Saturday, February 28, 2009

AutoRock- "Mass Appeal"

Here's a review of AutoRock's mixtape "Mass Appeal" that I wrote this summer but never posted, for some reason...

Daft Punk and Beethoven. Flo Rida and the Beatles. Michael Jackson and the Velvet Underground. While none of these are conventional partnerships, each of these artists collaborates on DC-based DJ Adam Dylewski’s latest release, Mass Appeal. How? Dylewski, aka AutoRock, uses the cut-and-paste technique of mash-ups to create a seamless 70-minute opus, utilizing over 150 samples that range from the White Stripes to Justin Timberlake to Belle & Sebastian. The result is an enjoyable mix of new and old hits that complement each other in unimaginable ways. Take for example, track 20 (none of the track are titled, and to get the full effect the album should be listened to straight through), in which the vocals of Dead Prez’s “Hip-Hop” are layered over the instrumentals of Joy Division’s “Love Will Tear Us Apart.” Dead Prez’s stale hit suddenly sounds modern, and Joy Division’s classic is revitalized in its removal from a gothic context.

While AutoRock’s technique is not original (check out DJs like Girl Talk or Go Home Productions to hear other long-form mash-ups), he brings a fresh voice to the table through his range of samples. He pulls tracks from all decades so that Mass Appeal, in a true example of living up to its name, can be as recognizable to an ‘80’s metal-head as to a teenage Top 40 lover. The joy of the record comes in hearing songs from two unrelated decades and artists from two unrelated genres merge to form tracks that can surpass the originals, or at least cause the listener to view the tunes in a different, warped light. AutoRock is not a musician in a traditional sense. He does not create his own bass lines, chord progressions or rap verses. Instead, he sifts through the bins of what others have created, dusts off the grime and pastes together the best parts to form fresh masterpieces that you only think you’ve heard before.

Mass Appeal is the follow-up to The Assquake LP, and both are available for free download on AutoRock’s MySpace,

A.C. Newman- "Get Guilty"

Here's a review of A.C. Newman's latest album, "Get Guilty," that I wrote for my school paper.

As chief songwriter for alternative power-pop group the New Pornographers, Carl Newman has written many of the stream-of-consciousness lyrics and sweet, intricate melodies that have secured the band as one of the most consistent and satisfying indie acts around. On his latest solo venture, “Get Guilty,” released January 20, Newman continues this trend.

For his first solo album, 2004’s “The Slow Wonder,” Newman, who goes by “A.C.” as a solo artist, crafted a sound similar that of the Pornographers but is warmer and more intimate. On tracks such as “On the Table” and “Drink to Me, Babe, Then,” Newman maintained his pop inclinations and assembled meticulously layered compositions, complete with overdubbed vocals, shimmering tambourines and pounding drums.

On “Get Guilty,” Newman does not stray from his typical path and the result is as pleasing and charming as ever. His lyrics are still nonsensical, with “la la la” and “yo-ho” choruses that beg to be sung along to. As usual, Newman is a master at choreographing the rhythm section. He places syncopated beats creatively alongside a violently strummed acoustic guitar, like on the jumpy “Like a Hitman, Like a Dancer.” On “Submarines of Stockholm,” the instruments hardly carry a melody, but serve just to drive the hammering tempo.

Whereas his work with the New Pornographers involves much vocal harmonizing, on “Get Guilty” Newman opts to either overdub his own vocals, creating a more textured sound, or enlist a female vocalist, such as Nicole Atkins or Mates of State. These effects add muscle to Newman’s otherwise plain yet charming delivery. His voice is nothing spectacular, but it compliments his style well and his often-audible lisp is endearing.

“The Palace at 4 A.M.,” “Get Guilty (The Changeling),” and “There are Maybe Ten or Twelve” stand out with their catchy refrains and bouncy tunes. As a solo artist, Newman’s style does not stray far from his group work with the New Pornographers, but these solo albums live up to the high standard he has set for himself.

LiveNation/Ticketmaster Merger

I've been following the rapid growth of LiveNation for a while, and I've disliked Ticketmaster even longer (I had a $20 service charge for tickets once. ABSURD.)

There was a hearing last week called “The Ticketmaster/Live Nation Merger: What Does it Mean for Consumers and the Future of the Concert Business?” I read the witness testimonies from the hearing, and I thought that Seth Hurwitz (co-owner of D.C.'s famed 9:30 Club) had a great testimony that pretty much summed up why the merger would hurt the music business more than it would help.

Read up HERE.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Minus 5

With Wilco being one of my favorite bands, I love pretty much anything any of the members touch. So, naturally, I am a huge fan of The Minus 5, a semi-super group featuring a rotating list of guests (but always fronted by Scott McCaughy). In the past, members of Wilco, the Decemberists, and R.E.M. have been in the line-up.

The first Minus 5 album I bought was "The Gun Album" (Buy it now. EVERY song is good) but I also own the equally-awesome "Down With Wilco."

I can't find a good quality Minus 5 track on YouTube to post, so for now I just recommend downloading "Retrieval of You."