Patrick Stump Announces Solo Album Thursday, Jan 28 2010 

On the day Fall Out Boy announced their indefinite hiatus, I was the saddest camper around. Thankfully, I got to see them three times on their last tour and was at their very last headlining show.

And while Pete, Joe, and Andy have been keeping themselves busy (Andy especially so), FOB’s singer/songwriter has yet to announce any future plans… until now.

After drastically changing his website last week, (and apparently losing a lot of weight) he updated PatrickStump.com today with a new logo and a video (which can also be viewed below) that features him playing every instrument from the cowbell to the trumpet (and the drums he originally joined FOB to play). The incredibly funky new track is accompanied by a message from Patrick:

I’m working on an album.
I’ll be writing/producing/performing everything myself.

Stay tuned.

Color me incredibly stoked. Call me a fanboy if you must, but Stump has been a major inspiration for me since middle school, and I love everything Fall Out Boy have ever done. This is going to be my most anticipated release for a while.

-Evan

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Recommendation – Regina Spektor’s Soviet Kitsch Wednesday, Jan 13 2010 

I know I’m late to the party on this, but DAMN, is Regina Spektor amazing. I’ve recently been perusing her discography, and there’s nothing I seem to enjoy more than her 2004 album Soviet Kitsch. I don’t know what’s regularly considered her best album, or what I’m SUPPOSED to be falling head-over-heels for, but I’ve fallen completely in love with this.

From the tenderness of “Carbon Monoxide” to the fury of “Your Honor,” Spektor here shows so many sides of her piano-based anti-folk songwriting genius. She alludes to Fitzgerald and Hemingway in “Poor Little Rich Boy,” and it feels almost like an afterthought, it’s so casual. But it’s all delivered so deliberately. It’s brilliance in the same vein as Ben Folds (though Spektor has a very different style, if the comparison still makes sense).

She’s incredible, but in particular on Soviet Kitsch. The whole album is addictive. It’s beautiful, it’s nasty, it’s powerful, it’s light and fun. I’m honestly completely taken aback by this. Again, I know I’m late to the party, but get this now.

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

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

Review – Bob Dylan – Together Through Life Thursday, Dec 17 2009 

One of the things I enjoy least about Bright Eyes are the Conor Oberst devotees who say things that don’t make any sense, calling him “the voice of a generation” and “the next Bob Dylan.” I could write a doctoral dissertation on how both these assertions are wrong, but instead I will spare Oberst (who I enjoy) and argue that we don’t even need a new Dylan, because the one we have still works just fine, thank you.

It's alright, Ma, it's only aging

On April 28, 2009, Dylan released Together Through Life, a collection of 10 bluesy songs cowritten with The Grateful Dead’s Rob Hunter. The album is sonically a trip down memory lane; the songs drift breezily through 1950’s blues and rock ‘n’ roll, all framed by David Hidalgo’s romantic accordion playing. “Romantic” is kind of a cop-out adjective, but it’s the perfect word not just for the accordion but for the album itself: it is decidedly lighter, both musically and lyrically, than 2006’s Modern Times, and it only further proves that Bob Dylan can still fulfill the role of Bob Dylan like only Bob Dylan could. He foregoes the meditations that have peppered his last three studio albums, instead opting for a more lively, carefree approach both to living and songwriting. The lyrics are a far cry from the surrealism that characterized the best of Dylan’s past work, and are even further removed from his iconic “finger-pointing” songs. Dylan seems to have embraced not only the political world in which he lives, but also the fact that it isn’t the politics that are important. In “It’s All Good,” he smokily croons, “Big politician telling lies/Restaurant kitchen, all full of flies/Don’t make a bit of difference, don’t see why it should,” a sentiment that back in the day would have made Greenwich Village folksters even angrier than electric guitars.

It is this sentiment that makes this album so excellent, and why it has landed itself a spot on my list of the top ten albums of 2009. Instead of speaking for anyone, Dylan once again speaks for himself. He revels in the fact that he is still alive but is sneakily mournful, never once forgetting that he’s old and getting older. If anyone else had written “I’m lost in the crowd/all my tears are gone,” it wouldn’t be as significant as it is coming from an old man whose last decade was characterized by the duende of having to accept mortality. He’s done with being sorrowful; this album is a testament to that. He finishes the stanza: “All I have and all I know/Is this dream of you/Which keeps me living on,” which is exactly what we all need to hear. Here is a man whose well of sadness has dried up, someone who no longer is king of the world and who no longer has the ability to galvanize throngs of adoring fans, bitter former fans, and bemused music journalists. Even though he’s lived a long, exhausting, difficult life, Dylan’s still got his priorities straight. This is an album about love, an album by a man who clearly understands all of our most intimate issues, problems, gripes, and pains, and who still says, “it’s all good” when you have love. Is the album perfect? No. But if it were, it wouldn’t be as charmingly Bob, as devilishly Dylan, as it is.

Score: 7/10

-David

2010: The Year of the Black Rainbow Wednesday, Dec 16 2009 

It’s easy to make fun of prog-rockers Coheed and Cambria. I mean, really? A sci-fi space-prog-opera spanning five albums, multiple series of comic books, as well as spin-off projects that sometimes are completely tangential and seem absolutely absurd.

All that absurdity aside, they’ve really rewarded those fans who’ve stuck through with them this far. They’ve been my favorite band since I was 12 years old, so you can imagine my joy when, last week, the band released an update on the release of their fifth album – a prequel to the current story (again, too complicated to explain here) that would bring the story of Coheed and Cambria full circle.

Granted, I’m ecstatic. I mean, we’re talking FAVORITE BAND here. But here’s the thing: their last release, in my opinion, was pretty underwhelming. 2007’s Good Apollo, I’m Burning Star IV, Volume Two: No World For Tomorow was heavy on the production and less so on the quirky songwriting that had made their previous three albums so explorable. While still a solid release, it wasn’t the band I had come to love over the previous years. Since then, I’ve been biding my time, faith in my heroes a little dashed, but not destroyed. Their Neverender concert series was among the coolest things I’d ever heard, but it wasn’t new ‘Heed.

And here we go: Counting down to April 2010 (birthday present for me!) and the release of their fifth full-length, Year of the Black Rainbow. In addition to the album, they’ll be releasing a 300-page novel (prose, not graphic, as is usually the case with Claudio Sanchez & Co.) explaining the story of Coheed and Cambria in detail- an interesting addition at least. We can only hope that it’s a return to form and quality for the band, and, if so, it should be one of the best albums of next year. Consider it my most anticipated.

-Evan