28 August 2006

Ah well -- Top 10 and 2 new Reviews

One of these days I'll get diligent about SOTD. Really.
Off to see the shell of the Red Sox play Oakland in the Network Assoc./Oakland-Almeda/3Com Coliseum. Yeah, nothing like seeing Kason Gabbard start for the Sox. Ugh.

At least I'm off to Boston on Tuesday so I can watch the Red Sox lose live every day for a week! Woo!

My current iPod Top 10

10 Meeting Paris Hilton - Cansei de Ser Sexy
9 Proletariat Blues - Blue Scholars
8 No Culture Icons - the Thermals
7 Wildcat - Ratatat
6 We Are the Pipettes - the Pipettes
5 Crazy - Gnarls Barkley
4 Hips Don't Lie - Shakira
3 We Share Our Mothers' Health - the Knife
2 Insistor - Tapes 'n Tapes
1 Pull Shapes - the Pipettes


Two new TIG reviews!

The Pipettes - We are the Pipettes!
Ratatat - Classics


23 August 2006

"She's Got a New Spell" by Billy Bragg

Shuffle of the Day for 8/23/2006
"She's Got a New Spell" by Billy Bragg from Workers' Playtime

Billy Bragg is one of the most underappreciated songwriters in rock music and Workers' Playtime is one of the most underappreciated albums of the 1980's. Unlike Bragg's reputation and the album's title, Workers' Playtime has very little politics (except for the classic "Waiting for the Great Leap Forwards"), but instead the album is populated by nearly perfect love songs. Most of them are sad love songs, and "She's Got a New Spell" is one of them, a song about, well, getting dumped. The song is built off a base of gentle guitars and an infectious melody as Billy spins a yarn about discovering that his woman seems to have changed, and probably not in a good way. The song itself is almost 20 years old now, but it still maintains its timeless sound as a lot of Billy Bragg's works seem to be able to do. It is truly one of those hidden gems of a song on a hidden gem of an album.

Another day, another Red Sox loss. *sigh*


21 August 2006

Red Sox and Shuffle of the Day

First things first:

The Red Sox were swept in 5 games but Yankers to put them 6.5 games out in the AL East. Talk about ending the season in a 4 day span. The games were painful to watch, read about, hear mention in passing, etc. Last night was a game that the Red Sox needed to win and should have won, but Timlin & Lopez couldn't help but put Yankers on base. Papelbon tried his best, but ran out of luck (and his ERA is now officially 1.00), but Craig Hansen couldn't make it 3 pitches in the 10th without giving up a run (and was rewarded with a demotion to AAA). However, the real goats have to be Hinske & Mirabelli who couldn't drive in a run from third base with only 1 out (well, 2 outs for Mirabelli). Painful. This is why the Sox need a better #5 hitter.

A few additional comments on the Red Sox.

- The Varitek injury was a killer - Pre-Tek Injury Winning %: .610; Post-Tek Injury Winning %: .263. I know that it could be a coincidence, but that seems like a stretch to me. It's 2001 all over again. Varitek plays such an important (yet undefinable) role on this team in terms of keeping the pitching staff working it seems like a joke to think that Dumpy Doug and Javy Lopez could have any luck keeping this team afloat.

- I wonder if Francona is long for this world. I know at least we need a new pitching coach.


Shuffle of the Day for 8/21/2006
"Yr City's a Sucker" by LCD Soundsystem from LCD Soundsystem.

Wow. I wish I has something to say except that this seems like the perfect song for New York to sing to Boston today. Damn them.


19 August 2006

Top 10, Red Sox and a new review

Yesterday I went to San Francisco (specifically the Presidio), so no Shuffle for yesterday.

Instead, I'll throw my iPod top 10 here:

10 We are the Pipettes - the Pipettes
9 Country Roads - Me First & the Gimme Gimmes
8 9mm and a Three Piece Suit - Catch 22
7 Do You Remember? - Cars Can Be Blue
6 Lloyd, I'm Ready to be Heart Broken - Camera Obscura
5 Proletariat Blues - the Blue Scholars
4 Capture with a Magnet - the Thermals
3 No Culture Icons - the Thermals
2 Hips Don't Lie - Shakira
1 2wice - Mission of Burma

Ok, here is my real thought for today. We're going old school and talking Red Sox.

