Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Still Feels Good, Well, Except My Bank Account

How much is too much? I asked myself this questions as I submitted my credit card number for two tickets to the upcoming Rascal Flatts concert in Des Moines (10-27). $400, 2 tickets (start sucking up now boys!), and only 8 rows away from music-making gods.

After the release of their fifth album today, Still Feels Good, I am a firm believer that the $900 pair of front row tickets would have been definitely worth it. I've been a Rascal Flatts fan since the band came into existence. And not once have they disappointed me.

Still Feels Good features thirteen new songs, including the hit "Take Me There." In 2006 the group outsold every other country artist - with this album you can expect nothing less than record sales. The group remains true to their style, playing in the country-rock-acoustic style we've all grown to know and love.

For more information on the album and the inspration for the songs, check out the
CMT Insider Part 1 and Part 2.

Track List
1. Take Me There (latest No. 1 Single, co-written by Kenny Chesney)
2. Here
3. Bob That Head
4. Help Me Remember
5. Still Feels Good
6. Winner At a Losing Game
7. No Reins
8. Every Day
9. Secret Smile
10. Better Now
11. She Goes All the Way
12. How Strong Are You Now
13. It's Not Supposed to Go Like That

-Lauren Matovina

Saturday, September 22, 2007

back at ya, usher.

Courtesy of the Rolling Stone back page (Kanye/50 cover), these were the top 10 singles for the week of September 18th, 1997:

1. Mariah Carey — "Honey"
2. Backstreet Boys — "Quit Playing Games (With My Heart)"
3. Usher — "You Make Me Wanna"
4. The Notorious B.I.G. — "Mo' Money, Mo' Problems"
5. LeAnn Rimes — "How Do I Live"
6. Puff Daddy and Faith Evans — "I'll Be Missing You"
7. Spice Girls — "2 Becomes 1"
8. Third-Eye Blind — "Semi-Charmed Life"
9. Aqua — "Barbie Girl"
10. Jewel — "Foolish Games/You Were Meant For Me"

Further confirmation that when I was 10, music was the BEST EVER. Look at that lineup! One of the best Mariah singles in her career, a healthy dose of bubblegummy crackmusic, the Spice Girls teaching 5th graders everywhere about sex, B.I.G. being represented twice, kind of, and a double-dose of Jewel. There is no bad on this list.

Okay, and for the more hip among our readership, here's an actual article saying basically the same thing, except in place of 3EB, there's Radiohead. If you're into that.


Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The "Stronger" Man Wins

Ah, Kanye, it seems like your third coming has indeed overcome the gun-eating 50 Cent. A near 1 million copies is no small feat, my friend, but you best use that cash money to bulletproof, well, everything before the Cent arrives with his glock and blows all to Kingdom Come (not to be confused, however, with Jay-Z's effort). Lead-plated bedsheets seem to far? Your life has changed Kanye, and unfortunately this "Good Life" comes with no guarantee of hippy colors and capitalism — Fiddy's pissed, and his gun go off like Britney on Acid.


Daniel G. Harmann

So I reviewed this album for KRUI 89.7, UI's student-run radio station, and I think it's worth a few words. I picked it up because it was recommended to Sigur Rós fans, although I wouldn't say it is quite to that caliber. Here's a quick run down:

Artist: Daniel G. Harmann
Album: "Anthems from the Gentle War"
Release date: 09/04/2007
In the same musical vein as: Sparklehorse, Elliott Smith, Low

This album is Harmann's fourth album. Hailing from Seattle, his music has a whole array of influences- rock, urban, punk. If the category "Tragic Easy Listening" existed, this album would fit the description to a T. The whole thing has a dark, wistful, smoky feel. His breathy, tender vocals get a little old, but overall this is pretty decent songwriting and composition. It deserves a listen or two at the very least.

Want to hear something off the album? Check out Harmann's website (http://www.hellotower.com/home.html) for downloads. I recommend the tracks "Beer from a Bottle," "A Dying Dove," or "Last Swim of the Year."

Cheers to a sunny day-

Sleepless Long Nights...

The Primetime Emmy Award Show, television's biggest party, aired on Sunday. While the night had its share of memorable moments; Ryan Seacrest dressed in theatre wear, Sally Field's passionate (but censored) acceptance speech, and anything involving Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, the award show made history for a different reason. Last Sunday, a curse was broken. "Late Night with Conan O'Brien" captured the Emmy for best writing on a variety program. 'O Brien had previously won the award for his stint as a writer on "Saturday Night Live" in the late '80s. However, "Late Night with Conan O'Brien" has never won a Primetime Emmy, despite almost annual nominations for the host and the writing staff since 1996.

