Friday, November 28, 2008

However, I am hopeful

Bang! Bang! Official Music Video - The Knux

My friend showed me this video, and it has restored a little hope in pop music. A very catchy song by the alt-hip-hop group. I hope this catches on and brings some good stuff into the bland Top 40.

This is just crap


Brokencyde - Freaxxx (Music Video) from Eat Cake Films on Vimeo.

This is just bad. A new low in pop music. "Why must I show this?", you may ask. I'm showing this to inform the public on complete crap like this, and that we need to find a way to stop the production of talentless douchebags. I think extermination sounds pretty good.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Monty Python Channel on YouTube


Finally, Monthy Python have their own channel on YouTube. In typical Monty Python fashion, they made a video announcing the event, speaking in a rather angry fashion. And these videos will be in clear Hi-def. You gotta love these guys. You really do.

Deerhunter, "Microcastle"




Deerhunter
Microcastle ****1/2

Who is Deerhunter? They are an Atlanta-based band led by Bradford Cox. If you were having a Deerhunter-themed drinking game, take a shot for someone mentioning that Cox suffers from Marfan's Syndrome. Take another shot for someone talking about their short but erratic history, which includes the death of a member, and other rather surreal moments. Take two shots for someone describing them as "outsiders," which is the case, as even though they are one of the more acclaimed indie groups, they still have trouble blending in or getting that universal respect from the indie crowd, which similar bands get. And just get smashed when someone ponders what genre they are. On their Wikipedia page, they are described as the following: noise rock, art rock, psychedelic rock, ambient, shoegaze, post punk. I hear all of those influences, and maybe add a little krautrock, but it's still baffling to decide what genre they're in.

Their new album Microcastle, the follow up to their breakthrough Cryptograms, is just like that. It's a rather baffling album, but it's a beautiful work. It's also sometimes inspiring. The album opens up with "Cover Me (Slowly)," a droning one-minute track that sets the mood of the album, and from the most unlikely influence, Pink Floyd. Maybe I have unwittingly insulted the band in some way. Prog rock is almost like a curse word in the indie world. The first track really sounds like Bowie's "Low." Are they happy now?

It continues with "Agoraphobia," which reminded me of Pavement's later work, and it's an atypical indie rock song, with Cox crooning "Comfort Me" over and over again over a pretty melody, but unlike some indie rock songs which seem to rely on being down, this one makes you feel a little up. "Never Stops" continues with the trend of unconventionality by the band, as once again, a typical indie rock song is turned on its head, with sputtering guitar feedback closing out the song. "Little Kids" also ends this way, as their Pavement song becomes a My Bloody Valentine song. The title track is a quiet ballad that midway through the song becomes a nerdy psychedelic jam, sounding like the Beatles' White Album.

"Calvary Scars" sounds like something the krautrock (experimental German bands from the '70s) band Can would do, a short track with strange swooshing sounds and droning guitars. The next two songs are also like this, as they are short ballads with anti-melody and cryptic lyrics. And since I name-dropped krautrock earlier in this paragraph, the next song is my favorite on the album, "Nothing Ever Happened," a droning six-minute jam that sounds like Pavement did an album of Neu! covers. It's groovy and fun, as the band masters the motorik beat as if they created it. The final songs continue with this post-psychedelic, or freak folk, or New Weird America, or whatever damn genre you want it to be, and it closes off with "Twilight at Carbon Lake," a slow ballad that just beautifully builds up the noise at the end, and it surmises the album perfectly. This album is what it is, a collection of beautiful songs that will confuse you, but inspire you. This doesn't make much sense. Then again this is Deerhunter I am talking about. This band doesn't make much sense.

Another thing that doesn't make much sense are the genres and the band names being name-dropped here. I frequently mention Pavement, and why not? Most indie rock bands nowadays are influenced by Pavement in some way or another. Pavement was very unpretentious, making simple, straightforward rock rather wonderfully. Deerhunter has taken Pavement influence and rebuilt it with new weird textures. It's beautiful stuff, really. Who needs a genre when you have made a great album? Deerhunter have proved that with Microcastle.


"The Stoop Kids are afraid to leave their stoop"

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

New Franz Ferdinand


Tonight: Franz Ferdinand is coming out on January 26th, and I cannot wait. You Could Have It So Much Better was like sex on fire, and I've been watering at the mouth since I saw them live. It's been 3 1/2 years. Seriously. Why wait so long? Anyways, Franz have put up "Ulysess" on their MySpace. This song is the shit, and I am going to be listening to it non-stop now. You better too.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Review of JCVD


JCVD ***
Directed by Mabrouk El Mechri
Starring Jean-Claude Van Damme

OH YOU GOT TO BE KIDDING ME!

