Using Short Codes in Magento

You may be familiar with some of the template directives you can use in the Magento CMS pages and blocks. Their syntax is distinguished by the double curly braces that enclose the directives. Did you know you can also use these directives in Product pages and Categories as well.

Today, we’ll have a quick look at the store directive used to generate store URLs and the parameters you can pass to it.

You’ve probably seen the most common one:

[sourcecode language="php"]<a href="{{store url=""}}">Go to home page</a>[/sourcecode]

But you may not be aware of the different parameters you can pass to the store directive when creating store URLs.

The parameters of interest are:

  1. url
  2. direct_url
  3. _query
  4. _query_[name]

Let’s have a look at each of those.

1. url

The url paramter generates a URL using the Magento routing. This means it will take anything you pass to the store url directive append it to the store base URL and append a ‘/’. So for example, you can create a URL to the contact us page like so:

[sourcecode language="php"]<a href="{{store url="contacts"}}">Contact Us</a>[/sourcecode]

Resulting in a URL like

2. direct_url

If you need to create a URL to a category or product, you can use the direct_url parameter. In that case, whatever you pass to the store directive will simply be appended to the base URL. For example, if your settings are that .html is added to your links, a link to a category can be created like so:

[sourcecode language="php"]<a href="{{store direct_url="category/subcategory.html"}}">Our Latest Range</a>[/sourcecode]

3. _query and 4. _query_[name]

If you need to generate URLs with query parameters, there are two ways Using the _query parameter, you can add an arbitrary query string to the URL like so:

[sourcecode language="php"]<a href="{{store direct_url="category/subcategory.html" _query="a=param_a&amp;b=param_b"}}">Our Latest Range</a>[/sourcecode]

Or you can use the second parameter syntax where you define the query parameter name with the parameter itself:

[sourcecode language="php"]<a href="{{store direct_url="category/subcategory.html" _query_a="param_a" _query_b="param_b"}}">;Our Latest Range</a>[/sourcecode]

This results in the same URL as the previous example:

It's here...the iPad, is it rad or is it a fad.


I don’t see the iPad being a replacement for your main computer, at least not for the present. While some may see the iPad as nothing more than an oversized iPod, I see it more as a casual internet-browsing appliance.
I see it more for those who lightly browse the internet as opposed to those who create professional content. It’s for people who really don’t need a full computer, but still want to be on the internet.
The lack of any professional-level creative software for the iPhone and iPod Touch is a good indication that most creative types will not be using this to work digitally, but that doesn’t preclude the possibility that with the larger screen size we might see a new breed of apps developed for iPad. Still, the size in general is going to limit your workspace and I doubt it will be much more than a companion tool — if even that.

Digital Sketchbook
There are a few solid sketching apps available already, including Sketchbook Mobile, Layers, and Brushes — all of which support multiple brushes, layers and some even export as a .psd file. Pair any one of these up with a Pogo Stylus, and now you have a digital sketchpad.
This is something I can see myself using, and I am sure we’ll see each of these apps introduce new iPad-specific features once the gadget is shipping. And I’m sure we’ll see some new apps coming in to compete.
Adobe seems to have kept their offerings to the basic Mobile app, which primarily offers basic photography tweaks. No word yet as to whether Adobe has anything planned for iPad.
The sketchpad aspect is compelling, but serious creators will need a much more powerful device. And I don’t think Apple had any intentions of replacing your desktop computer for illustration, design or web development.


Speaking of Adobe, one of the sticking points for some on both the iPhone and now the iPad is the lack of support for the Flash plugin for the web browser. For all you web designers & developers out there, if the iPad becomes a success it may sway the decision to use Flash or to at least offer an alternative depending on the users browser setup. I suppose it all depends on your audience.
There has been a recent push by some pretty major players to use HTML5 and H264 video, which delivers pretty much the same streaming video as Flash enables, but without a proprietary plugin. If you’re using Google Chrome, Apple Safari or another web browser that supports HTML5, you can opt-in to the HTML5 beta over at YouTube. I’ve done so and the experience has been excellent.
Of course this doesn’t account for the more interactive elements of other Flash creations such as mini games, interactive websites and the like. In my opinion, all websites should offer alternatives to Flash content regardless of the iPhone or iPad. Better to be safe than sorry, you never know the technical level of people visiting your website.

