Friday, September 30, 2011

Sorry I've been A Super Slacker

Hey Music Sluts,
I apologize for the two weeks hiatus I took from posting.  I've been using this time to gather my thoughts, get my sh*t together, and decide what I want to do with my life.  Just a few things you missed, in music and otherwise --
  • REM broke up.  Sad panda.  They were awesome and they will be missed.
  • Vanaprasta played a couple shows in Scottsdale, AZ.  Although I had plans to go see them, Scottsdale is like 3 hours away and I just didn't have the funds to take a 6 hour road trip to see a band, even though I really wanted to.  The good news is, though, that it seems like they're getting a lot of attention, so the future prospect of seeing them play live has become more tangible because, with more fans come more accessible venues, so here's to hoping.
  • A ton of great albums have been released these past two weeks, not least of all was Grouplove's Never Trust a Happy Song.  Blondie, which I love and has been a major influence in the shaping of my musical taste, also released a new album. Definitely check those out if you can.
  • The West Memphis 3 were freed.  I learned about them during an English class and, having researched the history, I'm so happy that they've been released.  If you don't know of the case, you should understand it is one of the greatest miscarriage of justice in recent years and really gives one a reason to reflect on the fairness of the judicial process. 
  • Occupy Wall Street is closing it's second week and is gaining momentum, sparking similar protests in 50 cities in the U.S. and around the world.  I'm really surprised because I honestly thought it was going to fizzle out after a day.  I've been following the protests pretty regularly and I'm curious to see if anything is accomplished by the General Assembly.
  • My career options, as I found out, are not as dire.  Apparently, my sh*tty eyesight was not such a big deal for a certain federal career and I've been informed that if/when I'm hired, I'll be going in as a higher pay grade than usual.  Although I'm happy, I've been conflicted with whether or not I really want to be on that career path so I've been exploring Teach for America.  I'm really excited about TFA and will be putting in an application soon.
  • I've finally submitted a story I wrote -- a story I'm very proud of, btw -- to a major literary journal.  It might take awhile to get a reply, so I'm taking that in stride and trying to remain optimistic.  Meanwhile, I've been working on The Novel and a couple other short stories that have my brain running at all hours of the night.
Those last two were kind of personal and off topic, I know, but just so you know I haven't been shirking my blogging duties just because I'm lazy. 

Another Song I really think you should hear

Sail
by Awolnation

I've been listening to 98.7 LAs best alternative a lot more often, due to some mitigating circumstances that I will fill you in on later.  This song has been played quite bit so it must be fairly popular on the coast and the more times I hear it, the more I'm blown away by the sound.
The motley crew that is Awolnation
It's a fairly simple song lyrics-wise -- repetitive in a way that allows you to focus on the beauty of the music.  The intro is very zen-like....kind of New Age to the point where, at first, I was like "Are they playing Enya?" Nope....something just as awesome but in a different way...  It's another one of those songs that you have to allow to wash over you and not linger on the technical aspects, which are beautiful in their own right.  My favorite part of the instrumentals is the discordant piano playing, which disturbs the otherwise serene ambiance with just the right amount of darkness.  I'm looking forward to hearing more from this artist.  Please have a listen.  Video is, bien sur, after the jump.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Song du Jour -- Today calls for the Beatles

Revolution
by The Beatles


As you may know, happening right now in Manhattan is Occupy Wall Street, an Anonymous Ops event/protest.  I only watched a few minutes of the live feed on AnonOps but, considering how many people are out there today in support and the need for police forces to be out, I find it oddly suspicious that none of the major news networks are covering it.  Sure, they have a little bit in the ticker saying that a protest is going on but this thing is becoming global.  It is news, so they should be covering it, rather than devoting time to Scarlett Johannson's nude pictures and Brad Pitt's failed marriage--if for no other reason than it's far more interesting and relevant.  And if things become violent, it could become bad news--really bad news.  I may disagree with alot of the methods Anonymous has used to gain attention for their cause, but I'm still interested in how far this will go.  Ignoring it won't make it go away.  In fact, it might even make things worse, because it might seem that the media--who usually claim to be on the side of truth -- is trying to alienate protesters. 

