Thursday, July 31, 2008

No New News, But

I listened to Ratatat's new album, LP3, yesterday, and I was ranting and raving to someone about how it rocks soooo hard, and how the guitar-as-synthesizer thing isn't tired at all, not at all, and how cool it is to hear that some new flourishes and influences have been thrown into the mix as well. And then I was thinking of a way that I could somehow write about Ratatat, since the awesomeness of LP3 isn't new news at all.

And then I saw that they did a Guest List with Pitchfork this morning, and I was pleasantly surprised to learn that Sam Cooke's "Bring It on Home to Me" makes producer Evan Mast cry and that James Brown's "Try Me" "destroys [him]." It's always nice to know that the artists I enjoy are fans, too.

This continues to be my favorite Ratatat track next to "Wildcat," a remix of The Knife's "We Share Our Mother's Health:"

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Lizz and Joan

Before I forget to mention, these two have made what are among my favorite albums of this year. Mmm-hmm.
Violinist turned singer Joan Wasser aka Joan as Police Woman [pictured] recorded sessions with Antony and Rufus Wainright before releasing an album of her own called Real Life three years ago. She squashed any fears of a sophomore slump with To Survive, a record that plays with the same dramatic details as her debut and showcases her sharp voice and startling delivery. Especially of note are a pair of exceptional complementary love songs entitled, "To Be Loved" and "To Be Lonely."

Joan as Police Woman - To Be Loved

She's playing some U.S. dates (finally!) in the fall.


I've been a fan of Lizz Wright since hearing her Dreaming Wide Awake record. Wright's style is a rare commodity these days, at once rooted in gospel and sultry soul. She switches gears on her latest, The Orchard, cowriting most of the songs and leaning more towards ballads than southern spirituals. Inspired covers of Led Zeppelin's "Thank You" and Ike and Tina Turner's "I Idolize You" are the frosting on an already very yummy cake.

Here's a live performance of "Speak Your Heart" from Wright's visit to NPR World Cafe earlier this year:

Monday, July 28, 2008

We've Been Had

That new Chris Brown single is a gum commercial:

"Forever" is an extended version of a new Doublemint jingle written by Mr. Brown and scheduled to begin airing next month in 30-second spots for Wrigley's green-packaged chewing gum.

Mr. Brown is one of a trio of pop stars enlisted by ad agency Translation Advertising, a unit of Interpublic Group of Cos., to update the images of three of Wrigley's best-known brands.
[more at WSJ]

Gawker feels betrayed and thinks it's a damn shame. I'm just stunned. That's a lot of commitment for a gum jingle, imho.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

I am My Mother's Daughter

"My plan to not become my mother has worked out about as well for me as it does for everyone, which is to say it mostly hasn't at all."[via Jezebel]

Jezebel had a brills post up yesterday, that asks, "when did you discover that you'd morphed into your mom?"

The writer wonders this after realizing that she's inherited her mother's tendency to clean the house whenever she faces a hardship. It's funny because my mom is the same way. I think she even said that cleaning her house was a "hobby."

I've found that I've become a mix of both of my parents. I actually think it would have been nice if I inherited my mother's neat freak tendencies, her attention to detail hang ups, and her faith.
Instead, I think I've gotten the worry wart gene, the deflect-and-avoid people/things I don't like chromosome, and the stubborn pride hand me down.

I suppose it could be worse.

Friday, July 25, 2008


This sounds like a summer weekend song:

Curumin - Compacto

It's new music from Brazilian afro-beat funk artist, Curumin [pictured]. "Compacto" will be featured on Curumin's sophomore record, JapanPopShow, due out in October.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

The New Frontiers

There's something very tried and true about Dallas band The New Frontiers [pictured]. The contemplative lyrics that lead Nathan Pettijohn sings and the measured guitar accompanied by piano are quiet perfection.

The New Frontiers - Man Down

The New Frontiers album, Mending, came out this Spring and is truly amazing. Check them out on tour if they swing by your town.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

"I Don't Wanna Feel Like it's the End of a Summer"

I'm always anxious at the start of a new school year. But I'm finding myself particularly antsy this time around. Things have been set into place the last couple of days that have made my re-transition to student life all the more final and real.

I know it's a good change, but if I could slow it down and have a little more of a summer, even just a little bit, I would.

Shout Out Louds - Impossible (Studio Remix)

Monday, July 21, 2008

Mamma Mia!

Oh my gosh, I loved this movie.

Well, I have to admit, I'm a bit partial. I grew up with a mother who listened to French pop, Julio Iglesias, and yes, ABBA. I had the melody of "I Have a Dream" stuck in my head long before there was ever such a thing as a hit Broadway play inspired by Benny and Bjorn's tunes.

