30Jun2010 1800: Small Victories
Holy crap is it Wednesday again? My weekend passed in a haze of cleaning and reading and family visits. The place hasn't sparkled like this since I moved in. I even tossed that broken office chair I was going to turn into a drum stool and never did. What I didn't do is play any Red Dead Redemption; I grow ever more wary of spoilers. I feel them pressing in from every side, lurking on my Internets and ready to pounce.
Are you watching this Persons Unknown show? I had it talked up by a cousin after its premiere, but every episode since has shown a marked decrease in quality. The people inside the town are dumb and the people outside the town are unnecessary. Your bonfire idea was good and your streets are covered in blowing paper at all times what happened to your bonfire idea?!? If Moira isn't revealed as a robot in the next two episodes I walk.
Hey did you know that Amazon has a ton of free albums for download? I guess this is the replacement for label sampler CDs that you used to get at concerts or with trendy shoes or from brekkist cereal. Thumbs up to the Sub Pop and Barsuk samplers, thumbs down plus confuseddog.jpg to So Indie It Hurts: Yelling in Somebody's Basement.
Why do I tell you this? Because a new source of free music will never hurt. iTunes has fixed most of the weird issues with the store, leaving only the spurious "Not available in the US" message modaling up my user experience. Despite their best efforts I was able to lay hands upon [J King y Maximan - Porque Tu], a pair of Latin superheroes who fight crime by causing criminals to flee from their early-90s rap/reggae beats. If such a concept was immortalized in a video I might give it five stars, but a mere song annoys me.
[Scissor Sisters - Fire With Fire] wooooooo Scissor Sisters! It's too bad they rhyme "fire" with "desire", that put me off early on. If you don't know Scissor Sisters you really should -- they're like a slightly gayer Elton John and they wrote a song about Return to Oz. In fact...you know, just go listen to that song instead of downloading this one. I can see this being their new single but it is not as appealing as anything from their first album.
[Dragonette - Pick Up the Phone] is probably talking about a giant wired phone that hangs on a wall. See, because it's so 80s and everything. And they had phones that hung on walls. Shut up. If you need more Tiffany in your ears hey guess what.
My country klaxon went off, but I had to hear how [Bob Schneider - 40 Dogs (Like Romeo and Juliet)] connected the two parts of that title. Apparently 40 Dogs is a brand of cigarette? The song is halfway between country and rock. The video portion starts off with a battle between Bob's old-timey camcorder and Bob's Woman's iPhone video. It ditches that contrast concept at the first chorus and goes into a touchy-feely love montage with dogs and a stepson and balloons.
23Jun2010 1800: More Than Meets the Mice
What's new since Monday? Not much. This video about a game called Transformice made the game-blog rounds and it is hilarious. I will probably never actually play the game -- the servers have been hit so hard -- but I can also appreciate the joy of watching a game. For a less-filtered look at how it works, begin the Incredible Journey. Make sure to up the video quality so you can read the chatroom complaints.
Okay iTunes, when I click a button to procure a song I do not want to (a) be taken back to the home page or (b) be informed that the item is not available in the US because that is a lie. I'm pretty bad at webdev, but I can't fathom how a site redesign could break their most fundamental business interaction so horribly and as a nonpaying customer I demand they blah blah blah
[Gerardo Ortiz - A la Moda] reminds me, I have ice cream! Have you ever wanted to hear Cajun music explode? Just a nonsensical wall of squeezebox and drums? Good news! I'm not sure if he's supposed to be a parody artist or something, his album art looks like a joke.
[Beckah Shae - Life] could also be in Spanish for all I can tell. There's autotune and overdubbed backing vocals and all manner of horrible pop dance beats dripping from every distended pore of this song. Beckah looks like an anime character on the album, but I don't think America has taken the step to completely synthetic pop stars yet.
[The Parlotones - Push Me to the Floor] advocates spousal abuse. The video has some sort of a Victorian/1950s blend going on, goth and homemaker elements just sort of thrown together and told to fight it out. The music is what would happen if Muse were terrible.
[The Rescues - Break Me Out] is a mostly unremarkable pop song until the chorus, when it becomes a mostly unremarkable rock song.
21Jun2010 1930: Quick Hits
While I wait for the Crackdown 2 demo to download I suppose I can get around to reviewing those songs that Apple got around to putting up. Again, I am 100% behind splitting out the free music into its own screen, and I'm glad they got new songs up, but...but every one told me it wasn't available on the US store when I clicked it even though it started downloading as normal. Still some kinks to work out.
[BLK JKS - Zol!] reminds me of when I used to name Final Fantasy 1 characters things like "BJKR" and "Weny". The song is an African-flavored Tough Alliance song, which itself was a free single at some point.
[Mike Posner - Cooler Than Me] has a couple head fakes before it gets going. It starts at a concert full of teenagers who seem to know who Mike Posner is, then it follows designer-rebel Mike up into a hotel party. Then suddenly it's a Justin Timberlake boysong, and then the techno comes in. Imagine Justin being backed by The Human League; it's not bad, all told. The video portion goes through some silly glasses-related humor and aside from the cats-eye-wearing fox didn't do much for me.
[Ely Guerra - Stranger] hearkens from an era when Shawn Colvin and Lisa Loeb ran roughshod over the radio dial. Also it is in a crazy moon language.
[The Gaslight Anthem - American Slang] doesn't appear to be a steampunk band. I'm sorry, that's my kneejerk reaction when the word "gaslight" appears. The important part of the band name is actually "anthem", as they try their darnedest to replicate a summery Bruce Springsteen rock hit. A simple, steady 4/4 drumbeat; a strained Springsteen voice; the bridge and build to verse three. This is the kind of song that defined summer vacation for 80s teens and later showed up in blue jean commercials. It's such a blatant ripoff/homage of Springsteen, and yet mechanically perfect in its execution.
