Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Album Review: Manchester Orchestra - Simple Math

There was once a time (and by that, I mean no more than about six months ago) when I hated Manchester Orchestra simply because of their name (which sounds way to goddamn hipster-ish for my tastes) and their perceived-to-be shitty fanbase. However, as has been the case at least 674 times in the past, I actually listened to them and discovered that they were, musically, right up my alley.

2009's "Mean Everything to Nothing" is what got me hooked on Manchester Orchestra, mostly because I heard the track "I've Got Friends" on MLB 11: The Show and was instantly in love. The rest of the album proved to be the exact type of shit that I had been looking for over the past few years, and I decided to check into the rest of their material. That's when I stumbled across their latest effort, "Simple Math" (released in May of this year). It took me a few listens to get into it, as it does not contain the amount of energy that "Mean Everything to Nothing" possesses.

The album starts off with "Deer," a somewhat dreary and depressing track that sounds a hell of a lot like Neil Young. The deeply personal lyrical content sets the tone for the rest of the album, as you can easily feel the anguish and regret that vocalist/guitarist Andy Hull is trying to convey to the listener. There isn't much in the way of drums or distortion during the opening track; it's more of a "dude-and-his-stool" type of song. However, the band doesn't waste any time kicking into high gear with the opening notes of the second track, "Mighty." You get a little bit of a feel for Diorama-era Silverchair musically (as the band throws in some legit orchestra parts), while Hull seamlessly flows through the track lyrically. There's a lot of technicality to this track, as it includes an array of drum fills and stays relatively heavy all the way through.

"Pensacola" sounds almost like a jingle that would fit perfectly with a FreeCreditReport.com commercial. With that being said, it has a pretty catchy gang-vocal chorus line - "Alcohol, Dirty Malls, Pensacola, Florida Bars." The fourth track, "April Fool," is downright awesome. This is where the band finally exhibits some of the raw emotion and energy that is captured so well on their previous album. It has more than a few good old-fashioned rock-and-roll riffs, and just generally flows well and has great hooks.

"Pale Black Eye" comes next, and it is absolutely the highlight of the record. So many things are done well in this song that it is truly hard to explain - a simple listen will do the trick. This song will, no doubt in my mind, draw you in the first time you hear it. The musicianship is outstanding, and the song builds up incredibly well. If the closing chorus doesn't give you the chills, I'll let you punch me in the face a bunch of times should you see me in person. Absolutely stunning track.

"Virgin" doesn't leave a whole lot to be desired either, as the band incorporates a youth choir of some sort, a la Underoath in their hit track "It's Dangerous Business Walking Out Your Front Door," or even Pink Floyd's "Another Brick in the Wall." This track is a lot simpler, as the chorus is the base of the song, but it works really well in this case. It also doesn't hurt that the track is incredibly heavy.

After "Virgin," the album falls off just a little bit in terms of intensity/energy/emotion. Granted, the remaining tracks are still done well, but they don't highlight the band's real strength, in my opinion. And, judging by their live performance (and specifically, the songs the band chooses to play live), Manchester Orchestra would probably agree with me. That's not to say that the last few songs aren't catchy, though, because they are. The album's closer, "Leaky Breaks," gives us another good dose of Hull's insanely personal lyrics, laid out over some basic-yet-fitting musicianship. Good ending (although not as epic as Mean Everything to Nothing's closing track) to a fantastic album.

Rating: 8/10
Recommended if you like: Brand New, Neil Young, Bright Eyes
Favorite Track: "Pale Black Eye"


Monday, August 29, 2011

Hey, I just remembered I have a blog!

I promised some good people that I would update this thing on a regular basis, but I have failed miserably. I just want to let those people know that it hurts my heart to break promises to those I love, and that I am sorry. However, in my own defense, it's not like I have just been sitting around watching baseball all summer for once. In fact, I haven't been able to watch anywhere even close to as much baseball as I would like to due to school, work, softball team, and husband/homeowner duties. I have learned over the past year or so that shit does in fact happen.

