Tuesday, July 31, 2007

How Do You Mew?

Well my friend who introduced me to the Danish band says that they're perfect for "headphones during a rainy night." I think they're the perfect soundtrack for dreaming Nice Dreams.

Mew - The Zookeeper's Boy

This track and others can be found on Mew's rare album, Half The World is Watching Me, scheduled to be re-released this month.

Mew reminds me of a Belgian band called Girls in Hawaii. Hear for yourselves.

Something's Always Wrong

I turned out of my street to walk the two blocks it takes to get to the subway this morning and I already knew that something was wrong. A cop car was blocking incoming traffic, another doing the same not too many feet away. A news van and anchor stood on the other side of the street. The anchor moved around a lot, trying to find a spot in the shade and to keep her hair out of her eyes. More cops in the street, questioning a man in a car. The usually boisterous crowd outside a brownstone on the way was quiet and pensive.

I see an abandoned car with a tiny bullet hole in one of its windows. Just one. But it’s the weirdest thing, the window doesn’t break, it kind of forms this crystallized design. It could almost be considered beautiful. Spots of blood on the sidewalk break my trance.

This is apparently what happened last night, when I went to bed earlier than usual to catch up on sleep. The murder victim was only 25 years old.

The Post interviewed Abner Louima yesterday. The Times has a story about Amadou Diallo’s cousin today. I think I feel sad more than I feel unsafe. Life is too much sometimes.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Talk To Me



I finally got to see what could easily be a major contender for the big prizes come awards season. Talk to Me is much more than a buddy film, although it's great in that capacity as well. Don Cheadle takes an extraordinary turn as legendary ex-con radio personality Petey Greene. And while on-screen love interest Teraji P. Henson and the second half of that buddy formula, Radio Exec Dewey Hughes played by the terrific Chiwetel Ojiofor, shine brilliantly on their own, they each give Cheadle enough room for the robust and colorful Petey to play. The always genius film score composer Terrence Blanchard does his thing, Kasi Lemmons of Eve's Bayou fame directs, and one of the writers of Brown Sugar co-penned the script.

I found the nation's connection with the death of MLK the most fascinating. Even Petey shows a crack in his tough guy veneer as he shares the news with his listeners, fighting back tears to say, "I'm tired of them taking our leaders." Everyone's reaction, even the radio station manager played by a stern Martin Sheen, is that of honest sorrow and pain. The King of Love Was Dead, and I don't think we identify with our leaders as strongly today. Perhaps we never will again.

Another poignant moment was when Petey appeared on the Tonight Show in what could have been his mainstream cross-over debut, only to walk off stage mid-monologue, refusing to do what he considered to be a song and dance number for the audience. It didn't take Greene as long as it took Dave Chapelle to realize that the point is to make people laugh, not to be laughed at.

The dynamic between the hard-edged Greene and his eloquent soft-spoken counterpart Hughes is a treasure. It's not hard to see that their dream and struggle are shared; to be seen in the eyes of others without the usual limitations our color and class-based society depends on. And in their own ways, both men succeed.

Write It In A Letter

Saw this interesting story in the Times this morning, about a correspondence between Hillary Clinton and a childhood friend, who says "this is what college students did before Facebook."

Some choice musings from Hills circa 1966:

“Are you satisfied with the part you have cast yourself in? It seems that you have decided to become a reactor rather than actor — everything around will determine your life.”

“God, I feel so divorced from Park Ridge, parents, home, the entire unreality of middle class America. This all sounds so predictable, but it’s true.”

"Last week I decided that even if life is absurd why couldn’t I spend it absurdly happy?”

It's a little comforting to know that all this brooding and angst one feels at 22 can possibly one day be directed towards meaningful endeavors. That it isn't in vain to think about life and its meaning every waking moment, to demand that everything reveal something about its mystery.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Death by New York City Apartment

After a day of travel with my head in the clouds

my feet were firmly planted on the ground upon returning to the city and finding yet another apartment 'situation.'

