30.4.05

Oneida - The Wedding

the wedding
Love 'em or hate 'em, Oneida, that crazy Brooklyn-based, genre-defying trio is back with The Wedding, their seventh album. The record hits stores May 3, and will, hopefully, prove to be quite strange. The samples of the album that I found at JagJaguwar are certainly strange enough to quench any Oneida fan's thirst.
But there is a really cool story behind this album, even if you don't like the band!
Oneida came up with the idea for The Wedding in early 2001, and immediately began building the largest music box on the east coast of the United States. Built of plywood, salvaged marine pilings, industrial motor parts and over seventy saw blades, the hand-cranked behemoth was assembled in the warehouse loading dock that’s also home to the Vale of Tears, Oneida’s own recording studio. By hammering nails and spikes into the cylindrical pilings at carefully mapped intervals, and rotating the pilings through thickets of variably-tensioned saw blades, Oneida created and recorded unearthly tones and melodies; these were subsequently used as the basis for a series of melancholy, yearning songs that now see the light of day as The Wedding.


JagJaguwar Records is a pretty cool record label. They have Nagisa Ni Te, Japan's best folk duo (is there much competition?), and the Skygreen Leopards, another really strange group.
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29.4.05

Vitalic

vitalic
For a little while, I had this weird anti-French-music thing going on. Although I did love Daft Punk, I generally avoided everyone else from the country. Then, for some reason, I was introduced to the nation's music, bit-by-bit. Now, thanks to Pitchforkmedia, I have discovered Vitalic, one of the greatest electronica artists I have ever heard. He had several hits with the release of his 2001 Poney EP, but this is his first album under the Vitalic name. And boy is it fantastic. Equal parts dance and quirky, unusual funkiness, the Frenchman is the king of mish-mashing genres and styles. His album is called OK Cowboy, and can be sampled here.

On further investigation, I discovered that Vitalic is not from France originally. He is from, surprisingly, the Ukraine, and was able to break into the music scene after the Berlin Wall fell in 1989. Now, I am not sure if this story is true, but if it is, I have a new respect for the Ukraine, and I still like France more than I used to.
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28.4.05

De Novo Dahl

de novo dahl
Who would have thought that Nashville would produce a band as cool as De Novo Dahl? (Hint - not me). Maybe I misjudged Nashville, or perhaps I've believed the stereotypes I grew up with too much, but I definately did not expect a great pop sextet (like De Novo Dahl) to emerge from the city.
The band has countless influences, but funk, rock, and Brit-pop seem to be the most apparent to me.
Although they draw from a very eclectic palet, their sound is surprisingly unique, and pretty focused on "their own thing," which is really good. They just released a double album called Cats and Kittens, which you can listen to part of right here, and buy it here.

I especially like the songs in which the female sings. Piggy's Adventure is particularlly good. The group uses a lot of organ and Farfisa-sounding keyboards, which I think make their sound fuller and more original. Really great stuff ...
By the way, they are a really good looking band.
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27.4.05

Tokyo Prison Art

choe
Not my favorite artist, but still a good one, David Choe is having a show at The Powerhouse Gallery from April 23 - May 21. The show is called Tokyo Prison Art, and was created while Choe was in a Tokyo prison. Apparently, he was thrown into solitary confinement for four months for assaulting an undercover cop in the city. Giant Robot wrote a story about the incident a couple issues back, and it was pretty funny. Choe stole some stuff from a store, ran from the "security guard" that followed him, punched him out, and was quickly arrested. Knowing that the Japanese view suspects as "guilty until proven innocent," (and probably don't look too highly upon foreign prisoners to begin with) it sounds like Choe's experience was rough. Apparently, some of the pictures were created utilizing his own urine and soy sauce.
Look at some of the picture here.