The show's win rightfully ends its streak of being the Susan Lucci of the Primetime Emmys. I have been a fan of Conan's show since 1999, and the writing is amongst the best on late night television. Conan's show got off to a rocky start, filling David Letterman's snarky shoes under a mushroom cloud of controversy. The saving grace of "Late Night with Conan O'Brien" was that it has had one of the most creative and daring writing staffs on television. Competitors like "The Colbert Report," "Real Time with Bill Maher," and perennial favorite "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart," have writing staffs that are very good at what they do; writing satire within the frame of current events. What the "Late Night" staff gets to do is toy with pop culture and come up with completely creative material not rooted in reality. This freedom has brought audiences timeless characters like the Masturbating Bear, Triumph the Insult Comic Dog, and Pimpbot. While "Late Night" was not initially a hit with audiences or with critics, it has now been transformed into the standard of cool. Trendsetters see the bands they love on "Late Night," and also see their cultural attitudes embraced. O'Brien has finally found his niche as a host, and surpassed the expectations of his critics. All this in fourteen years, and he still had time to date all three lead actresses from "Friends."

The "Late Night with Conan O'Brien" writing staff finally winning an Emmy tells us that the establishment has fully come around and accepted a new generation of humor on late night television. Emmy voters, television critics and many viewers all resented David Letterman for being a "mean" guy. He wasn't a kind, gentle man like Johnny Carson. But then again, there was only ONE Johnny. They didn't like Dave's winking, nodding, style of humor and his "smarter-than-you" demeanor in interviews. It seems only fitting that, once Dave left the Peacock Network for the Eye, the same Nielsen demographic that embraced Dave are the ones that saved Conan from getting canceled in the mid-'90s. The college kids and the twenty-somethings who wanted their laughs served bitter. These kids weren't afraid to laugh at themselves, or skewer sacred cows, and neither were Dave and Conan. It is this original thought that won the mainstream audiences over. The Emmy voters followed, like a kid who finally got the joke hours after the punchline was uttered.

Evidence that the tide is changing can be found from the mouths of NBC executives. The same network that wanted to cancel Conan little over a decade ago, has now entrusted the most holy of time slots to him: 10:30 p.m. The home of legends like Johnny Carson and Steve Allen will have a new tenant in 2009, when Conan takes over "The Tonight Show" hosting duties from Jay Leno. Call it a long time coming, but Conan and his writers have wedged their way into Emmy voters' hearts. As a fan, I can only hope that the staff doesn't play it safe or rest on its laurels. No one wants to see Conan's show go the way of so many late-night flops before it (see Joan Rivers, Chevy Chase, and Magic Johnson if you don't know what I mean). I raise my glass to Conan and his writers for keeping their noses to the grindstone and always remembering that when in doubt, insert a self-gratifying woodland animal or a hand puppet.


Monday, September 17, 2007

For All You Country Fans Out There

On Tuesday I picked up Kenny Chesney's new album, Just Who I Am: Poets & Pirates.

An avid Chesney fan I'd been eagerly anticipating the release of this new album. I expected it to be full of crooning songs of heart break after his recent split from Renee Zellweger - but I was wrong.

While the album has a few noteworthy songs, it was less than impressive when lined up next to his previou albums. But those few songs do deserve some sort of recognition. Of course, his current hit single, "Never Wanted Nothing More," was the sure selling point for many buying the album. The second song on the album, "Don't Blink" provokes a lot of thinking on the listeners part. In sum, the secret to life is to not blink. Other blog-worthy songs include: "Got a Little Crazy," "Dancing for Groceries," and my personal favorite "Scare Me."

On this album he even teamed up with George Strait on a song entitled "Shiftwork," which is definitely what it needed. A shift in a new direction, and a lot of work. I almost feel bad for George. What exactly was he thinking? It's not like Chesney is a rookie and needed to ride Strait's coattails to sell some albums.

Needless to say, it was not worth purchasing the whole album... just find your favorite songs and buy them off iTunes.

Better luck next time Kenny!


DJ Ringtone

DJ Shadow, DJ Danger Mouse, DJ Punjami, DJ ATB, and now, ladies and gentlemen, you can be part of the fun. We've all messed around with GarageBand, making some sick drum kit and syth bass beats. Music to your ears...until you try to show it off to your friends. Don't worry, you're not bad, they just don't "understand" you.
And as for that sketchy microphone built into your computer...

"Is that you're awful singing?"
"No it's just my friend's voice...who kinda sounds like me."