Anyway, here's a recap of the summer-of-2011-life of one Bryan F. Kilpatrick:

  • I attended college during the summer semester (early-May through early-August), and did a pretty bang-up job in both of my classes; I registered my third consecutive 4.0. School is easy; finding the time to attend during the busy season at work is not.
  • I've been playing a dickload of softball - for three teams, in fact. However, it still is nothing like baseball (at least the hitting portion of it), so I still suck. I thought I was getting better last fall, as I was hitting the bejesus out of the ball for a good two months or so, but not swinging a bat even once during the winter months really put the fuck on my ability to hit the ball, as a regressed to the mean during the spring season. Hopefully, I get my stroke back and if so, I'm promising myself I won't lose it again during the offseason.
  • Nikki and I are trying to have a kid. For those of you who know me well, that's nothing new. However, we're getting balls-deep (ya know, literally and otherwise) into it these days, as visits to the fertility doctor will become the norm.
  • Work is work; gotta keep those athletes out there using Easton products happy.
  • I've been visibly pissed off since like mid-April, as the Rockies have chosen to tank yet another season despite having the best talent in the National League's Western division. I do still, however, enjoy writing about them (and about baseball in general), so at least there's that. Plus, I had the wonderful opportunity to interview hall of fame baseball player Tony Gwynn, and that was flat-out bitchin'.
  • Utah football is coming up soon, and I'm hekka-pumped about that. If Jordan Wynn stays healthy, they're going to have a nice little debut season (anywhere from 8 to 10 wins) in the Pac-12. If he doesn't, well, this guy is their backup QB, and he threw more interceptions than touchdowns last year in junior college, so I think you can probably guess how the season will go (4-6 wins) if he sees anything more than mop-up duty. On the other hand, he looks pretty smug, so I guess we'll see.
  • I'm probably going to sing in a band soon. Be ready, folks; Child Abuse is going to take over the world (or, at least parts of Salt Lake City).
  • I went to Seattle for the second time in as many years, and also took an impromptu trip to Lake Tahoe. It was my first time there, and I must say that the place is just as good as advertised. Clean, cold, crystal-clear lakes FTW. And, perhaps the best part of all is that my family and I did not get raped by Ben Roethlisberger. I'll put a 'W' in my column for that.
  • As a result of the trips (and various other escapades), I'm kind of poor right now. However, I'm still enjoying life, so I'm not too worried about it.
  • I love my dogs (both my friends and my actual dogs).
That's all for me. Hopefully I have more to write about soon, including sports (college football season, postseason baseball, and fantasy football) and some album reviews (been listening to a ton of Manchester Orchestra lately, but there's been some other stuff in the mix that I'll write about).

Until then, there's the door. Over there. ----->

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Life Is Good...


I'll try to update this thing every once in a while. But for now, that's all I've got - just wanted to let y'all know that life is good.


Monday, March 29, 2010

MLB Power Rankings: Preseason Edition

Presented to you completely homer-free:

1. New York Yankees
2. Philadelphia Phillies
3. Boston Red Sox
4. St. Louis Cardinals
5. Seattle Mariners
6. Colorado Rockies
7. Tampa Bay Rays
8. Atlanta Braves
9. Minnesota Twins
10. Los Angeles Dodgers
11. Los Angeles Angels
12. Texas Rangers
13. San Francisco Giants
14. Arizona Diamondbacks
15. Florida Marlins
16. Chicago Cubs
17. Milwaukee Brewers
18. Detroit Tigers
19. Chicago White Sox
20. Cincinnati Reds
21. Oakland Athletics
22. Washington Nationals
23. Houston Astros
24. New York Mets
25. Toronto Blue Jays
26. Baltimore Orioles
27. Cleveland Indians
28. Pittsburgh Pirates
29. Kansas City Royals
30. San Diego Padres

In the next couple of days, I'm going to do an in-depth preview with predictions and what not. Stay tuned for that.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

I Been Gone A Long Time...

Man, I'm a bad blogger. I haven't posted in ages - to my loyal followers, I sincerely apologize for that. I even promised Shelby I'd keep it updated; that also is right on the border of making me not only a bad blogger (as stated above), but a bad friend too.

