31.1.05

The Top 100 Singles: 2000 - 2004

pitchfork top 100
Maybe Pitchforkmedia is making too many lists. They concluded 2004 with 3 (Best Albums, Singles, and Reissues), and now, just one month into the new year, they have named the best 100 singles of the past 4 years.
Okay, so once again, I am being too harsh, and unjustafiably so. I also am committing a bit of a crime here I realize. I write about Pitchfork as though they are the supreme authority in the indie music world. And they really aren't. Whatever ... I like the list, and I think it is actually pretty cool that they put it out there. The list reminded me of some great stuff, and now I have a terrible urge to buy lots of singles (and additionally albums ... )

What makes me so overjoyed about this list? What makes it so noteworthy?
I really appreciate how Pitchfork has bands/artists on the list like B. Spears, Beyonce, Outkast, and Kelis. These individuals and groups are usually considered too mainstream for indie rockers to rock out to (sorry).
But they really aren't. I love Toxic. It has a good beat, and it's even cooler since Spears did it. Like, who would have thought that some day she would make an excellent club song? Maybe that's part of the reason why indie rockers can listen to these songs without feeling ashamed. The songs aren't really written by the singer. They are produced by a producer (sorry, again), such as Timbaland or one of numerous other predominantly unknowns. These behind-the-scenes artists are the ones with the creativity. And indie rock is all about that, right? Behind-the-scenes, the stuff that isn't seen (or heard), the stuff that not everyone knows about. So, if the masses like Toxic, it's okay since they like it for the image, but it's also still okay for alternative music listeners to enjoy it since they like it for a different reason; helping out the underdog.
Yeah, so I overanalyze. Who really cares? And in this modern age, there are no boundaries anymore. You can always cross the line from dance to rock, from politics to pop culture ... there aren't conventional bounds anymore. Everything is really okay, so I probably used the wrong word above ("okay"), but whatever ... I hope you get my main idea.

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30.1.05

Ed Emberly Clocks

emberly
I find it pretty strange that certain Japanese people discover obscure American artists, TV shows, etc. and then capitalize off them in their Japanese-only forms (or do they capitalize much?)

So, now after you have collected your Kid America (a NYC public-acess TV show) [Japanese-only] action figures, you can move onto finding Ed Emberly's clocks [and rolls of tape]! Ed Emberly is a how-to-draw-cartoons book creator. He has also done some generic childrens' books, but he is known for the how-to books. The clocks and tape are produced by some company called Hightide, but I have discovered that Japanese companies simply like to write "produced by" on a lot of items, and so it can sometimes be a misleading term. Buy them here

I shouldn't be so harsh on good ol' Ed. For those of you who don't know him, he actually is an excellent artist that somehow got involved in creating how-to books and never stopped. He has made something like 50 books, so he is indeed a prolific artist! I actually would love to have one of my walls be graced by one of his clocks ... they are very stylish!

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29.1.05

Canadian Band Roundup

they shoot horses
Two new noteworthy Canadian bands: They Shoot Horses (probably named after the 1969 movie of the same name) and the Lovely Feathers. Both of the bands are very unique, but completely different.
They Shoot Horses has one of the strangest band line ups I've ever seen! Trombone, trumpet, sax, drums, and occasionally guitar. They write pop-ish songs (verses, choruses, 3-4 minutes ... ), but there is something very quirky about them. Please listen to Hit My Head right now, and try and tell me that they aren't unique.

the lovely feathersThe Lovely Feathers are also quite good. They sound like some strange mix between the Monochrome Set (crisp, light pop sound), Madness (the use of piano/snythesizer), and the Talking Heads. I really enjoy trying to figure out what exactlly inspires the group since I definately cannot place my finger on it. The weird part is that they sound like a hybrid of all those bands, had none of them previously existed. So they kind of skipped the whole influence step and made up something new, or that's what it sounds like to me. Please listen to their album here!

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28.1.05

Charlotte Hatherly

hatherly
Remember my little blurb on guilty pleasures (i.e. Gwen Stefani?) ... yeah, so now I have a new one. Charlotte Hatherly writes addictive Brit-pop songs. The video for her new single, Bastardo is particularly excellent. She combines teenage girl angst (which is barely angst at all) with very pretty guitar hooks, tight harmonies/vocal layering, and funny lyrcis, all with a little bit of a Spanish twist. I love it!
Also, her voice is so sweet. It is a little harsh, but also so cushy and calm. I want to buy her CD, Grey Will Fade, or at least the single for Bastardo, but I live in America, and these things are hard!

Charlotte used to be in Ash, a mediocre Brit-pop band, for which she played guitar. I never listened to much of their work, but they were pretty generic British stuff. I hate to say this, but whenever I hear Bastardo, I think "this is what Tuscadero would have sounded like, had they not been as good and had they gone commercial." I'm sorry Tuscadero -- I love you.
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27.1.05

Turbotito

turbotito
One half of Junior Senior (the "junior" half), is currently working on a solo project called Turbotito. I am particularly drawn (excuse me, hooked) to Losing Their Heads (thanks, Mark) and Let's Hit The Streets. Both songs are pretty cool dance tunes, and they most definately rock out.



