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Congratulations- MGMT

Track List:

  1. It’s Working
  2. Song For Dan Treacy
  3. Someone’s Missing
  4. Flash Delirium
  5. I Found a Whistle
  6. Siberian Breaks
  7. Brian Eno
  8. Lady Dada’s Nightmare
  9. Congratulations

Riding off of their success from their first album, Oracular Spectacular, MGMT went back into the studio to record their second LP. One of two things were going to happen with the band; either they would build off their previous success by writing more powerful and emotional songs, or completely disregard what made them successful. They chose the second option. For some bands completely re-inventing your style can be a good thing, unfortunately it didn’t work for MGMT, especially since this is only their second full album. I can honestly say I’m really disappointed with what they threw together for this CD.

A few months back MGMT released their first single, Flash Delirium, as a free online download. It got so much backlash from fans of MGMT that Andrew VanWyngarden actually apologized in an interview about the song. Honestly he should have just apologized for the entire album because it is mostly crap. It’s almost like they are trying to hard to be artistic but end up making a very poor attempt at writing abstract songs. I can’t belive that throughout the whole process of making this CD no one said to them “Hey, this record isn’t just ‘misunderstood’ it’s actually just a piece of shit.” I do believe that Andrew Vanwyngarden and Ben Goldwasser posses the qualities to write great songs, they proved that with OS, but they crammed way too many ideas into such a short album.

The beginning of the first song on the record sounds like we just caught up with MGMT in the middle of one of their jam sessions. The intro sounded like it lacked a lot of structure and sense. Some musicians can take that lack of structure and rebuild it into something that pleases their audience while still showing their creativity, however MGMT failed to do that. Everything sounds like it was just thrown together with no rhyme or reason, just a bunch of riffs randomly placed in random songs.

Flash Delirium is a prime example of what I’m talking about. The song opens up with a short middle eastern scale on the keyboard then VanWyngarden almost talks over a drum machine “Mild apprehension/ Blank dreams of the coming fun/ distort the odds of a turnaround/ gut screams next to none.” What the fuck does that mean? Once again it sounds like another attempt at being creative and just coming out as stupid. The song does sort of redeem itself with a great a decent build up to the finish, but overall it doesn’t really seem like it is material for a single.

Overall the album sounds unorganized, chaotic, and hectic, and not in a good way. I know that they are branching out and trying to be unique and I respect that completely. It’s not the fact that they broke away from their style that I don’t like, it’s the fac that they did an awful job at it that really bugs me. MGMT is a great band and they have a lot of talent in them. I’m going to chalk this album off as just a creative experiment, nothing more nothing less. Also, I’m going to give the album a few more listens from start to finish to see how it sits, but honestly I don’t think my initial reaction is going to change much. The one thing I can say that truly sums up my feelings about Congratulations is, better luck next time guys.

I give Congratulations a 2 out of 10

I know we have all been there, stuck in a rut of depressoin that for some reason or another we can’t get out of. It’s a helpless feeling, a feeling that I could honestly live without for the rest of my life. During those periods of time all I wanted to do was be unconditionally happy, nothing more nothing less. For a while I thought that unconditional happiness was some unatainable pipe dream. Then I started to really think about what it meant to be happy. Did it mean I had a lot of money? a lot of friends? a really good job? All of these sound like really good things. What more could anyone want than to have a lot of money, a ton of friends, and a really awesome job. But the more I thought about it the more I started to wonder, maybe there is more too life than those things. All of those sound really good on a superficial level but what do they mean on a much deeper personal level. So I started to pick apart each question and this is what I came up with.

Clearly money is not the cause for unconditional happiness, in fact money actually can cause more problems. With more money comes more responsibility on how to use that money wisely. Also, having too much money can certainly  Money also has a habit of changing peoples personality to be even more greedy than before. Once a person acquires a thousand dollars they want ten thousand, then a hundred thousand, then a million. Basically too much money can cause and endless cycle of greed. If you don’t believe me then watch any VH-1 reality show involving money, you’ll get what I’m talking about. Personally, I really don’t think that it is all that it is cracked up to be. One of the few advantages of the economic collapse in this country is the fact that people have been focusing more on the good things, like friendship, trust, and loyalty, than just getting as much money as fast as possible.

So then is having a lot of friends the key to true happiness? The answer is yes and no. Having too many friends may seem like a really good thing on a surface level, but dig a little deeper and having too many friends can be a bad thing. Not only are you being pulled in multiple directions by all of the influences from these friends, but there is also the pressure to not piss anybody off. After a while these pressures can build up and actually create more stress to maintain all of those relationships. On the other hand, having a few close friends, I’ve found, can lead ot much happier social life. The reason being is that the relationships you do have with those close  friends are going to be more personal and intimate.

