Writing About Something You Love Can Be Really Hard.

Luckily there is more going on in town than the Cephalic Carnage show. Do you even know what the word Cephalic means? I had to look it up.

Doing a weekly column has proven more difficult than I might have previously imagined. Beyond drumming up enough interesting commentary on demand, this whole endeavor forces me to really stay on top of what’s going on in music, both locally and on a wider scale; (hopefully, that’s a correctly placed semicolon?!) something I feel confident in until you have to use such knowledge. Yet, despite all my excuses and semi-complaints, I do relish this periodic opportunity to rant. So let it begin…

Veterans’ Day?

As the new release calendar starts to pick up for 2008, this last Tuesday of January has a few new albums from old favorites (not necessarily mine) worthy of attention:

walla_by_walla300.jpgBest known as the talented guy from Death Cab For Cutie who’s name you don’t know, Chris Walla has also made a name for himself behind the mixing board. Now branching out on his own, Walla has released a solo album, Field Manual, on Barsuk Records. Although filled with hook-driven writing and head-boppin’ tunes that feel almost familiar from even the first listen, it’s evident how much Walla contributes to Death Cab’s sound. Nevertheless, this recording also demonstrates how much Ben Gibbard brings to the table too, as Walla comes across somewhat juvenile in his vocal presentation. It’s a good album that just isn’t as good as people might expect.

The Mars Volta, who also benefited from the success of their previous musical endeavor (At The Drive-In), also have a new release out today, their fourth proper album entitled Bedlam in Goliath. I should admit I’ve never been a fan of The Mars Volta. I’m one of the minority who felt the other band to rise from the ashes of At The Drive-In, Sparta, carried the torch much better. That said, Bedlam in Goliath is easily my least favorite of The Mars Volta’s full lengths. Gone are the larger-than-life, albeit pretentious, swirling guitars and over-the-top epic melodies. Instead, the band has opted for choppy, chaotic structures that fail to develop or move throughout the entire album. None of these songs even remotely intrigued me, which is saying a lot since I could at least find one or two tracks on previous albums that I felt had a good intent. Seriously, the drugs have finally gotten to them.

On a little more positive note, Polyvinyl Records has the new record from indie-folk darlings Ida, Lovers Prayers, coming out today. I’ve long been an Ida fan and, while I miss the more diverse nature of earlier albums, they are one of those bands you can count on to continually put out worthwhile music. It’s also especially interesting to me when a band escapes comparison and Ida does it; you can’t really nail down any other group of musicians that craft beautiful folksy melodies in quite the same manner.

Metal(core) Up Your A**!

kill_bg.jpgThe coming week seems pretty slow for good shows. A few nights will feature fairly impressive metalcore line-ups, although it’s hard to imagine anyone over the age of 18 really caring. Alley Katz will host Darkest Hour and Cephalic Carnage on Thursday night (January 31st) and Toad’s Place has the mega-tour of Killswitch Engage, Every Time I Die, and The Dillinger Escape Plan hitting the stage on Saturday night (February 2nd).

For those not interested in getting their teen angst out, Toad’s Place also has a very impressive comedy show on Friday night (February 1st). Featuring former The State/Stella favorites Michael Ian Black and Michael Showalter [interview with the duo tomorrow — Ed.], I can only imagine the show will be incredible. With the duo’s midas touch for comedic genius, this is sure to be the event all your friends brag about seeing for years to come.

Until next week…

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Sean Patrick Rhorer

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