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Album Review: Nashville (Josh Rouse)

September 8, 2008

I love good singer-songwriters.  I think they’re fantastic.  However my one common complaint is that the songs often end up dull.  Repetitious.  Boring.  You know, using the same 5 chords and changing the strum pattern.  Or doing the opposite: using the same strum pattern and changing the chords used.  These people rely too much on lyrics and not enough on the music and delivery.  It’s frustrating.  Like Connor Oberst.  He has some great lyrics.  But he can’t sing.  He sounds like a dying goat.  And his compositions rarely vary within an album.

 

So when I heard about Josh Rouse, I was doubtful.  He was a singer-song writer named Josh.  Do you know how many of them there are?  Josh Radin, Josh Kelly, Joss Stone- whoops.

 

Anyways, it was with reluctance that I investigated Josh Rouse.  It was with gusto and enthusiasm that I bought his album Nashville and then Country Mouse, City House.  He has beautiful lyrics that are accentuated by a simple, but enjoyable voice.  Most importantly, he doesn’t let the melody underwhelm the lyrics.  There’s more to it than just chords.  There’s a second guitar part often times, layers of his voice, some simple drums.  And it all flows so naturally.

Nashville was a great introduction to him.  It’s very focused on a particular sound (quiet & wintry but somehow upbeat) yet varies within that sound.  It’s The Night Time is probably the best song on the album, it builds very well, but doesn’t overdo it.

Another great song, is the muted Sad Eyes.  

I’d recommend ignoring the video and just listening to the song.  It’s a House fan tribute video, so unless you want a laugh, hit play and walk away.

 

In short, Nashville is a quiet, happy, and beautiful album worthy of fans of Ryan Adams and Mason Jennings.

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How To Become A Sports Fan, Pt. 2

August 29, 2008

So you picked a sport, congratulations!  You are on the journey of becoming a man sports fan.  The next step is to pick a team.  This is a very complicated step and requires much thought, analysis, luck, and a spinner.

There are several methods to picking.  Some will garner you the respect of others.  Some will make you hated but also make you look like a winner.  You must pick what is right for you.

First type of picking: Geographical.  This is really quite simple.  Pick the team closest to you.  Or the one that has the easiest access to you.  The problem is, this does not guarantee a successful year for you.   Yes, you will have the respect of your neighbors and the hatred of the bangwagoners (covered later on).  You must also be consistently optimistic, that is until you’re mathematically eliminated from the playoffs and claim that you want your team to have the number 1 draft pick.

Second type of picking:  Family.  Another simple one, and for more casual fans.  Does your dad happen to own a Green Bay Packers hat?  Congratulations- you’re a Packers fan!  Did your great great great grandfather go to a White Sox game once upon a time?  Hoorah for the White Sox!  However, keep the relative that associated with the team in question a direct relative.  No cousins, second cousins, uncles, etc.

Third style of picking: the bandwagon.  This one’s easy.  Take whatever team was both popular and won a lot of games the previous season- because you want to be a winner.  But it can’t just be that.  It must also be the most visible team.  For instance in hockey, it would not be bandwagoney to pick Detroit since they’re an old team with history and consistency, even though they are the Stanley Cup champions and are quite popular.  No- it must be a flavor of the season team.  Like the Penguins perhaps.  In baseball, the bandwagon team would be the Red Sox, but they also fill another category.  However, when the team goes south, first complain, and when nothing gets corrected, JUMP SHIP!  You are a winner and as such cannot be associated with losing teams.  Also, mock people who support losing/not winning teams whenever possible, because they are not winners like you are a winner.

Fourth style of picking: Boston.  This is really a subsection of bandwagon, but has developed into a section of its own due to douchebaggery.  You cannot actually be from Boston or living in Boston for this to apply.  If you have direct relatives there, this also does not apply.  Both of those conditions would qualify you for either geographical or family, which are respectable.  No, you must pick a Boston area team (except the Bruins) and support them rabidly.  You must justify your support with claims that your 4th cousin 19 times removed lives in the “Boston area” and once met Kevin Youkilis/Tom Brady/Bill Belichick/Kevin Garnett on the street or at the barber.  You must also brag about Tom Brady’s sexual and football conquests as if they’re your own.

