Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Cease to Be Dan

>> Featured Artist: Kanye West

So we've never posted on something so mainstream. So we've never posted on a "hip hop" artist. Kanye is undeniable. He fucking sampled Steely Dan ("Champions"). Wait, you're kidding? He sampled Steely Dan?!

Old news, of course (we've been away...). Mister Toaster is really enjoying the new album - courtesy of car rides with DJ Bry. And here's that song that samples that "Grammy Award-winning American jazz rock band."

>> Album Lookout: Cease to Begin
Band of Horses - Released: October 9, 2007 Sub Pop

Well, we're so behind, we may have missed one of the best albums of the year. Release on John Lennon's birthday, it really couldn't miss, right? Not that it had anything to do with Beatle John. (Seriously, this got released two days after my friend Aaron's birthday. I sent him two other albums instead. I would have most definitely included Cease to Begin among them, if I had known).

This album doesn't mess around. It goes right after you with "Is There a Ghost." And it doesn't stop. There are no filler tracks, or anything that could be considered less than interesting. For a band that just hit my radar last fall/winter, this is remarkable.

With the album's Brian Wilson melodies (and vocals) and the aggressive song structure, it's hard not to think that something is being accomplished here. Look for this on the Top Albums of the Year list.

>> Reverting to: 1976

This would be the song Kanye sampled: "Kid Charlemagne." Wow, gotsta love the Becker-Fagen.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Catching Up

Well, that sucked. (No, that really was a great season.) Anyway...we've missed so much.

>> Featured Artist:
Jens Lekman

A Slate writer called Jens Lekman the greatest Swedish musical export, which says a lot, given Slate's fixation with ABBA.

Not only did we miss the release of Jens' latest full-length in all this baseball hubbub, but we also have failed to properly prepare for his upcoming Black Cat show. A friend of mine - the friend who bought the tickets - is going to proposition Mr. Lekman to play at wedding. There are few thousand bucks on the table, I'm told.

What's to be said about Jens Lekman, other than that I think he's so incredibly overlooked - and yet so incredibly overrated. I mean, this is Jens Lekman. Everything about his music is about a lack of pretension and refrain from overthought.
(As you see in the Slate article, there are some folks who seem to be hoping he's the next coming of Christ/Lennon.) His music's greatness is based on the fact that it resembles something pure, I guess, if purity is something attainable through sampling and simplistic, straightfoward, honest lyrics.

There's something indescribably great about Jens - something that make

See here: "The Opposite of Hallelujah," a cut of the new album. I'm just hoping his live show lives up to the promises of his studio productions.

>> Album Lookout: Reunion Tour
The Weakerthans - Released: September 25, 2007 Epitaph

It has rarely occurred to me that the Weakerthans have become one of my favorite bands. And, to their credit, this has built entirely in the four-plus years since Reconstruction Site was released, never overly concerned about when the next material was coming out.

Well, while no one was paying attention, Canada's John K. Samson and Co. released their follow-up, the solid Reunion Tour. I've had the benefit of spending a few car rides taking this album in. Every time, "Virtute the Cat Explains Her Departure" chokes me up a bit, which seems silly until you realize that Samson's songwriting taps into emotions and the everday importances that make our lives matter. Virtute the Cat, who was also featured in the first person on the last album (and whom I always read as "Virtue"), represents the perfect subject to illuminate the Weakerthans' songwriting prowess - emotion from an unlikely source. For a more typical Weakerthans song, though, check out "Night Windows."

Luckily, I'm also seeing this band in concert this Sunday at the 9:30 Club. Honestly, having seen them twice before (once, all by my lonesome on Oberlin College's campus), I can't wait.

>> Reverting to: 1984

I spent a little time on the road over the past two weeks (a LOT of time) and I ended up relistening to a lot of great music I haven't listened to in years. Bruce's greatest hits was one of those discs. "Born in the U.S.A." (video) sounds better every time I hear it.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Special Edition: Toast-tober Baseball (Part II)

Well, we made it a second week. I admit that I was worried about playing the Yankees in the first round. I guess all that national hype got to me. But, alas, we outpitched them and our offense was scrappy and clutch - taking advantage of mistakes and capitalizing on opportunities. Carmona was incredible; Byrd was a journeyman; etc., etc.

