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WE'RE PLAYING A SHOW!

Hey, long time no see, right?

Anyway, fellow LJ'ers, I'm writing to inform you that we're shaking off the cobwebs and playing a show pretty soon. On April 17th, to be exact! At the Beat Kitchen in Chicago. Check out our MySpace blog for all the details:

http://www.myspace.com/powerspace

Thanks for your continued support, even though it may seem like we virtually fell off the face of the planet! Believe me, once you hear American Machine, you'll know that it was worth the wait.


~ Kevin

Tour/America/EP/LP

weather: good
location: boise
eating: salad
drinking: canadian whiskey
entourage: ace, robin
venue: the big easy
hearing: danger
listening to: aerosmith

Hey - here's what's going on with Powerspace:

Right now we're in Boise, Idaho. Lovely place. About 3/4 of the way through the CIWWAF, Ace Enders, Danger Radio tour and it's been incredible. Probably the best tour we've ever been on for so many reasons.

After this tour we will be taking a short bit of time off to continue writing. We are going to be recording an EP and an LP in next couple months. Here's all the details we can afford to give out:

1. Our new EP will be out probably some time in October. It will be 100% American Rock 'n' Roll. Not Alt-rock, not Dance-rock, not Pop-rock, not Pop-punk, just Rock. Think less synths, more guitars. Less computers, more amplifiers. Less production, more playing. Less pop, more rock.

2. A bit after the EP comes out we will be recording another full-length record. The record will be entirely new material, unlike last time most of the songs on the EP will not be on the LP.

So basically we have an album and a half coming your way relatively soon. If anyone's been to some of the shows lately we've been playing a few of the new jams we have written (Don't Stop and Taste the Devil), but we got a lot lot more on your way so get ready.

Hope you are all doing wonderful~

-Powerspace

P.S. We are not doing the Mest tour that was posted on absolutepunk.net, we'll be working on new songs and new recordings. Check out that tour nonetheless 'cause it's a sick lineup! I know we'll be hanging out at the Chicago show too.

i think this one speaks for itself

Can I grad-u-ATE!!!

Since it's graduation season, I figured now's the best time to acknowledge a certain someone.

Even before "gettin' that sheepskin," Tom had already accomplished much more than the average graduate. He was already a fantastic guitarist (his solos from two years ago--solos you guys've never heard--still blow me away), and well on his way to becoming a fantastic recording engineer and producer (aside from producing every Powerspace demo, check out his work with Football Weather and Action Item).

And then he went and graduated anyway.

Tom's a rare breed, see. On the one hand, he knows a whole lot about music equipment, the music industry, music software, music technology, sound, etc. He can talk your ear off about everything from the most technical matters to the most abstract theories (I remember him editing his 70-page term paper on the plane ride back from Japan). But at the same time, he's not afraid to, you know, rock:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=biQAlVjhD_4

So in retrospect, I'm glad he went back to college. For one thing, I got a new BFF (hey, Max!). But we also got the excuse to go back to Miami University a few times. To party, yeah, but also to walk around and reminisce. Miami's really a great place, and I still miss it. I walked by my old apartment, where I'd always get a call from Tom, late at night, telling me to ditch my homework and come practice. I walked by Tom and Dan's old dorm, where we used to practice and record. I walked by that abandoned building that we broke into so we could shoot a video for "Electricity." I walked by Pachinko's, the first bar that ever let us idiots play a show. And so on.

Anyway. Maybe Tom would be embarrassed to hear this, but I get the feeling that he's always enjoyed his learning. So let's all take a second and congratulate him for all his hard work. But remember... the best way to congratulate him is to let him melt your face with his guitar during our summer tour with Cute Is What We Aim For.

Reply with your congratulations!

~ Kevin

Japan:June

whoa, japan was awesome. punkspring was so huge and everyone/everything in japan is great. nothing like playing in front of 10000 kids from another country you've never been to who somehow know all the words to every song to cheer you up. can't wait to go back.

saturday at the metro in chicago was great too. it was really intense to watch june play their last song. those guys have been so nice to us. our first metro show was their christmas show and i remember we were so psyched to play a big show, especially with june's reputation around chicago. thanks to those guys for being great. go out and buy make it blur, and cry a little bit if you want.

-tom
weather: blizzard
reading: capturing sound, born standing up
listening to: action item mixes, demos, thomas dolby, incubus
eating: pizza
drinking: soda

this week was intense. first of all, my boys got robbed. wtf? like, who robs people? you know? luckily gen3 won't have to worry about getting robbed because the van will remain moving at all times, and after a while we'll prolly just upgrade to a stainless steel leer jet or just sell all our possessions and be homeless in florida (being homeless in florida is like being on spring break all the time).

i spent this week at Uptown Recording and The River (that's the name of my studio, cuz it's on the Fox River) recording. Action Item took a train in from Jersey, and we made 6.5 sweet music songs. let me tell you, they are a great band. also, they are hilarious and brought boy meets world dvd's, so we instantly became bff's. while we weren't making songs, we were either watching bmw, steve from jerry springer's show, or maury, or eating delicious pizza's from my uncle's restaurant (the riverview, in algonquin IL. which, for the record, is not on the river, because the city of algonquin needed to widen the road it used to be on ((when it actually was on the river)) to alleviate traffic congestion. so now it is on rt.31, but the traffic in the old spot is still awful. pretty bogus if you ask me. on the river or not, the riverview has the best pizza on the planet. i suggest getting the bbq pizza. then the next time get the beer pizza. keep rotating between the two and never look back. the beer nuggets are delicious too, but don't eat too many cuz the pizza is the star of the show. k?) so, check out action item's EP whenever they put it up. still gotta finish mixing and get it mastered, so it might be a while, but just be patient (like i am being for some new monty. give me a break aiello SEND ME SOMETHING)

been recording lots of new pspazz demos too. they seem to be kindof shocking. i think that's what we're going for from now on. just recorded something today, that.. maybe i shouldn't talk about.

