Monday, August 3, 2009

The worst song of all time?

In the wake of Michael Jackson's death, I found myself rewatching "We are the World," cheesy as I've always thought of it as being, and realizing that while not having the most profound of lyrics, and having a facile, borderline maddening chorus melody, it is pretty damn catchy. Which is the point. Other points: bringing together an absurd collection of musical genius: Stevie! MJ! Hall! Oates! and raising desperately needed money for desperate Ethiopians.
Then there's "Voices that Care." Somehow I avoided seeing this as a child, or did see it and then scrubbed it out of my memory with steel wool. I went my whole life blissfully unaware of its existence, until today. The assembly of early-90's soulless dorkery made me incredulous that I wasn't watching a Team America parody song. But that movie makes fun of clueless Hollywood lefties. This one's even more trite, clueless, and takes "caring" to mean our brilliantly successful first Gulf War. How could you, Will Smith?

The one below is brilliant in comparison, right?

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Epic video trailer for new Julian Casablancas album


Somehow despite managing to fit the entire universe into 1:36, it leaves you wanting more. Like, maybe some singing. Really digging the visual aesthetics and the music sounds great; hoping the sound on the rest of this album is in this vein. Seems to be a real departure from the Strokes, who have not broken up but rather woken up from their hibernation and are working on a new album. Casablancas will tour solo in the U.S. later this year.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

50 Cent on rooftop with annoying kid



I don't get it. Did 50 invite this kid to NYC to hang out with him after watching a video of the kid making fun of him? Or did the kid become disillusioned and dis him after the hang session?

Also: Is it a little racist for white people to intentionally pronounce it "Fitty"?

Also: This kid is kind of me at 15.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Michael Jackson, R.I.P.


Today the world says goodbye to a deeply disturbed man who produced some of the greatest pop music of all time.

I first heard the story indirectly on a Spanish language radio station, where the DJ presented it as like some weird morbid trivia teaser that they never gave the answer to: Guess which huge music star of the 80s had a cardiac arrest 15 min ago! then I switched to the hip-hop/R&B station where they said that TMZ had reported his death.

I was completely shocked, then they played Billie Jean, which I normally think of as just a perfect dance pop song, but given the context it just seemed unbearably sad. The fact that some reports say it was a suicide, on top of all MJ's other problems really does elevate it to the level of a seriously fucked-up Greek tragedy. When I got home I went on Facebook and literally every one of my friends' 20 newest status updates were tributes and/or expressions of shock. My eyes started welling up watching CNN this evening, which does not happen to me often. Maybe it's sad that this get to me more than what is happening in Iran or any number of world tragedies, but such is the unique force of nature/freak of nature that was Michael.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Patti Boyd neé Harrison


Patti, 21, with George, 22, in 1966.

Now the factors leading to this masterpiece of frustration become more understandable:

...Nah, Clapton's still a douchebag.

What if Kanye West is Retarded?


What does it say about music in the 2000s that I think Kanye West is one of the most brilliant artists of the decade and still think that this article from humor site Cracked.com is entirely plausible?

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Babelfish Translation Hilarity


I wanted to read this interview with Phoenix's Thomas Mars on Fluokids, but of course it's in French. So I decided to utilize Yahoo's Babelfish service to translate it for me. I had never used the translator on such a big block of text, and the results make for some hilarious reading that defies comprehension. Read a paragraph or two for laffs. I doubt anyone will read down this far, but the highlight for me was their translation of the "pain" part of T-Pain's name, rendering him "T-Bread"! So...can anyone recommend a good online translator?

Then Saturday Night Live?

Already, I am hyper fan. One subdued the old sketch with Eddie Murphy or Bill Murray, in round, as you ace never time to really subdue a film…

But to play there, it was lunatic! One of my preferred moments. Because of makes when you cheeks into live the interest it is the fact that you can plant yourself. And there there is million guys, you know that if you plants, are finished to you in States. Inevitably you think of Ashlee Simpson when it is covered with sheet metal. I subdued full with performances which I found enough nazes. The trick is made in an odd way, you master keys three days of Thursday at Saturday to be repeated. At the end you, you can more about it arrive in a fright, are to you there “go ahead, complete, finished me the trick”. All is made so that you stress and that you say yourself “I go foirer”.

