Thursday, November 22, 2012

An Update!

A few months back, I was hired to write for While I will mainly focus on score and film reviews and news for that site, I have no intention of leaving Nervous Eardrums and will continue to review non-score albums and music here.

I know I haven't posted much here in a while, but I just wanted my readers and co-contributors at Nervous Eardrums to know I am still here!


Saturday, June 30, 2012

Howard Shore, Metric, K'naan - Cosmopolis (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) [2012]

Howard Shore, Metric, K'naan - Cosmopolis: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Genre - Soundtrack, Film Score, Indie Rock, Hip Hop
Released - June, 2012 (May, 2012 in some European countries)
Length - 41:00 (approx.)
Publisher - Howe Records Cosmopolis
Wikipedia: Cosmopolis

Howard Shore has provided the score for nearly every film directed by David Cronenberg. Their 30+ year collaborative partnership has usually brought out the best in Howard Shore's compositional skills, their most recent film together, Cosmopolis, being no exception. I haven't seen Cosmopolis yet (it won't be released in the U.S. until August 2012), but based on the trailer, I'm assuming it largely involves Robert Pattinson as businessman of questionable ethics who spends a great deal of the film in his limo (I never read the novel). I've never been disappointed by a Cronenberg film, so it will be a first if I don't like Cosmopolis.

Canadian indie rockers Metric must have really made an impression when they worked with Shore on a song for the most recent Twilight film, because he invited them to co-write and perform three of the songs heard on this soundtrack. Due to their collaboration, the album flows seamlessly between the Shore instrumental tracks and Metric's songs. This is something I can't say is true about many soundtracks that try to mix score with songs, but it works flawlessly in this instance. There is an ethereal ambience to the album, with guitars and synthy melodies swirling about to create a very relaxed, almost dreamlike listening experience. I first discovered Metric when I heard "Black Sheep" in Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World (one of the standout songs on that soundtrack), so I was quite intrigued when I first learned they were working Shore, one of my all-time favorite film composers.

Howard Shore
Fans of Shore's largely orchestral and heavily thematic work on films such as the Lord of the Rings trilogy may be turned off, but anyone that can appreciate his more experimental, atmospheric side displayed in films such as this and Videodrome should listen to this album. Metric fans or those that don't normally listen to film scores need not fast forward through the Shore instrumentals; the composer's music acts as a perfect compliment to the band's mesmerizing sound.

Aside from Shore and Metric, the album features a song by rapper K'naan, with lyrics penned by Cosmopolis novelist Don DeLillo. I'm uncertain whether Shore had any involvement the song's production, but it fits perfectly in this album, with the rapper chanting the words in a manner that is almost hypnotic.

Tracklist: (all tracks by Howard Shore unless otherwise noted)

1. White Limos
2. Long To Live (Metric)
3. Rat Men
4. Asymmetrical
5. I Don't Want To Wake Up (Metric)
6. A Credible Threat
7. Call Me Home (Metric)
8. Haircut
9. Mecca (K'naan)
10. The Gun
11. Benno

Rating: 9.5 (out of 10)

Key Tracks:
Metric "Long To Live"

Howard Shore "Asymmetrical"

K'naan "Mecca"

Friday, June 29, 2012

The Primitives - The Ostrich / Sneaky Pete [7" Single]

The Primitives - The Ostrich / Sneaky Pete (7" vinyl single)
Genre - Rock and Roll, Experimental, Parody
Released - 1964
Length - 4:44
Publisher - Pickwick City Records

Side A: The Ostrich
Side B: Sneaky Pete

Before Lou Reed formed the legendary Velvet Underground, he worked as a staff songwriter for Pickwick City Records. This was essentially a hit factory, one of many in the early 60's. They were quite common and many famous songwriters started out at these businesses writing hits (and misses) for other singers. If anyone remember the film Grace Of My Heart, they'll know what I'm talking about. Not the best film, but it is loosely based on Carole King's early songwriting career at a songwriting firm. It was at Pickwick that Reed honed his songwriting skills and gained experience in the recording studio. Many Velvets songs were written by Reed at this time, and while songs about Heroin and NYC street life were probably not Pickwick executives' idea of marketable hits, they took notice of another song he wrote, a catchy dance number called "The Ostrich".