I am actually pretty impressed with the quality of the work he did in his cell. I tend to think that Choe's style is too rough and messy, but these works appear to be more refined (which, I know, is counterintuitive). I would like to check some of the work out for sure!
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26.4.05

Tokyo Perspective

tokyo perspective
The Mori Modern Art Museum, which resides in the Roppongi Hills Tower, is currently curating a show called City Models Exhibition - Tokyo Perspective. The exhibit looks really cool. It features a 1/1000th scale model of Tokyo (designed by Mamoru Ishii, who created Ghost In a Shell), which goes hand-in-hand with the newly released Tokyo Scanner film, a DVD that collects tons of shots of the city.
I would love to see the exhibit, as it is quite difficult to see the whole city from so many different angles. And judging by the picture, it looks rather detailed.

They have also made models of NYC and Shanghai, which I am sure are equally spectacular. Here is a little walk-through of how the models were made ... intense!
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Lessons in Taxidermy

lessons in taxidermy
Uusually I do not show much interest in what I call "underground-novelists." These are the writers who print their novels up like they are mini-comics: use a xerox machine occasionally, draw up some terrible cover art, write bad stories for the most part, and never get "signed" to a big company that will distribute to Borders and other stores.
But, I recently came across this book by Bee Lavender called Lessons in Taxidermy. I have not yet bought the book, so it may very well be incredibly nicely printed, but I am assuming that since it was released by Punk Planet Books, it is not going to look as high-quality as something printed by, say, Random House.
You can buy the book for $12.95, or else take some time and read the first chapter.

I like Bee Lavender's writing style. Kind of dry, but very mysterious and eerie as well. Or something. Maybe I really should buy the book ...
Oh, and here is Bee Lavender's website.
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The Juan Maclean

the juan maclean
My heroes at DFA Records are finally releasing The Juan Maclean's first album. The record is called Less Than Human, and will be released on July 4, 2005. You can sample all 9 tracks on the radio page. I am a little scared to listen to too many of the tracks, but the first 30 second of tracks 1 through 3 sound excellent.
I love the DFA.

The Juan Maclean has been around since the early 90s, but, to my knowledge, has not released anything more than a couple singles, so I am sure that it will be a relief for him to finally get something out there. The Juan Maclean is touring a bit with The Glimmers, a great DJ group. I would love to see one of the shows, but LCD Soundsystem still remains my favorite.
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25.4.05

Tokion's King of Zine

the king of zine
Tokion, a great pop-culture-focused magazine (for those of you who didn't know), has this contest-type thing going on right now, called King of Zine. It looks like it would be fun to submit a 'zine to, as the panel of judges includes Adrian Tomine, Kevin Lyons, REAS, KAWS, and Ed Templeton. Wouldn't it be ridiculously cool to be judged by such a super-star team of artists?!

And the prize? It's unusal, but very generous. Not only will Tokion print your 'zine, but it will also provide you (the starving and poor arists, perhaps?) will one year of health insurance! Second place gets $500. Not bad, I must say.

It's funny because part of the rules dictates that you must create the 'zine with a standard xerox machine. I guess they want to prevent unfair advantages. Lastly, the contest is funded in part by Tylenol, through their Ouch campaign (their effort at reaching out to a new demographic.)
As a side note, I always thought it was strange that Tylenol is trying to appeal to younger consumers, but whatever ...
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24.4.05

The Sounds of Science

the sounds of science
Well, when I was in St Louis yesterday and today (yes, a very short trip), I got to see quite a treat. Yo La Tengo, one of Matador Records' oldest bands (21 years, believe it or not!) created a show called The Sounds of Science, that they have played in only three locations worldwide: NYC, Tokyo, and St. Louis. I do not know if they will play it again (wouldn't that be cool for me?), but regardless of that, the show was very cool.
Basically, it was the trio playing music that they composed to accompany an hour and 45 minutes of French underwater documentary footage. First off, the documentaries they used were really excellent and trippy. Most of them were filmed in the 60s or early 70s (I would guess), and had a very acid-tripping feel to them, even though they were made for scientific purposes. Perhaps it was just the Technicolor ...
As for the music, it was very good as well. Imagine Sonic Youth mixed with Philip Glass, but played by Yo La Tengo. Lots of sound manipulation, lots of No Wave inspired stuff, but all of it had that classic Yo La Tengo feel. Pretty interesting if nothing more.

