Music To Help Get Your New Year’s On Thursday, Dec 31 2009 

New Year

New Year

2009 will go down in history for a few reasons: the maveryicky rise of Sarah Palin, Balloon Boy, Twitter’s internet takeover (and in 140 characters or less), and countless other major moments in pop culture. Musically, we saw rappers going to jail, Kanye West giving us his nomination for the greatest video of ALL TIME (whether we asked for it or not), a quirky fashion queen named Lady GaGa who became the biggest pop star in the world in a matter of months, and the death of the death of the biggest pop star in history. But we’re not here to look behind; we’re going to look ahead. The Decomposed Blog was gained four new writers. I’m sure you’ve seen their posts in the latter months of the year. They bring varying view points to TDB and I’m happy to have them on board and look forward to working with them all next year.

Now, if for some reason you’ve got nothing to do tonight and have found yourself stuck at home reading this blog, I want to give you a little something to tide you through the evening. These are two songs that I like to listen to after midnight on New Year’s Eve. They’re Death Cab for Cutie‘s opening song on Translanticism, “The New Year” and a favorite from The Mountain Goats‘ phenomenal record The Sunset Tree, “This Year.” It’s my hope that these amazing songs will help you go into 2010 with something that brings us all together: music. We here at The Decomposed Blog look forward to writing for you for the next twelve months and, hopefully, beyond that. Feel free to subscribe to our RSS feed, follow us on twitter, or check out our individual blogs. See you in the new year!

-Dion

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Impending Doom to release new album in 2010. Thursday, Dec 31 2009 

Christian deathcore group Impending Doom is hard at work on a new studio album, due out sometime next year. They are currently in the pre-production stage for what will be their third full-length release on Facedown Records. The new material has been described as “sounding way catchy.” A video update can be seen at the end of this post.

I found their “pig-squeal”-filled debut to be nearly unlistenable, but this year’s follow-up, The Serpent Servant, was a definite step forward. Even so, I wouldn’t recommend them to anyone who doesn’t enjoy the breakdown-filled heavy music of today’s scene.

Hopefully the new album has more sick nu metal breakdowns like the one in “More Than Conquerors.”

-Tim

Avenged Sevenfold’s “The Rev” Found Dead Tuesday, Dec 29 2009 

Avenged Sevenfold drummer Jimmy “The Rev” Sullivan was found dead yesterday in his home at the age of 28.

No cause of death has been confirmed as of the time of this post; according to Lt. John Domingo of the Huntington Beach Police Department, the death “appeared to be natural causes. It’s a coroner’s case.”

The band’s statement on the official site reads as follows:

“It is with great sadness and heavy hearts that we tell you of the passing today of Jimmy “The Rev” Sullivan. Jimmy was not only one of the world’s best drummers, but more importantly he was our best friend and brother. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Jimmy’s family and we hope that you will respect their privacy during this difficult time.

Jimmy you are forever in our hearts.
We love you.

M Shadows, Synyster Gates, Zacky Vengeance and Johnny Christ”

This has been quite the year for celebrity deaths. Brittany Murphy died just over a week ago, and the passing of “King of Pop” Michael Jackson stormed the headlines in June. I’ve never been much for Avenged Sevenfold’s music, but my thoughts and prayers are with his friends, family, and band mates.

-Tim

Quick Listen – DJ Earworm – United State of Pop (Blame it on the Pop) Monday, Dec 28 2009 

DJ EarwormSometime back in October, I found myself at one of the many school sponsored events that I typically avoid. It was called Casino Night. I wasn’t particularly in the mood, to be honest; relationship problems had me wanting to spend the evening alone in my dorm. Somehow, I ended up there with a few friends to play poker and drink free sparkling grape juice (I’m only 19; alcohol isn’t readily available yet). Thanks to a friend of mine, I put all my bad feelings aside and enjoyed the night in the its fullest, even getting out on the dance floor for a few songs. I didn’t know it at the time, but that night of dancing lead to one of my biggest musical developments of the year. You see, as is expected, a lot of pop music was played. Instead of being the jaded music hipster I normally would be, I embraced the songs and found myself really enjoying them. You see, pop music has this great unifying power to it that a lot of other genres just don’t have; they’re too divisive. I still love Kid A and all that shit, but if it wasn’t for that dance, I would’ve never been able to say I enjoy Party in the U.S.A., at least without an ironic grin on my face. Music doesn’t always have to be dense, deep, and divisive; sometimes, you just want to dance.

