Sunday, December 25, 2005

If you missed the Kings Christmas party on Thursday, here's a really dark movie of the sumo wrestling that took place.
(video removed)

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

The Red Alert posted my System of a Down review.

And Tiny Mix Tapes posted my Top 25.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

This weekend at Bickett:

Alphas Wear Grey play suttle and hypnotic electronic compositions. I've heard people compare them to Fourtet. I've seen them twice and would gladly go see them again. You should see them at least one time, so you can say "yeah, i saw them when...." trust me, you won't regret it.

The Title Ceremony are some young bucks from the port city (that's wilmington, folks). They recorded their first full length (available at in their living room! i personally think they accomplished quite a feat and am absolutely excited that they're coming to raleigh. for fans of godspeed! you black emperor (sp?), mogwai, or any ambiently melodic and loud instrumental band.

Black Socks (the I.N.'s experiment) is playing between the two wonderful bands. come out and see what the deal-y is. it'll be easy on your finances and you may find yourself privy to the location of a hotel party after the show.

Where: Bickett Gallery
When: Saturday, December 17th, 10pm start time.
Why: Because it's going to be the shit. period.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

My Tiny Mix Tapes Top 25

Here's what I sent to them:

A note about my Top 25: I live in Raleigh, N.C., which is home to a large number of great bands. I wrestled with whether or not to put some of these bands on my Top 25 list because I knew many of them would be unknown outside of my area. Ultimately I decided I had to because these bands made up a good deal of my listening this year. Plus, if anyone sees this list and decides to check them out, it will be worth it.

I can't write more than two 200-word blurbs for the year end issue. If possible, i would like for one of them to be The Mars Volta's Frances the Mute.

25. The Mars Volta - Scabdates
24. Franz Ferdinand - You Could Have It So Much Better
23. Devendra Banhardt - Cripple Crow
22. Sigur Ros - Takk
21. Jaga Jazzist - What We Must
20. The Greatest Hits - The Greatest Hits
19. Lady Sovereign - Vertically Challenged
18. Little Brother - The Minstrel Show
17. The Cherry Valence - TCV3
16. Hot Hot Heat - Elevator
15. DMBQ - Essential Sounds from the Far East
14. The Decemberists - Picaresque
13. Drunk Horse - In Tongues
12. Black Rebel Motorcycle Club - Howl
11. Sean Paul - The Trinity
10. Lightning Bolt - Hypermagic Mountain
09. Tiger Bear Wolf - Tiger Bear Wolf
08. The Black Taj - The Black Taj (I'm interested in writing about this one)
07. Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings - Naturally
06. M.I.A. - Arular
05. Various Artists - The Bloc Party Remixed
04. The Rosebuds - Birds Make Good Neighbors
03. Damian Marley - Welcome to Jamrock (I'm interested in writing about this one)
02. The Mars Volta - Frances the Mute (I'm REALLY interested in writing about this one)
01. The Bloc Party - Silent Alarm

I'd also like to add a big thanks to Shannon, whose own Top 25 (and more) list was a real inspiration for me.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Tres Chicas and Mary Johnson to play IPAS benefit

This is from a friend of mine who works at IPAS:

We’re having our annual Rock for Reproductive Rights benefit on next Saturday, Dec. 17, at the ArtsCenter in Carrboro. The acts will the Tres Chicas (who will be performing some cuts from their upcoming Yep Roc record) and Mary Johnson.
Here's the full System of a Down review

System of a Down

Listening to "Hypnotize," the second half of System of a Down's two-CD juggernaut, I just couldn't stop thinking about Mary-Kate and Ashley. They're a package deal, right? But does anyone really pay attention to Ashley? Sure, Ashley is the one who's got it together. She goes to class, she works hard, she doesn't get into gossip rag slapdowns with the likes of Paris Hilton, and she apparently eats food on a regular basis. And let's just say it: In the traditional sense, she's hotter (and before anyone gets all huffy about my metaphor here, every single one of you out there would totally do them both). But Mary-Kate, with her bag-lady ensembles, her bulimia, her disdain for studies and predilection for Greek playboys, is the one we can't get enough of.