Although your techno song that's in 13/5 time, has no apparent key, and uses an array of distorted cowbells, here's a chance to slice and dice mp3's and show it off honorably.

iTunes offers songs, e-books, sitcoms, movies, podcasts, and finally: Ringtones. Now while these are only available for iPhones (the rest of us can stick with the Mexican Hat Dance ring), the way Apple presents the rings is revolutionary.

$0.99 a ring is the going rate; any song you have already purchased from iTunes will work also. Not only do you get to choose from a multitude of songs, you get the opprotunity to edit the song to perfection. Love the chorus but hate the bridge? Tack the intro before the chorus. Or better, have it loop the chorus to your liking. Not a bad idea. Too bad it's for the greedy AT&T subscribers. A robot saying "Hello Moto" on my phone is way cooler anyway.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Kings of Leon

The last time I saw the Leon boys I was spinning beneath a glowing Chicago sun, the Grant Park grass giggling against my feet, lightning bolts in my ears. It was the last day of Lollapalooza, a three day party a baseball’s toss from Lake Michigan, and Kings of Leon’s “Molly Chambers” was electrifying the crowd. Oh, I’d seen plenty of other good shows already that weekend: Ben Harper, the Roots, Daft Punk… but this was what I was waiting for. Kings of Leon puts on a rock show.

With dustbowl vocal-cords, slashing guitar licks, and a rhythmical backbone, these four rising stars are carving out their enclave in the chronicles of rock ‘n’ roll. The music has that rare gift of maintaining passionate perfection without losing its badass Southern scraggle.

And it isn’t just hot blooded youngsters or country criminal lovers who have recognized the homespun fire that Kings of Leon brings to their music — after their first album release they were selected by veteran rockers U2 and The Strokes as touring companions. Since those early days (has it been four years already?) the Kings have opened for Bob Dylan and played at music festivals on both sides of the Atlantic. They’re young, they’re blood, and it shows.

Kings of Leon plays tonight at the Iowa Memorial Union, starting at 7: 30 p.m. If you’re looking to join in a mad celebration of life-lust, than here’s luck: Go grab your sweetheart, shanty down to the ballroom, and listen to rock ‘n’ roll scream itself back to life in its newest American incarnation.

Read Claire Lekwa's review in Wednesday's Daily Iowan, and check out an expanded photo slide show on the website www.dailyiowan.com.

— By Mike Joyce

Friday, September 14, 2007


Man Trying to Sneak Into Concert Venue Impaled on Fence

Allow me to copy, paste and bold the relevant passages:

YORK, Pa. — A man trying to climb a 12-foot, wrought-iron fence into a concert venue fell onto one of the inch-thick spikes, impaling his thigh, then held on while rescuers worked to cut part of the fence away.


The man and several friends had been headed to the Bad Boys of Rock concert featuring the bands Hinder, Papa Roach and Buckcherry, according to York Fair vice president Gene Schenck.

The man had a concert ticket, but officials said the group may have jumped the fence to avoid the fair's $5 entry fee. His friends jumped the fence safely.

There is no end to the stupidity of Hinder fans, apparently. Color me unsurprised.

--Anna (who, while certainly possessing lips of an angel, would rather impale her own thigh on a fence than have Hinder sing about it)

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Motion City Soundtrack - Even If It Kills Me

I am holding in my hand the new Motion City Soundtrack CD Even If It Kills Me.

Do I feel like a badass because it is emblazoned with my name? Or because the watermarked press copy came with the threat of "wild and rabid dogs" if I uploaded it to the Internet? Perhaps, yes.

But lucky for you, mtvU is allowing listeners to stream the album in its entirety here: http://www.mtv.com/music/the_leak/motion_city_soundtrack/even_if_it_kills_me/

My official review will run in Tuesday's Daily Iowan, but I'll offer some fast first impressions now, since my brain is about to explode and my roommate (and probably the only person that can also gush over Motion City for hours) is gone.

I'll admit, although MCS is one of my favorite bands, I didn't have high hopes for this record. First, AP reported this was the first album Justin Pierre wrote sober. Is it bad that I instantly recoiled with an uneasy feeling that a stable life is also a boring life? What was going to happen to the crystal-meth lullabies ("Modern Chemistry"), self destruction celebrations ("Autographs and Apologies") and nods to dependence on anti-depressants ("Everything Is Alright")? These weighty topics separated MCS from the plethora of poppy emo-ish rock bands saturating the scene right now.

And then when "Broken Heart" (a pathetic, semi-meant-to-be inspirational ballad about being sad about a girl) came out, my expectations dropped even lower. Thankfully, the rest of Even If It Kills Me isn't as wimpy as that song.