They're done for 2006. Sorry, but it had to be said. I'm not being a pessimist, I'm not trying to be a kneejerk fan, but they're done. When you play your closest rival and you let them score 36 runs in the first 23 innings [edit: make that 39 runs in 27 innings] of the series, you're done. Now, unlike a lot of Red Sox fans who are ready to throw Theo Epstein under a bus, I stand firmly behind Theo. He has a plan that goes well beyond 2006 and he's sticking to it in the face of all the wailing and gnashing of teeth of the Boston press, the Sons of Sam Horn, and all the various Boston sports idiots. Sure, it stings to see the Yankers hoard more players and run away with an AL East that looked like it was for the taking by the Sox. However, things just didn't pan out: injuries beset the Sox, especially the devasting loss of Varitek; young pitchers hit their rookie wall (Delcarmen, Hansen, Lester and Papelbon to a lesser degree) and the offense was a different type of offense that might not be able to bounce back as quickly as previous editions.

What are the key problems for the Red Sox right now.

1. Terry Francona needs to learn to manage a pitching staff - I can't even count how many times he's sent a starter (especially Beckett) back out there to pitch when they've been (a) shaky throughout the game and (b) at or near 100 pitches. Why? To instill confidence but letting them get shelled? Sure, the bullpen is thin, but destroying your starters will not help the bullpen. Francona needs to not keep trotting the starter out there when its obvious that, probablisitically, this inning will be a tipping point as they hit 100 pitches. He also needs to have pitchers ready to get starters out of jams when he feels he needs to trot the starter out there again. Today's game was a microcosm of this pattern, where Francona brought Beckett out for the 6th inning after Beckett had already given up 5 runs to the Yankers and was at 97 pitches. What happens? Beckett loads the bases and walks in the go-ahead run (and ends up throwing 121 pitches). Finally, Francona brings in Delcarmen with the bases loaded and the rookie pitcher walks in a run, then gives up a 3 run triple to Jorge Posada. A 5-5 game becomes a 10-5 deficit. Would this have happened if Francona brought Delcarmen in to start the inning? Who knows, but I would like to hope it might not have gotten so out of had.

2. The front office needs more bench depth - The bench has been weak this year: Cora, Kapler, Mirabelli are the main off the bench hitters. Mirabelli was a panic move after Josh Bard couldn't catch Wakefield. Cora has played above his projections, but Kapler seems to be a sentimental favorite rather than a practical one. Other players to grace the bench were Willie Harris, who lost 1 if not 2 games on the bases and Adam Stern, who couldn't get his WBC magic back.

3. The Boston Press/fans need to learn that the Sox will not win it all every year - Funny how the win in 2004 has made many Sox fans and most of the press even more insufferable. They expect that the 2004 magic should happen all the time and that the "WIN NOW" mentality should exist every year. 2004 was a unique season for a number of reasons, not the least of which was the free agency of Pedro Martinez and Nomar Garciaparra. Without these events, I don't think the Sox front office would have pushed so hard to win that year. Sox fans need to get used to the idea that the Henry ownership and Epstein management will not be playing the same games as the Yankers to win at any cost. Deal.

4. As vaunted as the Manny-Papi duo is, they need backup - The Sox relied too much on the two-headed monsters of Manny and Big Papi. What they need is a good, consistent #5 hitter to follow Ortiz, someone like the 2006 version of Raul Ibanez or a Jermaine Dye or someone who can be more consistent than Varitek or Nixon. Maybe Eric Hinske can fill that role in 2007, but the Sox should look for some other power bat to fill in behind Manny & Papi.

Players who will not return in 2007: Nixon, Loretta, Alex Gonzalez (maybe), Timlin, Seanez, Clement, Wells, Wakefield (?), Mirabelli, Kapler, Lowell (?)

Those are my key thoughts right now. The Red Sox of 2006 aren't a bad team. Really. But they're also not as good as people made them out to be. They're young and unexperienced in many important parts of the team. The 2007 Sox may be better, but they have a lot of holes to fill. Sure, it might be early for a post-mortem like this, but I at least wanted to get it out before the real slashing begins.


