Album Review: The 88 (Self-titled)

The 88 – The 88 album

reviewed by Jesse Wentzloff

In the mid-2000s, The 88 had a brief flirtation with popularity that saw them appear on a slew of TV programs, their sleek, bouncy pop rock helping them scrape out a foothold in the public consciousness. Since then, they’ve continued to tour and release music, honing and refining their pop sensibilities. The 88, the band’s latest, self-titled record, puts this pop mindset front and centre, but unfortunately comes across as too bland, too easy, and too safe.

At their best, The 88 are baring their teeth, adding a little bit of an edge to their syrupy-sweet brand of pop rock on songs like opener “Center of the Sun” or “Dead on the Water.” Unfortunately, for most of their self titled record, the band seems content to smile and bop along as they make their way through 11 passable – but mostly forgettable – songs.

One of the simplest and most universally appealing genres of music, pop rock is actually pretty tough to get just right. Play it too hard or too weird, and you’ll lose the pop market, or play it too safe and the rockers will deride, or worse, ignore you. Giants of pop rock like the Beatles (OK, the Beatles got plenty weird, but by that point everyone in the world was so in love with the band that they could have released a concept album filled with children’s songs about fictionalized versions of themselves living in a fantastically-colored submersible and it would have been a hit. Wait. What?), Fleetwood Mac or Van Morrison achieved and maintained success by finding the perfect balance between hard and soft, being moderate enough to appeal to both ends of the musical spectrum. It’s a lot like politics.

While a few songs on The 88 that walk this line adeptly, most fall much too far on the pop side, which is too bad. Keith Slettedahl (vocals/guitar), Todd O’Keefe (bass guitar), Adam Merrin(piano/keys), and Anthony Zimmitti (drums) are all reasonably proficient at their instruments, and there are some interesting ideas making themselves known over the course of the album, but for the large part they seem content to work within simple, repetitive song structures and chord progressions. This by itself isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Almost any music classifiable as pop or pop rock works within one of a few easily recognizable formulas, but this combined with stagnant instrumentation (it’s bass, guitar, organ or piano, drums and vocals all the way here, folks) and the lack of any big, memorable hooks means that on the whole, the album is pretty homogenous.

The biggest issue here, to my ears, is that by and large, each instrumental part is playing the same rhythm, or accents thereof. Countermelodies are rare as the band strides together in step, with the result that even at higher tempos, the band’s songs seem to plod forward, go on for too long and quickly become repetitive. “Won’t Catch Me” and “Automatic Brain” are the biggest offenders here, but really, only lead single “They Ought To See You Now” manages to break this trend to any appreciable extent. Post-chorus guitar solos and a propulsive drum beat elevate this track a step above the rest, but unfortunately those improvements are difficult to find as the album progresses.

It doesn’t help that The 88 don’t really do much in the way of innovation with their latest record. Ironically, instead of perhaps serving as a declaration of their identity as a band, the songs that comprise The 88 mostly sound like watered-down versions of rejected OK Go songs. Considering that that band’s singles needed some cleverly-made viral music videos to gain success, it’s a comparison The 88 should likely try to avoid. If you’ve got an itch for new pop-rock that really needs scratching, you might find a couple of songs that tickle your fancy, but overall, The 88 is nothing to write home about. It’s not a bad album, by any stretch, it’s just unremarkable.

A Bad Think “Sara Lee” New Album Out October 19, 2010

A Bad Think “Sara Lee” New Album Out October 19, 2010

On October 19, 2010 A Bad Think will release the album “Sara Lee”. A Bad Think is the moniker used for the solo work of Michael Marquart (drummer, guitarist, keyboard player, singer and producer for A Flock of Seagulls).

FREE DOWNLOAD of I’LL WAIT FOREVER from “Sara Lee

A BAD THINK- “Sara Lee”

Michael Marquart has been making his living as a musician and producer all his life. The talented drummer, guitarist, keyboard player, singer and producer has played with A Flock of Seagulls and the Canadian supergroup Alias, but it’s the music he makes with his studio project, A Bad Think, that’s closest to his heart.
Sara Lee, A Bad Think’s third outing, is an expansive musical tapestry. The album’s chiming guitars, rich, brooding bass lines, ghostly flutes and inventive percussion occupy a vast sonic and emotional space that pulls listeners into the unstable emotional world Marquart explores with these songs.

“Sara Lee is a suite,” Marquart explains. “The songs move between past and future, dealing with the missed connections and limitations that are part of every life. They convey moods and feelings, as well as narrative flow, with unexpected shifts in tempo, volume and instrumentation. The lyrics are vague, so everyone can imagine their own story.”