Junior Senior was a great band if you're into super-flamboyant dance music. I see Turbotito as the toned-down version of the Junior Senior duo, and I hope that he releases at least an EP!
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26.1.05

Bizarro World

bizarro world
I feel a little remorse when I think about how many indie comics I used to read compared to my sporadic (at best) comic reading habits of today. The only comic on my bedside table is Kramer's Ergot 5, which I don't even think counts as a "real" comic (but it is definately an indie ... )
I'm hoping that I will regain my interest in the medium on February 2 with Vertigo's release of Bizarro World, a collection of Bizarro-themed stories written and drawn by the likes of [Cleveland's Finest Comic Writer] Harvey Pekar, Tony Millionaire, Peter Bagge, Tom Hart, Jaime Hernandez, and loads more!

DC also released Bizarro Comics, which was a similar project. It was just a collection of Bizarro-themed stories by cool indie artists. And the cover of that specific anthology was very neat since it was drawn by Matt Groening! Regardless, this new Bizarro tome looks like it has more potential. I am especially curious to see what Pekar does. I have a feeling that he'll just write an autobiographical tale about the affect Batman played on his childhood or something ...

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Pixelally

pixelally
Not a whole lot to report here, except a certain Shari Sakahara's T-shirts and hoodies have recently caught my eye. I really like Pixelally because the design is very good, but more importantly, the clothing is all hand-[something]ed. So her T-shirts are hand-embroidered, her jacket is sewn [kind of by hand] with a sewing machine, and all the images are hand drawn. I like the organic feel!

Someday ... I will buy a shirt. But until I overcome my fear of black clothing and get around to purchasing a shirt, I urge all of you to buy things from Ms. Sakahara!

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25.1.05

The Strokes New Album News

the strokes
Not that I'm a big fan of The Strokes or anything, but I thought that everyone should know that the "long" wait is nearly over. The band has recorded 5 tracks of the currently unnamed third album (and I'm guessing that they'll stick with the 11-track LP, so they're half-way done)! And, to sweeten the deal, they recorded the album in Hell's Kitchen! Okay, maybe that doesn't sweeten the deal, but maybe it makes them more hardcore? Whatever -- feel free to make your own call on this, I'm just the messanger.

THE STROKES have recorded five songs for the follow-up to 2003 ROOM ON FIRE

The band have been busy in their recording studio, located in the Hell's Kitchen district of New York, working on their third album.


Aren't you all wondering what I really think about the Strokes? Well, I think that their first album was a very much needed album to revive the NYC scene. In retrospect, Is This It was a good lo-fi indie/rock record, but the thing that made the Strokes so important was just being there. They jump started the whole NYC scene again, and now there are [arguably] many more bands based in NYC than there were in the 90s. I'm probably giving them too much credit, but I still like the guys, even if they are rather preppy.
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24.1.05

Hot Hot Heat Album Update

hot hot heat
Hot Hot Heat has just released an MP3 called Goodnight Goodnight from their forthcoming album, Elevator. Looking good, looking good!





I like the song a lot. It has more hooks than their previous work, and is certainly more melodious than the first album. The vocals remain pretty much the same (I think the vocals are the biggest downfall of the band ... I think they get a little annoying after a whole album ... )
Also, the guitar work is similar. The lead guitar kind of floats around the melody which, in this case, is a cool sounding organ. I'm excited for the new album, though!
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23.1.05

Daft Punk - Human After All

daft punk
Wow -- March is the month! Everyone is going to have their album released then, or so it seems. Daft Punk's long awaited 3rd album will hit stores March 21st. It is called Human After All. I really think it's ashame that they lost the masks, but whatever ... I got a track off the album, and it's sounding pretty good!
And there is a pretty interesting article about Daft Punk (along with other dance music musicians) in the Sunday New York Times.

Tracklist --

01. Human After All
02. The Prime Time Of Your Life
03. Robot Rock
04. Steam Machine
05. Make Love
06. The Brainwasher
07. On / Off
08. Television Rules The Nation
09. Technologic
10. Emotion

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Surface2Air

surface2air
I was very impressed by Surface2Air's website ... it has really excellent flash, although it can sometimes be a little confusing to navigate through. Surface2Air is a NYC-based boutique, specializing in clothing, furniture, and art. They have some pretty cool stuff, but I have not been to the store, so I cannot accurately judge how great of a place it is. So -- what are they!? An art company that also sells clothing or a clothing company that does lots of art shows? I'm confused.

Regardless, I also heard that they are doing a cool side-project called APT 12" Series in which they get one awesome 12" piece of art every month and sell it. Yeah, it sounds kind of dumb in writing, but I guess it's a way to get more press ...
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22.1.05

Ashley Macomber

ashley macomber
There is something very unique about Ashley Macomber's work. It reminds me of very elegant old-fashioned Americana paintings combined with those souvenir wolf shirts you can buy out in the forests on the West coast. Or something. Her work is definately very American looking to me (which is not bad!)



