The Mars Volta

Recently, I’ve been on a Mars Volta kick listening to all of their albums again (and waiting for the new one. Noctourniquet, showing up on March 27).  My first exposure to them was through Amputechture (the one with “The Street Fighter” cover as Pitchfork so eloquently put it) which I bought on a whim. The initial reaction I had was WTF I have no clue what is going on here.  But, the more I listened to it more the more I was able to follow the jams and the music and really liked it.  I then began to pick up all the older albums, starting with Deloused in the Comatorium, then Frances the Mute, followed by The Bedlam in Goliath, Octahedron, and finally Tremulant.  I still need to get the Frances the Mute single, but I just haven’t yet.

After listening to them a whole heck of a lot, I’ve decided the best way to introduce someone to The Mars Volta through their full length albums is Deloused in the Comatorium.  Followed by Frances the Mute, The Bedlam in Goliath, Octahedron, and finally Amputecture.  Deloused and Frances both provide a more coherent story than the other albums in my opinion.  The Bedlam in Goliath is very heavy and Octohedron is the ying to Goliath’s yang so they go together in my mind as a full album.  Finally, Amputechture is an album where they really go all over their map in their musical experimentation which could really turn some people off if it is the first thing you hear of theirs (at least from what I’ve heard and seen).  As a nice list I’d get their albums in this order:

  1. Deloused in the Comatorium
  2. Frances the Mute
  3. The Bedlam in Goliath
  4. Octahedron
  5. Amputechture

If you’ve never heard of The Mars Volta, hopefully this little primer will give you the power to jump into the wild and fun world of their music without wondering WTF is going on.  And if you are already a Mars Volta fan, you’ll give me some feedback on what your favorite Mars Volta albums are.

A new Polvo album! Woohoo!

I was doing my typical cruising the Intertubes looking for new music and any word on the bands I like for new music and found out Polvo has a new album coming out soon.  You can hear a song from their upcoming album here on Soundcloud.  It definitely sounds like Polvo but at the same time, it doesn’t have as much guitar as I was expecting — not to say I dislike it.  It is good stuff, it is definitely Polvo pushing the boundaries of what they do.  Which is awesome.  I look forward to getting the new album when it shows up.

Using the iPhone as a source of music on your VW Jetta SportsWagen with a Bluetooth connection

Now, being the person that I am, I love music and love listening to it wherever I can.  It makes sense then, that I put a lot of music on my phone.  My iPhone has the ability to connect through Bluetooth to my car and should have the ability to send the music to the speakers within the car.  Now, the issue is, how do I do that?  If you’re like me, you don’t read the instructions cause they’re long and boring.  I want the three bullet points to make it happen.  So here is how it works:

  1. Make sure your phone is connected to the car through Bluetooth.
  2. Start playing music on the phone’s music player
  3. On the radio select ‘BT Audio’
  4. Listen to the music through the car’s speakers

See, that was easy.  Why it took me two manuals for the car to figure this out is ridiculous.

The Woodworking Project: A Semi-Hollow Body Gibson ES-335 Replica Guitar

As I mentioned in the post about VLC, I’ve been deciding on a new project to take up.  That new project is a hollow bodied electric guitar with hand carved top and bottom; the one I’m planning to build is going to look a lot like this, a Gibson ES-335.  I have a lot of oak so I want to make use of it extensively in the guitar even though it is a rather unconventional wood for guitars.  Unfortunately, this time I’m not going to use the oak; perhaps for the next instrument :).  As far as the other specs go, I’m wanting to use dual humbuckers, dual volume and tone controls with the ability to coil tap the humbuckers.  Of course, you’ve gotta go with the Bigsby B7 vibrato, 22 frets and a few custom touches.

Here it is a little more broken down (and where I intend to get the electronics and such from)

  1. Electronics
    1. Two Humbuckers (Wolfetone Pickups)
    2. Two Volume pots (long stem, 500k)
    3. Two Tone pots (long stem, 500k, push/push)
    4. Bigsby B7 Vibrato
  2. Woods
    1. Maple top and bottom and center block
    2. Mahogany sides and neck
    3. Ebony fretboard

Of course, there is so much more to get, like the wood for all the molds that will need to be made along with some tools that I am lacking in order to make it.  I could do it without some of these tools, but really, where is the fun in doing something without a new tool to play with :).  When I finally gather all the parts and start actually working on the project, I’ll be sure to update the website to keep y’all informed of my problems and successes and other such ramblings.

Fun Fun Fun Fest – Nov. 7, 2010

Fun Fun Fun Fest is another music festival in Austin held after ACL Fest that focuses on music outside of the mainstream.  It used to be a 2-day festival but has turned into a three day festival with Friday being a half-day.  I didn’t attend Friday or Saturday because of prior commitments, but I did make Sunday since I was going to see Polvo no matter what.

