31.12.04

Star Clipper

star clipper
While I was in St. Louis for a couple of days, I decided to take make another comic-book trip, this time to the local college-town store, Star Clipper. Now, both Toronto's The Beguiling and Star Clipper were created in 1987, but both have taken different routes to success. Star Clipper recently moved from a little hole-in-the-wall (ironically next to a hair salon!) to "the Loop" of St. Louis -- a big move indeed. Star Clipper is, by far, the highest end comic-book store I've ever seen. Not only do they have a very spacious store, but they have also abondoned the normal comic-book boxes for lavish display cases, an HD TV, and 2 or 3 iMacs! Also, they seem to be the only comic-book store that actually uses bar codes and bar code scanners, and they even have a door detector to make sure that you aren't stealing something from them!

I did not really discuss the state that The Beguiling was in when I saw it for the first time, but I was equally surprised. The Beguiling is 2 (maybe 3) floors of absolutely packed townhouse, also in college-town. I assume that the place is organized, but because of the sheer number of comics in the store, the amount of organization is negligible.
Lastly, the part you've all been waiting for ...
I bought:
1. The Germs (a short mini-comic about the band)
2. Or Else #1 (I used to trade mini-comics with this guy)
3. Dogs and Water (I also used to trade with this guy ... )
4. other things I am forgetting and have not unpacked

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27.12.04

From Yumeji Takeshi to Gary Panter

y takeshi
I was overwhelmed by TAB's updates today, so I decided to take the two most appealing to me and put them together.
First off, I have never heard of Yumeji Takeshi, but she was a Romantic artist, working mostly in the early 1900s. I like her style, because it combines the elegant techniques required for Japanese Chinese Style Ink Paintings with the more spontaneous style seen in Western Romanticism in the 1800s. Very beautiful.
gary panterGary Panter is one of my favorite underground artists, and I thoroughly enjoyed Jimbo in Purgatory. Apparently, along with doing Red Hot Chili Peppers album covers, he also did this year's BAPE T-shirt (and pajamas!) designs! This guy has been around for years and years, but his style remains completely chaotic and always fun, so I am happy to see that he has a show in Tokyo!

Back to Yumeji Takeshi.
I never thought about it until now, but I always assumed that Japan never really went through any artistic movements. Although I liked the woodblock prints they used to do, I always thought that they were very comic book looking, and not incredibly artistic in any regard. I've seen a great deal of Japanese modern art, but never anything in between, and because of this, I find Ms. Takeshi's work to be even more interesting.
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Cafe Escalator

cafe esc
Escalator records is still, mostly by default, the coolest independent record label in Tokyo. First off, I do not know much about Japanese music, and, just by brushing the surface of it, I have discovered that Escalator Records at least used to be the best label - of it sort - because it did not have Yakuza ties and it had good music. I think that recently this trend has been changing, and I have gotten a little tired of how their output is pretty repetitive (hence a reason I don't listen to much Japanese music anymore).
Anyway, to further their image, Escalator has created Cafe Escalator, a normal looking cafe with strange dishes. I don't really know what to this of this latest Escalator production, and since I have not been there, I will not judge it, but I would love to hear about it.

The great unexplained question (in my mind) is: "why are there so many cafes in Tokyo now!?"
I do not think there is an completely accurate or correct answer to this question but, again, I would love to hear a hypothesis.

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26.12.04

Fiery Furnaces EP

ep
The Fiery Furnaces, the NYC brother-sister weird, avant garde blues duo, are going to release an EP (called EP) on January 11. I liked the FF, so I am looking forward to the release of this CD, containing b-sides and unreleased cuts from their last LP, Blueberry Boat. Sounds like it could be good!
Tracklist:

01 Single Again
02 Here Comes the Summer
03 Evergreen
04 Sing for Me
05 Tropical Ice-Land
06 Duffer St. George
07 Smelling Cigarettes
08 Cousin Chris
09 Sweet Spots
10 Sullivans Social Club


I was incredibly surprised to see the range in critical opinion concerning Blueberry Boat. People like Pitchfork absolutely idolized the album, while others, like Spin (but who really listens to them anyway?) absolutely hated the thing. I personally found it to be too experiemental for me to listen to the whole thing in one sitting, but I did enjoy it, and I did end up buying it.
As a side note, I have heard rumors that the new EP will contain tracks that the FF recorded with their grandmother! Now, how many grandparents would do that kind of thing with their grandchildren?
I'm excited.
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Option-G

option-g design
I see silkscreened T-shirts as one of the greatest creations (apparel-wise) of the past 20 or so years. Not only have these screen-printed shirts allowed smaller and less known artists become more popular, they have also made many artists hipper (if not more famous). Stores like Threadless sell cheap shirts with fantastic prints on them, while other artists, like Stacks sell shirts for a higher price, in hopes that the consumer knows he or she is not only paying for art, but also for prestige.
I really like this new company, called Option-G because they make good shirts.