And also Joba Chamberlain can't handle the midges.

Fionn Regan - Be Good Or Be Gone

The series before us will prove to be more difficult. It's hard to argue the Red Sox are overrated. I mean, they paid for what they have, but what they have is something special. Beckett has been at his pinnacle nearly all season; Schilling and Wakefield are pros; and Daisuke is overrated and overpaid (hey, I said worse about Melky Cabrera just before he gunned someone out at home and homered in Game 2). And that's just their starting rotation - not to mention their bullpen or Jon Lester. Or their hitting.

Tears for Fears - Break It Down Again

Yeah, the Red Sox are going to be tough. But not unbeatable. After all, the Indians have two Greek gods going in Games 1 and 2 (and 5 and 6, should we get there) and if the Red Sox are going to get by us, they have to get by them. If they do that, well, they will have earned a trip to the World Series.

If I'm the Red Sox, I wouldn't be bidding on World Series tickets just yet. The Tribe is now officially the hottest team in baseball's second half and postseason (with the possible exception of the Rockies). Their pitching is perhaps the best in the bigs (although the Sox have a superior closer) and their lineup has depth that most teams would dream for. Still, it's a young team and anything can happen.

But, frankly, I'd like to think the Indians just plain deserve it more.

OK Go - This Will Be Our Year

So here goes nothing. Let's hope the Tribe can pull four out against these Beantown boys. Next week, I'll be in Cleveland for Game 4, so I won't be blogging again until the ALCS is over. Here's to a Part III.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Special Edition: Toast-tober Baseball (Part I)

It's official. My Cleveland Indians are heading to the playoffs for the first time in six years, attempting in the end to bring home a championship for the first time in 59.

In honor of the moment - and as long as the moment continues - The Toaster Talks is going to commemorate the fight in blog song.

First up is the Yankees in a short series. The Yanks scare the bejesus out of me in general - not because of how good they are, but simply because there seems to be a prevailing evil that arrives and ensures that its beloved pinstriped team goes all the way.

Mark Mothersbaugh - We Call Them Pirates Out Here

On paper, there is no question New York is the best team in the league. I mean, they paid for it, right? On the field, it's a bit more mixed. The Indians bested the Yankees record by two games and were even hotter than the sports writers' "hottest team in baseball" in the last 45 days of the season (five games better, in fact). But the Yankees won each and every time the two teams played this season. Yikes.

Eels - Losing Streak

They say the playoffs come down to pitching. That's good, because I'm not sure the Indians offense at its best is even in the same league as the Yankees best O. But if pitching wins championships, the Indians have a mighty good shot. They have two of the five best pitchers in the league going in Games 1 and 2. If they can hold their own and the Indians offense can produce, this series is the Tribe's to lose.

The Lovin' Spoonful - Do You Believe in Magic

Without a doubt the tone will be set by Game 1, with C.C. Sabathia - the man who should win the Cy Young Award - on the mound. If he pitches a gem (which he almost always does) AND if the Indians can get to Wang (which seems highly possible)...well, I'm not going to speculate. These are big ifs for October baseball. Either way, I'll be on hand to witness it.

The Mountain Goats - Going to Cleveland
(thanks for the track, DW; sorry for the droning intro, folks)

The sports writers seem to think this is a pretty well-matched series. Still, most of them are giving the edge to the Yankees, mostly because they are the Yankees and I'm pretty sure it's already been decided that the Yankees must make it to the World Series.

The New Pornographers - Challengers

So I'm going to sit down tonight for my usual routine - a hopeful, brings-tears-to-the-eyes viewing of Major League. (Just the opening credits can give me goose bumps).

Randy Newman - Burn On

I don't make predictions, but I haven't felt this good about a baseball team I rooted for since the mid-'90s. As they say back in Cleveburg, it's Tribe time now.

God bless America.