I like how she omits backgrounds in her work. It's not that Ashley's work is lacking backgrounds, she just doesn't put them in. Yet the final product doesn't look empty. I think it is because her work gives the illusion of an more massive world around the subject (for example, she usually cuts her wolfs' heads off at the neck). Also, since her work tends to be a little surreal in nature, backgrounds wouldn't make sense.
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Videos.Antville

antville
You always get a mixed bag of stuff when looking at music videos. There are the [disgustingly] formulaic rap/hip-hop (what is the difference, and who really cares?) videos, the generic rock video, the angst ridden "theme" video (i.e. "the harships of being a tennager"), the funny video, the animated video, and oh so many countless others.
Videos.Antville is the best website for all your music video desires. Although it is just a whole bunch of links, the videos they post are usually very interesting either because of the music that is featured or the director that collaborated on the project.

I was happy to find a live video of the Arcade Fire, even though it is ridiculously low-res. And, although I think that Bjork has kind of gone crazy, I was intrigued by her newest video, which has a very warm and dreamy kind of feel to it (plus -- it's directed by Spike Jonze!)
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21.1.05

The Velvet Underground (and the Unicorns)

Okay, so everyone knows that the Velvet Underground was a really excellent band. (And everyone knows that the same applies for the Unicorns). I was very happy to find a cover of the Velvet Underground's I'm Sticking With You, covered by the Unicorns. Unfortunately, I have been unable to either upload my copy of the cover to some server or find a copy of it to link to. Sorry.

The more famous Unicorns cover is their version of 50 Cent's P.I.M.P., which is pretty funny to hear. In fact, you can listen to that one here.
I will stop writing about the Unicorns. It's over.
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20.1.05

VHS or BETA

vhs or beta
Yeah -- I learned two things tonight.
First off, Pitchforkmedia is definately not always right, and Louisville can produce pretty good bands every once in a while.
So, on the spur of the moment, I decided to check out VHS or BETA who played at the Grog Shop. Okay ... let me say that their album is not a very good representation of their live performances. I have never seen a crowd get that crazy. VHS or BETA make some pretty good dance/punk songs that seem to have really heavy Daft Punk/electronic undertones. Good.

Two other things. The singer doesn't sound Asian, does he? Well, he is.
Also, at the Grog, I queued up That's When I Reached For My Revolver, by Mission of Burma, and the lead singer/guitarist was totally getting into it. I was proud of my musical selection ...
One of the other bands that played, The Twilight was pretty much the most pretentious British-Invasion/traditional rock 'n roll band I've ever heard. Plus, the singer was really effeminate and sung with a really high voice. Not so cool.
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19.1.05

Fantastic Four Movie

fantastic four
Yeah, so the super-hero movies are getting a little old, but whatever, I like them usually! Regardless of quality, it looks like Marvel is pulling ahead of DC in the movie world. DC came out with Catwoman, which flopped, and they are apparently releasing a new Batman movie, but that might not be that great either.
ANYWAY, Marvel is releasing a Fantastic Four movie soon, and it is looking pretty good. At least better than Daredevil was, and Elektra is looking ...
The trailer is pretty good. Unfortunately, you don't really get to see the Human Torch, who I think will look awesome in the actual film. The other good news is that Doctor Doom will be in the film, and I'm sure that the film makers had a fun time with him.

And the cast? Jessica Alba is Susan Storm! Other than her, though, it's a pretty lame cast. I'm sure they'll all do fine though ...
In the broader picture, I always thought that the comic was kind of weird. The team never really fit in with the rest of the Marvel universe. First off, everyone knew who they were, and secondly, all of their adventures seemed to be pretty self-contained ... like, they never really hung out with the X-Men or anything, so I think the film will be a nice change in theme -- or something.

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New Beck Album

beck
Hah! It's these kinds of things that make me totally overjoyed. I got a copy of Beck's new (and currently un-named album). Some jerk must have stolen this first cut of the 13-track album from the studio, because it's available.
Right, so last night I listened to most of it, and I've got a pretty good impression of the album. It starts out with a latin-themed song called Brazilica, which was a bit of a turn-off for me. I liked Mutations, but I was kind of hoping that Beck would only do that album once. Luckily, the rest of the album is, as promised, a return to Odelay (although it has less sampling and a higher production value). The Dust Brothers did a hell of a good job co-producing the album with Beck.
UPDATE -- There is a music video for Hell Yes out now. And yes, it is semi-lame, but sort of cool!

Okay, that's enough of the optimistic me. I did like the album, but I am a little sad about it. I guess I wanted to have another Odelay as promised, and I suppose I kind of got it, but it just isn't the same. It will never be 1996 again, and Beck's album will sound different no matter what. Beck is one of the few survivors of the whole 90s alternative scene ... Pavement, Pearl Jam, Nirvana ... all those guys ... they're all gone. But somehow, Beck has hung in there for 10+ years, and he's still kicking. So, I'm happy that he's still around because it will make me sad to see him go, but I will still always be sad since he will never be the same ...