One interesting aspect of the iPad is the introduction of iBooks, which are basically digital books you can read on the iPad similar to Amazon’s Kindle e-reader device. In this arena, I can see a potential boon for designers as that full-color screen is just aching for quality design. Think: magazines, comics and graphic novels, children’s books and the like. This is a device designed to simplify things for the casual user, and these people are your potential customers.
I think there is a lot of potential here for digital content that almost demands a high-quality experience. And I can’t imagine how beneficial this will be for illustrators, creators of comic books and graphic novels. Sure, there will be print customers, but now you have an opportunity to reach a whole new group of new fans.

Sound Off
In general, I think the iPad is more of and end-user device, and while it may not affect how we create content, it may indeed affect what we create content for. There may be untold millions of people who don’t have a laptop or a computer, but would jump at the chance to have an iPad to do the basics. These people are a whole new slew of customers who will want well-designed, graphical content outside of just webpages.
So we want to hear from you: what are your thoughts on the iPad for your creative workflow? Know of any good apps that might transfer well to the iPad? What are your thoughts on the lack of Flash support?

...p.s check the ad parodies, they're popping up daily...


2010 New Business Card & Foil Finishing

Foils... not in the hair and not an ol' $20 tinny... these ones are for printing, a fan favorite and one of the finishing processes used in our latest CDL business card called foil stamping. Due to the elegance and high visual impact that it can provide, foil stamping (also called hot stamping, dry stamping, foil imprinting, leaf stamping, plain old foiling, or my favorite the magpies shimmer sheen) can be used to add that extra swagger to products like business cards, book covers, gift cards, office folders the list goes on. Instead of using plates or inks to print words and shapes, foil stamping uses dies, or sculpted metal stamps. The creative options are endless, and after going quite minimal last year with the CDL cards, we've mixed it with up with other processes as well. We've integrated the foiling with UV Spot, CMYK print, and brought in an overlapping sticker for our individual details. The card has already has had the heads turning when we pop it out of the wallet, 'two miles an hour so everybody sees you.'



How it's done.

The heated dies seal a thin layer of metallic leaf/foil onto a surface. The foil comes in a wide roll, large enough for several passes, backed by mylar. The hot die works similarly to a letterpress. Once it’s heated, the die presses the foil against the substrate material with enough pressure that the foil sticks only in the intended places, leaving a slight imprint.


Foil leaf is available in every imaginable color and pattern. Rarer types of leaf come in matte, pearlescent, holographic, opalescent, or glossy finish. There are also semi-transparent foils that allow an under color to show through. Not only does it provide a uniquely vibrant image with depth, but foil stamping can be applied to a much more diverse selection of substrates when compared to ink. Businesses typically use foil stamping to identify folders, cards, signs, and magnets with their logo. The reflective and unusual treatment looks awesome, pops out and will no doubt catch the eye of your next potential customer like a shiny lure to a South Island trout.

Bruce Lee’s Top 7 Fundamentals for Getting Your Life in Shape

1. What are you really thinking about today?

“As you think, so shall you become.”

Perhaps the most basic statement of how we work. Think about what you are thinking today. What do those thoughts say about you? About your life? And how well do they really match your plans for your life and your image of yourself?

It’s easy to forget about this simple statement in everyday life. It’s easy to be quite incongruent with what you think on an ordinary day compared to how you view yourself and your goals. A simple external reminder such as a post-it with this quote can be helpful to keep you and your thoughts on the right track. An brilliant and beautiful expansion on this thought can be found in James Allen’s As a man thinketh.

2. Simplify.

“It’s not the daily increase but daily decrease. Hack away at the unessential.”

“If you spend too much time thinking about a thing, you’ll never get it done.”

If you want to improve your life then it’s tempting to want to add more. One problem with this may be that you don’t really have the time or energy to do more though. And so your efforts to improve become short-lived.

Adding more and more just creates more stress and anxiety. Removing clutter and activities, tasks and thoughts that are not so important frees up time and energy for you to do more of what you really want to do. And as the clutter in your outer world decreases the clutter in your inner world also has a tendency to decrease. This has the added benefit of making it easier to actually enjoy whatever you are doing even more while you are doing it.

Adding more thoughts and thinking things over for the 111:th time may create a sense of security. It’s also a good way to procrastinate and to avoid taking that leap you know you should take. And the more you think, the harder it gets to act. Perhaps because you want to keep that comforting sense of security and avoid the risk of wrecking that feeling.