Upon first listen, "It Had To Be You" is a great blending of new MCS with classic undertones. Sure, Pierre isn't singing about the future freaking him out, but the relationship (why do I hate songs about relationships? Gag me.) is at least interesting enough to break some of the cliche boringness those types of songs thrive on.

"Let's get wrecked in Pop Tarts and sex
And see the Taj Mahal.
Let's save birds from Prince William's son
And skateboard through the mall.
Let's fight crime with mangoes and limes
And join the PGA.
Let's swim in with every spin
And hurry, I can't wait."

If some boy promised me that, I'd be down. Heck yes.

Now I'm just hoping that the album won't appeal too much to the masses, not because I don't want the band to experience the success they deserve, but because (selfishly) I don't want to battle 15-year-old girls in a mosh pit. I have two tickets to MCS's fall tour already purchased and nothing sucks more than feeling like a grandma at a show. Regardless, the band does put on a nonpareil live show, especially with Jesse Johnson rockin' the moog. Here's a picture I took standing on the main stage at the Warped Tour in 2006. As you can tell, the crowd is massive (and yes, I unabashedly danced like a fool in front of every single one of them):

If you've never listened to the band, pick up I Am the Movie or Commit This to Memory before Even If It Kills Me.
You can thank me later. My roommate's home, and lucky for you, this gush is over, for now.


A Guilt Trip For All The Pop-Culture Snobs

My feelings exactly.

Britney didn't perform to revive her own career. She was doing a public service. We should all be honored that Britney took time out of her baby-dropping, head-shaving schedule to partially rehearse and semi-memorize a song, and then attempt to half-heartedly perform it.

Shame on us all. We could learn a lesson from Britney. A lesson that sometimes putting your all into something is overrated.



This has been a tough week for us all. The bizarre VMA telecast of the last weekend proved that MTV is no longer making trends like it has for the past two decades, but desperately trying to find ones to follow. Kanye West put out another disappointing album, continuing his ascent into white-collar shlubbery, at least in my opinion. The internet is forcing beloved entertainment institutions such as MTV to adapt to its everchanging ideals, futile for it is ever in flux. Perhaps the greatest threat internet poses is something much more sinister. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you:


cat people + internet slang = match made in cyber-hilarious-hell.


Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Tori Amos defines her music through a loss of self

While perusing the web the other day in the usual procrastination of homework, my iTunes shuffle switched to Tori Amos’s “Father Lucifer.” Tori has always been one of my hidden fascinations. As a piano player myself, her intensely expressive piano melodies drew me in the first time I discovered her music, on the Little Earthquakes album. Combined with her haunting lyrics and vocals, I was hooked. It had been awhile since I listened to Tori though, and, distracted as I was, I decided to see what she’s been up to lately.

In May Tori released her most recent CD, American Doll Posse. With this album, she has remained true to her experimental nature, and I was intrigued by the premise of this latest project. From what I can tell from the website, Tori has engaged herself in multiple personality disorder. She has created five unique women and transformed herself into each one through complex disguises. Songs are accredited to the pseudonyms of these women: platinum-blond Santa who symbolizes vanity and beauty, earthy brunette Clyde who accepts people completely, the photographer Isabel, fiery Tori herself, and raven-haired, bad girl Pip. Each song tells a story from one of these women’s point of view, making Tori simply the musical vessel.

This concept of an artist abandoning herself in an album when most other music is thought of as an expression of the self captivated me, as Tori usual does. The featured song “Bouncing Off Clouds,” told through Clyde, already has a unique feel compared to past Tori Amos songs. Electronica-style beats pump throughout and Tori’s vocals touch on a Madonna-esque vibe.

This album shows the true artistry of a musician. Continually changing and using the music as a means to communicate, Tori has pushed the boundaries even farther this time by letting go of herself completely.


Monday, September 10, 2007

Iron Man Trailer Released

I'll write more later. For now though:

looks sic.
Robert Downey Jr. is the shit

Sunday, September 9, 2007

the only thing i'm ready to say about the vma's

I'll just go cry myself to sleep now.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Apparently Vanessa Hudgens doens't always wear clothes?


Sorry Disney — it had to happen sometime.


Thursday, September 6, 2007

The Wild West-cast

Beyond the shock of Limbaugh and Dr. Laura Schlessinger's motherly advice, there exists a whole another world in the audio medium: podcasts. Nearly every person with internet access has heard or understands the concept of a podcast. Their irregularities and difficulty to locate, however, has created an overwhelming archive of audio, driving some to abandon the concept all together.

I've pioneered this field the best I can and have come up with a few gems between a lot of boring existentialism opinions and bush-bashing.

