Monday, June 30, 2008

New CSS Video Makes Me Feel Awkward

I remember the summer of 2007 and CSS at the Fonda. Going down as one of the best shows I've ever been to, it's hard for me not to appreciate everything that comes from this Sao Paulo electro party band.

Yet, I have matured and CSS' magic has faded with the seasons. CSS (2006 Sub Pop), the group's self titled debut album, was amazing, but their recent release, Donkey (2008 Sub Pop) is lackluster at best.

Their video for "Rat is Dead (Rage)" only makes this fact more painfully clear.

With random camera angles and a black light, this only reminds me of the numerous times when I have shown up, sober and late, to Allston's many theme dance parties looking for the bathroom and only getting the awkward run around by the party's highly intoxicated attendees.

The dead rat at the end only accentuates this traumatic experience and urges viewers grow up and call it a night.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Good Riddance (for now) M.I.A.

Talking to my old roommates in Williamsburg this past weekend, the subject of Bonnaroo Music Festival, which just recently came and went, was brought up.

"Bonnaroo isn't what it used to be" they said.

There were definitely a couple of curve balls in this year's line-up, but nothing was as strange as M.I.A.'s set on Friday the 13th, when the British singer kept on hinting at retirement.

Here's the deal:

1) M.I.A. (AKA Mathangi "Maya" Arulpragasam) performs in the States under a Visa that is bound to expire. Thusly, until she renews that Visa, she won't be able to perform for her adoring American fans anytime soon.

2) Due to her future marriage into money, it would make sense for her to take a brief hiatus. Yet, that is a whole different story within itself.

Let's just say, I find it a bit off-setting that a performer who has themes of rebellion against the "white man" weaved into her hit anthems and who is also the daughter of a head Tamil Tiger Rebel now charges $250 for shows and chooses to marry Benjamin Brewer, son of Warner Music Group Exec, Edgar Bronfman Jr.

3) Finally, although 2005's Arular was a better album, last year's Kala made M.I.A. a roaring success. It just wouldn't make sense if she ended her career now.

I am sure she will keep putting out hits and after her marriage, go on tour again. So for all you spandex clad "Paper Planes" fans, your beloved M.I.A. is here to stay.

Below is my all time favorite M.I.A. song. Listen up.

M.I.A. - "Sunshowers" (2005 Arular) via MediaFire

Monday, June 23, 2008

Pay Your Own Price for the new Girl Talk album

It's happening! Just like Radiohead let us pick our own price for In Rainbows, Girl Talk's doing the same for the new album, Feed The Animals. For any price (starting at $00.00), the full 14-track album can be downloaded on their label's website ( But for $5, fan also recieve an additional mp3 of the entire album as one stream. "It's intended to be listened to as a one continuous jam," writes DJ Gregg Gillis in a recent MySpace blog. Those who pay $10 will also eventually get a hard copy of the CD.

Tracklisting for Feed The Animals:
01. Play Your Part (Pt. 1)
02. Shut The Club Down
03. Still Here
04. What It's All About
05. Set It Off
06. No Pause
07. Like This
08. Give Me A Beat
09. Hands In The Air
10. In Step
11. Let Me See You
12. Here's The Thing
13. Don't Stop
14. Play Your Part (Pt. 2)

(Photo cred -

PS: If you like Girl Talk and downloading albums for free, you will really enjoy Chilly Willy. He is from Portland, OR, and I am hooked on his album this summer. Listen to his tracks on MySpace, and/or download the entire album here.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Futureheads @ CMJ

Hello all. The Futureheads stopped by the CMJ offices earlier this week for a quick performance. I took a video for my blog and thought I would share it with WTBU's blog readers as well.

The song is called "The Beginning of the Twist". The band will be touring in Europe for the rest of the summer (they're from the UK) but you can listen to some of their songs on their myspace.

Check daily for music news, interviews, college radio charts, + more!

-liz pelly

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

6/20 CLARE & the REASONS at Berklee Performance Center

With a quickly approaching deadline and the overwhelming urge to roll around on my apartment floor and cry, listening to Brooklyn's Clare & the Reasons has brought me to a new pinnacle of euphoria.

Berklee College of Music alumna, Clare’s melodic vocals cradle stress and worries to sleep while the Reasons’ string and harmony accompaniment make me nostalgic for the simpler days when angry professors, bosses, and train conductors weren’t constantly looming around the corner.

Their latest album, The Movie (2007 Frog Stand), has taken a prominent position in my "Don't Cry, Everything is Beautiful" iPod playlist. My favorite track? "Pluto."

