Tuesday, October 27, 2009

All Time Low

The title of this little post refers to the band of that name, not the hideous infrequency of my postings here. I'm going to briefly discuss some bands I've come to enjoy, their latest releases, and my reactions to them.

First, A Rocket to the Moon. I really liked the songs I found by this "band," (see below for explanation of quotes), especially those from an EP called "Summer 07," especially "I think about you everyday." It's kind of melancholy, with that weird vocoder(?) voice thing, but very sweet and nostalgic. It still has a cool beat, though, and some substance to the feel of it. So, I was pretty psyched that their first "real" full length cd was being released this fall, on October 13. It didn't turn out as great as I hoped. I do like a couple of the songs, especially "Annabelle," "Mr. Right," and "Dakota," but they seem to lack the wistfulness of the previous songs I preferred. This is another example of a genre I seem to be attracted to, the "band," that is really just one guy, in this case a gentleman named "Nick Santino." As was the case with Dashboard Confessional, the addition of some other musicians to the mix seems to have diluted the impact of the personality of the originator. Maybe more listening is required ... that certainly won't be painful.

Ok, so how about All Time Low, then, since I did title the post after them and all. First, a bit of disclosure: I only listened to these guys because someone said that Friday Night Boys, a band I really, really like (more to follow), were just a watered down version of ATL. So, I reasoned, if I like the watered down version, I'll probably really, really, really like the real thing. So, I bought the CD of "Nothing Personal," their latest release. Why did I buy the CD instead of just downloading it, you ask? Well, I was in Best Buy anyway, and after the last few whole albums I bought on i-tunes, I was feeling the lack of the album booklet, which I like to read for the lyrics, and look at the pictures and whatnot. And it was only $9.99, same as the dl, so what the hell. Ok, on to my brief uninformed review. I like this CD quite a bit. The first song, Weightless, is clever, it rocks, and is very catchy in a non-frivolous way. This band reminds me more of Motion City Soundtrack, a band I super love, with literate lyrics and a vocalist with an unaffected, colloquial style, than it does FNB. But this (ATL) is a band with a history I know nothing about, so this is a rather uninformed judgment, I suppose. The song I found most powerful was "Too Much." I am prone to the weepy, the morose, the lachrymose even, so remorse-dripping, sweetly regretful songs like this are right up my emotional alley. I will certainly be exploring their oeuvre in greater depth. I also thought it was interesting that they started out as a Blink 182 cover band, you can still hear quite a bit of that in their sound, I think.

Ok, I'm signing off for now. I'll either edit this or add another post to discuss FNB, Owl City and Copeland. See you then, I hope!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Resident Evil 5 - That's What I'm Talkin' About!

I've been waiting for this game to come out for a long time, and picked it up Friday night. I've never loved a game the way I loved Resident Evil 4, I must have played that game scores of times (ha ha, scores!), and The Mercenaries even more (High Score: Wesker, Castle level, 227,500). So, there are some high expectations on my part here, that reality (?) may never be able to meet. I am liking it, but am still struggling to move to the new (to me) controller environment of the PS3 (I still like playing RE4 on the GameCube best). A few things I've noticed so far: there's no spooky music when you enter a new area, nor is there that weird old fashioned music that let's you know you're near a typewriter for saving. In fact there don't seem to be any in-game saving spots at all, until you finish a chapter. Maybe I just haven't figured it out yet, I'm not an intuitive gamer, it takes me a while to pick up on things. I like having a partner who watches your back, although I can hardly ever figure out what Sheva is up to and she seems to wander off a lot. She is generous with the herb, though, so that is good. She is also quite appealing, attractive and kind, so that's good, too. I have already spent too much time trying to figure out what her tattoo says, and what the significance of it is. So far the locales are redolent of the grungiest parts of RE4 - the island, the first building you enter with the "hospital" and so forth. There is a certain post-colonial grittiness to it all, but I'm hoping for something cooler, like the castle, ominous and foreboding, but nonetheless kind of elegant. I don't see how that can happen, though, really, in the environment they've chosen. So, that's it for prelinary observations. I've decided to play slowly this time. I rushed though the first couple plays of RE4 in an attempt to "finish," but I now realize that I enjoy "playing the game," as opposed to "having played the game." So, trying to chill out a little on that. (Credit for photo: www.joystiq.com)

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters by Gordon Dahlquist

I really enjoyed reading this book, which was so big that the paperback is currently being issued in three separate books (or is that just a marketing ploy?). The hardcover has been out for a couple years: it originally appeared as a serial a la Dickens, which makes sense since it shares a richly textured, plot and character driven appeal with those Victorian novels, which it almost seems to parody at times. It has a very dream-like feeling to it, and other reviewers have remarked on similarities to "Eyes Wide Shut," with lots of characters wearing masks, and some mysterious rites taking place in remote stately manors. It's a great read, and I found it very hard to put down. I am terrible at plot summaries, the following from the LiveJournal "50 Book Challenge," is pretty good, without being too spoiler-ish.