My only criteria are that these shows must be: free and entertaining

1. Distorted View Daily

Tim Henson's comedic masterpiece, this 30 minute daily show provides enough twisted, demented, and perverted humor to make Howard Stern blush. Each disgusting, yet funny, story is factual news that Henson or his legion of fans, known as "freaks", uncovered. The last episode alone featured a cocaine influenced kitten and a self-castration.
(CAUTION: not for the morally strict or squeamish)

2. Car Talk

Starring Boston natives Click and Clack the Tappit Brothers (Tom and Ray Magliozzi), these NPR veterans now provide their show online free of charge. Snorting laughter, hilarious improvisation, and enlightening philosophical/automotive analysis helps these MIT graduates provide classic humor and useful car troubleshooting. Then again, with make-up artist "Bud Tugley", Russian chauffeur "Picov Andropov", and favored eye clinic "C. F. Eye Care" mentioned in their closing credits, how couldn't they please?

3. Science with Dr. Karl

Part of the BBC's "Up All Night Program", Dr. Karl's forty minute nightly show features him and special guests answering callers questions all night. Like black holes, nano-technology, or teleportation? Then this is the show for you. It is here that quantum mechanics and the plausibility of interstellar travel is discussed and dissected.

4. Common Sense with Dan Carlin

Claiming to be an "independent alternative to the partisan voices you normally hear", Carlin looks at the news of the day in a solo talk show format. Though he does slip up, he tends to lean right some days, left on others, and out of the ballpark on the rest. He is a problem-solution guy, a nice break from a sea of criticism lacking answers.

5. Creative Loafing Presents Audiofloss

Relatively new to me, this podcast has impressed me thus far. Sitting down with comic strip writers, traveling musicians, and authors, this podcast looks into the mindset that ensures success. Soul man Russell Taylor, artist David Atchison, and Tori Amos have each shared his/her insight on the show.

That's it for the list, check them out on iTunes or podcastalley.com. More reviews are on the way.

Cole Cheney
DI Arts & Culture Reporter

Poems from Guantanamo: The Detainees Speak

The other night I walked down to Prairie Lights to hear Marc Falkoff talk about one of the latest books from the UIPress, Poems from Guantanamo: The Detainees Speak. Not the least bit interested in politics (I know, shame on me, right?), I'd never even heard of what had been happening at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. What he had to say was quite interesting to me. I fully understand the concept of detaining men who're potential terrorists/a threat to our nation, but I just can't imagine putting someone through the horrors America is inflicting on these men. It's gruesome, cruel, and inhumane.
But back to the book. The book features a collection of poems Marc, as well as other lawyers have compiled from some of the prisoners (yes, I said prisoners not detainees). Some of these poems were inscribed on paper, some written with toothpaste that were later transcribed, and some even used pebbles to carve their words into the styrofoam cups they drank out of. The poems are full of despair, references to suffering, and ultimately the desire to die. It's rather heartbreaking to hear/read some of them.
I recommend checking it out next time you're by one of the various bookstores around campus.

New Ipod's Released

This will be short. Just to let everyone know, Apple just released their new generation Ipods. Currently through the 16th, you can buy the new Ipod Classic 80gb for 250$ and a 160gb for 350$. They also shortened the nano and well it all just looks sweet. I am scrapping my two year old Creative Nomad Zen Extra tomorrow and ordering a pod. SO pumped. Here are some pics and I'll copy and paste some info.

This is the classic. Here is their overview: With 80GB or 160GB of storage,1 iPod classic gives your music and video room to move. It also has plenty of energy (up to 40 hours of audio playback2), good looks (a sleek, all-metal design), and a great personality (a brand-new interface with Cover Flow). In other words, iPod classic makes an ideal companion. Why not get to know it better?

This is the nano:

An anodized aluminum top and polished stainless steel back. Five eye-catching colors. A larger, brighter display with the most pixels per inch of any Apple display, ever. iPod nano stirs up visual effects from the outside in.

And it’ll wow you for hours. Play up to 5 hours of video or up to 24 hours of audio on a single charge.1 All that staying power and a wafer-thin, 6.5-mm profile makes iPod nano one

small big attraction.

All of these images and descriptions were taken from apple.com

Sweet stuff.
-Nathan Ley

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

In the spirit of the arts — a poem

Ode to the Lentil

Beanie, beadie, beautiful –
Oh, you bowl of luscious lentils
Filling up my hungry soul!
We have come far –
From the shadow of butchered beef
The lights of bloodless brown emerge:
Congealed vegan heaven
The enlightened garden
The hearth of humane hearts
Our pulse guiding pulse.

Mix you with curry
Spill you in rice
Love you in all:
Glorious lentils,
From what gilded lifesource
Does your bounty emerge?
Not quite a bean
Not quite a nut
Savory identity hidden
In unworthy human name.