At first glance, it sounds like a typical flavor of the week dance tune from 1964, but the song is actually kind of subversive and revolutionary. The lyrics parody other dance tunes of the era (at one point Reed sings, "put your head on the floor and have somebody step on it"). Really worth noting is the guitar. Reed tuned every string to the note D for a droning effect (this technique would resurface on The Velvet Underground & Nico, credited as "ostrich guitar" in that album's liner notes). This impressed one of the studio musicians playing on the record, John Cale. Cale was also experimenting with drone as a member of LaMonte Young's avant garde group The Dream Syndicate (not to be confused with the 80's band). The single quickly faded into obscurity but it is notable as the first recording featuring Cale and Reed performing together, and was therefore the seed of a collaborative partnership that would produce some of the most revolutionary and original music of the late 60's.

8 out of 10

To the best my knowledge, "The Ostrich" and it's b-side "Sneaky Pete" have never been re-released, so I'm sharing it here. It's only 128 kbps mp3, so sorry about the low quality.

get it

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Personal Note~

Our founding member of this blog has gone his own way.  I will keep this blog alive for him.  I will not delete it.  It is still here for him.

Lye, I hope you're doing well~

Röyksopp - The Understanding (2005)

Röyksopp - The Understanding
Genre - Electronic
Released – July 4, 2005 (UK), July 12, 2005 (US)
Length - 58:40
Publisher – Wall of Sound (UK), Astrelwerks (US)

Now many people may not know who Röyksopp are….  In all basic-ness, you know that Geico commercial? 

To my knowledge, this was the US’s introduction to Röyksopp, although that track is not on this album.  I did hear another track of theirs once on the radio but that was a local station that some kids ran. 

Track list –
Only This Moment
49 Percent
Sombre Detune
Follow My Ruin
Beautiful Day Without You
What Else Is There?
Circuit Breaker
Alpha Male
Someone Like Me
Dead to the World
Tristesse Globale

The Understanding is Röyksopp’s second album and lasts for 12 tracks.  For the first half of the disc there are some smooth tones and mellow beats, and some vocals to keep your attention.  It makes for some nice background music, mellow but enough beat to keep you awake

The gem of this disc is track 7 What Else Is There?.  It’s that track that makes you break from your mellow state and actually listen to it.  With a bigger sound and steady female vocals, this track is worthy of the mp3 player.  It almost has a ‘riding a lonely train at night’ vibe to it. 

After the disc woke you up a bit with that track, it picks up the pace directly after on track 8… and then slows down a bit again, and then gets heavy in track 9... and then goes back to mellow until the end. 

This disc is a smooth ride with a hill or two in the middle.

Some of these tracks used samples from other things, but I’m not familiar with them…
“Track 7 contains a sample from 'Kill Me With Your Love' by Jericho, courtesy of A&M Records, a sample from 'Love Me The Life I Lead' performed by The Drifters, courtesy of Bell Records. Track 11 contains a sample from 'Who We Are' written and composed by Andrew Latimer, performed by Camel, courtesy of Decca Records.”

I’m not going to follow my same score method that I did for the last disc I reviewed.  That thing was a wild mess that couldn’t be counted as a whole.  This, however, can be graded as a whole and I generally grade discs out of my own feeling.

7.9 out of 10

BONUS!  There’s a ‘5’ track bonus disc!  Unlike the first disc, this one starts off with a bit of a punch and keeps the pace going until it takes a slower and darker turn until track 5.  But strangely the sneaky buggers added more tracks to this disc.  Unlabeled tracks.

Length – 45:54
Track list -
Go Away
Clean Sweep
Looser Now
Unlabeled Track 6
Unlabeled Track 7 (Only This Moment Redux)
Unlabeled Track 8 (49 Percent Redux)

7.3 out of 10

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Yu-Gi-Oh - Songs to Duel By

Yu-Gi-Oh - Songs to Duel By
Released - October 29, 2002
Length - 49:15
4Kids and their lacky publishers!_Music_to_Duel_By

I've decided to do album reviews of discs I physically own, and for some reason I decided to torture myself for the first review.  Maybe my pain will attract attention.....  I took this down off the shelf and disgraced my disc drive with it once again.  The card insert says "Duel like Yugi with these special battle tracks"...  Now to be perfectly honest, I used to watch the 4Kids version of Yugioh back in the day.  I made it up to Yugi and Kaiba dueling the two Steves on top of the building in Battle City.  I honestly can't remember much more after that but I'm pretty sure none of these songs were featured while Yugi was dueling.... 

