New M.I.A. Album To Be Released This Year, New Track Released Tuesday, Jan 12 2010 

M.I.A. will be releasing her third studio album this summer, or possibly as soon as early spring. A new track, called “THERES SPACE FOR OL DAT I SEE,” was released today through a video posted on her Twitter account.

The 34-year-old artist described the upcoming album to NME as “really odd” and “more musical” than her last two albums. According to a Rolling Stone article, she collaborated with producer Blaqstarr, who “simply makes music that sounds good, and I needed that. I definitely needed to come to music on this album, to make music. I don’t want it to be gimmicky or silly or hipstery.” She promised a mix of singing and rapping: “I just stopped singing on the last one because I put more emphasis into production, so I was more about making beats and sang less on my last album.”

I really enjoy Kala, but the songs feel a bit too repetitive when I’m not in the right mood, so the focus on songs over beats sound really promising. One of the songs apparently features a hook sung by Filipino Verizon workers… Huh. Neat. This album promises to be a really rad summer soundtrack.

-Tim

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Taylor Swift is the top-selling digital artist of all time! Tuesday, Jan 12 2010 

"I don't know how it gets better than this. You take my hand and drag me headfirst, fearless."

Yes, 20-year-old pop star Taylor Swift is the top-selling digital artist in history with over 24.3 million tracks sold thus far, according to Nielsen SoundScan. Fearless is also the top-selling album of 2009 (the second year in a row), and her self-titled debut album has remained on the Billboard charts for longer than any other album this century.

Congratulations, Taylor! Fearless was one of my favorite albums of 2008. I found the songs to be wonderful snapshots of a young girl’s growth into womanhood, and apparently I wasn’t the only one. That, or she’s just really marketable. Well, either way, I’m really happy with her and anxiously await her next album (hopefully within the next year).

-Tim

Recommendation – Drought – Demo 2010 Thursday, Jan 7 2010 

The 90s are alive and well.

I’m not talking about Soundgarden’s impending reunion shows after 12 years of inactivity, nor am I talking about Brand New’s bastardization of In Utero with their most recent full-length, Daisy. No, I’m talking about what may very well be the first great release of the new decade.

Texas based rock band Drought has released a self-recorded tape demo, which can be streamed and downloaded for free here. Downloads are available in mp3, FLAC, and a variety of other formats for all the audiophiles out there. Lyrics can also be viewed on the page.

This demo sounds great. The noisy feedback and bluesy guitars ebb and flow under a captivating hiss familiar to anyone who remembers the cassette tapes of fifteen years ago. The opening plucks of “Sacrament pt. I” are reminiscent of Nirvana in the best way possible. If you grew up on any of the great alternative rock classics of the 90s, I highly recommend that you give this band a listen.

-Tim

New Motion City Soundtrack song up for stream at Spin.com Tuesday, Jan 5 2010 

You can listen to the new song “A Lifeless Ordinary (Need a Little Help)” by Motion City Soundtrack off their upcoming My Dinosaur Life here. This is the third song they’ve released off the new album so far, and it is far and away the most enticing. “Disappear” was a grower, certainly, but it lacked some of Justin Pierre’s characteristic lyrical and vocal charm, instead opting for a rougher, more edgy sound. The next track, which also premiered at Spin.com (and can be heard here), was entitled “Her Words Destroyed My Planet.” It was…bad, to say the least. Thankfully, this new track finds MCS doing what they do best instead of trying to be edgy and cursing a lot, and though it doesn’t blow my mind, it at least means the new album will be worth a listen. My Dinosaur Life hits stores January 19th.

-David

Kanye West Feeds The Homeless Monday, Jan 4 2010 

This is the human side of Kanye West that the media will never acknowledge. According to Kanye’s blog, the day before Christmas, he, his fiance, and his cousin volunteered with L.A. Mission to feed the homeless at a local shelter. Kanye didn’t bother bringing a bunch of cameras with him or trying to publicize the trip, and he didn’t even blog about it until almost two weeks later. It’s really great to see him doing something this helpful and selfless, even as the media constantly demonizes him as an arrogant asshole. The sad part is that most music news sites won’t cover this, because it doesn’t fit nice and tidy with the character they (yes, the media) has created for the Grammy winner.

A local homeless man was quoted as saying, “It was really thrilling to see Kanye West here serving us. I went right up to him and asked for an autograph and he gave it to me with a smile. He really is one of the most genuinely nice people I’ve ever met, except for when I asked for turkey and he told me that ham is the greatest Christmas meat of ALL TIME!”