New TIG review: Mission of Burma - The Obliterati


16 August 2006

"A Credit to His Gender" by Good Riddance

Shuffle of the Day for 8/16/2006
"A Credit to His Gender" by Good Riddance from A Comprehensive Guide to Moderne Rebellion

Back in the day (read late 1990's) I was really into hardcore, especially the more political/straight-edge/anti-frat boy as it could get. It was part and parcel with the general ultra-leftist feelings I had in college (that has since been tempered with real world pragmatism, a.k.a., resigned bitterness and resentment). However, at the time, I thought these bands might be able to change the world, or at least parts of it. Good Riddance seems especially well suited for this pursuit, just look at the title of the album that "A Credit to His Gender" is derived. The song itself is a downright indictment of the frat-boy culture, although Good Riddances lyrical chops might go over their heads. It seems pretty clear with lines like Call her a whore/just the same as you/but she could never be that shallow. When you put lines such as that to a punk/hardcore song, well, its perfect for playing at 1:20AM on a college radio station and hoping you can at least comfort yourself that someone might be listening thinking "yeah, screw that frat-boy types" (I suppose it was less prevalent at my college considering frats and sororities had been banned since the 60's - but the culture was still present). I don't know how I feel anymore about the changing power of music. It seems like most music has been co-opted in this country just like almost everything else by (1) big business; (2) the christian "right" and (3) downright evil. I suppose I just have to hope that it can work like it did with me: one person at a time so we don't totally lose sight of the way life should work rather than the way we're told it has to be.

15 August 2006

"Michael" by Franz Ferdinand

Shuffle of the Day for 8/15/2006
"Michael" by Franz Ferdinand from Franz Ferdinand

I find it relatively amusing that a band that can have a song featured in Madden 2006 can also have a song about picking up guys at a dance club. Do you suppose that this could cause some confusion amongst the frat boys? "Michael" is part of the long string of perfect rock songs that exist in the confines of Franz Ferdinand. It is one of those albums that is a dance party in itself and if you don't like it, you're dead or lacking in, you know, a fun gene.

14 August 2006

"Jesus Built My Hotrod" by Ministry

Shuffle of the Day for 8/14/2006
"Jesus Built My Hotrod" by Ministry from Psalm 69

Every once in a while, I get a spine-tingling sensation when the song comes up, and yes, my friends, today was one of those days. "Jesus Built my Hotrod" has to be in my all-time, top 10 favorite songs. Its hard to explain just why it is, but every time I hear it, I must turn up the volume. I would sing along if I had any idea what guest vocalist Gibby Haynes was singing. The video for it entirely too bizarre for words, but I do love Al (?) sliding off the end of his slide guitar. This song might be the pinnacle of early 90's industrial music, before it was drifted back towards synth-pop by Trent Reznor (that is, until he took his cue from Al and recorded Broken, one of the best 6 industrial songs recorded). Ministry went on to record a lot of bogged down, trivial music after this song, but at least we still have it to remind us that, at one point, Ministry knew how to make music.
A certain times in my life, "Jesus Built My Hotrod" seems like a very fitting song for me, moodwise. Its frantic, panicked and generally evokes a mood of total lack of control. Not that I'm in that sort of situation, per se, but instead whenever I'm frustrated or mad or something akin to that kind of mood, its a great way to work out a lot of anxiety. Its the perfect situational song that never seems to get old to me.

11 August 2006

"9mm and a Three Piece Suit" by Catch 22

Shuffle of the Day for 8/11/06
"9mm and a Three Piece Suit" by Catch 22 from Keasbey Nights

OK, so, did anyone expect the third (fourth?) wave of ska to last for more than, oh, 6 months? Well, if you did, you were wrong. And as many of those Reel Big Fish, Bim Skala Bim and No Doubt (were they really ska anyway) make their way to the used bin, there are actually a few ska discs I still really enjoy. Beyond the Teflon Mighty Mighty Bosstones (well, if you're from Boston), I still get a kick out of the debut from Catch 22. All their songs songs were really fast and frantic, with a pretty amusing horn section (and thats the key) without being cheesy and gimicky. They sound like their having fun (and I think they were like 16 when they recorded this). Maybe its just nostalgia for those late nights on WCFM, but Catch 22 seem to be slightly impervious to the other trendy bands of the late 90s that just sound, well, silly these days.


