URGH! A Music Blog

I Bless The Rains!

Posted in Dance,Rock by M on January 29, 2007

URGH 80s Song of the Week

“China” by Red Rockers
Sort of a less embarrassing version of Toto‘s “Africa”
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Hip-Hop Hype Men

Posted in Hip-Hop by M on January 26, 2007

The NOVA Report provides a vital public service by ranking the hype men of hip-hop.

Read the whole list—our reporter lists five luminaries (and one honorable mention) who have sweetened the tracks they appear on, all the while embarrassing themselves in just the right ways. Here are some highlights:

  • “You may not have been the label’s first choice for the record, but your skilled friend/cousin would have it no other way.”
  • “One sure sign of a good hype man: his solo album sucks ass.”
  • Crunchy Black is like your retarded cousin you move up, and pitch underhanded to in the backyard game of whiffleball.”

A man playing whiffleball.  Photo by Aaron Webb.

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I Love I Love Music!

Posted in Music Reviews,Nick Cave,Tom Waits by M on January 18, 2007

I Love Music is back!

We featured this Craig’s List-esque music discussion board back in September, but it tragically started to sputter, then fade out completely in November. I was crushed!

But ILX came back January 3rd, and is now back to answer important questions: like Nick Cave vs Tom Waits!

Who are these mullahs? Just random jerks from the Internet, like yours truly. But the ILX Google ranking is high, making every one of their decisions correct! Decisions like this one:

Tom Waits: three notes over four decades.

Nick Cave: one suit ever.

I need not say more.

A crude drawing of Tom Waits by Toothpaste For Dinner

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Random Rules!

Posted in Dance,iPod,Pop by M on January 13, 2007

High-profile blogger Paul Ford cuts mercilessly into the joys of bad taste. His unspoken target? The Onion AV Club’s Random Rules!

The structure of the argument:

  1. I, the author, am an extraordinarily intelligent and cool person;
  2. But I do listen to music that is considered to be shit;
  3. However, this music (pick one):
    • is actually good, and you, dear reader, are too much of a snob too enjoy it; or
    • is not actually good, but despite my impeccable taste I deign to listen to it for amusement.
  4. In either case I am awesome.
  5. Deerhoof.

A look at the page for Random Rules all but validates Ford’s mockery of the formula. Ford also rips into the lack of women participating in this process and the fey habits of, um, music dweebs with silly facial hair.

Random Rules has had some female victims. Tegan has done it. So has Jenny Lewis. Then again, so has some random actor from a sitcom I’ve never heard of.

I am fortunate enough that my iPod is filled with dance and rap compilations that I have paid almost no attention to. If I like one track out of 24 songs, they all go in. Because of this any use of “Shuffle Songs” on my part leads to head scratching and the words, “I’ve never heard of these people before.” There is no delight, no embarrassment. Just indefensibly useless music.

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Whores With No Name

Posted in Rock by M on January 12, 2007

Hey kids! That Band You Thought Was Neil Young is back! Featuring a special guest from That Band You Thought Was Weezer!

That’s right: America the band is stirring interest in their new album Here & Now using two methods.

The first is to attach a second disc featuring new, live recordings of the only America songs people care about! Besides “Horse With No Name”, you get to hear (all over again) “Tin Man!” “Lonely People!” And, uh, “Muskrat Love” (which I was willing to pretend they never popularized).

But beware! These live tracks aren’t from a concert; they’re from a studio session on XM Radio. This probably means low wattage performances and endless chattering from the musicians. Genius reinterpretation of these tracks is far from guaranteed.

The second method? Special guest stars from nineties bands! From the press release:

Their new studio album is a fresh blast of classic Americana shaped by the contemporary sensibilities of producers Adam Schlesinger (Fountains Of Wayne) and James Iha (Smashing Pumpkins) and features guests, Ryan Adams, Ben Kweller, Ira Elliot and Matthew Caws (Nada Surf) and Jim James and Patrick Hallahan (My Morning Jacket), Stephen Bishop and Mark Rozzo (Maplewood).

Sorry, Ben Kweller is on my list of names to always laugh at. For no reason, really. And sure, Nada Surf deserved more respect than they received, but don’t tell me your MP3 copy of “Popular” doesn’t have another band’s name on it.