The eight songs and two instrumentals on the album tell the story of a waitress and the customer she’s seen every day for decades, two people with an imaginary, but nonetheless real, relationship. Marquart’s whispered vocal on “Overstay” simmers with unexpressed passion. Chiming acoustic guitar arpeggios and a glacial, R&B flavored bass line pull the emotions in opposing directions. “The Love Song” is more upbeat, a bossa nova, as played by a country band, highlighted by twangy guitar, smooth harmony vocals and eerie flutes.

“Home” is a melancholy ballad with a sly reference to The Wizard of Oz in its lyric, set off by a sea of ambient guitars. “Gives You Change” is a funky laid back rocker, but Marquart’s downbeat vocal undercuts the song’s jaunty rhythm. As Sara Lee approaches her customer with the change for his meal, he dreams of another change he can’t find the courage to make.

Marquart produced Sara Lee at his home studio in Virginia Beach, with his daughter Samantha on lead and harmony vocals; Don Burford, another Flock Of Seagulls alumnus, on bass; Richard Arbus on Fender Rhodes and engineer Skip Derupa. “There are many layers of guitar, keyboard, percussion and ambient sound, but it’s not pop music,” Marquart says. “It’s more like a painting for your ears, an impressionistic flow meant to stimulate your imagination.” Marquart’s supporting the album with a dark video for “Overstay” directed by Derrick Borte (The Joneses).
The band’s cryptic name is in keeping with Marquart’s pragmatic view of life’s tribulations. “When my kids had nightmares, they used to call them ‘a bad think.’ I’d tell ‘em, ‘Go back to bed and close your eyes and it’ll go away.’ A bad think is something that may not be positive, but it’s not a nightmare.”
Marquart was born in Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin and started playing drums when he was six. “My hometown was like Mayberry; everyone knew everyone. When I heard the sound of drums coming out of a neighbor’s basement, I peeked through the window. This kid had a sparkling new red drum set and I started hanging out with him.” After Marquart played along to a few Monkees’ records, music took over his life. “In grammar school and high school, I was in choir, marching band, barbershop quartets and musicals. In college, I majored in music, playing jazz/fusion and rock. I taught myself drums, guitar, keyboards, bass and trombone.”

After graduation, Marquart played original music in a band called Diogenes. They ruled the Mid-West in the 80s, but never made an album. Between gigs, he became a producer and session drummer. He moved to Virginia Beach to start Windmark Studios, just before the city became a major R&B and hip-hop hub. Windmark hosted sessions by Justin Timberlake, Britney Spears, N’Synch, No Doubt, Sponge, Frente and Dishwalla. Marquart also toured and recorded with Flock of Seagulls, the Canadian supergroup Alias and dozens of other outfits.

He eventually sold Windmark to N.E.R.D, built his own home studio and started producing his Bad Think albums. “My sound isn’t commercial, but it comes from my heart,” Marquart says. “I’m not a solo artist or band, just a guy who creates sad, moody music for grown ups. I want to look at everything that can happen to us as humans, no matter how challenging, and find the glimmer of sunshine that’s waiting for us at the end of the night.”

ADAM HAWORTH STEPHENS: ALBUM IN STORES, NPR, DAYTROTTER & MORE

ADAM HAWORTH STEPHENS RELEASES DEBUT SOLO ALBUM

WE LIVE ON CLIFFS OUT NOW ON SADDLE CREEK

NPR & DAYTROTTER SPOTLIGHTS

ON TOUR WITH THE FELICE BROTHERS

Adam Haworth Stephens releases debut solo album WE LIVE ON CLIFFS today, September 28th, on Saddle Creek. This new collection of songs from lead singer and songwriter of San Francisco duo Two Gallants is a “first-rate set of melodic, introspective folk-rock” says Seattle’s KEXP, “a gorgeous record containing Stephens’ finest collection of songs to date.”

Stephens has created a beautiful debut that spotlights his gift for capturing and exploring the trials of love, loss and hope. NPR raves “Stephens has a way with words and a rugged, windswept delivery” and first track THE CITIES THAT YOU’VE BURNED “is an incredibly satisfying folk ballad, delicately doused with pianos, percussion and plaintive strings.”

Check out THE CITIES THAT YOU’VE BURNED on NPR’s Song Of The Day

Stephens recently stopped by popular website DAYTROTTER and performed new songs PRAISES IN YOUR NAME and SECOND MIND (which fans can download at http://adamhstephens.com/category/news/), along with a cover of Wilson Pickett’s “I Found a Love” and a new unreleased song “Your Witness.”

Listen to Adam on DAYTROTTER here:
http://www.daytrotter.com/dt/adam-haworth-stephens-concert/20030739-37382388.html

Stephens will hit the road this coming Saturday, October 2nd and headline the Independent in San Francisco, before embarking on a 7-week tour with The Felice Brothers. Along the way, Stephens will perform at this year’s CMJ Music Festival in New York City on October 21st.

