This might be the shortest story of all time but I feel compelled to write something about the economy and how it has made a difference in the music industry. Well, maybe not as deep at the music industry in its entirety, but at least the selling of vinyl and hard to find David Bowie records.

This past weekend I found myself in Atomic Records in Milwaukee, WI buying records with a cool dude. I was obviously looking for anything with David Bowie on it and of course I found a 3-disc compilation of his “lost years” aptly named “David Bowie: Secrets of my Lost Years 1969-1973”. Holy Shit!

Needless to expand further upon, I was ecstatic.

Let me tell you something more exciting. It was $15.

Another tidbit of awesomeness, I found “ChangesThreeBowie” for $9. Bowied out? Never.

Here’s a cool video for you to enjoy featuring Mr. Bowie:

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BY: Megan Hundley

Unaware that this gem of an album was being released this past week, I was happily surprised by stumbling upon The Goo Goo Dolls, Greatest Hits Vol. 2 at my friendly neighborhood Reckless Records! Not only are there 22 hard-to-find tracks on this wonder but there is also a DVD containing 24 of their videos (both live and just normal music videos!). Released on August 19, I apologize for my lapse in keeping up to date on all things that were popular in the ’90s. Needless to say I was overly excited, yet still strapped for cash. I certainly plan on picking up a copy after this coming Friday (pay day!) and then I can Goo my life up a little bit.

That sounded weird, but I’m keeping it. I rarely have these Tobias Funke moments so I am embracing it.

( Photo by Megan Hundley, The Goo Goo Dolls, El Yunque Rainforest, PR, February 2008 )

More tidbits about the 2-disc album are that you can find some of your favorite music videos from their well-known hits all the way to their newest releases. I’ve been trying to keep up with the GGD (for short) after seeing them this past February in El Yunque Rainforest in Puerto Rico. Yeah, I’ll attach some pictures from the show. It was UNREAL! John has quite the sense of humor that night that was vocalized when he told us to, “Watch out for the rabid monkeys”. Thanks for the tip.

I also was fortunate to meet them before the show and get a picture with them! But, this was all after I tripped and almost fell right in front of John Rzeznik. He caught me before I fell but I totally felt like a tron and you can tell by my awkward face in the picture. So, without further adieu, here are the pictures I promised…

(Me and the Goo Goo Dolls in El Yunque)

( Photos by Megan Hundley, The Goo Goo Dolls, El Yunque Rainforest, PR, February 2008 )

So, I suggest going, if not sprinting, out to the local record store (or just go on iTunes) and get this new album. I can’t wait to snag a copy of my very own and cherish it forever and ever. I might just frame it and put it up on my wall with my David Bowie vinyl records. We’ll see.

BY: Megan Hundley, 8.21.08

Throw every notion you already had about Bloc Party out the window. Intimacy, the newest album from this booming British band is a whole new side to their musical talents. With fresh lyrics, including a few more blatantly vulgar phrases, and a more techno sounding sheen covering said album it completely shows Bloc Party turning a new leaf. With no song less than 3 minutes long, get ready to be entertained!

With the jarring initial track “Ares” begins almost angelically and then dives right in to the synthetic guitar sounds and outstanding drum beat. Kele chimes in with the first words on the track, “War war war war!” Initially, I thought this song reminded me of how I feel when I’m intoxicated. A mish-mash of sounds, words and tones. It’s fun, it’s interesting and it’s worth revisiting.

Then comes the second track “Mercury” ( which I saw Bloc Party perform live just a few weeks ago at Lollapalooza ’08 ) which I can definitely see being remixed sometime in the near future. It’s repetitive and catchy and a jumble of many different sounds.

“When I saw them play [“Mercury”] at Lolla, I thought it didn’t sound anything like what they’ve done before,” commented John McGuire, when asked about his thoughts on their new sound.

Track three, “Halo”, might be my favorite on the album. From the beginning you just want to get up and dance, jump around on things and sing along with Kele as he asks you to “Paralyze [him] with your kiss”. I was really hooked on this song by the break down. What an amazing tune! You really just have to listen to it.

Let’s slow it down for a bit with track four, kids. “Biko” is an easy, flowing song that makes you want to be in love with someone. It’s a very encouraging tune that really makes you feel a lot of different strong emotions in a 5 minute span. With lyrics like, “Biko, toughen up/ I need you to be strong”, it really makes you think that it was written about a cornerstone in someone’s life. It really made me think about my life and what I find important.