If anything, this lineup reminds me of the Bob Dylan 30th Anniversary Concert in the early nineties, during which all our favorite decaying rock legends circle jerked their guitars through a rendition of “My Back Pages.” See Tom Petty and Neil Young fellate a microphone together while Clapton and Harrison limply thrust their phallic instruments towards center stage! This was 15 years ago, and they’ve only gotten moldier.

America, just as elderly as Dylan’s devotees, has brought together an all-new lineup of recently popular rock musicians. This time around its in tribute to a seventies band, but something like a Concert for Rivers may come sooner than we think. Be prepared….

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Scherzinger Humdinger

Posted in Hip-Hop by M on January 6, 2007

I wrote myself a note a few weeks back for a future URGH! entry.

Whatever that Diddy/P Diddy/Puffy/Puff Daddy/ song is, it’s funny.

Diddy featuring Nicole Scherzinger“Come To Me”

  • Get lyrics
  • Ridicule.

You know what? It’s a new year. Puffy can ridicule himself just fine.

PS: Who the hell is Nicole Scherzi—

Oh, it’s a Pussycat Doll.

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Xiu To A Kill

Posted in Xiu Xiu by M on January 6, 2007

[A text message exchange between your two authors on October 2, 2006, concerning the cover of Xiu Xiu‘s The Air Force.]

The album cover of Xiu Xiu's The Air Force

M: Xiu Xiu played the crying Jesus card! Is this a shark jump?

Fleser: Actually, I have the album and haven’t listened to it yet, because I just stare at the cover. That’s how much I like it.

M: All right, but after bleeding Jesus there’s nowhere to go but sad kittens on the next cover.

Fleser: You forgot bleeding kittens.

A fake album cover for Xiu Xiu, featuring sad kittens in a box.

Chrismukkah Is Canceled!

Posted in Pop,The OC by M on January 5, 2007

The OC Soundtrack, Mix 1

Sayonara, OC!

The horny teen drama has been canceled, leaving me without my much-needed Peter Gallagher fix!

More importantly, without The OC, what happens to the constellation of pretty-boy, power-pop, emo-licious music groups looking for television exposure? Rolling Stone’s Lauren Gitlen above goes into detail about The OC’s commitment to up-and-coming artists. I knew musicians were constantly making guest appearances, but I had no idea how far this dedication went. There have been no less than six OC Soundtracks!

Gitlin mentions a few other shows that employ pop musicians, but is there anything short of a Dawson’s Creek prequel that can keep teen music on TV alive? MTV has long since abdicated their duties to music on television. The WB is now some mutated Tyra Banks network. Even The Garden State Soundtrack Tour is now a thing of the past.

The moral of this story? Where can I turn to find music that will endear me to 16 year old girls?

Can you hear me now, David Bowie?

Posted in Uncategorized by fleser on January 4, 2007

After surprising us all with their Godspeed You! Black 1980’s Prom sound, and forcing me to quickly (and unregrettably) declare their debut album the best release of 2004, the Arcade Fire is finally coming back, sporting an enigmatic teaser site for their new album, Neon Bible. There’s really nothing going on: basically, just call 1-866-NEON-BIBLE to hear their new song, if you can hear any part of it whatsoever. The recording sounds like it was produced by Alexander Graham Bell while kloofing in Mammoth Cave, so good luck.

Dialing a toll-free number in order to hear a new song? I guess that could be construed as novel, but I think it’s just annoying. Are they being this difficult and esoteric on purpose? They seemingly have it all: regular airplay on mainstream “alternative” radio, rabid allegiance from the O.C. set (for what that’s worth), and the new barometer of cool — the David Bowie seal of approval.

Not to be outdone, TV on the Radio decided to use His Bowieness as well, this time in the honorable post of singing not-all-that-audible background vocals on their song “Province.” Sure, it’s the best track on the CD, but it’s not like it’s Bowie that makes it golden. It’s conspicuous consumption on an already bloated album (yes, I named it the tenth best release of the year, but had it been a little more streamlined, it might have been number one).

So who’s the next it-band to use Il Bowie? The predictions for 2007 begin now!

(for the record, I would totally lose my shit if he chose Xiu Xiu.)

Some punk-ass new guy vomits yet another year-end list

Posted in Music Reviews by fleser on January 3, 2007

Hey. I’ve never written on here before, so feel free to ignore everything I write. But here’s my Top 20 of 2006.



