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Sep 222011


Hysterical, the new release from Clap Your Hands Say Yeah sounds anything but.  The album is refined and mature. It is closer to Some Loud Thunder being heavier on more elaborate orchestral-type pop arrangements than the thundering disco beats and clean bass lines adorned with jangly duel guitars that made their debut album remind me of an east coast Modest Mouse.

It is actually a nice compromise between the sounds of the first two albums.  On the first song, “Same Mistake,” old disco beats marry-up nicely with new strings and the ever-constant forlorn and unintelligible vocals of Alec Ounsworth. The title track, “Hysterical,” combines a quickened pace with a more soaring and tonal guitar approach inflating the song beyond mere indie whimper. Ounsworth’s lyrics ring true with sentimental conviction as always on “Misspent Youth” as he sort of hits the nail on the head.  “Maniac” is the first song I hear that sounds like it would lend weight to a live show. “Into Your Alien Arms” feels like Talking Heads until it breaks out into a loud and feedback drenched solo outro a la Sonic Youth and “Ketamine and Ecstasy” is what I’m on right now – ha – no – it kind of sounds like The Cure with echo-y guitars conjuring feelings of 80’s new wave.

“Into Your Alien Arms” by Clap Your Hands Say Yeah

Hysterical is getting critically pounded because a 5-year hiatus returned a safe, middle-of-the-road effort. I can see how it fails to achieve the charm of their first album and the wild experimentation of the second, but I feel they defined themselves by taking some of the best bits of those two approaches. It’s an album that warrants more than one or two listens before all the nuance of the instrumentation and John Congleton’s (Walkmen, David Byrne) production sinks in.

Sep 142011

Representatives from Orlando Health and the Arnold Palmer Medical Center along with founders of the new rock music festival, Orlando Calling (including Festival Republic’s CEO Melvin Benn), and the ubiquitous Joey Fatone gathered at Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children today to release some great news. The Orlando Calling event donated 10-large to benefit the Music Therapy Program at the hospital.


In addition to the giant check – literally (I know a place we can cash that right now) – they facilitated the donation of four Gibson guitars to be auctioned for the program’s benefit. These lucscious axes will be signed by Orlando Calling talent including Bob Seger (Seger!) and The Killers.

Guitars for auction_Orlando-Calling_Arnold-Palmer-Hospital_music-therapy-program

The Music Therapy Program is made possible through Joey’s My Healing Harmony – a program of the Fatone Family Foundation. The program provides a credentialed music therapist to assist children as they heal and grow through music. They help hospitalized children learn instruments and understand music theory as a way to relax and cope with pain and discomfort in addition to providing channels for socialization and self-expression.

Local band and Orlando Calling performers, Savannah, played in the hospital’s atrium. The stars of the show were the hospital patients including a little girl that strummed guitar with the band, twinkled out some melodies on the keyboard, and sang an Adele cover with Joey on bongos in the therapy room.

Locals and Orlando Calling performers, Savannah

Locals and Orlando Calling performers, Savannah

Sep 132011

st-vincent_strange-mercy_album-review_kisses-and-noiseMy current celebrity lady crush, Annie Clark, is back with a new St. Vincent album titled Strange Mercy. I always understood St. Vincent to be a pixie-ish waif with a great voice and tender, graceful pop songs. That is until I saw her on Austin City Limits with her full band just tear the ass out of it – changing seemingly mellow numbers into guitar-infused rock. Live, her dainty songs were supercharged with energy and sprinkles of true “axe-work” handled competently by Annie herself.

Strange Mercy highlights some of her live strengths, making great use of charging beats and generous dabs of grinding guitar. The first two tracks, especially “Cruel,” capture the best of what St. Vincent has to offer. Cathartic lyrics housed in elegant and soaring pop and brought down to earth with the chunkiness of electric guitar.

Read my full review at Suburban Apologist

Sep 102011

Billy-Corgan-in-hoodie-with-fender_black-and-whiteIn usual fashion, Billy Corgan is cranking out music and wading through a pile of projects. In addition to getting behind a wrestling promotion venture and very slowly releasing the 44 free online tracks for Teargarden by Kaleidyscope as well as putting the final touches on the album-within-an-album, Oceania (Due out in November), he is also digging through the mighty SP’s vast archives. They are putting out remasters of their original albums that will be augmented with extra discs that include demos, alternate takes, live performances, and unreleased music from each record’s era.

If you enroll in the Smashing Pumpkins Record Club by visiting their home page and leaving your email you will immediately get a demo version of “Drown.” You will also be able to find this raw, mean-ass instrumental demo of “Geek USA:”

Smashing Pumpkins — Suicide Kiss Geek No Vox by Smashing Pumpkins

This project will connect fans with loads of free material as it is uncovered in addition to the remastered sets for sale. This could prove to be a massive amount of music. As fans of SP know, most songs have several alternate versions and for every one song that makes it to an official album there are dozens of others that don’t. What makes this exciting is that SP b-sides are just as epic as their album material. “Starla,” “Plume,” “Bye June,” “Chewing Gum,” “Drown,” “Slunk,” “Meladori Magpie,” “The Aeroplane Flies High” and hundreds more are considered b-sides.

This is the first version of “Here’s to the Atom Bomb” which appeared on the original free Internet album, 2001′s Machina 2: The Friends and Enemies of Modern Music and again on Judas O: B-Sides and Rarities. This is the rockin’ version:

“Here’s to the Atom Bomb” by Smashing Pumpkins

Here is the more new wave-y alternate take. In addition to the musical approach, this version also has alternate lyrics. Despite these changes it is still the same song at the core. This is what I mean about how much stuff could possibly pour out of this SPRC project.

“Here’s to the Atom Bomb” (alt) by Smashing Pumpkins

NOTE: I actually stole the name of my blog from this version: “With Kisses and Noise / Now they belong to you all.” I feel like I have to put that out there because there is a song by The Used called “Noise & Kisses” and I dread the mistaken connection.