a repeat, you’re out of luck. As far as comparisons go, I have read that this is NIN’s most minimal album to date; this is a claim that I have to disagree with. Pretty Hate Machine still holds that title. While Year Zero does have its fair share of simple songs, nearly every one develops to a point that is hardly minimalistic in nature. If any song was to be described in this manner, it would have to be “My Violent Heart” which eventually disintegrates in the chorus to a mash of distorted vocals and glitch electro beats (love it.)

What really pleased me about this record is the amount of depth that is has in terms of variations throughout the progression of songs in the album. No two songs are very alike (unlike With Teeth.) That being said, this record is not very commercially appealing. The songs are very dirty and noisy; it is a return to where NIN started. So far, “Survivalism” is the only single that has been released. Probably one of the most pop-friendly tracks, it still features dirty guitars and drum machine beats torn to shreds under Renzor’s moaned verse vocals and strong chorus lines.

Putting the music off to the side, if you haven’t heard of the amazing marketing campaign that has been executed by Renzor, I’m not sure where you have been. Whether the secret “lost” USB drives carrying new tracks, hidden websites revealing album information, or phone numbers playing new tracks from Year Zero, the RIAA has had a field day determining whether they should prosecute people with the “leaked” tracks or not (as usual, they did.)

This album is up there with Pretty Hate Machine and And All that Could Have Been [Live] for me. It offers so much more than radio friendly songs.

Gorillaz are no more


Everyone’s favorite virtual cartoon band will release no more studio albums. NME reported that lead singer Damon Albarn has confirmed that a film score will be all that is left of Gorillaz. Why do the good bands have to go so soon? Two studio albums and two remix albums are not enough. All of the four Gorillaz albums have a sound of their own; eclectic to the end. Continue reading “Gorillaz are no more”

Coachella 2007: Justice


Anyone up for a French house DJ duo? No, I’m not talking about Daft Punk; I’m talking about Justice. Of the entire artist lineup being pushed by Ed Banger Records right now, Justice is getting the best and most press attention (guess I’m feeding the flame.) Gaspard Augé and Xavier de Rosnay are the current heroes of French house music, and let me explain why.The biggest thing going for them right now is the fact that they sound nothing like any other music out right now. Unfortunately, their sound is probably fairly easy to replicate, but as long as they can innovate and keep evolving their music, they have a solid chance at reigning as house kings pretty soon. So what is this sound that they are pioneering? In my opinion, it is a blending of heavily distorted samples, sick chopped beats, and an amazing balance between repetition and progression through a song. Another comparison to Daft Punk: they are geniuses when it comes to choosing the right samples to sample.Many of you might have recently read/heard of the samples that Daft Punk has used to make their songs. While Daft Punk does credit the artists taken from, after listening to each song and the sample taken from the song, it is fairly disappointing how heavily Daft Punk does rely on these samples. I do not believe that Justice will fall victim to this type of backlash due to the fact that their songs have so much more to them than repetitive samples. Smart.An interesting fact: Justice hasn’t released an LP yet! So far, we only have compilation albums put out by Ed Banger and a single EP from Justice. Their debut album is set to be released in June 2007.At Coachella, it is unfortunate that they will not be playing at night (just rumors right now, no set-list yet.) From what I have seen on YouTube, they have amazingly energetic shows with great lighting. I love it.update: Justice will be playing at 8:30pm, which conflicts with many other bands I want to see…

Coachella 2007: Circa Survive

Circa SurviveLet me point out firstly how odd I find it that Circa Survive is even playing at Coachella (a post-hardcore band amongst the indie/electro-nation?) That said, I really do live Circa Survive and don’t have a problem with them playing.The Circa Survive arises some odd feelings in me, so I will first go over the history that I know of. The band started after the lead singer, Anthony Green, left a little band named Saosin (where he was also the lead singer.) He left on very odd terms. At an airport, while he was waiting for his next flight to go meet the guys of Saosin, he called to let them know that he had a change of heart decided that he didn’t belong anymore. Saosin has since moved on to singer Cove Reber.Leaving the drama behind, Anthony Green is what made/makes both bands what they were/are (but Cove was a good replacement.) His voice is very powerful and ethereal simutaneously; it really is amazing to listen to. He can hit notes that other punk singers only dream of being able to hit without tearing apart their vocal chords. His singing style is fairly agressive, meaning that he does scream… but only once in a while. He is not a scream singer in any way shape or form. To put is simply, I love Green’s voice.Circa Survive has released only one studio album to date, but a new LP is due very soon. Their sound is very open and ambient. The guitar ruffs aren’t choppy; they fade off into the distance being overlapped by the oncoming riffs. The vocals do the same. Their song construction is anything but conventional. While most songs do have the verse/chord progression, the many variant Circa takes on this makes for a nice change of pace. It will be very interesting to see where the new LP takes Circa. It might launch them to where Saosin is now, above Saosin, or it could mark the end of a fairly new group.Sorry for the constant Saosin comparisons, but Saosin is one of my favorite bands right now…