Anyway, with this being the first day of what is, in my mind, the greatest series of sporting events of the year (outside of the Major League Baseball postseason), I mostly wrote this post so I could share my bracket with y'all:

I'm telling you right now: take that shit to the bank, because it's as good as money. Also, I have a few thoughts on this year's NCAA Tournament concerning the seeding, matchups, upset picks, and the like.

First of all, I think BYU is under-seeded for the fourth straight season. In the past three years, they've lost 8-9 games to Xavier and Texas A&M (twice), and you could argue that any team who is put in the position of being under-seeded and having to play stronger competition could fall victim to the same first round demise. However, with all of that being said, I can't say that I necessarily feel sympathy for the Kewgz, either. Here's the deal - although they technically have the right to complain about seeding, they can only do it so much. Why, you ask? I'll lay it all out for you here: BYU does not/cannot/will not play on Sundays. So, that takes them out of the mix for half of the bracket each year (because half of the first and second round games are of the Friday/Sunday format, while the others are Thursday/Saturday games). This significantly reduces the committee's options for BYU, which is what is leading to them being grossly under-seeded in some years. I don't really want to get into the whole rivalry aspect of things (as everyone knows, I'm a huge Utah fan), but maybe you should win a first round game before being concerned about possibly having to play on a Sunday? Just sayin'...

Also, as you can see by my bracket, I have laid out quite a few upset possibilities. The one I truly believe will happen is the Siena Saints over the Purdue Boilermakers. The Boilermakers simply aren't the team that they were before Robbie Hummel was injured, and really shouldn't be a 4-seed. Meanwhile, Siena is big game-tested and despite their conference affiliation, is a very good team. Don't be surprised if, or should I say, when the Saints beat Purdue tomorrow. Another upset that I believe is very likely to happen is the Murray State Racers over the Vanderbilt Commodores. For some reason, I just cannot picture the Commodores as a legitimate college basketball program. Meanwhile, the Racers went 30-4 this season and outscored their opponents by 17 points per game. To sum it all up, Purdue and Vanderbilt are fucked.

I'm going to post pictures of my basement soon (which I'll say is coming along very nicely). My deadline date is still locked in for April 5th - which, not-so-coincidentally, is the same day as MLB's opening day. It's safe to say that I won't be at work that day, and that I'll be taking in a whole lot of spirits - to go with a whole lot of baseball.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Album Review: Crime In Stereo - I Was Trying to Describe You to Someone

I haven't received the vinyl in the mail yet, but I've decided to post the review anyway because I know all of my faithful followers have been saying to themselves "What the fuck assblood, post a new blog entry already!," so here it is. I figured that once I receive the record in the mail, I'll just update the photo at the top of the post.

Anyway, here's what I think of this record: it's a very good (almost brilliant) mess. When I first heard it, I didn't know what the fuck was going on and to this day, I still have a hard time breaking it down. But, regardless of how difficult it may be to digest and the fact that the album doesn't "flow" particularly well, there are some terrific songs. The intro track "Queue Moderns" is sort of a bore, though it picks up a bit toward the end. It leads into "Drugwolf," which is probably one of the band's best songs on any album. It serves as a great precursor to the rest of the record, as it has a late-90's alternative feel, mixed with a little bit of early-90's grunge. Plus, it includes all of the elements that make Crime In Stereo who they are. The third track, titled "Exit Halo," has some pretty cool riffs and what not, but the vocal effort is very poor on this song. After all is said and done, it's nothing more than a tribute to Brand New's recent material. "Not Dead" is a real gem - it is almost a mix of Nirvana and Cursive, coupled with Crime In Stereo's signature sound, and it all contributes to a very good track. "Odalisque" took me back to the band's last release, "...Is Dead," and would fit in very well on that album. "Young" is a very slow track, but is very catchy and the vocals are strong. There's actually a part in the song that reminds me a bit of Guns and Roses' "Patience."

