>Albums I Haven’t Heard In A Long While: "Doolittle" by the Pixies

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Heavy symbolism.

It’s still the only Pixies album I own. Why I don’t know! It’s creative as all get out and I loved it the moment I first heard it. That was three and a half years ago. WHATTT??

Let’s tally up the album count here. Because this isn’t right. I like to fancy myself a “hip” music reviewer, full of sweet good taste. I mean, I’m telling you what music to listen to, right?? So I’ve gotta be hip, or else you’d have no reason to listen to me! So keep this in mind: I have ONE Pixies album. The Pixies were one of the biggest influences on 90’s alt-rock ever. They are still considered one of the most important and influential rock bands of the past two decades or so.

And I have ONE of their albums. Here’s a few bands that I have more albums of than the Pixies:

– Blur (four)
– Hanson (four, no shit!!)
– Coldplay (three)
– David Cross (two, and I don’t even listen to those albums anymore!)
– Green Day (…um, three. Yeah, I know)
– Paul McCartney solo (two, more like TWO TOO MANY) (actually no I like those albums)
– New Radicals (Well ok, only one, but I’ve listened to it more than this Pixies album according to iTunes so yeah)

Jeezum crackers. You’ve heard it here, folks: Sean Rose prefers Coldplay and Hanson over the Pixies. TELL ALL YOUR LOCAL BLOGGER NEWS BLOGS.

So Doolittle. Kicks ass. Starts off with the nutzoid one-two-three punch of “Debaser,” “Tame,” and “Wave of Mutilation,” and doesn’t let up from there. The first and third aforementioned are more Pixies pop, but “Tame,” oh man. That song as the greatest vocals ever: Frank Black whispers creepily in the verses, and then SCREAMS AT THE TOP OF HIS GODDAMNED LUNGS in every verse, and man it’s so cool. That’s a Nirvana trick! Now you see where it comes from!! And that part where Frank Black stops after one of the verses and starts doing that rhythmic breathy singing that sounds like he’s stopping for air, with Kim Deal singing over it? And that part right after that where he launches right back into the “TAAAAAAAAME!” scream? THAT IS. Cool.

“Here Comes Your Man” is still my favorite song on here. Always has been, always will be. As creepy and shouty and scary as the Pixies could make themselves, they always had surprisingly strong pop instincts, and this song is probably the closest they ever got to a happy-dappy pop song. And I LOVE it! It’s got the funniest, loopiest little riff that dips in and out of the whole thing, and Frank Black and Kim Deal’s vocals are so strong and happy I just want to kill myself.

Otherwise, there’s still some great creeper-rock tracks on here. “Dead”? “I Bleed”? “Crackity Jones”? Kim Deal’s “Silver”? All jagged, minor-key, noisy creepouts that are also real catchy. Again, pop instincts about whether they like it or not – like the groovy bridge of “Dead”. But they’ve also got some cool, laid-back rockers like “Hey,” some goofy funny moments like “Mr. Grieves” and “La La Love You” (featuring cat-call whistling and “SHAKE YOUR BUTT!” incantations), and even some weirdly poignant numbers like the epic “Monkey Gone To Heaven,” perhaps the Pixies’ definitive piece of gospel. And then there’s “Gouge Away,” which might as well be a Nirvana song. I mean that in a good way.

Umm, well I’d like to discuss Kim Deal for a moment. For all you non-Pixiesologists, she was their bassist and other chief vocalist/songwriter, offering a lilting, melodic female vocal counterpoint to Frank Black’s screeching, demented wail. She was important, damnit! Her basslines are ALL OVER this album! A lot of the time, her basslines form the melodic BASS-IS (haha jokes) of most of the songs. And they’re all cool! And Frank Black barely put her songs on their later albums – this one only has “Silver” which I’ve honestly never really liked all that much, so I always kinda wrote her off. But I just heard Pod by the Breeders, her side-project recorded about a year after Doolittle, and damn is it cool. So props to Kim Deal.

God, what do I know? I don’t have Surfer Rosa. I’ve never listened to it before. I have no credibility on this matter. I don’t have an excuse – I’ve had Doolittle for three years and I haven’t bothered with anything else. I’m too deep in the hole now to save my credibility. So I’ll only direct this review to people who have never heard of the Pixies: this album is good, so buy it! They were the most ripped-off band of the 90’s! And don’t buy it just ’cause they had a song in Fight Club. Honestly, there are still people in this country who will refer to the Pixies as “that Fight Club band.” Can you believe that shit? These are the same people that listen to the Toadies and 311 unironically. You have no reason to trust them.

Now if you don’t mind I’m going to put on Coldplay’s classic record Parachutes. That “Yellow” number really shakes me up.

