comedown machine

Today I decided to drive to Best Buy to purchase a physical copy of an album on the day it came out. It’s not something I’ve done for years, but it is something I’ve done for every album by The Strokes except for their debut. Keep refreshing here for a mix of review, random thoughts, and photos.

4:00 PM
Left work, drove to Best Buy. Was able to find and buy the album in under two minutes because the music section is now minuscule and no one shops at Best Buy anymore.

6:05 PM
Currently annoyed that my Twitter statuses aren’t showing up all nice and pretty like this tutorial says they will.

6:10 PM
Pressed play to make a CD spin. WEIRD.

TAP OUT
Oh hello, 80s.
One person dance party. I really like the shimmy and bitchin’ 80s guitar solo. I don’t have to pretend to like the song. When one of your favorite bands puts out new material it’s always a little scary. I didn’t get into Angles and I feel weirdly guilty about it.

ALL THE TIME
RE: The chorus – Julian Casablancas is my favorite drunk, droning robot.

ONE WAY TRIGGER
When The Strokes released this song before the album I hated the falsetto. Still not into it. Less worried now that I know it’s not how Casablancas insists on singing for the entire album.
I like the frenzied guitar around 1:40 but in general wish the song would pop a Quaalude or two.

WELCOME TO JAPAN
So far the easiest time I’ve had understanding lyrics. The booklet is no help in that department.
“What kind of asshole drives a Lotus?”
Casablancas doing an excellent job of intoning a disco creep. Intentional joke or the product of living in LA too long? Does he live in LA? I’m just assuming. No time for fact-checking. I’ll let the sound of this song convince me I’m right.

80S COMEDOWN MACHINE
Slow and perfect for a Sophia Coppola movie.
I’m into it but definitely drifted while listening/trying to take a photo of the booklet.

50/50
Distortion-filled nod to punk and surf rock. Reminds me of shows I used to go to in high school, but Casablancas’s high notes elevate it. Not my favorite.
“I will say ‘don’t judge me.'”

SLOW ANIMALS
This is more my style.
I am digging this more and more as the song goes on. So far it’s the only track that I plan to listen to again as soon as the record ends.

PARTNERS IN CRIME
A very Strokes-y guitar jangle but overall trying to be too gritty. God I love that first album. My older brother gave it to me for my 18th birthday. He also gave me a pair of gloves and tried to kill himself with sleeping pills. Thinking about it, I’m sort of surprised I don’t hate Is This It?, considering.

CHANCES
Instrumentally into it, but I wish Julian would ditch the falsetto. Most of the vocals are okay, but the high wailing is just not doing it for me. Repeated listens may get me over it.

HAPPY ENDING
Yep, I’ll take this one, too. I’d love to see them live again. Hey, The Strokes, how much money do I have to offer you to play Is This It? straight through for me? We’ve missed the ten year anniversary mark, can I pray for a 15th anniversary tour?

CALL IT FATE, CALL IT KARMA
I’ve fallen into a Vaseline-lensed 50s dream.
I have no idea what this song has to do with The Strokes or the rest of the album, but I kind of like its completely weird kitsch.

6:50 PM
Comedown Machine has reached its end.
Listening to “Slow Animals” again.
Playing a CD on iTunes takes all the fun out of listening to a CD – you know if there’s going to be a hidden track or not. There is not. Is that a thing bands even do anymore? I really, really miss the excitement of exploring a new record. Most of my listening these days is on Spotify in the car or from a digital press copy. I’m grateful for both but am glad I grew up listening to music with some focus and effort.
Now giving opening track “Tap Out” another listen.
Okay, still good. It wasn’t just the excitement of getting to hear a new Strokes record.

6:58 PM
One more listen to “Slow Animals” for good measure. I think it’s a good natural progression of their sound. I wish the vocal mix was a little cleaner though.
Something about parts of it reminds me of the Neverending Story theme song. Anyone else?

7:04 PM
Comedown Machine is nowhere near my favorite Strokes record, but I do like it quite a bit more on first listen than Angles. I had more measured expectations for this release and was pleasantly surprised. Not every song lands for me, but I like more than I don’t. I should revisit Angles and give it a fair shake after putting too much pressure on it two years ago.

Thus concludes our live-blogging experiment of Comedown Machine by The Strokes. What’s the last album you went to the store to buy? Let us know in the comments!

you’re the reason why i’ll move to the city

Sharon Van Etten’s got one of those voices that’ll cut right through a room. She’s not a belter; it’s a quiet power that will cause you to lose your train of thought mid-conversation, halt the pint glass halfway to your lips, miss that last step.

Most of Van Etten’s latest release, Tramp, is filled with little meditations, her gorgeous voice weaving in and out of the music. While all solid, the first three songs are far and away the best on the album.

“Serpent”, the lead single, starts with a guitar riff that sounds like a less-frantic “Everlong“. The song will quickly bore itself into your brain, but not because it’s got a catchy hook – it’s more the product of the drums snapping and chipping away a path that lets the lyrics flow through. Similarly, the lilt in Van Etten’s voice on the word “you” throughout the opening track “Warsaw” scythes through the bullshit – there’s no hiding from what she throws your way.

The bravura of these two tracks perfectly bookends the excellent “Give Out”. There’s something immediately sad about it – it pulls at your gut before your brain even has a chance to switch gears. Following the seeming confidence of “Warsaw”, “Give Out” is the moment you go home alone, drunk, questioning every decision you’ve ever made.

“So what’s with the eyes in the back of room?”, asks Van Etten, even though she knows why they’re all on her.

Tramp dropped 02.07.12.
Click to download “Serpents“.
Find tour dates and more at Sharon Van Etten’s official website.

this quiet little death

In the summer of 2003, The Jealous Sound released their debut album Kill Them With Kindness. It contained the gems “Hope For Us“, “Anxious Arms“, and “The Fold Out” – songs that I haven’t tired of to this day. The album had its roots in emo, but had more in common with the band’s 90s predecessors than with the crop of upstarts like Fall Out Boy.

Nine years later, the band has released its second full-length, A Gentle Reminder. The continuity is flawless; a little more refined, an updated sound – the band grew up with the rest of us. The core of the JS’s sound is still there – vocalist Blair Shehan’s deliberate delivery, the guitar work that guitar work that inevitably makes one think of something sad and far away, and a sense of urgency quietly nagging in the back of your brain.

A Gentle Reminder drops 01.31.12.
Get tour dates and more at The Jealous Sound’s website.
Stream the album below until its release on Tuesday.