Thinking has its place. It can help you plan a somewhat realistic route to your goal and help you avoid future pitfalls. Overthinking is however just a habit that will help you waste a lot of time. It’s more useful to replace that habit with the habit of just doing it.

3. Learn about yourself in interactions.

“To know oneself is to study oneself in action with another person.”

The one person that is the hardest to get to really know may be yourself. Studying yourself while you are alone may result in some insights. But it’s also likely to produce a lot of made up thought loops and doubts in your mind. A good way to really learn more about yourself is study yourself in interactions with other people. How people react and act in these interaction can over time teach you a lot. And what you think and how you react can perhaps teach you even more.

What you see, feel and hear in other people may be a reflection of you. The things you learn by thinking this way may not always be pleasant, but they can be enlightening.

They help you to see yourself and also how you may be fooling yourself. And these powerful insights can be very valuable for your personal growth. So, in interactions with others, try asking yourself: what is reflected?

4. Do not divide.

“Take no thought of who is right or wrong or who is better than. Be not for or against.”

This is a very useful and powerful thought. It is also one that obviously is hard to live by. Why? I believe it’s because the ego loves to divide and find ways to “add more” to itself. It want’s to feel better than someone else. Or more clever. Or prettier. Or cooler. Or wiser.

How can you overcome this way of thinking and feeling?

To me it seems to boil down to not identifying so much with your thoughts or feelings. That doesn’t mean that you stop thinking or feeling. It just means that you realize – and remember in your everyday life – that the thoughts and emotions are just things flowing through you.

You are not them though.

You are the consciousness observing them.

When you realize and remember this it enables you to control the thoughts and feelings instead of the other way around. It also enables you to not take your thoughts too seriously and actually laugh at them or ignore them when you feel that your ego is acting out. When you are not being so identified these things you become more inclined to include things, thoughts and people instead of excluding them. This creates a lot of inner and outer freedom and stillness. Instead of fear, a need to divide your world and a search for conflicts.

5. Avoid a dependency on validation from others.

“I’m not in this world to live up to your expectations and you’re not in this world to live up to mine.”

“Showing off is the fool’s idea of glory.”

The ego wants to add because it thinks it’s not enough. One way of doing that is by craving validation from others. We want to feel smart, pretty, successful and so on. And the validation makes you feel good for a while. But soon you need a new fix.

And the problem with being dependent on validation from other people is that you let other people control how you feel. This creates a rollercoaster of emotion in your life.

To find more emotional stability and to take control of how you feel you need to get your validation from to a more consistent source. Yourself. You can replace the expectations and validation of others by setting your own expectations and by validating yourself.

And so you validate yourself by thinking about how awesome you are. You don’t sell yourself short. You appreciate how far you have come and the positive things you have done. You appreciate your own value in the world. You set goals and you achieve those goals. This builds confidence in yourself and in your abilities. These things will help you to build a habit of inner validation.

Now, showing off. Why do we do that? To get validation from others. However, this need for validation often shines through and that is why a thing like bragging seldom works. Instead of seeing the cool and successful person you are trying to project people just see the insecure and needy person looking for validation. And your bragging falls flat.

6. Be proactive.

“To hell with circumstances; I create opportunities.”

It’s easy to get locked into a reactive mindset. You just follow along with whatever is happening. You do what the people around you do. You react to whatever is going on.

And so you get lost in your circumstances. This way of thinking doesn’t feel too good. You tend to feel powerless and like you are just drifting along.

A more useful and pleasurable way of living is to be proactive. As Bruce says: to create opportunities despite the circumstances around you. This feels better and provides better results. But on the other hand it’s also more difficult. It’s easier to just drift along in the reactive stream of life. And if you want to be proactive then you may have to take the lead quite often. And that can be scary.

Still, living proactively is so much more rewarding and exciting.

7. Be you.

“Always be yourself, express yourself, have faith in yourself, do not go out and look for a successful personality and duplicate it.”

Just being yourself is a hard thing to do. You may do it sometimes. And other times you may forget or fall back into old thought patterns. Or you may imitate someone else.

And that comes through too. And it may work.

But I believe that being the real you will work better. Because there the genuine you is shining through. Without incongruency, mixed messages or perhaps a sort of phoniness. It’s you to 100%. It’s you with not only your words but you with your voice tonality and body language – which some say is over 90% of communication - on the same wavelength as your words. It’s you coming through on all channels of communication.

