Monthly Archives: July 2008

Review: Dear and the Headlights – Small Steps, Heavy Hooves

Indie rock; what is the official meaning of this term that is equally loved and hated by all? Is there an audible aspect defined by genre and/or musical style, or does it just describe the process or state of mind of making music? Welcome to the seemingly decade long debate that has no end in site. Enter Dear and the Headlights, a five-piece rock collective from Phoenix, Arizona. Their sound is not easily definable, yet oddly familiar. Really, Dear and the Headlights debut album, Small Steps, Heavy Hooves, is an amalgam of many styles; whatever moniker you choose to give (rock, indie, emo, pop), one cannot contain them. A tell tale sign of this is producer Bob Hoag, who’s diverse production and recording credits include: Scary Kids Scaring Kids, The Format, The Bled, and The Ataris (of which he is a member), to name a few. Dear and the Headlights’ ability to have a song-for-hire type of style really pays off, as each song is distinct while collectively coming together to create phenomenal debut album that awards the listener with each repeat listen.

The album opener “Oh No!” really sets the tone, with acoustic guitars leading to weaving guitars, hard hitting melodies, and lyrics that will make you watch your back. These attributes give a glimpse at what the album as a whole is going to give you, and sets up one of the album highlights in the form of “Sweet Talk”. The song is a bitter homage to a relationship’s abrupt end by means of promiscuity: “Hold his hand now / Out on the mission field, your hearts compatible / Mine breaks alone alone alone / Your new boyfriend, you’ve got your new boyfriend / I bet he likes you more than he likes me.” Ian Metzger’s vocal style and ability propels the songs to convey the feeling he felt as they were being penned, which spans sour relationships, love, betrayal, and confusion. “Skinned Knees & Gapped Teeth” begins with a bending bass line that ushers a slew of stammering confessions to himself and perhaps his mother: “And when you taped over a good half of the wedding tape / I know you never thought Thundercats would ever be the end.” This honesty and quirkiness translates into something you can immediately relate with, whether it was trying to convince your speak-n-spell to spit profanities, or taping over something important with Saturday morning cartoons.

Like many 20-somethings today living their seemingly aimless lives, Small Steps, Heavy Hooves realizes the close link between tragedy and life, but also makes you smile with the relevant moments that put you back in your place. Whatever “indie rock” definition you adopt, Dear and the Headlights comfortably fits them all with pristine accuracy. After a heavily 90’s influenced guitar solo, the resonating crooning of the epilogue in “Run In The Front” says it best: “Hours to waste turns into full weeks, then months, then into me / A life long disease / The gray in your hair still means hope for me / That beauty won’t be hidden easily / That truth could still hold true for me.”

For fans of: Death Cab for Cutie, Midlake, Jimmy Eat World

Track Listing:
01. Oh No!
02. Sweet Talk
03. Hallelujah
04. Happy In Love
05. I’m Bored, You’re Amorous
06. Grace
07. It’s Gettin’ Easy
08. Paper Bag
09. Skinned Knees and Gapped Teeth
10. Run in the Front
11. Mother Make Me Golden
12. I Just Do
13. Midwestern Dirt

[I had this review in my back log, thought I would post it for your enjoyment.]

– Ant

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White, Jack White

All puns aside, news has been released that Jack White (The White Stripes, The Raconteurs) will be part of an unlikely duo, teaming with Soul/R&B star Alicia Keys to perform the theme song for the upcoming James Bond film, Quantum Of Solace.

“The male half of the White Stripes, who wrote and produced the tune, called “Another Way to Die,” will also play drums. The film’s soundtrack is due out Oct. 28, while the movie itself, the second 007 flick featuring hunky blond Bond Daniel Craig, hits theaters Nov. 7. …White and Keys’ collaboration marks the first time a duo have tackled the Bond song, which hopefully will be more “Thunderball” (Tom Jones = suave and sophisticated) than “Die Another Day” (Madonna = Pierce Brosnan getting his ass kicked in a Korean prison).”

