I’ve never claimed to be a music critic, even though The Dishmaster is heavily centered on music. My very basic reviews are exclusively based on whether I’d like to listen to an album while driving down the Pacific Coast Highway on a beautiful Los Angeles day. So when I read the extremely intricate (and sometimes hilarious) assaults on Maroon 5’s new album, ‘Overexposed,’ I just assumed I’d hate the record. “How could so many critics be wrong,” I thought. And given my hatred for Adam Levine’s egotism, I also assumed I’d find pleasure in disliking his record. But I loved it. It is genuine and enjoyable, and the tracks are just the right mix of workout-out-worthy up-tempo and imagine-a-man-is-singing-this-to-me low-tempo. Listen below to “Sad.”
I may not be a musician, but I know what crap sounds like. And Metallica’s new album is absolutely horrible. They collaborated with singer-songwriter, Lou Reed, and the album, entitled ‘Lulu’, is based on two plays written by the German playwright Frank Wedekind. It’s predictably a critical and commercial failure. The vocals are largely spoken-word, which makes for painful listening. When asked about his fan-backlash, Metallica drummer, Lars Ulrich said, “It’s not for everyone, but I think it’s a fantastic record.” Allow me to take a moment to speak directly to Mr. Ulrich, who needs a serious Dishmaster lecture. If you want to bastardize this medium by producing shit, then do it in the privacy of your own studio and never release it to the masses. But when you expose our ears to what is largely a joke, you disrespect your fans and make a mockery of an industry that is already struggling. It’s time to exit the crazy house and start making good music again. Listen to a clip of the song, ‘The View’, below.
Despite being The Dishmaster, there are times I think I’m living under a rock. I’m constantly in search of new bands to write about, and I lose sight of the reliable legends. One such legend is Paul Simon, who released his new album, So Beautiful or So What, in April — and I’m embarrassed to admit that I only just discovered it. Most of the information I receive is via word of mouth, and this album never hit my direction. So I will take this opportunity to make it up to Paul Simon, who I fantasize about interviewing one day. His latest effort is just as high-quality as his earlier albums, and some reviewers compared it to Graceland. Loyal fan or not — you must buy it. I’d also like to congratulate him on still contributing to his art form, which is very unlike some of his early comrades who no longer write new music (hear that Billy Joel?).
When you live in Los Angeles, you’re often exposed to a wide array of douchebags that lie about their accomplishments. So when you meet someone genuine and talented, you can’t help but root for their success. One such talented individual is a Mr. Aaron Barnhart, who I had the pleasure of watching perform at a fantastic Los Angeles venue in Koreatown known as ‘R Bar.’ He was joined by his “Revelators,” which included Robert Columbus (drums), Josh Jove (guitar), and Sam Skolfield (bass guitar). In addition to Aaron’s original material, they played some great blues music, and I looked around the room to discover the crowd feeling the groove. Aaron is about to release his sophomore album, and judging from what I’ve heard so far, it’s going to be damn good. Listen to a tune from his debut album below.
Last Sunday my friend invited me to The Hotel Cafe in Los Angeles to see Harper Blynn play. The venue opened in 2000, and it is known for featuring new singer/songwriters. Harper Blynn started their performance with singer/songwriter Schuyler Fisk, who I later found out is Sissy Spacek’s daughter. Despite her often described “folk” music, I actually found her to be a confusing cross between pop and country, with a strange resemblance (physically and musically) to Colbie Caillat. To be fair, I must confess my limited musical knowledge, which explains why my only legitimate criticism of their combined performance is the strange blend of Fisk’s sweet looking, polished demeanor and the unwashed looking Harper Blynn boys. To put it plainly, the chemistry was odd. As soon as Harper Blynn played alone, the energy in the room completely changed. The band is comprised of four band members, including: Pete Harper (keys and rhythm guitar); Jason Blynn (lead guitar); Sarab Singh (drums); and Whynot Jansveld (bass), and to quote Paste Magazine, who voted Harper Blynn the #1 new discovery of the CMJ Festival, “despite their Brooklyn address and hipster credentials, there’s nothing remotely indie rock about the band-the harmonies recall Simon & Garfunkel, and the melodies would make Elvis Costello proud.” They promoted their new self-titled EP during the show, leaving out songs from their debut album, Loneliest Generation. They closed the show with a cover of Beyonce’s Halo, which they’ve become known for after a previous performance of the cover went viral. The biggest applause of the night came from the Halo cover, which I pondered for a bit before stumbling across a very well-written article by Jim Malec. He said, “massively popular mainstream hits can be adapted under an indie aesthetic and made appealing to a young, hip crowd.” And “It’s surprising that more indie artists don’t strive for that same type of catchiness in their own tunes.” While I’m not sure I agree that Harper Blynn’s music lacks catchiness, I will say that their upcoming EP certainly sounds more catchy than their debut album. It will be worth the wait. Watch their video for Loneliest Generation below.