But at the same time, be bichonné to you as in Entourage. You requests a pizza pie, they you bring fifteen of them. They want to you saouler the mouth. The cameras pass to you to one centimetre of the mouth. And at the same time any walk miraculeusement because the guys who work are the best in all than they make. You ace impression to be in a kind of Rolls. You subdue Thirty Rock? It is a series on the back of the decoration of Saturday Night Live, that retranscribed well the trick. All around you, you ace these guys who are bloody iconic, the “pagers” which are out of suit and which have small NBC logos everywhere. And each guy you ace impression that it is right a dispach rider, but each guy is qualified like the caretaker of Ritz. They can have you what you want in the city, they have all the telephones of the White House, of the incredible tricks! It is the ultimate experiment ricaine.

Two hours before one plays, they said to us “good then, there is that Coldplay, U2 and Mc Cartney have which have required to play three songs like that”, that puts serious the pressure to you and in more they ask us to sing “Too Young” which one has not played for one year. What is sad it is when it is finished, you requests if you will remake it one day. And at the same time what is nutcase it is that the album did not leave yet and that one is perhaps more the small group whom they ever took over there.

And before did that, the United States, you feel it how?

It was felt that it occurred a trick. It was felt that the guys were excited because the rounds which one had made had passed well

[...]

But, there are nevertheless dissensions, you like all the same thing?

There was of it but not the large ones. It is when somebody likes a really extreme trick. Extreme for us it is not an elegant trick. For example in the last T-Bread, there is a lunatic trick, that me I adore, that all are liked, it is the piece “Can' T believe it” with Lil Wayne. The side autotuné rappor, foncedé, you feel that he plays just with the machine, there is a trick which corresponds to our worship of the first catch, of the things impossible and hyper-spontaneous that you do not reproduce afterwards. This piece contains moments nutcases so much. In the same way there is full with small groups which flirtent with the bad taste, but you find that which you need in it.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Friday, May 8, 2009

Fever Ray to tour America

Fever Ray Tour 2009 from Fever Ray on Vimeo.



Fuck yeah! October 5th at San Francisco's Grand Ballroom, a creepily great time will be had by all.

A pair of awesome Letterman performances

While Jay Leno books whatever crap is on the charts (lets hope Conan puts an end to this), David Letterman continues to give interesting, unusual musical acts their five minutes in the national spotlight, even if he does gently mock them sometimes. Here's Animal Collective doing "Summertime Clothes":


And Bat for Lashes with "Daniel." God this is a great song.

If you're reading this...


Hit me up.

(via Street Carnage)

Monday, April 27, 2009

Outside Lands lineup: WTF?


Last year's inaugural Outside Lands festival in Golden Gate Park was certainly not without its problems: overselling of tickets, difficulty in getting from one stage to another, low volume at side stages. But all it really needed to redeem itself was that magical nighttime closing performance by Radiohead.
This year...well let's just say the headliners are not up to the same caliber. Let's look at 5 of the top 7 acts on the bill: Pearl Jam, Dave Matthews Band, Incubus, Black Eyed Peas, and Jason Mraz. If that was the entire lineup, I'd rather go 12 rounds with Manny Pacquiao while wearing a straightjacket than go to this festival. But they complicate things by throwing some bands I really would like to see (MIA, Band of Horses, Q-Tip, Modest Mouse, Atmosphere) and some that I haven't really gotten into but I'm sure would at least be interesting, possibly amazing (Mastodon, Kinky, Deerhunter, Built to Spill). Then there are the complicated ones like Beastie Boys (they've made some of my favorite records of all time but dudes in their mid 40s rapping in jumpsuits seems kind of embarrassing), The Mars Volta (Used to literally be my favorite band but their last few albums have done nothing for me. Edit yourself, Omar! It's not a contest to see how many notes you can play per measure!) and TV on the Radio, who I unequivocally love on record but based on the recordings I've seen/heard of their shows, I really don't think they can recreate their studio sound on stage and I'd probably be left disappointed.
But I'll be interested in seeing how the day-by-day breakdown ends up. I'll probably end up going, and maybe some of these bands I've never heard of will pleasantly surprise me. But seriously guys, TOM JONES?