(P.S.: You can buy this ENTIRE album in Rock Band. DO IT DO IT! STOP BUYING SHITTY COHEED SONGS AND BUY “DOOLITTLE” YOU USELESS FUCKS!!)

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>Albums I Haven’t Heard In a Long While: "Franz Ferdinand" by Franz Ferdinand

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Umm so your cover’s BORING!!!!!!

Franz Ferdinand was a high school album to dance to. That’s my first thought of it, off the top of my head. All of my friends and myself were awkward kids obsessed with classic rock and hand-picked modern indie; we didn’t buy into the whole “crunk,” “R and the B” business. I think that Usher/Lil John “Yeah!” song had just come out the same year, and we weren’t hoppin’ on that train. Some friends of ours were – cooler, more socially acceptable people were – but not us Kinks-lovin’ cracker dweebs! We needed some ROCK ‘n ROLL to dance to! Some HIP rock ‘n roll. That got a good rating on ALLMUSIC DOT COM.

Franz Ferdinand was a pop-rock-dance album that got four stars on Allmusic.com. And like a 9 from Pitchfork! And we could put it on at parties and not look like a bunch if pop-hating whiny-vocal indie loving freakazoids. Because EVERYBODY dug the Franz back then! (“Then” being 2004.) That included kids who ONLY listened to modern r’n’b crunx and kids like us who could barely stand much of anything past 1980. “Take Me Out” was such a hit! It was everywhere! And it ROCKED! “Dark of the Matinee” was so COOL! “Darts of Pleasure” had a KICKIN’ BEET! “Michael” was about SCOTTISH GAY PEOPLE! There was not an un-loose hip in the house when Franz Ferdinand popped on the stereo. Interpol sure as HELL weren’t dancin’ like this! Oh we all loved this album.

Then I actually sat down and listened to it, and realized it was one of the worst records I’d ever heard.

…ah-HA! Nah, just kidding, I still kinda like it. Although it is notable that, despite not owning Franz Ferdinand for a full two years after it came out, I still knew it front-to-back before then. Because my friends would put it on at parties so danged much!! But that’s OK. It’s a party album! So it makes PERFECT sense.

Franz Ferdinand is quite the hooky record. I guess it was the beginning of that whole “80’s pop revival” craze that the Killers eventually capitalized on (Brandon Flowers didn’t start it, he is a moron*), so the pop rock found here is littered with Gang of Four-esque beats and the sultry, coy vocals of Alex Kapranos, who makes every lyric of the album sound positively gaytastic. There’s lots of beats to go around, too, which is why this here’s a DANCIN’ album! “This Fire,” “Darts of Pleasure,” “Take Me Out,” “Auf Achse,” all perfectly danceable. And you can see why “Take Me Out” was such a hit – I still really dig the way the song TOE-tally changes from the opening boogie to that cool, slowed-down riff!

Having said all this I never ever listen to this album. Barely ever. Even when I first got it, I listened to it like twice and forgot about it, shuffled it off. Why? I don’t know. It’s not a remarkably substantial album, at least to these ears. It’s cute, it’s catchy, it’s got a beat you can pop on at a party, but I just can’t imagine myself listening to it over and over again when there’s much more invigorating dance-rock out there. And listening to it now, aspects of it bug me that didn’t bug me before – the psuedo-sultriness of Kapranos’s voice, the slight post-punk faddishness, the kinda silly lyrics (“You can feel her lips undress your eyes”? I know, it’s supposed to be cleverly stupid, but eh). I think it’s the unfortunate combination of me having already heard it about fifty-eight (trying to be accurate here) times before I even bought the damn thing, and the unrelenting ravages of Mother Time that make me view Franz Ferdinand in this way.

But I’m being mean and giving off the impression that I think the album sucks. It doesn’t! And it’s a helluva lot more exciting and fun than most indie rock, to the point where I think it’s silly to even classify it as “indie.” It’s POP! Dance-pop!! It’s just not totally my bag anymore. I’m not seventeen anymore and I can’t get easily wowed by modern indie-dance-rock-whatever music like this. It’s the curse of growing for four years. Also the Arcade Fire’s Funeral dropped in 2004, rendering all other pieces of music obsolete (I only have the mental capacity to really really like ONE ALBUM PER YEAR, okay??).

Oh jeez, I’m just remembering when You Could Have It So Much Better came out like a little over a year after the first album, and everybody was so goshdamned excited. Man, surely the Franz would have the same work ethic of those great classic rock bands of old, recording and touring constantly while releasing a new album every year. SAVIORS OF ROCK ‘n ROLLLLL!