this summer is going to be sweet. i feel like everything/everyone is hilarious/ridiculous.

found this. made me think writing it in my old house at school all sentimental-like, then trying (failing) to perform it the next day by myself (the first time i sang by myself in public). i like how straightforward this girl sings the song, and it still sounds good. (makes me happy, you know, cuz that's the test.) also, she changes some chords around and i like it, it makes it sound southern or something. something organic. and the accent. it's a pretty weird, kindof overwhelming feeling to watch someone you don't know sing a song you wrote. so, thank you girl. you are wonderful:



alright, i'm gonna go watch dukes of hazzard with my best buddy matty poo.

-tom

grammy's

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IEdbhQ1sPGY

this was the only reason i ever really got psyched for the grammys. though it was tight to see behind dafts pyramid this year - as i suspected, it was just like tom cruise in minority report.

amy winehouse beats paramore for best new artist? come on..

brad paisly is hilarious. i wish chris brown was performing.

-tom

my favorite songs over 15:00 long

I like really long songs, I dunno why. Maybe it's 'cause I really like progressive rock, of which long songs are a hallmark. So I made a list of my favorite songs over 15:00 long. IN ORDER!



15. The Velvet Underground - "Sister Ray" (17:29)

Since I've been in my fair share of shitty jam bands, this song really appeals to me. The murky "production" (if you can even call it that), the aimless structure, the overall lack of talent. Right up my alley. Believe me, I really wanted to hate this song (and the VU in general) on account of the hordes of pretentious, coffeeshop-dwelling hipsters on MySpace with pictures of Lou Reed in their "Who I'd like to meet" sections. But I started listening to 'White Light / White Heat' while on vacation, playing Tetris, and I ended up playing "Sister Ray" over and over. And then I think I listened to their debut twice. I still have some work to do.


14. Tortoise - "Djed" (20:56)

Tortoise play the most organic-sounding post-rock I've ever heard. Sometimes they sound even more organic than... regular rock. I dunno how they do it. I'm only familiar with two of their records - 'Millions Now Living Will Never Die' and 'Standards' - but I'm excited to crack into 'TNT' and their self-titled, which I've had for ages. Anyway, not a whole lot comes to mind when I think of "Djed," but I guess that's its charm. I would call it "background music" if that term weren't so demeaning. It's background music of the best kind--you can chill to it, but you can also listen to it intently and pick out all sorts of cool melodies and textures (especially textures!). One time my friend put it on in his basement while he smoked a few cigarettes and showed me a bunch of photos he'd taken. It was perfect.


13. Can - "Bel Air" (19:53)

If you're unfamiliar, Can were a Krautrock band in the 70s who played a lot of emotionless, hypnotic jams. Some freaky, psychedelic shit this was. (I got into them after seeing them mentioned in a book about Radiohead, go figure). But they did this one record, 'Future Days,' where all of a sudden their jams sounded less schizophrenic, less joyless--these jams were kinda... pleasant. Which was weird. "Bel Air" is the fourth and last track offa that album, and it's a delight. It's impossible not to picture a cool wind rushing through palm leaves when you hear this song, and what's crazy is that it doesn't rely upon a lot of atmospheric textures. It's mostly just drums, bass, guitar, and sparse vocals.


12. Pink Floyd - "Atom Heart Mother" (23:42)

This was their first attempt at a side-long "suite," released three years before 'Dark Side of the Moon.' You know, so much of my thoughts about this song are negative. It doesn't really go anywhere. The main theme is stated, then they dick around for a good fifteen minutes, doing uninteresting and kinda silly variations on the main theme. At some point there's a shitty jam, and then they return to the main theme at the end. But the thing is... I love the main theme so much. One thing Pink Floyd were always able to do well was write dramatic and captivating chord changes, and this is one of their best. Epic, cinematic, majestic--any synonyms apply. Whenever I get to the end of the song, I imagine stabbing some king in a distant land and tearing his heart from his chest and holding it aloft, or something like that.


11. Can - "Halleluwah" (18:28)

From a different album, 'Tago Mago,' a double album released two years before 'Future Days.' This is the album, above all, that made them the kings of schizophrenic Krautrock. You know, it's rare to encounter truly terrifying music, and anytime someone tells me that a certain album "scares" them, I either think they're exaggerating or being an idiot. And I wouldn't even call 'Tago Mago' a terrifying album, but what I'll say is this: the notion of someone on the brink of psychosis listening to this album... THAT'S a terrifying notion. Anyway, "Halleluwah" is hardly among the scariest tunes (of which there are 7--on a double album!). But it's definitely the groovin'-est. This drummer, Jaki Liebezeit, probably grooves harder while he snores at night than most drummers can hope to groove on a drumset. And he plays basically the same beat for the whole eighteen minutes, never varying the backbeat or the tempo. But it's... absolutely hypnotic. Everything about the song--the interplay between the bass and Jaki's beat, the smattering of distorted guitar licks, the inscrutable lyrics--it all works so well.