Swine flu is not antisemitic



So I spent most of this morning reading and freaking out about the Swine Flu outbreak. There have been outbreaks in Spain now, governments are canceling flights and advising against travel to the U.S. But I think back on freakouts over Mad Cow, Bird Flu, SARS, ad infinitum and I don't think it's going to end in a pandemic (I can't say that word now without thinking of The Wire). For me all it's going to mean is another reason I probably won't go to Mexico any time soon. Hopefully they get the situation there under control quickly, but this story from the AP left me in disbelief more than anything else I read today:

Israeli official: Swine flu name offensive


I can't wrap my head around the quantum leap in this logic. There's a world health scare that has killed hundreds of people, which came from pigs, and they think that its name is an antisemitic slur? A swine is just a pig. I don't think I've ever heard Jews or Arabs referred to as such; you could more convincingly argue that the name is offensive to police officers. Or capitalists. But it doesn't stop there. Their proposed inoffensive name change? MEXICAN FLU. Yeah, that doesn't have any negative connotation for any ethnic group. Way to keep things in perspective, Israel. Now let me go back to worrying about the prospect of the fucking Lakers winning another Championship. No offense is intended to anyone who resides on or near a lake.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Dub Mission



I also made it down to the Elbo Room last Sunday for Dub Mission, the weekly dub/dancehall/roots reggae night, and I was impressed by all the DJs, along with the tolerant attitude toward indoor blazing, but DJ Sep especially blew my socks off. She cuts up dub in an electronically-informed style to make it nearly unrecognizable but completely awesome. Check out her Myspace page.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Sébastien Tellier live in SF


Sébastien Tellier came to the Independent in San Francisco last Saturday, sans Daft Punk robots, but with a kick-ass live drummer, two synth/keyboard players, a polygonal guitar, and a quickly emptied bottle of white wine. The show wasn't as raunchy as the accounts I've read of some of his shows, and he skipped a few of my favorite songs in the brief performance, but I was never bored and I guess he was going for the "leave 'em wanting more" approach. At least he played "La Retournille." Here's a video of a retooled version of his Eurovision jam "Divine" (sans helium.) Chairlift opened with a wonderfully hazy shoegazey pop set and their lead singer set the bar for Tellier to follow when she discreetly lied on her back behind her keyboard and chugged from her bottle of red.
Chairlift:

Tellier et bande (click photos to see in full):



Sunday, April 12, 2009

Fever Ray video: If I had a Heart



Now this is how you make a disquieting video. From Fever Ray, AKA Karin from The Knife.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Jager Behavior

I was recently shown this video and still don't get it. It's one big WTF non-sequitor after another, but it's pretty funny and it puts a classic ODB song to good use.

New Zion I



Oakland's Zion I have a trippy, Donnie Darko-inspired video out for their new song "Geek to the Beat." I've seen these guys play at Sac State twice, but this time they're bypassing the campus to play at Empire. Full list of tourdates and a gang of new songs at their Myspace. They also have a different version of the song "Don't Lose ya Head" with Too $hort that was originally over a remix of Radiohead's "Nude" on Amplive's amazing Rainydayz project.

Zion I "Geek To The Beat" from Okayplayer on Vimeo.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Phoenix on SNL

Is it just me or is there a lot of really good music coming out of Paris these days? Phoenix has been around for a while, but now they're apparently big enough to play Saturday Night Live, and even got the rare opportunity to play a third song over the credits. Their new album Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix not only has a great title, but it's probably the most consistent album they've put out. They sounded super tight live, hoping they do a full U.S. tour.