Like the season before
Christ’s death.
But promiscuous pulse!
Our mouths do not await in you
A demise of flavor, of hope
But a glorious birth, a Christmas!
Adventils is more fitting a name.
If not for the ill,
For you carry only the cancer
Of crisp fitness, overtaking all
Unhealthy earthly leanings.
Well should be your suffix,
Adventwells, a name deemed divine.
Oh, do not suffer our pallets to wait!
Awake from your green cradle!
Listen to our lips pure beckon!
Make your eternal home
In our stomachs’ lonely bed!

~Paul Sorenson

Blame Canada

The odd thing about writing for Arts and Culture is that people expect you to be on the edge of all the latest trends. As if I should be listening to demos of underground bands and seeing movies long before the buzz on them has begun. Perhaps that's true, but I find the hype that surrounds various releases to be quite overwhelming. My favorite thing is to disregard a band, film, or television show because of the immediate frenzy that follows it, and later find it on my own. Some of my favorite things have been discovered this way. While it may sound much more hip to say that I liked "The Office" back when everyone was bashing it because it didn't compare to the UK version, the truth is that I began watching it in the middle of the third season and was instantly hooked. I never said I was a trendsetter.

The latest case to support this theory is my obsession with Feist, a songbird hailing from the great white north. I had previously heard her band Broken Social Scene and never really got into them. This summer she released an infectious little ditty (complete with a uniquely chirpy and rainbow themed video) called "1, 2, 3, 4." Upon my first listen, I immediately dismissed Feist as poppy hipster music, and I was wrong. Later, I heard the song on a commercial and couldn't get the jumpy melody out of my head. I still chose to think of the song only as a guilty pleasure, reserved for sunny days and happy dances (much like "Walking on Sunshine," by Katrina and the Waves).

The right occassion came, and I was having a good day, so right before I left my house I busted out "1,2,3,4." I couldn't stop thinking about it. A rerun of Feist's appearance on "Late Night with Conan O'Brien" showed me the light. She a rare and talented singer with a distinct voice and style. I figured this out yesterday. I have been playing "1,2,3,4" on a loop and I'm sure that my roommates want to strangle me.

The point is sometimes it takes reflection, after the onslaught of praise that seems to follow any indie artist's latest record, to show the truth about anything. I choose to believe that the points where critics tag the toe of most artists' careers tend to be some of those artists' best or most interesting work. That's the beauty of revision. How many albums have received awful reviews and poor sales only to go on and be called classics in five or ten years? How many overhyped bands and Best New Artist Grammy winners have gone on to do absolutely nothing? Critical opinions aren't flawless and they (or we, I guess) do the best that we can. I just realized that it's acceptable to be behind the times, and for that I can blame Canada (or Feist, at least).


Paying Homage to The Envy Corps: Secret Preview

Recently I acquired an unreleased copy of a new Envy Corps song (through secret connections which are to remain anonymous) and I cannot stop listening to it. For those unfamiliar with The Envy Corps, now’s the time to check out their Myspace site (http://www.myspace.com/theenvycorps) and start listening. My personal favorite is “Story Problem,” which never fails to make me want to dance around singing, no matter how bad my day was.

The band originated from Ames and is well on its way to making the big time. This spring they opened for The Killers, and currently they are touring in England. According to one of their recent posts, they just recorded three songs at the BBC, which has hosted such legends as Led Zeppelin and The Beatles.

Listening to this new, secret song of theirs, I am blown away by their musical progress. Being a major fan, I’ve listened to their past two albums, Soviet Reunion and I Will Write You Love Letters If You Tell Me To. With each new effort their style becomes more unified and their technique is fine-tuned. Vocal problems in the earlier Soviet Reunion are nonexistent in this new song. The instruments harmonize and swell together perfectly, making their music impacting and unforgettable. The band’s sensitive melodies full of emotion, despair, and happiness ring true, right down to the core of the listener.

I anxiously await their next album and their return to the US. This is a band to keep your eye out for.


why would abc do this to me?

Actually, I'm not even sure if it's ABC. Maybe NBC? Whatever, doesn't matter.

What matters is that, while browsing through the network websites searching for TV show fall premieres (BTW The Office and Grey's are conflicting on Sept. 27 boooooooo), there was one TV show missing from the lineups.

Traveler. Before I try to justify my love for that quasi-quality show, let pictures speak louder than words.

Watching Jay Burchell narrowly escape FBI double agents week after week made my summer. I can't claim the show always made sense, had great acting, or even had a plot line that held together. But it was summer TV, so all that could be ignored in favor of cute boys with guns.