T-shirts have not always been so popular. Although I am no expert on it, I know that the importance of T-shirts has greatly been altered. When they were originally created, T-shirts were what men wore as underwear. Then, T-shirts began to not only be seen as an undergarment, but also as a simple and easy top for boys and girls. Businessmen in the 50s, for example, rarely wore T-shirts when off duty (I think -- I have no data to back this up with ... ), and we're not talking A-shirts here ...
But for some reason, in the 80s, T-shirts began to be seen as a medium for displaying coolness. T-Shirts were blank slates, waiting to be written on. But still, it seemed that T-shirts were for kids and teenagers, not really for adults.
I now am able to judge the coolness of a certain type of Gen Xer (and various other younger generations) by the coolness of his or her T-shirt. This does not apply to all, of course, as coolness does not always go hand-in-hand with graphic design (John Stewart, for example, although not a Gen Xer, is a cool person, but he does not wear T-shirts). The Giant Robot guys are excellent examples of this phenomina. Although I am sure that many of the employees at Giant Robot are over the [traditionally uncool] age of 35, they maintain uber-cool status by wearing uber-cool shirts.


**This post was supposed to just be a plug for Option-G shirts, but it didn't turn out that way ... **

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25.12.04

The Kid America Adventure Hour

kid america
I have never heard of a public acess show being released on DVD, but apparently the NYC public acess show, Kid America Adventure Hour will be out on DVD ... sometime soon (?)
I have been waiting for this DVD (as I cannot see the show because it doesn't play outside of NYC, I think) for about 6 months. The website always just says that a DVD will be out soon and anyone who wants can sign up and receive a notification with an official release date.
Well - I must say that I am disappointed, but I suppose I will be able to bear the wait.

I have only heard good things about Kid America (which is, for some reason, remotely popular in Japan, and the Japanese have produced a set of KAAH vinyl figurines), so I really want to see it.
If anyone knows where I can get a torrent of an episode or anything else about the show, please tell me!
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Emily Haines Goes Solo

emily haines
In my opinion, Metric is the best new-wave revival band. I saw them once in Cleveland (playing to an audience of maybe thirty), and ever since then I have listened to their CD at least once a month. For me, doing something like regularlly listening to one CD is rare, so I always assume that I am giving Metric the highest praise possible through this action.
Anyway, Emily Haines (yes - she is the daughter of the recently deceased Paul Haines, one of Canada's greater poets), the lead singer of Metric has began a small solor career. She still will be doing concerts with Metric and everything, but she will also soon be releasing a solor album!

I found out about this in Toronto from the local alternative press newspaper. I would have loved to have seen one of the two concerts that Ms. Haines and (surprisingly) Guy Maddin played at the Church of the Redeemer (!), but I was too late! I can only hope that Metric decides to return to Cleveland in the near future, and catch that show ...
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24.12.04

Hot Hot Hear - Elevator

hot hot heat in the studio
Although Hot Hot Heat is now only a trio (one of the guitarists quit a couple months ago), they are readying a new album, called Elevator for release in early April (from Warner Brothers).
Hot Hot Heat gained acclaim as Canada's hottest new band a couple year ago with the release of Make Up The Breakdown, and now they are back in business after a short and uneventful hiatus.