Then there’s “Trojan Horse”, the song that sounds like a good song to speed down a freeway listening to. It’s fast, entertaining and emits a spirit of pure carelessness and a need for something new. It’s commanding and OH MY GOSH, the break down is insane. I was going to go back and erase what I said about “Halo” but both break downs are equally enticing.

Next, “Signs” takes you on a trip to somewhere completely different from the rest of the album. In all honesty, I thought I was going to Mr. Rodger’s house at the beginning of this song. That was until the song took flight into the picture that Kele is trying to paint for the listener. It’s a calming, slightly adorable song, that has an underlying tone of irony because Kele begins talking about someone’s funeral and then you literally just get lost in the soothing music.

( photo by Caroline Doerhoff, Bloc Party at The Pageant, St. Louis, MO, 2007 )

Seventhly (that’s a word now), we are presented with “One Month Off”. It’s a complete 180 from the previous song. The thick and juicy baseline catches your attention and refuses to release its grip. I was lying before when I said that “Halo” was my favorite song because “One Month Off” takes the cake. It has an interest message that really connects with many of today’s bigger issues ( war, corruption, etc.) and puts it into perspective, for me at least. This songs is chalked full of synth sounds!

Track eight, “Zepherus” sounds a little bit like “The Prayer” off of A Weekend in the City, but only for a brief moment. This epic song is very ghostly and it really sticks with you after you listen to it. The back-up singers really make this track so shockingly different from the rest of the album. The lyrics are full of emotion and intense, what I felt was, anguish. It sounds like they are looking back on a certain conversation that went awry in the past. Very thought provoking, if I do say so myself.

“Better than Heaven”, the ninth track on Intimacy, is in a class of its own. The set up for this song builds up anticipation for what is to come. It’s certainly a step up in tempo from the previous song but it is still slightly less energetic than the rest of the more dance-worthy songs. Again, this must be the album of intense break downs because just around the 3-minute mark, you are blown away by the way the song builds up to such an explosion of immense sounds.

To wrap up this digital release we have “Ion Square”. A piano brings us in to Kele’s slightly raspy yet loving voice and brings us into the meat of this song. With over six minutes to bring this album to a close this song does its job to a “t”. It’s not too loud, too soft (to be really lame and make a reference to “Goldilocks and the Three Bears”), it is just right. More words from the heart and experiences of the members of Bloc Party are scattered all through out this song. I just want to hug all of them when they sing, “I carry your heart/ here with me.”

I think that these four (Kele, Russell, Gordon and Matt) must have just sat around with distortion pedals and a synthesizer for a year and just threw their awesomeness on them because that’s all I can think about when I listen to this album. I’ve fallen even more in love with Bloc Party, if that was possible, after I listened to Intimacy. A very strong third album that will surely keep them going for many more amazing albums to come.

Black Kids have been one of the most hyped bands of the summer, and their long-anticipated debut album “Partie Traumatic” was finally released yesterday… But was it worth all the fuss?

Do you like the 80s? Are lyrics that neither make much sense nor rhyme that well not that big of a deal for you? Would you enjoy the yodelings of a youngish Robert Smith, up half an octave? Well then I have the band for you! Black Kids are neither black nor children, but they’re going to be your new favorite band whether you like it or not.

Partie Traumatic begins with “Hit the Heartbreaks,” which busts out with a full on 80s synth blast and a knock knock joke, giving the listener a taste of the surreal mix of puns and retro pop that pervades the entire album. Lead singer Reggie Youngblood’s voice slides and dips through the synthetic soundscapes, the result and eerie premonition of what Robert Smith might’ve sounded like had The Cure come out of Florida instead of England.

First single “I’m Not Going To Teach Your Boyfriend How To Dance With You” offers a pretty standard watching the girl of your dreams from afar-type scenario, but with another infectious synth hook, more nonsense lyrics (“You are the girl/that I’ve been dreaming of/ever since I was a little girl”) and Justice-like kid choruses shouting “Dance! Dance! Dance! Dance!” – and you can’t really help but oblige their command.

Overall, Partie Traumatic is the perfect album for the summertime – light, fun, and occasionally witty synth pop from five pun-loving non-black kids. It was released in the US on July 22.