10. Dream Theater - "Octavarium" (23:57)

A recent addition. I fell out of love with Dream Theater after 'Scenes from a Memory,' but I gave this song a chance at the behest of several friends, and I was blown away. Come to think of it, I might say the same thing about "Octavarium" as I did about "Atom Heart Mother"--the main theme, stated in the beginning and restated in the end, is fantastic, and a lot of the middle parts are throwaway. But, no, a lot of the middle parts in this song are great, too, if a little silly (I still cringe when James yells "trapped! in!-side! this! Oc!-ta!-va!-ri!-um!"). The first few minutes crib heavily from Pink Floyd's "Shine On You Crazy Diamond," to the point that I almost LOL'ed upon my first listen. But then again, it's much worse for a band to try to be "original" (and end up sounding like shit) than it is for a band to retool something great, to pay homage to the greats in a way that's at least somewhat their own. Anyway. Definitely one of most dramatic, fulfilling endings to an epic that I've ever heard.


9. Rush - "The Fountain of Lamneth" (19:56)

One of the most depressing things I ever read was in a book about Rush called Contents Under Pressure, an album-by-album retrospective. 'Caress of Steel,' their third album, was a flop, and a lot of people thought that it marked the end of their career--until, of course, they said "fuck everyone" and released a true work of passion, '2112.' Anyway, in the chapter about 'Caress of Steel,' Neil Peart said something like: "Oh boy, there are some things I wish we could just brush under the carpet and forget about..." I was all: "NO!!!" Because for a long time, "The Fountain of Lamneth" was my favorite Rush song. I think I had like ten AIM screen names based on it. This is, like most of the other songs on this list, a multi-part "suite" (I always have to put that word in quotes, 'cause it's so out-of-control pretentious). But the neat part about this song is that I really, really dig every section. The opening and closing themes are... well, majestic (I hate to overuse that word, but I love majestic music!); 'Didacts and Narpets' is a short and sweet drum solo; 'No One at the Bridge' is a fantastic song in its own right, with a blistering, triumphant guitar solo; 'Panacea' is so peaceful that I bothered to learn it on guitar; 'Bacchus Plateau' is simply a good rocker that makes me feel good; and the bookending mini-ballads give the song a sense of closure, of completion. Damn, I love this song! It's kinda fun to take a step back from the ridiculous storyline and realize: "Hey... if these sections had regular lyrics, like about love and parties and stuff, then each one of these sections could be a radio hit!"


8. Rush - "2112" (20:32)

Actually, I love "The Fountain of Lamneth" to the extent that I wonder whether "2112" should really be in front of it. But oh well; I suppose that "2112" is, when you get down to brass tacks, a better song. I had the first two movements of this song on a compilation called 'Chronicles.' So I gave my friend $5 and a few Magic: The Gathering cards (prolly a few Scaled Worms, HAHAHA SUCKER) for his copy of '2112.' Lo and behold, the rest of the song is just as good. Kinda funny, now that I think about it, how little else there is than drums, bass, guitar, and vocals (like "Bel Air"). There's a sample of a babbling brook at one point (and, of course, the sound of shoes going 'round in a dryer). But otherwise, it's just good melodies and instrumental virtuosity. And what a climax!--"Attention, all planets of the Solar Confederation: we have assumed control..." I'm, like, really embracing my Inner Nerd right now.


7. Rush - "Hemispheres" (18:07)

Oh, have I mentioned that both "2112" and "Hemispheres" are part of a three-song arc (spanning three consecutive albums) called "The Red Star Trilogy"? I left out the middle song, "Cygnus X-1," 'cause it's only ten minutes long, and it's not quite as good (though still REALLY FUCKING GOOD). Anyway, "Hemispheres" is another multi-part "suite." Funny story about this one. The band has always agreed that 'Hemispheres' (also the name of the album) was one of the hardest to make; part of this reason--kinda funny, in retrospect--is that the band didn't consider how high Geddy would have to sing before tracking all of the instruments. So when Geddy went on his own to a different studio, to track the vocals, he freaked out. "Holy shit, I can't sing this high!" Long story short, he did. Anyway, that's neither here nor there. This has always been my favorite Rush "suite." I just love everything about it--even the lyrics, which, as much as I admire Neil Peart, I rarely ever pay attention to. These lyrics are about the battle between Heart and Mind, as embodied by the gods Dionysus and Apollo. SPOILER ALERT: Dionysus and Apollo battle for dominion over the Earth, but our hero, Cygnus, comes swoopin' down in his Rocinante and makes 'em realize that the only proper way for humans to live is with a balance of Heart and Mind, hence the most climactic part of the song: "We will call you Cygnus, The God of Balance you shall be!" And the epilogue is just fantastic, worth quoting at length:

"We can walk our road together, if our goals are all the same. We can run alone and free, if we pursue a different aim. Let the truth of love be lighted. Let the love of truth shine clear. Sensibility, armed with sense and liberty, with the Heart and Mind united in a single perfect sphere."

I shed a single tear.