Now, when you think of Alicia Keys, the first thing that comes to mind is definitely not the phrase “bad ass”, but she has bolstered her bad assery by merely being involved in 1) Making music with Jack White and 2) Being a part of the new and improved Bond series, in which Bond is more likely to exert bloody revenge for a fallen lover than worry about spewing off some cheesy line about the way he likes his cocktail.

Quantum Of Solace is in theaters November 7, 2008.

Quantum Of Solace is in theaters November 7, 2008.

– Ant

Heroes Comicon Preview…

Heroes: Season 2 releases on DVD August 26, 2008.

Probably the show worst affected by the dismal writer’s strike was “Heroes.” The alternate ending used at the premature conclusion of Season 2 absolutely ground the series to a halt. Aint It Cool has news following the Season 3 premier screening at Comicon about the DVD release of Season 2:

Fans will recall, in last season’s finale (episode 11), Peter Petrelli stopped a vial from breaking that contained a deadly virus. But in the original ending, the vial broke, which launched the second half of episodes for the season under the book title “Outbreak.” The DVD footage will include the other ending, plus the shot footage from unaired episodes 12 and 13.”

Lets hope the series can get back on track after trying to incorporate so many new characters, which by itself is a daunting task, only to add trying to bounce back after a shortened season. Lets get back to what fans want to see, Syler getting his powers back and capping skulls, with some more CURRENT character development. Also, I could go without seeing Hiro on a green-screen sound stage in feudal Japan ever again.

[Heroes: Season 3 begins Monday, September 22, 2008 with a 2 hour premier.]

Listen Up!

New edition of our weekly spin-list…

Headlights new album "Some Racing, Some Stopping"

Headlights new album "Some Racing, Some Stopping"

Headlights new album, “Some Racing, Some Stopping”, has been a morning wake-up album for me since it was released. Their sweet fairytale-like echoing dual vocals will instantly put you in a good mood. If I could compare them to anyone, they would be a lighter (lyrically), more accessible version of Arcade Fire (driving danceable drum beats and busty bass bravado). They don’t really bring anything new to the musical world, but what they lack in creating a genre of their own, they make up for in crafting fun catchy pop songs.

“Wouldn’t it be sorta strange if we could hear our hearts all beating at once? Some racing, some stopping, some skipping and dropping while we’re listening. And the faces wouldn’t matter ’cause we’d know it when it pattered.” – from the title track ‘Some Racing, Some Stopping’

Hoots & Hellmouth - S/T

Hoots & Hellmouth - S/T

Hoots & Hellmouth are somewhat of an anomaly, surviving merely on word of mouth. Their brand of gallivanting gospel is gaining them a reputation from their shows; impromptu audience participation (inviting the whole crowd on stage at once for a sing-along) and improvising when their drummer was feeling a bit under the weather (buying a large piece of wooden board before the show and covering it with tambourines to create a stomping ground of makeshift percussion). Of course, I haven’t been able to see them, but by word of mouth, they are becoming an old standby in my collection. If you would love a dose of good old fashion Americana, give these gent’s a listen. The track “Home In A Boxcar” makes me want to go down to the local saloon and sip on a dirty whiskey sarsaparilla.

Mates of State - Re-Arrange Us

Mates of State - Re-Arrange Us

I guess there is a bit of a mini-theme here, I have been on a female vocal jaunt as of late (so sue me). Mates of State have always been known for their husband/wife dual intertwining vocals and punchy use of the organ. You could almost come to expect a great album from them, but more of the same, not really bringing in many new ideas. “Re-Arrange Us”, well, it re-arranges them. Gone is the organ (sure to upset many longstanding fans), but here to stay is crafty song-writing and a focus on the female lead, with hubby taking a backseat most of the time. They really flaunt their pop music prowess, creating melodies that stick in your head for days (good luck getting “Now” out of your head).

Honorable mentions: Built To Spill, Delta Spirit, Drive-By Truckers, and Ryan Adams.

[Look for a new “Listen Up!” every weekend.]

What We’re Watching… (Week 1)

This will be another weekly feature. WWW will recommend some of the goodies we are currently watching, whether it be at the movies or on the couch.

The Dark Knight is in theaters now.

The Dark Knight is in theaters now.

