Month: October 2015

Catching Up On The Week (Oct. 30 Edition)

A few non-spooky #longreads for your (one-hour longer) weekend…

Thankfully, we have not seen any Halloween-related “thinkpieces”, so we can go straight to some links worthy of your time.  First, Maynard James Keenan sat down for an extensive interview with the Phoenix New Times, and the article features Maynard talking at length about several topics with his typical humor.  Maynard is preparing for the release of Puscifer’s new album, Money Shot, though of course it was his talk about one of his other bands that drew most of the attention, as anything that mentions “Tool” is sure to garner clicks.

Pitchfork has a piece on the 25th anniversary of Ride’s Nowhere, one of the biggest and most important albums of the shoegaze era, and discusses how the genre has played a part in shaping the sound of a numbers.  This week also marks the twentieth anniversary of Pulp’s brilliant album Common People, and Stereogum pays tribute to the landmark record.

Finally, Consequence of Sound attempts to settle the age-old debate of “Which is the best Replacements album: Let It Be or Tim?”  They take their time in analyzing the merits of the two legendary albums, but in the end come up with the correct result.

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A Few More SCARY Music Videos

Last year, we provided you with a non-exhaustive list of scary music videos to help you enjoy your Halloween.  This year, we have a few more additions to the canon, so your music video marathon goes on just a little bit longer.

First up, we have the video for Wolf Alice’s “You’re A Germ”, which finds the band in a slasher movie/Groundhog’s Day mashup, as the group constantly relives a terrifying night and attempts to figure out a way to evade the various killers that are out to get them.

Next, we have a selection that we unfortunately neglected to include with our previous list, Franz Ferdinand’s “Evil Eye”.  The video is equal parts gory, disturbing, and campy, which means it more than lives up to its title.

And finally, we have a video that we shared with you before: “Virgins” by Death From Above 1979.  Unfortunately, the band has yet to make a holiday-appropriate video for “Right On, Frankenstein!”, but this psychedelic freakout of Amish kids that evokes memories of Children of the Corn more than makes up for it.

There may be only three additions to our previous list, but it’s fair to say that the quality outweighs the quantity.

An Ode to “Roundball Rock”

With the 2014-2015 NBA season just now getting underway, (and with our beloved Trail Blazers tipping off for their first game tonight) we at Rust Is Just Right would like to take the opportunity to sing the praises of one of the greatest musical compositions ever written.  Do not dismiss the tune that a generation knows as the “NBA on NBC Theme” as just a mere theme song for a sports broadcast; no, the tune is an embodiment of the triumph of the human spirit.  That, and it is really fun.

Just listen to that jubilant melody, and try not to smile and bob your head.  Holy hell, not only are you primed to watch the Milwaukee Bucks take on the Sacramento Kings in an inconsequential mid-February matchup, but you are ready to tear away your sweatsuit and head onto the court to take on players twice your size.  The song’s power cannot be overestimated.

The craziest part is that “Roundball Rock” remains a popular touchstone, even though its heyday was in the pre-Internet 90’s.  A few years ago, I played with a band providing the musical accompaniment for a play, and we threw in an arrangement of “Roundball Rock” for a scene transition, and it got some of the loudest and most raucous applause of the night.  People go nuts for the song, even if they had not heard it in years.

Every single damn part of this song is awesome.  Even the more mellow second section, which exists only to provide a backdrop for Marv Albert’s summation of the storylines surrounding that Sunday’s particular matchup, is a brilliant callback to the main melody.  This song should play in the background of everyone’s lives.

And to think, the man responsible for this brilliance is John Tesh.  Watch this live performance of this song, where he explains the original inspiration.  The song was basically fully-formed from its inception!

I swear to God, that answering machine tape is the most priceless artifact in existence.

Review: Ought – Sun Coming Down

We were a little late on the bandwagon, but Ought’s debut album eventually became one of our favorite releases from last year.  More Than Any Other Day ended up securing a spot on our Best Albums of 2014 list on the strength of the band’s fresh and energetic approach to post-punk, with Ought showing a deft touch in their ability to combine several disparate influences into a coherent and unique style.  Their follow-up finds the group settling into their sound, resulting in what initially seems like a more subdued effort.  Though Sun Coming Down does not immediately grab the listener like its predecessor, there are enough intriguing elements to compel repeated spins to discover the album’s charms and nuances.