No, you don't understand-

OH, I UNDERSTAND COMPLETY! YOU GAVE A JEAN-CLAUDE VAN DAMME MOVIE 3 STARS?

Well, it was a good one?

HOW CAN THAT BE? HE ONLY KNOWS HOW TO DO MARTIAL ARTS.

Well, actually he does act. In fact he was quite good in it, and even gives a very long monologue directly to the audience.

WELL, HE PROBABLY JUST STARRED IN ANOTHER BRAINLESS ACTION MOVIE.

No, not really. If I were to connect to another film with this one, I would connect to 8 1/2.

YOU GOT TO BE KIDDING ME! THAT MOVIE IS ART! THIS IS A VAN DAMME MOVIE! HOW CAN YOU COMPARE A VAN DAMME MOVIE TO MASTRIOANNI MOVIE?

Well, JCVD is obviously far from the standards of 8 1/2, but it has a similar idea. The actor is down on his luck, exhausted by his personal troubles, returning to his dear Belgium, and get holed up a rather existential situation.

EXSISTENTIALISM AND VAN DAMME! NOW I HEARD EVERYTHING!

Well, this is no joke. The plot is actually good as Van Damme ends up into a bank hold-up surrounded by rather maniacal robbers. It's one big meta-film, as Van Damme ends up into an action movie setting. There's also a long tracking shot that deconstructs the workings of a movie set. And we have these Felliniesque fantasy moments at some points in the film.

I LIKE MY FILMS WEIRD AND FULL OF ART. WHY SHOULD I SEE THIS MOVIE?

It's a rather complex character study that will entertain you through out, and gives you a second look at the man himself. So, put all your preconceived notions behind, and just see this movie. This film has unexectedly deep performance by Van Damme, and it gives you a good feeling at the end, as Van Damme has now restarted his life in a way. Something you need to do, you ignorant fool.

UM... OKAY.... I'LL SEE THE MOVIE.

Good boy. I think I convinced you enough.


"Okay Van Damme. We admit, Bloodsport was pretty awesome."

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Oldie but a Goodie; The Promised Land



The Promised Land (1975) ***
Directed by Andrzej Wajda
Starring Daniel Olbrychski, Wojciech Pszoniak, Andrzej Seweryn

A few Sundays ago, I discovered that the Lincoln Center was having a month-long retrospective of one of my favorite directors, Andrzej Wajda. Not only do I enjoy his films, but I feel a sense of national pride in him as he is from Poland, and both my parents are too. His best films were the ones with a political message; Man of Marble, was basically an indictment of the Communist government of Poland, or Ashes and Diamonds, which made a hotel in a no-name town a microcosm for Poland on the last day of World War II. I decided to go see his 1974 epic, The Promised Land, based on the Wladyslaw Reymont novel, and was his first film to be nominated for an Academy Award. I must say, I haven’t been shocked by a film in a long time, and this film effectively did that.
The Promised Land is a period piece, set in the late 1800’s in the industrial century of Lodz, when there was no Polish country but was part of the so-called Congress of Poland, a puppet-state of the Russian Empire. It follows three aristocrats, a Pole, a Jew, and a German, as they pool in money together to open up a cotton mill. Over the film’s two and a half hours, we see gore, sex, and greed. It is a shocking indictment of the capitalistic decadence of the 1800s. The film does a damn good of job of shocking the audience. One notable scene where greed, sex and gore mixing together, was when a businessman confronts an engineer in a turbine room. The engineer is furious over the businessman because the he personally selected the man’s daughter to attend to him at an orgy. A brawl ensues and both men fall into the turbine and are shredded to pieces. The audience groaned in shock in unison. This also shocked me to as I was surprised that Wajda had made a film this graphic. I was used to his films being about true people being oppressed in some way by the government. This film was about the oppressors and their disgusting opulence. The Pole, Karol, was an adulterer and had an illegitimate child; The Jew, Moryc, was sneaky and would be doing backroom deals with others; Ironically, the German, Maks, was probably the only honest man in the world of capitalism. Each of the three men somehow betray their background and any honor they had in pursuit of profits. Karol moves his family from their mansion which was their for generations, to a dainty shack in Lodz. He also lies on while being swore on a picture of the Virgin Mary to the man with whom his wife was cheating on with him (of an important note, the Virgin Mary is of incredibly high importance to Polish Catholics). Moryc two-times another Jewish banker, who himself is an ass-kisser only concerned with profits. Maks’ atrocity is minimal; he is ashamed by his father for not updating his textile. After all the madness of stocks rising and falling, cheating, and betrayal, their factory is burnt down out of revenge and jealousy. Despite the fights and returning to where they were in the first place, the three men remain friends and business partners, looking forward for another endeavor.
The film brought groans and moans and uneasy laughs, but all in all, the film was a solid work by Wajda. I would recommend it to someone who has never seen a Wajda film before, or to someone who is a fan of There Will Be Blood. It has more cynicism towards Poland’s distant past rather than it’s present situation. Ironically, the film can be seen as propaganda, especially in this director’s case. However, the world of industrialism, everything and everyone was dirty. The business men may have looked clean, but deep down inside they were rotten to the core. Appropriately enough, the film ends with an image of man running with a red flag being shot down, a prediction of the future of the nation, and another revolution turning corrupt.