So, here's a little something akin to wisdom that I have gained living here. When you are young, scraping by on a dream, and within a certain income bracket (as in, ya broke,) there is a universal truth that the living arrangement will indeed suck. It doesn't matter.
Oh what's that? I almost see you mouthing a rebuttal. Um no. It will suck.
Nope, not even then, it will still suck. Okay stop it, it will suck.

Is it the price to pay to live here? Unreasonable landlords, Craigslist luck of the draw roommate pairings, vermin and creatures?
I'm starting to think the price is too high.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Noisettes



One of the main reasons why it has been so difficult to pry myself away from the New York City is that I’m scared I’ll miss out on something, not even sure of what that thing is. A lot of events happened in New York these last couple of weeks while I have been 3,000 miles away in suburbia. The SirenFest is one of them.

Yes, I probably would have bitched and moaned endlessly if I were there; the sun too hot, the people too numbered, the smoke, the nasty deathtrap of a beach (seriously, if you have or know any young children, do not let them anywhere near the boardwalk, it is covered with glass and other hazardous waste products. You have been warned, if you didn't know already.)

Yet I can’t help but wonder about the Noisettes set last weekend. Their recordings carry an irrepressible energy that I predict translates into an awesome live show. Am I wrong or am I right?

I've come to realize that life can happen outside the city too. And I can always catch the Noisettes when they come back to town in September.

The Noisettes – Bridge to Canada

If you’re not blown away by hurricane hooks and lead singer Shingai Shoniwa’s super sonic vocals, you have my money-back guarantee. What's the Time Mr. Wolf?, a very excellent CD, is out now.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

It's Just A Ring...

But this song and video are adorable!

Tiffany Evans feat. Ciara - Promise Ring




maybe because it reminds me of listening to SWV, X-Scape, and all those sister soul groups back in the day. Even the beat (supplied by a Mr. Collipark) screams middle school, I love it. And this girl is crazy talented, Ms. Tiffany Evans, do check her, she will be doing big things.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Seastories



Why are we so skeptical when an actor tries to sing? It seems like a logical extension to the performing repertoire, doesn’t it, a call back to that golden age of cinema where a Dean Martin or a Lena Horne could do it all. But it’s just that we’ve been let down so many times, we want believe, we’re just not sure we have it in us.

I caught Minnie Driver singing the first single off of her new album, Seastories, on TV this morning and I proceeded to hum its melody for the rest of the day.

It's something I happily went on to do with some of her other songs too, the beautiful words, the quiet arrangement, and that voice of course, it’s all very pleasant. Admittedly the single has a tinge of that musical genre we all pretend to detest, but we’ll just call it Americana in case our friends become suspicious. Driver sounds like she’s been doing this for years. Maybe she has.

This is the first single

Minnie Driver - Beloved

This is another favorite of mine

Minnie Driver – Stars & Satellites

And

In anticipation of an all new season of “Weeds,” it might please you to know that the show is keeping up with the tradition of having spiffy acts take over theme song responsibilities. Pitchfork reports that Man Man has recorded “Little Boxes” for the upcoming Season 3, which begins August 13. You might remember hearing Regina Spektor, Jenny Lewis, and Ozomatli perform the song last season.

Guessing who sings “Little Boxes” is only half the fun, “Weeds” is a really great show. You can catch up on all of Season 2 “Little Boxes” performers here.

What's A Girl To Do?

And when he asked me 'do you still love me?'
I had to look away
I didn’t want to tell him that my heart grows colder each day




Read an interview with Bat for Lashes' Natasha Khan on Gothamist

Monday, July 23, 2007

No Reservations



I’ve never been a fan of the Food Network, or foodie shows in general for that matter. Something about watching food being prepared that I can’t actually eat just doesn’t sit right with me. That said, tonight I managed to watch four straight hours of a show that is very much about food yet not about food at the same time. On No Reservations, former New York chef, bestselling author, and all-around wise guy Anthony Bourdain takes you along on exotic travels to the far corners of the earth, in pursuit of curious tastes for his flavor palette and to take in the view. And what a view it is.