So what about work? Having a good job is a very nice thing. You get paid to go do something everyday that you, for the most part, enjoy, what could be better than that. For me, I really hope that is how my future career will work out, whatever that might be. That being said having a great job, or so I’ve heard, isn’t all that it is cracked up to be. Doing the same thing every day over and over, regardless of how much you enjoy it, will get boring after enough time passes. Either way, I firmly believe in the idea that  who you are is what you do, not the other way around.

Too often as a society we are caught up in the quickest way to make money with complete disregard to other things in our life such as relationships, family, and generally relaxing. This story, I think, really captures what it means to truly be happy.

“An American tourist was at the pier of a small coastal Mexican village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked.

Inside the small boat were several large yellowfin tuna. The tourist complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took to catch them.

The Mexican replied, “Only a little while.”

The tourist then asked, “Why didn’t you stay out longer and catch more fish?”

The Mexican said, “With this I have more than enough to support my family’s needs.”

The tourist then asked, “But what do you do with the rest of your time?”

The Mexican fisherman said, “I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take siesta with my wife, Maria, stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine and play guitar with my amigos, I have a full and busy life.”

The tourist scoffed, ” I can help you. You should spend more time fishing; and with the proceeds, buy a bigger boat: With the proceeds from the bigger boat you could buy several boats. Eventually you would have a fleet of fishing boats. Instead of selling your catch to a middleman you would sell directly to the processor; eventually opening your own cannery. You would control the product, processing and distribution. You could leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City, then Los Angeles and eventually New York where you could run your ever-expanding enterprise.”

The Mexican fisherman asked, “But, how long will this all take?”

The tourist replied, “15 to 20 years.”

“But what then?” asked the Mexican.

The tourist laughed and said, “That’s the best part. When the time is right you would sell your company stock to the public and become very rich, you would make millions.”

“Millions?…Then what?”

The American said, “Then you would retire. Move to a small coastal fishing village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take siesta with your wife, stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos.”

The Mexican in this story really captures what it means to be alive and happy. For him, it’s not about what you do in life neccessarily, but rather how you do it. Too often we forget that all we need to be happy is the knowlege that if we want to we can live a busy and fufilling life, just like the Mexican fisherman. By simplifing our lives we can remove a lot of the excess stress and overall bullshit that comes with it, and work on actually starting to live. The goal is to remove the sense of happiness from external factors and shift if more twoards an internal state of mind. Unconditional happiness truly lies within and has nothing to do with the external world. Things change, that is the natural order of things, and when our happiness is dependant on those changing things it becomes a very temporary and waivering thing. Knowing that you have the power to control your mood regardless of what happens to you is a very liberating thought. No matter what happens, be it getting fired, being dumped by your girlfriend or boyfriend, too many bill to pay, or loosing someone close to you, the ball is still in your court. As crappy as all of those things are they still cannot force you to be in a certain mood. While it is easier to mope and say woe is me,  it also makes it easier to live a life of apathy and depression. By not letting those external things eat at you, the ability to stay happy becomes easier. Whenever you are feeling like your life is over or you are feeling sorry for yourself remember this, you are one of six billion people on this planet and in the grand scheme of things the problems we come in contact with from day to day really do not matter. The only thing that does is the ability to be and stay happy. After all, isn’t that what we’re all after?

“You’re not your job. You’re not how much money you have in the bank. You’re not the car you drive. You’re not the contents of your wallet. You’re not your fucking khakis. You are the all-singing, all-dancing crap of the world.”- Tyler Durden

Plastic Beach- The Gorillaz

Track List:

  1. Orchestral Intro
  2. Welcome To The World of The Plastic Beach
  3. White Flag
  4. Rhinestone Eyes
  5. Stylo
  6. Superfast Jellyfish
  7. Empire Ants
  8. Glitter Freeze
  9. Some Kind Of Nature
  10. On Melancholy Hill
  11. Broken
  12. Sweepstakes
  13. Plastic Beach
  14. To Binge
  15. Cloud of Unkowing
  16. Pirate Jet

Snoop Dog, De La Soul, Bobby Womack, Lou Reed, and Mos Def. What do all of these people have in common? They all are guests on the new Gorrilaz record Plastic Beach. The new album moves away from the Gorillaz conventional electronic fusion of rock and rap and focuses more on a slow hip-hop jam. The whole CD has a very nice flow and is very easy to listen to. In the same vein as their last album, the Gorillaz (or should I say Damon Albarn who is the co-creator of the the band) have provided us with a nice commentary on our world. On the second track, “Welcome To The World of The Plastic Beach” Snoop Dog shows us his more peace loving side by spitting the lyrics “The revolution will be televised/And the pollution from the ocean/Now with devotion/Push peace and keep it in motion.”