So I’m not saying: “yeah man, you should just be yourself because it’s the right thing to do etc.” I’m saying that I think being your authentic self – the one where you do little dividing, the one that needs little validation from others, the one where your ego is not running the show and trying to get something from someone – will give you better results and more satisfaction in your day to day life because you are in alignment with yourself. And because people really like genuine and people really like authenticity.


Original article located at:

Top 5 Consofas office albums of 2009

1. Raekwon - Only Built 4 Cuban Linx 2


Hip-hop has been undergoing something of an image shift over the past few years. Kanye West might be to blame, his verbiose and hopeful rhyming sitting quite comfortably with his 808 loving MOR listeners. Or maybe it’s the inimitable Jay-Z, lazy and limp in his old age (the excellent Black Album excepted), supporting Coldplay of all people.

But whatever your opinion on the reasons behind it, fact is that there hasn’t been a really gritty rap album released since, oh, Clipse’s coke–hop masterpiece Hell Hath No Fury. That all changed earlier this year, though, as (Chef) Raekwon, arguably the most talented of all the Wu-Tang collective, releases the highly anticipated Only Built 4 Cuban Linx Pt II.

Given that the first edition of OB4CL was rightly revered as one of the all time great hip hop records - alongside other Wu creations such as 36 Chambers and GZA’s Liquid Swords - expectations have been high. And for once, the hype is nearly completely justified. Clocking in at a rather bloated looking 77 minutes and 24 tracks merely disguises that almost all of OB4CLII is gold plated.

Soul tinged opener ‘Return of the North Star’ eases the listener in, Rae listening to advice from a sage voiced father figure, before the album proper kicks in with the J-Dilla (the much missed producer seems to be overtaking the Notorious B.I.G. and Tupac Shakur in terms of output from beyond the grave) produced ‘House of Flying Daggers’, a mean statement of intent that marches forward on frantic strings. The lyrics are typical Wu Tang fodder, at once flowing and scatterbrained, the four MCs tag teaming about drug dealing, gang warfare and rap potency. But it’s left to Inspectah Deck to sum up the point best “See the murals on the project walls/ won’t stop till I got them all” before a potent chanted chorus kicks in: “Soldiers in the front/Let the heat pump/Troops on the left/fight to the death/Fam on the right/Infra red lights/Wolves in the back/Ready to attack”.

It sets the bar high, and if what follows rarely outjumps such a potent statement, it never dips significantly below. ‘Sonny’s Missing’ recants a storyline of drugs, murder and torture straight out of The Wire in brutal detail, only for ‘Cold Outside’ to hit with a lethal dose of pathos, borrowing a broken mariachi trumpet hook and a warm soul vocal to match it’s mournful paean to hood life: “Real life stories is made/And candles got blazed for little young soldiers/shot by them strays”.

Those two tracks demonstrate why OB4CLII’s is a lyrical success – Rae might lace his lyrics with bragging stories of stick-ups, murders and drug deals, but he’s a storyteller with enough nous to divert from his theme once in a while. As such ‘Gihad’ opens with the Chef railing against vintage clothing and half moon specs, before Ghostface Killah adds some hilarious rasping filth about screwing around with his buddy’s girlfriend who “take a dick like a ribeye steak”. And of course, Rae gets a little teary eyed during a lovelorn tribute to Ol’ Dirty Bastard in ‘Ason Jones’:“An’ now I understand the meaning of love/When I kissed the nigger.

But that lyrical versatility is only half the story. It’s the often perfect synthesis between lyrical content and production on OB4CLII that makes the album simply sublime. It’s all the more impressive given the vast array of contributors behind the desk. Raekwon’s own work, a thundering string section riff on ‘Canal St’ more than holds it’s own against the RZA’s eerily synth laden ‘Black Mozart’ or Dr. Dre’s steel drum powered ‘Catalina’.

I could go on, dissect every track piece by piece like the forensic investigators described in ‘Surgical Gloves’, but there really isn’t any need. OB4CLII is quite simply one of the best rap records released this decade: literate, funny, dark, evocative and meaningful all at once. Perhaps the best measure of its strength is in how deeply I; a middle class white boy, am prepared to listen to every word involved. And when Rae asks me to ‘Kiss The Ring’, you know what, I just might. He’s earned it.