However, the show beginning to get it between the white lines, and the season (now, apparently, series) finale left quite a cliffhanger. Thanks ABC, for ruining my Fall Wednesday nights. What's going to get me through hump night now? A show about cavemen? Umm, no.


Tuesday, September 4, 2007

MUDSLIDING IN THE NAME OF: In which Jarrett finally sees Rage Against the Machine on 8/24/07

The average person has stimuli that instantaneously induce a cringe. Perhaps for some it could be the sound of nails scraping against a chalkboard, seeing Taco Bell "entrees" actually being made, or the voice of Phil Collins. For me it is three magic words. "Dave at Alpine". This simple phrase is the widely used description of the annual frayed baseball hat, bro-tastic migration to East Troy, Wisconsin to see The Dave Matthews Band in all their glory at Alpine Valley music theatre. I have heard this all throughout high school and even into my formative college years, much to my disdain. When I found out one of my favorite bands growing up, Rage Against the Machine, was not only reuniting, but coming to said venue to play their only Midwestern show, I was extremely happy. Surely this event would be the perfect way to exorcise the soul-sucking specter of DMB hanging over this region of Wisconsin.

After coaxing my friend into letting me borrow her mini-van (the only way to fly), me and two other budz leave our Iowa City lair, hungry for the open road. Hours on the road melted away with a group enjoyment of "Ten Things I hate about you" on the video I-pod, yet spirits dwindled as the weather got stormier than Heath Ledger's rebellious, yet sensitive eyes. Maybe I've seen that movie too many times. Anyway, we arrived to a torrential downpour, as the grass parking fields were being reduced to slime even in the early stages of the evening. All doubts were put aside with the mental mantra of "I'm actually seeing Rage Against the Machine", which helped us push on. We walked into the outdoor amphitheatre which is pretty much comprised of a 70 degree angle grass hill and a stage, the former gleefully being slid on by the tattooed and cigarette smoking masses. The beer and rain had provided the perfect lubrication for the fans, who were drunkenly eating it en route to their lawn seats. Yours truly fell on his fanny, while on my cell phone, further adding to my yuppie embarassment.

The rain finally let up as the concert began; making my un-rock and roll fear of pneumonia disappear for the time being. Queens of the Stone Age opened the show, something I would have relished years ago. But alas, times have changed for my once favorite band. Every since lead singer songwriter Josh Homme fired volatile bass player Nick Oliveri, Queens lost the duo’s exciting dynamic that truly made them kick. Judging by the performance, Josh has settled in a more conservative role instead of swinging for the fences.

Finally it the time we all had been waiting for. Lead Rage Guitarist's Tom Morello's mother sauntered out to a hushed crowd to introduce "the best f$$ing band in the universe". (I assume this blog is meant to be PG-13). Rage immediately laid into "Testify", one of the fiercest tracks on 1999's The Battle of Los Angeles. Everyone tirelessly rapped and screamed every word of their career-spanning set, that included such Wisconsin-shaking classics as "Bullet in the Head" and "Freedom". The songs sounded as fresh as ever, not only musically but in terms of the fiery lyrical content than still remains relevant decades after the songs were originally written. Rapper Zack De La Rocha patrolled the stage, eloquently and angrily spewing his self-described “massive militant poetry”. It was also refreshing to see the power of the simple combination of bass, drums and guitar live, contrasted to our current musical world where the average indie hack tries to incorporate any form of obscure instrumentation he or she can get their american apparel adorned grasp upon.

It was one of the most explosive shows I have seen in years, excitement that was temporarily dwindled by our 3 1/2 hour odyssey of getting our car's tires out of the muddy slop and leaving the packed parking lot. Needless to say we arrived home at 7:15 a.m after a rainy return to Iowa City. Perhaps the finest touch to the show was that the lawn was reduced to nothing but muddy, uninhabitable goo, a perfect present to leave to the Dave Matthews Band Fans who were arriving that very next day to watch their mumbling deity and his backing band! HA

Luv, Jarrett

P.S apologies to DMB fans, well not really

he's my rushmore, ya'll

Oh my God, so let me just tell you about how excited I am for The Darjeeling Limited. Say what you will about the trailer ( which you can watch right here: http://youtube.com/watch?v=aO1bYukdvLI ) -- it abuses The Kinks, it looks like every other Wes Anderson film, etc. etc. I remain stoked, maybe because I liked every other Wes Anderson film. Honestly, all I needed was that signature typeface to get giddy in the theatre. Plus, who can resist the trashy, invasive allure of going to see Owen Wilson play a potentially suicidal character now, in the wake of his own potential suicide attempt? Surely not I.