This world is so much bigger than working at a four star restaurant in New York City, and Bourdain knows it. He enters a new world on each show and is willing to try any local food (really, I’m amazed) and to accept different cultural practices and customs - well, at least in front of the camera anyway. In Namibia, he raises the point that half of all arable land is held by the 5% white minority in the country, and spends time living with both a German land owner and African nomad farmers. He is humble with both, understanding that he’s a visitor in their homes, a neutral purveyor attempting to take it in and make sense of it all over palm wine and truffles. At the end of a trip to Malaysia, he wonders back in New York if America is the way the entire world should be. Do we really have all the answers? Are we really the bee’s knees?

Maybe it’s not the time or place for such conversation. Maybe it’s just time to eat.

A brand new season of No Reservations premieres next Monday, July 30.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Across the Universe

I saw a beautiful teaser for an upcoming movie due in the fall. According to various unreliable internet descriptions, Across the Universe was inspired by Beatles’ tunes and intends to play out like one long trippy music video.



I’m intrigued, go on.

It could be a case of “all the amazing scenes from the movie have filled up the trailer leaving nothing else to look forward to,” but I’d be willing to see it anyway. Julie Taymor directs, she was behind Selma Hayek’s vision Frida and the Lion King on Broadway.
And there’s a rock and soul singer named Martin Luther who plays a part in the movie. His music is a bit too classic rock for my tastes but I can see him fitting nicely with the aesthetic of the film. I love how he says “Music’s the only thing that makes sense anymore man.” Word.

This is a Luther song I can get down with.

Martin Luther – Daily Bread

Hairspray



La Madre and I saw Hairspray last night. Despite my initial reservations, as in, “The first Hairspray was great so why do we need another”-kind of reservations; I liked it. All the young actors were terrific, especially the Tracy Turnblad and Seaweed characters, and Queen Latifah held it down as a feisty Motormouth Maybelle.

John Travolta’s makeup looked great, but are there no magical Hollywood effects that can cure man hands? I thought his work was adequate but it didn’t feel entirely necessary. John Waters gave the original role to his muse Divine after all, it doesn’t mean it’s now a standard for a man to play it. And I didn’t get the Baltimore accent. It’s great that he went for such authenticity, but if you’re the only person in a movie set in Baltimore with this peculiar accent, then, well, you appear to be the only person in the entire city of Baltimore with a Baltimore accent. Why do it?

Okay, I’ll stop hating.

Waters makes a brief cameo in the opening number as the neighborhood flasher (of course he needed a role of such lewd distinction), and Jerry Stiller and Ricki Lake pop up later in the film as well. It makes me feel a little better to know that the new version has received the original’s blessing.

It’s kitschy and sweet, which is a surprisingly good way to deal with the ludicrous ways of that era. Negro Day. Wow.

In the film, all of the students of color seemed to be permanently stuck in detention. In 2007, students of color were permanently kept in ESL classes at a Dallas public school, despite perfect command of the English language.

We've still got some work to do.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Either Way

Either Way - Wilco

I finally saw one of the scandalous TV commercials that shook the indie world to its core today. I didn't really notice all the ruckus at first, I don’t follow Wilco like that. But I rather liked it. It was like hearing Jeff Tweedy's voice for the first time. And I probably wouldn’t have given Wilco’s new CD a listen were it not for Volkswagen. So I thank you, new Beetle convertible.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Nothing But Red

"I look and I see the earth in flames. Her face was nothing but red."

These two lines are stunningly poetic and sorrowful as they bear witness to our increasingly miserable lot. They're from a rant by "Buffy" creator Joss Whedon published a few months ago. His words have also inspired a book due out next spring.