I must admit that I was not too impressed with HHH's debut album, but they are pretty good, and they have a fairly distinctive sound, although this can be greatly credited to the singer's strange vocals ...
The unofficial tracklist for Elevator is as follows:

Running Out of Time
Island of the Honest Man
Dirty Mouth
You Owe Me an IOU
No Jokes - Fact
Goodnight, Goodnight
Middle of Nowhere
Pickin' It Up
Ladies and Gentlemen
Elevator
Shame on You
Soldier in a Box
Jingle Jangle


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The Kaiser Chiefs

i predict a riot
Leeds' newest band, the Kaiser Chiefs is a breath of fresh air (for me especially) from the [dead] "let's all copy Coldplay trend" that the Brits have had to endure for the past couple of years.
(Yes, of course there have been exceptions ... the Libertines certainly did not copy Coldplay or Radiohead ... )
Although the Kaiser Chiefs have only released 2 singles, they have been getting quite a large fan base in England, and have been performing a number of shows on the island. The Chiefs combine harsh guitars and angular drums with a post punk mentality and the more recent dance-punk movement of NYC (with nice thick Leeds accents on top!)
Some of their songs (I can onyl find 5) sound almost 60s psych-pop-ish, so creativity and variety are obviously traits something that they do not lack.

From what I have read on their news page and other sources, the Chiefs will be releasing their debut album in March. I really enjoy the song, I Predict A Riot, which can be heard here.
Not only are the band members quite excellent musicians, but two of them co-own a club called Pigs!

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Archilab: New Experiments in Architecture, Art and the City 1950 - 2005

archilab
One of the most intriguing facets of the "style" of Tokyo (and many other Japanese cities, I'm sure) is that it has an incredibly unfocused sense of style and design. Although this is not a bad thing, it makes the city (in my eyes) more complex. Sometimes it is the smaller and less important buildings that have the more interesting and original designs. Even the people who own these buildings are from a wide range of proffesions.

Places like the Claska Hotel portray the upper echelon of Japanese culture (again, in my mind), and represent those with developed senses of space and style. But I am also truly fascinated by the little details seens everwhere in the style of Tokyo. As Donald Richie wrote, Tokyo's style is a lack of style. The architecture seems totally de-centralized, and because of this, the city is that much more interesting.
Maybe I am assuming too much, and maybe I am not seeing the truth of the matter.
My favorite art museum, the Mori Art Museum is having a show (coincidentally under the same name of this post) that seems to deal with this side of Tokyo.

I am probably totally wrong about the architeture show. I now am starting to think that it deals more with "high design" etc.
But I think it is important to recognize the seemingly ordinary design of much of Tokyo's building, houses, stations, etc. This mish mosh of style is what Tokyo is [visually] about.
Again, this is all just what I think ...

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23.12.04

Soichi Aoki

shoichi aoki
I just returned from Toronto, and I had good time there. The Beguiling was all I expected and more, but one of the coolest (and unexpected) things I did was see No Kimono's Shoichi Aoki art show. It was pretty impressive, aside from the fact that I had already kind of seen Shoichi Aoki's work in his famous magazine, Fruits.

For those of you who do not know what Fruits was (and believe me, I am no expert either), it was basically a really strange magazine started in 1994 that documented the trends of Tokyo's youth and how looney they all were ... I think he stopped it in 2000 ...

shoichi aoki
It was exciting to see big pictures of his stuff, and for it to be in a very unique gallery. Although I already had the Fruits book, I was quite tempted to buy one of the No Kimono T-shirts, but did not give into my urge ...

Each portrait in this, Aoki’s first showing in Canada, is accompanied by descriptions of the outfit’s provenance and desired effect; style tribes include black-clad, pierced gothic Lolitas sporting ringlets, straw hats and pinafores.

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20.12.04

Pitchfork's Best Reissues of 2004

crooked rain, crooked rain
Love 'em or hate 'em, Pitchforkmedia is as ambitious as it is consistent (in reviewing material, not the actual grading of it). Their newest project is compiling the best 50 (a) reissues (today), (b) singles (Tuesday), (c) albums (Wednesday) of the year! I am really excited to see what they think the best albums of the year were. I really enjoyed the book that Pitchfork published last year, which was similarly themed in content ...

The 50 best reissues is pretty fair, and I like how they did not really put the list in any organized order (i.e. "best to worst"). The list has the likes of the Talking Heads, Swell Maps, the Fall, the Kinks, and DNA on it, so I am very pleased with it, indeed!
three imaginary boysmission of burma

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Le petit Nicolas

le petit nicolas
When I think Rene Goscinny, I think Asterix. I never knew, for example, that he had also created a comic in the late-50s to mid-60s called Le petit Nicolas - but he did.
Although Goscinny did not draw these comics - they were drawn by another artist named Jean-Jacques Sempe - it was Goscinny's daughter, Anne, who found several hundred pages of Nicolas hidden away in her father's house. Until now, only five volumes have been released, so this discovery was quite a surprise, I am sure!