While More Than Any Other Day was characterized by its barely-restrained chaos and the ability to shift gears at a moment’s notice, Sun Coming Down finds that restless energy pushed to just below the surface.  There are not as many sudden left-turns and fewer freakouts (and the ones that occur are pushed to the margins), as the band locks into grooves for extended stretches of time.  The two tracks that form the centerpiece of the album, “Sun’s Coming Down” and “Beautiful Blue Sky”, are perfect examples of this new approach.  The former is content to ride a slow burn and never fully release the tension created by its deliberate but incessant drive, while the latter floats over a more melodic version of the bassline of Television’s “Little Johnny Jewel”.

However, for many listeners, these are only subtle points of distinction–the band still features trebly guitars belting out dissonant chords and angular melodies that float over the top of the intricate interplay of the rhythm section.  Oh, and of course there is still Tim Beeler’s unique voice and his dramatic approach to singing, though he is now credited as Tim Darcy.  He still drops several brilliant non sequiturs that drip with irony and wit, such as the efforts to ape the banality of small talk in “Beautiful Blue Sky” with the repeated mentions of “Beautiful weather today”, “fancy seeing you here”, “how’s the family”, etc.  When juxtaposed against the chorus of “I’m no longer afraid to die, because that is all I have left”, the emptiness of the platitudes are even more evident, and Darcy’s ebullient reaction of drawing out the word “yes” in response enhances the effect even more.

But that may be just because “I’m talking out of my ass, because my heart is not open.”

Over the Weekend (Oct. 26 Edition)

News, new videos, and other fun stuff to help you get through the week…

The biggest news of the weekend was the announcement that David Bowie will be releasing a new album next year.  There should be high hopes for Blackstar when it comes out on January 8, since Bowie’s last record (The Next Day) was pretty damn good. In other words, this is not merely the case of fans expressing nostalgia for the golden years of a legendary artist, but legitimate excitement for a new album–especially if it is as “completely bonkers”as one “insider” suggested.

Run The Jewels 2 was released a year ago today, and to celebrate the occasion, Run The Jewels has released a music video for “Angel Duster”, which features footage of the duo performing all around the country.

EL VY has released another lyric video from their upcoming album Return to the Moon, which will be released this Friday.  This time the duo of Matt Berninger (The National) and Brent Knopf (Menomena, Ramona Falls) have a video for the bouncy “Need a Friend”.

You may want to make sure you catch the The Late Show with Stephen Colbert tonight, because Chance the Rapper is set to release a new song with Stephen himself on the show.

In case you did not get your fix of write-ups on Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness, Consequence of Sound has a ranking of all 28 tracks.  Quibbles: the title track and “Here Is No Why” are underrated, “Galapagos” and “Porcelina of the Vast Oceans” are overrated.  But at least the top track is correct.

That is not the only list CoS prepared last week–they have one that documents “25 Essential Performances” from Pearl Jam to celebrate the twenty-fifth anniversary of the band’s first show.

And finally, this list serves as a bit of homework for our readers, as Stereogum lists the 50 Best New Bands of 2015.  We will definitely be consulting this list for the next few days, and it is probably a good idea if our readers do the same as well.

Catching Up On The Week (Oct. 23 Edition)

Some #longreads for your weekend…

This week marks the twentieth anniversary of the release of the landmark album Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness from the Smashing Pumpkins, and it is no surprise that several outlets are publishing tributes for the occasion.  Stereogum looks at the album through a modern context, arguing that it is unlikely that we will see such an epic release like Mellon Collie ever again, regardless of genre, and the AV Club covers the making of the album as well as examining some of the musical highlights from the record.  The most comprehensive piece comes from Alternative Nation, who in a gesture that befits such a sprawling and mammoth album, have published an extensive essay that covers just about anything you would ever want to know about the record.

Gizmodo has a lengthy guide to the science behind the synthesizer, covering the process of creating the sounds and the development of the instrument over the years.