That’s where DJ Earworm comes in. For the past two years straight, he’s released a “United State of Pop” mixtape where he uses his considerable skill as a mashup artist to combine the year’s top hits into one sugary sweet, four-minute monster. This year is no exception. It’s entitled “Blame it on the Pop,” a forgivably puntastic name. At nearly five minutes, every major player of 2009’s KISS FM rotations is represented; this may be the only song we’ll ever hear that features both Kanye West and Taylor Swift. The result is something like Girl Talk, only decidedly less scatterbrained (DJ Earworm bases the entire song around The Black Eyed Peas’ “I Gotta Feeling,” whereas Girl Talk squeezes so many songs, decades, and genres into each song, it’s hard to tell whether or not each piece has any basis at all).

In that sense, it is a safe mix, not quite measuring up to the other mashup heavyweights, Danger Mouse and the aforementioned Girl Talk. Then again, neither of those artists really strive for what DJ Earworm attempts with these United State of Pop mashups; he’s created a solid, nostalgic look at what pop radio has done in 2009. It reinvented itself, seemingly with the vision of the decade’s looming end that is much more positive than the one indie rock has suggested. We need that every now and then.

-Dion, but Tim recommended it.

Quick Listen – Timber Timbre Sunday, Dec 27 2009 

In a fairly recent discussion about albums worth checking out based solely on their artwork, my friend Rick brought up Timber Timbre’s self-titled third studio album (first on Toronto-based record label Arts & Crafts), and something about it caught my attention immediately. Not that it’s a particularly amazing work of art or anything; I guess I’m simply a sucker for black-and-white photography. The composition was rather enjoyable. As a result of this and my occasional musical agreements with Rick, I decided, “What the heck? I’ll give this a try.”

Timber Timbre is the bluesy folk rock project of singer-songwriter Taylor Kirk, named after a play on the words “timbre” (for his guitar) and “timber” (for his father). For my introduction, I chose “Demon Host,” the opening track to Timber Timbre and first result on YouTube. My thoughts?

Taylor’s voice took a bit for me to get comfortable with. It sounds rather warm and inviting over the cool acoustic guitar, but something about it just didn’t rub me quite right at first. Lyrically, there are some good moments, but the constant couplets feel a bit forced at times. At his best, he flows smoothly from line to line, delivering his words rather naturally while retaining the rhyme and meter; at his worst, he feels choppy as a tenth-grader’s poetry assignment. In spite of these complaints, I did enjoy the song and will likely check out the rest of the album when I get the chance.

“Oh reverend please can I chew your ear?
I have become what I most fear
And I know there’s no such thing as ghosts
But I have seen the demon host”

-Tim

Recommendation – Tortoise – TNT Sunday, Dec 27 2009 

Tortoise TNTI’m starting the think the late 90’s were the absolute best time for music. Just when obscure music was becoming more popular and just before downloading killed the radio, a wealth of alternative bands were able to thrive in a climate where “alternative” still meant something. Out of that period, we get such landmark recordings as OK Computer, Pinkerton, and my favorite album of all time, In the Aeroplane Over the Sea. Still, these three albums are heavily based around the guitar, a mode of expression that can be brilliant, but I personally find to be overdone at times. Yeah, that statement is a little outlandish, but with the infinite amount of sounds and instruments available (and with modern technology putting them within a .rar’s reach of anyone who can find a torrent of Reason), I find it easy to get bored with albums that rely heavily on any singular instrument. Again, this is just my personal preference. I am in no way implying that The Sunset Tree is any less great of a record just because of the fact that John Darnielle relies heavily on guitar and bass.

That being said, I’ve been listening to Tortoise’s 1998 album TNT for almost twenty hours straight. Finding it’s basis somewhere between acoustic instruments and electronic experimentation, TNT represents the alternative to the alternative, if you will, an album ahead of its time by about three to five years (depending on whether or not you believe Radiohead invented post-rock on Kid A). Running at about an hour in length, Tortoise delivered a record that sprawled across indie-rock, post-rock, jazz, and IDM, yet somehow maintained a consistency that many of the supposed “landmark” alternative rock albums just don’t have (*cough* Nevermind *cough). TNT isn’t so much a collection of songs as it is a collage of sounds, a concise, genre-defying work that succeeds even where it shouldn’t. It’s hard to tell where one song ends and the next begins, but not in a bad way. The songs flow into one another seamlessly, never blinking but always focused.

Tortoise just finished a tour of the midwestern U.S. as well as Europe, so the band is still going strong. Check out TNT and find out why.

-Dion

Recommendation – The Weakerthans Tuesday, Dec 22 2009 

At least in Pennsylvania, where I am, there is almost two feet of snow in the ground, which makes me want to curl up with a good book, a snifter of cognac, and, of course, some solid winter tunes. I’ve been listening to a few bands pretty consistently this holiday season, but one stands out among them as my favorite: The Weakerthans.