With Mr Sempé's blessing, Ms Goscinny and her husband set up a publishing house, called IMAV, to make a book out of the 80 rediscovered stories. The 600-page volume, “Histoires inédites du Petit Nicolas”, has become an instant hit, selling 250,000 copies since its publication in October. On December 6th hundreds of people snaked around the Virgin Megastore building on the Champs-Elysées in Paris to have their book signed by Mr Sempé.


I always loved reading Asterix when I was younger. But Nicolas seems to be a completely different breed of story. It revolves around a young boy, his friend who eats too much, and a girl friend of his whose father "install telephones in peoples' houses"! Although no tome has been translated into English, I am sure it will happen soon, considering how successful the new collection has done in France!
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Going to Toronto

I will be departing for Toronto tomorrow morning, so I will not post for a couple days ... I think I will return on Thursday.
But I will definately report on "report-worthy" activities that I will participate in ...

the beguiling
I don't really have much of an idea as to what my travel itinerary will consist of, but I know for sure that I will do a little record hunting, and I will definately have to go to the Beguiling (as I have never been there, but have asked numerous people to pick something up for me there ... )
If anyone has suggestions (i.e. people who used to live in Canada ... ), I would love to hear them! I think you kind of know what stuff I am interested in ...
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19.12.04

Solar-Powered Wallpaper

solar powered wallpaper
Okay - so it isn't really solar powered, but what else should one call this weird new invention?
Basically, Solar Powered Wallpaper has light sensors built into it that responds to light. So, when it is light in the room, the wallpaper acts as a "design element," which I guess means that you can see flowers or something on the paper. When the room needs more light, the wallpaper turns a flat color (probably white), which gives the person in the room the impression of it being lighter.

Pretty cool, huh? I know it isn't really that useful, but I am sure that it would be fun to have something that reacts and changes to the enviroment around you! I think the famous Dutch Droog Design had something to do with the creation of the paper ...
Also, Droog just turned 10!
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18.12.04

Run Chico Run

run chico run
I have found my new favorite band, and they are called Run Chico Run.
The one thing that I feel sad about, however, is that I didn't find these guys until now, but what is past is past, and there is nothing I can do about it now ...
Anyway, Run Chico Run is the greatest thing ever beause they totally appeal to the setimental and nostalgic side of me. I love listening to their music because it makes me feel good instead of just simply being incredibly well played and written.
I am sure that they will hate my saying this, but Run Chico Run reminds me of the Unicorns because of this quality. They use the imperfection of their music to their advantage and make such terribly beutiful music, that I cannot stop listening to it.
It's that good.

I want their CD. I will buy it today. I want 5000000 copies of their CD so that they can be rich for their whole life and make me more music.
I hope this post makes all my readers go and buy their CD, and I hope it makes Run Chico Run love me.
Why do Canadians do it best?
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Grizzly Bear

grizzly bear
Grizzly Bear is a relatively new band from Brooklyn, although they grew up in Boston. These guys are good. They have a very distinct style, which I really enjoy for its darker qualities, high production quality, and focused material.
I cannot really place who these guys are influenced by, but both their guitar parts and vocals sound similar to someone else I love (not that that helps any of you ... ).
Their music wraps around you, because they tend to use a lot of reverb and echoes, along with tight harmonies that make their vocal lines stand out.

Grizzly Bear is certainly a very talented band, and I would like to buy their CD sometime soon.
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Joy Zipper

joy zipper
I recently read about a new band called Joy Zipper that will be releasing their debut album in early 2005.
I listened to a lot of the material that they had on their website, and I enjoyed it very much. The music is hard to place, but they have a huge range of influences, including the likes of My Bloody Valentine and Beck! Definately worth listening to, and probably worth buying the CD from in 2005!

