Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Here Comes the Balding Man

Honestly, I'm only the least bit interested in the Smashing Pumpkins anymore because Jeff Schroeder, guitarist for one of my long-standing favorite bands The Lassie Foundation, has started playing with them. That being said, I think that my assessment of the new Pumpkins' stuff is fairly accurate:

If it wasn't called The Smashing Pumpkins, you'd probably think it's a pretty good band. If Billy Corgan wasn't singing, it might be a pretty damn good band.

Some of it is more new-wave than the harder metalesque/doom-pop stuff that their known for. Think if they stayed with the idea of Adore and ran with it. I'm not wild about any of it, but I'm surprised at how not-bad it is.

Check it out here.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Yes I Would, Bonar

"Kid October" - Haley Bonar from The Duluth Scene on Vimeo.

Amber and I got to see Haley Bonar on Friday for her second CD release show in less than a year. Last November she released "Leo", an instrumental e.p. that was a departure from her more traditional songstress sound, if only because she didn't sing actual words.

Friday celebrated the release of "Golder", a return to form and then some. Since 2008's "Big Star", Bonar started taking the singer-songwriter status quo and giving it a quick twist around the neck, adding lush layers of reverb and instrumentation to produce songs that instantly transport the listener to the Bonar's scene of the crime. This isn't to say that the songs wouldn't be just as good if she was playing them solo (as proved by the video), but with her backing band, she has managed to created something gently violent and beautifully devastating.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Decibully Farewell Record Review

Decibully has covered a lot of sonic ground on their five albums. Largely built around some sacred version of Americana - not quite country, not quite rock 'n roll - Decibully has never shied away from taking an adventurous step into new territory whether it be the spacey sounds dancing along with banjo on "Beyond Hope" from City of Festivals, the irish jigginess of "Megan & Magill" or the straight up, spot on barbershop quartet song "Temptation" from Sing Out America or almost everything from their epic World Travels Fast, Decibully has solidified their sound as only being loosely definable at best.

On their newest, and reportedly final, album, the mid-west's best band take a straight forward approach to the writing and production process. Considering that Decibully has consistently been surprisingly successful with their experimental sound, it is kind of jarring to hear so much restraint, especially after the balls-to-the-walls-of-sound of their last album.

Multi-instrumentalist/producer Ryan Weber said in an interview that the focus was making an album that sounded like the band does live. No fancy post-production tricks, no overdubs.

Almost every song on this album sounds like it would be perfectly comfortable being placed in the middle of one of the band's previous three albums. Song like "I Want" and "A Girl Like Her" sound like they could have been pulled off of City of Festivals. "Ain't Afriad of Nothing" could have been on Sing Out America and "Blood We Bleed", "Forever" and "Been There Before" would fit in nicely on World Travels Fast. However, taken together, these songs are something completely their own.

On its own, Decibully might not be the quintessential Decibully album. But when viewed in the context of the final album from the band, it is a fitting capstone and a treasure of a listen. The song writing has never been stronger and the genuine fun of the band's live show is easy to hear. Decibully is sure to continue making converts long after the band is gone. The only problem is that the album's closer "Been There Before" ends leaving the listener wanting one more for the road.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

So Long, Dear Friends

Decibully played their final show Saturday night at the Cactus Club in Milwaukee. I was unable to attend, but some dear soul recorded it and put it up online.

Their set plays like a highlight reel of the best parts of a relationship that is ending. It might be hard to come to terms with why something so good has to come to a close, but it's hard to feel sad, even though there won't be anymore music after this night. The only things that remain are smiles, good memories and five incredibly strong albums that will only get better with age.

Decibully has been one of my all-time favorites for a while now, but it's not just because of their music. Every member of Decibully, past and present, has been nothing short of an awesome dude. They have always been approachable, genuine and gracious when I've spoke to them. They are the same guys on and off the stage, and whether they're playing to 20 or 200 people. They all seem to get a kick out of living life and inspire me to do the same.

Best of luck to Aaron, Andrew, B.J., Kenny, Nick and Ryan as they continue on to the next stage of their lives. Stay wild!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Be A Man

You know how it's a thing now to insert some kind of peripherally masculine word inside another word to make it juvenilely more masculine? "Bromance", "Manscape", even one of my favorites: "Bro-out" are popular with the young kids. I was thinking about coining one of my own and I first thought of something like, "Girls think I'm attractive because of my GUY LASHES," but it didn't have the zing I was hoping for.

Then I came up with "Va-Guy-na". It's basically a MAN-gina, but I changed it so it's totally my own. "I pleasure the ladies with my large va-guy-na". No? Fair enough.

How about "Man-iscule"? It could mean something like a short dude or something.

Maybe "Oni-MAN-opia", a dude that looks the same forwards and backwards. Or maybe wears all of his close backwards?

Anyway, I can't sleep. Inso-MAN-ia.