31.5.05

Arkitip 28

arkitip 0028
As of late, I have been getting back into the world of arty skateboard-types. I have always liked Stacks and clothing brands like that, but I have pretty much ignored everything else those artists produce recently.
So ... the newest Arkitip magazine is coming out soon, and I am very excited to see it! There will only be 1000 (is that normal for them?) and they will all include an air freshener! I always liked how Arkitip included fun stuff like that with their magazine. Granted, the newest issue (0028) is going to cost $30, but maybe it is worth it!
I want!

Todd James did the cover, and, unless I am mistaken, Todd James (of REAS) is the man behind some early Beastie Boys artwork. I think. I like his stuff a lot. The REAS site used to be here, but it ain't no more. Maybe it'll pop up in the future.
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29.5.05

Interview Goes to Tokyo

interview goes to toky
Usually, I avoid Interview magazine because I feel that it trys too hard to dumb down everything cool. But on the other hand, I really hate it when people complain that something that is "theirs" has become "mainstream" and has therefore been "stolen." (i.e. "oh no! I don't listen to Band X because MTV plays them now"). So, when I saw that this month's issue was all about Tokyo, I decided to give the magazine a second chance!

And I was pleasantly surprised! The issue features some really cool people. From the most well known (Murakami, Nara, and Utada Hikaru) to the lesser known (Takashi Miike, the Polysics, Araki, and Cornelius), the installment features a good balance of the mainstream and "underground."
Although none of the blurbs on any of the artists is longer than 4 short paragraphs (in the usual Interview style), the interviews themselves are cool, and the people they chose to blurb are, for the most part, uber-hip.

On a related note, I was shocked to see what Elton John is listening to (he was interviewed about it in the magazine). LCD Soundsystem, Antony and the Johnsons, the Bravery ... credible/good stuff! What's going on? I can't dislike the man for no reason any more!
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28.5.05

Takagi Masakatsu

light park 2
I have just gotten interested in the Kyoto-based video artist/musician, Takagi Masakatsu. He is a pretty young guy (25 or 26), so he has only been doing stuff for the past four years or so, but I like what I have been seeing so far.
I think that his music is overall sort of lame, but his video work makes up for it. His work is incredibly vibrant, and sometimes I think he may overdo this aspect of his work, but I like color, and I like how he fully utilizes it. In fact, it is one of his black and white works, Light Park #2, that I think is one of his strongest pieces!

I also enjoy his Animation for TV, although I know little of that work. Is ths stuff actually shown on TV? What channel would be playing this stuff?
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27.5.05

Seeing Things

seeing things
I think Jim Woodring's work is some of the coolest comic art that I have ever seen. He is one of the few artists whose color work is just as good as his black and white work. I love how he is able to make both his color and black and white drawings look the same while using vastly different materials.
In Seeing Things, his newest release, Woodring shows off his charcoal drawing ability. I know that it is a good book because it is published by Fantagraphics, which is known for making gorgeous volumes.
Lastly, Woodring must be smoking some serious weed. Like, Purple Haze, every day, 7 days a week. Okay, so maybe that's an exaggeration, but still, I am certain that he is under the influence of something.

Jim Woodring’s charcoal drawings take the otherworldly qualities of his comics (The Frank Book) to a higher level of clarity and nuance. These crisply rendered images reflect his life-long obsession with hidden worlds, alternate realities and the inexplicable resonance of the unprecedented and irrational in lucid art. Seeing Things collects the most toothsome of these drawings and arranges them in four sections.

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25.5.05

Space Invaders

rubikscubism
Woo! That crazy French artist, Space Invaders is having a show at Sixspace in LA. The show is called Rubikcubism, and I want to go so bad! Space Invaders has combined his goofy 8-bit invader characters with the pop-art potential that has been stored within the Rubiks cube for years in preparation for the show. (That sounded so lame).
For those of you unfamiliar with his work, Space Invader "invades" certain cities around the globe, and leaves his invader mark at dozens of sites in each area. His exhibits are more tame, I guess, but always contain his invader character in countless forms and look really fun to see.

Why can't he invade Cleveland? I'll send him an invitation ...
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24.5.05

ShushShush

shushshush
I found this pretty cool band called ShushShush, which I think has some relation to Ambulance Ltd. Although I have only listened to How To Lie, I think I've got a pretty good impression of the group's musical style. It does indeed remind me a bit of something that Ambulance Ltd. may have made, so it would make sense that the two bands are closely connected, but again, that could very well be incorrect.
The band is playing for Music For Robots' CD release party at the Knitting Factory on the 26th.