Perhaps there is a reason for the dearth of coverage -- perhaps CNN, Fox, and MSNBC only do fluff pieces on the weekend....or maybe their bosses just don't want them getting deep into the fray.  The point is that my generation is hopping mad and the economy sucks and the government is essentially non-functioning at this point for many reasons.  I could go into all the historical data on why a revolution in America isn't so far-fetched right now but that would be a long rant and I want to get to the song du jour, which features the always appropriate Beatles.  They have a song for f*cking everything, don't they?  And it's reminiscent of the "Make Love, Not War" times that defined a decade.  For my part, I'll be at the Bisbee Blues Fest, supporting music and community togetherness.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Bisbee Blues Festival 2011

Since the day is coming up quick, I just want to remind anyone who has stumbled upon this site that this Saturday, September 17th, is the 7th Annual Bisbee Blues Fest held at Warren Park.  This is a great local event that has done great things for the Southeastern Arizona music scene.  This is first year I'll be able to attend and I will be volunteering as a beer girl, so you're welcome to stop buy and say Hi from 4-8, which is when my designated shift will be.  I'll be the short girl.  Additional information is listed below.




Artists Featured
  • Coco Montoya
  • Big Daddy D and the Dynamites
  • The Bryan Dean Trio
  • Dylan Charles and the Border Crossers - local band
Location
Warren Ballpark
Arizona St. at Ruppe Rd.
Warren District Bisbee, Arizona 85603

Times
Gates open at noon and the play schedule is as follows:
  • 1:00pm -- Dylan Charles and the Border Crossers
  • 2:45pm -- The Bryan Dean Trio
  • 4:30pm -- Big Daddy D and the Dynamites
  • 6:30pm -- Coco Montoya
Hopefully, we won't be rained out.  Looking forward to seeing other SE AZ blues fans!

More info -- https://thebisbeebluesfestival.com

Song du Jour -- The Black Keys

Tighten Up
by The Black Keys
Nerds reading comics at a Ye Olde Time Gas Station
Peiter Van Hattem/Epitaph Records
I've been hearing this song everywhere lately -- in Pac Sun, on I heart Radio.....--okay, only two places I guess.  But it's awesome so I'll overlook that.  I love the Black Keys and especially this song because it's just the right mix of Indie and Blues.  Apparently, the upsurge of searches for Foster the People's "Pumped Up Kicks" has led people to this track on youtube and it's fairly popular -- only 18 people out 2,000 who actually rate videos dislike it.  I'm guessing those people are big fans of (insert terrible musician here).  A little tour FYI -- it looks like The Black Keys are finishing up in America with a show in Atlanta, GA on the 24th and then they'll kick off some European dates in January.  A lot of those dates will, in fact, be in the United Kingdom so I hope my British friends who read this (according to my stats, there's a fair amount)  will be able to check them out live soon.

My day in a nutshell -- woke up at the crack of dawn to drive my dad to the airport in zero visibility fog, The Boyfriend finally bothered to call, and my sister has some sort of weird eye disease.  Cute video that involves childhood crushes after the jump.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Free on iTunes This Week -- "Colours" by Grouplove

Remember that song that I told you was a must listen last night?  In a happy twist of fate, it is also the free single of the week on iTunes, so if you enjoyed it and have an iPod, you have no excuse not to cash in on this.  As an added bonus, their debut album (which came out today) is being offered for $8.99.  A dollar off may not seem like much but every little bit counts, right?  They have other stuff for free, as well, though nothing I'm particularly psyched about. 

The album, Never Trust a Happy, is also available on Spinner for a listen.  I may or may not have time today or tomorrow to go through it and write up my thoughts.  That's a little up in the air, right now, seeing as how I have a phone interview in an hour and --hopefully, assuming all goes well -- a date with a plane bound for New Orleans so I can do a face-to-face.  And, as much as I'm digging Grouplove, I'm really hoping I don't have time this week.  :D

Monday, September 12, 2011

Pardon Me but....YOU NEED TO HEAR THIS SONG

I was listening to 98.7 LAs Best Alternative while picking up my sister from her culinary class today and the DJ was pimping this track, saying it was his "favorite new song."  Assuming it would be the next thing he played, what I heard was "meh...it's aight" and continued about my business.  Then, I start hearing this track that is badass and -- true story -- even though I was still driving, I had to check who it was by.  Lo and behold, it was the song the host was pimping.  I stand corrected -- it is not "meh."  In fact, it's pretty damn awesome, so awesome that I felt the need to share it as soon as I got home.  Well, not as soon as -- I stopped to have some greek yogurt.  But I'm here now and you must listen.

Considering that 98.7 called it new music and it's an LA station, it's a safe bet that my friends in Middle America -- whose musical pain I empathize with deeply -- haven't heard it and possibly, haven't even heard of the band.  Well...you might've...apparently the track is featured on Madden 12, so in theory, my dad and his football lovin' friends probably heard it before I did.  Ironic, isn't it?  Anyway, usually I give a long-winded rant about the merits of the song -- the lyrics, the vocals, the blah blah blah -- but, this time, I'll spare you my incoherent ramblings and let you just enjoy it. 