The Weakerthans

No wonder he hates Winnipeg so much--too many pine trees

The band, fronted by Winnipeg’s John K. Samson (who left leftist punk band Propagandhi to start a publishing company–which is the best way ever to leave any band), play a highly idiosyncratic and instantly identifiable brand of punk-pop that is both catchy and endearingly intimate. The intimacy in part comes from Samson’s impassioned, earnest vocal delivery and, perhaps even more so, from his excellent lyrics. There are some great writers to be found in contemporary music, but none that I have found so far has yet to touch Samson in terms of clarity of imagery, strength of voice, and overall cohesiveness. It seems imprudent to recommend a band on strength of their lyrics alone, but the genius of the Weakerthans is the union of rough-around-the-edges, folk-tinged punk music and highly literate lyrical insight. Songs like “Plea From A Cat Named Virtute” (pronounced “vir-toot”) showcase the mastery of both pop and poetry. The song is written from the perspective of Samson’s cat, and provides a shockingly vivid portrait of disaffection and loneliness. I could rave on and on about Samson’s lyrics, but I’ll spare you and end with this: check this band out, if you haven’t. The Weakerthans are in heavy rotation in my winter playlist, and though they haven’t released an album since 2007’s Reunion Tour, they are a band to watch in the future. Hopefully 2010 yields a new release from them.

Like what you hear? Craving more than these four albums? John Samson released the first in a series of 7″s, entitled City Route 85, on November 3, a song from which can be heard here. Be sure to give this band your attention and keep an ear to the cold, frosted Canadian ground as we move into a new year. Hopefully The Weakerthans will grace us with album #5 by this time next year.

Listen/watch: http://www.theweakerthans.org/audiovisual/ and http://www.myspace.com/theweakerthans

– David

Why Not Subscribe? Monday, Dec 21 2009 

RSSYou know what would make reading The Decomposed Blog a lot easier for you? Subscribing to our RSS feed. Look, I made it easy for you! That giant picture to the left is a link to subscribe to our blog. Why not do it? Consider it a Christmas present from The Decomposed Blog.

-Dion

Recommendation – Katie Tate Sunday, Dec 20 2009 

“I hope this song starts a craze / the kind of song that ignites the airwaves / the kind of song that makes people glad to be where they are with whoever they’re there with.”

Jesse Lacey

There’s something about music that defines our lives perfectly. We love singing loud and out of key with our closest friends in our cars and at our bonfires, and hearing these songs years later brings us back to that exact moment with amazing clarity.

Every day, songs like this happen to Katie Tate. So, she puts these songs to her voice and guitar (or piano) and records them. She then uploads these songs onto MySpace for our listening pleasure.

Yeah, that’s pretty much all I have to say. I’d go on and write some really profound, verbose plug, but that’d be lame. No need to practice for my future of Journalism with this entry. Her songs speak for themselves. If you want to hear totally rad songs about mewithoutYou, boys, and hair, listen and have a good time. If not, I take it you have a very boring, miserable life.

-Tim.

Quick Listen – The Late Brittany Murphy Sunday, Dec 20 2009 

This morning, at the age of 32, actress Brittany Murphy was found unconscious in her shower. Paramedics soon discovered that she was in full cardiac arrest. She was pronounced dead upon arrival to the hospital. At such a relatively young age, it is pretty surprising to hear this news, as I don’t know of anyone who was expecting. I’m no expert on acting, nor am I a movie buff, and I never particularly enjoyed any of Murphy’s movies (with the exception of 8 Mile), so I’m not going to bother pretending that her death is a huge tragedy. Still, while reading her wikipedia page, I saw that she had recorded some music, so I figured why not check some of it out. The result: 2006’s #1 dance hit, “Faster Kill Pussycat” from Paul Oakenfold’s album, A Lively Mind.

I’m probably the best equipped Decomposed writer to give this song a Quick Listen. Electronic pop makes up a pretty big chunk of what I listen to lately. So how does Brittany Murphy’s music compare to her acting? The truth is, it’s about the same: not offensively bad, but never hovering too high above average. Murphy’s voice is one that doesn’t seem quite designed for making thrilling music. She lacks both the raw talent to impress music purists and the spunky attitude to attract long-term pop radio success. Musically, the track’s verses sit boringly atop the back-beat and bass-line, neither quite big enough to excite the listener for the chorus. It’s for the best though, considering the chorus underwhelms to the point where I wasn’t quite sure if it was actually the chorus, or a pre-chorus of sorts. It’s not all bad though. With riskier production techniques, more dynamic mixing, and some affects tossed on Murphy’s voice, I can see this track being a fairly good hype song. I’m sure the pre-GaGa music listener didn’t mind though.

RIP, Brittany Murphy.

-Dion

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