TOUR DATES:

Headlining show

October 2 The Independent San Francisco, CA

w/ The Felice Brothers

October 4 Humboldt State University Arcata, CA
October 5 Doug Fir Portland, OR
October 6 Tractor Seattle, WA
October 7 Media Club Vancouver, BC
October 9 State Room Salt Lake City, UT
October 10 Larimer Lounge Denver, CO
October 12 Waiting Room Omaha, NE
October 13 Triple Rock Minneapolis, MN
October 14 Turner Hall Milwaukee, WI
October 15 Empty Bottle Chicago, IL
October 16 Magic Stick Detroit, MI
October 17 NPR Mountain Stage Charleston, WV
October 18 Mr. Smalls Pittsburgh, PA
October 19 123 Pleasant Street Morgantown, WV

CMJ Music Festival

October 21 The Delancey (Saddle Creek CMJ Showcase) New York, NY

w/ The Felice Brothers

October 22 Rock and Roll Hotel Washington, DC
October 23 Johnny Brenda’s Philadelphia, PA
October 24 Johnny Brenda’s Philadelphia, PA
October 26 Ninth Ward Buffalo, NY
October 28 Harper’s Ferry Boston, MA
October 29 Met Café Providence, RI
October 30 The Chance Poughkeepsie, NY
October 31 MHOW Brooklyn, NY
November 1 Daniel Street Milford, CT
November 3 Jefferson Theatre Charlottesville, VA
November 4 King’s Barcade Raleigh, NC
November 5 The Handlebar Greenville, SC
November 6 The Earl Atlanta, GA
November 8 The Social Orlando, FL
November 9 Club Downunder Tallahassee, FL
November 10 One Eyed Jack’s New Orleans, LA
November 12 Emo’s Austin, TX
November 13 The Loft Dallas, TX
November 14 Sticky Fingerz Little Rock, AR
November 15 Proud Larry’s Oxford, MS
November 17 Headliners Louisville, KY
November 18 Southgate House Newport, KY
November 19 The Rumba Café Columbus, OH

Mexican Masked Wrestling + Burlesque + Comedy = Lucha VaVOOM An Evening of Sex, Violence and Hilarity… Hitting the Road in October

Mexican Masked Wrestling + Burlesque + Comedy = Lucha VaVOOM An Evening of Sex, Violence and Hilarity… Hitting the Road in October

Click HERE to watch the promo for the 2010 Halloween Shows in Los Angeles!

“Enough to make even the most jaded Hollywood insider jump up and yell ‘Smackdown!’ like he really means it”
– Rolling Stone

“Love, love, love it…always a surprise, always a blast!”
– Vanity Fair

Forgot everything you know about American wrestling: Lucha VaVOOM is is a non-stop, action-packed scream-a-thon where Mexican Masked wrestlers flip and fly, performing breathtaking acrobatic feats as lovably absurd characters with names like Dirty Sanchez, Chupacabra, and Shamu Jr. In between matches, the finest handpicked burlesque acts from around the world delight the crowds because the folks at Lucha VaVOOM like a little sexo with their violencia! For a taste of what to expect, click HERE to watch the promo video for the upcoming Halloween shows at LA’s Mayan Theater, October 27th and 28th.

But wait there’s more! Color commentary is handled by comedians such as Tom Kenny, Dana Gould and Blaine Capatch. Other guest commentators have included Fred Armisen, Brian Posehn, Patton Oswalt, Jeffrey Ross, Chris Hardwick, Greg Proops and Bobcat Goldthwait. Even Jack Black once sat in, proclaiming “Lucha VaVOOM is the sh*t!”

Lucha VaVOOM all began in August of 2003 as a one off event. The overwhelming response convinced the organizers to do it again, and as soon as possible. By 2005, they were asked to be a part of the first HBO Las Vegas Comedy Festival, where they performed along side Jon Stewart, Lewis Black and Dave Chapelle. That same year they performed at the infamous Sony E3 party at Dodger Stadium, where they took the spotlight away from the Pussycat Dolls.

Lucha VaVOOM has also appeared on Jimmy Kimmel, CBS National News, G4’s Attack of the Show, Carson Daily, A Current Affair, WGN MorningNews, KTLA Morning Newsand several other local news programs. Recently, dancers and wrestlers from Lucha VaVOOM shared the stage with Ozomatli and Cheech Marin at the Hollywood Bowl, and were one of the top-billed acts at the Chicago Just For Laughs Festival (right under Ellen DeGeneres).

Rooted in history, Lucha VaVOOM draws its inspiration from the bizarre world of 60’s Mexican Lucha Cinema, where brave, masked wrestling crime fighters save the world from evil brains, vampires, the Bermuda Triangle etc; always with an obligatory stop at the local go-go club.