I also found that they have a MySapce page where you can listen to three more excellent songs! I like the arrangements of the songs a lot, and I really enjoy the vocals ... everything is really tight and smooth ... whoever these guys are, they seems to work very well together!
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17.12.04

Hanko/USB Drive

usb/hanko
It seems that people are attaching USB memory cards to just about everything. You can buy one with 128 MB in the shape of a duck, sushi, and now, you can get one that has a hanko on the opposite side!
There is something very appealing about hanko to me. Hanko are what Japanese businessmen use to sign their name on important documents. Yes, in Japan, a signature is usually not accepted as means of verification. Or at least that is what I heard.

Sometimes these USB memory combinations fail, sometimes they work out. I think the most functional ones tend to be pens that have USB memory cards in them, but this new hanko version seems like it can serve come purpose, albeit on that I will never have any use for ...
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Suicide Reissues

suicide
The pop-synth/pop-blues duo from NYC, Suicide, is going to reissue their first 4 LPs (no reissue for American Supreme, as it was released in 2002)! Suicide was a great band, and there is no doubt (in my mind) that without them, bands such as Soft Cell, Erasure, Bronski Beat, and countless other synth-pop groups would never have existed. Suicide's unique method of approaching music (Vega's haunting voice over Rev's spooky keyboards) seemed quite ahead of its time when they first started performing the early 70s, I am sure.
Perhaps 1992 (?) was too late a time for them to break up because, as with too many great bands, the quality of output declines in their later years. And such was Suicide's fate.

However, I do believe that these reissues will help show the public how important Suicide's role was in modern music and synth-pop.
In addition to the reissues, Suicide will also be touring (this isn't that spectacular, as they made a new album in 2002 and had a tour).
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16.12.04

Run, Asimo!

asimo run
I have been under the conviction that Honda's Asimo was really more of a PR scheme than anything else. Yes, Asimo is one pretty spectacular robot, and Honda has obviously put a lot of time into him, but really ... what is he good for besides kicking a ball around and shaking someone's hand?
Well, Honda is going in the right direction (as usual), and they have updated their cute little robot friend. Now, Asimo can RUN!
This new model not only runs, but it also is ridiculously cool looking. Real cutting edge, spacey kind of design. I love it.

asimo shake
Honda has posted some very impressive videos of Asimo in action. The updated version has (a) recognition of moving objects, (b) posture recognition, (c) sound recognition, (d) enviroment recognition, (e) gesture recognition, and (f) face recognition capabilities ...
If only I could have one of my own ...
Read up on some more specifics here.
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Plexifilm Christmas Sale!

plexi sale
The ultimate indie DVD label, Plexifilm is having a 30% discount on all their DVDs for the holidays! That means (money wise) that all their DVDs are approximately $8 cheaper!
Sometimes I wonder what I would do if I had a large sum of money (yes - the cliched childhood question), and I have come to the conclusion that I would like to first buy all the Plexifilm movies. They are that good.
Take a look at some of their "discography":
(1) David Byrne's Ile Aiye
(2) Galaxie 500 - Don't Let Our Youth Go TO Waste
(3) Gigantic (A Tale of Two Johns)
and many more superb titles.

I have a confession to make. I only watched one movie released by Plexifilm, and I never bought the DVD. It was Gigantic. Now, Gigantic was an excellent documentary about the super-creative NYC duo, They Might Be Giants. I loved that movie, but I never bought the DVD. So let that be a lesson to all ... wait until the Holiday sale, and then buy the cheaper DVD!
I guess Plexifilm also releases some music (i.e. soundtracts), and they also print posters for some of their movies that you can buy!
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The Society of Rockets

society of rockets
The Society of Rockets, a relatively new band, came out with a new album called, Sunset Homes, which I recently had the pleasure of listening to a bit of.
I highly reccomend this band ... you can get a track here or here. They are a bit of old-ish 90s alternative rock mixed with Pavement, but they also use piano and some of their stuff just sounds straight up ballad-y.