The guitarist, Ira Kaplan, was very fun to watch (luckily, I was up front, so I was able to see the band perform even in the dark). Towards the end of the show, he got down on the stage and began drumming on his guitar with two mallets. Then he picked his instrument up and started waving it in front of his amp to make this really exotic feedback sound. Truly one bizzare dude ...

Check out some of the show here.

Before the show, I picked up the Prisoners of Love compilation. The 2X CD set (although there is also a 3X CD set) is a good highlighting of Yo La Tengo's work, from 1984 - 2005. I like it quite a bit.
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The Rock Snob's Dictionary

the rock snob's dictionary
As I am a rock snob myself (or else I would like to think I kind of am), I think it is necessary for me to buy this new book, The Rock Snob's Dictionary, an A-Z reference book of the Rock Snob World.
We've all been there--trapped in a conversation with smarty-pants music fiends who natter on about "the MC5" or "Eno" or "the Hammond B3," not wanting to let on that we haven't the slightest idea what they're talking about. Well, fret no more! The Rock Snob's Dictionary is here to define every single sacred totem of rock fandom's know-it-all fraternity, from Alt.country to Zimmy. (That's what Rock Snobs call Bob Dylan, by the way.)


So now I will be able to show off to all my friends and appear to be the biggest snob ever! How fun! Buy the book at Amazon.com, and join the rock snob ranks!
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22.4.05

Baiyon

baiyon
Now that it's pretty much certain that I'm going to Japan (specifically Shikoku) in the summer (and returning 11 months later), I have been re-discovering my interest in the country. One of my newest/coolest discoveries is a record/clothing label called Baiyon. They have some really cool T-shirt designs (this one being my favorite), and some pretty cool records. I like this record a lot, even though I don't really know what it's called ... (can't distinguish artist from title ... ) But you can listen to some of the record here anyway ...

So, have fun exploring now that I have provided you with the starting path. It may take you hours, or perhaps just a few minutes, but I guarantee that you will find dozens of links, all hooking you up to all sorts of websites. Fun fun fun!
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21.4.05

Blag

blag
While I was doing some work at Borders last night, I could not resist briefly browsing the magazine rack (and, of course, the CD section), and I came across a new magazine called Blag. No ... not a typo ... the thing really is called "blag." It has a hip-hop vibe to it (the Beastie Boys are the cover story), which I kind of like, but I do wish that they put more stuff on each page. The magazine is quite large and thick, but there is really not much there! Always a frustrating feeling to get a magazine like that ...

So it's a London-based magazine, which is cool. And by going to the blag website, I found out about one of their London retailers: Oki-ni, a interesting designer clothing boutique. Nothing special, but worth a mention, I guess.
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20.4.05

Hank

hank
So, yeah, a bit of a cop out here, but, thank to Pitchfork, I have discovered Hank, a fantastic indie band.Their newest album, How to Prosper in the Coming Bad Years is excellent, and I cannot wait to get my copy in the mail. There are only 500 copies of this thing, and they are all handmade! Impressive!
Right, so their sound ...
Imagine a really retro Go! Team, or maybe just some 60s-pop inspired kind of thing. But their pop sound is based more off of lounge music and dance stuff from the 60s, rather than straight 60s pop by the likes of the Beach Boys, Beatles, etc.

God Slick is a great opening song, and ridiculously catchy. I love it, so I hope you all feel the same way about it once you hear the piece!
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19.4.05

Kenji Murabayashi

kenji murabayashi
I found out about this guy from Jean Snow, but I thought he was such a cool artist, that I had to write about him myself ...
Kenji Murabayashi is a really cool and original Japanese wood sculptor. I love his work because he breaths new life into a old-fashioned art form, and makes it incredibly appealing. He has a show in Osaka currently called Pero's Farm, which looks really cool! I want to see it ... so ... cool!

Check out even more of his work right here ... really excellent!
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18.4.05

The Coast of Akron

the coast of akron
As I am from NE Ohio, I felt it my duty to write about a new book by Adrienne Miller, called The Coast of Akron: A Novel. I read an excerpt of the book in this month's Esquire, and found it to be interesting. I find it surprising that someone could actually write 400 pages on a sort of boring and bland city ("hey -- that's where DEVO and a whole bunch of tire companies used to reside ... "), but I'm sure there is much in the story that does not solely rely on location.
Anyway, I think that I will buy the novel in early May when it is released, or, more likely, when it comes out in paperback, or, even more likey, never (sorry, Adrienne ... it's not your fault).