Review of Quantum of Solace




Quantum of Solace **
Directed by Marc Forster
Starring Daniel Craig

Well, you can’t win them all. That’s the lesson I got from this Bond outing. This isn’t a new problem for the Bond series. Roger Moore had a weak second film with the Man with the Golden Gun. Pierce Brosnan too suffered with a sophomore slump. We are not including Sean Connery since he’s the only Bond with the perfect record, Timothy Dalton since he’s the one who sucked out right, and George Lazenby since he only did one.
Now we have Daniel Craig. When the Bond producers announced that they had chose Craig to replace Brosnan, people scratched their heads. There was also an intense backlash from some Bond fans who (wrongfully) felt the Brosnan was the right man for the job. Film geeks knew Craig from his excellent performance in the outstanding British gangster film Layer Cake, and when looking at the film, we know why the producers chose him; He had the right the amount of British wit, he was a classy actor, and not only that, he was a man’s man. He wasn’t too pretty, but he didn’t mope about it. Casino Royale was probably the best post-Connery debut for any Bond, as Craig fit the role like a glove. Not only that, but Bond’s 21st century rival, Jason Bourne, gave him some tips on how to be awesome. The script was great, and kept you on the edge of the seat because Bond became human. We felt for him. Brosnan’s Bond was stoic and at some times robotic. It was a welcome change.
Now onto to the highly anticipated follow up, Quantum of Solace. Have you seen those posters? It’s pretty badass. What about the film? Not so much. While Casino Royale was an incredibly focused film, Solace is a sordid affair. The action sequences are here at an ad nasuem rate, but they feel rushed and predictable. In fact, most of the sequences are borrowed from other Bond films. The motor boat sequence is a knock-off of the infamous sequence in Bayou Country in Roger Moore’s Live and Let Die. There is the billionth airplane/helicopter/weird flying thingy in Bond History. Thank God they didn’t take the ludicrous moment from the Bond movies. We don’t get to see Daniel Craig in clown suit thankfully.
The film’s plot is all over the place, but it mainly focuses of the evil workings of Dominic Green (Mathieu Amalric) as he tries to do something with Bolivia’s water supply. Oh wait, that’s sort of similar to the last Moore film A View to Kill, where Christopher Walken tries to flood California. Now to those who say I digress, let’s compare the two. A View to Kill is even disliked by Moore himself, got that? Yet the evil plan is more evil than Green’s evil plan. California is not even a country, yet It has more political and economic importance than Bolivia. Not to be mean or anything like that, but does the average person cares about the plight of Bolivia? Green’s evil plan would have more importance if it were a major country. Hell, even destroying Canada would scare some people.
Back to the plot being over the place. The film barely touches on the death of Vesper Lynd in the previous film, and that story is only wrapped up in the last minutes of the film. Not only that, to add to the idea of revenge in this film, they make the Bond Girl here, Camille Montes (Olga Kurylenko; a picture perfect Bond girl. An okay performance), with here own revenge saga. This film was supposed to be a continuation of the Bond-Lynd saga, another heartbreaking action film like Royale, yet we get the dispirted Solace. Paul Haggis (Crash) and the other screenwriters have made lots of mistakes with the story, as they try to return to failed formula of the last Brosnan movies. The film also has no memorable scenes. Maybe because we just don’t care about Bolivia. Maybe because of this the climax is rather goofy. Bond struggles to fight Green, which is absurd since this is James Bond fighting a guy who not only is a little environmentalist, but also looks like a cross between Serge Gainsbourg and Roman Polanski. Meanwhile, Camille is struggling to stop a dictator from raping her while the fort they are all fighting in is the process of blowing up. Um… what?
Bond has reverted back to it’s old ways after being progressive with Casino Royale. I still think Daniel Craig a great Bond, and I really like Marc Forster’s direction and staging, but the plot has get with the program. I don’t want to see the talented actors go to waste. So let’s hope that Bond 23 will kick ass. I mean, nobody was confident that Casino Royale was going to be good.

