Key To Music Grades

A - You will never be whole without it
B - Highly recommended
C - Flawed, but still pretty good
D - It's your money, not mine
F - Why couldn't this have been burned in Fahrenheit 451?

Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Machine, Westbury Music Fair, October 31, 2010

I was treated to the music of Pink Floyd from Spider-Man, Nurse-Man, Karate-Man and Monster-Man for three or so hours. Not much really to say other than that they continue to provide me with reasons to see them every year for their spot-on renditions of Floyd classics and obscure gems. "Wot's...Uh The Deal" was a surprise inclusion as was "Careful With That Axe, Eugene" to open the show. I also think it was ballsy to exclude songs like "Comfortably Numb," "One Of These Days," etc. But that's how great Floyd's music is -- you actually don't need to hear everything in order for it to be a great show. I wanted to hear "Comfortably Numb," but I'm not all that upset I didn't hear it. All in all, great show again. Thanks guys.


Careful With That Axe, Eugene
In The Flesh
The Thin Ice
Another Brick In The Wall, Part 1
The Happiest Days Of Our Lives
Another Brick In The Wall, Part 2
Speak To Me/Breathe
Shine On You Crazy Diamond
Signs Of Life
Learning To Fly

Welcome To The Machine
Wot's...Uh, The Deal
Keep Talking
Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun
Wish You Were Here
Any Colour You Like
Brain Damage

Waiting For The Worms
The Trial
Outside The Wall

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Alain Johannes - Spark (2010)

One of the newly minted releases from the collaborative efforts of artist-driven labels Ipecac Recordings and Rekords Rekords ("Starting A Revolution Against Shitty Rock!"), October 5th marked the day that Alain Johannes stopping being a sideman. Previously a founding member of Eleven with his late partner Natasha Shneider, from whom this album draws all of its real energy, as well as a member of Queens of the Stone Age, Chris Cornell's backing band and recently, anyone who's caught a Them Crooked Vultures show will recognize Alain as the fourth vulture -- yes, the guy not named Josh Homme who can also fucking shred. Initially intended as a limited distribution release a.k.a to his friends, Homme persuaded him to show his work to the world, and praise be to the Ginger Elvis for that.

The album is pretty raw and confessional, and unlike other bands who write on the verge of ambiguity and allude to various general topics such as pain, happiness, confusion, sorrow, loss, beauty, etc., this is pretty real and startling because of it. I mean, if you listen to this record, all 29 minutes of it, and don't find yourself considerably moved, I honestly don't know what to tell you. Actually, I do. But I'll leave it to you to imagine what verbal cruelty I've spared you from. As the cover shows, Alain plies his trade on a cigar box guitar, which he uses to employ a variety of guitar stylings, most often in complex harmonies. "Endless Eyes" is probably the most direct in regards to his late partner and features intense guitar playing and such lyrics as, "It's killing me that I must go on living." Tell me you don't want to buy this guy a beer. Also, lest I forgot, this guy can sing really well. If anyone's heard "Making A Cross" from the Desert Sessions, that is indeed him singing both verses, one in a fairly high register, one in a low register. Impressive eh? "Gentle Ghosts" is just sick. Due to my own guitar shortcomings, I find it difficult to imagine playing some of the lines on this one. "Make God Jealous" is equally awesome, a showcase of Alain's prodigious talent with the stringed instrument. "Spider" is Natasha's nickname and features some oddly phrased guitar lines. All in all, a very short listen, but very sad, very beautiful and very powerful. This is what happens when you play all the instruments and produce it and you aren't a megalomaniac. Trust me, it's so fucking good. B+

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Muse - Nassau Coliseum - October 23, 2010