2. Gallows - Grey Britain

gallows grey britain

When Frank Carter speaks, screams and sings, he doesn’t bullshit. With his band, Gallows, the heavily tattooed geezer has spent the past few years in a spin of magazine hype, critical acclaim and blistering live performances (sometimes with all but the drummer ending up in the crowd). Their debut, 2006’s Orchestra of Wolves, may have placed the band’s foot in the door of international hardcore, but it’s now time for the band’s sophomore, Grey Britain, to kick the door down and trash everything in sight. This is no second album slump by any stretch of the imagination. Grey Britain takes every positive attribute one associates with Gallows as a band, broadens its horizons and establishes a full progression upon it – literally to the point that it’s scary.
If the above quote hasn’t entirely assisted you in grasping Grey Britain’s concept, you’ll be swiftly be pointed in the right direction the second Carter cracks open his lips and commences his tirade. “We have no fear! We have no pity! We hate you! We hate this city!”, he sneers cynically on “London is the Reason”, before chanting those very words in gang vocals. The lyrics continue in a similarly anarchic tone throughout the record, centralising around the demise of the world around us (in particular, the band’s native U.K.). “We are the rats and we run this town”, explains Carter in “London…”s opening lyrics, before commanding “If the horses don’t drink, drown them in the water” on “The Vulture (Acts I & II)” and “Drag your crosses through the ground!” on “Death Voices” (which itself alludes to the coming of the Four Horsemen). The role that Frank’s lyrics plays in Grey Britainappears to be one of a ringleader, calling to arms anyone who is revolted by the way things are. One could even argue that Grey Britain stands as the first aggressively political record of the post-Bush era. There’s certainly enough lyrically to support such a statement.

The rest of the band sound just as merciless and volatile through their instruments, without resorting entirely to down-tuned chugging, or even lapsing into the generic “aggressive white boy” guitar and drums attack that plagues so much hardcore that strives for legitimacy. Everything from the duelling guitar licks of Steph Carter and Lags Barnard to Lee Barratt’s tight, militant drumming emphasises the lyrical convictions and statements. Take the chameleonic shift from Act I to Act II of “The Vulture” as a prime example. The former introduces itself with echoing acoustic guitar and Frank quietly (and – shockingly enough – very capably) singing the disturbing lyrics. The latter completely transforms into a chaotic, distorted thrash, with the vocals becoming tortured, desperate screams. The lyrics remain the same in both acts, but the emotions conveyed could not vary any further.

Whilst the band is as solid as ever, it’s the little musical differences in comparison to Orchestra of Wolves that boosts the record’s soundscape. From the sinister intro of “The Riverbank” to the sweeping outro of “Crucif*cks”, the album’s underbelly is spattered with subtle, haunting orchestration, piano-led interludes and sounds that could have been taken from any London backstreet (siren wails, pig squeals, muted screams etc) that add to the album’s bleakness in a daringly theatrical fashion. It may not seem noteworthy, but in the context of Grey Britain it amalgamates the sound of the album with its daunting themes and concept.

Gallows, as a band, have become less raw (which some may see as a drawback), but have become far more cohesive and focused in the process- which is, really, difficult to see as anything but beneficial. The quintet has established a persona that doesn’t give a shit about you, your government or NME’s cool list. This is an apocalyptic, relentless and uncompromising portrayal of where we stand in the world, and just what's gone wrong. No gimmicks, no transparency, no Obama coattails- just straight up hardcore punk with a new sense of purpose.

3. The Aggrolites - IV


"The group's upbeat, soul-infused reggae attack puts the rock back in rocksteady. Mixing ska, Motown and punk-rock energy with Jamaican rhythm, The Aggrolites tear it up with the intensity of The Clash and the heart of the Caribbean." - Ink Magazine (February 2009).

The Aggrolites are more than a band they are a movement unto themselves. They carry a banner - one created with their own hands. This banner reads, "Dirty Reggae," and represents their signature fusion of reggae, soul, grit and determination. For seven magnificent years, this dirty reggae bunch has rolled from city to city, across the pond and up main street USA. They rally the kids, the parents, the students, the cops, the bosses and the drifters. The people come, they relish in The Aggrolites, the dirty reggae and the joy that comes with it all. The liberating rhythms and catchy grooves demand a return trip.

Out of the Los Angeles school of hard knocks, The Aggrolites have earned a Ph.D in "feel good music." On the road they educate with the thunder and punch of the reggae drums and bass, the ripping, soulful melodies of the organ and guitars, and Jesse Wagner’s voice - a gift from the heavens, a perfectly intact gift from Otis, Sam, Ray and Wilson.