Right-o ... book sounds cool.
Oh, wait ... I just found something out!
The reason there was an excerpt in Esquire is because the writer is an Esquire editor! How sensical!
P.S. -- "Whyever" should be a word ...
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17.4.05

Record Roundup

supersystemSupersystem - Always Never Again
Although Supersystem has been around as El Guapo since 1996, this is their debut album under a dancier and funkier moniker. A very strong and fun album ... I am trying to get to see them live in a week or so ... can't wait!

the nationalThe National - Alligator
Eh ... this follow up album to Sad Songs for Dirty Lovers is not as good as I had hoped it would be. At times it is just a little too sad ... like taking their sound down a notch from where it stood last time they released an album ...

garbageGarbage - Bleed Like Me
Unfortunately, this album has not lived up to the little hype it received. Garbage's fourth album uses the anti-climax and false build-up more than any release that preceded it. Almost every song blows up within 45 seconds, leaving the listener (and band) with nothing to do for the next 3 minutes.

of montrealOf Montreal - Sunlandic Twins
I really, really, really liked Satanic Panic in the Attic, so I was obviously a little let down with this release. It's weird to think that a lo-fi psych-pop band from the 90s has become a dancey-synth band with psychedelic characteristics, but that's probably the best way to describe Of Montreal's transformation over the years. The album is fine, just nothing like the old stuff, but certainly a cool idea ...

adultAdult - D.U.M.E.
This is not very good. Adult was a throwback synth band that, during their early years, sounded cool in a retro way. Now, just as the original synth-dance music did, their sound has become more repetitive and boring as they have gotten older. Luckily, this is just an EP and not a full album ...

architecture in helsinkiArchitecture in Helsinki - In Case We Die
I think you all know how I feel about this album, but I will summarize. It's good. As opposed to the first AiH album, In Case We Die is less lo-fi and more dancey. But the simplicity and child-like qualities of their songcraft are still there, making the album all the more charming and beautiful. Love it.
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16.4.05

The Whole

the whole
MTV is my guilty pleasure (or one of them ... I seem to excuse anything that is remotely embarrassing as a "guilty pleasure"). So, when I happened upon The Whole, by John Reed, and saw that it was published by MTV Books, I could not resist but pick it up and read it.
I will try and give as unbiased a report on the books as I can, but, as I said, I just like MTV, and therefore, you may want to take my words with a grain of salt (if not less).
As far as I can tell, the story is supposed to be a bit of a satire, sort of based off of Alice in Wonderland. But it takes place in a media-heavy, MTV-centered New York City. I can't tell if MTV requested that Mr. Reed plug MTV into the book, or if he just decided to use the channel as a sort of symbol, but it's all over the place.
One thing I liked about the storytelling was that it really read like a fairy tale. The narrative is in a weird tense, so it sounds almost child-like. But then again, the story appears to have a deeper meaning, or something. The fact that the book is called The Whole, and that it revolves around a hole is one layer. Also, the main character is named Thing, which leads the reader to think that the author is trying to comment on something. But if he is commenting on something like "MTV makes us all the same person, and therefore just 'things'," why would MTV Books publish the novel?
So, I admit, I don't really get it all that well. But that's okay. The book is worth reading.

All at once it is fast-paced and slow. It kept me turning the pages, even when there was really nothing there. A large part of the book is just Thing's monologue, but it remains [sort of] engaging at all times, so I still liked reading it. Oh yeah - you can read the first chapter at Amazon.com.
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Catfight

catfight 0
Who doesn't like girls?
Who doesn't like graffiti?
No one!
So everyone should love Catfight magazine, because it is a magazine that features graffiti done only by women! An awesome concept, if I may say so myself. You can download issue #0 right here ... be prepared to be impressed.