While I haven't followed these guys from the beginning, I did have the benefit of enjoying them before they received massive exposure from playing award shows, Twilight soundtracks and as the opening act for such notable contemporary blowhards like U2, I was nonetheless disappointed by their concert, a mostly lifeless and mechanical rendering of their songs, and many popular singles at that. I suppose this is what comes at the price of filling up giant arenas and having legions of newly-minted mindless head-bobbers who want anthems and ballads and sing-alongs, elaborate stage wizardry and lights (which were cool, no complaints) and a general feel-good time. I was less than pleased at the unquestionably short 90 minute length of the show, the lack of an encore (unless two minutes before "Exogenesis" counts as an encore), and the enormous technical mistake, hereafter referred to as THE WTF MOMENT. Midway through Bellamy's warbling erratic wah wah sequence of the solo in "New Born," the sound suddenly got sucked out of the Coliseum. With a moment reflecting the sheer incredulity of his audience, Bellamy threw his hands up as if to say, ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME?, and the band promptly left the stage for a few minutes. To their credit, in rather humorous fashion, the band began again right smack at the heart of the solo, a testament perhaps more to their pristine routine than anything else. What else? Bellamy, an absolutely phenomenal vocalist, composer, pianist and guitarist was pretty much absent from the keys, only playing two songs if I recall, a marked departure from what made this band so unique.

So was anything good? Yes, "Knights" was amazing. Maybe the band was happy they were ending the show, I don't know, but it was energetic and provided a glimpse of why this band used to be so dynamic. Ditto for "Stockholm Syndrome," "Hysteria," "Problematique," "Eurasia," and a few others. The interlude "jams" were also interesting, if not for the fact that I had heard them "spontaneously" played before as well, in addition to some brief minute covers of "House of the Rising Sun," "Star Spangled Banner," some Zeppelin, etc. All in all, a very disappointing show by a band I fear has become hideously enslaved by the fickle whims of a commercial consuming public, despite the fact that I still love most of their music. It's a shame such amazing talent gets wasted for people who have no true appreciation for what they are hearing and are more concerned with waving their hands, taking obnoxious pictures and video with their iPhones and feeling bedazzled by visual displays, which, ultimately, hide the fact that the band is bored and should never be allowed to play "Undisclosed Desires" ever. C

Here's what I thought was the setlist:

Map of the Problematique
New Born
Super Massive Black Hole
Guiding Light
United States of Eurasia
Feeling Good
Undisclosed Desires
Time Is Running Out
Plug In Baby
Exogenesis: Symphony Part 1 (Overture)
Stockholm Syndrome
Knights of Cydonia

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Roger Waters - The Wall Live - Nassau Coliseum - October 12, 2010

What could I possibly write that could somehow add to what I've already said a few days ago? Um ... I had better seats? I liked seeing it twice? Pigs are really underrated? A-

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Roger Waters - The Wall Live - Madison Square Garden - October 6, 2010

Monstrous inflatable marionettes, a flying pig with party slogans, a flock of children singing something about education and wearing shirts bearing the message "Fear builds walls," the crash and din of music interspersed with babies and bombs and erratic television crackles, and a wall, so imperceptibly constructed steadily over the course of the album's tense first half that I here and now must raucously applaud whomever created the set design and those in the stage crew who seamlessly metastasized such a wonderful visual spectacle for me -- and everyone else, too. Yet the "bricks" in the wall were not just to physically isolate the band from the rest of the audience, but also to function as an enormous video screen (enormous being too understated, really) to showcase the various themes surrounding the album: animations of scenes from the film, photos of deceased military members from all wars, visuals of planes dropping bombs shaped as crucifixes, crescents and stars (which has garnered some controversy; Google it), as well as Shell and Mercedes logos and some good old-fashioned dollar signs. For those expecting Mr. Waters to sing like he was thirty years younger, he does, actually, on the screen from some footage of "Mother" from the 1980 tour; the current version sings along with him. Basically, go see this if you can. I am. Again. In five days. Try to not buy seats on the extreme left or right sides of whatever venue, and comfort yourself to the fact that, while this is not Pink Floyd, it's the closest thing you're going to get to see them ever again anyway. A- (the minus is for lack of Gilmour, the standard for anything involving Floyd).