Fifth (and last) style of picking: Don’t learn anything about any teams.  Just pick one.  Not based on the name, or seeing it around.  Just pick one.  You can put names on a spinner, in hat, on a dart board.  Any of these will work.  And explain this when people want to know why you’re a Phoenix Coyotes or Toronto Blue Jays fan.  Do this entirely for the looks of confusion it will generate when they know you’re not from that area.

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How To Become A Sports Fan, pt. 1

August 28, 2008

So you want to be a sports fan.  Congratulations, you have chosen a very rewarding path in life.  Maybe stressful at times, in fact, always stressful.  And it’s a moneyhole.  But very rewarding. But this decision also comes with questions.  What sport do I watch?  Which league?  What team?  Do I like players not on my team?  Why does everyone hate the commissioner of every sport?

This series of posts will answer all these questions.

The first decision you must make is “”Which sport do I like?”

This is a very critical decision, as it says a lot about you as a person and will cause everyone you know to judge you.

I will cover the big five sports.

Baseball: A sport rich in history, tradition, steroids, and way too much thinking.  To be a baseball fan you have to decide how you feel about a million and one issues.  Inter-league play, steroid usage, instant replay, flavors of chew, Barry Bonds, the list goes on.  But wait, you have to think more.  To be a serious fan you need to learn statistics, sabermetrics, and the entire history of the sport.  You have to know every single World Series, every single record.  And every single douchebag move Bud Selig has made.

Football (the American variety): The cool guy’s sport.  You can take it seriously, but other football fans will think you’re a nerd.  So how do you watch football if you’re not thinking seriously?  You buy a jersey and get drunk.  Football is all about being a man. You watch sweaty men tackle other sweaty men and yell when the wrong ones get tackled.  Some would argue this is a simplistic view of the sport.  Guess what?  They’re nerds.

Football (soccer): Be careful when picking this sport.  If you are from Europe or Australia or South America or anywhere that’s not USA, it’s totally cool and normal to pick this sport.  In fact, pretend the entry about American football is about your football.  For the Americans, this is the emo sport.  You buy scarves and pretend to watch games for teams that you probably can’t even pronounce properly.  Madrid Real is not said like reel, douches.  It’s said “Ray-ahl”

Hockey:  This is a tricky one.  It’s an exciting game with both history and violence, but you have to complain about abso-freaking-lutely everything.  Did fights go up this month?  There’s too much fighting in the NHL.  Did it go down?  There needs to be more, so get rid of penalties.  Is the league shrinking?  Stop denying small markets their rightful teams.  Is the league expanding?  We should be playing with the Original 6.  But most of all, you must complain about Gary Bettman.  He’s the commisioner of the NHL, and everything he’s done is flat out wrong.

Finally, Basketball: This is the most expensive of games.  You must own a jersey of your team, a Kobe Bryant jersey, and a pair of shoes designed by every NBA superstar, starting with Michael Jordan.  But you have to hate him, while admitting he was the best.  It’s a fine line to walk.

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The Saturday Knights

August 27, 2008

Artist: The Saturday Knights

Album: Mingle

Label: Light In The Attic

This is probably one of my favorite finds of the new school year.  For this I have to thank Ryan at the Cracked forums (thanks Ryan!) who linked the album’s free legal download. And I’ll do the same. Yes, free and legal.  It could be a purely mediocre album and still be worth download.  Thankfully, it’s not.  This is good stuff.  It’s hip-hop, but in that alternative groovy way, with more singing, more general melody, and some rich lyrics.

Sometimes the album is a bit cheesey and hard to take seriously, but I think it’s more that the Saturday Knights don’t take themselves seriously.  (By the way, this time I’m not going to offer any YouTube or mp3 links to specific songs because you can download the album for free).  But a great example would be the song Dog Park.  Yes, Dog Park.  It has this weird U2ish intro that sounds like The Edge guest starred on the album.  Then it stays pretty normal for a while.  Then the dogs come into the picture.  And he’s singing about pedigree, best of show, etc.  It’s not a bad song.  In fact, it’s really enjoyable in both that fun ridiculous way and a serious well constructed song way.