You can also listen to a really rough demo called Pale Blue Bloodshot Gray, which I absolutely love. I am a complete sucker for lo-fi, honest music like this. It makes me cry.
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23.5.05

Rip It UP And Start Again

rip it up and start again
I don't really know why there are so many rock books being published these days, but it is the new trend, I think. Although From the Velvets to the Voidoids and Thurston Moore's Mix Tape books were sort of disappointing to me, this new book (actually from the UK), Rip It Up And Start Again, looks rather good. And for real this time!
The book documents the development of the post-punk movement, from 1978 - 1984 ... I can't wait to read it!
Punk's raw power rejuvenated rock, but by the summer of 1977 the movement had become a parody of itself. Rip It Up and Start Again is a celebration of what happened next: postpunk bands like PiL, Joy Division, Gang of Four, Talking Heads, The Fall and Cabaret Voltaire, who dedicated themselves to fulfilling punk's unfinished musical revolution. The postpunk groups were fervent modernists. Experimenting with electronics and machine rhythm or adapting ideas from dub reggae and disco, they were totally confident they could invent a whole new future for music.


It's a shame that the thing is only published in the UK right now, but at least Amazon.co.uk is selling it for a mere 10 pounds.
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22.5.05

Panico

panico
I have been recently listening to Panico's Subliminal Kill LP, and I like it quite a lot. They are signed to Tigersushi, but are based in Chili. Apparently, they have been around for over 10 years, but this album is supposed to be their breakout. They obviously are trying to capitalize off of the post-punk/electro-dance movement currently going on, but at least they do a fair job of it. Also, they are a little more spastic than, say, the Rapture, and more like Brainiac or some band like that. One aspect to their sound I really appreciate is the organic and live feel they play with. Their music does not sound perfect (like it was recorded and re-recorded in a studio), but rather loose and garage-like. I guess I just like music that sounds more natural.

Buy the record here, and listen to some of it here. I want to buy it, but I never like dealing with euros and having to wait a long time to get things from Europe.
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19.5.05

British Sea Power Concert

british sea power
After unsuccessfully trying to see Decemberists show with my friends last night, we decided to go to the Grog Shop and see the other show playing that night, British Sea Power. We missed the opener, Roue, which is a local noise/punk sort of band that reminds me a little bit of the Fall (check out All About Time). But we did see Fiest, who was a bit of a disappointment. She seemed kind of bored playing her all acoustic set, and the audience wasn't really feeling her either. But she still has a very pretty voice.
So, next on was British Sea Power. I had pretty low expectations of them coming into the show, but I was actually pretty pleased with them live. They came on stage in costumes (sort of) ... one guy had toilet paper on his head, another had a laurel and a sort of tunic, and the drummer wore a funny fur hat and hard hat. They had good stage presence. The keyboard player would occasionally come down from the stage with a drum and bang on it and walk through the crowd. That kind of thing.
The most impressive thing about them to me was how much the singer's voice resembled the vocals from Echo and the Bunnymen. This aspect of their sound is not well replicated on the CD, so that is my one major complaint with it.

Otherwise, it was a great show. Good mix of relaxing and dancey songs, and a good set length. Plus, I got to go in for only $5 (instead of $16) since we knew the guy at the door.
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Star Fruits

star fruits
I Don't really know how I came across Star Fruits, and don't know too much about it, but whatever it is, it's pretty cool. From what I gather, Star Fruits is a group of Japanese artists. They do some pretty interesting art that is rather simple, child-like, and very mellow. Something kind of French about it as well. I guess their newest show is the Lubicuve show, but again, I do not really know much about that either.
I guess I just wanted to mention that I thought Star Fruits makes some pretty cool art.

I would love to have one of these T-shirts from an exhibit that they did at Zone gallery. If anyone else has information about Star Fruits, please tell me about it!
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17.5.05

Seadrum/House of Sun

seadrum/house of sun
It took a while, but the Boredoms' latest "album" (it's only 2 songs, and, uh, didn't they break up?) is being released by Vice Records. In fact, you can stream the whole thing (all two songs) here.
I heard the thing when it first was released, and I was not too excited by it. Apparently, the record is just a bunch of outtakes and snippets pieced together, so I guess that's part of the reason that it isn't all that great.
Whatever, the Boredoms have been going downhill for a while. They're still really cool in my mind just for being there, but I don't really think they're going anywhere. Perhaps Japan's Sonic Youth?

