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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.'”

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.

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.

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.

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?

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!

she dreams in color, she dreams in red – pj20 day one

A week has passed since PJ20 – Pearl Jam’s 20th-anniversary celebration – went down at Alpine Valley Music Theatre in East Troy, Wisconsin, and I’m still reeling. Above any one band, I’m a music fan. The Strokes are one of my favorite bands, and I was really looking forward to getting a chance to see Pearl Jam, but I wasn’t fully prepared for the overriding sense of love and fandom that settled over the crowd on Day One of the fest. On September 3rd, 2011, 37,000 fans came together in the rain and mud to revel in the two-decades-strong career of Pearl Jam.

PJ Panorama

After losing some time getting lost on some of Wisconsin’s loveliest back roads, I arrived at Alpine’s sprawling grounds and settled into a spot in front of Stage Two to catch Glen Hansard (The Swell Season, The Frames, Once). Though generally much mellower than those on the main stage, Hansard embraced the festival’s overall feel with a healthy dose of fuzzed-out guitar and raw vocals that often dug in to the crowd, shiv-like. As the rain started falling again, Hansard abandoned the ukulele song he had planned to play in favor of a group sing-along to “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head” despite not really knowing the lyrics. It all worked out, though, and Hansard wrapped up the set with his Academy Award-winning hit “Falling Slowly“. Sadly, Eddie Vedder did not join him as he did on Day Two.

After spending some down time grabbing dinner, exploring the grounds, waiting fruitlessly in line for the Pearl Jam museum (but getting to sign the PJ20 wall nonetheless), and letting my +1 buy me a $12 beer (thanks again, pal!), I hunkered down at the bottom of the lawn to check out Mudhoney. I was largely unacquainted with their music, but enjoyed them for about the first half of their set. They made for an excellent time machine, and it would be fun to catch in a small club both twenty years ago and now. By the end, Mudhoney had started to grate on me, as their sound wandered farther from its punk roots into generic hard rock.

Next up was Queens of the Stone Age. Pearl Jam’s Stone Gossard put out the band’s debut album, and it wasn’t hard to connect the musical dots from PJ and the early-90s Seattle scene to QOTSA’s sound. Queens of the Stone Age are ridiculously good at what they do, applying a pop swagger to gritty rock at an impressive volume. While a near-deafening level of sound could easily be dismissed as a gimmick or macho posturing, the decibels really work in the band’s favor, packing a punch the right way and not just for its own “these go to 11” sake.

Queens of the Stone Age – No One Knows

Getting to see The Strokes was the part of the day to which I was most looking forward. Since first hearing “Last Nite” ten years ago, I’ve been madly in love yet had never seen them live. They did not disappoint. I still get goosebumps watching videos from the night, including the one below of Eddie Vedder lending his voice on “Juicebox”. The set seemed shorter than the band’s allotted 45 minutes, but in truth, for me, anything less than every song they’ve ever written wasn’t going to be enough. Despite the public consensus that the members of The Strokes don’t really care very much for each other at this point, they haven’t let whatever qualms they have with each other interfere with their ability to perform. Abruptly leaving the stage to the echos of Julian Casablancas howling “he’s gonna let you down”, the band reminded the crowd that they did anything but that. OK, fan-girl gush over.

The Strokes – Juicebox f/Eddie Vedder

For the main event, Pearl Jam played a two-encore set that spanned three hours and the bulk of their catalog. As a casual Pearl Jam fan (read: their radio hits), I didn’t know most of the original songs they played save “Do the Evolution” and “Better Man”. Despite this, the band was totally engaging. It’s readily apparent how Pearl Jam has lasted twenty years and remained popular; the songs are solid, the band has a solid chemistry and camaraderie, and Eddie Vedder’s voice is still incredible. Furthermore, the band holds a deep appreciation for its fans. I’ve seen hundreds of bands and Pearl Jam’s fans may be the most devoted I’ve seen. The Alpine PJ20 shows were the only US dates on the band’s tour, and the parking lot was evidence that people had come from all over the country. Said Vedder, “Us making it 20 years was probably easier than some of you making it here tonight.” The band expressed its gratitude throughout the evening, visibly humbled by the outpouring of support ringing back at them.

For the first encore, Pearl Jam welcomed Chris Cornell (Soundgarden, Audioslave) to the stage. Pulling material from Mother Love Bone and Temple of the Dog, Cornell sounded as good as he ever has – hands-down he has one of the best voices in rock. To finish out his guest appearance, Cornell dueted with Vedder on “Hunger Strike”, the quintessential 90s rock track that allowed both men to play off each other’s vocal strengths.

Chris Cornell wasn’t the only guest to join Pearl Jam – nearly everyone playing the fest stopped by at some point, from Dhani Harrison on guitar to Liam Finn and John Doe (X) singing backup. As PJ20 was designed as a two-day destination festival, the end of the night was a bit anti-climactic for me as I was only able to attend the first night and was craving the hits, but by listening to the chatter around me I knew people couldn’t wait until Day Two.

Eddie Vedder (PJ) & Josh Homme (QOTSA)

Check out the rest of our videos from PJ20:
Queens of the Stone Age – Little Sister | Queens of the Stone Age – Go With the Flow | The Strokes – Last Nite | Temple of the Dog – Hunger Strike
Sorry there aren’t any from Pearl Jam, we were holding out for “Even Flow”

Release, Arms Aloft, Do the Evolution, Got Some, In My Tree, Faithful, Who You Are, Push Me Pull Me, Setting Forth, Not For You, In the Moonlight, Deep, Help Help, Breath, Education, Once, State of Love and Trust, Better Man, Life Wasted Reprise, Life Wasted
Rearviewmirror, Star Dog Champion, Say Hello 2 Heaven, Reach Down, Hunger Strike, Love Reign O’er Me, Porch
Kick Out the Jams
Day Two Set List 

nothing’s wrong

Fleet Foxes – Grown Ocean

The Strokes – Under Cover of Darkness

La Sera – Devils Hearts Grow Gold

Cloud Nothings – Nothing’s Wrong

Junk Culture – Summer Friends

Morning Teleportation – Expanding Anyway

Parenthetical Girls – The Pornographer (NSFW)

Cults – Go Outside (SuperVideo)

And, for the throwback:
The Knux – Bang! Bang!