Archive for June, 2011

Steam Summer Camp Sale
June 30, 2011

Steam Summer Camp Sale

Steam

For those who may have not heard of Steam, it is an online store (created and run by Half Life and Portal developers Valve) where gamers can purchase and download PC games.  It’s the biggest of its kind, almost outselling traditional stores like GameStop and Best Buy thanks to its ease of use and plethora of discounts.  Twice a year Steam holds a massive sale for almost every item in their catalogue (once in winter, once in summer).  Time has come again for the summer sale (this years is called Steam Summer Camp Sale) and by the time you read this it will be well into its seasonal clearance.  But don’t worry, it’s far from over.  If you are a PC gamer you likely already have Steam downloaded, so jump on and see what game has its price slashed today.  Now is the time to grab those expensive games you haven’t had the money for.

Dates:  6/30/2011 to 7/10/2011

Paul Collins Interview
June 30, 2011

Paul Collins and his bands The Nerves, The Breakaways and The Beat were some of the most important and influential staples from the first generation of rock ‘n’ roll power pop.  He will be bringing his talents to Chico this week as a part of his newest West Coast tour with The Beats.  Read on for the inside scoop on this not-to-be missed show.

Can you give me some background info on you and the band for people who may not be familiar?

Well I started out a long time ago in Sam Francisco in a little band called The Nerves. We were one of the first bands that started the DIY movement; we put out our own EP 45 record and were one of the first bands to tour nationally on our own. Our work paved the way for a lot of bands to succeed even if they were not on a major label. Then I had a band called The Beat who were signed to CBS Records and managed by the legendary Bill Graham. Our first album is considered my many to be a classic power pop record, we toured the world and with that band I established myself world wide and was able to keep making music until this very day.

What can we expect at the July 6th show? And why should we be sure to attend?

You can expect to hear a lot of great rock ‘n’ roll, power pop style! We are on tour with Garbo’s Daughter and we are joined in Chico with our dear friend Barbara Manning. Our set will include songs that span my entire career from The Nerves to today.

Can you tell me something about the bands and artists sharing the stage with you?

Barbara lives in Chico and her band is great, they all live and work in the town and have a real up sound. Garbo’s Daughter are from Orlando and they are part of the new generation of power pop bands springing up everywhere. They also work with one of our favorite labels, Burger Records out of Fullerton CA.

What does the future hold for you and The Beat?

Lots of touring! I feel a little like Johnny Appleseed, bringing power pop music to the people all over. We are touring the west coast and then we go from Seattle to Mobile Alabama for a tour of the south with our good buddies King Louie and his Missing Monuments, who are from New Orleans.

Anything else?

We would like the good people of Chico to come out to the show and experience what power pop is all about.  It’s a good time with a lot of great, catchy rock songs that make you want to jump and shout and kiss the girl standing next to you!

Paul Collins and The Beat will be performing at Café Coda July 6th with Garbo’s Daughter and local act Barbara Manning.  The doors are open to all ages and tickets are only 5 dollars, so there is no reason to miss this classic rock ‘n’ roll event.

Four
June 30, 2011

Bleu

Four

The Major Label

Bleu has long been a master of indie-pop.  Starting out as a musical celebrity in Boston known for his collaborations and spectacular live shows, he quickly grew to national and international acclaim with his first proper record release Headroom (2000) and the following record Redhead (2003).  Over the last eleven years he has toured the world over and produced records that have been loved by fans and critics alike.  Four is Bleu’s aptly titled fourth full album, and shows as much quality as his earliest releases along with a certain amount of growth for the musician.  The record will be his first to be released on his own, personal label, The Major Label.  As a professional well-received musician and power pop aficionado he has never had much influence from his superiors, but Four is entirely produced and created by Bleu himself – a first for Bleu.  It’s an excellent album, showcasing all the good things that have been brought to the table of pop music in the last decade while skipping over all the over-produced, Disney Channel-esque nonsense that modern pop music seems to be obsessed with.  Bleu and Four are proof that pop music can still be full of intelligence and soul.  Fans of sensible pop full of catchy melodies and powerful rythym will find a home with Bleu and Four.  I certainly did.

Released:  11/2/2010

Hyperion
June 24, 2011

Hyperion

Dan Simmons

Doubleday

Hyperion, the first novel in the Hyperion Cantos, is exactly what science fiction should be.  Rather than focusing on the science of the science fiction, Dan Simmons seems most concerned with literary significance and poetic waxing.  Hyperion is set in the 28th century, after mankind has spread to the stars and colonized countless worlds including a backwater planet called Hyperion (named after John Keat’s epic poem that remained unfinished at the time of his death).  Hyperion exists as an unique anomaly among the known worlds, home to the puzzling labyrinth, the inexplicable time tombs and the enigmatic Shrike (a mechanical monster made of razor wire and blades that impales its victims on a massive metal thorn tree).  Hyperion follows the story of seven pilgrims as they travel to the time tombs and the Shrike on the eve of the universe’s destruction and the stories of how they arrived to that point.  Full of literary allusions, from Canterbury Tales (the story itself is a reimaging of the tales) to the works of John Keat, from detective noir of the ‘50’s to biblical fables.  With the multitude of inference to famous literature, the novel is just as appropriate to lovers of the humanities as it is to fans of science fiction.  Hyperion was the winner of both the Hugo and Locus awards for the year it was released, placing it on a level similar to science fiction classics Dune and Ender’s Game.