One track that really shows the Gorillaz’s new sound is their first single off the album entitiled “Stylo.” Bobby Womack and Mos Def are both guest artists on the song which makes the song very dynamic. The song has a slow and easy R&B beat to it that you can’t help but tap your foot to. The way Mos Def integrates his rap between Bobby Womack’s verses gives the song such an original quality. Just when I thought I coudn’t like this song anymore I discovered the music video. I’m not exactly sure how he does it, but Damon Albarn can seem to get just about anybody to contribute to his little project; and for the “Stylo” music video Bruce Willis lent his talents.

There are some complaints I have about the new CD. On their first two albums The Gorillaz seemed to be providing a lot of their own vocals without the help of outside artists, however on Plastic Beach it seems that the whole record is dominated by guest artists. While I think their selection of artists could not have been better, I really would have loved to hear them contribute more to their own songs. Another big problem I had with the album is the ending. Their last CD, Demon Days, had one of the best finales to a record that I have ever heard. However, on this CD it seems that they left us listeners hanging. There was really no closure brought to the album and when I listened to it all the way through, I had to double check to make sure the record had actually ended. The album had such a great opener that I was sure the closer was going to blow the finale of Demon Days out of the water, but sadly I was wrong.

Here is the finale to Plastic Beach. Leave a comment letting me know how you like (or don’t like) it

Despite all of that, I still cannot dislike this album. For what it lacks in the finale it makes up for in actual music. The bass lines fit every song perfectly. The guest artists to a great job at adding their peices to the songs. The entire mood of the record is very laid-back and chill, something I think that we all should learn how to do. I would definitley reccomend this record to any music fan since it does incorporate a lot of different genres. I give Plastic Beach by the Gorillaz a 7 out 10.

Set List:

  1. Uprising
  2. Resistance
  3. New Born
  4. Map of the Problematique
  5. Supermassive Blackhole
  6. Guiding Light
  7. Interlude
  8. Hysteria
  9. Nishe
  10. Feeling Good
  11. Helsinki Jam
  12. Undisclosed Desires
  13. Starlight
  14. Unnatural Selection
  15. Time Is Running Out
  16. Plug In Baby

Encore:

  1. Exogenisis: Symphony, Part 1: Overture
  2. Stockholm Syndrome
  3. Knights of Cydona

Silversun Pickups opening for Muse

“Have you guys noticed these tall sky scraper things behind me? Well we didn’t bring them, but Muse did.” As Brian Aubert, the frontman for the opening band Silversun Pickups, mentioned Muse all of the United Center erupted into cheers. Just by the pure excitment of the crowd you could tell that the show promised to be something special, and it was.

The covers surrounding those sky scrapers dropped to reveal the three members of the band playing the first song of the set “Uprising”. The crowd shouted the lyrics with more intesity than I have ever hear at any concert. From the beggining I was hit with a plethora of audio/visual elements that could put a Pink Floyd laser show to shame. The three  structures also revealed themselves to be monitors not only displaying the band, but also abstract visuals in cue with the music. Matt Bellamy, the lead guitar player and singer, hardly adressed the crowd between songs; but he well made up for it with the music. The stage presence was unbeliveable.

Muse on the sky-scraper structures

The most impressive thing about the entire show was the way the music sounded. There was enough on-stage originality to make every song a little different from the record, however the integrity of the music was not lost in the live rendition. One of my personal favorites they did was “Supermassive Blackhole”. If you listen to the song on the record you will be able to hear that it is clearly a very well produced song that would be a bitch to re-create live, but somehow Muse did it.

Another favorite of mine was the song “United States of Eurasia.” The song starts off with a small piano intro but then erupts into a Queen-eqsue build up (falsettos and distored guitar included). I managed to get a quick 30 second video to sort of give you guys the feeling of what it was like to be there.

I believe there are two things that really turn a good concert into a great concert; the first is the stage presence of the band, the second is the grand finale. I’ve seen some concerts where bands have just ended their set with their “greatest hit” and left it at that. No orginality, just playing the song that everyone has listened to hundreds of times on their iPods. Muse was not one of those bands. They added their own flavor to “Knights of Cydonia” (which is my favorite Muse song based purley on the fact that it has such a powerful feeling) by spicing up the intro and making good use of the stage lights. Chris Wolstenhome, the bass player, picked up a harmonica for the live intro to the song. All he played were two notes, but those two notes spoke volumes. They set up the omnious tone for the rest of the band to join in on the rest of the intro. After a 2 minute intro the drums bass and guitar all kick in. Everybody in the entire stadium goes ballistic for Muse’s final song.

Here is a video of their performance of  “Knights of Cydonia” at a different show. The intro was exactly the same as what they played in Chicago.

Overall the show was a huge success. The energy the Muse brought to the United Center made our nose bleed seats feel like we were right on stage with them. If you see only one live band in your life make sure that the band you see is Muse, I promise you will not be disapointed.

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