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18.1.05

New Yeah Yeah Yeahs CD

karen o
I'm a pretty big fan of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and I have been looking forward to their newest album for a year or so (always give a band at least a year for a new album). It looks like the YYY were going to have an album out this summer (or around that time), but they have moved the new album back to this fall (which probably means this winter). They didn't want to make Fever to Tell, Part 2, so they threw all the new material out and started afresh!

The band has already recorded an untitled track, according to guitarist Nick Zinner.

Zinner named three more unrecorded songs that have already been written, and are presently slated for inclusion: "On Board", "Honey Bear" (both played at recent concerts) and "Cheated Hearts". The weeks between now and the planned studio time in March will be spent writing songs and working on what the NME breathlessly calls "mystery side projects." Perhaps Zinner and Karen O are at work on more Unitard material!


Nick Zinner is just a damn good guitarist. He has excellent chops ... think about it for a second. He is the one that carries the melody ... Karen O. has a very cool and distinctive voice, but it's all Nick. Maps is an excellent example of his crazy skills ... but the whole album shows his versatility. I always like to hear it when he jumps an octave or two and those kinds of "tricks" he does best ... he keeps the song structure interesting.

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17.1.05

Analord

analord
First off, yes, I am a liar.
Recently, I have been listening to Aphex Twin. I guess I was really impressed by Richard James' dedication to synthesizers and his work, even though he tends to be an total jerk about it (or so I've heard). James has been around, doing synth stuff and DJing events etc. for about 20 years (or almost that ... ), and now he has changed his name once again to Analord, and done something really pretentious. Yeah, he's releasing 10 volumes of music through 2005 called Analord 1 thru 10, starting with Analord 10.

So, why is that pretentious, and not just a little impractical? Because these discs are (a) very limited, (b) very expensive ($75 for 10, which is a mere 13 minutes long), and (c) they come in a goofy binder where fans will store the future volumes of the set. I don't know about this new project of Mr. James -- it's like one of those "I am not commercial" type gigs, where, by being "non-commercial," you end up looking even more corporate ... or something ...
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16.1.05

Giant Drag

giant drag
And here's another British band -- Giant Drag. Again, nothing new, but this duo (a) makes a lot of noise for just two people, and (b) makes pretty comples music for just two people. I like the CD ...
This Isn't It




P.S. -- I'm sorry that I've one so many music posts recently ... I promise that I will change and everyone will be happy again ...

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15.1.05

The Cribs

the cribs
Another new band, the Cribs. I remember listening to them when their MP3 links actually worked, and I liked them. I was supposed to post this a while ago, but I didn't, so I can't remember how they sound too well.
ANYWAY, if my memory is correct, I liked them. Firstly, this trio is made of three brothers -- something I have never heard of before-- and they are from West Yorkshire. They say their big influences are the Sex Pistols, the Smiths, and a couple other important English bands, but I think they've made a sound of their own. Whatever -- it's pretty good stuff, but again, nothing new.
Oh -- and I found some MP3s ...
Another Number
Baby Don't Sweat

The Quest continues ... I am trying to find it -- a new sound, a new band ... something that wasn't around until "when I find it." Until then, I will continue to mess around, party, and have a good time ... but I know that someday I will listen to the new thing, and then ... I'll, um ...

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14.1.05

R.I.P. Unicorns

the unicorns and the microphones
Yeah, so this is a cop out. I couldn't come up with a post today since I'm just out of it and I've been out all day. So here it is ... listen to these songs by various members of the Unicorns and stop your mourning.
Zzzz
Sasquatch Kid
Mothers Day

The Unicorn ... I will miss them, but I hear that Nicholas "Neil" Diamonds will be doing a solo career (in fact, he is going to be touring with the Microphones apparently ... ), and the rest of the band will hopefully find their place. I'm just so happy that I saw them twice ...
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13.1.05

The Departure

the departure
Try to imagine a mixture between Bauhaus and Echo and the Bunnymen. This is the best way that I can think of to describe England's newest post-punk band, The Departure. I really enjoy their music because it sometimes sounds straight up Bauhaus for its eerie vocals, start-and-stop guitar work, choppy and angular rythm guitar, and chaotic, yet simple drumming patterns. These guys are promising and a nice breath of fresh air for post-punk lovers since most of the new post-punk bands (Interpol being the biggest) tend to draw from other [excellent] bands like Interpol, and often forget other important ones, like Bauhaus.

An interesting side note:
Maybe I am totally off on this, but I always thought it was weird how in England, new bands tend to release singles before an EP or LP, while in America bands tend to release an LP or EP and then they release the single ... interesting.

