The Strokes new album Comedown Machine

The Strokes have unleashed a new album into the world and on first listen I can’t really grasp what their vision for the album was.  Their guitar/synth mashup style has now seemingly eschewed their wall of fuzz trademark and Julian’s vocals are even more unintelligible than usual.  On the opening track, Tap Out, it feels like the boys are gassed and are consciously trolling their fans, peers, and label.  The song has the pep and bounce you would expect, but the formula is missing something.  On previous efforts it felt as if The Strokes didn’t care an ounce and yet they combined that with an effortless sense of cool.  Here it feels, at times, like they genuinely just don’t care.

Elsewhere on the album you can hear their genius.  To be fair, I think this is the problem.  When viewing The Strokes through the lens of their previous efforts it’s easy to say they’re coming up short.  To label Comedown Machine (amazon) (itunes) as a poor effort is easy to do when you have Is This It sitting on the shelf.  It’s the same routine that has plagued other bands like Weezer or even Arcade Fire.  When your debut is so breathtakingly spot on everything you do after that will fall short of the impossible litmus test.

mp3 : The Strokes – One Way Trigger

All of that is true, and yet this is still a fun album from The Strokes.  It has some forgettable moments, but it also has a few songs that will stick with you and keep you trudging back through the full track list looking for that hidden spark.  Still it’s songs and demos like the following that make me wish for what could still come from the New York boys.

mp3 : The Strokes – I’ll Try Anything Once (You Only Live Once Demo)

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Wedding Music vol 08 : Reception

I have been married almost a full year now (almost) and yet I’m only half way through the reception portion of my wedding music.  In lieu of that, and an impending anniversary, I thought it would be best to dump a lot more on you in one batch instead of doling out four measly tracks at a time.

For those just joining these fair proceedings this is the list of songs that I played at my wedding.  If you’d like to see all the posts with all of the songs posted so far simply follow the link.  This continues the track list for songs played during cocktails and dinner.

mp3 : Jon McLaughlin – Indiana
mp3 : Sufjan Stevens – Concerning the UFO Sighting Near Highland, IL
mp3 : Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers – Learning To Fly
mp3 : The Strokes – I’ll Try Anything Once (You Only Live Once Demo)
mp3 : Dooley Wilson/Warner Brothers Orchestra – It Had To Be You/Shine
mp3 : Josh Garrels – Going Home
mp3 : Bob Dylan – The Times They Are A-Changin’
mp3 : Josh Ritter – The Curse
mp3 : The Beatles – Eleanor Rigby

Enjoy the music.  I still can’t believe my wife let me have carte blanche when it came to the dinner portion of music.

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The Strokes album Angles

Well it turns out The Strokes didn’t crash, burn, and break up permanently after all.  After a five year wait they finally settled out their differences (maybe)* and got back together to record an album together (kinda)*.  In the interim there has been four solo projects, multiple solo tours, and not a lot of communication between the five boys from New York City.  And all of this tension shows through on their latest studio effort Angles (amazon) (itunes).

The story behind the new album name is that each member of the band approaches music from a different angle.  And that becomes apparent as you listen through all of the tracks.  Some of their best work, (Machu Picchu, Under Cover of Darkness, Taken For a Fool), sounds like a true collaboration and feels most like a natural evolution of the trademark sound from The Strokes.  And then their are the “other” tracks.  Songs like Gratisfaction (which sounds like a largely nonsensical tribute to Queen) or Games (which goes a long way to make sure we know the eighties are alive and well) begin to showcase how The Strokes are attempting to reconcile how they’ve all matured and diversified as individuals with the idea that they’re still in the same band.  There is even a track, You’re So Right, that feels like it would fit alongside vocals by Thom Yorke.

mp3 : The Strokes – Machu Picchu
mp3 : The Strokes – Gratisfaction

In the end the album feels, sounds, and looks like The Strokes and it does a solid job of opening the door for future albums and future avenues of musical exploration.  Granted this isn’t an answer to their debut album, Is This It, but to be fair we wouldn’t want them to be the same band they were in 2001.

* I used the terms (maybe) and (kinda) due to the fact that the band recorded all of their work separately in different studios.  Yes it was a collaborative effort, but I’m not entirely sure the boys are still best friends.

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Metric covers The Strokes and Bob Dylan

I’ve been absent from this hallowed hall for far too long now.  I do apologize, but I’ve been busy.  I’m attempting to cobble together a massive playlist for an upcoming wedding reception and that (along with the latest album from The National) has monopolized most of my music listening time.

Fortunately I stole some time back over this past week to listen to a handful of random songs strewn about here and there on the web.  Even more fortunately for all of us I stumbled upon two covers that Metric have done that are worth a listen.

mp3 : Metric – Don’t Think Twice It’s Alright (Bob Dylan Cover)
mp3 : Metric – The End Has No End (The Strokes Cover)

The Strokes cover is especially nice.

