Going Chella

15 04 2010

Headin down to Coachella with Willi, Madds, Lauri, and their Aussie friend, Tristan. One van, five hooligans, many tents, and many plans. Oh yes.

Looking forward to a ridiculous weekend of Passion Pit, Tom Yorke, Tiësto, Dirty Projectors, Florence and the Machine, Little Dragon, Grizzly Bear, and Jay-Z!

Ready. Set. Go!


19 02 2009


I have so much to say about this dude, I have no idea where to start. Preface: while I was in Japan two years ago, Ozawa-sensei (A.k.a Jack Yamada) hooked it up with the j-pop dance tunes of the day, which are wonderful in their over-produced formulaicness and extraordinary hype. Seriously, house music is alive and well there. Not to overgeneralize, but Japanese popular ANYTHING has to be taken with a grain of salt, if only because it reflects so much of exported western pop everything, taken to the extreme of the extreme and somehow normalized in Japanese youth culture, way beyond anything mainstream in the U.S.

But I digress.

First of all, Miyavi’s a badass guitarist, no doubt. Observe the following:

Second, homie is KILLIN’ with the gender ambiguity, à la Japan’s still thriving Visual Kei scene, a rock aesthetic that makes David Bowie look like Chuck Norris and Gene Simmons look like he came straight outta the power rangers rock musical (yes, that exists). Not all the tunes from Visual Kei are worth listening to (most aren’t), but like most things Japanese, when a trend catches fire everyone holds on for dear life and you gotta respect their tenacity. I don’t understand how people have the money to drop on animé costumes and designer goth wear, but then again, there’s a lot about Japan I don’t understand (trust, you’d die if you knew what his wardrobe runs). If Miyavi has taught me one thing though, it’s that my style is sorely understated and I clearly need to find more glam rock.


Having just put on the massQuerade ball in October with the 385 crew, I’m interested in the blurry line between intense makeup and massqing in the sense we use it. Certainly scenes like Visual Kei have a contrived element to them, but when it hits the main and finds application in individual personal expression AND pushes the boundaries of convention and normativity, we begin to think differently. Commercialization might try to beat the soul out of it and that we must resist, in order to keep carrying problematizing expectations and normativity with grace. Yes, I just co-opted obscure j-rock fads for an anti-establishment resistance movement. What of it? All his lyrics translate to “fight the power” anyway….

Thanks to Ana and Bradley for the share.

Here’s more:




She Loves Everybody

2 02 2009


The official video for Chester French’s “She Loves Everybody” premiered today on MTV after much anticipation (mostly on my part). Scope the video on their myspace page.

Pharell picked up Max and D.A. fresh outta Harvard two years ago, signed them to Star Trak and, since then, they’ve been holed up in LA, churnin’ it out, hermit style.  They’re out on tour with dates in SF upcoming in March at the SF Mezzanine. Max tells me the album will be dropping….sometime. As soon as the beaurocracy at interscope works itself out. Right.

Below, Pharell extolls the virtues of his new dynamic duo:

Del Fuego

2 02 2009

Don’t let your pride feed the fire.
It was never within your control.

Don’t hate the 80s

29 01 2009

Sometimes you wake up with the best song ever stuck in your head. I won’t out myself by contextualizing my sudden nostalgia for the 80s with my actual age; I’m young enough that women at bars still infantalize me with doe eyes if I let my years slip. But that’s neither here nor there. Suffice to say, if you got to live through it, god forgive you for the haircut, and be grateful you witnessed the most important time in western artistic history.

Unfortunately, direction and videograpic technique was not quite up to par with the musical genius of the day. The video itself is not the point (though the wardrobe is tight); the production is what’s important. You can’t tell me they make riffs like or scorching guitar solos like that anymore. No, the Cutting Crew was too bold for the time, and the sweet but ironic sound of 8-bit synthesizers and lo-fi acoustics have been lost to an age obsessed with more bass, more bass, MORE BASS (thank you, Korg and Yamaha). I guess some things were never meant to last. Except Duran Duran.