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Moby - Hotel

moby
The [severely] aging hipster, Moby, is releasing a new album in March called Hotel. I don't really know what to think about his 5th album ... I was not too impressed by 18, but I guess it could be okay ...

The thing about Moby is that he isn't really a musician anymore. It's like Bono from U2, but even less musician. He talks about politics a whole lot and does little TV show appearances (i.e. being on Rides) and hangs out with big names. Also, it really got to me when people kept telling him "techno is dead," and I kept thinking, "(a) Moby doesn't really do techno anymore, and (b) who really cares?" Lastly, I do not really appreciate Moby's growing ego (or maybe I'm imagining things). He has that little diary where he likes to talk about how he is unburdened by the usual rock star problems (i.e. hangovers, drugs, etc.) and how he is a vegetarian and how he loves peace and the enviroment. Like, that's cool, but I just don't really care about it so much anymore. He was writing that stuff when it wasn't cool, but now that he's been doing it for a while, it's old. Like how people that used to do Yoga before it was cool aren't really any cooler than people doing it now even though they that pride in being ahead of the crowd or something. So, the whole Moby thing is a little old, and I am not too excited about seeing it revived.
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12.1.05

New Order - Waiting For The Sirens Call

new order
Everyone that reads BiBaBiDi probably has picked up on my absolute love of Joy Division. Well, as any good JD fan should, I also like New Order, which is releasing a new album, Waiting For The Sirens Call, this March (the 28th). A couple of things concerning the album:
(a) It looks like NO is really going to be pushing this album: they are planning to release 3 singles to start with, and there will probably be more to come!
(b) The album will be "like 1989's Technique," which was a pure dance album.
(c) Some new guy, named Cunningham (keyboards and guitar), replaced Gilbert (keyboards).
(d) ... There are way too many big names involved with this project to list them all, but I'm impressed ...
ANYWAY -- I hate to say this, but I am not especially looking forward to the album. Get Ready (2001) really wasn't that great, and with each album, NO strays further from their JD/Factory Records roots. It is very sad to me ...

At least they have Peter Hook, who I think is a really cool guy. I really admire how he got over the death of Ian Curtis and moved his band onto stardom, even if I do wish he stuck more to the older sound (i.e. Power, Corruption, Lies).
Lastly, I think that everyone in Manchester that liked NO already copied them. I mean, NO was pretty much in charge of the Hacienda -- they got people to play there that sounded like them! Their sound has been so widely distributed and copied, that it just won't be the same. Maybe I am too much of a traditionalist, but I just don't think I will be able to enjoy their music as much anymore knowing that it really has been done!
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11.1.05

Fire Walk With Me Expanded DVD

fire walk with me
Twin Peaks was one of the best TV Shows of the 90s, and probably the most obscure netowrk TV show to be of moderate success (2 seasons!)
Fire Walk With Me was David Lynch's feature film that he wrote after the series ended. I kind of liked the movie, but I expected more from it. Part of the reason that it wasn't all that great was because they deleted over an hour of the intended movie from the film!
Anyway, as I did not know this to be the case, I did not know that there have been efforts since the mid-90s to release the "director's cut" (so to speak), and these efforts seem to have finally come to some fruition!
With any luck, the expanded "director's cut" DVD will appear on shelves this year!

There were tons of reasons why the full movie has not been released yet. The most commonly cited reason being that New Line Cinemas had a lot of trouble getting the rights from the Twin Peaks studio to actually release the full movie. I always get incredibly confused when I talk about studios and who owns what right and who distributes, etc., but New Line had "problems" ... that's all you need to know. Also, David Lynch refused to release the full movie unless he was given full creative power of it (i.e. being allowed to select the scenes and put them together). I hope that the movie comes out, but I have a hunch that it won't be as good as it's cracked up to be and it will definately not be as good as the original show!
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10.1.05

The Unicorns - Disbanded?!

unicorns
This can't be true!
My heroes, the Unicorns have disbanded ... I don't believe it ... I absolutely cannot believe it. How could they have broken up when they already announced 3+ projects coming up in the near future? How?!

The news has not been confirmed ... so I'm not beliving it yet. Also, I think this is a publicity stunt (if that ... I'm probably taking it too seriously). Plus, the article says that the 4 band members will not work together. 4!? There are only 3!!!
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New Garbage Album

garbage
I've always had a fascination and adoration of the Icelandic band, Garbage because of the singer's fantastic voice and the incredibly high production quality of all their records. Although a lot of critics say Garbage isn't all it's cracked up to be (they don't write very good songs, the structures are repetitive/formulaic etc.), I find the band to be quite good. The songs do tend to follow a similar path (start with a simple, understated hook, evolve into a tremendously orchestrated sound and then die back down), but I like the "formula," so what's wrong with that?
Anyway, Garbage has a new CD called Bleed Like Me, set for release in early April!
Even though Garbage has become more popular (and probably more elaborate in sound) since their beginnings in the early-90s, I still love them. I like to compare old pictures of the group, before the singer had blood red hair and before the producers started to bald.