Coachella 2007: Peaches

PeachesPeaches will rock you so hard that every concert you go to afterwards is just cakewalk. Peaches is the hardest girl in electroclash, no, make that the entire universe. Just listen to her music, and while it might be kinda hard not to be offended, you will soon realize that you have never heard anything like it before.Before I get to her lyrics, let’s tackle her beats first. Drum machines run when they hear her name. Her sound is comprised of drum machine patters, guitar riffs, and distorted synths layered all over each other. It’s repetitive and grabbing at the same time.Now on to her lyrics. Sexist? Erotic? Nonsense? Genius. The sex that she screams makes’s music sound like the words of God. The persona of Peaches is gender confused, and this is blatantly obvious in the lyrics of songs such as “Tent In Your Pants” and “Boys Wanna Be Her”.

How do you do that cool dance?Baby don’t split those hot pantsI got these moves that we can do to and singI don’t look too good in pinkI used to slash myself upI like to play it toughCuts, bruises, blood oozes, bones breaking roughYou gotta handle that stuff

Oh, and did I mention that that song is a collab with Iggy Pop?! Because it is…With lyrics as repetitive as her drum machine beats, it’s no wonder that her cult following of fans knows every single word in her songs and screams them at the top of their lungs at every show. Energy is guaranteed. But please, be aware that the explicitness of her lyrics outdo even Marilyn Manson.

Coachella 2007: Red Hot Chili Peppers

Red Hot Chili Peppers Heads

The Red Hot Chili Peppers have been a staple in my music collection from as far back as I can remember (not of my own volition in the beginning.) Their great amalgam of funk metal, punk, rap, and pop makes a sound unique from anything around them throughout their current 24 year career. While their first two records didn’t do too much regarding chart success, from Mothers Milk on, success has followed them wherever they go.I want to spend the most time on album #5: Blood Sugar Sex Magic. My favorite album, and judging from chart success, may other’s as well. Having been produced by Rick Rubin, it almost seems obvious that it would be an amazing record, and having sold 12 million copies worldwide, there is no doubt that this is one of the greatest rock albums (of all time). This album is pure energy and fun. Heavy bass emphasis puts funk at the forefront of the record with Anthony Kiedis’ rap sharp and powerful lyricism. “Give it Away” and “Under the Bridge” are two amazing singles that showcase the creativity put into every song on the record.Moving on to the following albums, Californication was an even larger chart success than its predecessors with singles like “Californication”, “Scar Tissue”, and “Parallel Universe”. To date, it has sold 15 million copies. Californiation allowed RHCP to basically clean up at the 2000 MTV VMAs (and win a few Grammys at the same time.) Skipping past By the Way, which is another great record, we arrive at Stadium Arcadium.So much hype surrounded this album that I didn’t think that it could live up to what it was supposed to be, and in my opinion, it didn’t. There is no denying that the amount of awards that Stadium Arcadium has garnered speaks volumes about its success as a pop album, but I feel that RHCP left their sound behind them and replaced it with some cotton candy and bubblegum. I don’t feel that it’s a bad album, I just hope that they play more than Stadium Arcadium at Coachella…

Coachella 2007: Björk

Bjork HeadshotMany people have called David Bowie a chameleon, but he is nothing compared to Björk. She has gone through many transformations both physically (how she looks) and sonically (how her music sounds) since her solo debut in 1993 with Debut. Being from Reykjavík, Iceland, her accent and tonal voice goes against nearly all of western culture’s pop sounds. Here is the progression of her sound though each successive album:

  • Debut: A very expansive album, probably more-so than any of her following albums. It contains a mix of dance, earthy, new age, beat-centered songs. The beat-driven aspect is a vein or theme that does run through all of her music.
  • Post: More abstract. Just listening to the opening tracks “Army of Me” makes it obvious where she wanted to go with this new album (following the platinum Debut.) Possibly a bit darker… just a progression. Björk describes it as being more “extreme”.
  • Homogenic: My favorite album. This album is definitely in my top 10 of all time. The beats are much more pronounced, scattered, and massive. Homogenic just has an epic sound to it. The song Pluto (2nd to last track) has become the song for her to perform and/or close with. Its griding and distorted synths, vocals, and beats make it raw and brutal. “Emotionally, this album is about hitting rock bottom and earning your way up. So it’s the darkest album I’ve done emotionally, but it’s got a lot of hope.”
  • Vespertine: Much softer. The sound that characterizes Vespertine is very angelic. “Vespertine is sort of a winter album for me. I think Homogenic was very summer, very hot, burning desert.” It has a light sound that seems to float away.
  • Medúlla: When it was released, Medúlla received quite a bit of backlash. It was Bjork going against what her fans had grown to know and love: beats and synths. It didn’t matter whether hard or soft, but beats and synths combined with her other-worldly vocals are Björk. Medúlla has nothing other than human voices on it. Being fairly new to Björk when Medúlla came out, I enjoyed the sound. It is her most different album so far. It pushes our voices as instruments to their limits.
  • Volta: Yet to be released, the sound of Volta has been revealed only through interviews with Björk and a leaked track titled “Earth Intruders”. Volta is said to be very brass centered. Björk collaborated with quite a few artists for Volta, including Timbaland. We’ll see how it turns out, but “Earth Intruders” is amazing to say the least.

So that basically wraps up Björk as an ever changing artist. Just go look at some pictures of her, and you will realize what I mean when I say that she is a chameleon. She is truely a musical genius who has remained relevant through the fickle tastes of pop culture that are constantly changing.

Coachella 2007: Rage Against the Machine

Rage Against the Machine Band PictureAnyone remember one of the biggest political bands of all time? Rage Against the Machine left the scene in 2000 due to Zach de la Rocha’s (lead singer) announcement that he didn’t feel that he could stay honest to himself and be in the band. After the breakup, the rest of the band (Tom Morello, Tim Commerford, and Brad Wilk) joined together with former Soundgarden vocalist Chris Cornell to form Audioslave (which recently broke up.) Forgetting their complicated history, Rage is reuniting to play at Coachella and three more shows as a part of the Rock the Bells concert in New York and Northern/Southern California later this year.Rage plays amazing funk metal infused with very politically charged lyrics. Everyone of their albums is sure to punch you in the face and leave you on the floor bleeding. Tom Morello’s strong guitar sounds go hand in hand with de la Rocha’s emphatic style of writing and execution. Another characteristic of Rage’s music (common to funk metal) is the way that they push the bass to the front many times. It’s very heavy music with a message.I have been in love with Rage for about five or six years now. Yes, this means that I wasn’t into them while they were a band (I was only in 3rd/4th grade when they broke up), but their music hasn’t diminished in meaning as time has passed. If you want to check out what they sound like, I recommend checking out the songs Calm Like a Bomb, Bullet in the Head, and Killing in the Name. If you don’t like those, oh well, those are just my favorite songs. Read more to see the video for Sleep Now in the Fire. Rage Against the Machine will be the headliner for Sunday of Coachella.

Joost getting serious content w/ CBS

Joost Logo

It seems that the Joost lot has seen a very nice turn of events as of late. Before now, the programing that Joost has offered its beta testers has been both random and irrelevant to their wants. The program is nice, but a pretty interface cannot cover up horrid content. It looks like CBS is coming to Joost’s rescue.

It has been announced that CBS is taking a shotgun approach to webcasting their TV programming, and Joost happens to be caught in the shot spray. This announcement is a buffer to the recent addition of Viacom programs such as MTV, VH1, and BET (all music channels). As to the programming being offered by CBS, already aired shows such as CSI, NCIS, and CBS Evening News with Katie Couric. It is unfortunate that Joost is getting more old content, but at least these shows have been viewed and praised by millions. This is quite unlike the other programming on channels such as LXTV and The Diddy Channel.

Being a part of the beta testing program, I am glad to see the recent increase in content which was released no less than a week ago. As the versions of Joost approach v1.0 (they are currently at v0.9.2), more exciting news is sure to rise pertaining to the program. While strides still need to be made relating to how users will be able to manage hundreds of channels at once and other usability issues, the ability to watch free TV programming is exciting for anyone involved.

If you want to participate in beta testing, I have a few invites left!