The Aggrolites have a specific way of making music. They don't over think it, they don't obsess over pop culture demands, they walk onto a stage or into a recording studio and let "it" happen - a culmination of inspiration - from the road, from playing along side music legends, and from the energy and motivation of their die hard fans. A new album is due for release in June 2009 and they call it IV. It is a definitive chapter in The Aggrolites journey with 21 tracks; each one a story of their struggle to thrive and their quest to spread soulful music around the globe.

So, when you are in the mood to drop your troubles and kick your baggage to the curb, call on The Aggrolites. Forget yourself and feel the dirty reggae!

The Aggrolites are Jesse Wagner (vocals, lead guitar), Brian Dixon (rhythm guitar), Roger Rivas (organ) and Jeff Roffredo (bass).

They have three full-length albums to their credit -- Dirty Reggae (Axe 2003), The Aggrolites (Hellcat 2006) and Reggae Hit L.A. (Hellcat 2007), featuring the hit "Free Time." "A glorious, surprising treat. Ideal for your next soul shakedown party," raved Peter Relic from Rolling Stone about Reggae Hit L.A.

Their songs are featured on the 2008 Vans Warped Tour Compilation and numerous Give ‘Em The Boot compilations on Hellcat. In 2007, the band also collaborated with Rancid front-man Tim Armstrong on his solo A Poet's Life (Hellcat 2007) CD/DVD release.

The Aggrolites are well represented in film, television and video games. Their songs have been featured in NBC's Friday Night Lights, MTV's The Hills, Nick Jr.'s Yo Gabba Gabba, USA's Dr. Steve-O, MavTV's Rad Girls, the award-winning surf film The Pursuit, and Australian video game Cricket. The Aggros-backed, Tim Armstrong and Skye Sweetnam duet, "Into Action," is featured in Dream Works Pictures' Hotel For Dogs. Their renditions of The Specials' "Ghost Town" and Musical Youth's "Pass The Dutchie" will be heard in the upcoming teen surf comedy Endless Bummer, and "Free Time" will be in Walden Media's musical-romantic comedy Band Slam.

The Aggrolites have shared the stage with Social Distortion, Madness, Rancid, Flogging Molly, 311, Michael Franti & Spearhead, Dropkick Murphys, The Vandals, Against Me!, The Aquabats, Hepcat, The Skatalites, Prince Buster and Derrick Morgan. They have graced the stages at such notable events as Vans Warped Tour, SXSW, Bumbershoot, CMJ, Sundance Film Festival, L.A. Film Fest, Sunset Junction, Detour Music Fest, KROQ’s Weenie Roast, 94/9 Independence Jam and Ragga Muffins Fest. In 2009, they will add Coachella and Lowlands to this growing festival list.

4. Dinosaur Jr - Farm


Beyond, the first album to feature the original Dinosaur Jr. lineup since their 1980s heyday, was so surprisingly good it was tempting to call it a fluke. Tempting, but wrong– two years after its release, it still sounds great, on par with the early, hallowed triumvirate of Dinosaur, You’re Living All Over Me, and Bug. For any cynics still chalking Beyond up to luck, Farm should blast the scales from your jaded eyes. Energetic, confident, and catchy, it’s even more compelling than Beyond.

It certainly boasts more stick-in-your-head tunes than Beyond, or virtually any other Dinosaur Jr. album. Who knows why J Mascis writes better songs when Lou Barlow and Murph are around– maybe there’s something to the old cliché of “chemistry,” maybe the pair just know how to push his tunes from solid up to stellar. But whatever creates this spark, it’s spurred Mascis to pack Farm with riff-heavy slacker classics that rival past gems like “Little Fury Things” and “Freak Scene”. Opener “Pieces” is a vintage display of Dinosaur Jr.’s knack for grafting unruly riffage to unabashedly bittersweet choruses. The lumbering “I Want You to Know” follows with chunky chords that sound both heavy and bright. As David Raposa pointed out in his recent track review, the tune is impressively assured, as if Mascis has shed the need to add an apologetic tone to his guitar anthems.