Another “What the hell” moment is Foreign Affair.  The lead singer is singing about British singers.  There’s one part where he goes “Amy Amy Amy Amy Amy” and the backup singers go “Amy Winehouse”.  Or he refers to MIA at another point.  I mean, what the hell?

But weirdly enough, it’s another enjoyable song.

Despite oddities in lyrics, the album is fantastic.  The beats are great, the delivery of both the singing and rapping is incredibly entertaining and dynamic (something I think a lot of rap needs).  I highly recommend going out and downloading this album for free.

Legally bitches.

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An Introduction, Perhaps

August 27, 2008

Welcome to Arik’s Other Thoughts, created because Arik Thoughts was shut down by the demon known to the internet as Blogger.  I’ll eventually (when they reopen my previous blog) move everything over here.  Until then, I’ll be filling it up with more reviews (The Saturday Knights are up next, followed by Kid Koala and a column about becoming a sports fan).

I like to imagine this as the birth of my second child when the first was whisked away from my family after only 4 months of life by an evil social services worker.  The social worker then refused to answer my calls, and in fact has probably blocked my number and will never give my baby back.  Also, it is burning all the baby’s fingerprints off and will probably change its dental records so there will never be any record of the child being mine.  At this point I snap and threaten to run down main street naked smearing peanut butter on every car windshield if I don’t get my child back, but the social worker pretends that they don’t know who I am and I get sent to the crazy bin where I impregnate some other woman (Oh you foxy Madame WordPress, you are so much more beautiful than Ms. Blogger).

And now I’m here- it’s a boy!

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A Favorite Recipe of Mine

August 12, 2008

I’m going to take a break from writing about music and write about something I love making. WARNING: I use no real measurements so be prepared to guesstimate. It’s a delicious soft taco type recipe, so you need ground beef (just a regular sized grocery store thingy should do), a green pepper, small tortillas, butter, taco seasoning, and cinnamon. Yes, cinnamon. I’ll get to that.

Now because I’m either lazy or unoriginal, I like frying everything. So the first thing you want to do is heat up a frying pan with a slap of butter in it. Yes, slap. That is a very technical term that is equivalent to 4.32 snicks. What I mean is, just put some butter in. Once that butter is nice and melted and bubbly, go ahead and drop the ground beef in. Stir it around, make sure it gets evenly fried. While it’s in there add in a table spoon of cinnamon and 1/2-2 table spoons of taco seasoning in addition to about half of that green pepper. If it’s mild seasoning, go high, if it’s hot, go low. We’re not trying to make it spicy, just adding some spice. Once the beef is done empty the beef and peppers into a bowl, but leave the burner on and frying pan full of butter and juices. Now add about a teaspoon more of cinnamon and turn down the heat. Drop a couple of the tortillas on to the frying pan for about 5-7 seconds, then flip them, then remove after another five to seven. Repeat.

All you have to do know is spoon some beef into the shells and you’re set on a crash course for YUM-ALPHA-4. Make it so Number 1!

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Album Review: Girls and Weather (Rumble Strips)

August 11, 2008

This is with out a doubt the second best album I’ve enjoyed all summer. Well, maybe not best, but second most enjoyable. So Many Nights by Cat Empire is still better.

Regardless, this album is really truly great. It’s got a garage rock sound that doesn’t trade melody for noise (like so many other garage rock bands) and really brings in a lot of soul influence. The band finally manages to prove that Britain can supply the modern world with a sound that’s not Oasis, U2, Amy “How the hell are you still alive and who still cares about you” Winehouse, and whatever the Britpop flavor of the month is. They’re upbeat, but not fast upbeat. They have horns, but stay away from ska (thank god- more ska is the last thing the world needs. I mean seriously, what “wave” are they on now? And what’s the difference between the waves? And who wants to call dancing skanking? And why the plaid?)

Ahem. It’s fun music. Meant to be played loud. Possibly while driving. They’re not particularly deep songwriters, but are a hell of a lot of fun. Great example, Motorcycle. It’s a song about how the singer’s life would be better if the bike he was riding on was a motorcycle. And it basically says he’d be a mad cool pimp. And he’d be halfway home.

Alarm Clock, another fun one. A great example of the sheer fun and cheerfulness of their lyrics.