6. Genesis - "Supper's Ready" (22:51)

Oh god. The behemoth that stands above all classic progressive rock side-long "suites." The undisputed king. This was my introduction to the 'classic' side of Genesis--before cracking into disc 3 of my 'Platinum Collection' compilation, I'd just been jamming those 80s hits "Follow You Follow Me" and "Misunderstanding" over and over. Here's the thing about "Supper's Ready": compared to every other song on this list, this is by far the most colorful, the most diverse, the most fun--but still, in the end, just as epic, if not more. Compared to "Supper's Ready," all those Can and Pink Floyd and Rush songs seem... dull. I won't get into a movement-by-movement review; suffice it to say that there's nary a second in this song that I don't enjoy to the fullest extent. Also, be sure to peep this if you're down with the Bible, 'cause I hear that there's a lot of imagery. One man even confessed to crying at the end. I sure haven't, but I can kinda see how...


5. Pink Floyd - "Dogs" (17:05)

I dunno. I'm starting to feel like I suck at describing what it is about certain songs that make 'em so good. 'Cause right now, what I'm most inclined to say is "Goddamn, what a great song." It just is! The scholars like to say that 'Animals,' released in 1977, was Pink Floyd's answer to punk rock. I really like that--in response to the explosion of punk rock in the late 70s, Pink Floyd released an album of unparalleled complexity (at least for them), comprised mainly of three songs over 10:00 long. Not to mention that it's easily their coldest, most sardonic record (yes, more bleak than their early stuff, more bleak than 'The Wall' and 'The Final Cut'), splitting society into three categories--the dogs are the ruthless cutthroats, the pigs are the gluttonous money-grubbers, and the sheep are the ignorant masses. But anyway, it's rarely about the lyrics with me; they can take a song to the "next level," but if the music isn't good, then I don't give a shit (just gimme the lyrics on a sheet of paper and I'll read 'em like poetry, y'know?). But the music on 'Animals' is fantastic, and "Dogs" is my favorite track. Rumor has it that Waters accidentally erased a tape containing Gilmour's guitar solos in "Dogs," so, frustrated beyond words, Gilmour retracked them. This factoid chills me to the bone, considering how incredible all of his solos are in this song. To think that there might've been something even better...


4. Pink Floyd - "Shine On You Crazy Diamond" (26:09)

I'll tell you what I like about this song. First of all, the synths. I don't know a whole lot about the history of rock (I'm trying!), but I'd wager that Pink Floyd were among the first groups to layer their songs with tracks 'n' tracks of sweeping, swooping synths. You never really hear this stuff in albums from around the same time. So that's awesome. Also the solos. And this is a more surprising choice, because, let's be honest, when it comes to progressive rock, "instrumental passages" can get tedious and even boring. But not so with this song, even given how slow it is. Chalk it up to Davild Gilmour being incredibly lyrical, efficient, and mind-blowingly melodic. When I think of any single measure of a Gilmour guitar solo, it echoes in my mind not like a series of notes, but like a sentence of words, or even a paragraph. I'm serious; I have to remind myself that it wasn't human speech that I just heard; it was a guitar. This is what I mean when I say that he's "lyrical": just as snatches of poems can stay with us ("Two roads diverged in a yellow wood"; "Water, water everywhere"; "Quoth the raven, nevermore"), so too can any pieces of Gilmour's solos. Not to mention that Dick Parry's sax solos and Richard Wright's keyboard solos are surprisingly adequate, too (through nowhere near as unforgettable as the guitar solos).


3. The Mars Volta - "Cassandra Gemini" (32:25)

I'm fond of saying "I like music that takes me places," which sounds really, really lame. But sometimes it's all I've got. A lot of songs move me emotionally, abstractly, but they don't really take me anywhere. And I wanna say that TMV do take me places, like to the dark underbellies of cities full of sin and vice... but that's not quite it. It's not a sensible "place" that their music takes me to; rather, it's that I feel like I'm on a journey while I'm listening, like I'm trapped in this hopelessly bewildering dreamscape, hurtling through a sea of blurred and disjointed images at one thousand miles per hour. Well, that's a fancy sentence, isn't it. More simply stated, this song rocks, Jon Theodore (the drummer) rocks, and, big surprise, the opening and closing themes rock--"No, there's no light... in the darkest of your furthest reaches!"


2. Yes - "Close to the Edge" (18:41)

Remember what I said about not giving much of a shit about lyrics? Case in point: this song. Clarification, though: the lyrics have to be of a certain degree of quality for me to fully enjoy a song. Bad lyrics do, in fact, detract from my ability to enjoy a song (see: Dream Theater). Which is why Yes's lyrics pose no problem: I have no idea what any of their songs are about, so I'll never have the opportunity to dislike any of the lyrics! Tell me if you can take away any meaning from the first verse of this song:

a seasoned witch could call you from the depths of your disgrace
and rearrange your liver to the solid mental grace
and achieve it all with music that came quickly from afar
then taste the fruit of man recorded losing all against the hour
and assessing points to nowhere, leading ev'ry single one
a dewdrop can exalt us like the music of the sun
and take away the plain in which we move
and choose the course you're running

Right. Something about a witch's liver. But once you begin to appreciate the fact that Jon Anderson's lyrics will never make sense to anyone but himself, you can focus on the music. This is my favorite Yes song because I think it's impeccably structured, and because the melodies are perfect throughout. "But we're dealing with a classic progressive rock band, here; shouldn't this be a bunch of Bach fugues rearranged for guitar and Moog?" Apparently not; every section is very approachable in some way, and on the whole the song runs the gamut from a blistering intro to urgent verses and choruses to a calm yet soul-stirring midsection to an incendiary recapitulation to an absolutely breathtaking climax. I've listened to this song (well, the whole album) more times than I can remember, and every time I'm left speechless.