Consequence of Sound published an essay that ponders what is the appropriate amount of a time that an artist should wait between album releases, though it covers many of the exact arguments that one should expect.  The conclusion tilts a bit toward longer gaps, though I have two words that can be offered as a counter: “Chinese Democracy.”

Loudwire takes a look at the behind-the-scenes drama of the making of One By One, which in my eyes is a criminally underrated Foo Fighters album.

Finally, Pitchfork has an excerpt from Shea Serrano’s new book, The Rap Year Book, which provides an entertaining look at the significance of Tupac’s classic hit “California Love”.

Viet Cong, Live at the Doug Fir

Or perhaps, more accurately, either “Formerly Known as Viet Cong” or “HEADLINERS”, Live at the Doug Fir

There may have been a bit of a commotion out on Burnside on Tuesday night, but the basement bar at the Doug Fir was filled with people ready to see one of the most buzzed-about bands of the year in their return to Portland.  The crowd was not disappointed, as Viet Cong performed a frenetic and gripping set that showed that the talent matches the hype.  Though this was the last time that “Viet Cong” played a show in Portland, this show guaranteed that people will line up to see these four guys perform in whatever the next iteration of the band will be.

The band on stage

The band on stage

Like it was with Bully a few nights before, the audience was faced with the prospect of knowing ahead of time what the set list would be, for the most part.  However, though the crowd was for the most part familiar with the band’s self-titled debut, Viet Cong started off the show with a couple of tracks off their self-released EP Cassette.  The band then launched into the familiar frenzied strains of single “Sillhouette”, and the crowd responded with head bobs of recognition as well as loud approval for one of the album’s highlights.  Instead of including some covers in their set, the band opted for the approach of stretching out some of their songs with extended intros and longer vamps, and the tension this created within the audience paid off in spades.

I was surprised to learn that the distorted intro to “March of Progress” was not created through tape manipulation or other studio trickery, but with careful and precise alternating drumrolls.  Mark Wallace’s work behind the kit had impressed me before, and this only added to his credentials.  The band also was able to dazzle in their slower moments, like in the haunting “Continental Shelf”, which featured some intriguing synth flourishes.  The clear-cut highlight was the epic closer “Death”, which had all four members showing off their technical prowess.  Its Swans-like false ending was pushed past the breaking point, as a few members of the crowd had their fill with the extended section of single hits, but most stuck around for the payoff of the frenzied finale.  It was an incredible finish, and left the audience clamoring for an encore, even if they knew it would never come.

Protesters outside the venue

Protesters outside the venue

The band did not mention their name during the performance, opting instead to point out that Monty, Danny, Mike, and Matt were playing tonight, and the signs inside only said “HEADLINER” was performing at 10 pm.  The protesters were armed with signs, pamphlets, and a megaphone, but they otherwise let people in without an issue.  I do want to note that Gang of Four played the same venue a week before without incident, and that nobody seemed to care that the opening act was called “Grave Babies”.  As for Grave Babies themselves, they put on quite the racket, but an enjoyable one if you ask me.

Deafheaven, Live at the Wonder Ballroom

Though they have stormed onto the scene on the strength of two critically-acclaimed albums, perhaps the only stronger consensus surrounding Deafheaven is their thrilling and intense live show.  On Monday night, the band lived up to that reputation with a brilliant and electrifying show at the Wonder Ballroom that left the crowd craving even more.

Bathed in blue (though not Baby Blue)

Bathed in blue (though not Baby Blue)

For this show, the band performed their latest album New Bermuda in its entirety from front-to-back, with a brief appearance at the halfway mark from last year’s “From the Kettle Onto the Coil”, a single that in retrospect served as an excellent bridge between albums.  Though the band eschewed the various interludes that are sprinkled throughout New Bermuda, opting not to bring along a piano for some of those gorgeous passages, the group otherwise did an excellent job of recreating the technical intricacies of the record in a live setting.