Even though their sound was a little simpler and used older technology in the 90s, and the music was probably a little fresher then, I like their last CD (Beautifulgarbage) the most out of them all. So, I hope the best for them, and I am sure that this next CD will not disappoint.
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9.1.05

Mommy and Daddy

mommy and daddy
There is this truly fantastic record label in NYC called Kanine Records. I have enjoy all of their bands (Grizzly Bear, for example, is signed with them), and I can't wait to see which band they sign next.
Anyway, I just started listening to Mommy and Daddy, which is a duo from NYC that use drum machine loops and fuzzy bass lines to create an original pop sound. I really enjoy how they use the tag-team style call-and-response thing in all of their songs, and how the seemingly obscure and dated form of singing always sounds incredibly fresh.
I am looking forward to hearing more from these two and I can't wait for my CD to come in the mail!

One of the reasons I am so excited about Kanine Records is because they look like they may be the record label that represents the "next big thing" - as Spin magazine call it - whatever that may be ...
They have even released a fantastic compilation of new NYC music which I find to be expertly chosen and organized. Give Kanine Records 5 more years, and they are going to be so important in the indie music world that we'll all get tired of hearing about them ...

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8.1.05

Talking Heads - Once In A Lifetime: The Stories Behind Every Song

talking heads book
The Talking Heads has always been one of those bands that is often referred to and admired and copied off of, but never covered as much as, say, Nirvana, The Ramones, and other revolutionary bands. And they totally should.
ANYWAY, a new book is out about them, and it looks like it might be pretty cool. The book has not only written stories about songs by the Talking Heads, but it also has loads of pictures to accompany the writing. I guess the concept is also pretty interesting: write about inspirations ...
I can't really remember any other music book that used "inspirations for songs" as its focus, so I am excited to read it!

Now -- why was it that the Talking Heads were "revolutionary"? They were a strange band, because they were thrown into the "CBGB's punk scene" with the Ramones and other early American punk bands. But the Talking Heads weren't really punk, and that's why they are even more interesting. They wrote very political songs and pulled influences from multiple sources (this was before David Byrne went a little soft and incorporated too much world music into his stuff). I always find it remarkable that the Talking Heads performed with the Ramons and Blondie along with other eclectic bands. The mere fact that power-pop associated with early art-rock and punk is fascinating to me, and I kind of wish it would happen more today.
There is no movement like the New Wave movement anymore ... you can't categorize pub rock and punk and power-pop and all the other emerging types of music in one big book under one all inclusive name anymore ...
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Sin City The Movie

sinc city
Frank Miller, the legendary comic book writer, is trying his hand at screenplays again. But instead of Robocop 1 and 2, the new movie is based off of his fantastic comic, Sin City.
I never read a whole lot of Sin City, but I picked up an issue here and there, and I always heard great things about it. The movie's story is still pretty vague, so I can't do much reporting on it, but it is obviously going to be about Marv, the tough-as-nails detective and his adventures throughout the city.
Watch a preview here.
Watch an 8 minute clip here

The really impressive aspect of this movie is the cast. Elijah Wood, Bruce Willis, Benicio del Toro, Josh Harnett, Brittany Murphy, and Jessica Alba are all in it! Wow! I am very excited!
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7.1.05

Garden State

garden state
Yeah -- so it came out on DVD a week or so ago, and it's old news anyway now that it's not in theatres, but I thoroughly enjoyed Garden State, and I would like it if everyone sees it (even if this would be your second, third, or even forth time).
Now, rating movies is definately not my forte. In fact, I am not a very good critic to begin with, but since I have read hundreds of music reviews, I am able to write those with some confidence.
Anyway, I think that Garden State was very good, but not excellent for a couple reasons (only one of which I will write ... ) First off, the dad was too old (if your son is 26, you should be more like late 50s, early 60s ... not 70 ... )
Also, I like how the movie did not focus on the death of the mother. That was good. I was afraid that the dead mom would be the center of the plot or always be tied back into the story, but that wasn't the case at all!

The last really great aspects of the movie were the characters. I loved Andrew so much. He was such an incredibly cool guy. He was almost always really chill and laid back and always a little sarcastic. But he also was not at all static, and that is what made him an even better character. I liked how in the beginning of the film, Andrew was really tight and nervous all the time, but then he started loosening up over time and was almost completely changed by the end of the movie.
Also, Sam's character was so terribly charming. I loved her also. She was so perfect for Andrew and she was so interesting, yet so realistic.
And that was why the movie was so bloody great -- it was truly believable ... I felt like I could have had any one of those conversations if I was in a similar situation. But my experiences probably wouldn't be as perfect ...
(Oh yeah -- it was also fantastic cinematography ... )
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Joy Division Movie

ian curtis
I loved 24 Hours Party People, so I am very happy to hear that the Ian Curtis biopic is going to come out! The name will probably be These Days, and it is based off of the biography (Touching From A Distance) that Deborah Curtis (Ian's wife) wrote.
Now, there are two problems with this ...
First off (an I am not toor worried about this ... ), the movie might not work that well since JD has been written about and talked about and rereleased and rediscovered since the day Curtis died to no end. Maybe I am just being too skeptical ...