But I think one could enjoy this movie even if they didn't grow up listening to ABBA. Yes, several critics (okay, more than several...) have rebuked the film for its string-thin plot, Pierce Brosnan's painful vocals, and the grave thespian crime of over-acting commited by more than one character. But then there's the way the water surrounding the movie's Greek island is a brilliant blue that can't be adequately described, and the way that Julie Walters and other members of the strong supporting cast steal the show. And all of the little mechanical problems fall to the wayside, especially when Meryl Streep gets dressed up in grand disco gear to sing "Dancing Queen."

Friday, July 18, 2008

Happy Birthday

"I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die."

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Guns of Brooklyn

Santogold + Diplo + The Clash = an awesome track called "Guns of Brooklyn"

Santogold and Diplo - Guns of Brooklyn (Doc and Jon Hill Dub)

This song belongs to that sick Diplo mixtape called Top Ranking already circulating round the internets, you can download some more tracks here.

Actors and Singers

To celebrate Mamma Mia's opening weekend (oooohmagah I can not wait!) and some recent movie musical casting news, Defamer has put together a list of the top ten vocal performances by non singing-actors.

The list is entertaining, although it doesn't include some of my favorites -- Maggie Gyllenhaal in Happy Endings? Eddie Murphy in Dreamgirls? -- and it's slightly inaccurate -- Zooey Deschanel is listed for her lovely rendition of "Baby it's Cold Outside" featured in Elf, but now she's totally a singer too:

Ah well.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Asali Solomon

"I threw a party, and nobody from school came. With Nadja, I had someone to sit and eat with, and somebody in the world besides my grandpa Theo called my house to speak to me.

Sometimes on Fridays after school I went over to Nadja’s, where we’d listen to the Power Four at Four on Power 99, and she’d teach me the new dances she’d learned from the older girls who lived on her block. Each of those afternoons, just before six o’clock, we’d turn off the music, dab away our sweat, and spread our books out on the dining-room table. Nadja’s mother believed that dancing was for adults and that secular music was from Satan. Those were the days of Rick James and of Prince’s “Erotic City,” so I guess she was right."

--from "Twelve Takes Thea," by Asali Solomon

I went to the library today, to read a prep book for school, but instead I pored over the latest O Magazine. In addition to reading about Ben Affleck's affection for the Holy Book of Matthew, I learned about a delightful author named Asali Solomon.

And then instead of reading for school, I read a short story by Solomon called "Twelve Takes Thea" from her superb story collection, Get Down (that you can also read here). And then that was so fantastic that I had to look into borrowing the book from the library. And then I totally forgot about reading for school altogether.

Solomon is currently working on her debut novel, entitled Disgruntled.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Youtubing: Feist on Sesame Street

This is rather adorable...

I've Never Bought a Copy of the New Yorker.

And now I don't think I ever will.

Some of my friends read the New Yorker, but it's never appealed to me. I find it dry, boring, really. The humor pieces are a chore to read, the short stories drag. It almost seems like required reading for adults, like people feel that they have to read it because it will make them sophisticated, informed, and cultured. Whatever.

I first saw this week's controversial cover while I was waiting at the airport yesterday. I found it revolting then, but now that I've read a myriad of opinions on it -- coming from various media outlets and the New Yorker staff itself -- I think I feel more disappointed than anything else.

I get what political cartoons are supposed to do. And I get that one of the great things about this country of ours is that people are free to basically print and say whatever they want. I also get that this picture is supposed to dispel the myths surrounding the Obama campaign -- the idea that Michelle Obama is anti-American, and that Obama is secretly Muslim and in cahoots with Osama Bin-Laden. I get all that.


There are so many things wrong with this picture, particularly the very crude depiction of Michelle Obama and the idea that a black woman who has natural hair is automatically militant rather than merely celebrating our distinct beauty. Last time I checked, Michelle Obama wasn't running for office, and I find this attack very cruel and unwarranted.

For years -- and these are years that are not in our nation's distant past -- images depicting crudely exaggerated features of racial minorities were prevalent in the media. And not in a 'wow, we're so evolved and liberal, that we can joke about these things' way, but in a 'wow these people look really weird' kind of way.
And please, please, please stop it with the, 'hey, one token black guy says it's okay, so it's okay!' Because conservatives have been doing that with Ward Connelly for years, and that explanation doesn't mean a thing to me.

And since when has being Muslim become something to use in a caricature? Wow. Stay classy.