I found out about the magazine at Wooster Collective, which is a very cool art and design blog. They even have podcasted interviews there! How neat-o!
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15.4.05

Tomer Hanuka

hanuka
The New York City native (although he has recently moved to London), Tomer Hanuka, is my new favorite artist. I am not sure for how long I will like his stuff, but for right now (at least tonight), I think his artwork is the coolest thing. His work looks like it's been influenced by Paul Pope, another great comic artist who often creates incredibly complicated and complex sci-fi comicbooks with a similar edge to them. He has done a comic, called Bipolar Comics, tons of work for the New Yorker, and some CD cover art (he made the Bazooka Tooth cover for Aesop Rock).

Yeah ... definately a very cool, very edgy and hip style he's got there. Crisp lines (my favorite), vibrant (but thematic) colors, and some nicely done computer effects. He is a pretty good at combining style and design with art, which makes his stuff quite appealing ...
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14.4.05

Gang Gang Dance

gang gang dance
Gang Gang Dance is a very strange and unique band. Now, with the release of God's Money, their second album (out on Social Registry Records), the band has truly developed a "style" that can be attached to their name. Although I am not quite sure what "style" that is, it is something that I've never really heard before. Some are calling it electronic music with a very organic flavor, others are dubbing it electronic-folk, but regardless of name, the group is fascinating and oh so terribly good! Although their music is darker sounding in nature, it doesn't seem straight up depressing ... it just sounds eerie and sort of mysterious. I guess I really like the ambiguous nature of their material ...

Think more accessible Excepter or Black Dice ... really excellent. Check out Untitled #1 (MP3) and a sample of Rugs of Prayer, Baron Samdi, and The Given (unreleased .ram samples) to get an idea of their stuff.
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13.4.05

Out Hud and Hella Concert

let us never speak of it again
Last night (Tuesday). Grog Shop. Got to one of the best concerts I have ever been to at 10:30 PM.
That show was friggin' awesome. Hella is one crazy band. The drummer ... when he was in "normal" mode, he was playing faster and harder than most drummers can sustain for their 20 seconds of soloing at the end of a song. He was ridiculously talented. Their music was more spontaneous and jazz-like in nature than I expected it to be. Not really my thing, but very good. I bought their 2X CD album, Church Gone Wild/Chirpin Hard, which is "supposed to be like their live show." I can't imagine that you would ever be able to replicate that show ... wow.

Out Hud was better than I had expected them to be (and I had high expectations to begin with). They made som excellent dance music, and I was so pumped, so it was an excellent time for me to be at the show. I restrained myself and did not listen to any of their new music (except for 2 songs), so the show was, for the most part, a surprise to me! I loved those girls, and I thought it was so cool how the little one played the cello on some stuff! The "leader" of the band was very high energy and funny.
Q:"Why did the pope fall out of the tree?"
A:"Because he's dead!"

Awesome, awesome show.

Out Hud mentioned a band called Supersystem, that I have since looked into. I think that one of the members of Out Hud is in the band ...
Anyway, the band is really great ... I want to hear/see them on the 28th so bad! Check out their stuff at Myspace.
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12.4.05

Edan

beauty and the beat
I am really not a rap or hip-hop fan, but occasionally, I will find something that is of interest to me. For example, I really enjoy M.I.A.'s stuff, Automato (to an extent), Mos Def, blah blah blah ...

And now, I have come across Edan (AKA the Humble Magnificent), whose base of operations is Boston (but appears to be more popular in the UK than in the US), is my new favorite rapper. His second album is out now, and is called Beauty and the Beat.

Edan's rap style is pretty unique, especially considering the current state of hip-hop. He draws heavily from rap's past, so everything he does has a real raw and old-school feel to it. His other influences include styles like Doo-Wop and people like Jimi Hendrix, making his sound all the more original and creative.