16Jun2010 1800: Dragging and Nautrally Speaking
My ass is dragging today, a result of the
aftermath of the "IT Summit" at my company. After talking the event
up for a few weeks, it became apparent that most of the talks were geared for
people above my pay grade...just the way I like it. The only lasting hangover
effect is my sleep deprivation. I also have a new favorite stout
WCF design pattern, Rogue Chocolate Stout fuck it
Congrats to little bro for graduating high school. That is all of them now, and weebro certainly got the worst of the High School Lockdown that America is currently going through. I shudder to think what would have happened to me with the current namby pambies in charge.
Now, I'm trying not to get bent out of shape that something
a large corporation provides for free to the public is not quite free/functional
at the moment. But...it's the juxtaposition that makes this seem like a
Last week's free singles, but no longer free, clearly categorized under Free Music and the only items in there. I appreciate that Apple finally broke out their Free offerings into Music and Shit I Don't Care About, but...man.
09Jun2010 1800: Brotherly Love and Pupperly Poop
I follow Boing Boing's feed for my daily dose of impotent libertarian rage and occasionally some wonderful things. This is one of the latter. They linked an oh snap aimed at Viacom that was actually quite good. The snapper's channel turned out to be two brothers who vid-blog back and forth weekly, and the other brother had already made a video about YouTube vs Viacom. And that video used a rather bizarre "pooped in the Nintendo" metaphor repeatedly. So of course I had to go look up their Case of the Poopy Nintendo for context; and that video linked all the way back to Red Green, the Nintendo, and Hank. You could probably watch those in reverse order-I-linked-them and get the narrative, but for maximum horror-movie reveal you should do like I did.
[Los Claxons - Tal Vez Me Estoy Tomando el Pelo] is packing one hell of a title there. Unlike this Klaxon, Los Claxons are not charming and quirky. They are Matchbox Veinte. I'm already weirded out by Counting Crows suddenly showing up on my Pandora station, I don't need non-nostalgic 90s soft rock.
[Cherryholmes - Live It] is a country ballad that, judging by the album art, comes from a compilation album. So this is a country band I've never heard of from an album filled with country bands I've never heard of.
[Jaron and the Long Road to Love - Pray for You (Country Version)] is upfront and honest about being goddamn country. However, I am 100% behind the lyrics, which are a three-minute fuck-you to his woman. It's accompanied by a video of his woman giving him three minutes of physical and material harm. But remember kids, it's wrong for a man to hit a woman. I think I'll keep this around, but I don't know if it'll have the same impact over my iPod without the video.
[22-20s - Latest Heartbreak] is...British rock? The quick tempo and guitar work make my brain say "British", but for the life of me I can't recall what band it could be compared to. Maybe it's the tambourine, links it with the British Invasion in my mind? Anyway, middle-of-the-road rock song that survives by being inconsequential.
1830 02Jun2010: The Improbably Wild West
Over the long weekend I put 3D Dot Game Heroes to bed and powered through Uncharted 2. 3D Dot Zelda was fantastic all the way to the end, never once failing to deliver its greatly expanded take on old-school overhead Zelda. Spirit Tracks and the earlier Phantom Hourglass show what Nintendo can do when they're willing to tweak the classic formula in a different direction, first with a recurring stealth dungeon and then with a buddy-cop. 3D Dot Game Heroes shows what a different company can do by pushing the classic formula to the max.
Uncharted 2? Probably the best game last year. Most websites came down to Batman: Arkham Asylum and Uncharted 2, and as much as I loved being Batman I think Uncharted takes it. The game was "only" eight hours long, but that's eight hours of the best Indiana Jones movie never filmed. Near the end it goes a little overboard with a type of enemy that a) soaks up bullets and b) immediately charges your position. All the tactics of combat the game has taught you over several hours suddenly goes out the window as you die and die and die. Aside from that needless assault the game was wonderful. I imagine it's just as cool to watch as it is to play.
With those two out of the way I am finally able to turn my attention to Fuck Yeah, Cowboys! Despite not actually being set in the Civil War era, I am assured that you can acquire a Mexican poncho in the game so hell yes. In 1911 the West was on the verge of not being Wild, but if you watch the video linked above you'll see that there is still plenty of random crazy shit happening all over the territories.
[Triangulo de Amor Bizarro - De la Monarquia a la Criptocracia] has too many words in their name + title. Musically it's a driving rock song that brings to mind something like the Breeders or early Cranberries. Pretty good, although I would like to hear their cover of Triangulo de Amor Bizarro.
I hate to go right back to the 80s, but [A Silent Film - You Will Leave a Mark] is an uptempo Goo Goo Dolls song fronted by some vocalist from that most neon of decades. I can't quite place it, and it's not quite New Order, but it won't be denied.
Quick quiz: is [Polar Bear Club - Living Santa] indie rock? Actually no, despite the animal name. This is punk of a type that I didn't think got major label coverage any more, not since Sum 41, but I guess if we're going to release songs that sound like they were made 30 years ago we might as well release songs from 10 years ago. The video portion is forgettable -- the lead singer's head goes through a variety of CG morphs -- but the song is good enough and at 2.5 minutes you won't have time to hate it.
HOLY SHIT [Leela James - Tell Me You Love Me] is flaunting that shock of hair. Everything about this song encompasses everything I know about 70s soul, which I have gleaned from late-night compilation commercials. There's even a breakdown in the middle where she talks at the target man. Big hair, big necklace, big soul.