And of course they haven’t put out shit since. WHOOP. I mean, they have a new album coming out NOW, but not until January 2009. That’s still a while chief!!!

Anyway. Please don’t get angry at me for saying mean Franz words. Go ahead and share your Franzmemories with me! At least they’re better than those fucking Arctic Monkeys! (By this I mean they can actually write a hook that isn’t overly-wordy and obnoxious)

*Sorry. Every few posts.

>A Blast From Seanrose’s Past: The Great Zelda Playthrough

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WIND WAKER LINK IS STILL THE BEST OKAY??

A couple of years back I decided, in an unprecedented fit of pure fanboy determination, that I would play through every single Legend of Zelda game ever made. I had just watched through most of GameTrailers’ comprehensive Zelda Retrospective and I was immediately inspired – it felt like something lodged in my brain for years had finally been set loose. I suddenly remembered that, hey, Zelda’s pretty great, I loved Zelda when I was a kid, and whoa there’s all these other Zelda games I’ve never played! Why not play them all? Why have I waited so long??

And so I did. I was playing Chrono Trigger at the time but I didn’t care. I found my borrowed copy of the GBA Link to the Past remake and never looked back. By the time I finished Wind Waker about a year later, I had beaten every Zelda game in the book (with the exception of Zelda 2 and Four Swords, neither of which I could grab a copy of).

It was quite exciting at first. My Grand Zelda Playthrough kicked off amidst a dizzy haze of sudden, rampant fanboyism, the likes of which I hadn’t experienced since middle school. The Wii was about to come out, and along with it Twilight Princess; as such, the excitement of this great new technology – with this great new Zelda game – was palpable. For whatever reason, I started talking about my newfound love of Zelda to anybody who would listen. Friends, family, you name it. Hell, I even started blabbering about Zelda in this very blog, as if I were determined to make an idiot out of myself in every possible way. I even wrote a really stupid Zelda fanfic that, while kinda-sorta intended to be a parody, is pretty indicative of the overwhelmingly nerdy state I was in at the time. Man, I was obsessed.

So why was I so Zelda-nuts? Well, there’s the aforementioned Wii thing, that had a part in it. But it was much more than that. This was back in late 2006, and I was still reeling after my house fire (yeah, sorry, I gotta bring that up again). As such, a lot of the games I was playing through at that point were nihilistic, hopeless, darkly violent excursions: God of War, Resident Evil 4, and especially Half-Life, which might have one of the most hopeless video game endings I’ve ever witnessed. Simply put, I needed an uplift, and what better game to uplift me than The Legend of Zelda? A game series I’d adored in middle school and casually ignored for at least five years? It was my first chance to really appreciate some of my all-time favorite games from the perspective of an adult. Well, a kinda-sorta adult.

So I had it all planned out – I’d beat Wind Waker last, and write one big, comprehensive blog post reviewing every single game I’d played through. Oh, it was gonna be great, I tell you. But it never materialized. By the time I finished Wind Waker, I was tired of it all. That unflappable enthusiasm I’d had in spades a year later was starting to burn out. All that remains of my grand, glorious Zelda Retrospective lies in this one blog post I shat out while I was still playing through Ocarina of Time, and it’s quite embarrassing, mostly because I was vainly attempting to imitate Lester Bangs. Bad move.

So what did I learn from this playthrough? God, I don’t even know. Here’s what I remember right off the top of my head: Link to the Past and Ocarina of Time have the best dungeons. Every portable Zelda I played through was great, including Minish Cap which was much much better than I expected it to be (Phantom Hourglass wasn’t out at the time). Twilight Princess was worth it, but had a pretty shitty plot. And Wind Waker‘s ending still almost brings a tear to my eye, every single time. That’s it.

Oh, I’m sure something else will come up. I still haven’t played through Phantom Hourglass, so maybe that’ll bring back my Zelda nerdism with a vengeance. Maybe I’ll review it in this very blog! Who knows. I still love Zelda, and I’ll always love Zelda. That’ll never change. But chances are I will never love a video game series as strongly and unfalteringly as I did back then. Ever again.

With the exception of maybe Plok.

>Album Review: "Exile on Main St." by the Rolling Stones

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Where’s the zipper?? AHA. (Hilarious Rolling Stones jokes.)

Aye, this blog is in serious danger of turning into an ass-kiss-fest. If you haven’t been keeping up, feel free to rifle through some of my most recent reviews – all positive! That Tom Petty album? LOVED it! Paul Westerberg’s? Man, man, did I slobber all over that one. Shit, I even got my panties all in a bunch over a HANSON album!! Can you believe that? The last time I actually grew a pair and ripped on something was the new Weezer album, like two months ago. And NOBODY liked that album! Fish in a fuckin’ barrel! I tell you, if I’m gonna veer this blog away from the stinking pit of stagnation, I’ve gotta start getting more bitter. And fast.