"Set in an unnamed city very much like Victorian London, the novel opens with a young heiress, Celeste Temple, being coldly rejected by her fiance via letter. Unsatisfied and angered by his vague explanation, she decides to uncover the truth through the tried and tested means of following him. This results in her attending a masked ball at a lonely manor where she discovers that he has become part of a sinister cabal. These 'dream eaters' are rich, highly placed in society, decadent and seeking to hatch various nefarious plans around the alchemically created glass books of the title.

Celeste meets up with Cardinal Chang, an assassin for hire whose quarry at the masked ball has been murdered by a third, unknown party and Doctor Svenson, surgeon to the Prince of the Duchy of Mackenburg. The Prince is in the country to celebrate his engagement to another heiress whose familial home is the main setting for these sinister goings-on. These two men soon become Celeste's allies and the unlikely trio take on the cabal.

Set over a period of three days, there are a lot of words and plot within its 760+ pages."

I Just Don't Think I'll Ever Get Over You

This is Grand Rapids. I love this town. Why did I ever leave? Oh yeah, I remember now ... reasons. Seemed like a good idea, even compelling, at the time. Now? Not so much. This song by Garrison Keilor seems to articulate how I feel about Grand Rapids, which has many things in common with Lake Woebegone. Perhaps the Grand Rapids I remember never really existed, either.

One more spring in Minnesota
To come across Lake Woebegone
Old town, I smell the coffee
If I could see you one more time

That long, long time is always on my mind
I'm just a stranger with memories of days of long ago
Could it have been forty years since then
What happened to us? I'd like to know.

That yard, that tree — you climbed it once with me
We talked of cities we'd live in someday
I left, old friend, and now I'm back again
Please say you missed me since I went away

One more time, this dance together
Just you and I, now don't be shy
This time, I know I'll hear the music
If you would hold me one more time

Monday, February 2, 2009

Moody Blues In Your Wildest Dreams

And when the music plays
And when the words are
Touched with sorrow
When the music plays
I hear the sound
I had to follow
Once upon a time
Once beneath the stars
The universe was ours
Love was all we knew
And all I knew was you
I wonder if you know
I wonder if you think about it
Once upon a time
In your wildest dreams

Friday, January 30, 2009

Coolest place on earth, maybe?

This is the Morningstar76 Coffee Shop in East Grand Rapids Michigan. Pound for pound it is the vibe-iest, most soulful place I have ever been in. This is where I met Drew Nelson, the singer/songwriter. This Saturday the girl working at the counter wrote a note and left it on the counter. It started out like this: "Darling. I walked 2,353 steps just to be with you today." I don't remember the rest, except it ended with "P.S. You look very pretty today." I thought it was pretty cool - like performance art or something -- that she just left that on the counter for customers to read. It certainly made me feel welcome! The pictures don't really do justice to quite how grungy the place is though, and also don't convey the overwhelming fragrance/pall of cigarette smoke that pervades everything. It's like being in a university cafe in France back in the 70's - my yardstick for measuring smokiness!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

At your service

Champagne brunch for New Year's? Must be an Episcopal Church!

Style Icon No. 1 in My Book

There simply will never be any one cooler than Keef. Even the guitar in this picture oozes style as much as it does musical sense. If something can, in fact, be said to ooze musical sense. I'm going to try not to think about that too much.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

II etait une fois ...

My old blog fizzled because I tried to make it too thoughtful. So, if you are looking for substance, analysis, insights or even coherence, this may not be the place for you. I am mostly creating this as a kind of on-line diary of the things I am currently interested in, working on, pursuing, curious about, or looking for help with. So, having said that, what I want to focus on for now are the following things: guitar, speaking French, style and poetry. Also, one of my new year's resolutions was to leave encouraging comments on other people's blogs, so maybe one of them will come here and be curious about who left those comments. This might give some idea of what I am currently into.