1. Pink Floyd - "Echoes" (23:27)

Just barely less speechless, though, than after listening to "Echoes." For me, this song is almost a religious experience--well, it's certainly a spiritual one. Though I completely understand why 99% of the world hasn't heard this song--hell, if I hadn't gotten into Pink Floyd, then I'd still only be familiar with their radio hits--still, the notion that certain of my friends and acquaintances haven't heard "Echoes" is astonishing. It'd be like telling a painter that I'd never seen the Mona Lisa, or an RPG enthusiast that I'd never played Chrono Trigger, or a film buff that I'd never watched any of the Godfathers. And I suspect--actually, I'm sure that "Echoes" isn't quite as good as I make it out to be. I'll give you that. But this is my list, and this is my favorite song [over 15:00 long. Or maybe ever]. Anyway, what makes "Echoes" so good? Well, you know how whenever a Pink Floyd song's on the radio (especially from 'Dark Side of the Moon'), someone will invariably gesture like they're smoking a joint and say "Yeaaahhh, maaannn..."? Well, whatever atmospheric jams inspired those gestures are child's play compared to "Echoes," the atmospheric jam to end all atmospheric jams. You know what I just realized? That there's been a pretty stark division, throughout this list, between multi-part "suites" and mostly homogenous jams. "Sister Ray" and the Can songs were jams; "Supper's Ready" and all of those Rush songs were "suites"... but "Echoes" strikes a perfect balance. It has at least seven or eight distinct sections, but what's so incredible is how they maintain the same mood throughout the entire 23 minutes. The mood, I won't try to pin down. Maybe I'll take the shortcut and say it's the mood of a "drug-induced haze." But that doesn't account for the song's grandeur, its transcendency, its sublimity. I'm having trouble describing the nature of the force, the spirit that Pink Floyd sustain throughout the song. But maybe that's the best way of describing it, to say that I can't.


Anyway. Pardon my... prolixity.


P.S. Time it would take to listen to these 15 songs: 5 hours, 23 minutes, 38 seconds.


P.P.S. Pseudo-interesting breakdown:

Percentage of songs on this list that are the last track: 50%
Percentage of songs on this list that are the first track: 37%