The point of all this nonsense is that "Hypnotize" is a fine enough CD. You'd totally do it if such a thing were possible. But "Mesmerize" is the harder, and harder-hitting of the two. Of course, neither can really compare to the band's earlier output, mostly because guitarist Daron Malakian is not not only writing most of the lyrics, he's also singing on all the songs. That's a mistake because his themes are mostly of the "duh!" variety (war = bad; Hollywood is full of drug-addled fakes), and his voice just doesn't have the power of the foghorn-voiced Serj Tankian, who has been relegated mostly to second-fiddle. The one thing "Hypnotize" has that its more attractive sister CD doesn't is a DVD featuring an enhanced stereo version of the CD (which really didn't sound that much better), a couple of videos ("BYOB" and "Question!" from "Mesmerize"), and a short documentary on the making of both CDs. This last feature is worth nearly the price of the CD on it's own, simply to watch Malakian explaining during the recording of a song that he wants all the cabinets pointed at a wall of acoustic guitars without strings on them because when he plays at Guitar Center he likes the way the sound bounces off the guitars on the wall.
More Snatches of Pink photos

Check out John's Flickr set. He's got some photos of the Snatches of Pink show about a month ago at Slim's.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Thanks to Brenda, I'm discovering new blogs all the time now. She just let me know that one of my 75 or Less co-writers, Kyle, has a blog. Check it out.

Also, 75 or Less has published my review of Scabdates. Check out the comments on this review. They're pretty funny.

This isn't my full review of System of a Down's latest CD, "Hypnotize." That will come after I view the accompanying DVD and do a better comparison with it's sister CD, "Mesmerize," which was released earlier this year. So far, "Hypnotize" seems a bit bland in comparison. It's just not as hard-hitting musically or politically. One new development is that guitarist Daron Malakian is singing a lot more (he actually sang a good bit on "Mesmerize" too). He's not a bad singer -- in fact, in many ways he's technically a better singer than Serj Tankian, but Serj has the more distinctive (some would say irritating) voice. I think it's a mistake for them to push that to the back burner.

I think I've overwhelmed myself again. I'm going to be writing for Tiny Mix Tapes! and already I've got an assignment that's throwing me a bit: compile a list of the best 25 albums of the year. I don't even have to write about them, just compile them. This is where my longstanding habit of getting an album and playing it to death become s a handicap. I haven't listened to the quantity of albums I should have, but the ones I've heard I know inside and out. I've got a good solid list of about 15 going with The Mars Volta's "Frances the Mute" and Damian Marley's "Welcome to Jamrock" leading the pack. I've been listening to some reggaeton this year too, so I don't know how they'll feel about me throwing some of that on my list.

In general, I'm going to be writing interviews for TMT, though I also have an assignment to go to Dunn, N.C., and see if I can find some local folks who remember anything about Link Wray. In addition, I'm writing for The Red Alert and 75 or Less. I've been trying for years to be a music writer on a national scale, and now that it looks like it's happening, I'm not sure I can handle it.

The big fly in the ointment, as my mom would say, is that my dog, Mr. C., has a torn ligament in his knee and needs surgery. I put it off for a couple of weeks: He's a big dog, he's 10 years old and he has epilepsy -- all factors that made a lot of people say, "Karen, do you really want to invest that amount of money (about $1,200) in an elderly dog?" Well, the answer is yes, because I can't stand to see him limping around, and it's not getting any better. Before this, he was still very active. It's going to take a lot of work on my part to get him back into shape afterward, but I think he's worth it.

OH! and how could I forget? Check out Planet Brenda, another local blogger who loves The Mars Volta too! I swear, we TMV fans are like some sort of secret society or something. We need to come up with a secret handshake in order to recognize each other.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Yngwie: The agony and the ecstacy.

OK, since I'm not an Yngwieologist, I really can't give you a lot of juicy details about what I saw last nightat the Lincoln Theatre. I can say this: When he was soloing alone (which was a good bit of the time), it was the loudest damn thing I've ever heard in my life -- and not in a good way. I, Karen A. Mann, actually went and bought earplugs about halfway through. I can also say this: What he was doing, with all the self-indulgent wanking and indiscriminant effects, really reminded me a lot of what one of my idols, Omar Rodriguez-Lopez, is always trying to do. My Volta buds will kill me for admitting that.

Anyway, when he first came on, after an hour and a half wait following the opening band, it really was pretty exciting. The man can play more notes in two seconds than I can play in an entire year. And he slings a really valuable guitar around his neck, flips it in the air, and tosses it backward over his head in a way that keeps you mesmerized. Kind of like how you have to watch trapeze artists because you just know one of them is going to fall and get killed. Danny characterized it as like a trainwreck that you just can't stop watching.

