Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Death, the Universe, and Michael.

The world has faced some shocking losses in the last few days. Farrah Fawcet, the Oxyclean guy, Norm Coleman's senate campaign, and of course MJ. Lately this has me thinking a lot about, you know, death and such. My own poor tribute to what we've lost:

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Away messages

Edwin Moses - I'll Be Around

I am heading overseas for a while - Kevin is already - and I intend to be focusing on travel writing and less on the day to day of the music world (or whatever it is we write about here).

I would say something about Micheal Jackson...but so much has already been written. I can restrain myself to saying that MJ's music is probably the last truly shared experience the world will ever have; but that it meant so many different things to so many different people. I can't wait for someone to get their fingers dirty and start playing with those meanings.

How long do you think it will be until a hot new band is named "Thriller", or "MJ", or "Blanket"?

It already happens all the time for more minor celebrities. Though I'm vaguely aware that Edwin Moses is some kind of world class athlete, I don't hear crowds and Olympic spirit when I flip on this song. All I hear is those strings breathing in, and out.

(TIME magazine has the best possible tribute to MJ, a lesson on how to moonwalk.)

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Free Iran Mix

Music for before, during and after the revolution. A mix for a solidarity of sorts.

We're going to have one ear to the ground for news about what's going on in Iran, and, you know, we're going to need to have something in the other ear.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Where the hell is Sufjan?

Is anyone else starting to wonder? There was once a time when you simply couldn't escape him in the blogosphere, but now the little I do hear all seems to fall into one of three categories:

1. Chicago
2. Old B-sides and extras
3. Horrible, horrible mashups (Outkast vs. Sufjan? You're shitting me, right?)

The recent exception was "You Are the Blood," his epic 10-minute long contribution to the charity album Dark Was the Night. Besides being welcome new material, it's a quite a departure from his usual style--is it an anomaly or a sign of things to come?

Sufjan Stevens - You Are the Blood

Sunday, June 14, 2009

More than a feeling?

A Flock of Seagulls - Iran

and Ira-a-a-an, Iran's so far awa-a-ay,
I just ra-a-an, Iran all night and da-a-ay,


Friday, June 12, 2009

Don't wanna sleep out in the rain

I'm always taken aback when I find out what musicians' day jobs are, especially those musicians who aren't big enough to get by on just music. Its hard imagining people that you listen to more than you actually work as commuting, but they're people too, and despite working as hard as possible to create their own worlds, they still have to live in this one. Its a consequence of the decline of the music industry; where musicians used to be selected by record companies, musicians increasingly select themselves. Its pretty funny that the revolution that was punk made us all that much more capitalist. So for those of you who's summers aren't all just sitting around and blogging all day, here are some excellent musicians who happen to have day jobs.

The Aislers Set - Hit the Snow

Some make more sense than others. Amy Linton, lead singer of the former SF band The Aislers Set, was a professional snowboarder for a while. At the height of their success, she was working in local architecture firms as a drafter. She did the artwork for all their albums, and she's really great at picking out the details of street life in her song and making them real. I'm guessing this song is from the former career.

Heavenly - Hearts & Crosses

Amelia Fletcher, lead singer of the band Heavenly, is actually a prominent British economist, which has to be one of the weirdest things I've ever typed. Apparently most of her work involves anti-trust, breaking up monopolies, which I guess maybe sorta makes sense if you're really stretching for meaning. Breaking up dangerous love monopolies?

Percy Sledge - When a Man Loves a Woman

On the other side of the spectrum is Percy Sledge, who started as a prominent singer who now mostly does car commercials around Baton Rouge. Said the Gramophone described him as a "salesman of love", which I think just about nails it. "I know exactly how you feel", he croons at the end; Billy Mays has nothing on him. Someone pass him a Shamwow! for those tears.

An open letter to all violinists

Dear violinists of the world,

This man is Owen Pallett. He is a one-man band called Final Fantasy. He does the string arrangements for the Arcade Fire. He does amazing remixes. He and Andrew Bird are to the violin what Chuck Norris and Mr. T are to kicking ass. His new album, Heartland, is expected to come out this year, and if the recent performance above is any indication, it's going to be mindblowing. Violinists of the world, please stop boring me and try to be more like Owen Pallett instead. Thanks.


P.S. Also, stop scoring 2400's on the SAT. Seriously, it's pissing me off.

Final Fantasy - This is the Dream of Win & Regine
Final Fantasy - Peach, Plum, Pear (Joanna Newsom cover)

Thursday, June 11, 2009

I bet the sessions are awkward.

Yoko Ono - The Sun Is Down! (Cornelius Mix)
Sean Lennon - Parachutes
Cibo Matto - Sunday Part II

So Yoko Ono has a new album coming out in September, and all sorts of people are collaborating on it, including one Yuka Honda (of Cibo Matto) and one Sean Lennon (of John Lennon). Now I can't help but wonder if this is all a bit awkward for Sean.

I mean, not only is Yuka his ex-girlfriend, she recruited him to play in Cibo Matto (he sings backup in the track above) and produced the only album of his that anyone liked. When they broke up, the Cibo Matto broke up (making him the Yoko Ono of Cibo Matto?). Meanwhile all of his new songs are about love. It's clearly on his mind.

So I'm imagining Yoko calling up Sean, being all, "Hey Sean, I'm making an album, Yuka's on it, you should drop by and cut a few tracks and say hi or something." And how do you say no to that? So you have to hang out with your more (critically) appreciated ex-girlfriend that you maybe secretly still like and got all of your cred from? Yeah, those sessions are probably awkward. And Yoko's like, "Whatever, get over it Sean, she's a better musician than you'll ever be."

Yoko's clearly a hilarious mom.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

God Bless America

It takes a truly great nation to put a Pizza Hut and a Taco Bell under the same roof, and likewise it takes a truly great artist to create a song like this one.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009