Get ready for a night filled with raucous aerial acts, Pogo-stick peelers, hula-hoop hotties, a bull-pen is filled with the world’s best stripteasers, and much more. You simply have to see it to believe it! If Lucha VaVOOM isn’t coming to a city near you this time, be sure to catch an appearance on America’s Top Model on October 6th.

La VaVoom Fall 2010 Dates
(w/Jonathan Toubin DJing East Coast Shows):

10/21: Seattle, WA @ Showbox
10/24: Portland, OR @ Roseland
10/27: Los Angeles, CA @ Mayan Theater
10/28: Los Angeles, CA @ Mayan Theater
10/31: San Francisco, CA @ Filmore
11/04: Philadelphia, PA @ Electric Factory
11/06: Asbury Park, NJ @ Convention Hall
11/08: Boston, MA @ Royal Boston
11/09: New York, NY @ Webster Hall
11/11: Chicago, IL @ Park West

ACTIVE CHILD AND SCHOOL OF SEVEN BELLS RELEASE LIMITED EDITION 7″ ON LEFSE RECORDS

ACTIVE CHILD AND SCHOOL OF SEVEN BELLS RELEASE LIMITED EDITION 7″ ON LEFSE RECORDS

Active Child and School of Seven Bells have collaborated on a special 7″ project, each taking a crack at remixing the other’s tracks. This limited edition 7″ is on mixed color vinyl, no two of which are exactly alike, and will be available through Lefse Records on October 26. You can pre-order the 7″ inch and instantly receive both tracks as free digital downloads.

DOWNLOAD “HEART IS STRANGE” FROM SCHOOL OF SEVEN BELLS
(ACTIVE CHILD REMIX) HERE

Catch these two amazing acts on their current US tour:

Tour Dates:
Sep 28 2010 – Bittmore Cabaret – Vancouver, BC
Sep 29 2010 – Doug Fir Lounge – Portland, OR
Sep 30 2010 – The Independent – San Francisco, CA
Oct 01 2010 – Echoplex – Los Angeles, CA
Oct 02 2010 – Detroit Bar – Costa Mesa, CA
Oct 03 2010 – The Loft (UCSD) – La Jolla, CA
Oct 05 2010 – Plush – Tucson, AZ
Oct 08 2010 – Hailey’s – Denton, TX
Oct 09 2010 – Mohawk – Austin, TX
Oct 10 2010 – The Studio @ Warehouse Live – Houston, TX
Oct 11 2010 – Spanish Moon – Baton Rouge, LA
Oct 12 2010 – Club Down Under – Tallahasse, FL
Oct 14 2010 – Crowbar – Tampa, FL
Oct 15 2010 – The Social – Orlando, FL
Oct 16 2010 – Grand Central – Miami, FL
Oct 18 2010 – The Earl – Atlanta, GA
Oct 19 2010 – Local 506 – Chapel Hill, NC
Oct 20 2010 – The Ottobar – Baltimore, MD
Oct 21 2010 – Rock and Roll Hotel – Washington, DC
Oct 22 2010 – Johnny Brenda’s – Philadelphia, PA
Oct 25 2010 – The Horn Gallery at Kenyon College – Gambier, OH

Kylie Minogue – Check out “Get Outta My Way” Remixes – 3 Digital EPs released today!

Check out “Get Outta My Way” Remixes – 3 Digital EPs released today!

Plus behind the scenes footage from the set of the “Get Outta My Way” Music Video and the launch of Kylie’s Aphrodite Game!

Released today are three digital EPs containing the full suite of amazing remixes for “Get Outta My Way”. Kylie’s latest hit is racing up the Billboard Club Chart and has enjoyed the remix treatment from some of today’s rising remixer stars as well as some established old friends. Executive-producer Stuart Price (SDP) has delivered a dance floor tour de force, while the iTunes version of EP1 features an exclusive remix by longtime Kylie collaborator and dance music maven Steve Anderson.

Below is the link and embedded link to the behind the scenes look at the “Get Outta My Way” Music Video!!

THAT’S NOT ALL!
DON’T MISS THE LAUNCH OF KYLIE’S APHRODITE GAME!!

Aphrodite has been taken and you’re the only one who can save her! Capture the hearts to reveal where she is hidden – finish all ten stages (complete with sounds and voiceovers by Kylie herself!) and liberate the Goddess of Love. Click link below to play: http://kylie.com/aphroditegame/

The Ting Tings – We’re Not The Same video teaser

THE TING TINGS ‘WE’RE NOT THE SAME’

Catch a snippet of The Ting Tings brand new track ‘We’re Not The Same’ along with behind the scenes footage of the band filming their video, part of a very exciting and highly innovative collaboration, with whom will be announced later this week!

WATCH / LISTEN / SHARE: ‘We’re Not The Same’ :

The Ting Tings – “We’re Not The Same”

For more infomation on the band and to check out their new single “Hands,” go to www.thetingtings.com Forthcoming sophomore release is due in Jan 2011.