Haven't had a good chance to do much with the space the last couple weeks. I have, however, had a chance to catch some new music, so here's what I've been after the last few weeks...
Flight of the Conchords (s/t)
Ah, the Flight of the Conchords. I was lucky enough to get my 3 month HBO trial during the run of the eponymous show, and became an instant fan. All the songs from their full length self-titled CD will be familiar to fans of the show, who should be pleased to see such classics as 'Business Time' and 'Prettiest Girl (in the room)', while people unfamiliar to the group might be a bit confused as to what the fuss is about. 'Leggy Blonde' is still awful, and a couple other songs seem a bit detached without the show to act as a reference point (even though most, if not all of these songs existed in some way before the show even aired). Still, the Conchords are awesome, and this set shows that fact quite nicely.
Crystal Castles (s/t)
Whoa, this is fun music. Crystal Castles use an Atari 5200 chip inside of their keyboard to produce what could best be described as videogame dance pop. The songs alternate between ridiculously catchy sugary songs that sound like old school nintendo soundtracks and hyperactive shouty electronic spazz outs. Greatly enjoyed.
Gnarls Barkley (The Odd Couple)
Big kudos to Gnarls for moving on from 2006's biggest hit. 'The Odd Couple' could have been nothing but 15 stabs at re-bottling lightning, and to their credit, they haven't gone in that direction. Instead, they've filled their followup with manic, flow-of-consciousness r&b similar to the stuff on St. Elsewhere, only more consistently good. The mountains have been smoother out a little, but the valleys have been filled in quite a bit, too.
Panic at the Disco (Pretty. Odd.)
I was a moderate fan of Panic's first CD (back when they were known by the asinine name of "Panic! at the Disco"), but thought they were nothing special. If they had churned out another 'Fever You Can't Sweat Out', I probably wouldn't have given it a second look, but hearing that they had abandoned pop-punk entirely in favor of Beatles-ish pop-rock songs, I had to check it out. Well, at least the album lives up to it's name. It's really strange hearing a band who sounds like they only just heard about the Beatles try to emulate what they've discovered. There's no way on earth Panic should be trying to copy the Beatles, but they don't know that, and it makes the music more interesting than it should be. As an added bonus, they still know how to write a decent hook, so in the end, even though there's no way that this CD should work, it somehow does. Barely, but it does.
Atmosphere (When Life Gives You Lemons, You Paint That Shit Gold)
As an aside, I would like to state that this is the best album title of the year. They can give out the award now, and save everyone the trouble of trying to think up clever plays on words and puns. Nothing can top this. Musically, it's a mixed bag. I really enjoy Atmosphere when they're playing the over-the-top, big bragging music. This CD doesn't really have any of that. Lyrically, it's a revelation, after hearing Slug rap about 'Slug and the things that Slug hates' for his entire career, we get a concept album of sorts about how much life sucks and how family needs to stick together through it. All the familiar themes (girls, strippers, inner city lifestyles) get turned on their head and twisted around to a more personal setting. Some of the songs are almost completely resigned, and all of them carry around a certain gloom, but the much more subdued production and almost 'tender' vocal treatment give them a weight you don't expect from rap music. Like I said before, I enjoy this act more when they're in 'The Arrival' mode, but this album almost necessary by the time 'In Her Music Box' ends. Different, but good.
Chalk This Up Under 'Cockflickery'
Looking at the now famous video of Buzz Bissinger's hissy-fit, there are points to be made for the fact that blogs don't necessarily encourage good writing (and I'm a shining example of that), and there are plenty of world class cockflickers out there (and the fact that I have a 'cockflickery' tag lumps me uncomfortably close to the people that think the word 'douchebag' is hilarious). But honestly, to berate somebody for the comments on his blogs? That goes beyond cockflickery to absolute worthless babble.
On a side note, one thing that actually strikes me (other than a certain inward sigh over how impervious to logic some people are) is how uncomfortable it must have felt for Braylon Edwards to be sitting there watching the whole thing. That had to have been awkward.