The Houston Music Blog section of the Free Press Houston.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Miracle Condition (buy this album)

posted by Free Press Houston @ 1:19 PM

MIRACLE CONDITION: ONE STEP BEYOND
Kwame M. Anderson

Our lives are sum of our experiences, the result of many moments, some bland and some
grand, that when multiplied give us the perception of our lives. Music parallels this experience, as each song is a moment, the whole is the album, and like life, these days it is more about the moment rather than the total experience (songs more than albums), but this is not the case when digesting the music of Miracle Condition.
“To me it’s like an extension of writing a song,” comments drummer Pat Samson, “like when you’re trying to piece together where the songs go, you hit it right on the head in that we’re not trying to make a bunch of just pop songs that stand on their own, we want it to work as a whole, and when you’re creating a song, you have to take into consideration the same thing as when you’re piecing the whole album together.”
Miracle Condition’s self titled album is in the vein of the old idea of albums, it is like a novel, there are chapters, there is the entire story, but then each song is a piece of the story. The songs can be heard individually, and be satisfying, but the appreciation is in hearing them within the context of the entity. Songs such as “The Wandering Y” or “Assignment” are powerful, but when heard in continuum with the album they are catapulted to even greater heights.
“We definitely thought about how we were going to put the songs together, it’s not a concept album, but we thought about the beginning and the end,” notes guitarist Matt Carson, “and how it would flow together and how we’re creating a mood between the beginning and the end, there is a continuity between the songs even if the songs are drastically different, maybe more than other bands, maybe they write the songs individually and the song is intended to stand on it’s own, but the way that we’ve been playing is that we have an idea and we try to fit that idea into the other ideas that we have and we create a flow.”
In preparation for this album, a few months ago, the band released a mini-album called 68 Degrees that basically established (in my opinion) the band’s sound. It could be called psychedelic or (terribly) shoe gaze, in that the songs have layers, the guitars build and subside, Samson’s timing and bombast is measured and tempered thunder and lightning, and inside of these layers a magical feeling is concocted, otherworldly, a feeling of being levitated, or transported may strike the listener. In the conclusion of one song is a sound that becomes the intro of another, and within that there is a story. However, unlike most music of this ilk, there is no talk of magical lands and butterfly dragons, but rather the challenge of daily living and finding one’s self amidst the madness that engulfs us, it is real, it is fantastic but not fantasy.
“Sometimes we you have the dichotomy, when the music is saying one thing and the music is saying another thing, it actually mixes well, an example I think of is Johnny Marr and The Smiths, he wrote this happy sounding guitar melodies, he was great guitar player, and Morrisey would talk about these depressing sort of self absorbed stuff, but the two together worked really well, it seems like an odd combination if you separate them, and it’s not what we’re trying to do here, but it’s kind of similar in that the lyrics I was writing, if you think about real life, the things that you think about, the things you go through everyday, can be as foreign and strange as space or magic or whatever.”
Miracle Condition are the reason one listens to music, they care about the experience, they value the art. In this commerce driven time (not to say they don’t care about money) sometimes music is created more as a product than a viable piece of work that you can cherish and that can transform you. More than that, there are no two Miracle Conditions, the band is an individual statement, in a cookie cutter industry. Find this album, absorb it, and allow something other than your butt to be moved. It is exhilarating, but when the ride is over, the wind will feel that much more beautiful. You're welcome.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Music With Jameson and Lonestar: Shonen Knife & Born Liars 11/08/2009

posted by Ramon Medina - LP4 @ 6:13 AM

OK let's face it. If you missed Shonen Knife on Sunday night at Mangos, you failed miserably. Now, sure, we'll make an exception if you shelled out the big bucks for AC/DC but anything beyond that and you may as well just pack your bags and move into the Lazy Acres retirement home. But, you know what? I'll go you one more - I will go out on a limb and say (even though we are talking apples and oranges to some degree) that a Shonen Knife rock show is on par with a big AC/DC show.

Sacrilege you say? Consider this. Outside the studio, Shonen Knife take the poppy songs you hear on their records, turn up the amps, channel the spirit of Joey Ramone, and put on a great performance like no other! It's the kind that made even local garage bad asses the Born Liars, who kicked it mighty on Sunday night, seem tame by comparison. Seriously, until you've seen Shonen Knife live, you haven't really experienced Shonen Knife. And in a small intimate venue like Mangos for a measly $10? Good gravy, what did Houston do to get so damn fortunate?! Hell, check out the set list:



That's a pretty nice mix of old stuff and the new stuff from the latest album. And what's impressive is that even weaker songs off the new album like Pyramid Power came off live in a way that made the studio version seem like a crime. This meant that the rock solid material off of Super Group like the show stopping metal of "Muddy Bubbles Hell" caused the ghost of Ronnie James Dio to travel back from the future to lend his mighty rock blessings while old favorites like "Johnny Johnny Johnny" caused many people to simply go into seizures. The thing is Shonen Knife plays with a ferocity that their albums could never convey so if you missed out, you really missed out. So weep at your poseurdom and behold the pics from the show:



Don Walsh "I can't fucking give these things away!
Err, who's playing again?"


Domokos wanted you to know that he was not DJing
between Born Liars and Shonen Knife.
The Alice Cooper, Iron Maiden, Deep Purple,
and the rest was Shonen Knife's mix.



Born Liars ripping up Mangos.


Born Liars' Bill Fool - in the zone!


Carol Sandin gets in the Born Liars spirit.


Omar holds court as Eli Brumbaugh and
Mike Sims patiently await their turn.


Three women, three instruments,
and a hell of a lot of Rock and Roll



Shonen Knife inspiring future generations.


Just so you know for next time they are in town
Naoko likes to shop at the Rice Village.



Shonen Knife is rocking so hard here that the dude
in the MC5 shirt is trying his best not to hurl!



Drummer Etsuko Nakanishi.


Bassist Ritsuko Taneda.


And of course the one, the only,
Naoko Yamano.



Naoko midflight through
Muddy Bubbles Hell's awesome solo!



Yes, I concur with Dio Metal Sign -
Shonen Knife rocked epically!


Bonus for Shonen Knife fans was
original drummer Atsuko Yamano's
surprise appearance!



Never underestimate the rock of Shonen Knife!


Coolest Shonen Knife fan Ever!!!!!


Links:
Full image set on my Flickr (link)
Listen to the new album on LaLa (link)
Shonen Knife online (link)
Born Liars on mysapce (link)

Labels: , "shonen knife"