And they encored with "Too Young" from their first album. I remember having this on the Lost in Translation soundtrack before I knew who they were. It actually really derails the mood of the soundtrack, but what a great song.

I'm pretty jealous of the lead singer for not only being in a great band, but also having impregnated this woman:

Next week SNL will try to keep up the streak of good musical guests with the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, who also have a killer new album out. This is a good excuse to post their rad video for "Zero," which Idolator's Jess Harvell sums up better than I could: "There's something very retro about this video to me, but nothing so directly referential that you can pin it to a specific cultural artifact, much like the song itself." If I had to compare it to something I'd say Blondie, but it produces this weirdly visceral nostalgia in me for something I never actually experienced. Shot in SF too, maybe that's part of it.

Watch more VH1 videos on AOL Video

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Another new Tellier video!


Sebastien Tellier - Kilometer from Lucky Number Music on Vimeo.
Monsieur Sébastien Tellier has graced us with another new hilariously raunchy video, this time for the techno synth-stab-laden "Kilometer." I basically want to be him. Or this guy, who kind of reminds me of Tellier now that I think about it:

(pic from Vice Do's and Don'ts; video from GvB)

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

New Sébastien Tellier video: Rouche


I still think Sébastien Tellier's extended piano-and-funky-drums jam "La Retournille" is one of the best songs of the decade and I've really grown to love his latest album, the moan-heavy Sexuality, with its smoothed-out "Daft Punk at their mellowest" vibe. Think "Something About Us." I can't wait to see him at the Independent next month and now he has released this epic video for "Rouche," in which Sexuality's cover art comes alive and he rides a horse across a giant woman's ass.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Stevie Nicks: An example of good sound

Pitchfork recently interviewed TV on the Radio's Kyp Malone about the sound problems when his band played Saturday Night Live. He said sound problems on the show were common, but knew that bands could sound good, holding up this 1983 Stevie Nicks performance as an example. He wasn't kidding.

Watch Stevie Nicks - Stand Back in Entertainment Videos and Music Videos  |  View More Free Videos Online at Veoh.com

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Cussin' Obama-style


Barack Obama read his own Dreams from my Father for the audio edition of the book. One chapter talks about his high-school friend Ray, who liked to use some colorful language. April Winchell uploaded some snippets in which the President quotes his old school chum saying things like, "You ain't my bitch, nigga, buy your own damn fries!" Somehow Barack still sounds wholesome even when the words "sorry-ass motherfucker" come out of his mouth.
Listen here.

NYU kids play revolution

I'm all for affordable education, Palestinian rights, and totally against police brutality. But watching these schmucks barricade themselves in the NYU cafeteria and say that their adversaries "probably drink corporate water" (meant literally), I wanted to see the fascist pigs break out some tasers and wreck shop on these smug idiots.

I'm now ashamed to be a liberal with a MacBook.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Korean rock band covers J Dilla

No Trivia has an incredibly in-depth, track by track series on J Dilla's classic instrumental album Donuts up right now, and the post for "Time: Donut of the Heart" features this video of a heavy, arty Korean band called Bulssazo playing a beautiful, mellow cover of the track, which itself is based on a Jackson 5 song.

These guys are clearly big admirers of Dilla; their MySpace also features a cover (labeled "Shoegaze Remix") of the Jay Dee-produced Common hit "The Light." It starts out quite nicely with the band's vocalist singing the chorus, but it gets weird when they drop in an alternate version of Common's verse from the original song. In my opinion they would have been better off just leaving out the rap, but it's still interesting. This and "Time" remind me somehow of the Lost in Translation soundtrack. Shoegaze plus Asia, I guess.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

I watched the Grammys and I liked it



I've really come around to contemporary pop music in the last year or so. Obviously it's not all good, and I still like a lot of weirdo stuff, but I've gotten to the point that I like a lot of radio hits, which would have been unthinkable in my punk days or even a couple years ago when I knew that REAL hip hop like Talib Kweli and Blackalicious was so much better than that commercial garbage. Take this as evidence: I'm watching the Grammys right now and enjoying most of it. The actual winners and nominees are mostly bullshit, so let's focus on the performances.