Probably the best Icelandic ballet that came out this year.

Well, it’s not for everyone. But these songs, especially “Teach Me Sweetheart” and “Benton Harbor Blues,” reveal deeper emotions than their usual “operas by 5-year-olds” idiom.

Way better than the traditional side project offering.

Clangy, shrieky, obnoxious; ambitious, cinematic, gorgeous.


I love that Jim O’Rourke appears to me in some form or another every year, like the Virgin Mary in a grilled cheese sandwich. This year, he came to me in the form of a lost School House Rock ditty about the Ten Commandments.

The orchestration is so spot-on, making Matthew Herbert the man of whom I’m the most jealous this year. Why can’t I do that?


Music geek moment of the year: watch the accompanying DVD to see how they recorded “Let’s Not Wrestle Mt. Heart Attack.” Any band with two drummers automatically rules.

I really wrestled with if I should put Zach Condon this high on the list; the songs sometimes run into each other, and, you know, he’s got a lot to learn. But this release was unlike anything else I’d heard this year, and I just can’t put it away.

The last album, Guero, sucked. Royally. And I wasn’t expecting to like this one, either, but Godrich put such a spacy sheen on it that I couldn’t stay away. The first six or seven tracks are just flawless. And I love how he blatantly rips off Serge Gainsbourg in “The Horrible Fanfare.”

I actually don’t like The Shining (the “proper” album). I think it’s boring. But these 31 tracks kept my head nodding for a good part of this year. I read a review that referred to this as hip hop’s Loveless, but I’m not sure I’m feeling that. I feel like it’s hip hop’s Alien Lanes, proving to us that, indeed, a minute and a half is a perfectly valid length of time for musical perfection.

Me, to my sister, this last summer: “Why the fuck are you listening to Norah Jones and the Dixie Chicks and all that bullshit? Just listen to Neko Case. Now *that’s* a voice of power and musicality.”

A conversation in the office, a couple weeks ago, not initiated by me: “Why the fuck are these assholes listening to Norah Jones and the Dixie Chicks and all that bullshit? Just listen to Neko Case”, etc.

I mean, try *not* dancing all over the house to these ice-cold songs. It’s like The Matrix produced Trans Am’s Future World. Finally, a release that makes it sound kind of like it’s 2006.

Kind of slept-on, don’t you think? I mean, this album takes the best of everything that’s come before it in their catalog, and made a lean, hyper-focused work devoid of the bloat and wank that bogs down so much hip hop these days (extended J Dilla eulogy notwithstanding). In fact, I’m barely considering this release to be a hip hop album. The Roots have lapped themselves; instead of imitating the trailblazers, they’ve begun to write new rules.

When I opened the liner notes, I was confronted with my dream team of musicians. I mean, Van Dyke Parks? Jim O’Rourke? Steve Albini? Bill Callahan? Come the fuck on. Yeah, yeah, it’s the year’s most divisive release. And if you don’t like it, I don’t expect you to anytime in the near future. But maybe you should do what Ms. Newsom did, and take a listen to _Song Cycle_ by Van Dyke Parks. Or maybe just pull out some Mahler. Sometimes music needs color; I, for one, am ready to take a little break from the three-chord riff.

Xiu Xiu and Deerhoof, two vastly different but inextricably linked acts, both release albums at the pace of roughly one per year (Xiu Xiu being slightly more prolific with various EP’s and side projects). Sometimes this doesn’t work very well in Xiu Xiu’s favor; their last couple albums, while increasingly commercially successful, seemed to fall into the rut of Jamie Stewart’s “I’m-deeply-disturbed-and-I-own-every-Factory-Records-release” vibe. But this year’s effort is their best since their debut, 2002’s Knife Play. I still don’t understand how they make such disparate influences as Lou Harrison, Joy Division, and Metal Machine Music so infectiously catchy.

This album came out early this year, but I decided upon first listen that it was the album of the year, and I subsequently dared every release thereafter to prove me wrong. Much has been made of Dan Bejar’s meta-songwriting: the self-referentiality, the blatant theft of melodic and lyrical snippets from Willie Nelson, Fleetwood Mac, R.E.M., etc., seemingly impenetrable plotlines. But really, these words just work well together; one can just enjoy their sounds if preferred. This release is the culmination of what Destroyer has been hinting at for years.

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