… I couldn’t help myself. Pictures can be seen below.

-Dion

Modern Classic: Keasbey Nights Saturday, Jan 2 2010 

In 1998, amidst the ska-punk explosion that pervaded the second half of that decade, Tomas Kalnoky’s band Catch-22 released their debut album. And then Kalnoky, who had written the whole of that album, chose to leave the band. And when Victory records decided in 2004 that they want to re-release that debut album, Kalnoky refused, instead opting to re-record the album with his new band, Streetlight Manifesto.

Thus what I believe could possibly be the greatest ska-punk recording of all time was created.

There are those who are partial to Less Than Jake’s Hello Rockview (1998) or Reel Big Fish’s Turn The Radio Off (1996), and even some who claim the re-recording is blasphemy prefer the Catch-22 original. But what the the band did with this album exceeds even the highest expectations of the genre, creating an album that stands to be on any end-of-decade list.

The album kicks off with a blast- “Dear Sergio” pummels the listener with 250-BPM guitar and loud, brassy, horn hits, and off we go – into a 45-minute burst of angst, energy, and power that hasn’t been seen before or since. The gang vocals on the opening track draw the listener in, and inspire you to get up and dance, as any good ska-punk album should. Without missing a beat, the distorted, Chuck Berry-aping intro of “Sick and Sad” comes in, and we’re back into the fold, skanking along- the incredibly proficient (and downright loud) horns, Kalnoky’s frantic vocals, (spitting more words per minute than the any Lil Wayne song) and Chris Thatcher’s unforgettable drumming and distinctive snare sound.

The title track features a theme Kalnoky mentions more than 50 Cent: bulletproof vests. Where, in a song that’s only 3 minutes and is fast enough to make you want to stop and take a breather, do most bands find the time to talk about rising up against your foes and still make it sound like a party? Streetlight Manifesto show, every single time they’re given a soapbox, that they aren’t like most bands. And they don’t want to be.

And that’s what this album is- something different, while still feeling like something familiar. Only Kalnoky can rhyme “bucket full of phlegm” with “I don’t need a music scene to tell me who I am.” and not make you feel like he had some explaining to do. One of the highest points of the album, “Walking Away” showcases in its first 45 seconds Chris Paszik’s immense bass skills, James Egan’s magnificent muted trumpet solo, and still manages to speed things up for the rest of the song – which features not only lyrical imagery of lost love, but a military band breakdown, and, later still, one of the best trumpet/trombone duels in non-jazz music. Not only does Kalnoky create the image of a backyard summer party with his lyrics, but the other musicians in his band make you feel like you’re there with their music.

They demonstrate their diversity on songs like “Giving Up, Giving In” – a no-holds-barred punk jam that features no horns at all, and its first half clocking in at over 300 beats per minute, makes you want to hold on for dear life. Sometimes the band likes to take a break in mid-song for a tender acoustic guitar moment, and then follow it with loud, frantic horns and drum solos as they do in “On & On & On.” The album’s sole instrumental track, “Riding The Fourth Wave” deserves to be in a class of its own in rock music – here all the musicians display their abilities as musicians deserve to stand among the great jazz players out there. That instrumental speaks for itself – Frantic, powerful, and featuring some of the best horn solos in all of rock music, the song grabs you by the collar and refuses to let go. If you can listen to “Riding The Fourth Wave” and not be impressed by Dan Ross and Mike Soprano’s abilities and how well they play off each other, you obviously need to take a music appreciation class.

The album continues this way, with songs juxtaposing the improvisational nature and impressive musicianship of jazz music with the fury and angst of punk music with acoustic, sensitive moments. As far as compares to the Catch-22 version, there are added verses, added solos, and a quite noticeable increase in sonic quality. The end of its closer, “1234, 1234” features an interview discussing why the album was re-recorded and released over a fun jam between the musicians. All in all, this music speaks for itself. This is the way these songs were meant to be heard, and this is perfection in ska-punk. Every song here is perfect, and there’s nothing like any of them. Maybe you won’t love this record. As they state, they’re going to keep doing what they are doing whether or not a single record is sold. Regardless, this is a modern classic and the defining album of ska-punk. You’re hearing the kind of magic that came together perfectly once and won’t probably happen for years and years to come.

To those who don’t hear it, to quote the last words of the album, “As my good friend Roley says, you are indeed a cassette, and unfortunately just don’t get it. Peace out bitches.”

