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28Jul2010 1745: The Last Radio

Today on Monty's Behind the Curve, I started filling in my monthly Pandora downtime with LastFM. Right now my single Pandora station offers me greater breadth of genre, while choosing the "Rilo Kiley Station" option in LastFM offers me greater depth. I understand that eventually LastFM will build a working knowledge of bands I don't banish from my sight and end up somewhere near where my Pandora is now. The point is that I don't need a radio and only need my iPod for very specific bands, bands whose presence as a seed might throw a station into disarray. Machine learning has not advanced to the point where the Internet can understand that liking Ugly Duckling is not an invitation to vast swathes of 90s gangster rap.

[The New Raemon - Sucedaneos] sounds quite a lot like the Rilo Kiley Station. Middle-of-the-road indie pop, so bland I can't really think of anything to say.

[Best Coast - Boyfriend] starts off by wishing they were playing [The Killers - When You Were Young] and spends the rest of the song wishing "he" was her boyfriend. She doesn't mention any redeeming qualities of said "he", just that she wants him and he already has a woman. Also you've already heard all these "-end" rhymes in better songs.

[The Avett Brothers - Head Full of Doubt/Road Full of Promise] brings the video this week. The song puts me in mind of [Billy Joel - Always a Woman to Me], that kind of lilting piano and phrasing. The video portion doesn't have anything directly to do with the song, but chronicles the rise and fall of an urban area in a painterly style. Not bad at all.

[Larsen B - Marilyn] has enough animals on their album cover to stage an indie rock festival. Larsen B could go on tour with The New Raemon and Jonathan Rice; they're mild and banjo-y indie pop with, again, nothing to either recommend them or work against them.

Compared to the media extravaganzas of weeks past, this week was just boring.

21Jul2010 1300: Nuptials and Science

I'm back, everybody! You didn't know I was even gone, of course, due to my longstanding policy of only telling the Internet I went somewhere after the fact. Some friends of mine got married way the hell over in Colorado, a place of nature so far removed from my Great Plains knowledge that I was literally assaulted by my own ignorance.

We'll talk about that in a bit.

Aside from a slight hiccup that delayed our outbound flight by an hour -- "hiccup" in this case being "the flight attendants didn't show up for work" -- the entire vacation was smooth sailing. The wedding day started out rainy and gloomy but lo! cleared up perfectly for the exact duration of the wedding and picture-taking:

Yeah, it was pretty sweet. About 100% of my pictures are of awesome stuff like

The downtime between wedding events was filled with Alhambra and the Loveland Rock Bottom. Alhambra was well worth the impulse purchase; there's an interesting tension between how well you know everyone is doing and how quickly things can fall apart at the end. Plus you can buy womateriums.

Okay. Assault. On day one I conducted an impromptu science experiment in the shower. Intellectually I know that Colorado is "way higher" than Fargo, with the resulting drop in air pressure, but it's one thing to know it and quite other to be covered in it. All you need to replicate my findings is a bottle of shampoo/conditioner that rests on its cap and has been used in Fargo. Observe:

Innocuous SCIENCE Result

I also got a taste of what it's like to leave a feed reader alone for five days.

I will now break my longstanding rule and tell you all exactly where I will be on August 13th. I will be rocking out in a theater with a double-header of Scott Pilgrim and The Expendables. SO GOOD.

Okay, let's get back in the swing of things around here. [Iskander - Tiempo para Enamorarnos] brings us a Spanish Jack Johnson. The oppressive Mexican heat forces Iskander to rush through his guitar-bum song a little faster than Jack, but the intent is there. If you want to relax on a hammock and not understand a word your iTunes is saying, you need this song. I don't need this song.

[Frazey Ford - Firecracker] is a bluegrass Cocorosie. That means it is weird enough to find a place in my heart, but be forewarned! You may contract indie poisoning if you haven't built up a tolerance.

[Four Year Strong - It Must Really Suck to be Four Year Strong Right Now] wins this week based solely on self-reference. The music is vintage Sum 41 and the video follows an ever-expanding crew of costumed twenty-somethings lipsynching to the song. It'd be pretty great of all of those people actually were in the band, a kind of pop-punk Polyphonic Spree.

[ceo - Come With Me] follows up that cookie-cutter teen summer punk with a flavor of dance-pop I've been hearing more of lately. They sound most like previous iTunes Single [The Tough Alliance - Neo Violence], and by "most like" I mean "almost entirely like".