Ryan Adams and the Cardinals, Cardinology



Ryan Adams and the Cardinology
Cardinology **

Ever since 1994, Ryan Adams has one of the most impressive résumés in the music world. In the 90’s, he was one of the founding members of the seminal alt-country band Whiskeytown. After Whiskeytown, he began his expansive solo career, releasing albums at least once a year, and in 2005, he released 3 albums worth of music. In this decade alone, he has released 10 full length albums. One year he wrote over 200 songs. So basically Ryan Adams is the Lil Wayne of indie rock.
Unlike Lil Wayne, Ryan Adams’ worked is marred by inconsistency. Only one of his albums, Heartbreaker, received uninamous praise. Every album he has released has their lovers and their haters. So it is so hard to measure Ryan Adams’ talent and abilities if he is so divisive as an artist. However, I have managed to not fit into either of the “Love Ryan Adams” or “Hate Ryan Adams” groups. Some of his work is actually great, while some of his other stuff is just plain annoying. Cardinology, his fourth with his backing band The Cardinals, is just plain annoying. It’s an album that somehow manages to capture his notorious outbursts.
The album starts off with mellow albeit boring “Born into a Light”. That, and the next two songs continue to bore, with uninteresting melodies and lyrics. It’s music that doesn’t move you in any way. The fourth song, “Magick”, is where thing just get annoying. Okay, Ryan Adams has a great voice. Unfortunately he sounds too much like an American Bono. And this song not only is annoying, but sounds exactly like a U2 song. “You're like a missile strike/Government goes underground/Warhead on legs“, he yelps. He has to be reading Bono‘s songbook. It’s the only explanation for those lyrics. The song has all the U2 mannerism and clichés. Who knows, maybe those backing vocals were done by the Edge.
The album continues bordering on the mundane and the boring. After the failed attempt of “Magick” to spruce up the album, the next song “Cobwebs”, is indie rock that is both boring and annoying, and still U2esque. I can’t take him seriously if he’s trying to be a country Bono. And I can’t take him seriously enough with these depressing songs. “Crossed Out Name” is just depressing as he moans over an acoustic guitar. And that depressive singer songwriter moan continues with “Evergreen” and the album closer “Stop” How are we supposed to believe that Ryan Adams is depressed? This isn’t Ryan Adams circa 1994, when he came out of a broken home. This is Ryan Adams 2008: Living in New York, appearing in the biggest music magazines, and getting the girls. I can’t help but laugh when he sings. I feel nothing from this album.


The Battle of Britrock




Bloc Party
Intimacy - ****

Kaiser Cheifs
Off with their Heads - ***1/2

Just so you know, over a decade ago, the British charts were being ruled by bands who were part of the so-called "Britpop" movement. Basically, these bands were English to the core, crooked teeth and all. In the summer of 1995, an event that defined the movement happened: the Battle of Britpop. Blur vs. Oasis; South England vs. North England; Art-schools vs. Blue-collars. Both of their singles were to drop on the same day, and it caused so much of a cultural fervor that even the BBC ran news stories about it. Fast-forward 13 years later to 2008, and we have British bands every which way. Like their Britpop counterparts, they are truly English, have no success in the States (except for Franz Ferdinand) and two bands have released an album in the same week. It's not on the same day, but it's close enough. Unlike Blur and Oasis, who were two bands on the social and cultural spectrum, the two bands here, Kaiser Chiefs and Bloc Party, are more like two peas in a pod. So don't expect Ricky Wilson to say that Kele Okereke should get AIDS and die.