Shamefully, I first learned of a young woman named Dua Khalil Aswad yesterday while reading A Salon Broadsheet post. Aswad's honor killing was captured on cell phones for all the world to see, and inspired Whedon to rail on, among other things; misogyny, "womb envy," and a call to 'enlightened activist' arms. (By the way, I think "womb envy" is a pitiful cop out. I don't think I will ever understand the reason for the mistreatment of women around the world, everyone has a mother, right?)

I suggest reading the entire passage, however meandering and rambling it can be at times, it's a very passionate wake up call.

But for whom?

I wonder, is it something more if a man writes a 900+ word diatribe against it? Why does it take an especially heinous crime halfway around the globe to spark our attention?

I don't know.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Men's Needs, Women's Needs, Whatever


I meant to write about this song awhile ago. It's one of those perfect pop songs, perfectly sunny and infectious enough that it starts its own repeat loop in your head. It stays with you for awhile, but not in that obnoxious "Umbrella/Ella/Ella/Ay/Ay/Ay" kind of way.

The Cribs - Men's Needs

Men's Needs, Women's Needs, Whatever is out today.

Monday, July 16, 2007

The Hottest State

With a not so slight shift in geography, this could very well be where I grew up:



I'm actually enjoying my time here so far. I haven't done much since I've arrived, not even blog. This is a bit of a delayed response, but, here are two recent finds that have brought me joy:


1. I found a lovely dollop of a singer named Richard Hawley on Soundbites. Hawley's slow croon is set aflutter with his very own teenage symphony and commanding wall of sound. Soundbites writes a lovely introduction, and you can take a listen to some more stuff on Hawley's Myspace.

and

2. Fujiya! Miyagi!, Fujiya! Miyagi! Fujiya and Miyagi!


make one rad music video

Thursday, July 12, 2007

The View

Someone at work recently moved from the Chicago bureau to New York, and said that a glass of wine is imperative when attempting to store the contents of your life into neat little boxes.

And so I definitely poured myself a glass of Merlot as I whacked away at the bits and pieces of memory I've collected over the past five years.

Believe me, I needed it; I had movie and concert ticket stubs from 2003. Yes, it's that serious.

The new girl and I had lunch today. She seems really cool. And another co-worker left a copy of his band's CD on my desk like he said he would. He wanted me to let him know what I think (check em out!)

And I wonder after a rare good day at work if I'll be able to meet such beautiful people elsewhere. It's a little scary. And a little sad.

Modest Mouse - The View


And if it takes shit to make bliss
then I feel pretty blissfully

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

My Teenage Stride

I wish I saw My Teenage Stride last Friday at The Cake Shop, but alas I will let bygones be bygones. As a wise old friend once said, quoting Ms. Lily Allen:

“I guess that’s just the way the cookie crumbles.”

My Teenage Stride - To Live and Die in the Airport Lounge


You might be confused while listening to this song off of MTS’s latest Ears Like Golden Bats. You might think you’ve heard it in your dreams. The melody is so familiar you’re tapping your foot out of habit. You might think it is New Order. But then again you might think it sounds like Echo & the Bunnymen. You know what I think? I think you think too much. Relax, don’t fight the feeling. Just enjoy it.

Monday, July 9, 2007

How To Waste Away The Work Day

Upon returning from a very fun weekend to a very unfun cubicle, I did the following:

1. spent the morning reading The New York Times, Gothamist, and various music blogs instead of doing work, in no particular order.
2. Listened to "Erotic City" on repeat while doing a funky dance in my head.
3. Mourned the very tragic loss of Jane Magazine
4. Researched alternative career possibilities, librarian school perhaps?
5. Watched Flight of the Conchords, haha (Butter Team hooks. it. up.)


And just like that, three hours down, four more to go...