Having said that, here’s a blindingly positive review of a Rolling Stones album that everybody knows but I’ve only listened to like once.

Listen, I’m not even a huge Rolling Stones fan. Why else would I not bother to listen to Exile On Main Street for so many years, despite all its accolades? I mean, I’ve been actively listening to the Rolling Stones since my senior year of high school, and I still dig Beggars Banquet and Let It Bleed after all this time. But truth me told, I was too busy being swept off my feet by the masterful pop of the Beatles and the gob-smacking power-rock of the Who (not to mention the beautiful whimsy of the Kinks) to really pay much attention to the Stones. Hell, in comparison they almost seemed like also-rans more than grade-A Sixties rockers; to me, they couldn’t do pop nearly as well as the Beatles and they couldn’t kick ass in a live setting anywhere near as powerfully as the Who. They just seemed like generic rockers that flailed any time they attempted diversity – as much as I enjoyed most of their blues, country and psychedelic workouts, they always seemed more kitschy than they should’ve been. So to me, the only original sound the Stones had lied in their raunchy blues-oriented bar-rock, which to me lost its luster after a while. Maybe because so many bands have co-opted the same sound for so many years.

So the Stones slowly but surely drifted off my radar. Once I got up to Sticky Fingers, a record I enjoyed but hardly fell in love with, I kinda-sorta stopped following them. Exile was an unfortunate casualty of my fickle nature – I mean, why listen to the Stones when I had all these Kinks albums I had to discover? And nobody’s touting them as the “World’s Greatest Rock ‘n Roll Band.”

But now I’ve listened to Exile all the way through and, man, this is everything the Rolling Stones should sound like. I think one of the Stones’ weirdest contradictions – one I never understood hearing Let It Bleed – was their glorification of hedonistic excess married with traditional American roots music, like gospel or blues. How can you put a sicko sex-anthem like “Stray Cat Blues” on the same album as a working-class hymn like “Salt of the Earth”? How can you put “Live With Me” on the same album as “You Can’t Always Get What You Want”? They seemed to almost cancel each other out. When you put on Exile, though, it all starts to make sense. If the Stones were searching for a soul in Banquet through Sticky Fingers, it sounds like they’ve found it in Exile – they’ve found salvation buried beneath the shallow rock ‘n roll lifestyle, the soulless exercise of shatting out rock hit after rock hit year after year. Corny-sounding, I know, but that’s what I hear when I hear Exile.

For all the lofty language I’m using here, I don’t want to obscure the fact that Exile is an excessively fun listen. Compare it to Sticky Fingers or Let It Bleed, where the nutty good-time rockers are tempered with creepy blues workouts or dark hard rockers – a “Bitch” for every “Brown Sugar,” if you will. But just hearing Exile‘s first side shows that we’re in for something different here: opener “Rocks Off” is perfect Stones sleaze, followed by the fastest, funniest, most indecipherably infections bar-band rocker this band could ever come up with, “Rip This Joint.” Then you’ve got blues-boogie (“Shake Your Hips” and “Casino Boogie”), and finally the absolute apex of the Stones’ soul workouts, “Tumbling Dice.” In the aforementioned track, you’ll hear soulful female backup vocals, killer riffing, incredible energy all the way through – it’s perfect gospel-rock, something the Stones had incorporated in various degrees in the past but never in such a pure, effortless fashion.

Oh, but things change a bit after the boundless enthusiasm of “Tumbling Dice.” Things wear down a bit. “Sweet Virginia,” eh? “Torn and Frayed.” Kinda sad songs. But the good times aren’t over! Sure, these songs are kinda sad and reflective, but still playful, catchy, and sweet – not unlike the Beatles Let It Be, it’s the sound of the Stones sitting around in your basement, getting drunk and playing some goodtime tunes in the wee hours of the night. Past “Torn and Frayed,” Exile continuously switches gears: sweet folk (“Sweet Black Angel”), wonderfully poppy rock ‘n roll (“Happy,” another gem sung by Mr. Keith Richards whose voice is STILL charmingly weak yet enthusiastic), neato blues-rockers (“Ventilator Blues,” Rob Johnson’s “Stop Breaking Down”), stupidly great zippo-rockers (“Turd On The Run,” “All Down The Line”), and even MORE fantastic gospel-rock (“Loving Cup,” “I Just Want To See His Face,” “Let It Loose,” “Shine A Light” – the list goes on and on). And it’s all ragged glory, beginning to end – none of it sounds kitschy or put-on. All genuine. There’s some serious growth here.