When I first heard this band, I kind of thought they sounded like Pavement (one of my all time favorite bands), but since then, I have decided that they have a pretty distinctive sound of their own, and certainly no Malkmus.
Anyway, regardless of how they compare to Pavement, they are a pretty good band, I would love to buy their album sometime in the near future!
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Robin Cameron

robin cameron zine
This Canadian (?) graphic designer, Robin Cameron has recently released a zine through Nieves Books. I like his work a lot, and he has apparently done stuff for Adbuster, Arkitip, and a couple other magazines. He has a really nice, crisp line style. Although it is sometimes a little rough or sketchy, his work remainsquite elegant and is very pleasing to look at (I think ... )

He has a show in Toronto at Le-Gallery right now. As usual, I obviously cannot attend.
I think I like saying that I can't attend shows to make it seem like I actually do usually attend art shows, but this is a lie. I go to good shows in Cleveland, but I rarely am able to see things outside of the city, and everything is quite far away even when it is in Northeast Ohio. Oh, the pain ...
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Warpnine Photoblog

warpnine
As a big fan of photoblogs, I love the Warpnine photoblog. I am not quite sure, but I think that the blog is affiliated with the tngrm blog.

tngrm is a pretty cool blog in its own right. I cannot completely understand all of it, but they talk about interesting art events in Tokyo and music and websites. That kind of thing ...
The blog has very nice design and all, so I think I will be frequenting it from now on!
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Koichiro Tsujikawa

koichiro
The creator of the brilliant artsy short film, Eyes has created a new short film called Untitled. It can be viewed on the Panasonic/Olymic Games In Action webstie under the Ten Short Films category. Definately worth a watch as it is a strange and funky film involving a torso - less runner. I don't really know how to describe it, so please watch it and see for yourself!

Mr. Tsujikawa's Eyes film ran into a bit of fame because I think it was somehow related with Cornelius. Maybe I'm wrong. Anyway, for anyone who is interested in seeing earlier works by him, go to this website.
... yeah, I know ... old news ...
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15.12.04

Interpol - Evil

interpol
One of my favorite bands, and possibly the best band involved with the New York post-punk revival scene, Interpol are going to release a new single, called Evil on January 3rd (UK). It looks like it might be good, so I am looking forward to buying it soon!


There will be a 7" version and mini-CD version of the single ...
The mini will include the rare track "Song 7", previously available on the long out-of-print Precipitate EP, while the 7" will feature a BBC version of "Leif Erikson". The CD-maxi single, meanwhile, will have even more BBC versions, this time of "Narc" and "Evil", plus the music video for "Slow Hands". I think we speak for everyone involved when we say: Collect them all!

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Devo - Whip It Remix

what is hip?
Warner Bros. Records has this new project that they are working on called What Is Hip: Remix Project. Volume 1 of the project has been released already, and I do not know how many volumes will follow. Although I am not really digging the concept of a remix album centered around lame/unknown artists of the 80s, I was drawn to the remix of Devo's Whip It. The great overplayed Devo "hit," if you will.
You can stream it on WMP here, or with Quicktime here.

I actually don't really like the song, but it is kind of cute, kind of fun. The beginning is pretty bland and DJs have totally overused this style of remixing old music, but whatever ... it's just for func, I guess.
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14.12.04

Doraemon and the Empty Land

doraemon house
Ah - Doraemon, that cat-like space creature that has been popular in Japan for several decade ...
In honor of Doraemon (and the Empty Land, whatever that is ... ), there is currently an interactive show in Koganei Park in Tokyo. It looks very plesant and fun, even though I am unfamiliar with the Empty Land ...

doraemon
I have come to respect Doraemon as a major pop culture icon of Japan. At first, I found his visage to be annoying as it was just about everywhere in Japan. But over time, I have come to realize how Doraemon really was a great character, even though I do not know much about his story. Maybe he is like the Mikey Mouse of Japan ...
So, I would like to go to Koganei Park and see the show! I think that Koganei Park is where a Japanese architecture museum is, but I am not quite certain if that is true.
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Brendan Monroe

brendan monroe
There is something very compelling about the gloomy artwork of Brendan Monroe. I recently came across some prints by this new artist, and, although the prints he has made so far are quite dismal, they are really high quality and are well designed. I like how he uses the weird green skinned characters with twigs in their heads often. And, as I have stated before, I love people that have a good sens of color, and guess what: Brendan Monroe has a good sense of color (although it is quite a bit more "muted" than I usually like ... )


For those of you in Long Beach, he is having a show at Koo's on East Broadway ... the show looks like it is sponsored by skateboard companies, so I don't know if that means anything, but maybe he is involved in board designs or something ...
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TechnOtunes

technotunes
The Casio MP3-player/watch was the first watch to my knowledge that combined an MP3 player and a traditional and functional watch. It was actually one of the first things I acquired while in Akihabara in Tokyo! Since then (maybe 1999 or 2000), however, many other companies have been making MP3 player watches. And with little success. However, although I do not think I will ever buy one, TechnOtunes makes some very nice MP3 player watches. I would never guess that they have 256 MB internal memmory by their looks!