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Tell It Like It Is


Last night I caught the tail-end of the Afro-Punk Festival. Hidden within a bill of afro-punk acts rocking out in the parking lot of the Brooklyn Museum was a lively and capable soul singer from the Boogie-Down named Stephanie McKay. Admittedly, McKay does not have the strongest voice that the genre of music she sings and the lyrics she pens command, but she's an undeniable presence regardless. She's a Grade A performer and possesses excellent musicianship, and her heartfelt words struck a chord. McKay and her back up band were incredibly on point, they put on an engaging and passionate show. I'd rather see her than Amy Winehouse live any day. Plus she's absolutely gorgeous, do see above for reference pls.

Two McKay tracks that I'm feelin, the first is a gem off of her new self-titled EP that came out in the States last fall, and the second is a dub-fused track from her 2003 UK release.

Stephanie McKay - Tell It Like It Is
Stephanie McKay - Take Me Over

Then there was The Smyrk, a young band from New Haven. Literally it's as if John Legend and Incubus decided to start a group (there's definitely an Incubus influence, former Incubus bassist Ben Kenney produced Smyrk's latest album.) Unfortunately I feel like I would have loved the band's smart brand of emo back in high school. But I thought they were fun and good-humored and they are definitely worth a listen if it's your thing, apparently they are currently on tour too.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Pâte Filo



The world was awash in brilliant watercolor. The quarreling pigeons down the block made him giggle. Giggling, for once he wasn't ashamed of his lame corniness. He coo-cooed at a cute puppy waiting outside a bodega on a leash. He smiled at passerby as he walked down the street, and he never did that. People who walk around grinning all day were right assholes, he always thought.

But not today.

Today, the birds sang just for him. The sky was some sort of blue that he could feel in his heart. The sun was electric. He looked up to feel its rays on his face, and saw bunny rabbit-shaped clouds. A little boy stopped near him as he crossed the street to gaze at the same spot in the sky. He smiled and waved at the kid, despite his deathly allergy to young children. The boy grimaced and stuck his tongue out at him. But it didn't bother him, it couldn't. Me! he wanted to shout aloud. He couldn't believe his luck. The very sensation of being alive, to see what he was seeing, and to feel what he was feeling, was too much.

He wanted to call her when he got in to work. No, he changed his mind, it was too soon, didn't want to seem too eager.

But he was eager. To touch her, to kiss her, to watch her sweep the impossibly long bangs off her forehead, to listen to her laugh, to stare at her chest when she wasn't looking, to act on all of those explicit thoughts he'd been having about her since they met.

They made plans to see each other that night. Well, not definitive plans, more like, he wasn't doing anything and she wasn't doing anything, so they decided to do nothing together. But the day simply couldn't move fast enough. Her name was like a song in his head. Nina, Nina, Niiiiiiina, N-i-n-a...

Malajube - Pâte Filo

Friday, July 6, 2007

Twentysomething

I came across an interview with a writer named Bess Vanrenen on Gothamist today. She started a blog called the 'Generation What: Dispatches from the Quarter-Life Crisis,' written by fellow twentysomethings coping with adulthood. I found Vanrenen's definition of the "quarter life crisis" to be particularly apt:

What's a quarter life crisis?
"It comes at the point when you finish doing all of the things that were already laid out for you to do and suddenly there's no more pre-designed structure for your life and you have to take it upon yourself to say, "Okay, now what do I want to do." That's difficult because you might have had a preconceived notion of what your life would look like in your 20's and living at home at your parents or being in debt for 20 grand isn't what you imagined."

I couldn't agree more. From experience and talking to my girlfriends, I get the sense that there is in fact a universal lost feeling after all this buildup to whatever you think is on the other side of school and the long list of other things you're required to do under your parents' roofs subsides, and you're left with the very daunting task of dealing with very adult things

like

roommates! (at least in New York anyway.) I love reading Cary Tennis' advice columns and I just found myself identifying with today's entry completely. Not the part about a roommate's live-in mother...

but

sometimes the drama also known as everyday life almost becomes surreal.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Big Screen Dreams



It seems as though the "Sex and the City" movie is back on.