Secondly, I am a little scared about the casting of Jude Law. I like Jude, but I am not convinced that he would be able to play the depressed Curtis well. Hey -- maybe I'm wrong ... he did a good job in Cold Mountain, and I assumed that he wouldn't be up for that either!
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6.1.05

The Bravery

the bravery
So this new band, The Bravery is okay. I came across them recently and listened to the three songs that one can listen to on their website. The easiest comparison for me to make here is that they are kind of similar to the Killers, but probably better (not that the Killers are that great), mixed with a normal British band.
I do enjoy their music, though. It is nothing more than you would expect it to be for a modern British band, but they are okay.

Also, I enjoy their site layout and their album art. It is all very pretty and I think it fits their style well. It is always reassuring for me to listen to a band that has a good sense of style.
Style doesn't usually matter too much, but I must admit that, if an album has good cover art, I am more likely to buy it. Also, interesting packaging, like the Menomena CD (I Am the Fun Blame Monster) is always a pull.
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Harold and Kumar

harold and kumar
Wow -- I loved this movie way too much. But what isn't to like about one of the best slacker movies made in the past 10 years or so? I don't only like watching movies like Harold and Kumar, I like all kinds of movies, but I tend to really enjoy watching movies that require no thought. I view H & K as the escapist novel middle aged women read of disillusioned individuals as myself. If only my life could be as cool as Kumar's ... even if his life - as I know it - was only an hour and twenty five minutes. Not that any of their experiences are anything different or new ... everyone does the stuff they did in the movie ... but it's so perfect. Harold and Kumar had the perfect stoner night -- nothing went wrong wrong, no one said anything that sounded stupid to the listener, and even though they were stoned out of their minds, both the guys were completely on top of the ball.

But the movie was actually pretty well done in its own weird sort of way. Good soundtrack, good script (very realistic), and never a boring moment, although it may have climaxed a little early. Whatever -- it did what I wanted it to do for me, and I now feel like a new man ... I have been inspired by the duo to do ... something, even though I don't know what that is yet.
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5.1.05

Wolf Parade

wolf parade
I am not sure how I found out about Wolf Parade (as I was pretty out of it at the time, I think), but I am very happy that I found them! I immediately went to their New Music Canada website, where I listened to a bunch of their songs, and boy were they excellent.
Wolf Parade has a very rough sound, which I think is mostly due to not being one of those "big budget production bands." But that's okay. In fact, the mere fact that they are (a) from Canada and (b) low-budget makes them incredibly worthwhile.
But they also make very unique music. Even though tons of bands these days are trying to be unique by just being weird (i.e. the Unicorns), Wolf Parade remains cool and weird and unique, which is quite a combo!

They list their genres as being "R&B," "Gospel," "Punk," "Soul," and "Heavy Rock," but I get the impression that these are just jokes. Or else Canadians have a very skewed picture of music (which actually might explain a lot of other questions us Americans have about Canada).
ANYWAY -- I suggest that everyone listens to them, and I want them to release an album, and when they do, I want to review it (not that I am an especially notable reviewer ... )

Note -- I found out that Wolf Parade has signed to Sub Pop, and Mr. Brock of Modest Mouse will produce their album!
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4.1.05

Jordon Crane

keeping two part two
Although I was never able to get my hand on one, I have always wanted several issues of the infamous Non magazine by Jordon Crane. I emailed the artist a half year ago or so, and he promptly replied, telling me that reprints of Non were unlikely, as he did not want to screen-print several hundred more covers. I was surprised to hear that Mr. Crane screen prints his comic covers by hand, but apparently it is true!
While I was in St. Louis, I picked up his newest works (with screen-printed covers!), Keepting Two parts One and Two! I thoroughly enjoyed both issues, and I cannot wait until the next installments come out!
I also discovered that you can read all of his Keeping Two stips at Highwater Books.

Jordon Crane is a fantastic screen printer (look at some of these), an excellent artist, and an apt writer. I enjoy his comics because they are (a) well paced, (b) coherent, and (c) very charming in a way that is usually not charming at all (but maybe that has more to do with the drawing style than anything else ... )
I highly recommend everything he has ever done and is yet to create!
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Will Eisner Dead

eisner
One of the greatest comic book artists in the history of the media, Will Eisner, died on January 3rd after undergoing quadruple bypass heart surgery. He was 87. Eisner was the creator of The Spirit, a Sunday comic strip that ran in the papers from late-1939 to 1952. The Spirit was such an excellent strip because, even though it was just a few pages every week in newspapers, it was able to compete with the big comic giants (DC and Marvel). Also, it upheld the original style of super hero comics for about 10 years after the original style faded away. The Spirit, although a tad formulaic, also always had fantastic art (that was quite ahead of its time).