U2: Booo-ring! I was cooking in the other room.

Al Green: Let's Stay Together is really one of the greatest songs ever, and it sounds like the Rev's still got it. Justin Timberlake doesn't really add anything, but his singing is pretty good. With Keith Urban on guitar? And Boyz 2 Men on background vocals??? They're still together? I hadn't even noticed their vocals until JT pointed them out.

Coldplay: Chris Martin opens it solo on piano, then joined by Jay-Z who provides a decent verse, then the whole band appears and segues into Viva la Vida. The song has had diminishing returns for me, but this was a good performance. I dug the unusual drum kit and full-band harmonies at the end. Why in the name of all that is holy have Coldplay started dressing like that though? I described it to a friend as "Sgt. Pepper attacked by wild dogs" and then while accepting an award, Chris Martin himself refers to their look as a blatant rip-off of Sgt. Peppers.

Jonas Brothers: I had never actually heard these guys' music before. I hold an obvious bias because of promise rings and Disney, but this was really enjoyable. Oh it could be because they had STEVIE WONDER playing keys and singing with a TALKBOX. That was just for their own song, before they started playing SUPERSTITION! Screw it, these guys are awesome. Not to mention dreamy.

Mylee Cyrus and Taylor Swift: Another teen superstar I had never actually heard sing. I wasn't as impressed with her, is the country accent an affectation or does she really talk like that? Taylor Swift (only 19 herself) wrote the song, apparently. It's pretty good for what it is - I just can't get into country music. I hate the idea of holding genre-wide prejudices, but even "good" country just bugs me. Maybe I'm just racist against white people. Hence leaving out all the other country performances of this review. Ditto for American Idol-type crap like Jennifer Hudson.

Kid Rock: His hit song is pretty enjoyable, but I think it comes solely from the ripped off parts from Sweet Home Alabama and Werewolves of London. The other stuff is pretty bland. I don't really feel strongly about it one way or the other.

Blink-182 announces they've decided to get back together! I'm not too embarrassed to admit they were my favorite band when I was 15, but I'll probably never hear any new stuff they put out.

Katy Perry: This song is so obnoxious (especially with Craig Ferguson introducing it by reminding us how AWESOME lesbians are, brah) Having said that, I would smaaash!

There's a McDonald's commercial with little kids playing soccer that uses an Os Mutantes song. Weeeird.

Kanye West and Estelle: I got so hyped. I fucking love this jam, even though it was a truncated version. I expected them to go into one of Yeezy's solo joints. What's with his quasi-mullet? And her dress is bizarre, still think she's kinda hot though.

Kanye West, Jay-Z, Lil Wayne, T.I.: I like Swagger Like Us more than most and this was an awesome live performance, with a good live band (prominent lead guitar especially stood out) and a hugely pregnant M.I.A. singing the chorus of Paper Planes that was sampled for this song. It's pretty awesome and unbelievable that she was nominated for Record of the Year (She didn't win, of course), but I would have liked to have seen her sing more than just "swagger like us/swagger swagger like us."

Sir Paul McCartney: How can you go wrong with Beatles classics like I Saw Her Standing There? Wait, that's it? I assumed this would be a medley. It was great, but kind of a random choice of one song to play. At least he didn't go for something maudlin like "Yesterday"...

Adele: My first time hearing this Chasing Pavement song. The girl can sing, but this kind of stuff really doesn't do anything for me.