14Jul2010 2000: Fighting in the Shade

I've been loving every update on Guild Wars 2 so far. All their notes on MMO design -- especially this giant middle finger to the rest of the industry, including Guild Wars 1 -- remind me why I never played anything but Guild Wars in the first place. But today? Today is something magical. Today they revealed the new improved Ranger, and it is hilarious:

Why yes, that ratman in the first video was

The Elementalist and Warrior pages have similar skill videos, but none of them are quite as ridiculous as the Ranger's Barrage or Whirling Defense. Everybody expects a mage to throw huge fireballs, or a Warrior to hit things with a hammer. But summoning birds to eye-gouge the enemy? Fingers crossed that we get some sort of beta this year. I have a feeling our game group is going to be Ranger-heavy yet again.

[Miguelito - Maquinando] marks how long it takes an idea like Lil' Bow Wow to filter down into Mexico and return to our country. A pre-pubescent kid runs through an uptempo Latin rap in a voice that somehow manages to grate where Solta O Frango only amuses. I couldn't even sit through the song...that hasn't happened in a long while.

[Sky Sailing - A Little Opera Goes a Long Way] takes their own advice and eschews opera for quiet acoustic folk. The lead sounds like the dude from Owl City without his vocoder, and he gets harmonized with a lady who could very well be Jenny Lewis. So yes, yes I enjoyed this song.

Oh shit, I nailed it.

[Crowded House - Saturday Sun] is the video this week. It's entirely in negative, which does manage to distract from the standard soft rock visual montage. The woods, band in a warehouse, closeups on body parts, yup, it's all here. The band reminds me of Coldplay, but I'm sure people who listen to the radio would have more contemporary examples for you.

[Ana Tijoux - 1977] brings us our second Spanish rap of the day. This one is far more listenable, but my foreign-language rap needs are already met, thank you very much.

07Jul2010 2030: Nickeled and Dimed

Remember last week when I told you about the free Amazon music? It's possible that you could sift that whole category for a month and never find a song you like. Pandora is by far the better choice to find bands you've never heard of. But I come to you now to talk about the other section of Amazon Music that I frequent: 100 $5 Albums Monthly.

Goddammit Amazon, I should not have to use a URL shortener for your site. If magically creates its own "" links for you, why can't you do that?

Ahem. Last month's selection of albums was pretty arse, but this month is amazing. Just on the list of albums I'm definitely buying or have already bought -- and this will tell you more about my musical taste than a year's worth of iTunes Singles reviews -- there's

  1. Camera Obscura - Let's Get Out of This Country (already owned)
  2. Modest Mouse - Good News for People Who Like Bad News
  3. Silversun Pickups - Carnavas, source of that "Lazy Eye" song I like in Rock Band
  4. Pearl Jam - Ten
  5. Smashing Pumpkins - Gish
  6. Imogen Heap - Speak For Yourself, which will immediately go in a playlist with [Cat Power - Speak for Me]

Those are just the guaranteed buys. On the borderline are acts like Iron and Wine - The Shepherd's Dog, MGMT - Oracular Spectacular, The Shins - Wincing the Night Away, and Arcade Fire - The Funeral. It's too much.

After all that beauty, iTunes has to be a letdown, right? Let's see. [Bobby Vidales - Lagarto] does the techo-rock thing pretty well, like a PG-13 Mindless Self Indulgence. It's good!

[Richard Galliano - Suite pour orchestre No. 2 en Si mineur, BWV 1067] is...Bach played on an accordion. Oh lord. Run far away; Bach lovers will want something more substantial, and accordion lovers will want more oompah.

[Villagers - Becoming a Jackal] started out with the visuals and tone of the Beatles, more narrowly the calmer McCartney ballads. I kept waiting for the indie rock guitar wail, or square wave synths, or something, but the Villagers play this to the hilt. Do you want a cover of Yesterday that's not actually Yesterday and is accompanied with visions of skinned pigs?

[Troy Olsen - Summer Thing]: Stetson, sideburns, soulpatch. It's not just modern country, it's douchey modern country. Troy sings of mellowing out on a beach and drinking Cervesas, but I just wondered why his collar wasn't popped.

But none of that matters because...well, I've been holding out on you. The clear winner this week is 15 Beastie Boys hit singles for $5.

02Jul2010 1530: Shyamafreude

Can we all stop giving Shyamalan money now? Not just, like, you and me. Hollywood. Can Hollywood quit giving him money now? You can't argue that Sixth Sense is the rule and (other movie X) is the exception. Okay? That would make one rule and seven exceptions.