Kicking off the second half of the album is "Type One," which is probably the most aggressive track on the album, as it would have a place on some of the band's older releases, as well. "Republica" is a bit of a mainstream-sounding song, as it even has a dance rock part in the middle, similar to Modest Mouse or Franz Ferdinand. Still good, though. "Dark Island City" is a remake of the track bearing the same name that was originally released on "The Troubled Stateside." However, this one sounds nothing like its predecessor. It is a slow, spacey track that features acoustic versions of the same riffs from the original song. The album ends with "I Cannot Answer You Tonight," which also sounds a bit like classic Crime In Stereo, but with cheesier lyrics ("It's OK, it's OK, come back to me!" is repeated several times throughout the track).

Overall, the album does not flow as well as "...Is Dead," doesn't pack the punch that "The Troubled Stateside" did, and it is hindered by some dull tracks and some shitty lyrics at times, but it is still a good release and another big step forward for a band that has become known for its progression.

Rating: 8/10
Recommended if you like: Brand New, Nirvana, Cursive
Favorite track: "Drugwolf"


Monday, February 8, 2010

Super Bowl Review: F*ck You Garrett Hartley, and (not) much more

As promised, my Super Bowl review:

My good friend The Dude hosted a Super Bowl party yesterday. As I mentioned in my last post, there wasn't a whole lot of game watching that went on (on my part, at least). Instead, there was ping pong (which saw yours truly get dominated by a combined score of 62-22), nom noms (chili dogs, nachos, and the like), and gambling-o-plenty (you try getting about 20 cheapskates to buy "squares," it's damn near fucking impossible). Because of that, I won't have much of a breakdown of the game, so I hope that's not what you're looking for. Oh, and I refuse to talk about Super Bowl commercials (mostly because I didn't see any). And last but not least, I won't mention The Who beyond this point (although my good pal Kory did a bang-up job filling in on drums for them).

So, while helping prepare the food (among other things) and then dishing myself up a large plate or two, I completely missed the first quarter and most of the second as well. I finally got to sit down and watch for a minute and noticed that because the score was 10-3 Colts, I was in position to win a 75er if that score held up until halftime. But, those pesky Saints seemed destined to ruin things for me as they drove down the field and suddenly, found themselves inside the five and ready to score. However, the Colts defense (and a questionable decision by Saints' head coach Sean Payton to leave points out on the field) kept my dream of finally owning 75 dollars for the first time in my life intact. That didn't last long, though, as the ultra-conservative (and downright boring) Colts immediately went 3-and-out and allowed the Saints to get the ball back with ample time left in the half. It all came down to Saints kicker Garrett Hartley and a 43-yard field goal attempt. If he missed, I would be the proud winner of three-quarters of a hundo. If he converted the kick, the money instead would go to dudes like Aaron Jones (the Peter Gammons look-alike at my work) and Richard Kunkel, who is a squirrely little fuck (but righteously good dude) that I know through my buddy JR. I figured I had a good shot of getting the money, as the field goal kicking in the NFL playoffs had been atrocious up to that point. As it turns out, though, the son of a bitch split the uprights and part of me died inside. Had he missed and I won the money, it would have saved me from a rigorous sweating at the hands of my sometimes-mean-yet-always-adorable wife earlier today. Oh well.

Despite the continued bad financial luck of the big guy (me), good times were still definitely had. The Saints won, obviously, so that was cool too. The Colts are insipid, emotionless, and employers of Austin Collie, so they didn't deserve to win (sorry, Uncle Rick). Drew Brees is a god damned animal and is now no longer the most underrated quarterback in the NFL (and deservedly so), and the rest of the team is filled with pretty likable dudes - outside of Reggie Bust, er, Bush and Jeremy Shockey, anyway.

My review of the new Crime In Stereo record (and maybe a DL link, if you're lucky) will be posted within the next week (or sooner, if I get my vinyl copy early). Also, I'm going to start talking some Colorado Rockies baseball soon (though not much, as I'll make you go to another site that features my writing - PurpleRow.com - for the real in-depth info), since pitchers and catchers will report to Spring Training next weekend (OH MY GOD I LOVE THOSE WORDS).

'Til then, take 'er easy.