Moroccan Role: May 2006

Moroccan Role

A Totally Kiler Music/MP3 Blog.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

"I Know That Crime Doesn't Pay, But I Don't Know Any Other Way" :: The Long Winters - Putting the Days to Bed

The Long Winters third album Putting the Days to Bed will be released 7/25/06 on Barsuk Records. As we have been blessed with unseasonably warm weather here in Cincinnati since I received my promo copy of the upcoming album, it has felt like mid-July these past few days. Nothing ground breaking or avant garde is to be found on Putting the Days to Bed, just straight ahead, melodic indie pop-rock. Songwriter John Roderick's sunny, warm, and confident tunes are fleshed out by a talented backing band and glossy production. The songs have a vague 90s feel and will likey make some hipsters initially cringe, but after a few listens you'll be singing along to these tunes with the windows down in your car while smoking cigs...or maybe that was just me.

Still not convinced? Here's why Long Winters auteur John Roderick says you should care about the record: "Good songs are hard to write, hard to find, and are unrelated to fashion. There's a lot of music being made as an accessory now, music to match your distressed denim, your deconstructed jacket, your asymmetrical hair, but there will always be a need for actual songs. The Long Winters are working on making those."


The Long Winters - "Pushover"

The Long Winters - "Teaspoon" *recommended*

Get four tracks from The Long Winters previous full-lengths: here.

Friday, May 26, 2006

New Favorite Song of the Moment: The Gossip - "Standing in the Way of Control"

The Gossip's third album Standing in the Way of Control was released January 24, 2006 on Kill Rock Stars. While I am totally unfamiliar with the band's previous work, the current single and title track from the new album is f-ing sweet. They've got a pretty killer video for the tune as well. I've listened to the entire album a couple of times and while SITWOC is by far the strongest track present, a couple of others are almost as good. See, e.g., "Yr Mangled Heart".

"Standing in the Way of Control" features the standard dance punk elements (prominent disco hi-hats, jagged and angular guitar work, and distorted bass accentuating the backbeat) and would be fairly unremarkable if not for singer Beth Ditto's bluesy and soulful pipes. Think: Franz Ferdinand fronted by a 20-something white Aretha.

The Gossip - "Standing in the Way of Control"

Check out the video for the tune: here.

3 more tracks from The Gossip available: here.

Monday, May 08, 2006

The Raconteurs - Broken Boy Soldiers : A Comprehensive Review

Rating: 76/100

As one of the most-anticipated records of the year so far, expectations were understandably quite high for the Raconteurs' debut full-length. I'll begin under the assumption that you are already aware of the band bio and each member's respective resume. If not, you are probably reading this blog by mistake and won't make it through this rambling mess anyway.

Broken Boy Soldiers comes out of the gate strong with first single, "Steady, As She Goes". While the bass line is a nearly note-for-note rip of Joe Jackson's "Is She Really Going Out With Him?", it quickly transcends its laughable template and blossoms into a simple, yet tasty pop treat. "Steady, As She Goes" provides a glimpse into how the band's dynamic will unfold, but it is second track "Hands" which serves as the first true indication that the Raconteurs are not going to be the White Stripes-redux. "Hands" features Brendan Benson on lead vocals and -- considering Benson's solo material sometimes veers towards the MOR singer-songwriter territory -- it initially comes across like a standard Benson album cut with White on backing vocals. While "Hands" is a grower and improves upon multiple listens, it was ultimately a poor choice for the second track position.

Following the lackluster "Hands", BBS recovers quickly and with a vengeance on the title-track. "Broken Boy Soldier" is a charged romp featuring droning guitar figures, White's best Robert Plant meets Geddy Lee vocal stylings, and Patrick Keeler's ride cymbal assault. White sounds like a man possessed when he wails through lines like, "I'm child and man then child again." It is moments like when Jack screams "THE BOY!" at the 2:25 mark that make him arguably the best rock star in modern music. You simply have to hear the tune to truly appreciate this point.

Having fully recovered from the second track misstep, the band plunges head-long into "Intimate Secretary"-- another heavily Benson-influenced track. While the song has some cringe-producing forced lines such as, "I've got a rabbit, it likes to hop/i've got a girl and she's likes to shop", Jack White does his best to keep the song afloat with his distorted, panned a little too far back-in-the-mix vocals during the psychedelic refrains. He succeeds to some extent, and though the song is not incorrigibly written, one does get the distinct impression that without the star power present on the track it would not fare nearly as well.