So which band made the better album? Let's look at our competitors:

In the blue corner, hailing from London, it's Bloc Party, fronted by Okereke. They smashed onto the Britrock scene with the excellent debut, Silent Alarm, which features jittery riffs and electronic soundscapes.

Their next album, A Weekend in the City, was, in this critic's opinion, a glossy, polished step down from Alarm. Now they have released Intimacy, a solid effort by the band. The album features jagged rock riffing with hip-hop beats. The album grabs you into its world with the fast and quick "Eros" and continues with the funky single "Mercury."

The band is focused with this work and is probably the most focused band in the Britrock scene right now. They take songs with the classic verse-chord-verse structure and add a little something to the songs, such as "Signs," which features an excellent use of synths and percussion. Other songs mix in techno beats, while others are just plain intense three-minute jams. Is it all right to Bloc Party rock now? A few weeks back I said to a friend that Bloc Party was the "New Wave Coldplay."

A Weekend in the City to me was a soft effort where they were treading soft rock territories. Fortunately, Bloc Party has returned to the focused intensity that made them hit makers in England in the first place.

Now on to their rivals. Sort of.

In the red corner … The Pride of Leeds, Kaiser Chiefs! They return with Off with their Heads, a much better effort than their predecessor Yours Truly, Angry Mob, an album which Damon Albarn of Blur mentioned specifically as a poor album from a young, promising band. Their debut Employment was a good album, even if it was a bit Beach Boys-ish rather than being Kinks-esque. Heads is not only better than YTAM but also than Employment. The only problem with the album is originality. The band doesn't do many new things with the tunes they have. However, unlike some bands who released albums of the same stuff, the Kaiser Chiefs do it well. The songs are fun and jovial. Songs like "Never Miss a Beat" and "Addicted to Drugs" are full of life and catchy. Unlike Bloc Party, however, Kaiser Chiefs are not as focused, and the songs sometimes show it. But what the hell? I said these songs were fun, right? So why be focused when you can make a good rock album? Thankfully the Kaiser Chiefs have bounced back in a big way, and let's hope they continue to move forward. They have good momentum now.

So who is the victor after these 15 rounds? Bloc Party wins in a unanimous decision! That is until Franz Ferdinand release Tonight in January and pretty much use their Scottish powers to pile-drive the competiton like they did with their debut and follow-up. Okay, I went a little overboard right there. Just enjoy these albums for now until the next gang of British rockers can come and take the title as the King of Britrock.

Review of W.


W. **
Directed by Oliver Stone
Starring Josh Brolin

George W. Bush. Saying that name will certainly anger most people. One way or another, somebody has something against Bush. He is easily the world's most controversial person right now, as his policies have caused a wide range of protests from around the world, whether they're from an enemy of the United States or from an ally.

Now there is a movie about the man, W., directed by liberal firebrand Oliver Stone. This is his third film that is about a president in some way. The other two were JFK and Nixon, films filled with paranoia and conspiracy theories. They may have veered off into madness, but they were entertaining nonetheless. So that must mean W. is an entertaining, conspiracy theory hatching biopic, right? Wrong. W. is an indecisive film, veering between a serious drama and a silly comedy, with disdain and sympathy for Bush. W. also shows us what has become of Stone, a director who has lost all confidence in his directing. Back in the day, even Stone's failures had more cojones than the average failure.

What is wrong with W.? Is it the fact that it was rushed? It was only filmed a few months ago, and the same goes for the script written by Stanley Weiser (Wall Street). He obviously didn't have enough time to build up on some things, and it leaves viewers wanting more. He doesn't completely go into Bush's life and the controversies surrounding it. He only touches upon moments of Bush's life, when he could have dug deep into his mind and into the minds of people around him. I get the feeling that Weiser really wanted to imply that Condoleezza Rice has a crush on Bush. Why didn't we get to see more?

When the film does go deep into a character's mind, it's only the obvious things. For example, when Bush is briefed on the Iraq War, Dick Cheney and Karl Rove tell him about the vast oil fields in Iraq and manipulate Bush, while Colin Powell tries to talk some sense into him. We know that already. Cheney and Rove are the true policy makers of this administration. Powell tried his best to show Bush the right way. Add that to an attempt of trying to show us W.'s Oedipal battle with H.W., and you have a messy story.

Another problem is the film's tone. It can't decide whether it wants to be a comedy or a drama. Tense moments break down out of unintentional humor; funny moments don't get their humor out. Also, the film can't decide what position to take on the man. It's as if the film is taking on Bush's mantra of "In history, we'll all be dead." This is not the same Stone that once suggested in JFK that there were several teams shooting at Kennedy in Dealy Plaza.