Offensive problematic video aside, can we just discuss the lyrics of this song for a second? “I smell like I sound, I’m lost and I’m found” ? “Strut on a line, it’s discord and rhyme” ? Wtf does any of that mean?! Of course, it doesn’t matter. Hungry Like the Wolf is one of the best songs that came out of the 80s and everyone knows it. The ridiculous lyrics only confirm the artistic renaissance of the entire decade, a time when you could pull off anything (especially this video) with utter impunity.
Like mullets.


It’s almost worth giving England a nod for New Wave music. I mean, Cutting Crew? Duran Duran? Tears for Fears? Eurythmics? The Pet Shop Boys? I mean, come ON! These bands were at least as influential on western music theory as the entirety of the Romantic Era, if not more so. Without them, the Sex Pistols and Tom Petty wouldn’t be shit. Neither would Marilyn Manson or Trent Reznor for that matter.

I remember bumping (yes, bumping) the Pet Shop Boys in my dad’s car when I was like 5. That and Aerosmith, Michael Jackson, Gloria Estefan, and Boys II Men. If you had any questions about how I turned out the way I did, that line up should explain some things…

Not that America didn’t make a contribution. At least we had The Police and the Talking Heads. If you’ve never seen “Stop Making Sense” here’s a clip, but in order to maintain friendship status, you really need to watch the entire movie. Changed my life. David Byrne is my favorite crazy person.

Take me to the river, drop me in the water
Push me in the river, dip me in the water
Washing me down, washing me

When Little Kids Are Nasty Musicians

14 01 2009

Recently, there has been a huge number of virals featuring young prodigys absolutely devastating their art form. I have mixed feelings about how easy youtube makes it for stars with immense talent to hit the 10-second spot light, but there are a few who stand out as so incredibly unique, they merit continued monitoring. Obviously, anyone featured on Oprah automatically qualifies. Here are a few of my favorites:

I just spent a solid 30 minutes watching Sungha Jung, a 12-year Korean boy on youtube, bring tears to my eyes with his guitar virtuosity. 12, y’all. Homeboy is 12.


Then there’s Charice Pempengco (shout out to Ron), aka Whitney Houston in a miniature Phillipina diva body. Skip ahead to 2:45 in this video and you will witness her absolutely KILL Whitney’s “I Have Nothing.”

I know, right? What WAS that? I’ll let you youtube the rest of her videos on your own time. Rumor has it there’s a docudrama chronicling her family’s journey to gain her the success she’s achieved. I haven’t watched it yet, but it could be a interesting study on the dynamics that play into child fame, the world of celebrity, international talent shows, and so on. It’s on my list of things to watch before I start making babies/developing arrangements for my traveling family band.

Nothing Compares

9 01 2009

Shout out to Robin for sharing this video. Peep Gavin Castleton’s cover of Prince/ Sinead O’Connor’s “Nothing Compares to U”. It’s amazing:

*update* Prince got upset and made youtube take the video down. Should still be up on myspace though.

His new album, “Home,” drops February 14th and, while he’s a little obsessive, his music is beautiful. Inspiring, given the circumstances.

Sweden We Go Hard

2 01 2009

I have no shame about the fact that Ace of Base was one of my favorite bands circa 1995. “I Saw the Sign” and “The Bridge” were on heavy rotation in my sporty blue walkman throughout elementary school (along with everything the Cranberries and No Doubt ever did. What? Talk about it). Claiming the notoriety for Sweden’s musical Renaissance (after millenia of slumber, post vikings), ABBA never quite struck me. I saw Mama Mia and I wasn’t that impressed. So when I recently woke up one morning and all of a sudden Sweden’s music scene was in full blown unabashed funk city, I was a bit surprised. Word, Gothenburg? Looks like I might be a little behind the ball on this one.