A love song to the former (but forever in our hearts) planet, "Pluto" the track puts worried ears to rest with heart-melting lyrics like "chin up Pluto the stars still want you and we down here do too/
you know what to do, just keep on keeping on."

Performing this Friday night at the Berklee Performance Center with My Brightest Diamond, Clare & the Reasons are worth much than the nominal ticket price.

As Time Out New York reported in their February 27, 2008, issue, "Both on record and in concert, Clare & the Reasons hinge on breezy, old-fashioned orchestrations."

Don't miss your opportunity to hear Clare & the Reasons this Friday at the Berklee Performance Center at 8 p.m. and take a listen at

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Aimee Mann, @#%&*! Smilers

I have always rooted for Aimee Mann. Ever since I heard her 2002 classic Lost in Space, I have searched through her other work in hopes of discovering the glory of that stand-out album elsewhere in her catalogueor at least some traces of it. I am always left with the same unspectacular adult contemporary whatever that only once in a while shows signs of that spark that made Lost in Space so quietly brilliant.

Fast forward to the present, and the latest from Mann has critics all abuzz with weighty words like "masterful" and "deceptively powerful." I'm not so convinced; Smilers is mostly a disappointment, giving new meaning to an old line from Lost in Space that reads, "I'm not the girl you once put your faith in/ Just someone who looks like me."

You get the feeling that Mann's musical style is like her grandmother's old pie recipe that she keeps trying to figure out, with Lost in Space being that one time she got it right. She makes slight adjustments on every attemptwrites pretty arrangements, treads new ground lyrically, breaks out some brass?but the pie is always missing something, and so are most of these tracks.

The subject matter is partly to blame. Smilers suffers from her last album's curse of downer specificity: a song about a middle-aged pretty boy whose looks are fading, something about not being able to afford a freeway.... they are an upgrade from the old school boxer tale she told on concept album The Forgotten Arm, but not by much. Mann has proved her exceptional talent for clever, moving songwriting with past works of art such as "Invisible Ink" and "Guys Like Me." She would benefit from a return to the broader, more relatable themes of her past work.

"31 Today," "Stranger into Starman" and "Medicine Wheel" earn more listens, but you could live without the first two. Mann is at her best on the heartfelt "Medicine Wheel." She bears her pain from the beginning with the gripping opening line, "The day you left and you called me 'bitch'..." to a chorus that stings with frustration: "Everything that's given, you steal." Overall, not a bad effort from Mann; however, with the bar set so high, Smilers is a bust.

- Jessy Bartlett

Monday, June 9, 2008

Spotlight: Metric

One of Canada's favorites are back in the studio working on their highly anticipated fourth album. While there is no set release date as of now, there is plenty to keep Metric fans busy in the meantime.

Front-woman Emily Haines and the boys of Metric have come a long way since their early days. Actually, the first Metric album saw its official release just last summer after years of sitting on the shelf and internet file sharing: the experimental Grow Up and Blow Away, 11 tracks with electronic, jazz and trip-hop influences. They followed it up with 2003's critically acclaimed Old World Underground, Where Are You Now?, which established Metric as one of Canada's premiere indie rock bands. They then released another hit with Live It Out in 2005, a balance of rock anthems and synthesizers that kept fans happy while gaining them many new ones.

Emily Haines also tried her hand at a solo venture in '06 that resulted in Knives Don't Have Your Back, a collection of morose, piano-driven songs "for people who cry in the bathtub where no one can see your tears," Haines has joked. On Knives, Haines' keen social awareness takes center stage on many of the tracks, commenting on feminism, the drug industry and social institutions such as marriage.

Haines' lyrics on Metric songs have dealt with similar issues, often telling stories with themes of conflict and social change ("I fought the war but the war won't stop for the love of God!"). However, Haines may change her tune a bit with this next album, as she told Under the Radar magazine in a recent interview: '"A lot of what I feel like I had to get off my chest, I got off my chest," Haines says, preferring to express "a shared bewildered desire to actually enjoy our lives as much as we can despite the current situation."'

Live performances of quite a few new Metric tracks have been floating around YouTube. So far, the response from fans has been mostly positive; the new songs sound like Live It Out Part 2 with their rock/electronic sound and Emily's voice soars as strong as ever. If the past is any indication, Metric will be back with another inspiring record in 2009.

In the meantime, you can check out a handful of new songs on YouTube or take a trip to Canada, where they will be appearing in various music festivals this summer. Below is a live performance of "Joyride"; follow the Related Video links to see and hear more. It's in my top three of the new tracks next to "Standing in Line" and "Up in Flames" ... it's hard to pick a favorite, but that's a good thing!

- Jessy Bartlett