1 - Yugioh Theme - This is the full version of the theme on this disc, and surprisingly this version has a pretty good sound to it.  I'm willing to bet it would be pretty awesome on a surround sound but I don't have one of those =(  It actually has a bit of a hard core (but not much) movie sound to it which could be complimented a lot more without the vocal bits.  A little serious but still not serious enough. SCORE  6.9

2 - Time to Duel - D-D-D-D-D-D-D-D-Duel...... It actually does that in this song too....  This song is reminding me A LOT of back in the early-mid 90's when big hair rock bands were trying to make their sound more current but it just mellowed out into forgettable doodles.  It's kind of like that. The song seems short... and that's good because it's a repetitive one.  "Time to Duel" and electronic voice chunking litter this track too much.  I can't tell you what other words in it were because I've forgotten them already... SCORE - 3.2

3 - I'm Back - Still sounds 90s.  For some reason they thought it would be a good idea to interrupt the flow of the song with lines from Seto Kaiba just inserted with barely any good timing.... and then Mokuba.  SHUT UP MOKUBA! SCORE 2.0

4 - Summon the Dragon - AH!  Finally!  An instrumental!  Now we can play children's card games in peace!  Drum beat, bass, and heavy on the synth.  It almost has flow but not really a coherent flow.  The entirety of this track is strayed from that failing rock sound but moved into a failing synth track.  It ends abruptly.  SCORE 4.5

5 - Your Move - And now we're back to the failing rock sound.  Borrowing the bass lines from the theme song, this track lays wailing lead guitars over top.  Oh boy, these lyrics define trite.  SCORE 2.0

6 - Duel Madness - Hold on to your seats!  They are attempting rap!  It's not working.  They're attempting rap with the awful rock style...  I feel like there are children in their garage next door trying to sing like the Beastie Boys but they are only serving to annoy me thoroughly....  SCORE 1.5

7 - No Matter What - Following the discs "Has-been-rocker" style, this track isn't as bad as I think it should be.  It's almost worse from the lead singer not sounding very good, but honestly this one seems alright.  The sound is slowed into almost a ballad.  The lyrics, although still being trite, still seems like something that would have been written by better bands we've all heard of.  SCORE 5.0

8 - Exodia - Back to the instrumentals!  Fast paced start into the ending bit from MiB into fast paced into no flow again.  This track went everywhere and invokes nothing.  Noise for the head.  SCORE 1.0 

9 - Ahead of the Game - "HAUGH"!  You know you have a winner of a rock track when you start off with "HAUGH!"  Trite lyrics once again followed up with more "HAUGH!".  I'm sensing a pattern.  The rthym doesn't seem to follow itself in places, and let's refrain the title line until the song ends!  As I always say about music "Repetition is KEY!"  SCORE 2.0

10 - We'll Be There - WARNING!  TEA STARTS THIS TRACK WITH FRIENDSHIP!  We roll into Tea singing the song but instead of her 4Kids VA Amy Birnbaum, we have Lindsey Warner singing instead, and Dominic Nolfi providing the voice for, I can only assume, Joey instead of Wayne Grayson....  Nolfi's voice strangely reminds me of Brad Kane's singing voice for Disney's Aladdin.  The song rolls on into friendship, love, hard times, friendship, blah, blah, friendship, we are the world, we are the children, friendship.  SCORE 2.0

11 - Face Up Face Down - And now for something you'll really enjoy!  Seriously!  This is THE highlight of the disc.  The only real reason to ever entertain the thought of buying this disc.  A song by Maximillian Pegasus himself, Darren Dusnstan!  This track is the only thing that was done RIGHT on this disc.  The darkish rock tone this one takes on compliments Pegasus' "you gon' raped" attitude and singing voice. This makes me wish I could feel the bass.  The lyrics here are the only ones that will get stuck in your head.  It's pretty self aware and takes on a comic element.  "Face up, Face down! Stay on guard!  Face up, Face down.  Play your strongest card!" This song is the strongest card!  SCORE 7.9  

12 - Millennium Battle - The last of the instrumentals!  Will this one get it right?  Starts off with some mid-paced synth and bass, and it keeps rolling with a pretty steady beat only building up to crescendos.  The slowest of the instrumentals and the more epic sounding of all of them favoring the melody of the theme song.  It's not a great one but compared to the others it's several steps in the right direction.  SCORE 4.5