~ Kevin

top 25 musical climaxes

Noticed the PS LJ wasn't gettin' any love, so I figured I'd repost my latest blog here.





~~~





EDIT: I meant to say this, but I forgot. I didn't consider the Beatles' "A Day in the Life" because that would've been unfair. I mean, it's probably the best and the most important climax in the history of music.

I'm a big fan of drama, in general, so it only makes sense that some of my favorite music is multipart and climactic. So I made this list of my favorite climaxes in all of the music I know (everything in my iTunes, at least). I guess it was between choosing a handful and writing a lot about 'em or choosing a lot and writing just a little bit about each one. I chose the latter, 'cause I just couldn't stop adding to the list. Without further delay... the list.

Actually, first, I should clarify something. In making this list, I noticed a sharp distinction between emotional climaxes and visceral climaxes. Emotional climaxes are transcendental; they're the closest you can get to any sort of nirvana through music. Visceral climaxes, on the other hand, are sheer power. They just kinda punch you in the gut... with rock. Sometimes I can't decide which I prefer. Whenever I hear the one, I prefer it--up until I hear the other. Oh well. On with it.

(The times given refer to the studio versions. I've tried to provide YouTube links, and I've given times for those too, where different. But don't expect the YouTube videos to hold a candle to the real thing). (LJ Exclusive: the links will open up in new windows).



25. King Crimson, "Red" - 5:47

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xBxNZT2qJ9Q - 3:38

It's when they finally launch back into the chorus after a pretty long deviation. Maybe it's 'cause the chorus is so... distinct. Built out of about a million tri-tones. I tell ya, about 50% of my appreciation for old school King Crimson stems from that disgusting bass tone. We'll see this again later.


24. Radiohead, "Climbing Up the Walls" - 3:57

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=toT-kKnhUUo

Radiohead is by no stretch of the imagination a screamo band, which in my opinion makes this soul-shaking scream all the more terrifying. Also whatever vocal filter he was singing through. I mean, sometimes a dude screams because that's what he's supposed to do in his band, and because he's good at it. But sometimes a dude screams for very, very profound reasons that we could never guess (but which rattle us to the bones, regardless). This sounds like one of those screams.


23. The Smashing Pumpkins, "For Martha" - 5:22

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-URifHF7_fs

This was always my favorite song off of 'Adore.' Disturbingly pretty... and disturbingly sad, all the way through. So when they bring it back around to the chorus at the end, they've already hit it home. But then they twist the knife in even further at 5:22, revisiting that one motif and perfectly transitioning to the end of the song.


22. Muse, "Take a Bow" - 4:10

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ghqoYxmaUE - 4:12

C'mon, you knew it. The very first--certainly not the only, but the very first reason you ever had to tell your friends about 'Black Holes and Revelations.' This is basically the coolest, and possibly the most dramatic single chord in all of modern rock. What they did here is criminal. The bar for extremely cool chords has been set impossibly high. Not to mention ending chords. Goodness!


21. My Chemical Romance, "Famous Last Words" - 3:38

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8bbTtPL1jRs - 3:25

But of course--"asleep... or... dead!!!" Maybe this is on here because of how much I love 'The Black Parade' in its entirety, and because of how perfectly this song--especially from this moment on--wraps everything up so nicely. There's a real sense of closure to it. But... wait a minute... "well-- they-- en-- 'courage your complete cooperation..."


20. Radiohead, "The Tourist" - 4:31

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c8KwUzydB1w

Really, the whole end of this song tears me apart. Not in a sad kinda way... but in an apocalyptic kinda way. Like I'm drifting into unconsciousness as the world and everything in it is being incinerated in a pandemonium of atomic blasts, or something. It's hard to express. But anyway, when Thom comes back with the chorus melody at the end... Yikes. I'm starting to remember why this was my favorite Radiohead song for so long.


19. Sigur Ros, "Vidrar vel til Loftarasa" - 7:54

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I30H7mhfLe8 - 5:29

You should really go to Pitchfork and read their review of 'Agaetis Byrjun'; they describe the sublime power of Jonsi's bowed guitar far better than I could. Something about how the landscape of their homeland (Iceland) is a real presence in their work. Imagine how overwhelmed you'd be at the foot of a giant mountain or atop a glacier or at the base of a volcano, etc. The closest I can get to imagining any of that is to listen to Sigur Ros, and this moment in "Vidrar vel til Loftarasa" encapsulates it all pretty well. Those guitar notes tear through my skull. Also, peep the video for this song (linked). Don't tell anyone what happens; let 'em see for themselves.


18. Godspeed You! Black Emperor, "Antennas to Heaven" - 13:45

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X8JdfprFQyo - This isn't it, but skip to 3:30 for some kind of idea about GY!BE's music.

Damn. This is one of those climaxes where, every time I listen to it, I think it's the only thing that exists in music. Or the only worthwhile thing. Anyway, it's not really a climax; it's the last five minutes of the song. But if you're at all familiar with GY!BE, then you might know how five minutes of their music can sound like one long climax. These are the last five minutes of an entire double album called 'lift yr. skinny fists like antennas to heaven,' and the music really is as transcendental as the album title implies. That album will change your life, if you let it. Anyway. These last five minutes alone are what made me start using the phrase "achingly beautiful," 'cause there's really no other way to describe it.


17. Pink Floyd, "Dogs" - 15:17

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JKcCKeGf0AY - 7:17

I'm sorry, "Dogs" is just such a fantastic song by Pink Floyd. It's seventeen minutes long, but you'll never feel it, I promise. This climax is what begins the coda of the song. The main guitar theme is restated, laid to rest, and then... 15:17. Roger ushers us through a long list, full of spite and hatred--"Who was ground down in the end? Who was found dead on the phone? Who was dragged down by the stone?" Man, maybe the climax should be when Roger sings it again, at the very end: "Who was... draaaaaged, down!--by the stone!"


16. The Mars Volta, "Take the Veil Cerpin Taxt" - 8:09

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-q8cGtUJavU - It sucks, compared to the studio version, but... 7:28.

Tom is fond of saying that this is the best ending to any album in the history of music, and that anyone who disagrees can... take a hike. I'm not sure whether he's still of this opinion, but either way, it can't be far from the truth. 'De-Loused in the Comatorium' features TMV's best music-to-jamming ratio--it's perfect, actually. The jamming is itself interesting and worthwhile, but it serves another function: it buffers the time between actual movements. So after a four-minute jam, we're suddenly kicked on our asses again when Cedric comes back in with "knife me in, hobbling, talking in its sleep again!" But the real climax is the very end: "who brought me here???"