I totally agree with Pitchfork's review on this one. "Where did they go?"
But it at Amazon.com.
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Me

me
Oh, Yukari Fresh ... I will always love you.
I kind of lost my heavy interest in Japanese pop music, but because of my growing interest in making mix CDs for my friends, I "rediscovered" Yukari Fresh. As of now, I have been listening to her remix album, Me, because it is her newest. But wow is she good. Like the Unicorns, Yukari Fresh's music makes me terribly happy and sad at the same time. It makes me feel lost and hopeless, but full of emotion and warmth. I do not know why she provokes so much emotion in me, so I hope that this kind of reaction to her music is not foreign to everyone.
Just thought I should get that out there.

From an objective point of view, however, Me serves as a pretty decent album. I know it's been out for a while, but I like it, so it deserves a post. I like how there is a very eclectic mix of artists that remix her stuff, and I also like how the material that is remixed spans her entire solo career (which is something like 8 years by now). So, buy the album (for me?) here.
She is really pretty, by the way.
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15.5.05

The Ponys - Celebration Castle

the ponys
The Ponys, a Chicago-based post-punk/garage rock revivalist band, just released Celebration Castle, their second full-length record. I was listening to some of it on their website, and found Glass Conversation to be an excellent song. I have not heard much about this new record, but from what I have listened to and read, it is hookier and more melodic than Laced With Romance, the group's debut LP. Unfortunately, the frontman of the band, Ian Adams, just left the band, so I do not know what the future holds for the band. The record was, however, produced (or rather "recorded") again by Steve Albini.

And here is the tracklist, just in case ...
1 Glass Conversation Ponys
2 Another Wound Ponys
3 Today Ponys
4 I'm With You Ponys
5 We Shot the World Ponys
6 Shadow Box Ponys
7 Discoteca Ponys
8 Get Black Ponys
9 She's Broken Ponys
10 Ferocious

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Believer Compilation

believer
I thought that Dave Egger's McSweeney's comic book issue was stupendous, and Dave Eggers is just in general a very creative and intelligent writer and editor. His other magazine, Believer, will feature a compilation CD of artists whom he likes (and was able to get to record something for him). The comp comes out with the June issue of the magazine, and includes the likes of the Decemberists,
Spoon, and Wolf Parade (!). I hope that it is a good mix! Keep being uber-cool, Dave!

Ah -- and the tracklist!
01 The Decemberists - "Bridges & Balloons" by Joanna Newsom
02 Spoon - "Decora" by Yo La Tengo
03 Constantines - "Why I Didn't Like August '93" by Elevator
04 CocoRosie - "Ohio" by Damien Jurado
05 The Mountain Goats - "Pet Politics" by Silver Jews
06 San Serac - "Late Blues" by Ida
07 The Shins - "We Will Become Silhouettes" by the Postal Service
08 Josephine Foster - "The Golden Window" by the Cherry Blossoms
09 Cynthia G. Mason - "Surprise, AZ" by Richard Buckner
10 Jim Guthrie - "Nighttime/Anytime (It's Alright)" by the Constantines
11 Espers - "Firefly Refrain" by Fursaxa
12 Two Gallants - "Anna's Sweater" by Blear
13 Vetiver - "Be Kind to Me" by Michael Hurley
14 Ida - "My Fair, My Dark" by David Schickele
15 Mount Eerie - "Waterfalls" by Thanksgiving
16 Devendra Banhart - "Fistful of Love" by Antony & the Johnsons
17 Wolf Parade - "Claxxon's Lament" by Frog Eyes


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12.5.05

Applied Communications

applied communications
My taste in music seems to be totally unpredictable. I honestly do not know what it is that I listen for in bands that I hear, and what makes them stand out to me. I think I like high-energy, creative, and unique stuff, but then again, I have been (for example) listening to a lot of Grandaddy recently, so that rule has been proven false.
Applied Communications is definitely high-energy, and absolutely crazy, so maybe that's why I like them. They remind me of the Soft Pink Truth, had that group consisted of a more normal band lineup (guitar, bass, drums, maybe a keyboard ... )

Maybe you all should just listen to Do You Know What I'm Saying, and you will get my point.
I can't seem to find out where to purchase the record ... is it actually out yet? It's called, Uhhh Sort Of, in case anyone wants to investigate further.