At long last I have returned! Since I have graduated I have had A LOT of time to do nothing and listen to a butt load of music all the time. Along with said wonderful activities, I have a few things to share concerning the music world via Milwaukee, Wisconsin! I am sad to no longer be the Publications Director, but I will try to write at least SOMETHING on here from time to time. — Megan Hundley

me rockin\' out to Guitar Hero

(pictured above: me keeping it real in Milwaukee by rocking out to Guitar Hero)

Matter of business numero 1:

My beau (John) and I were eating lunch at the amazing Comet Cafe on the East Side of Milwaukee when all of a sudden a notable musician graced us with his presence — Andy Hurley (the drummer of Fall Out Boy)! It’s no wonder that Hurley, being the straight edge vegan that he is, was eating at Comet since they have amazing vegan friendly food. Now, I am proud, and at the same time embarrassed, that I was not the one who recognized him.

Here’s how the short story goes: I was perusing the menu and John suddenly exclaims, “OMGz! It’s Andy Hurley from Fall Out Boy!!!” I, of course, erupt in laughter because my first thought is the fairly known, poorly drawn online parodies of their song “Sugar, We’re Going Down”. To be quite honest, I don’t care much for the band but John insists that their earlier stuff is pretty great. I mean, he is such an indie-snob (points nose up in the air). Joking aside, I just thought it was cool to see a rocker out of his element just hanging out around his hometown. Respecting his privacy and trying not to be a complete creeper, I decided against asking him for an interview. John, on the other hand, told me that he wished he had worn his Since By Man t-shirt since the last time he saw FOB in concert Hurley had commented on his t-shirt saying is was cool.

Matter of business number dos:

I have been shown the light — Vinyl records are exponentially cooler than CDs, mp3s, cassette tapes, etc. The pictures on the cover are cooler, the sound is cooler and the overall feel is cooler.

Last matter of business (3, in case you lost count):

Bjork makes crazy music videos. My friends, Charlie, John, Mary and I were watching a DVD of her music videos and a vast majority of them involve her, “…being nude in front of a green screen leaving the director to do whatever the hell he wants”, commented Charlie. Now, it was a general consensus that the video for “Joga” is a huge let down. It’s just a helicopter going over random landscapes and sometimes the director/editor used a computer program to make it look like the world is being viewed through a kaleidoscope and then hot magma is spewing out of every orifice.

For your enjoyment, here is a Bjork video of her song “Triumph of a Heart”. I love this video, it is hilarious and it has a dancing cat in it. Let the weirdness begin…

Hello there faithful Amp-ers!  I must apologize about the long gap between posts this past month, things just got straight cray cray with finals and moving and working and…well, basically I became quite busy.  But The Amp wasn’t far from my thoughts, don’t worry.  We’re back.

And so, I have for you a troubling new phenomenon that has cropped up in our neighbor to the south, Mexico – Emo hate.  Emo kids have fast become the most-bashed social group in Mexico’s cities, suffering verbal and even physical abuse for their style.  Read on for more on this strange development…

It’s not unusual anymore to see gaggles of dark-clad, skinny adolescents with straightened hair and studded belts cavorting anywhere that loitering is tolerated.  Here in the United States, we’ve been seeing the emo trend, a modern permutation of the goth movement, grow for the better part of a decade, and the fad has become increasingly mainstream.  And whether or not you love them, hate them, emo kids are generally tolerated here.

In Mexico, it’s a completely different story.  Instead of the slow-growing, music-based emo trend that developed here in the U.S., its Mexican counterpart has caught on rapidly, and seems to center largely on fashion.  Super tight jeans, dyed-black and spiky hair, stars, and all of the trappings of emo culture have appealed to a certain group of young people in urban Mexico.  And their peers aren’t looking kindly upon the sudden influx of “emos” into their hang-outs. 

Violence has escalated rapidly in Mexico (see also: here and here for more) where shouting matches have turned into all-out brawls and unprovoked attacks on anyone who even looks emo.  Punks and metalheads, the most agressive anti-emo groups, resent both how quickly the trend has caught on and how eager kids seem to adapt to it on order to fit in.  Fueled by internet message boards full of anti-emo sympathizers, the view of emo style as a means of fitting in, with no real passion or even slight common thread to unite them except fashion.  That sentiment has translated into savage attacks on unarmed (and usually scrawny) emo kids, and high tension in the popular hang-outs of the city.

In response to the escalating hatred, repeated demonstrations for tolerance have taken place in the streets of Mexico City, with emo kids joining forces with gay rights activists and other advocates for groups that are discriminated against.  A police presence has even been required to keep the warring groups apart in some cases, to keep demonstrations from turning into massive street brawls.