Also, it is pretty obvious that he comes from the Boston area, since Mr. Lif (a Boston-ite as well) appears on the album, and Edan has apparently collaborated with Esoteric and other Boston native rappers.
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11.4.05

Casshern


I'm not really quite sure what this new Japanese movie, Casshern, is all about. From the looks of the trailer, I would say that the movie looks quite cool. Here is a summary:
In a world with an alternate history, a great war finally comes to an end leaving the earth diseased and polluted. The geneticist Dr. Azuma vies for support from the government for his neo-cell treatment that he claims can rejuvenate the body and regenerate humankind. The government leaders, guarding their own deeply entrenched powers, turn down the professor. Driven to complete his work, Dr. Azuma accepts a secret offer from a sinister faction of the powerful military. After an incident occurs in Dr. Azuma's lab, a race of mutant humans known as the Shinzo Ningen are unleashed upon the world. Now only the warrior known as Casshern, reincarnated with an invincible body, stands between the Shinzo Ningen and a world on the brink of annihilation.


So, it's apparently based off of a 1973 anime of the same name ... but this time, the theme song is by (oh, god) Utada Hikaru ...
The film sounds like it'd be fun to see, if nothing else, so if anyone has news about it, please tell me!
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10.4.05

Kinji Fukasaku

fall guy
This post is mostly about Japanese director Kinji Fukasaku's 1982 film, Fall Guy, which I just recently watched, but, Fukasaku is better known for being the director of Battle Royale.
I don't really know what inspired me to watch Fall Guy - Battle Royale was so terribly scary, and I have not watched a Japanese film for quite some time - so why I would chose a seemingly average Japanese 80s comedy is beyond me ...
Anyway ... the movie was actually, overall, pretty funny and good. It kind of revolves around the usual Japanese love-triangle theme, but with an interesting twist. "Fall guy" (think "really stupid stunt man") refers to the profession that one of the characters takes up in order to provide for his wife, who is pregnant. But the main star of the film in which the "fall guy" is stunting is also interested in the "fall guy"'s wife. It's so dramatic, right!?

The movie was so ridiculously 80s-fabulous. Corny music, fast paced, lots of quick zoom ins, and that signature 80s gloss over the film. There is just something aesthetically pleasing about 80s film to me, and I am not quite sure what it is, but Fall Guy nailed it.
Fukasaku also did Sympathy for the Underdog, the Yakuza Papers (both of which were recently released in the US for the first time), and many other films. As we all know, he died a couple years back, and his son had to finish Battle Royale II in his stead.
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9.4.05

Ice Haven

ice haven
Alternative comics mainstay, Dan Clowes, is releasing a new graphic novel called Ice Haven. As far as I can tell, the "novella" is just the collection of Clowes' "Ice Haven" strips from Eightball. The story is good ... just not as good as, say, David Boring or Ghost World. Pre-order the comic at Amazon.com.
It's been a long time since I last read a Clowes comic ...

Also ... Art School Confidential, the second film that Clowes has made (this one is directed by T. Zwigoff again, but stars John Malkovich), is due out later this year. It looks like it could be on par with Ghost World, so I'm looking forward to seeing it.
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8.4.05

The Intonation Music Festival

intonation music fest
This is pretty cool ... the Pitchforkmedia people (do I mention them too much?) are curating a music festival in Chicago called the Intonation Music Festival. Looks pretty cool! The roster includes the Decemberists, the Fiery Furnaces, Broken Social Scene, Four Tet, and the Go! Team! That, my friends, is what I call a nice line up.

And guess what else is really excellent about the music fest!? It's only a $10 entrance fee! And the money goes to after school music programs. Sweet deal, I'd say.
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Fischerspooner - Odyssey

odyssey
Well, it was really diasappointing to see that Pitchfork gave the new Fischerspooner album, Odyssey a 7.3! I really, really, really don't like the album. It's bad. Very boring synths, bland (and dumb beyond belief) lyrics, and pretentiously arty. Why did they, the kings of scathing record reviews, have to give the album such a [relatively] high score!? What's up with that?

Part of the reason I feel stupid about the review is because, for some ridiculous and unknown reason, I base my record-reviewing merit on Pitchfork's standards. If I write a review, and their review is close to mine, it makes me think that I am a good record critic. Insecure? Perhaps. I gave Odyssey a 2.5, and it should be published on Exploding Plastic pretty soon ...
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6.4.05

Everloving

everloving
One of my favorite bands (ever) is Metric (which I had the pleasure of seeing twice live!) Their record label, Everloving, has just released two new, rather good records by Inara George and Wan Santo Condo. From the samples on their websites, I have decided that both bands are pretty cool, and I would like to hear more stuff by them ...