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Julian Casablancas covers an SNL Classic

This is what happens when you get Jimmy Fallon, Horatio Sanz, and Julian Casablancas all on one stage at the same time.  Really.  Click over and watch the video.  If this doesn’t make your heart ready for Christmas I don’t know what will.

And apparently Jules has gone one better and recorded the perennial SNL favorite sketch as a bonafide single.  Enjoy and Merry Christmas.

mp3 : Julian Casablancas – I Wish It Was Christmas Today

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The Strokes b side I’ll Try Anything Once

Posting about Julian Casablancas the other day had me jonesing for some good old strokes.  I posted this track ages ago (around the time The Strokes offered it as a free download from their myspace page), but since then I have found a way to lose track of it entirely.  Fortunately through my clever use of the interwebs I have found a way to release it once again.  Enjoy.

mp3 : The Strokes – I’ll Try Anything Once (You Only Live Once Demo)

The song drips with everything I love about these New York boys.

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Julian Casablancas track Out of The Blue

Julian Casablancas has succeeded in cultivating a certain persona for himself.  Something about him oozes likability and it’s hard to define simply why that is so.  Maybe it’s because he’s the front man of The Strokes, maybe it’s because his deadpan and washed out vocal delivery inspires everyone to sing along, or maybe there is some other magic behind his charm.  Whatever this intangible effect is it simply drips off of the latest track from Julian’s solo album Phrazes For The Young (amazon) (itunes).

mp3 : Julian Casablancas – Out of The Blue

Granted the starts with a rather awkward melody, and sounds quite a bit like his other band, but about twenty seconds into the track you don’t care about either of those thoughts because you’re caught up in simply liking what Julian is doing.  I hope that The Strokes stick it out (they’re recording now and planning another tour) because although Julian on his own is fun, it’s not quite the brilliance that you get when all the boys are playing together (ie Thom Yorke without the rest of Radiohead).

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Albert Hammond Jr

Albert Hammond Jr separated himself just a little bit more from The Strokes on his latest studio effort.  Released on July 7th of this year, Como Te Llama (amazon) (itunes), takes some of his tried and true roots and builds on them, further cementing his musical credibility.  Overall the album is a solid addition to his career {I mean c’mon, the guy plays guitar on Is This It, has played with The Strokes for ages, and already had one good album in his solo shift}.  One thing the album does very well is reveal the talent base of his other band.  While Julian Casablancas might be the signature front man it appears, or at least sounds, like much of the music comes straight from the brain of this man.

mp3 : Albert Hammond Jr – GfC

The bottom line is that if you like anything The Strokes have done or you liked Albert’s first solo album then Como Te Llama is right up your alley.  The bright side is that even if you didn’t like anything that has come before this album there is enough sustenance here that it could easily qualify as a good starting point for your Albert Hammond Jr love affair.

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The Strokes

I’m not sure why but I thought this song was perfect for today.  It’s not rare, unheard, or especially brilliant but it is a great track from a band whose only strike is that Rolling Stone seems to have an awkward love love relationship with the band.  Other than that there’s never been anything about this NYC quintet [yes I know the picture only has four of them] that I’ve found I disliked.  I like their sound, their attitude, their swagger.  I like it all.  And because I do so should you.

This track appears as the lead off song on their newest full length, First Impressions of Earth (iTunes), and I will go on record and say that it is their best album yet.

mp3 : The Strokes – You Only Live Once

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One Stop Shop

For the next couple of days, maybe even weeks, my life is going to be extremely busy. Therefore the frequency of my posting will probably drop a bit and for this I apologize. I’ll still try to throw up some music and some lovin for you all, but don’t expect anything spectacular.

All that being said I do have this one spectacular post for you all to enjoy. About every six weeks I get a little bored with the music I’ve been listening to. And when that happens I troll the internet to find what’s getting buzz, who the kids are listening to, and who deserves a mention on this blog. And after I’ve sampled hundreds of tracks I select the music I think you all should listen to.

So here it is, the first installation of what I hope will be a long series of posts. Because I find these files in various and sundry places, and then compile them all into one hopefully convenient post, I’ve dubbed this series One Stop Shop.

Here you go, and merry Christmas.

mp3 : Belle and Sebastian – Christmas Time is Here
mp3 : Clap Your Hands Say Yeah – Satan Said Dance
mp3 : Clap Your Hands Say Yeah – Underwater (You and Me)
mp3 : Coldplay – Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
mp3 : Death Cab for Cutie – Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)
mp3 : Explosions in The Sky – Welcome, Ghosts
mp3 : Goldspot – Float On (Modest Mouse Cover)
mp3 : Radiohead – Down Is The New Up
mp3 : Regina Spektor – Fidelity
mp3 : Regina Spektor – Samson (original version)
mp3 : The Postal Service – Grow Old With Me
mp3 : The Strokes (feat Regina Spektor) – Modern Girls & Old Fashioned Men
mp3 : Thom Yorke – Videotape

All tracks come highly recommended.