One of the more intersting aspects of the watches they manufacture is that they use a universal USB/headphone jack so the fact that the watch plays MP3s is even more discrete. And they have made a model for every type of consumer: the businessman, the teenage girl, the middle aged average joe, etc.!
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13.12.04

Jeff Scher - Animated Portrait

susan shin
This artist, Jeff Scher, made a really cool thing that people are calling the "animated portrait." Jeff Scher, a film maker, made a film portrait of his friend, Susan Shin. The film is a 2 minute loop of the cartoon-ish portrait of Ms. Shin. Apparently, you can commission him to do an animated portrait for you for $25000!

Jeff says he got inspiration from Andy Warhol's film portraits, but (although I do not really understand the art lingo that he Mr. Scher used) he applied a different technique to create his portrait. The film is 120 portraits long, and can be viewed here
(I like the soundtrack).

Scher remembers that Warhol “shot them at 24 frames, projected at 18 frames and told people not to move so any motion became incidental.” Scher, on the other hand, shoots his subjects in 16mm and then rotoscopes the film the old-fashioned way, projecting and drawing it onto paper. The paper then becomes the outline of his paintings, which he rephotographs and animates.

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Zachary Scott

zachary taylor
In this week's NYT Magazine, an incredibly talented photographer named Zachary Scott did several photos for various articles. I totally fell for his work. The photos all seem to be photomontages and are all quite creative. My favorite picture (I couldn't find a copy of it on the internet) was of a woman walking down the street with a small tidal wave coming up by her side.
It's really excellent stuff!

One of the first things that I am attracted to in photography especially is color. I love pieces that have a wide range of more muted colors, but I also really enjoy pictures that have color patterns in them or some sort of color theme. I absolutely love the color in Rushmore and The Royal Tenenbaums, for example, but I find the Tintin coloring to be spectacular, also.
And I think Zachary Scott has a good sense of color.
zachary scottzachary scott
*PS - This week's NYT Magazine not only had good picture, but good articles too!*
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12.12.04

Akira Kurosawa Drawings

death of yamagata
Not only was Akira Kurosawa one of the greatest Japanese directors of all time, but he also was an excellent artist! Thanks to TAB, I found out that Kurosawa's drawings are being shown at the Mori Art Museum in Roppongi Hills! They look very interesting. I never knew that Kurosawa was such a painter!

[Kurosawa]was also a gifted artist, so much so that his paintings were admitted to the prestigious Nika Exhibition at the age of 18. He went on to execute
impressive storyboards, which became a part of the process to realize his
imagination onscreen. At Horipro, we have been commissioned from Kurosawa
Productions to manage copyrights and undertake restoration for all of over
2000 works of art produced for films “Kagemusha” and onwards.


The exhibit itself sounds interesting also. It consists of several videos about Kurosawa and his art and 26 storyboards. But the coolest thing about the storyboards is that they have been blown up to film screen size!
I would enjoy going back to the Mori Museum, but unfortunately, I cannot ...
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We Versus the Shark

we versus the shark
We Versus the Shark is a new four piece band from Athens. I like their sound. It is very bold and foreward with the listener. The guitar hooks combined with the drumming just hit you in the face.
The guitar parts are really interesting. They always sound really unorganized and like their from a noise rock band or something, but then you hear that they are actually playing some really cool hooks and riffs that are hidden in the mess.

I think they are going to have an album out early 2005.
Everyone ought to listen to some of their stuff at MySpace or Pure Volume.
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11.12.04

Devilrobots Xmas Exhibition

angel or devil?
The wait is up! The Japanese design company, Devilrobots, are having a Christmas Exhibition.
Okay - so even if the world doesn't need a Xmas Exhibition by the Devilrobots guys, the show looks kind of fun.

The show is called "Angel or Devil?" (oh ... how creative!) and is showing at Lapnet Ship in Tokyo for the next 2 weeks.
I like Tofu Heads more anyway ...
tofu kids
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DFA Discography

dfa
For absolutely no reason at all (except that I have an absession with the DFA now), I decided to try and compile a complete list of everything that the DFA has worked on. That means records that they produced and songs that they remixed. Maybe it is too ambitious for me, but here is what I have.
Please tell me if I am missing something ...