While on the topic of music as usual, I will tell you about the Deerhoof concert! It was fantastic! The band's pure talent really stood out last night. I have never seen so much on-stage tuning by guitarists, and I was incredibly impressed by the intense-yet-restrained-when-needed drummer, and, of course, the little Japanese girl's vocals. I picked up their latest EP called Green Cosmos. It is a Japan-only release (but will be out in the States soon enough), and is incredible! I have never heard Deerhoof like this. On they EP, they continue to create more poppy-sounding songs, but this time they put a distinctly Japanese twist on the whole thing. The seven songs incorporate a large amount of synthesizers and the like, and are very melodius, but still quite quirky. I love it!
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11.5.05

From the Velvets to the Voidoids

from the velvets to the voidoids
Although the book was originally published way back in 1993, From the Velvets to the Voidoids, apparently the book to get if you want to learn all about the American punk scene, has been edited and updated for 2005. And it has a way cooler cover, too!
The book looks really interesting, and seems to have been exhaustively researched by the author, Clinton Heylin. I really think I should buy it at Amazon.com, and everyone else should too!
The book is a massive 426 pages and is based primarily off of first hand accounts and references, so it should be a rather accurate representation of the early American punk scene!

The author, Clinton Heylin, has written some other interesting books, including All Yesterdays' Parties (a book about the Velvet Underground) and Bootleg!, a book concerning the "rise and fall of of the secret recording industry." I want to read his stuff!
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Deerhoof Concert

deerhoof live
Today, I am afraid, is brag day. I am incredibly excited, though, and therefore feel justified in bragging. I am going to the Deerhoof concert tonight, at the Beachland Ballroom in Cleveland!
I have been a big Deerhoof fan ever since their last album, Milkman, which inspired me to buy their older stuff. So I am not die-hard Deerhoof or anything, but I am still very excited to finally be seeing them in all their chaotic glory live.

Don't worry -- I will keep all of you posted, in an effort to brag more than I should be allowed to. Can't wait, can ya?!
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10.5.05

Chok Rock

chok rock
I am really digging Chok Rock, which is the stagename of a Parisian electronic artist named Gael Baillier. I like this little summary of Chok Rock:
One of these creative and agitated nights, Gael met Camille Bazbaz, a sensitive fragile and well known crooner, who defined the CHOK ROCK sound as “a futuristic dampness impregnated with sex”. He also met Cyril Kebellian, genius and mega-guitarist. Then Check Morris, graphic designer and videomaker, who created the CHOK ROCK visual universe.

I think that the graphics for the album and video are incredible. Check Morris has some really great stuff that he has done on his own, so you should all check it out!

You can buy the single here, where you can also hear some more samples and read more up on Chok Rock.
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9.5.05

The Lovekevins

the lovekevins
Thanks to Music For Robots, I have started listening to this great pop band, the Lovekevins. I am still trying to place their sound, but for some reason, the only image that has come to mind is some strange cross between the Shins and Ambulance Ltd.
I really enjoy Happy Happy, which is from their Blame the English 7" single. I like how they recommend the Monochrome Set, one of my personal favorites.
Lastly, both you and I should purchase the 7" right here. I guess they're from Sweden.

Their record label, Songs I Wish I Had Written looks like a pretty nice Swedish pop label. I will investigate further!
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7.5.05

The Apes - Baba's Mountain

the apes
That crazy D.C. based band, the Apes, which has been described as having "a sound that resembles what would happen if Tony Iommi played organ rather than guitar in Black Sabbath," has just released its third album, Baba's Mountain on Birdman Records. I really dug their second LP, Oddeyesee, and from the little I've heard from the new album, I think I will not be disappointed with it either. You can listen to What We Do Best right here.

I was looking through some of Birdman's other releases, and I came across this (sort of dumb) video by Foetus. I think Foetus kind of sucks, and I was not impressed at all by Karen O.'s directing of the video, and Spike Jonze's assistance did not really stand out. Oh well ...
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The Mopeds

the mopeds
Although the Mopeds are not from Norway, they come from Sweden which is, in my mind, close enough. So, consider this post an extension of the last one.
Right - the Mopeds is this pretty good group that started out as a musical collective between two brothers, but has since solidified their line-up and sound. I'm not too good with Swedish music, so I'll just call their style "Swedish pop," that has some definate XTC, the Carigans, and The Presidents of the United States of America influences.
They really started putting stuff out in 1997, and their newest record, Fortissimo was released through Crunchy Frog Reocrds.

Crunchy Frog is also home to Junior Senior, which has just released a 7" single called Itch U Can't Scratch. If anyone has heard the song, please let me know how it is, as I really like Junior Senior.
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6.5.05

Norwegian Bands

datarock
I don't have too much to work on here, so just keep that in mind as you read on.