Guitarist Kerry McCoy showed off his skills throughout the night, and second guitarist Shiv Mehra contributed a couple of excellent solos as well.  Drummer Dan Tracy was a sight to behold as well–it was a marvel seeing him lay down an easy groove up top with the barest hint of effort, while his feet were engaged in a frenzy delivering double-bass drum kicks.  Vocalist George Clarke played the part of conductor, acting out many of the instrumental parts with a variety of hand gestures in a way that I am sure many members of the audience had done in the past as well.  As the rest of the band was mainly concerned with getting their complex parts just right, Clarke stepped up to the role as showman, as he stalked the stage or dropped to his knees to deliver his impassioned shouts.

As great as the new record sounded live, the show went up another level when the band returned to play “Dream House” for the encore.  The opening track from Sunbather whipped the crowd into a frenzy, and the feeling in the room was electric.  Though the band is probably tired of the song after touring relentlessly behind the album, their performance was fresh and awe-inspiring.  If only we could have heard the rest of the album as well.

A clearer view of the group

A clearer view of the group

The band dedicated their set and the tour to their opening act, the death metal group Tribulation.  Though metal is only an occasional indulgence on my part, I enjoyed their set as well.  They did an excellent job in preparing the crowd for the main act, as many in the audience were impressed by their technical virtuosity, if not their elaborate theatricality.

Bully, Live at Mississippi Studios

We here at Rust Is Just Right are big fans of Bully’s debut album, Feels Like, and we jumped at the opportunity to catch this exciting young group in action.  They stopped by one of our favorite Portland venues over the weekend, delivering a tight and energetic set at Mississippi Studios this past Saturday night.

Bully, in the middle of "Trying"

Bully, in the middle of “Trying”

It is always strange when you see a headliner touring behind a single album, since you already know what the set will be.  There are only a few potential variables, namely whether or not any songs will be stretched out or whether any covers will be thrown into the mix, but beyond that everything else is known.  Considering Bully’s quick and punchy songs, there was almost no chance that we would see an extended jam session, but we did witness a couple of covers (which after some research seems to be “Black and White” from the dB’s and “Who Was in My Room Last Night?” from the Butthole Surfers), plus an impromptu “Happy Birthday” sing-along with the aid of the crowd for a member of the opening band.

As for the regular set, the band faithfully recreated what we heard on the record, and captured the spirit of the album.  Leader Alicia Bognanno’s yell was in perfect condition, and she also showed a nice delicate touch with her vocals during some of the softer moments.  Though they have only been touring behind this album for a few months, Bully sounded like a group of old pros.

Seems like a good motto.

Seems like a good motto.

Openers Dead Soft were a perfect fit for the bill, with their sound covering similar 90’s indie rock territory as Bully.  Heat was an intriguing second band, as they mixed several different influences from various eras of rock (including a strong Velvet Underground vibe in their first song).  However, their frontman could use a little more practice in doing some crowdwork, as he came off a bit standoffish when there was little reason for it.

Over the Weekend (Oct. 19 Edition)

New music, new videos, and other fun stuff to help you through the week…

We here at Rust Is Just Right are extremely excited to hear that one of our favorite all-time bands, The Besnard Lakes, are set to release some new music in the near future.  The band is set to release a full album on January 22 (A Coliseum Complex Museum) as well as an EP in less than a month, with The Golden Lion coming out on November 13.  The group also released a video of their recent performance of “The Golden Lion” at Pop Montreal, with a 17-piece band helping fill out the sound.  The song itself seems to be a continuation of the mid-tempo orchestral rock direction the band started with Until in Excess, Imperceptible UFO, but who knows what the rest of the EP or LP will sound like.

This afternoon, Titus Andronicus released the latest video from The Most Lamentable Tragedy, for the song “No Future Part IV: No Future Triumphant”.  The video has a strong DIY feel, and is no doubt inspired by a lot of old school rap videos.

Hot Chip also released a video today, as they posted a 80’s-inspired video for their cover of “Dancing In The Dark”.  Take note that the song seamlessly transitions into another cover, with the band slipping into their version of “All My Friends” at around the five-minute mark.

And finally, this is probably more a sports post than a music post, but we think you may find it educational nonetheless.  The Classical has a preview of the upcoming NBA season, with each team’s prediction summed up with lyrics from punk legends the Minutemen.