15. Genesis, "Firth of Frith" - 7:38

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7tloxTQjNjA - Again, just a low-quality live version, but... 6:38.

This is just such a great guitar tone. Mournful and powerful. One of those guitar lines that supports the notion--no, proves the notion that you don't have to play a lot of notes to be effective, to be emotionally resonant. Just think of a genius guitar line and maybe kick up the reverb a little. And have an awesome vibrato. By the way, 'Selling England by the Pound' is a fantastic record. Get it.


14. Rush, "La Villa Strangiato" - 4:26

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FOqVywCg934 - Now, this live version is actually fantastic. No surprise there. 3:26.

This is one of the first moments in music that I can distinctly remember raising the hairs on my neck. "La Villa Strangiato" is a ten-minute instrumental suite, and since we all know how awesome Rush are on their instruments... I mean, get real. But anyway, there's this guitar solo. In 7/4, no less (which is probably easier for Rush than 4/4 is for most musicians). Alex plays around a little bit with his volume pedal, way subdued, dropping little aching notes here and there. Starts to burn the fire a little brighter. And then BOOM, that one note! It's even better live, I'm telling you, when he's got the gain turned to 11.


13. Yes, "Close to the Edge" - 17:12

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=49IH0kl-Nxo - Another live version... it's harder to get studio versions on YouTube of insanely long songs. 8:30.

Ahh, "Close to the Edge." An absolute staple for any fan of classic progressive rock. After a kickass keyboard solo from 15:00 to 15:54--and let me remind you how extremely rare the phrase "kickass keyboard solo" is for me--Yes bring it back down for one last verse and then finally lead us to the summit of the mountain at 17:12, leaving us to gape, to try to comprehend the sheer majesty of it all. Progressive rock is often maligned for being soulless, but the last few moments of "Close to the Edge" are really some of the most beautiful music I've ever heard.


12. The Mars Volta, "Cicatriz ESP" - 9:19

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mITbDmZRgFQ - It's TMV live. I dunno what to tell you.

Hello again, TMV. Same deal as before, only this time the jam is much longer and much spacier, bringing us even further from what we remember of the song. But I'm not gonna start this climax at the last chorus--I'm gonna start it a little bit before, when everyone comes back in after the extended jam / sound collage. Then they just set you going at a thousand miles per hour and dump you off a cliff. The end.


11. Nobuo Uematso, "Aerith's Theme (Orchestrated)" - 3:49

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7UODCxAtyDo - 4:22

If anyone's curious, the version I'm referring to is off of the 'S Generation' CD. But anyway. We all know I have a lot of emotional stock in Final Fantasy VII. Shut up. Don't make fun of me. It was sad, OK? Back to the Mars Volta.


10. The Mars Volta, "Cygnus...Vismund Cygnus" - 8:43

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eG0imY4PlD0 - 1:32. Still really murky.

I started it at 8:43--right on the first downbeat after Cedric yelps "will they feed us the womb?"--but the more important moment of climax, for me, is a few seconds later, at 8:47, when we realize that this 5/4 figure is revolving, that they're gonna keep jamming on it as the song fades out. I remember the first time I heard it. I was playing Spyro the Dragon for PlayStation. I about crapped. The drummer, Jon Theodore, also contributes to the power of the climax, mainly because he's fucking awesome.


9. The Mars Volta, "Cassandra Gemini, Part VII" - 0:00

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HtnvIYi4PTg - 5:40

I dunno what it's actually called, but it's the second to last track on the 'Frances the Mute' CD. "No, there's no light... in the darkest of your furthest reaches!" Again, the key to this climax is the way they make you wait. Taken as a whole (as it should be!), "Cassandra Gemini" is well over a half an hour long, and this part only occurs twice--at the beginning, and at the end. So no shit it's climactic.


8. Yes, "Siberian Khatru" - 6:17

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BBXKSmz-Z2k - 6:24.

This song is nuts. The main riff is powerful and fantastic--and I mean "fantastic" literally. Like, this is an album of fantasy prog. Anyway, two thirds of the way through, they start building the tension by singing this long, incoherent list, and the words at the very end of the list are "turn 'round... glider!" (yeah, don't ask me), and at this point--maybe it's Chris Squire who holds out "gilder" for so long, and then they blast back into the main riff. It's awesome.


7. The Who, "Won't Get Fooled Again" - 7:44

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b3mi-bKtDGA - Just watch this video in its entirety, if you haven't seen it already. And especially if you like punk, 'cause The Who were the godfathers of punk, don't ya know!

I'm sure I don't need to explain this one. I'll never forget when my dad told me what might be my favorite piece of music trivia: when Roger released that earth-shattering "yyyeeeaaahhh!!!" as they were going back into it after the long keyboard solo--well, no one knew that he was gonna do that, so when he did, it scared the shit out of everyone. Truth be told, it scares the shit out of me every time... because it's awesome. And if you've ever seen The Kids Are Alright, then you'll always connect that scream to the slow-motion footage of Pete sliding across the stage. Rock 'n' roll in its purest form, right there.


6. Yo La Tengo, "We're An American Band" - 4:52

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r6ToUwhYgtY - This was the only video of it I could find. Truly indie! Definitely doesn't compare to the studio version.

If anything, YLT are probably known for their cutesy little pop tunes (check out "Stockholm Syndrome," "Center of Gravity," "On Our Way to Fall"...), but this six and a half-minute song is absolutely devastating. There are only a handful of songs I'd be willing to lose my hearing to, or to hear as my car is falling headlong off of a cliff, and this is one of them. I can pick out at least five distinct moments in this song that raise the hairs on my neck--when Ira enters in the beginning... at the halfway point of the song, when the guitar solo starts... and a few other points in the solo itself. You know that argument often made in defense of punk rock, "Technical proficiency doesn't matter when you have passion"? This song is the best evidence I have in support of that. Ira Kaplan isn't a bad guitarist at all, but this solo isn't flashy or technically difficult. In fact, sometimes it's jarring, like nails on a chalkboard. But that's the point. Something very deep, very big, was driving this guitar solo. And sometimes I don't even think of it as a guitar solo at all; sometimes it seems to me like the guitar is just a medium, and that the last three minutes of this song are one long primal scream.


5. The Blood Brothers, "The Shame" - 2:21

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CwZkXGnu9zU - Dunno. This video cuts off the end of the song, but you'll get the idea.