Radiohead! With the USC marching band! Just like Fleetwood Mac's Tusk! 15 Step was a good choice for this setup, but there was something anticlimactic about it. They need to give these bands more time; all the songs are cut down to like 2 minutes. And was it just Thom and Johnny there? Surely the other guys could have done something. Still, it's nice to see the actual best album of last year -that'd be In Rainbows- nominated for Album of the Year.

T.I. and Justin Timberlake: These guys both get to perform twice, huh? I like this song, not much to say about it. It's no My Love.

The legendary Smokey Robinson introduces the Four Tops, who are down to only 1 or 2 Tops with the passing of lead vocalist Levi Stubbs, then joins them onstage along with Jamie Foxx and Ne-Yo. Even Paul McCartney is impressed.

Lil Wayne: going the serious route (sans his Serious Glasses) and doing his subdued N'awlans tribute Tie My Hands with Robin Thicke. Thank God he dodn't do one of his new "rock" songs. At the end of the song an old guy busted out a piano solo and a horn section came marching out. Then Tha Carter III won best album and Weezy's family including his "daddy" Baby piled on stage. Oh, Weezy.

Robert Plant and Alison Krauss: I think this is the song Plant said he wrote with Jimmy Page post-Zeppelin. I like the arrangement: just stripped down drums, upright bass, an acoustic-electric and an electric. Song of the Year might be pushing it. Wow, they won Album too.

And Stevie comes back to play us out. Welp, see ya later.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Lindstrøm live in San Francisco

I saw people taping at the amazing Lindstrom party (show) I went to at Paradise Lounge last Saturday, so I'm glad they made it onto YouTube. Sound quality is good, but they're chopped rather inconveniently into 11 parts; here's the first:

On part 3, the sound goes out at 2:00, I'd recommend skipping to part 4 from there.
The light show was incredible but there was a smoke machine suspended from the ceiling that was leaking hot oil on people. Some wasted guy wanted to fight my friend because he thought he had burned him with a cigarette. My friend's response to calm the guy down: "I'm not smoking! I have a joint, though, if you want we could smoke it."

El Guincho live: "Club de Rusia"


This new track recorded live in NYC is on the more uptempo side of El Guincho's trance-inducing tropical formula, with metallic keyboard flourishes and an almost reggaeton groove. He's joined here on percussion and backing vox by Aleix Clavera of Extraperlo who looks like a character from an 80s John Hughes movie. Ahhh, Spain. Excuse me, Catalunya.
(via Pitchfork)

Here's "Verbena de los Delfines," a 'cover' of Guincho's other band, Coconut.

I'm listening to the Extraperlo tracks on their Myspace and I really dig them, but the vocals are like weirdly flat and restrained. I could see myself really liking them with a little time.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Katie Couric: Apparently not a Gangsta


I can't embed this for some reason, so go here for the lolz. I like his Serious Glasses. He wore them on his ESPN appearance too.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

OH SHIT! GANG GANG!

Along from Merriweather Post Pavillion (rad official video at link), Gang Gang Dance's Saint Dymphna is one of those recent albums that I can't stop listening to and keep getting more amazing with every listen. Here's a clip that sheds some light on the recording process of the track "Princes" featuring UK rapper Tinchy Snyder.

Friday, January 23, 2009

New Adek Dark's Video


I told you about French rapper Adek Dark's and his banger "Alchimiste" months ago. Now it and a couple more tracks, like the Carole King sampling " Le parcours d'une grotte d'eau" are on his Facebook and MySpace pages. His Space also features this short but extremely high-quality video clip for "Ce que j'ai". Now I just gotta learn French.

How to be cool

Have things in your household gotten so bad you've resorted to eating a baseball cleat?
Did your first summer job involve organized homicide?

Friday, January 16, 2009

Stevie Wonder and the Eye-talian Pastafarian



And just so you don't think I'm heartlessly mocking a musical genius, check this out:

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

German children attempt to elope to Africa



With Israel showing no signs of stopping its brutal "retaliation" against the people of Gaza, it was nice to come across a news story about children that doesn't involve violence and poverty.