I am also going to have to accuse the filmmakers for using Apple's Garage Band to score the film. Tense moments can't be taken seriously, because they have the wrong tone to the score and feel like they are taken from a cheesy TV movie. I would like to go up to the producers of this film and tell them that they shouldn't have sped up the production of a biopic of a man who is at the center of nearly every global controversy.

There are some okay, if not good things in the film. The acting is good and does a good job of keeping it serious. Add that and the excellent make up work (one of the very few times I will ever notice make up in a film), and the actors become perfect doppelgangers. Josh Brolin does a perfect impression of W., even though at some points, it's a bit silly. Richard Dreyfuss and Toby Jones, playing Cheney and Rove respectively, manage to get the two's manipulative stillness perfectly. The other actors get their characters' personalities right, but the performances might have had more power to them if Stone had more time to direct. Stone is a master of manipulation through films. His use of montage is beyond that of other modern directors. Unfortunately, we only see one true moment of his trademark use of montage. It is of Jesus matched with Bush at an AA meeting. Real obvious there, Ollie. Bush found Jesus.

Where are the scandal, controversy and untold stories of Bush's life? Not in this movie. In W. we only get the part of Bush's life we knew already, the stories that we heard about ad naseum in the media. If Stone and Weiser had more time with the film, and maybe released it after election, maybe we would have had a film with scandals and intense conflicts. With all the material that they could have come up with, W. could have been the year's best film. Instead we get this rushed attempt before Election Day, trying to cash in on election fever. A forgettable film on an unforgettable president.

TV on the Radio, "Dear Science"


TV on the Radio
Dear Science *****

For the past 25 years, there has been constant bickering from aging rock stars and their listeners that music is not the same anymore. It is always the same kind of complaint, along the lines of "There is no good music anymore," or "It's not the same as it was." They always rail against what is on the radio or on TV. My response to them: You have been looking in the wrong places. For once, just venture to the left of the dial where young and exciting bands are tuning in, rocking out and dropping out. Aging rock star David Bowie knows this. He's become a patron of many young rock bands, like TV on the Radio. Bowie even sang on their previous album, the excellent Return to Cookie Mountain. That should be enough to silence modern rock's biggest critics.

TV on the Radio is one of the finest bands out there right now. Their debut album, Desperate Youth, Blood Thirsty Babes, highlighted a band trying their hardest to reshape the boundaries of rock. At first it made little noise in the indie community, until it unexpectedly won the Shortlist Prize, beating out favorites Franz Ferdinand and Wilco. They immediately became one of indie's biggest acts almost over night. Their follow-up, Return to Cookie Mountain, showed that they were not a one-trick pony, as the album was filled with distorted guitars over steady beats, with Tunde Adebimpe's powerful bellow paired with the freakish falsetto of Kyp Malone. Cookie Mountain seemed like TVOTR was preparing us for a new sound, like the Talking Heads' Fear of Music was a prequel to Remain in Light. It turns out that Cookie Mountain was a mere experiment, and their third album Dear Science is the scientific law. They have managed to construct a new, fresh rock sound. If their previous albums were inaccessible to the average listener, then Science is perfect for the mainstream listener. It's intelligent and accessible rock.

Dear Science is an eerily beautiful masterpiece that pulls you in, shakes you up and throws you out. When you finish listening to the album, you will walk away a different person. The album is filled with pounding guitars, triumphant horns and brilliant vocal work by Adebimpe and Malone. Some of the songs have a pleasant beauty to them, like "Stork & Owl," where hip-hop beats are paired with plucking violins.

Other songs beat you up on the inside, like the opener "Halfway Home." Some are just plain fun and funky. The album's first single, "Golden Age," is a Prince-esque jam, where Malone's falsetto is paired perfectly with Adebimpe's baritone. Unlike their previous songs, their vocals are not driving to extremes, and they sound great today, even sexy. It's like a duet between Barry White and Thom Yorke, a song you can groove to and think about at the same time.

Probably the best thing about the album is its sound. It's one of those few albums that manage to sound great anywhere. It doesn't matter what kind of speakers you're playing the album from. You could even make your own speakers, and the album's crisp production would sound great. It can be played at any party, whether it is being held by existential philosophers or the jockiest of jocks. It's an album that will fit in perfectly with any surrounding.