But even when Mascis is lyrically mopey, the music pulls this sad sack up off the couch. Take the caffeinated chug of slacker-self-help guide “Over It”. “Can I make it here?/ Get over it,” Mascis tells himself. “I’ve been feeling weird/ Get over it… I’ve been on the fence/ Now it’s making sense I see.” Even better is the pity-filled “Plans”. The man who Thurston Moore imagined as Slacker President in Sonic Youth’s “Teen Age Riot” moans about pain, loss, and apathy– “I’ve got nothing left to be/ Do you have some plans for me?” But the music’s adrenalized bounce makes his misery more sweet than sad. In Farm’s world, a good melody cures all ills.

As catchy and well-crafted as these songs are, they never feel restricted or overly polished. Each track is given room to grow, stretching into extended intros, impulsive solos, and oft-repeated verses. The result is both shapely and sprawling, like the mossy cartoon characters on the album cover. The aching “Said the People” seems to climax with Mascis’ crying solo in the middle, but then spreads out into another great three minutes. “I Don’t Wanna Go There” sprawls into fuzzy detonations, like a mellowed version of Bug’s noise-bomb “Don’t”. And Barlow approaches his two excellent songs with similar openness, hitting especially hard on the dark “Your Weather”.

With Farm coming out around the same time as the first installment in Neil Young’sArchives project, it’s tempting to make a grand statement about Mascis and Dinosaur Jr. as heirs to the Young and Crazy Horse throne. Young’s genius is pretty inimitable, but there is something about this band– the way they mix noisy guitar and punk-ish slam with sugared melodies and faded choruses– that’s Young-worthy. And as long as J, Lou, and Murph keep shooting as high as Farm, they’ll end up with the kind of discography worth buying over and over again.

5. SID - Angels And The Outsiders


During my mid year holiday in Bali, I stumbled across a punk bar which led me to this 3 piece band, Superman Is Dead (thanks to the bar staff for the free shots of Jungle Juice). SID's a cool indo band with catchy riffs and melodies, and out with a new album. I guess try to envision, the raw energy of NOFX vs Social Distortion, supersonically fueled with beer-soaked Balinese Rockabilly attitude, I've labelled it 'Rock-A-Bali' (haha, lame!) . Fun sounds and reminders of good times, sun, surf, monkeys, cheap massages, Bintang, mushy shakes, and the squirts.

Hope you've brushed up on your Indonesian:

Album Ke tujuh dari Bali Finest punk rock band! Yup, Superman Is Dead (SID) kembali lagi dengan Angels & The Outsiders.
Lalu “menu special” apa yang ditawarkan oleh SID lewat album barunya ini? Dari 15 lagu yang terdapat di album ini, jujur saja, saya merasa tidak ada yang special. ‘Masih’ SID banget. Kecuali pada lagu-lagu yang berjudul Kuat Kita Bersinar, JIka Kami Bersama, Luka Indonesia, The Days Of A Father dan Nights Of The Lonely serta Memories Of Rose. SID berhasil membuktikan kalau mereka bisa bermain di luar daerah ‘kekuasaan’ mereka. Masih terdengar aura Social Distortioan, The Living End, Ramones, bahkan Mighty-Mighty Bosstones. Namun SID mengemasnya dengan cukup sempurna.
Ok kurang lebihnya seperti ini, pada lagu Kuat Kita Bersinar. Mereka mengajak anak-anak panti asuhan untuk bernyanyi bersama yang juga di temani suara dentingan indah piano jazz. Lalu di lagu Jika Kami Bersama, mereka berkolaborasi dengan salah satu band paling berpengaruh dari kota Jogjakarta, Shaggy Dog (pada lagu inilah pengaruh Might-Mighty Bosstones terasa sekali). Dalam lagu Luka Indonesia membuktikan apabila kata Rockabilly pantas di ganti dengan kata-kata Rock-A-Bali. Oh ya, di lagu ini pun mereka memasukkan unsur alat tradisional Bali. Cool! Penambahan alat musik violin di lagu Nights Of The Lonely memberikan sparks yang cukup bagus untuk lagu tersebut. Berjalan di gurun pasir Mexico yang panas, dengan sebotol tequilaserta di temani oleh Mike Ness (vokalis band Social Distortion) seperti merepresentasikan lagu berjudul Memories Of Love. The Days Of A Father (menurut saya) menjadi lagu yang palingthick, heavy serta neat dalam album ini. Aransemen serta soundsnya Top knotch!.
Satu hal yang sepertinya menjadi nilai plus untuk SID adalah, setiap lagu yang terdapat dalam album-album mereka, hampir 99% liriknya bernafaskan sing a long. Salut!

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