Sunday, June 29, 2008

Drop Beats, Not Bombs

Dizzy Gillespie, 1956, in the former Yugoslavia

There's a really cool story in the Times today about goodwill Jazz tours sponsored by the State Department in the 1950s and 60s that aimed to boost America's PR during the Cold War. Greats like Louis Armstrong, Dizzy Gillespie [pictured], and Sarah Vaughan traveled around the world to play jazz for enthusiastic audiences as 'cultural diplomats.' Click here for an equally awesome slideshow.

Music is such a funny thing. It constantly reminds me that we all have a lot more in common than we think we do.

Friday, June 27, 2008


A distant cousin of mine lives in Orlando in one of those planned communities owned by Disney. The entire subdivision looks like it could have been the movie lot to "Pleasantville," and the street names are cutesy and Mickey Mouse approved.

Orlando based band Kingsbury aren't really into all that pleasantness and sunshine. They'd rather listen to their Jesus and Mary Chain records and make dark moody tunes. I think I like their Orlando better.

Kingsbury - Corpse

Check out Kingsbury's latest album, The Great Compromise

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

"I have pretty eclectic tastes"

"I have pretty eclectic tastes," the Democratic presidential contender said in an interview to be published in Friday's issue of Rolling Stone.

Growing up in the '70s, Obama said, he listened to the Rolling Stones, Elton John and Earth, Wind & Fire. Stevie Wonder is his musical hero from the era. The Stones' "Gimme Shelter" tops his favorites from the band.

He had me at Stevie...

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Youtubing: "Whatever Happened to a Boyfriend?"

So, that Exile in Guyville re-release happens today. I found some concert footage of Liz singing her classic "Fuck and Run." This song never gets old...

Sunday, June 22, 2008

We Can Have it All

We're in the thick of wedding season. This weekend we drove to Corpus Christi to attend ceremony #4. The bride is a childhood friend of my mother's, and she's really great. She's fiercely independent -- she named her daughter after herself, because, she says, 'men get to do it all of the time, why can't I?' -- I think she was the original Lorelai. She's had great success in her career, and she is highly respected among her colleagues and her community.

Standing near the waterfront, teary eyed and gushing as my mother's friend wedded for the third time, I wondered if it was possible. The elusive 'trifecta' a boss once explained to me while I lived in New York; having the brilliant job, the brilliant relationship, and the brilliant apartment (or house), all at the same time.

Can we ever have it all? I really hope so.

Ra Ra Riot - Suspended in Gaffa

So you might be counting down the days until Ra Ra Riot's debut full-length album comes out in August, but did you know that you could see them for free at this year's Siren Fest? Yizzurp.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Jazmine Sullivan

Last night on the ride back home, I heard this siren's voice coming through my car radio. Her name is Jazmine Sullivan [pictured], she's appeared on Showtime at the Apollo and written songs for Christina Millian, and now she's about to release her debut album on J Records. The sheer power and character of her vocals hits you like the first time you heard Mary J. on What's the 411 or Lauryn Hill on Miseducation (people tend to compare her to the latter actually. I kind of see it.) Coupled with a sick dub beat provided by Missy Elliott, and this has really become my song for the moment:

Jazmine Sullivan - Need U Bad

Speaking of a musical genius named Missy, yesterday Jezebel wondered why women artists aren't labeled musical geniuses as often as their male counterparts. They suggested that it had something to do with the lack of female music writers covering the industry today, something I agree with, but they bring up some other valid points that can be found here.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Brandon Bird

A friend sent me info about a young pop artist named Brandon Bird the other day. Bird mostly creates paintings that place tv and movie personalities (Chuck Norris, Christopher Walken, and the cast of Law & Order: SVU appear regularly in Bird's art) in surreal settings. Like, Harrison Ford holding a Sega Genesis console.

I think Bird's art is a lot of fun, and if you do too, get your shop on at Bird's print sale, happening on his website till July 5th.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Super Collider

Last night I met a person from a small town called Waxahachie, Texas. The town's claim to fame is that it once housed plans to build the Superconducting Super Collider, which I still don't think I understand what the hell it was meant to be, but the government spent 2 billion dollars to dig holes in the ground before cancelling the project in 1993.