But by the end of the evening, even the hard-core Yngwie fans I know who had seen him many times and were dying to see him again, were yawning. The guy can play zillions of notes, but playing a song seems to be beyond his capabilities. Still, it was a good birthday present. I wish Jessica could have been there so she could see how much of a rip-off Andy Sartori is. But I wish we could both see Ritchie Blackmore so we could see how much of a rip-off Yngwie is.

Also, please excuse the phone photo. I really didn't believe I'd be allowed to bring my camera into the show, but it turns out quite a few people had them, so maybe some photos will show up somewhere else.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Not much to say about last night. After a work-related function, I ended up at Dive Bar, where I saw two college rock bands, The Know and Big City Reverie. The Know was more glam, while Big City Reverie was more jangly, with some really good vocal harmonies.

Afterward, I ended up at the great Cover-up, where I caught the last band, "The-52s."
Bart made an awesome Fred Schneider.

Check out the photos from Saturday night.

Friday, December 02, 2005

I didn't spend much time at the Cover-up last night. But I will say the first band -- a bunch of folks I really don't know doing TV theme song covers (including "Family Ties" and "Law and Order"), was probably the most original thing I've ever seen at a cover-up.

Here's a little movie of them doing "Duck Tails" and the theme song of some Japanese show.

TV Theme Show band from the Great Cover-Up from Mann's World on Vimeo.

Knowledge is For Fools played second as The Ramones. I got a shot of their singer, Andy (a.k.a. James At-15) breathing fire, which isn't a Ramones thing, but really made for a great shot.

I didn't know the third band, and I'm not that familiar with the band they were doing (The Smoking Popes), so I ended up going home.

Here are some photos from last night.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

If you've read this blog you know I've been raving lately about The Greatest Hits, a band that really has improved dramatically since the first time I saw them years ago. Back then they had potential, with classic pop guitar melodies, roughed up with sludgy fuzz, and heartfelt lyrics spat out by the gravel-voiced Jeramy Lowe. Now their musical chops have caught up to their ideas. Not only do they put on a good show, they've made a really tight CD. Each of the CD's seven songs is well-crafted with the jangly "For My Health" and winsome, Superchunk-ish "Out of Touch" being the stand-outs. You can hear "Out of Touch" for yourself on the band's Myspace page.
Celtic Frost coming to Jaxx!! Tickets go on sale today for Celtic Frost, who are playing for two nights at Jaxx in Virginia on Sept. 12 and 13, 2006. I'm going to get two tickets (Jessica, I assume you'll want the second one). While researching this, I also found out that Tom G. Warrior has a blog. So, now I have to tell you the one and only funny Celtic Frost story I have. Back in the late '80s, when I was a student at ECU, my roommate, Christine, worked at a gyro place/bar called Omar's. Omar and his brother, Ali, were from Morocco. Anyway, this was in the days before CD players (hard for some of you whippersnappers to imagine, I know), so Omar had a turntable, and patrons could bring in whatever records they wanted to play. Well, someone had brought in, and left, a copy of Celtic Frost's infamous "Cold Lake," the album that saw them trying to abandon their death metal roots for a more glam sound and image. Just take a look at this image of the back cover:Not only is bass player Curt Victor Bryant wearing suspenders, his acid-washed pants are unbuttoned. Yes. That's Tom G. Warrior in the satin shirt and big hair. At that point I had heard of, but never heard Celtic Frost. So, while hanging out in Omar's one day, I tried to put it on the turntable. Omar flipped out. (Insert thick Moroccan accent here) "You cannot put that on the turntable," he hollared. "But I want to know what it sounds like," I said. "You want to know what it sound like???" he asked. "It sound like THAT!" He pointed squarely at Bryant's dick. And he was right, too. But I'm still going to see them at Jaxx.
The Coverup, and Rock the Triangle

I don't know what the hell is up with the Rock the Triangle myspace group. It's completely messed up, and won't let me edit. I'll resist the urge to say something snarky about myspace (but you guys can go right ahead). I've actually been in contact with someone there, and if you look, it's actually messed up in a different way now, which I guess means someone is actually doing something to it. I guess that's good.

Anyway, tonight is night one of the coverup at Kings. I'll be out there with the camera. I'll probably be there on Friday, too. Saturday I'll be at Dive Bar checking out Big City Reverie. I don't know much about them, but a friend of mine recommends them highly, so I'm going to check it out.