the WANDAS
June 24, 2011

the WANDAS

the WANDAS

Self-released

This is my first experience with the WANDAS, and I’m digging it.  Part ‘60s pop, part modern indie rock, the WANDAS have continued to receive praise and love since their debut album New Wave Blues in 2009 (though, as a band, they have been together and performing since 2002).  Their newest album, the WANDAS, is no exception.  It’s a beautiful compilation of tracks that showcase the group’s harmonic and musical talent, the WANDAS is one of those few records where every song is good.  This four piece act from Boston cites Wilco, Elvis Costello, The Beatles, Bruce Springsteen and The Strokes all as inspiration for their sound, and all are perfect comparisons.  While they are clearly a nod to a whole multitude of acts from the last 50 years, their sound is incredibly unique, as each song exists somewhere between all their inspirations as a new, methodical combination of the best of all those worlds.  The floating, melodic voice of lead singer Keith McEachern is perhaps the biggest stand out of this stand out band, he has a sound that would have existed perfectly alongside The Beach Boys on ‘60s radio transitioned to a more modern musical backup – and it works perfectly.  I highly recommend you pick up the WANDAS once it gets released, these guys are the perfect nod to everything that’s been done right in pop music and otherwise of the last half century.

Released:  8/30/2011

Lost in Translation
June 16, 2011

Ellwood

Lost in Translation

Fat Wreck

Here’s something I haven’t heard in a while.  Ellwood is a perfect flashback to the heyday of California party reggae, perfectly channeling the energies and sounds of bands like Sublime.  I mean, they really do sound just like Sublime.  This, while certainly nothing original, is very refreshing.  The fact that Ellwood is comprised of several members of the now-defunct Mad Caddies (including Chuck Robertson) is no surprise – the Mad Caddies were almost just as much a staple of Southern California reggae as Sublime.  The experience of the band’s members adds a lot to their polish; it sounds like they have all been doing this for years.  Lost in Translation is the band’s debut release, and really is worth a listen.  It may be Southern California reggae, but Sublime and the others have always sounded at home here in Chico.  Ellwood is no exception.

 

Released:  6/21/2011

Suck It and See
June 16, 2011

Arctic Monkeys

Suck It and See

Domino

Arctic Monkeys were one of my favorite bands back in high school – their unique blend of hip-hop and rock ‘n’ roll really struck a chord with me.  These days the band has moved away from their hip-hop influences, cultivating a sound that is more authentic indie rock.  While that transition may have disappointed me, the quality of their music did not suffer.  They are as good and strong as they have ever been; Suck It and See, the band’s fourth studio album, going straight to number one in their home country United Kingdom’s charts the week it was released (with the critical reception to match).  If you are on the fence about picking up Arctic Monkeys’ Suck It and See, the band has made the full release available to stream off of their Sound Cloud page.  So give it a listen and see if it is for you.

 

Released:  6/7/2011

Sound Kapital
June 16, 2011

Handsome Furs

Sound Kapital

Sub Pop

Again and again, Sub Pop cements its reputation as one of the most consistently good record companies.  The third album of one of their lesser-known acts is no exception.  Comprised of husband and wife Dan Boeckner and Alexei Perry, Handsome Furs are an electronic act that sound in the vein of the genre’s earliest, highly pop-influenced tracks (think ‘80s electronic).  Previously known for their impeccable sample use, in Sound Kapital Handsome Furs have foregone their sample-heavy sound of the past for a record entirely composed on highly synthesized keyboard.  It’s just as good as anything the two have produced before, but with a higher degree of individuality and maturity reflecting the entirely self-written, composed tracks the album is made of.  Anyone who is a fan of melodic, synthesized electronic will certainly enjoy Sound Kapital.

 

Released:  6/28/2011

March to the Drums
June 16, 2011

Golden Bloom

March to the Drums

The Sleepy West

Golden Bloom’s sound is nothing new, they exist as yet another typical happy-go-lucky indie rock act that sits between Wilco and Ryan Adams.  But March to the Drums is good for what it is.  Golden Bloom is comprised of just one member, Shawn Fogel, playing each instrument and providing the vocals for every track.  The album is happy, upbeat, energetic and whimsical, and is a good addition to the genre.  The main problem is, in a genre like “indie-rock” that is so bloated with acts that sound all-too alike, there is nothing to make Shawn Fogel and Golden Bloom break ahead from the pack.  Pick it up if you are hunger for all things “indie-rock,” but, if you are like me, hold off until one of the genre’s more prolific and original bands release something.

 

Released:  6/10/2011

Green Lantern: Emerald Knights
June 10, 2011

Green Lantern:  Emerald Knights

DC Comics Animated Original Movies

Warner Bros.

DC animation has long been known for its attention to detail, spectacular storytelling and peerless animation.  Green Lantern:  Emerald Knights, the newest to the legendary line of DC animated stories, proves no different.  It serves as a companion to the upcoming Green Lantern film, an anthology of stories featuring prominent heroes from throughout the comic’s history.  The film opens with a fearsome battle between a Green Lantern and nameless demons that foreshadows the coming of the galactic conqueror, Krona.  As preparations for the upcoming battle ensue, legendary Green Lantern Hal Jordan chronicles the history of the Green Lantern Corps most famous members including Mogo, Abin Sur, Laira, Sinestro and the Corps’ first recruits, culminating in the showdown between the Lanterns and Krona.  This is a must-see for any fan of the series or anybody excited for the upcoming Green Lantern blockbuster.

Released:  6/7/2011