At this point of the record, one is understandably concerned that things could go south fast. But, thankfully, the one-two punch of "Together" and "Level" arrives to quickly to quash that fear. "Together" starts off with a fairly ominous sign: Brendan Benson again on lead vocals. While he's is in no way a bad vocalist, up to this point his more-prominent presence has coincided with the album's weakest tracks. But, Benson redeems himself here and the song is the album's most pleasant surprise and probably the best example of collaboration between the two vocalists. The song has the effortless vibe and strong songwriting reminiscent of when John and Paul were on top of their game. "Level" is most White Stripes-ish song here and, while incredibly straight-forward, the vocal trade-off and lead guitar work are spot-on.

The next two tracks are fairly unremarkable. "Store Bought Bones", the B-Side to "Steady, As She Goes", seems a bit rushed and vaguely like a work in progress. Aside from White's slide guitar flourishes intermittently scattered throughout, it fails to stir up much excitement. "Yellow Sun" is a mid-tempo number featuring acoustic guitar and organ and while pleasant enough, the song is lacking the type of hook that will draw one back for repeated listens.

The last two songs are essentially solo numbers from Benson and White respectively. White's closer "Blue Veins" fares much better than Benson's "Call It A Day", which is the weakest track on the album despite its curious Beatles-meets-Alice in Chains backing vocals. The track's primary problem is the simple fact it is essentially a series of o.k. verses in search of a chorus that never appears. Things are rounded out by "Blue Veins"; a strong -- albeit buy-the-numbers -- blues ballad on which Jack tolls the virtues of his lady friend. The song was the most logical choice as the closing number, but Jack could most likely write tunes like this in his sleep.

So, there you have it. To be sure, the album is not the blockbuster many people (including me) thought that this indie super-group was capable of; but that is not to say there are not a few great tracks present on Broken Boy Soldiers. I believe the record would have greatly benefited with Jack White taking more of a lead role, but it is entirely understandable that the new-found freedom of being in an actual band was a breath of fresh air and he was content to let things come together naturally. The most lasting impression one gets upon listening to Broken Boy Soldiers is that it is the product of four very talented musicians not over-thinking it and just creating tunes that they enjoy playing with very little concern with writing hit songs or over how the end result would be viewed in the eyes of critics.

Suggested Downloads: "Broken Boy Soldier", "Together", "Level"

Buy the album here.

Perusing Sub Pop's MP3 Vault...

Another tune from Band of Horses debut was recently made available for download via Sub Pop. "Great Salt Lake" is strong cut from one of my favorite records of this year so far Everything All Time. In fact, their tune "Monsters" is among the my most listened to songs in the past few months. You can purchase the album: here. Not a bad song on the entire thing...totally recommended.

Band of Horses - "The Great Salt Lake"

Band of Horses - "The Funeral"

Here's the strongest track from The Constantines' 2005 effort Tournament of Hearts, "Soon Enough". I dig how it has a simple chord progression and melody line but nonetheless evokes a Springsteenian blue collar aesthetic and "everyman" truth. You'll like it.

The Constantines - "Soon Enough"

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Pearl Jam - Pearl Jam : Don't Believe the Hype - A Reactionary Review

Rating: 59/100

Don't get me wrong, I grew up on this shit. Jacob "Cry-Baby Blue" Barnes will attest to this fact. Seriously though, m'man hooked me up with my first PJ tape (courtesy of his big sis Sarah) circa late 1991. That's 6th grade for anyone who's counting. My singular goal in originally picking up the guitar was to perform a half-assed version of the intro to "Alive". In sum, it was that damn tape of Ten that became the first music I identified as "my own".

With that said, it hurts just a bit that I simply cannot recommend the new album and fear I have officially outgrown the band. Take a gander at the Metacritic score...I mean, c'mon. They do have a few future single candidates once "World Wide Suicide" fizzles out; opener "Life Wasted" and "Marker in the Sand" are the most likely suspects. The best stuff here comes off like B-rate rehashes of their back catalog-- see e.g., "Comatose", which was way better when it was called "Spin the Black Circle". While Pearl Jam may be their best work in years, who's been able to sit through an entire Pearl Jam record since Vitalogy? I guess P'fork's David Raposa is the only one who listened to the entire album besides me. Nearly every other review reads like a fucking press release.

While musically pretty solid (esp. Matt Cameron's drumming, which perfectly balances power and technical proficiency), the biggest flaw is Eddie's vocals -- the template for far too many grunge re-tread acts in the mid-to-late 90s (hell, to this day if you count Nickelback etc.) -- which are mixed way too front-and-center and simply do not compliment the music. To boot, they are in full-on wailing mode nearly throughout...blatantly ignoring the restraint which has always marked any decent modern-era PJ cut.