Check out an earlier post on Little Dragon, whose Yukimi Nagano is in partial possession of my heart, what with her magical voice and coy looks and all. In one form or another, this group is makin’ moves in the years to come. You should for sure check out their video Twice from the backstage sessions. Score one for Sweden.


A stroke of luck with NPR’s all songs considered got me a live performance of José González in D.C. which was incredible. You can get the podcast here– it’s highly recommended.  His video of Massive Attack’s “Tear Drop” is like a psychedelic journey through the fall of Sodom and Gomorrah cum animal exodus- make of that what you will. His cover of Knife’s “Heartbeats” isn’t quite the same artistic endeavor, but seeing him live gives you a sense of how the man uses his hands while he plays. He’s kind of brilliant and in my top ten list of artists to see. Score two for Sweden.


Then there’s the zany and undeniably lovable Lykke Li. Her debut album “Youth Novels” has a lot of styles working in it (oddly similar to Little Dragon’s actually…) and while the album itself is enjoyable, if you watch enough videos it’s clear that her success comes from her performance aesthetic. Serious when she sings,  she’ll check in to see how attentively you’re listening. Her voice has a wonderful, somehow earnest, fragility to it, neither timid nor ostentatious- like she’s saving something. Just watch her eyes. Check her out in the first single, “Little Bit”  and the new video for “I’m Good, I’m Gone” (below).

That’ll make the hatrick there for Sweden, marking the beginning of a new era for positive grooves in our favorite Scandinavian country, post ABBA, post Ace of Base, and very very post Gunther *shudders*.

Back in the Day

1 01 2009


WERS bumped this throwback tune last night as E, Pete, Linds and I were in the car on our way to NYE festivities in the city. At some point during the night, each of us were caught singing/humming/slurring the hook, reminiscing about back in the day (When I was young, I’m not a kid anymore, but some days I sit and wish I was a kid again).

Which obviously made me think about all the other goodness we were listening to back in the day: J5, The Roots, Tribe, Pharcyde, Big, Pac, Dj Shadow, Blackalicious, Lateef, Lyrics Born (the whole Quannum label really), Black Star, Nas, Jay, KRS-1, the list go on and on. I wont spend time  defending the dynamics of white suburban middle school kids obsessing over hip hop (not that I could necessarily), except to say that at the time there was nothing worth listening to more. Hip Hop, for whatever reason, was pertinent to our lives.

We’ve all watched mainstream rap music dissolve into a commercialized frenzied machine of poppy ridiculousness, but there are still a huge number of artists holdin’ it down and pushing the envelope of creativity. Andre 3000, for instance, can do no wrong in my eyes; I still think Jay-Z is one of the best rappers alive (in spite of wheezy’s claims); and that doesn’t even take into account independent labels (whatever independent means anymore)like RhymeSayers, Quannum, or QN5 maintaining a forum for underground artists.

I don’t know what it will mean for creative hip hop artists as music becomes less and less lucrative. The last album I paid for was a used compilation of Miles Davis for my brother’s birthday, since he downloads more music than I can keep track of. It’s too easy to “happen upon” full-length records while cruisin’ the inter-webs, using mojo, trackers or the myriad ways of “sharing” music. I guess I’ll leave it too the industry to find a better way to pay rappers and producers? Kind of irresponsible, I know, but I’m a college student so…

This last one isn’t throw-back, but I just saw the video and liked it. Q-tip is still what’s up.

Back in the day, when I was young

I’m not a kid anymore

But some days, I sit and wish I was a kid again.

Currently Killin’ Me

8 12 2008


I know I’m behind the ball, but I had to let the world know. Adele. Oh my goodness. Debuted at 19, she’s up for four Grammys including best new artist and best record.

19 and this girl does things with her voice you that make you go “ooo, really? dayemn.”

My oh my, don’t think my heart can take it.

And you can find him, sitting on your doorstep

Waiting for surprises.

It will feel like, he’s been there for hours.

And you can tell that he’ll be there for life.