I remember the first time I ever finished 'Burn, Piano Island, Burn' in its entirety. I was sitting on a bed with my headphones on, playing Tetris. "The Shame" shook me to the bones. I could barely interact with my friends after that; it practically put me in a state of shock, especially since I'd been listening to it so loud. As far as I'm concerned, if there's a market for "post-apocalyptic post-hardcore," then the Blood Brothers have (err, had) it cornered. Halfway through this song, everything gets quiet again and they start this jangly march, and this chilling mantra: "and everything is gonna be just awful (when we're around) / and all the colors are gonna rot off your sight (when we're around) / and I am just a salesman, pleased to meet you (I'll show you around) / and everything must go, the shadows, the seagulls (when we're around)." As for the following three minutes... well, you'll just have to listen for yourself. Turn it up.


4. At the Drive-In, "Arcarsenal" - 2:37

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u11NAyqyaWU - 2:49. This video is really silly, but it's all I could find that wasn't live.

You know, every time I think about this song, I want to create a list of my favorite album-openers, because I know without a doubt that this song would top the list. 'Relationship of Command' is a pretty ruthless album overall, but this song is far and away the most ruthless. Maybe this is another one of those songs I wouldn't mind losing my hearing to. From the end of the bridge at 2:11 and on, this three-minute nuclear warhead of a song picks up speed until it explodes in a firestorm of "beware!"'s and ends on the most hideous downbeat I've ever heard. Get outta town, At the Drive-In. Get right outta town.


3. Pink Floyd, "Eclipse" - 0:00

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KhidH2gtSYI

And now for something a little less brutal. This is on here--and so high on the list--because of how much I love 'Dark Side of the Moon.' Really, I know it's a cliche, but there's a reason why DSOTM was on the Billboard charts for almost fourteen years. "Eclipse" is the last song; you've probably heard it on the radio, coupled with the previous song, "Brain Damage." (You know... "I'll see you on the dark side of the moon"). Look up the lyrics. It's a long list with a kicker at the end: "... and all that is now / and all that is gone / and all that's to come / and everything under the sun is in tune / but the sun is eclipsed by the moon." Think about that for a second. Maybe the point they were trying to make is that in spite of everything we know and say and do, in the past and in the future, everything is susceptible to the dark side of life, to chaos, to madness. One time I asked a friend what his favorite album was. Without a pause, he said 'Dark Side of the Moon.' I asked him how come. He said, well, the most ideal form of an album is a concept album. And as far as he knows, 'Dark Side of the Moon' is the best concept album. I can't say I disagree.


2. Pink Floyd, "Echoes" - 19:11

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mfgoVZswC4k - Oh, hey, did you know that "Echoes" synchronizes perfectly with the final movement of Stanly Kubrick's '2001: A Space Odyssey'? Watch the whole song from Part 1!

You know what? This is the one climax that I'm not gonna describe, because to do so would be a crime against humanity. "Echoes" isn't an overly emotional song; it's got that spacy, otherworldly feel characteristic of early (or... early-to-mid-to-late) Pink Floyd. So this climax is more of the 'visceral' kind referred to above (though still plenty 'transcendental'). It doesn't quite break your heart as much as it punches you in the chest and steals your breath. But not at all in the way you'd expect. "Echoes" is one of the only songs I've ever listened to by itself, in front of the speakers, agape, or lying on my floor with the lights off and my eyes closed. And the climax for me was always the most sublime moment in all of music. It left me floating through life like a specter for an hour or two. Borrow someone's copy of 'Meddle,' skip to track 6, turn it up, and close your eyes. See ya!


1. King Crimson, "Starless" - 11:17

No way I'm gonna ruin it for you with a shitty YouTube video.

Curious, I know, to have a 'visceral' climax at the top of the list. I think so, at least. But every time I hear it, I remember exactly why it's my favorite musical climax. Maybe you find King Crimson annoying or emotionless, and I'm sure you'll find the middle third of this song (the "one-note guitar solo") even more so, but if you listen to the whole thing nonstop, at a deafening volume, you'll get the point. I'll tell you what does it for me (and it surprises me how often this relatively innocuous detail figures into my appreciation of music): it's the bass tone. The dude's bass tone, damn it. It's perfect! This is the crunchiest, most brutal bass tone I think I've ever heard--on an album from '74, no less. The structure of this song is pretty simple: the first third states its melodic theme by way of a slow, solemn vocal delivery; the middle third takes you on a ride far, far away from home, jamming slowly and unsurely on this very bizarre melody; the last third amps it back up again and, finally, brings you back around to the melodic theme from the beginning, only this time in a way that's urgent and incendiary. Of all instruments, the one that connects the chaotic 13/8 part to the final restatement of the theme... is a saxophone! Rarely my favorite instrument to hear in a rock song. But this one works perfectly, and besides, it only lasts for a few seconds before John Wetton's bass enters and obliterates life as we know it. Seriously, listen to that bass tone when he drops down to that tonic, to that note you've been wanting him to hit for the whole song. Absolutely the most devastating musical theme I've ever heard, absolutely. Crap, man. Crap.



Interesting statistics:

Percentage of songs that are the first songs on their respective albums: 20%
Percentage of songs that are the last songs on their respective albums: 48%

Hmm!

Well, anyway, thanks for reading! Try to find this stuff on CD. You'll be glad you did!

introducing: danmcmahonpodcast

yes children, it has begun. i have started my very own podcast, and i think it is going to be super fun for all. i'm going to do my best to jump through all of the hoops necessary to get an episode out to you super fast, so i need you guys to hang in there with me until that time.

so far, here is what i plan to include in each episode:

-interviews with musicians/other cool people
-updates with whatever i find compelling in the news
-whatever stupid/funny segments i can think of
-and of course playing some sweet tunes from my favorite artists

as i said, this may take awhile to launch, but that is only because i want it to be amazing. my dear friend tom schleiter is going to help me out with the production aspect of the operation, and i'm going to try to promote all over the internet, so telling your friends would be awesome.

feel free to email suggestions about who you want on the show, what music you want to hear and any questions you might want answered to danmcmahonpodcast@gmail.com. i will try to be good about replying.

for now, tell your friends about myspace.com/danmcmahonpodcast. i will update you on my plans for the first episode, and before you know it, you'll be able to subscribe on iTunes for free!!!!!

once again myspace.com/danmcmahonpodcast

ADD ME!!!!

your friend,

dan