But the main reason I can't wait to take a trip to India?

God, yes. Still the cutest beetle-browed, strangely intense Coppola relation out there.

So yeah, to sum up my first DI arts blog post ever: Jason Schwartzman is hot. November 23rd cannot possibly get here soon enough.


Monday, September 3, 2007

Talib Kweli CD Review

In January, Talib Kweli and Madlib leaked their nine track project – Liberation – to the internet and its followers of facebookers, myspacers and bloggers. At the time, Kweli stated that it wasn’t a sample of what Eardrum would be, but that is exactly what it seems to have been.

Eardrum, released August 17th matches Liberation with its harder-hitting lyrics and jazzy surrounding beats. The album reaches back through out all of Kweli’s past and brings back the things that work and some that don’t. Tracks like “Everything Man,” “Eat to Live,” and “Soon the New Day” submerse themselves in R&B beats and choruses while clearly identifying themselves as the work of Madlib. Hi-Tek is another blast from the past, producing the track “More or Less,” which haunts listeners with a repeating soulful na na na and crescendoing alto chorus.

Unfortunately some tracks cannot match the others. “Oh My Stars,” featuring Musiq Soulchild is cliché and just kind of lame. Calling your “baby” a star might slip past my eardrum once, but not when it’s repeated 20 times. “Hostile Gospel Pt. 2” dies the minute featured artist Sizzla opens his mouth. I don’t know what the attraction to the Jamaican/reggae ascent is, and maybe it’s just me, but it feels overused and out of place amongst Kweli’s jarring pace and biting tone.

Eardrum’s greatest strength is its samples and beats. Talib Kweli has a style. He speaks fast, with a preachy tone and sharp pronunciation. He cares about social issues, the plight of all people and the advancement of the human race. His words are always worth listening too, it’s just a matter of whether the beat allows you too or not. Never-the-less, Eardrum is another step forward. It returns Kweli to his rightful place at the head of the public pulpit, with the audience hanging on every word. Four out of five stars.

— By Nate Ley

Collective Soul CD review

Admittedly, it had been a while since I had given Collective Soul an honest and legitimate listen. Therefore, my review of Afterwards, their newest effort released last Tuesday, the 28th, will be void of much history and more about the sound and whether listeners will like it here an now.

They might. The album skirts the line of rock and pop with its two catchiest songs. “All That I Know,” could easily find itself on a Maroon 5 set list, if lead singer Ed Roland’s voice was a few octaves higher, while “What I Can Give You” has remnants of past hit “Shine” with its bounding rhythm and power chord driven guitar riff.

Most of the tracks would most likely have found themselves on the soundtracks of cancelled shows such as the OC, One Tree Hill and Gilmore Girls. And maybe that says the most about the cd. It sounds just like how wikipedia describes the band: post-grunge rock. As in, best in the 1990’s. Collective Soul seems stuck in that era, and although that’s not a bad thing or even really their fault, it makes them less likely to be listened to by university students.

— By Nate Ley

Music for the motherland

Alright, so the last time I blogged for the Daily Iowan, I was writing from Spain, where I spent my summer studying abroad. While Iowa City isn’t exactly as steamy a locale as a European beach, I suppose it'll do for now. Here’s what I’m currently spinning.
Today’s playlist, entitled “Back in America (sadly)”— for real.

“Burning Photographs”- Ryan Adams. (I figured I should at least know a song or two by the guy before he comes to IC October 1)

“Wet and Rusting”- Menomena.

“What You Are”- Drill. (You can find this track off the Empire Records soundtrack. Awesome movie.)

“Ever Fallen in Love”- Nouvelle Vague.

“Amsterdam”- Peter Bjorn and John (Seriously, have you heard these guys? They’re amazing.)

“Hot Thing”- Talib Kweli featuring Will.I.Am. (This comes off his new album, which is phenomenal hip hop, as usual.)

“Dark Heart News”- Aesop Rock featuring Rob Sonic. (This was my pick off their new album which I reviewed last week.)

“Money Folder”- Four Tet, covering Madvillain. (Still searching high and low for a new life anthem? You just found it. I play this song nearly every week on my radio show at KRUI and I never get tired of it.)

“Uncle Sam Goddamn”- Brother Ali (Great song with driving rhythm from social critiquing hip hop king)

“Are You That Somebody”- Aaliyah. (Oh, Aaliyah. We miss you — tear.)

“London Calling”- The Clash. (I have heard this song on the radio three times a week since I left Europe. Coincidence? I think not.)

“Summer Love”- Justin Timberlake. (If you say you don’t like JT, you’re only fooling yourself.)

Until next time,