**these are in no particular order**
1. the Rapture - Out of the Races & Onto the Tracks
Echoes
Sister Saviour - DFA RMX
2. Radio 4 - Gotham!
Dance to the Underground - DFA RMX
3. Automato - Automato
4. Black Dice - Beaches and Canyons
Creature Comforts
Miles of Smiles
5. Juan Maclean*
6. Delia Gonzalez And Gavin Russom*
7. Joy*
8. Pixeltan*
9. LCD Soundsystem*
10. Dennis Taylor - Smile RMX
11. N.E.R.D. - She Wants to Move RMX
12. U.N.K.L.E. - In A State RMX
13. Le Tigre - Decaptacon RMX
* - everything done by artist (original songs and remixes) done by DFA
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Unicorns MP3s

the unicorns
It's official: the Unicorns will be releasing a new record early next year. As a teaser for the new album, I am linking to some MP3s that are supposed to be on the next (currently un-named) album. I like these songs a lot, even though they are rough!

Peach Moon
Gut Stains
Are We Expandin


The Unicorns are always incredibly good. Even when they are just doing some home demos: they don't ever hold back. Which is fantastic. I think all the members of the Unicorns are actually quite talented, but they purposely make their stuff sound unrefined. I wish these songs lasted longer, but I suppose that that's the purpose of a teaser song ...
**note - I changed my mind ... I don't think these songs are going to be on the next album**
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LCD Soundsystem

lcd soundsystem
Compilation #2, released by the DFA was great. It was pure, concentrated DFA related music. Some of it was by DFA members while some of it was by musicians related to the DFA (i.e. The Rapture were produced by the DFA).
But who are the DFA? Well, it's a production team based in NYC that really started up a couple years ago. Since then, they have been producing artists and becoming more and more popular and mainstream. They produced dance-punk groups like The Rapture along with rap groups like Automato, so their range is obviously quite wide.
Although some people do not really like the DFA for making everyone sound pretty similar, I think the sound that they create is fun and energetic, so I don't see any problem with what they've been doing.
The most prominent member of the DFA (in my opinion) is James Murphy (AKA LCD Soundsystem). Tim Goldsworthy obviously should not be forgotten, but he doesn't have his own "band." (However, Tim did used to work with UNKLE).
Anyway, I am really excited because, according to Pitchforkmedia, LCD Soundsystem will have a full length LP out in early 2005!

LCD Soundsystem came out with Losing My Edge in 2002 which really struck everyone by surprise. It was just a 12" single, but an absolutely addictive song and was widely adored. I think that that 12" accelerated the popularity of the DFA, and since it was primarily Murphy's work, I credit their new found fame to him.
So - looking forward to the album ... should be good!
For my favorite released LCD Soundsystem track, go here.
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10.12.04

Take It Easy: Love Nothing

take it easy
The ambitious Conor Oberst is coming out with 2 brand new albums in January. Or that's what everyone is saying ...
I just picked up his pre-album single, Take It Easy: Love Nothing at Borders, and have since listened to the 3 tracks at least 4 times. First off, the picture I have posted does the single no justice. In real life, the CD is in a red jewel case so it looks real slick.
Aside from the case being incredibly cool, the teaser songs here are also very good. I am looking forward to the album (this single is for the upcoming Digital Ash in a Digitcal Urn record).

The single starts out with an elegant guitar riff with an 8-bit sounding synthesizer chiming in within a couple of seconds. Then Mr. Oberst's warbley voices comes on and he does his usual narative/song kind of deal. I like the lyrics, though. I think my favorite song is the second track,Burn Rubber, however. It has a very organic, traditional, and soulful beat. There are some pretty apparent roots music influences in this song, also. And towards the end, Conor does this weird synchronization of the beat and banjo that sounds really awesome.

Get behind the wheel, stay in front of the storm
The clouds dream disorder, they make faces, they make mud
On some ancient order which is no longer enforced
The sugar bowl is full of ants
Your sister is a dumpy mess
And you're cutting off your head to spite your shoulders
Get behind the wheel, stay in front of the storm
Just get behind the wheel, stay in front of the storm

... too bad it isn't written by him ...
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