I don’t think I dislike a song on here. That’s a feat, considering this baby’s about 67 minutes long. I mean, “I Just Want To See His Face” doesn’t do THAT much for me, and I GUESS “Turd on the Run” and “Casino Boogie” are a bit inconsequential in the scope of the album. But no, no. THIS is the kind of album the Rolling Stones were destined to record. The band they were meant to be: a raunchy bar-rock band with soul. Yes, you are going to hear a lot about this record being dense, impenetrable, dark, murky, yadda yadda yadda. I’m here to tell you that it’s a rockin’, soulful good time that never lets up. I’m not sure what reviewers mean by this “impenetrable” business. Is it ‘cuz you can’t understand Mick’s lyrics half the time? Who cares? Do I need to understand exactly what Mick’s moaning about in “Sweet Virginia” for it to be a beautiful, woozy masterpiece? Of course not.

I’m pretty certain that, after hearing Exile, I can fit the Stones into my “routine” as it were. What major rock band was making music this loose and fun back in ’72? In the aftermath of the Sixties, and Altamont and all that? The Who were serious conceptual artists experimenting with synths. The Beatles were gone. The Kinks were jumping on the showtune bus. We needed someone to kick out the jams, and the Stones were there to do it. They filled a serious void.

So yeah, this is an album to pick up. It might not make sense to you if you aren’t familiar with the Stones already – when I hear Exile I feel like I’ve almost grown with them. I don’t know. Apparently they never recorded an album this great ever again. And how could they? Exile practically perfected their sound. How do you follow that up? Huh?? I don’t know.

Alright, that’s enough ass-kissing of a band that’s had their asses kissed their entire career. Did you know I had half of this review written already before Blogger decided to be an asshole and not save drafts? I had to re-write the whole damn thing! I probably forgot to say SO MUCH! I’m tired. Exile rules. I’m going to sleep. Please spellcheck this for me.

>A Few Words On Bob Druwing

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Bob Druwing’s glorious Tim and Eric debut.

I have no idea why I find Bob Druwing so fascinating. Before the third season of Tim and Eric Awesome Show, I had never seen his face before in my entire life. Not even once. Now he is a new obsession. Of all the bizarre Z-list regulars Tim and Eric love to parade out, salt-n-pepper haired Mr. Druwing stands out to me.

I don’t know. He seems like a perfectly normal human being as opposed to a bizarre, ugly failure, which might be why he stands out in the Tim and Eric universe; compared to David Liebe Hart the failed puppeteer, James Quall the failed comedian, or Ron Austar the failed… uhh, something (children’s performer?), Bob Druwing just seems like a nice, trim, middle-aged man. With a funny mustache.

…well, OK, maybe he’s kind of a failure. If his website is any indication, he’s something of a Jack-Of-All-Trades: screen actor, voice-over actor, musician, cartoonist, you name it. And considering that the most prominent roles he’s received have been bit parts on Tim and Eric, I guess we can safely say that he hasn’t quite succeeded in any of these fields. Adding a bit to his “pathetic” tally is his bizarrely transfixing performance of a song he presumably wrote, “I Wanna Be In Love,” posted in Tim and Eric’s “DannyMothers” Youtube account to promote their first season DVD. (So I guess he’s a failed rock ‘n roller?)

But calling Mr. Druwing pathetic would not be doing him justice. And it would be pretty mean, too! From the looks of his video resume (yes, I searched for Bob Druwing on youtube), he seems to be a pretty competent actor. He also finally got a prominent role in Tim and Eric’s season 3 finale, credited as “Lindsey Porch” and singing the hilariously creepy (and oddly Jens Lekman-esque) “I Can Wait,” which has to be one of my favorite Tim and Eric songs ever. (Sing along with me now: “No, they can’t call it raaaape / if she concedes her body to meeee!”)

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Where else can you get your Druwing fix? Well, he’s also in the new Tim and Eric Ben Folds video, popping in-and-out of the drum kit. And, according to his website, he just wrapped up filming for Tim and Eric’s fourth season. So thankfully, we will be seeing more of Mr. Druwing.

And yet, I still don’t know why I love Bob Druwing so. Why not Ron Stark? Or that lady that play’s Casey’s mom? Or Richard Dunn?? (Okay I do love Richard Dunn to death, but I digress.) These questions will never have answers. As long as I can hear Mr. Druwing – a seemingly normal and on-the-level type of guy – sing a song about masturbating in his car, I will be satisfied.

And you know what, “I Wanna Be In Love”‘s been stuck in my head for days. No joke.