I found this new Radiohead song also called "Super Collider" while Wikipedia-ing, it debuted at a concert in Dublin earlier this month. Video is shaky, but the song 'tis good:

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

You, The Devil + Me

It's been awhile since we've heard from The Notwist, and today they release their new highly anticipated record, You, The Devil + Me. They're just as introspective as I remember them, with strings and glitches and twitches to round out the weight of their words.

Notwist - Sleep (Odd Nosdam Remix)

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Youtubing: Miracle at St. Anna

Spike Lee's new movie, Miracle at St. Anna, looks pretty bad ass. Based on the same-titled book by James McBride, and featuring music by frequent Lee collaborator Terence Blanchard.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Women Like Movies!

Mark Harris's EW column this week, about making movies that matter to women, is delish. I've seen some splendid films with strong, substantial female characters recently; Being Julia, Meet the Browns, and In Her Shoes, and I can't tell you how refreshing they were. Now that movie execs realize that hey! women DO go to the movies! I hope there'll be more where these come from.

But when?

When a successful actress says that even she considers the traditional storylines and roles given to women to be insipid and trite? Is that when the movie industry will get a clue? Hm...

"Given the old Mark Twain maxim that history doesn't repeat itself but it sometimes rhymes, in 2008 can Hollywood executives once again look at America and say, ''There's an audience out there that we're not serving, and they're hungry''? If not, perhaps they can at least glance in the mirror and realize how silly that expression of permanent surprise is starting to look."

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


There's just no accounting for happiness,
or the way it turns up like a prodigal
who comes back to the dust at your feet
having squandered a fortune far away.

And how can you not forgive?
You make a feast in honor of what
was lost, and take from its place the finest
garment, which you saved for an occasion
you could not imagine, and you weep night and day
to know that you were not abandoned,
that happiness saved its most extreme form for you alone.
--Jane Kenyon

Excerpt taken from Jennifer Weiner's short story collection, The Guy Not Taken, which I'm enjoying tremendously at the moment

Friday, June 6, 2008

The Kid's Got Moves

This morning I caught a bit of Chris Brown performing on the Today Show. Among the highlights, Chris Brown teaching David Gregory how to dance

Al Roker dancing to "With You." With his eyes closed.

And, this song

Chris Brown - Forever

It's Brown's latest single from Exclusive: The Forever Edition and it's brilliant. I think that Brown has successfully usurped Urrrsher's spot in line to MJ's pop king throne.

Thursday, June 5, 2008


All caps are oh so necessary because Ladyhawke's Pip Brown [pictured] is a new lady guitar hero who not only takes a page from Chrissie Hynde's storybook, she intends to write her own too.

See her kitschy 80's love affair video for her first single, "Back of the Van:"

And listen to an extended mix of her second single "Paris is Burning," that ponders

"Is it love, or just Paris?"

Ladyhawke - Paris is Burning (Alex Gopher Remix)

Right now I think you can buy both singles, detes on Lady's Myspace page.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

This Is Where We Are

So this is where we are today. And it's really so amazing, it blows my mind.

I got an email that a band called Ravens and Chimes [pictured] are currently touring, and then I was like 'Whoa, who are these Ravens and what do they have to do with Chimes?'

Well R and C mostly make offbeat, narratives about the city I love (the band met while attending NYU.) The group's new album, Reichenbach Falls, opens with this epic rousing number that sounds a lot like a certain Canadian band who shares R and C's affinity for using the glockanspiel. But I'd like to think that the Ravens are able to stand on their own merit. They've made one helluva record.

Ravens and Chimes - This is Where We Are

and Ravens and Chimes-ette Abe recently started a blog called, "Things the Real World Williamsburg Should Do." Ha!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

"A Moment That Will Define a Generation"

"...We cannot afford to keep doing what we've been doing. We owe our children a better future. We owe our country a better future. And for all those who dream of that future tonight, I say -- let us begin the work together. Let us unite in common effort to chart a new course for America."

Youtubing: Old School Weezer

The new self-titled Weezer record, also known as the Red Album, drops today. The new vid for the song "Pork and Beans" is pretty rad, but it's had me jonesing for some other great Weezer videos, like this one for classic Pinkerton jam, "The Good Life" (which apparently stars that lady from 24, how about that):