It would have been nice, though, if Everloving had not released Jack Johnson's last album. I don't like him.
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5.4.05

Minisulk

minisulk
The current big name in the indie comic world, Jeffery Brown, has released yet another collection of stories, called Minisulk. It is 96 pages long, $8 (at Atomic Books), and just a collection of gag strips and humorous short stories.
For $8 I can't complain, but I have grown tired of Mr. Brown. He is either writing about his problems with women or else writing on stupid topics that I don't care about. He likes to remain aloof and seemingly better than those around him, never taking a huge part in anything, but that only makes his stories boring and juvenille, which I am sure is not his intention.

Plus -- he's stuck in this "I'll take the easy route out and not put much effort into drawing" thing which makes his relatively frequent comic releases more bland and unoriginal.
Sorry ... I'm giving him a hard time.
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4.4.05

"Tokyo Spring"

tokyo spring
I see the New York Times to be a newspaper full of contradictions. The paper and magazine combined juxtapose the high life (high art, fashion, culture, music) and the lowest (war, poverty, etc.) in a very strange way. Page one will feature an amputee while page two will feature Paris Hilton in a mini skirt. Keeping that in mind, I did enjoy the Tokyo Spring articles (that specific link is to the "Murakami Method" article, but there were lots more, including a "Tokyo Girls" portfolio, a fashion section called "Turning Japanese," a cute little Japanohile article entitled "Tokyo, Mon Amour," and finally, a tribute to the Lawsons コンビニ (conbini, or convenient store) chains in Japan called "Eat, Memory: Our Lady of Lawson", by Pico Iyer).

Due to my power failure (36 hours of no electricty), I did not get to the articles first, and both Jean Snow and Marxy have blogged about and extensively discussed how much the articles (especially the Murakami one) suck.
Oh, and there is stuff about it at Kissui.net as well ...
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2.4.05

GelForce

gelforce
These two Japanese guys, K. Kamiyama and T. Kawakami, have developed a very cool new technology that they have called GelForce. I don't quite understand how it works, but the paper looks really pretty when you push on it. I want some magical gel! Look at some movies of the produt in action here ... very cool.

So I guess they want to use this technology on robots. The robots would, supposedly, have the gel stuff on their hand so they could sense pressure and respond to it in a human manner. I am so excited to see this thing in use!
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1.4.05

Weezer - Make Believe

make believe
It is kind of sad to see the ultimate in geek/nerd bands go totally mainstream, but I still love the guys of Weezer. Their new album, Make Believe, is due out on May 10. The lead single, Beverly Hills was released on the 29th, and you can listen to it here. I think that Pitchfork was a bit harsh in giving the track a one star (out of five), but I must agree with them in that the song is not much of anything ... it's kind of like something they used to do, kind of poppy, kind of more rocky, kind of blah.

But I mean, I think everyone is probably feeling, to an extent, nostalgia for the band that was so out there. The band that made the Sweater Song and was immediately (and permanently) ingrained in all our minds as the best nerd rock band out there. So, to see them do anything more mainstream (this new album being their second "big" effort to appeal to the masses ... re: the Green Album) makes us just feel bad that the old Weezer has left us. And so has River's goofy bowl cut.
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The Big Bento Box of Unuseless Japanese Inventions

the big bento box of unuseless japanese inventions
I thoroughly enjoyed Kenji Kawakami's "unuseless Japanese invention" books, and now he has compiled all 200 "unuseless inventions" into one big book, dubbed The Big Bento Box of Unuseless Japanese Inventions, which you can easily buy at Amazon.com.

If you want to get a better idea of how stupid some of these ideas really are, check out this page which features 18 of the dumb concepts.


If you run into the Bumper Book of Unuseless Japanese Inventions, do not fear, for (as far as I can tell), it is the same as The Big Bento Box of Unuseless Japanese Inventions book. Fun.
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