Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Obituary: The Walkman

Japan--The Walkman, 31, has been quietly euthanized by Sony following a long period of irrelevance. His tragic end was hastened by the development of digital technology and music lovers' deep hatred of having to fast-forward then check then fast-forward then check to get through songs they don't like.

Born March 24th 1979, Walkman began his life as a chunky, 4-battery using youth, but grew into a svelte, colourful fashion statement of the eighties.  During his peak years, the number of people who claimed to walk as a form of exercise increased by 30%. The exact number of lives saved by aiding cardiovascular fitness and improved by keeping people from becoming ugly fatty-fats is unknown.
The Walkman is survived by the Discman (also not long for this world), dusty mixtapes still stashed somewhere in our mother's houses, and hipsters who think that releasing stuff in unplayable cassette format is ironic enough to be cool.

RIP Walkman. You will soon be forgotten.

*Fun Fact: The above artwork was created by Andy Warhol for a campaign Sony never used.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Tallest Man on Earth: "Sometimes the Blues are Just a Passing Bird "

Photo by Kyle Dean Reinford

Every period in your life has a soundtrack of sorts. This summer, The Tallest Man on Earth was on mine. I had a lot of time off--rich person amounts of time off--and more than a few afternoons were spent lying around listening to The Wild Hunt, and doing little else. I mean, after a hard day of volunteering, obviously. For, like, the kids in the wheelchairs... with the...illnesses. So sad. 

So yeah, while I was totally about those wheelie kids, I also spent a lot of time enjoying Kristian Matsson's work. The intimate, deep-south inspired pop-folk album was perfect for lazy, sunny afternoons. Expecting a followup, I was excited for the new EP.

My enthusiasm waned for just a moment when I learned that the album is going by Sometimes the Blues are Just a Passing Bird because...well, dammit, that is a terrible title. It is an awkward mouthful and impossible to remember. It is a bad date title. Thankfully the album itself has a lot more grace and charm. Though it really can't be said to be a follow up album to The Wild Hunt. Matsson's trademark raw, Dylanesque vocals are as vulnerable and hopeful as ever, but there is definitely a darker, more caged feeling to Sometimes. While the last album was deep, it was also upbeat, uplifting. This time around there are no pick-me-ups. To be honest, despite its beauty I was glad it clocked in at just 17 and a half minutes and five songs. With lyrics like: “I said oh my Lord, why am I not strong? Like a branch that keeps, hangmen hanging on, like a branch that will take me home” it's some emotionally dense stuff and some days that's all you can take.  Admirably, it manages to never cross the line to dreary, but there is definitely something more wistful, more brooding, and more wounded this time around.

This isn't a warm summer album. This is one is colder for the winter months and darker days. Seems appropriate enough and I'll be listening to it.  

After I do my work for the sick kids in the skichairs, of course.

01 Little River by Mr. Shuffleupagus

03 Like the Wheel by Mr. Shuffleupagus

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Expand Your Music Library Without Money, Theft or Effort: Woozy Viper

The morning after a party is predictable. Your head is splitting and your tongue is stuck to the roof of your mouth. Your clothes and dignity are places unknown. There is at least one thing on your sheets that does not belong there and you wonder if detergent/cab fare would get it out with minimal effort.
Stumbling into the living room you find the stragglers either too drunk or too hardcore to have left and you rattle empties until these debauched leftovers blindly grope their way out of the flat trailing shame and alcoholic vapour behind them.

But then there's that one guy. You know him but not all that well. Maybe you worked together three jobs ago or he knows your brother, something like that. But however he got there, two things are sure to be true about him: he lives way the fuck across town and he has no ride back.

This guy is spending the afternoon with you.

In an attempt to shake him you meet friends for brunch. He tags along. At the restaurant someone mentions something everyone should check out back at the apartment, and somehow he's right there with you. But now you're enjoying him. He's harmless. He's funny. He's slightly mental. But he's charming in his own "maybe-he doesn't even-have-a-home" way. Yeah he can hang out with your crew. Why not?

And then before you know it, there's a keg and a whole new party at your house. You weren't planning on it but the idea somehow rose organically out of drunken conversations at the midget strip club, and now the police are knocking because neighbours have complained and there's apparently some kind of law about farm animals in apartment buildings. How any of this came about is now something of a blur, but one thing is for sure: it never could have happened without that guy. You don't do stuff like this, but that guy does.

Woozy Viper's first album is the musical version of that guy.

At some point Luke and Mitch Meseke of NYC decided to stop fussing around, stop trying to reinvent the record, and start making rock and roll of the classic 60's variety.  It doesn't sound brand new, but that's a good thing. It's not mixed quite right, but that's a good thing too. This is an album for the purists. You can almost smell the dust and beer of dingy roadhouses in every riff. It's a gritty, boozy and refreshingly uncomplicated rock n' roll album made by and for people who yearn for the days when rock was about cigarettes, bottles of whisky and dirty stories about groupies, not neuroses and antidepressants.  It's two parts Lou Reed, one part young Stones, one part The Kinks, and a dash of Jim Morrison served over a Hunter S. Thompson road trip. 

And the best part is that you can get the whole album for free here. So you should go do that now.

WV01 LookOut by Mr. Shuffleupagus

WV06 DirtyRat by Mr. Shuffleupagus
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...