TV on the Radio has possibly made the year's best album with Dear Science. It might not even have any competition, as no album this year will sound as advanced and brilliant as Dear Science. With this album, TVOTR has entered the pantheon with the finest artists of the decade.

In "Golden Age," they proclaim: "The age of miracles/The age of sound/Well, there's a golden age/Comin' round, Comin' round, Comin' round!" It turns out they are right. For the past few years, indie bands, ranging from Radiohead to LCD Soundsystem to M.I.A., have been making brilliant, forward- thinking music. This album is their proclamation. The horns sound glorious, and the songs have a positive vibe to them, despite the dark lyrics. It's as if the band has returned from battle as heroes. With this album, the Golden Age has begun, and all are welcome to join.

First off: Unknown Component

My first review for the Montclarion.

This guy Keith Lynch makes music by himself, and yeah, he sucks. Apparently, he's an elitist douche, too. I guess this is karma right here.

Unknown Component
In Direct Communication **

Since the beginning of the MySpace age of music, there have been thousands of musicians who have utilized the Internet to their advantage. Artists who would have never dreamed of playing shows at big venues can now be discovered by a music executive hundreds of miles away from them. It is a positive thing for young musicians everywhere, but with every online success story, there are still unsigned artists who still slave away on MySpace pages and their personal blogs.

Keith Lynch is one of those artists. He is a singer-songwriter from Iowa City, and he releases his music under the name of Unknown Component. Lynch loves playing music; his output proves it, as he has released five albums in five years. No small feat, especially in this day and age. However, like many upcoming artists, he lacks the resources, as his latest album, In Direct Communication, shows.

The album fails to showcase Lynch's talent, as his tunes sound flat and generic. Lyrically, he brings nothing new to the table, as they are the same-old, post-Elliot-Smith lyrics that so many singer-songwriters have failed to master. Example: in "Somewhere a Light has Gone Out," he sings, "Someone is tearing me down/Somewhere a light has gone out/There's no relief from what I've seen/From what I've seen, there's no relief." It's the same mistake that befalls many young songwriters. They have the idea that depressing lyrics are the best because they showcase emotion and artistic ability. Lynch is like many young songwriters who have looked up to Morrissey, Kurt Cobain, Elliot Smith and the like and say, "If they can do it, I can do it."

The problem is, those three legends had a unique flavor to their lyrics. Lynch's lyrics have no flavor or style to them, and they just become forgettable. Note that the song from above may or may not be a reference to the Smiths' "There is a Light That Never Goes Out." Not a good sign if you're trying to break from the mold.

In Direct Communication's main problem is its lack of originality. The songs try to sound different, but they lack an identity. "It's a Fine Line" is one of those songs where it tries to mix different styles of rock music. For a while, it sounds like it's going to be something new and fresh, but it comes out old and stale.

Many of the songs here are like that. Part of the reason they are unoriginal is because of their production. Lynch records his own music, without a band or any other backup. When you first hear the drums on the album, the listener knows immediately that it is Lynch fiddling around on a drum machine. If Lynch had used a band, his songs would have most definitely sounded more lively. Without it, In Direct Communication is just an album full of ideas, and not music.

In Direct Communication highlights an artist with financial shortcomings, not musical abilities. Unfortunately, Lynch will probably spend another five years making generic alt-rock with a flat sound.

If he makes the same technical mistakes as with In Direct Communication in his next album, then Lynch and his Unknown Component project will probably become another MySpace failure, the new breed of musicians struggling in the harsh world of the music industry. One can only hope that this doesn't happen to him.

Lynch is someone who loves music, but all musicians need to learn from their mistakes. He has made five albums of songs like In Direct Communication. He needs to grow, and maybe he can become a MySpace success story. Good Luck, Mr. Lynch.

I'm Back!!!

Whoa! What a hiatus!

School has been great, as I'm loving the Montclair Film Program. They are all cool people.

Okay, enough about that. I'll tell more things later.

I've been writing for the Montclarion, and surprisingly, I have mostly written music reviews. Yeah, I know shocking. But I do have a review for W., and and review for Quantum of Solace which is just gonna lie around doing nothing since somebody else called Quantum before. Anywho, I also have a very cynical review for Ryan Adams and the Cardinals' Cardinology that has been on the drawing board doing nothing, and I don't feel like making it longer (I can't find a way to make it so). These posts are coming soon guys. Enjoy!