Faux hate for the stereotypes of emo culture has become trendy here in the U.S. (“I wish that my grass was emo so that it would cut itself!”), it’s true.  And sure it’s easy to pick on a group that typically tends toward the emotional and wimpy sort.  But what’s happening in Mexico is a completely different scenario: real harm coming upon young kids just because of how they dress.  I think that’s just wrong…and this is coming from the self-proclaimed fashion police.  I’m not going to bust out my liquid eyeliner and arm-warmers in solidarity just yet, but I don’t think emo kids should be whaled upon just for wearing too much black.  It comes down to the age old tradition of jocks beating up wimps…but now there’s fashion at stake.

After that long-winded diatribe on the perils of emo kids, don’t you want to watch a Youtube montage of pictures of Mexican emo kids paired with a song straight out of their scene?  I thought so…

 

The Amp’s Editor in Chief, Caroline Doerhoff, could not have gotten a better cuatro de mayo present than watching these two crazy twins kick out the jams at The Pageant…

I’ve been a Tegan and Sara fan since my high school days, so when I heard that they were coming to The Pageant, I could not have been more STOKED to see them live. I refused to be deterred by their “Live at the Phoenix” EP, which made their trademark harmonies and unique voices sound…well, a little shrill. No no. It couldn’t be…I was determined to see for myself.

When we arrived at The Pageant, I was immediately struck by how young the crowd seemed. I mean, I’m tall, so I’m used to being able to see in most conditions…but these people were tiny. And their moms were there with them. In our spot above the pit, I spotted not one but two girls with their moms. I don’t know why I expected the usual crowd of twentysomethings, what with Tegan and Sara’s catchy, tight, melodies and popsensibilities, but for the record I was taken aback. (I was also startled by how many petite young girls could be rocking the fashion mullet pioneered by Tegan and Sara in the “So Jealous” days.)

The lights dimmed right around 8 pm, right on schedule, and girl-boy duo An Horse took the stage, and proceeded to thank us, the audience, for being so polite. Over the course of their 35 minute set, we were called polite maybe three more times, even after an audience member screamed either “You suck!” or “Cubs suck!” (the world may never know). Undeterred by garbled sports-related yelling, An Horse (also known as Kate Cooper of Iron On and Damon Cox of Intercooler and Mary Trembles) delivered a concise set of mid-tempo songs that sounded a lot like Tegan and Sara at their most earnest and straightforward…and plus a dude on the harmonies. Cooper joked with the audience about the ubiquity of sports fans between here and her native Brisbane, Australia, and their unfortunately short set was overall quite enjoyable. The lights came up again too soon, and the blond duo trooped off stage to considerably more applause than they garnered at their arrival. I’d say they won me over. Charming, really.

Tegan and Sara arrived onstage shortly after, bringing on the shortness as well as a backup band of three black-clad guys to fill out their sound. Without a pause, each shouldered a guitar and they launched into “I Know I Know I Know,” barely breathing between phrases as they sped through. I’ll admit that I was concerned that they would just power through all of their songs in this manner and the audience would be in the parking lot in 45 minutes. Luckily, I was wrong…and I’m glad I was.

Over the course of the next hour and a half, Tegan and Sara would deliver amazing renditions of the majority of “The Con” and “So Jealous” as well as a few from “If It Was You.” From their gut-wrenching version of “Call It Off” to crowd pleasers like “Back In Your Head,” they belted out songs they’ve probably sung hundreds of times like they were freshly written. I have to say that I was nervous to hear Sara’s voice live (see above comment about “Live at the Phoenix”), but I was greatly impressed by her vocals as well as Tegan’s. It really is remarkable that identical twins could sound so different, but Sara’s soprano and Tegan’s alto really blend together well, even live.

They seemed to genuinely enjoy themselves, taking time to indulge in witty banter that they seemed to enjoy as much as the crowd listening did. Topics covered included: unicorns, grade 3 boyfriends, hockey, boards with nails in them, Sara running down the streets of the city at night, and their mom. I could never do their dynamic justice…so I’ll let them do the talking themselves. Thank you YouTube!

talk of unicorns…

…and their mom

Overall, the concert was one of the most solid and enjoyable I’ve been to at The Pageant in a while, and I can’t remember the last time that I laughed so much at a show. I’ve been waiting for years to see Tegan and Sara in concert, and they definitely exceeded my (rather high) expectations.

But don’t just take my word for it on their performance…here’s “The Con” (thanks to weaverash01 for all of the videos featured here!)