New Review!
Comets on Fire - Avatar

10 August 2006

New Review

I've been trying to catch up on the backlog of reviews for TIG, and here's the first of this wave

Camera Obscura - Let's Get Out of the Country


"Monkey Wrench" by the Foo Fighters

Shuffle of the Day for 8/10/06
"Monkey Wrench" by the Foo Fighters from The Colour and the Shape

Somehow, Dave Grohl has ended up with the longest post-Nirvana career. I mean, I guess Kurt took himself out of that loop. To my knowledge, Krist Novaselic busies himself in local Washington politics and flying his private plan around. Dave Grohl, no, he's still a rock star, whether it be with his Foo Fighters, drumming for Queens of the Stone Age, tooling around with Trent Reznor or anything a former grudge star would tend to do. "Monkey Wrench" was the first single from the Foo Fighters second album, a surprisingly well constructed disc that had two of the best songs Dave has done, the aforementioned "Monkey Wrench" and the truly great "Everlong". I'm also amused that "Monkey Wrench" has a very obvious swear in it that I never hear get edited out when its on the radio ("and all the shit/that somehow came along with it" from Grohl's shouted bridge). Most of the more recent Foo Fighters material has sounded, well, uninspired, but heck, Dave already has his place in the rock and roll Hall of Fame waiting, so he's going for the full McCartney career.

09 August 2006

"A Peak in Time" by Cut Chemist

Shuffle of the Day for 8/9/06
"A Peak in Time" by Cut Chemist from The Audience's Listening

I sort of feel bad for Cut Chemist. He made his name producing for the Jurassic 5 when they were cool and indie. Now, they dump him so they can collaborate with who? Dave freaking Matthews. Talk about a total sellout move, you'd think Big Charlie Tuna would know better, but alas, such is not the case apparently. So, on the same day that the J5 released their latest, Cut Chemist-less album (to yawning reviews - 54 score on Metacritic), Cut Chemist released his own record to much better reviews (75). So who gets the last laugh here?
Anyway, this track from Cut Chemist new album is a RJD2 style dance/rock sort of hybrid that is a lot of fun and exhibits a lot more energy than the stuff I've heard from the new J5. It has a little bit of a dated feel, but these days it seems hard for any DJ type artists to not sound dated (unless you got certifiably mad like DJ Shadow). Its a great summer party track, which is good enough for me.

08 August 2006

Shuffle of the Day, the return

For 8/8/2006
"Meaningless" by Magnetic Fields from 69 Love Songs
For the mood I'm in today, this song seems fitting. I've been struggling with trying to meet people in a new town. And by that, I put the emphasis on trying because its not something that comes very natural to me. So, although I know I should be going out and trying to get to know the town, I have this fear thats its all meaningless and its not something I can try to make happen. There's really nothing like Stephin Merritt for making you feel okay about, well, pretty much anything, so hey, it might be a fools errand but whatever. He makes "meaningless" sound like fun.


07 August 2006

Go figure

I forgot my iPod at home today. That's odd, isn't it?

So much for my schedule.

04 August 2006

Top 10, a new review and some catcher comments

Here is my current iPod top 10. Its a little, well, odd.
My iPod needs some serious restructuring...

10 Bad Education - Tilly & the Wall
9 Strasbourg - the Rakes
8 Blue Light (Engineers Anti-Gravity Remix) - Bloc Party
7 Grown So Ugly - the Black Keys
6 No Culture Icons - the Thermals
5 How We Know - the Thermals
4 Insistor - Tapes 'n Tapes
3 Your Kisses Are Wasted on Me - the Pipettes
2 Pull Shapes - the Pipettes
1 We are the Pipettes - the Pipettes

New TIG review

Junior Private Detective - Erase

Now that Jason Varitek is out, Javy Lopez is in, and Doug Mirabelli is injured, the Red Sox have officially run out of catchers. Ken Huckaby, with his impressive .205 average at AAA was DFA'd, and Corky Miller is the ONLY catcher at AAA Pawtucket. Here's my vote for Jason LaRue or heck, me.

A little sunnier theme

Well, with the move to California, I've decided that the all-black theme of the previous blog just seemed kind of, well, down.

So, we've more to a more sunny theme and change the name to a little less geeky tone, but nothing much else as changed.
Except I'm going to be much better with updating now. Either that, or I'll fine have to admit that I'm just not that interesting.

Anyway, enjoy!