The homage to Heath Ledger/Joker The Dark Knight is being garnered as the savior of the summer in the film industry. We are very cautious of hype when it comes to film; too often do we go into a movie that’s ego is so blown up, that we hope for a life-altering experience, and wind up getting some mildly amusing drivel that we forget about 5 minutes after leaving the theater (Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull isn’t the worst, but it’s the first thing that comes to mind). A movie as much about the societal dilemma of good and evil within us all as much as it is a comic book movie, The Dark Knight lives up to the hype. Ledger is phenomenal, as predicted, but look for impressive performances all around (ie. Aaron Eckhart as Harvey Dent). And for God’s sake, see this film in IMAX while you still can.

Once is out now on DVD.

Once is out now on DVD.

Once, called by some “the best music film of our generation”, is set in Ireland and follows the story of a fledgling musician who meets a woman that together propell each other to find what they truly want out of life. They even won an Oscar for “best original song.” This is really a showcase for Glen Hansard, which is the lead singer/songwriter for Irish rockers The Frames. This is the little indie film that could; the acting elements seem to only act as placeholders for the musical numbers performed in the film. You might think, “oh, a musical”, but that label would be grossly unfortunate. The raw emotion and stories laid out by the use of song alone are undeniably more effective than the dialogue in most films. I love the fact the that writer did not give the main characters names, they are simple known as guy/girl in the credits, it really immerses you in the story all the more, with the focus on the music rather than characters. All of this was made possible by an indie writer/director with a passion for music (John Carney, who was once the bass player for The Frames), and two first time actors (Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová). An almost perfect film.

The first season of Mad Men is out now on DVD.

The first season of Mad Men is out now on DVD and the new season starts July 27 at 10pm.

Mad Men is the first original series by AMC and catching a lot of buzz for accurately portraying the lives of the men and woman in an advertising firm in 1960 New York City. These people, ladies and gentlemen, are not people you think your grandparents could have ever been; conniving, sexy, promiscuous, and flat out ruthless. All this coming from a time that conjures thoughts of the stable nuclear family, milkmen and unlocked doors at home. Don Draper is the smooth talking ladies man, cigarette smoker, and cocktail drinker that everyone wanted to be back then, but like the times in which they were living, everything seemed perfect only to uncover some nasty skeletons in the closet. Also, I found it funny the writers decided to write a character that was pregnant so they could show her smoking and drinking, things the general public thought did not harm the body back in the 50’s-60’s. While this series might be too “slow” for some, you won’t find much action, try to give it chance, the character development is fantastic.

-Ant

[Look for a new “What We’re Watching” (WWW) every Friday.]

Watchman Trailer…

The blogosphere has been inundated with posting this trailer, and we will be no exception; it’s just THAT good. I was lucky enough to have seen this trailer in glorious IMAX just before seeing The Dark Knight (which, if you get the chance, see this baby in IMAX). Listen for perfect use of the remixed Smashing Pumpkins song ” The Beginning is the End is the Beginning.”

[Watchmen releases March 6, 2009 via Warner Bros.]

Andrew Bird: West-African Musical Forms and Missy Elliot Beats

Andrew Bird is working on two new albums.

Andrew Bird is working on two new albums.

Andrew Bird has confirmed he is busy writing new records; yes, you read correct, plural.

“I listened to my record recently and I’m concerned about how much I like it. This has never happened to me at this stage of making a record. Right about now is usually when I want to scrap the whole thing and start over. In fact, scrapping whole records has become par for the course for me when recording.

…I’ve been meaning to mention that I’ve been working on another record at the same time as this one. It’s supposed to be an instrumental record and I’ve been switching between sessions of the “song” record and this more indulgent ambient experimental record.”

Fantastic news for fans. Check out his full blog post for a clip of a new song titled “Oh No.” Also, this will probably be the only blog post you will ever read with the excerpts “West-African musical forms from ornamental kora music” and “…which has one of the more undeniable beats I’ve heard in a while — one that I’m sure Missy Elliot would lift in a heartbeat.”

[Andrew Bird regularly writes his blog for the New York Times.]