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Monthly Archives: January 2010

Twitterville - Shel Israel

Twitterville: by Shel Israel

140 Characters:
Twitterville, when relating the history of Twitter, is interesting. After that, I refuse to say the word Twitterville ever again.

140 Words:
The history of Twitter is an interesting story, but only makes up a fraction of the book. Instead Israel chooses to spend his time proving to us that Twitter is the future of all community, coming just short of the book earning infomercial status.

He spends much effort providing anecdotes of businesses who have thrived using this newish technology and others who have suffered the peril of ignoring it.

Israel has many useful things to say, but uses 287 pages to say what he could have said in 28 pages. Maybe restricting himself to 140 characters for so long finally got to him and he exploded in verbosity. Plus, he really wants the “Twitterville” moniker he coined to stick- he uses it dozens of times. I still call it Twitter.

For a newbie, I suppose Twitterville is useful.

Shel Israel’s book/
Twitterville, is much longer/
than one of his tweets


The XX

The XX
self-titled album

140 Characters:
The XX do one thing and do it well: they make college make-out music. Sparse, breathy, and naively sexy.

140 Words:
The XX do one thing and do it well: they make college make-out music.

Serving a role where Massive Attack and Morcheeba leave off, they make airy electronic music suited for dorm room experimentation. The music is sparse, not quite minimalist, and tailor-made for remixes and mash-ups.

Although the back and forth breathy vocals from Oliver Sim and Romy Madley Croft become redundant over the course of an entire album, individual songs will work great on a “chill-out” or “patio” playlist.

The self-titled album is linear, if not subtle; catchy, if not boring. Tracks will grow on you as quickly as other tracks turn you off. The album is naively sexy, and, once these songwriters have felt heartache once or twice, their future music should have more soul.

Highlights: “VCR” and “Crystalized”

The XX write songs/
For college make-out sessions/
Sparse, chill, and sexy

Black Hollies - Softly Towards The Light

The Black Hollies
album: Softly Towards the Light

140 characters:
The Black Hollies 3rd album is littered with uptempo songs in minor keys, as if written for an imagined 4th Austin Powers film.

140 Words:
The Black Hollies, at their best, channel the Small Faces and the Zombies, as tracks like “Gloomy Monday Morning” and “Can’t Stop These Tears (From Falling)” testify.

Their third and newest album is littered with jangly uptempo songs in minor keys, complemented with organs, as if written for an imagined fourth Austin Powers film.

But before one tires of this prominent sound they sprinkle in a few slower, atmospheric tracks to cleanse the palette (“Everything’s Fine” and “Number Ten Girl”).

Interestingly, the band features a couple members, Jon Gonnelli and Herbert Wiley, who had played in Rye Coalition. Like sonically similar Darker My Love, who had members who played in The Nerve Agents, their previous band’s music was much heavier, before moving on to a 60’s dark pop sound.

The Black Hollies write/
As if for an imagined/
Austin Powers film

Organs, minor keys/
The Black Hollies utilize/
I hear the sixties

The Raveonettes - In and Out of Control

The Raveonettes
In and Out of Control

140 Characters:
With uber-dark lyrics set to cloying melodies, The Raveonettes are the Roxette of the Underworld.

140 Words:
People who know my taste in music well know that I have a soft spot for artists that provide a dichotomy between upbeat or poppy music with dark lyrics (New Order, The Faint), or pop melodies laid over dark music (The Black Keys).

The Raveonettes take this to the extreme on their new album, a collection of pop songs about drugs, suicide and rape, highly produced and often catchy before you are aware of the dark lyrical content, which makes a song about a breakup seem trite (Gone Forever).

At times the melodies are cloying (Bang!), but at their best they temper that (Last Dance), then find a space somewhere closer to BRMC (Heart of Stone).

Although they’ve been around since 2002, it’s only now that it dawned on me: The Raveonettes are the Roxette of the Underworld.

Cloying melodies/
Of drugs, suicide and rape/
Sing The Raveonettes

On their new album/
The Raveonettes are Roxette/
Of the Underworld

Them Crooked Vultures

Them Crooked Vultures – Self-titled record

140 Characters:
Although not without its highlights, Queens of Them Crooked Vultures is less supergroup, more new Josh Homme record.

140 Words:
Them Crooked Vultures, as anticipated as this release may have been in certain rock circles, serves more as the new offering of Queens of the Stone Age. Josh Homme’s deadpan delivery, even when melodic, and his signature desert rock guitar tone take center stage, relegating the other talented players on the record to fill-in status.

Parts of the tracks “Elephants” and “Gunman” do reveal some Zeppelinesque influence from John Paul Jones, but these occurrences are few. And though it’s great to hear Dave Grohl on drums again, how much difference does it really make on a record like this? His play is sloppy and inspired, same as most Homme-led bands.

Although not without its highlights (“No One Loves Me…” and “New Fang”), Queens of Them Crooked Vultures is less supergroup, more new Josh Homme record.

Queens of the Stone Age/
Needs no new album, not since/
Them Crooked Vultures

Dave Grohl, John Paul Jones/
backing up Joshua Homme/
That is how it seems

Ten Story Love Song - Richard Milward

Ten Story Love Song
by Richard Milward

140 characters:
Ten Story Love Song, Richard Milward’s novel, is one paragraph of drunken debauchery and artistic soul searching.

140 words:
Ten Story Love Song, Richard Milward’s new novel, is one paragraph. The story begins on the cover without indentation and ends with a cutoff sentence, so grammatically, it’s not even really a paragraph.

That last fragment, I get. It’s secondary character’s last thought, but why the stream-of-consciousness punctuation everywhere else? Maybe if it were from one protagonist’s perspective it would come off better, like Jack Kerouac. And there are passages where Milward’s SOC works well, say, describing a bad acid trip.

I did enjoy the transitional devices- jumping from one character’s head to the pizza guy knocking on his door, then riding along with him as he moves on to the correct door, where we enter that tenant’s head.

It’s a young book from a young author. I look forward to reading his work as he matures.

Ten Story Love Song/
Richard Milward’s new novel/
is one paragraph

Irvine Welsh feels it/
Richard Milward is knocking/
as he finds his voice