13 - Heart of the Cards - When will the cheese-rock end?  This is the worst so far.  The music itself reminds me of Aerosmith's "Nine Lives" mixed with the violin?/cello? bit from the main music from the Batman TAS episode "The Last Laugh" only with the sound of synth.  The lyrics.... I can't really tell what they are.  The singer tries too hard to sound like a generic heavy metal singer and constantly keeps his voice in his throat.  This is actually cringe worthy.  SCORE 2.2

14 - World of Yugioh! - This has the most abrupt beginning coming out of the last song.  As the last song of the disc, they tried to do it up big and make it something that could market the series in one song....  Problem is that this song ended up as just noise.  I can't tell what the melody is over all the treble and the singer going "Woahoh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh".  This is so assaulting on my ears.  A terrible way to end the disc.  Way too upbeat.  SCORE 1.3

Production - SCORE 6.7
For a disc to play children's card games by, there sure are a lot of lyrics to distract you....  The production of this disc seems highly decent aside from the tripe that's on it.  The sound quality actually sounds very good and I wish I had a better system for all this bass.  Though several songs would probably break the tweeters with all that unnecessary treble :(  The flow between tracks is nearly non-existent.  It's like listening to a mixtape with no direction other than it's based on a tv show.  I was going to be generous and give it a 7.7 but all the trite lyric writing knocked off a point.

= 46
= 30% = 3.0
+ 6.7 for production
= 36.7% = 3.7

ALBUM SCORE = 3.7 out of 10

Pegasus was definitely NOT enough to save this disc from being a complete disaster.  I shudder to think of the children who received this as a present or something.  Poor things.  This disc is awful and two decent tracks can't save it.  Absolutely, truly awful.  The kind of thing only 4Kids would put their name on.  They tried to aim this at children, but honestly I don't think even kids would care about this garbage.  It's assaulted this disc drive and my ears one too many times.  I'm never putting it back in again.  Let's wrap this up with something good shall we

Monday, January 30, 2012

Future Reference For Album and Music Scoring/Rating/Grading

I'm just going to make a quick post here.  Personally, I like to use a 1-10 scale with decimals to the tenth for scoring and average out the numbers.  So far I'm not sure how Lye wants to grade his.  So upon thinking about this, I thought it might be a good idea to have tags on the posts for the ratings to make good musics easier to find for the readers (assuming we'll get more over time).  Point of this post is to put scoring tags on this post so we can get them lined up in the labels.... just so we can start with some kind of coherent rating system...  Lye if you want to score by a different system, then go ahead and edit this post with them in it (I'm not sure how much more can fit on this post though.  Tagging is 200 characters per post.  If they don't fit, feel free to make a part two post).  I'm going use number's to keep them at the top of the tag list.  I wanted to use the word album but it ended up being too many letters....  I hope some of this made sense....

Scoring 1 -10. 1's, 2's, 3's, 4's, 5's, 6's, 7's, 8's, 9's, 10's

Scoring 1 - 5 "Stars" (doesn't have to say 'star' inside the posts, just whatever. Includes 1/2 'stars' into first number). 1 Star, 2 Stars, 3 Stars, 4 Stars, 5 Stars

note - That didn't quite line up how I though but at least they're at the top of the list I guess....

edit/update: Since Misu and myself both seem to prefer the 1-10 scale, I think I will do away with the star system, mainly because it will make our labels index look a bit less muddled and easier to navigate. Aden, if you absolutely hate the 1-10 system and want to do something else, then I'm sure we can work with that.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Angelique Kidjo "Wombo Lombo"

I first encountered Angelique a few years ago on the NickJr program Jack's Big Music Show.  The program featured this very song while Angelique and some others were dancing with the children.  This song really started to stick in my head and before I knew it, I really liked it.  It's got that mid 90's HipHop/R&B fusion kind of sound.  The actual video to this song is pretty cool but sadly the only version on youtube isn't very..... good.  The video is quite interesting to watch as it contains influences from her African heritage.  I was able to find it on yahoo - video    I've since seen several of her discs at the discount bookstore.  I have yet to buy any though...

New Contributor Introduction

Hello to everyone old and new!  For those just joining us who may not know who I am, I am Chocolate Misu, but please, call me CM.  I'm new to the reviewing scene but quite a few of the people around have been doing it for a very long while.  I look forward to practicing my writing skills while I'm here and getting myself to sit down and enjoy some music.