And the other great thing about Eisner was that he was a fabulous narrative writer. He wrote deep tales along with The Spirit as early as the 50s. And he kept going until 2005! A truly dedicated worker. And he has a new work, called The Plot coming out!

Today's New York Times Books section features an interview with legend Will Eisner regarding his newest book, The Plot, a rebuttal, in the form of a graphic novel, to the myth surrounding The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a fictional work created by Russian anti-semites, which outlined the purported plan by Jews to rule the world.

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3.1.05

Best British Songs Since 1977

Apparently, the BBC and some other group have created an award for the Best British Song Since 1977. Yeah -- pretty vague. Anyway, the list of nominees have been released, and they are as follows:

Heroes・David Bowie
We Are The Champions・Queen
Wuthering Heights・Kate Bush
Light Fever・Bee Gees
London Calling・The Clash
Love Will Tear Us Apart・Joy Division
That's Entertainment・The Jam
I Don't Want To Talk About It・Rod Stewart
Look of Love・ABC
Golden Brown・ The Stranglers
True・Spandau Ballet
Careless Whisper・George Michael
Holding Back The Year・Simply Red
Sledgehammer・Peter Gabriel
Sacrifice・Elton John
Unfinished Sympathy・Massive Attack
Why・Annie Lennox
Fields of Gold・Sting
Kiss From A Rose・Seal
Wonderwall・Oasis
Angels・Robbie Williams
Yellow・Coldplay
Babylon・David Gray
Leave Right Now・ Will Young
Dry Your Eyes・The Streets


I think the list is totally wack, personally. "Best Song" is too vague and subjective, but whatever. Secondly, I do not really like how they put The Streets on the list, which, although The Streets are good, I think he is more of a modern fad/trend and not as timeless as London Calling, for example.
Who do I want to win? I would have to say (in this order of preference)
1. Love Will Tear Us Apart
2. London Calling
3. That's Entertainment
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2.1.05

Tokyo Films

I really enjoy this girl's picutres. They are excellent and very full of life.
Or something.
Tokyo Films
tokyo films

I am not quite sure why this is, but it seems to me that every country and every nationality approaches photography from a different perspective. I usually can tell if it's a man or woman who took the picture, and if they are American (or not). It's the same thing with painting, but I do not know why. One would think that photography is something less personal and more technical, but it remains quite expressive. Interesting.
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Neon

neon
Well, it was time for my weekly good-new-band update. And I'm having a bit of a difficult time finding a good one even, as I have limited resources here. But I have found a band called Neon which I think is pretty good if you're into a harsh sounding kind of rock 'n roll sound. Neon is a trio - two guys, one girl - and they like to use lots of harmonies and simple rock hooks. Nothing brand new here, but they are quite good at what they do, and I would like to hear more music than what I've found on their website.

Their music videos are a different story, however. I enjoy music videos greatly, and you can actually often tell if a band is good or not by the quality of their music videos. I will give Neon some slack since they are new and only have one album, but their videos looks like they were filmed in the same studio (same set), and they use a lot of the same effects ...
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The Psychedelic Furs

the furs
No! Why does this keep happening? After bands break up, they are not supposed to get back together. I generally do not support bands like U2 staying together for 25 years, and I kind of wish people would give up on the Dead already, but bands like Mission of Burma (even though I did like ONoffON ... ) and Gang of Four are not supposed to reunite. The Psychedelic Furs are no exception. They are [semi-]legends, but by gracing the world with their aged visage, they are degrading the myth. The Furs have not had an album out for at least 10 years, but they are going to make a new one! I will listen to it when it comes out, yes, but I do not know if I will be able to accept it even if it turns out to be good ...

One of the coolest things about the band was the singer's (Richard Butler's) voice. It was so cold and distant and harsh. Butler's voice worked well with his brother's guitar work and the angular drumming of the band in general. The Furs worked well together, so even if you do not like their music, you have to dig the technical ability that all four of the original members had.
Lastly, I acknowledge that Butler had side projects. But those don't count because it wasn't under the Furs. No one retires these days anyway.
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1.1.05

Small Super Name

ssn
Founder of Music Related (the small NYC-based record label), Trevor, has created a web-zine to which I contributed. It is called Small Super Name or ssn, and I wrote two reviews for this issue!

I am looking forward to writing more reviews etc. for the 'zine in the future and finding out how this little venture turns. It looks very promising, so I cannot wait for the next installment!
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Muji

muji
Seeing as Muji has become quite a large company, it is about time that they get a real store in the US instead of having other boutiques carry their goods. Although Momastore has sold a small selection of Muji products for several years, it was only until recently that they set aside a part of the store exclusively for Muji items! I guess it's the closest that anyone will get to Muji in North America ...

muji speakers
My latest Muji purchase was a set of simplistic cardboard speakers. Even though they are not incredibly functional, they were fun to build and cool to look at. And the sound quality is certinaly not terrible (or at least it is quite a bit better than my laptop speakers ... )
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