So to the staff of the New Yorker, get off your dismissive 'it's no big deal' high horse, take accountability for your actions, and hear this:

I'm a real live person, and though I am not the one black journalist you spoke to at the Chicago Tribune, I am a young black woman who has had to endure racial stereotypes much like the ones that your cartoon depicts, and I am offended and hurt by your cartoon.

I agree with a commenter from a recent New York Magazine post:

"The New Yorker was trying so hard to be clever, it forgot to be smart."

That is all.

Monday, July 14, 2008

New Raphael Saadiq

Chicago was fun. As with most family functions I attend, I met a lot of my relatives for the first time and there was lots of good food and good music.

I heard the new Raphael Saadiq record and loved it. The former Tony Toni Tone member turned producer extraordinaire and Mr. Joss Stone has turned soul revivalist and has made a Motown style record that literally sounds like a carbon copy of some lost early Stevie record. But Saadiq does his interpretation well, to the point that it's more tribute than mimicry. Check a preview below:

Raphael Saadiq - 100 Yard Dash

The record is due out in September and I think it will be one of the best releases of the year. Yes yes.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

College Radio Stations

These should be in heavy rotation, listen up:

Folk rock singer/songwriter Thomas Bryan Eaton writes lyrics that cut like a knife, but string instruments and sunny backing vocals give them an endearing softer edge.

Thomas Bryan Eaton - Naked Ear

Thomas's new album, Dreams, Demons, and Butterflies, comes out later this week.


Emanuel Ayvas is a young piano composer who is also the ringleader of indie orchestra band Emanuel and the Fear. I think of Ben Folds when I listen to this live version of a song from E and the Fear's upcoming debut album, it has a touch of Foldian whimsy but is also well-structured and conceived like his records.

Emanuel and the Fear - Dear Friend (Live)

E and the Fear are playing some shows in New York this summer.

So it turns out that Thomas is from my college town in upstate New York. These days, it doesn't take much to get me thinking about college, but I can totally imagine listening to Thomas and the Fear on my fave college radio station WCIB while trudging my way up the hill to hang out with friends in Club Uris, sippin' on some chai tea and munching on vegan pumpkin bread, dreaming up some Felicity-like drama in my life but without the infinitely interesting love triangle, and forever delaying the inevitable papers and problem sets that would be needed to complete my degree. Eventually.

Good times.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Youtubing: New JHud!

So, I love Dreamgirls, and I love Jennifer Hudson, and when I saw the new music video for her single, "Spotlight," I loved it too. Can't decide if I only like the song because she sings it, but I'm so happy to see Jennifer doing bigger and better Post-Oscar things other than being Carrie Bradshaw's assistant. And she's looking very fab:

Album's out in September!

Monday, July 7, 2008

My Milky Way Arms

My Milky Way Arms [pictured] is from my hometown of Houston, but the band's bio swears that their origins are cosmic. Maybe there's some truth to their tall tale; their densely layered Wayne Coyne-lite sonic compositions sound out of this world.

My Milky Way Arms - Soft Alarm

Check out the band on tour this summer.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Happy Fourth

A day early! What better way to celebrate my dear fellow children of the 80's (non-fellow children of the 80's, too) than a yummy 80's cover feast prepared for us by the fine peoples over at Buffet Libre. They know how to hook a mix up, and this time around they've rounded up some refashioned 80's masterpieces by Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin, The Paper Scissors, and more more more.

Here's an appetizer

The Paper Scissors - I Can't Go for That (Hall & Oates cover)

Because what would an 80's mix be without some Hall & Oates? Because the mustachioed character was your faaavorite.

You can get the rest of the mix at Buffet's website, gratis.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Hotter than July

Here's some new music for summer that is, possibly, hotter than HOUSTON in July. I know, it's really hot in herrrrrre, but believe it.

Earlimart's Mentor Tormentor was one of my most listened to albums of last year. Their latest record, Hymn and Her, is out today and offers more of the same quietly moving fare that was so effective on Mentor.

Earlimart - Song For

There are many reasons for why CSS rocks so hard. Having a lead singer named Lovefoxxx, an all around 'who gives' attitude, and precocious DIY style are some of them. Their upcoming album, Donkey, seems a little more polished and less strung out than their last record, but I think I'll still give it a try when it's released later this month.

CSS - Rat is Dead (Rage)

I think I listened to Albert Hammond Jr.'s Yours to Keep for an entire fall. Something about the easygoing songwriting and guitar playing seemed apt for crunchy leaves and sweater weather. But Hammond and his band sound a little louder and forthright on their latest record, Como Te Llama, out next week. After listening to first single, "GfC," I think it's a welcome change.

Albert Hammond Jr. - GfC