I did not realize that Norway has been producing some really cool bands. I know that Annie is from the little country, but aside from that, I am unfamiliar with the music of the nation.
Datarock and Ungdomskulen (how do you pronounce that?) are excellent examples of exactlly what I mean, but I am sure that tons of other really great Norwegian bands are out there.
Here is a Ugdomskulen song, and I really like Fa-Fa-Fa by Datatrock, but be warned, the link is for a video, so it's large.

Anyone know some other cool Norwegian bands? I know that a lot of people like Stockhaus, but I don't find him to be all that great.
Whatever - keep me posted on what you all find!
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5.5.05

The Cobra Snake

the cobra snake
I don't really know what is so appealing to me about The Cobra Snake photographs. Maybe it's how all of the photos look natural in a very unnatural way. Or maybe it's because all of the people in the pictures are very interesting and beautiful, in their own, unique sort of ways. So many of the pictures were taken in clubs and at parties, and all of the people look like they're "in their zone." They all look natural, but also perfect. Not only do the pictures give me a good impression of the party they were taken at, but they make me really want to be there. I have never had that emotion evoked by just looking at photos.
Whatever -- I'm not making sense, I'm sure.
I really like this collection a lot.

What does this guy photograph for? Where does his stuff get published? Why does he get to go to the coolest parties? Who is he!?
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4.5.05

Everything Bad Is Good for You

everything bad is good for you
I really enjoy reading books like Everything Bad Is Good for You (or, in this specific case, I think I will enjoy reading it), because they make me feel like my rebellious nature is being justified by more than one person (myself). I mean, when the author is telling you that watching TV is okay, then it makes me feel like I finally got mom back. Or, on a broader scale, when Bjorn Lmoborg wrote The Skeptical Environmentalist, I was happy to know that there are more trees in the USA than there were 100 years ago just because everyone else has been telling me that the environment is dying.
I guess it's comforting, in a weird way, to know that your contrary beliefs were justified, in some way, by someone else aside from yourself.

So, back to Everything Bad Is Good for You.
It looks like a very intriguing book (duh) by Steven Johnson, about how the things in the world around us are really not as bad as they seem. It goes on sale May 5. You can preorder it at Amazon.com.

Writing this post reminded me of the new book, Freakonomics, a really interesting book on the science of economics, written in a very humorous, yet scholarly way. You can also buy it at Amazon.com.
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3.5.05

Four Tet - Everything Is Ecstatic

everything is ecstatic
I for one am very happy to see that Four Tet will be releasing their new album, Everything Is Ecstatic, on May 31. You can watch the video for Smile Around the Face right here. It's a kind of cool video, but the song is definately the highlight here.
I love the free-jazz influences that Four Tet incorporates into its unique electronic style, and this record looks like it will not disappoint in this regard.
Also -- really cool album art!

And now for the tracklist that I always provice ...
1. A Joy
2. Smile Around The Face
3. Fuji Check
4. Sun Drums And Soil
5. Clouding
6. And Then Patterns
7. High Fives
8. Turtle Turtle Up
9. Sleep, Eat Food, Have Visions
10. You Were There With Me

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2.5.05

Killing Yourself to Live: 85% of a True Story

killing yourself to live
The all-American, yet uber-cool essayist, Chuck Klosterman, will release his next book, Killing Yourself to Live: 85% of a True Story, on June 28. So yeah, it'll be a while, but I suppose I can wait a little longer.
I don't really know what the book is about, but it'll probably be his usual pseudo-insightful-yet-funny essay schickt. I don't mean to sound down on Chuck, but even he admits that he writes with a formula which requires only a 30 second burst of insight, and then enough patience to sit down and drag that insight out for 20 pages. But whatever ... it's funny stuff, right? So it's all good ...
If you want to, for some really weird reason, pre-order the book, you can do it at Amazon.com.

I think that his list of 21 "high-quality albums" from the past three years was kind of lame/not taken seriously by Klosterman. I don't really like half of the albums at all, and I usually like a lot of stuff. Looking at the list got me down, and made me feel like a negative person, which I seriously hope is not true!
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1.5.05

Kaiju Big Battle

shocking truth
A new Kaiju Big Battle DVD is out. I don't know if the DVDs are the quite the same as the live shows - they probably aren't at all - but it's kind of a funny idea anyway ...
Watch the trailer to Shocking Truth and be impressed! Then buy the thing right here.
Who the hell thought this thing up?




P.S. - Betcha didn't know that there is a Kaiju Manga! Neato ...
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