A return to form? Guys, all the PR people in the world cannot dress this turd up to look like anything other than what it is-- a turd. (OK, that's way too harsh...but I like the way it sounds) Basically, a good portion of album lacks memorable melodies and ultimately blends together in a muddy mix of nondescript rockers. What's even worse is that this is the most blatant style-over-substance album of Pearl Jam's career. It's just a little too obvious they are trying to reclaim their past glory; while there is certainly nothing wrong with that, don't beat us over the head with it. This album reminds me of what Billy Corgan tried to do with Zwan...with similar (maybe marginally better) results.

In all reality, if you are a Pearl Jam fan and are feeling nostalgic, by all means give this record a most likely already know what to expect and won't be disappointed. The guys were attempting to achieve a sound that could be slotted in between Vs. and Vitalogy in the Pearl Jam discography timeline. And, if this record came out right after Vs., or even Vitalogy, it would have been absolutely huge. The record is decent, but don't believe the "Strikes with a magnificent urgency"*-type hyperbole you are reading elsewhere.

My biggest problem with this record is based on a change in taste and the fact I'm no longer an angst-ridden awkward adolescent. With this stage went my love for PJ, but for some reason I still can rock out to Siamese Dream. Once a Corganite, always a Corganite I suppose. (For the record, TheFutureEmbrace was pretty much terrible.)

Suggested downloads: "Marker in the Sand", "Unemployable"

Buy the album here.

*=via Prefix Magazine

An Open Letter to Pearl Jam:

Dear Eddie et. alia,

Did Mike McCready relapse and recently run through all of his cash on that pesky blow habit of yesteryear? Why are you guys catering to the mainstream rock radio set to such an extent on this album? You guys made a career with your mercurial brand of "stickittothemaniosis"...why pander to the lowest common denominator at this point of your career? Eddie, we get it-- you surf. Was the painfully generic "Big Wave" really necessary? And Mike, it's due time you retired that damn that wah-wah pedal once and for all.


Moroccan Role.

*oh yeah, you can stream the entire album here.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

New Look, Recommended New Tunes.

I'm in the midst of finals, so the most logical thing for me to do today was to waste all kinds of time changing the look here at Moroccan Role. I think it's a vast improvement...still, I'd appreciate any feedback anyone has. I know posting as been very spotty lately and unfortunately, it will probably continue to be the next two weeks.

BUT, here are a few things I've been listening to lately and enjoying.

Cold War Kids have been blowing up all over the blogs recently and here's your chance to download a couple of their tunes, including the great "Hospital Beds". It's one of my personal favs. at the moment. "Hospital Beds" appears on their 2006 EP Up in Rags and "Tell Me in the Morning" appears on their 2005 EP With Our Wallets Full.

Cold War Kids - "Hospital Beds" (PC: right click, "save as" | Mac: ctrl click, "download linked file")

Cold War Kids - "Tell Me in the Morning" (PC: right click, "save as" | Mac: ctrl click, "download linked file")

You've probably read Pitchfork's review of Sunset Rubdown's most recent full-length Shut Up I'm Dreaming by now, so here's a chance to download the opening track from them album. I posted on these guys awhile back but it was nice to see Spencer Krug's troupe get some love from Pitchfork. You can purchase the album and the band's previous works here.

Sunset Rubdown - "Stadiums & Shrines II" (PC: right click, "save as" | Mac: ctrl click, "download linked file")

Sunset Rubdown - "Us Ones In Between" (PC: right click, "save as" | Mac: ctrl click, "download linked file")

I know I'm playing catch-up by posting on Beirut, but here are the links to download two tracks from 19-year-old Albuquerque native Zach Condon's band. Everyone and their brother has posted on these guys...because they're good. Their music is difficult to accurately describe, but Amrit over Village Indian did the best job I've seen: "Their songs waltz, they lilt, they feature trumpets, accordions and gorgeously layered, elastic vocal harmonies." Pitchfork is even on the bandwagon-- they reviewed "Postcards From Italy" today. Go to to get plenty of more of their material.

Beirut - "Postcards From Italy" (PC: right click, "save as" | Mac: ctrl click, "download linked file")

Beirut - "Mount Wroclai (Idle Days)" (PC: right click, "save as" | Mac: ctrl click, "download linked file")

That's it for now.