I have to say, my acquired appreciation for "Sex and the City" even took me by surprise. For the longest time, I vehemently condemned the show, and refused to watch a single episode out of principle. The 'principle' being that the immortal feminist in me couldn't possibly relate or sympathize with a group of caucasian, middle-aged, privileged women who seemed to equate gender empowerment with their sexual libidos. Or so I thought.

At second glance, "Sex and the City" was about much more than casual sex and drug use. It was honest in its very close examination of the four main characters' lives, it didn't always have the right answers and it didn't pretend to either. The show always had an interesting, if not at all times agreeable, story line that made no one out to be the hero or an altogether villain for that matter. And while all of the characters got on my nerves at times (especially Charlotte...), at the core of SATC is a group of women living their lives on their own terms, and you have to admire that no matter how you slice it.

Even though it's been awhile, I'd still pay to see the film in theaters. True talk.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

The Night Starts Here



Came across this snazzy number yesterday. It's off of Stars' upcoming album entitled "In Our Bedroom After the War."

Stars - The Night Starts Here


The song's layered synths and pulsing drum machine take you by the hand, and suddenly you know moves you've never known before, as you glide across the disco-lit ballroom floor in a stunning dance sequence a la some terrific Dirty Dancing extravaganza. It's glam, it's euro-pop, it's positively fabulous. "In Our Bedroom" will be available at the end of September.

and

This is how I feel sometimes.



An aside, but the gender dynamics in this clip can be studied for days.

Monday, July 2, 2007

So Much Bigger

The world is so much bigger than this bullshit, it's scary!

Dangermouse and Murs - Paint by Numbers

You will not be able to stay home, brother.
You will not be able to plug in, turn on and cop out.
You will not be able to lose yourself on skag and skip,
Skip out for beer during commercials,
Because the revolution will not be televised.

The revolution will not go better with Coke.
The revolution will not fight the germs that may cause bad breath.
The revolution will put you in the driver's seat.

The revolution will not be televised, will not be televised
will not be televised, will not be televised.
The revolution will be no re-run brothers;
The revolution will be live.

Gil Scott Heron

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Malajube is tres cool


Sure I made the trek to Prospect Park last night to watch The Stills, but I left with a burning flame for Malajube, a band of strapping young lads hailing from Montreal who like to play their guitars really loud, scream, and jump around excessively on stage. And the lead singer also has a penchant for wearing what appears to be one fifth of a cuddly bear costume, as demonstrated above. Malajube is really fun.

I've been reading things about this band in music zines and blogs for over a year now, but I never got around to hearing them. I guess it was one of those things you overlook until you're, well, at a concert where they happen to be opening for The Stills.

There tend to be a loose number of musical themes at play within Malajube's songs, a feat that could prove directionless and rambling were it not for their impressive ability to craft such full and rounded melodies like here in "La Monogamie."

Malajube - La Monogamie

Malajube's new album is called Trompe L'Oeil. Cop it but don't drop it.

And now, an open letter to the Stills:

Dear 'The Stills,'

When you burst onto the scene those few years ago, you were hip, you wore skinny jeans, and your greasy coifs were immaculately disheveled. I can't tell you how many times I have listened to Logic, I thank for making such a rocking good time of a record. The lyrics were poetry. Come on, "The girl will scar you"? So true! I even saw you in concert. It was rad.

Now you still wear the skinny jeans, you have perfected the greasy hair look, but there is something (or dare I say, someone?) sinister at work that could potentially damage your street cred. Who and the what am I speaking of you ask? The fellow to my left. You don't need a keyboardist. I can't even listen to the new record, the organ playing is deafening. So get rid of him, he's cramping your style, and he likes to wear funny hats. Nuff said.