I arrived at Waterloo Park around 11:15am which gave me ample time to go pick up my ticket at the box office and sit outside the front gates until they started letting everyone come in around 11:45am.  The weather was beautiful and I knew it was going to be a great day for music.  And I had a full plate when it came to music.  I spent almost all my time at the Black Stage (the “metal” stage) with the exception of going to the Orange Stage for Polvo and Descendents and the Blue Stage near the end to catch the last bit of A-Trak’s set; but I’m getting ahead of myself.

Eagle Claw (black stage)

Eagle Claw is an Austin-based metal band that seriously rocks.  They remind me a lot of the full instrumentals that used to be a center piece of old-school Metallica albums.  As soon as they started playing, they began to gather a crowd which was rather surprising given how few many people were at the fest that early.  If you missed them at Fun Fun Fun Fest, they’re definitely worth checking out.

Junius (black stage)

Junius came on right after Eagle Claw and brought a different sort of heavy to the stage.  Junius to me felt more in the vein of …And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead (at least the Source Tags and Codes album); they have a great wall of sound and I’m looking forward to seeing what they have in store with their next albums.

Peelander Z (black stage)

At first I had no clue what Peelander Z was about, but any band named Peelander Z has to be worth seeing at least once.  PZ is off-the-wall fun — it was the most fun I’ve had watching a band in a long time.  Any band that replaces themselves with people from the audience then begins to run around in the audience doing human bowling, crowd surfing, calisthenics and banging on pots and pans is worth seeing multiple times.  The songs were simplistic, but fun and the energy they gave off was something not to be missed.

Deakin (orange stage)

Deakin is from Animal Collective and I really wanted to like his stuff, just at the time he was playing the down-tempo house hypnotic music just wasn’t my thing.  I’m sure when I’m in the mood for it, I’d love it, just at the time I can’t say much about it.  So, I’ll leave it at that, since I do have a time when I do enjoy it.

Kylesa (black stage)

After the jaunt over to the orange stage, I made my way back to the black stage, aka the metal stage, for Kylesa.  As I’ve done, with the other bands, I’ll say Kylesa gave off a Slipknot vibe, although not as heavy, the dual drummers and heavy use of percussion one can’t help but draw the comparison.  I found them very entertaining and would definitely check them out again — and best of all they’re supposed to be doing some tour dates with Clutch the end of this year and you can’t beat that — Kylesa and Clutch at one time.

Ringworm (black stage)

Ringworm is loud metal.  It is heavy.  It is pretty freaking sweet.  They remind me of Fear Factory for some reason (which is not a bad thing).

Cults (orange stage)

I couldn’t get into this band.  I tried.  I even tried substituting their lyrics with lyrics from The Animaniacs theme song.  It didn’t work for me.  I think I went and bought a bratwurst after my attempts to get into it.

The Bronx (black stage)

The Bronx are a punk band and although punk normally isn’t my favorite music, I can appreciate a band that loves performing and playing together and has energy.  And they had it in spades.  Not my cup of tea, but they were fun to watch.

Polvo (orange stage)

Now, Polvo was the whole reason I came to Fun Fun Fun Fest on Sunday.  Their live show to me was the closest I’m ever going to get to see something as awesome as Pink Floyd’s The Piper at the Gates of Dawn performed live without digging up and re-animating Syd Barrett.  The intricate guitar work and sounds created by the two guitars are something to behold.  The songs sometimes feel like they’re drifting, but as soon as you think that, they come back and hook you back into the song stronger than before.  If you can catch Polvo, do it.

High on Fire (black stage)

Initially I was going to see Deerhunter instead of High on Fire, but changed my mind since I was really in a metal mood on Sunday.  I can’t say I was disappointed with my choice.  High on Fire was loud and fast and kept it loud with punch-you-in-the-face riffs the entire time.

Suicidal Tendencies (black stage)

Ok, so I was feeling nostalgic as I was watching them.  Even though I was only 5 when their debut album was released, it still didn’t mean that later on I would eventually catch Institutionalized being played on MTV (when MTV played music) and think it was a great song.  However, their set was very good and had a lot of different musical genres going on: punk, metal, some funk, and even a little disco.

Decendents (orange stage)

What can you say about a band that wasn’t touring and has made Fun Fun Fun Fest its place to reunite and play its only show in America other than kick-ass?  I skipped Mastodon (and Mastodon is amazing) to see these guys.  I’d never heard anything by them before, but after the show, I’ll definitely be looking to pick up some of their stuff.

A-Trak (blue stage)

I only caught the last minutes of A-Trak’s set, but just from those few minutes he put the whole hour plus Oakenfold show I saw this year to shame.