Overall score: Classic

-Evan

Reviewer gets best of Ken Saturday, Jan 2 2010 

The year, it seems, has started with a nice throwback to 1990. That year, Kenny Vasoli of the famed Starting Line from Philadelphia was a mere 6 years old, and a tantrum like the one he’s thrown would be more acceptable, perhaps even expected from him.

please don't be mean to me...or I'll call you a hipster.

Kenny responded to this review, which, admittedly, deserves to be derided. It’s wankery. No self-respecting journalist should put his name on such a badly-written piece. It’s a cry for attention..and one that seemed to reach the ears of the heroic, self-righteous Kenny.  However, what Kenny did was no better than what the journalist did. Take a gander:

Dear Philadelphia Weekly & Bill Chenevert,

I am Ken Vasoli, singer and bassist for The Starting Line. You know..the
“horseshit” band with an “insufferable brand of whine.” Thanks a million
for printing that article filled with those classic low-blows. Good move
too, you guys are giving Pitchfork a run for their money by cleverly cutting
down bands like us, its clearly the hip elitist thing to do. Congratulations
in advance for the increase in readership, as I’m sure will be the result of
bashing a popular philadelphia band.

What exactly was the point if the article? Was it to prevent people from
attending a show that’s already sold out, or perhaps to convince thousands
of Philadelphians that they have inferior taste in music? Regardless, I’m
happy to report that the two shows were both a fantastic success. I could
barely hear myself over crowds’ singing. These shows gave us in the band an
indescribable feeling of joy, one that I’m sure Mr. Chenevert will never
experience in his pathetic excuse for a career. I imagine the closest he
will come to such euphoria will be masturbating to a Deerhunter record while
reading the single comment left for his review bashing Coheed and Cambria.
I win.

Happy New Year.


KV

Everyone gets upset when they read a negative review. But what Ken did was deplorable, unacceptable for an artist who takes himself even remotely seriously. I can’t fault him for wanting to respond to this article, in all fairness. This article is trash. This article was clearly written, as said before, to get the attention of the fans of the Starting Line and make them angry. The author is a bad writer who deserved to be taken to task for his self-indulgence. HOWEVER–and this is indeed a big HOWEVER, big enough to warrant all capital letters–this is perhaps the last way to go about taking anyone to task. Kenny played all the classic cards–the hipster card, the “I’m better than you” card, the “BUT IT MEANS SOMETHING TO SOMEONE” card–and went the way of Bemis in “Admit It!!!” with divisive language that rather than addressing the shortcomings of a bad article simply does the same thing as playground name calling.

This is simply childish. Responding to someone’s opinion the way Kenny did is stupid. It’s self-aggrandizement as a response to self-aggrandizement, first of all, and has no place in critical discourse about music. Second–and this is the worst part–it’s hypocrisy. Kenny loves the good reviews of all the kids in the crowd at his shows, but when someone says “man, I don’t like the Starting Line,” he can’t handle it. He only wants edification, not actual critique. Had the article actually been of any repute, Kenny would still, I think, be mad, mostly because of his go-to “classic low blows” about Deerhunter and Pitchfork, which demonstrate a lack of respect for a music scene he may not necessarily be into (though, as Person L suggests, he at least WANTS in, so perhaps he’s angrier because he hasn’t been accepted into this indie scene…which also could explain the earlier-than-planned TSL reunion…hmmmmm….)

At any rate, Kenny’s response is the ultimate in hypocrisy. If he would rather operate on the same low level as this “reviewer” than actually be the better man, so be it. That’s just one less band I have to take seriously as artists among the rapidly-narrowing field of generic pop-punkers.

-David

Editor’s note:

I just want to highlight the fact that Ken referred to music journalism as a “pathetic excuse for a career.” The Decomposed Blog may just be a little wordpress weblog, and we’re not a blip on anyone’s radar at this point, but I still love what I do here. I’m sure David, Tim, Evan, and Max would agree with me when I say there is absolutely nothing wrong with choosing to write about something you love, which for all of us, is music. As David pointed out, it is utter hypocrisy for Ken to all-of-sudden thing music journalism is a such a terrible career choice now that some shitty writer made fun of him. He says that his problem with the review was that it was before the actual show. I ask you this, Ken; if the review had been overly positive, praising your show before it happened, while simultaneously making fun of hipsters for not enjoy your band, would you have responded to it? Would it have been a tragedy then? Clearly, you’re a very self-righteous individual, so please consider adding this gem to your sermon; if you do not want to be criticized, don’t bother attacking entire professions, genres, and scenes just for the sake of defending yourself.

-Dion

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

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

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