Archive for March, 2009

Review: Yeah Yeah Yeahs – It’s Blitz!

March 31, 2009

Since the early 2000’s, or “oughts” as I like to call them, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs could do no wrong in my book.  EP after LP after LP after EP, I fell in love with everything this band released.  Every CD managed to distinguish itself from the others while still holding onto the signature sound that Karen O, Nick Zinner, and Brian Chase originally created.  They brought the term “art punk” to the mainstream and sent hordes of women from 15 to 30 searching for the perfect leggings to compliment their Chuck Taylors and miniskirts.  I feared and knew there would eventually be a day when I would finally have something unflattering to say about the YYYs.  Unfortunately, that day is today.  Because for as good as It’s Blitz really is, to me it just doesn’t measure up to previous releases.

With the exception of “Dull Life,” there really are no callbacks to the Yeah Yeah Yeahs older sound.  And from the feel of the album’s opener and lead single, “Zero,” it wouldn’t be a stretch to think that the band had put together a dance album.  In reality though, only “Heads Will Roll” (which sounds more like a remix of a Yeah Yeah Yeahs song) and “Dragon Queen” (a track that could’ve just as easily ended up on a CSS album) give off that impression.  A good chunk of the record finds the band a little more subdued, replacing Karen O’s growls and Zinner’s chaotic guitar play with more keyboards, horns, and orchestral arrangements, giving off a much more airy and relaxed sense than seen in previous releases.  And for as interesting as this could be, the songs simply don’t catch my ears in the same way they used to.  To be fair though, this new style does work and peak on “Runaway,” a track that takes the place that “Maps” did on Fever To Tell and “Cheated Hearts” on Show Your Bones.  It also, in my opinion, is the best display of Karen O’s vocals since “Maps,” allowing her to both emote and remain subtle in her delivery.

Now before you run off claiming that I hated this album, let me set the record straight.  This is a really good record.  I do like it and there’s a decent chance it will end up as one of my top ten of the year.  The Yeah Yeah Yeahs just happen to be one of those bands that I always expect near perfection out of.  If I hear their album and don’t immediately think it’s great, I tend to be a little disappointed.  So once again for the record, I did like It’s Blitz.  But In my opinion, if you’re just getting into the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, I would start with another release.  Although, Pitchfork did give this one a better review than both of their other full-lengths, so what the hell do I know.

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Sending Me A Dollar

March 26, 2009

When I was four years old, I wanted to be a pro wrestler.  Then I realized I had the physique and strength of a Q-tip.  When I was eight years old, I wanted to be an Air Force pilot.  Soon after, I developed a debilitating fear of flying.  At thirteen, I wanted to be a rock star.  But when I grabbed a guitar a year later and penned my first little ditty, I realized that anything with ears would be happier if I left the songwriting to others.  At sixteen I started writing, and even though it hasn’t paid the bills, it has helped me keep my sanity.

The fact is that, outside of getting free CDs or concert tickets, I’ve never been paid for my writing.  I actually went so far as to make a New Year’s resolution for ’09 that I at least get some compensation within the next twelve months for putting pen to paper.  And seeing as there aren’t any publications clamoring for my services, I’ve decided to take some initiative.  It is for this reason that I now will officially begin the “Send James Dolata A Dollar” contest.  So if you’re reading this and have at least moderately enjoyed anything I’ve ever written, I am offering you the opportunity to be the first person ever to actually pay me for my writing.

The rules are simple.

1.    The dollar must be sent by snail mail to me in check form at:

James Dolata

2462 North Bremen St.

Milwaukee, WI 53212

2.    The person whose check I receive first will be declared the winner.  (Any check I receive after the winner’s check will be voided.  I’m literally asking one person for one dollar.)

The victorious party will receive a formal thank you from me in the form of a post on this blog.  Also, a copy of their check will be framed and hung somewhere in my house.  And once again, they will have the honor of being the first person to ever pay me for my writing.  (Yeah, the prizes are lame, but what did you really expect.)

Let the games begin.

Review: MC Lars – This Gigantic Robot Kills

March 25, 2009

Back in 2006, when I started writing for Tastes Like Chicken, the first CD I ever reviewed was MC Lars’s full-length debut The Graduate.  And though I had nothing but good things to say about it, I kinda wondered as time passed if I only liked it because I was so excited to be doing reviews.  Well, the release of his new album This Gigantic Robot Kills has put those worries to bed.  It’s pretty fuckin’ good.

MC Lars has always described his style as “post-punk laptop rap,” though I’m sure some have just called him “indie/pop/hip hop,” which is a term I tend to hate seeing as it’s both generic and tends to lump him in with the Gym Class Heroes (even though Lars did tour with them).  And although some may come after the gimmick factor in his lyrics, he’s honestly just following the cardinal rule of “write what you know.”  Gangster rappers write about gangster shit.  White Stanford English Majors born in the early 80’s rap about hipsters, Guitar Hero, Hamlet, and Bukowski.  And I know I’ve always been the kind of listener who tends to hold the music above the words, but MC Lars is one of the few exceptions that finds me following along with the lyric sheet on the first listen.

Standout tracks include “True Player For Real” (featuring “Weird Al” Yankovic on accordion) which blatantly deems itself the “self-referential introduction song,” “No Logo,” a song that makes you wonder why no other rapper has sampled the bass line to Fugazi’s “Waiting Room,” and “Hey There Ophelia,” which serves as the ultimate Cliff’s Note, delivering the entire story of Hamlet in under four and a half minutes.  But among all these tracks, my favorite has gotta be “Hipster Girl,” if for nothing else because it takes a potshot at Donnie Darko (a movie I always thought needed to be taken down a peg).

So get your ass out there and buy This Gigantic Robot Kills.