Without much further ado, I give you -- "Colours" by Grouplove

Friday, September 9, 2011

Song du Jour: Aly & AJ

Walking on Sunshine
as sung by Aly & AJ
I'm so happy!  I have a really exciting job prospect in my favorite US city.....New Orleans!  I've talked to the person in charge, and I've sent in my resume.  Sometime in the next week, there will most likely be a phone interview and if that goes well, they will fly me out for a tour and face-to-face interview.  I can not begin to explain how badly I want this job -- not only for the obvious reason that I've been having a hard time finding employment after graduating but because it's in a field I have a lot of experience in and have a strong passion for.  I have a really good feeling about this oppurtunity and I'm very confident/optimistic about my chances.  Of course, there are some logistics to work out -- mostly having to deal with moving across the country and issues with The Boyfriend -- but I'm sure things will work themselves out when we come to those bridges.  So, once again -- Huzzah for me!!!
Someone has to say it...
Those are some intriguing boots Aly has on.

Naturally, the song that most adequately reflects my mood today would be "Walking on Sunshine" and I chose this version because I have a lot of respect for the Michalka sisters both as musicians and as actors and it's a reasonably good cover.  "Please Please Please (Let Me Get What I Want)" by The Smiths would also have been appropriate but seeing as how it was Song du jour only a few short weeks ago, I vetoed the choice.  And, mais bien sur, the video will follow after you click.


Thursday, September 8, 2011

Smartphone Radio Apps: i♥radio

As I've said before, I can't drive without music.  Counterintuitive as it may be, music helps me focus more on the tasks I'm accomplishing.  Now, although the previous sentence is very true, it is also a fact that when I'm using my iPod, I have a tendency to fiddle around with it -- browsing through songs, going back to favorite sections, looking at album art -- which is extremely dangerous to do while driving.  For this reason, I rarely use my iPod while driving.  Strictly for long trips where I know I'll be in areas without 3G coverage, which is practically everywhere along I-10 between Tucson and Cruces.  As a result, I rely heavily on the kindness of the local radio stations.  And here begins my plight.

Fundamentally, I enjoy listening to the radio.  I like the witty banter of the hosts, I like the idea of someone -- theoretically, a "DJ" which in my book should be like a music expert -- pointing out new music I haven't heard before and setting a flow for my day, and I like being able to request a song I have a capricious whim to hear, especially if I don't want to buy it.  That being said, I can't stand it anymore --my local radio station sucks.  It's total and complete sh*t....and I'm trying to be nice.  There are essentially five music channels in our town - pop, oldies, country, christian, and classical.  Usually, I listen to the pop (i.e. the "modern" music station) but lately, I've been finding myself switching to the classical and oldies stations more often.  This has spurred my quest to find the best (and hopefully free) radio app for Android.

I've been working with Jango, which was fine for awhile but now it's f*cking up to the point where there is no reason to even have it installed anymore.  In comes i♥radio to the rescue!  Now, for those of you who on the off chance haven't heard of it, i♥radio is an app that allows the user to stream live radio shows from across the country.  Now, I know what you may be thinking -- with actual radio comes a sh*t ton of advertising.  The thing about the app is that a fair amount of the stations available are truly Internet radio -- independent or contracted DJs hired to play shows specifically for the Internet.  On these particular stations (I've been listening to LAs 98.7) the amount of advertising is very limited and the listener does get to enjoy long blocks of music (as long as perhaps an hour long) before you hear a short ad space that is probably advertising the i♥radio app anyway. 

In my experience, this is kind of like getting my cake and being able to eat it.  I can enjoy the selection quality a DJ offers -- because, if you haven't noticed, Internet radios that rely on a program to generate a selection tend to be repetitive -- while at the same time not having to hear ads every three songs.  And, take notice -- this is just the current version of the app.  A new and improved version is supposed to be released around the time of the i♥radio music festival on September 24-25th in Vegas, an event that has a substantial amount of industry and celeb support.

This app is definitely worth a try if you're looking for a free music app for your smartphone.  It's available for Blackberry, Androids, iPhones, and Windows 7 Phones.

Song du Jour: Joan as Police Woman

Magic
by Joan as Police Woman


Today's song du jour I downloaded awhile ago from Fuse.  This song has both great music and incredible lyrics.  The music is, on the surface, pretty simple and straightforward but it has a lot of depth.  First off, the most noticeable element is the use of tambourine shaking on top, following the melody.  Then we have the guitar, whose twanginess hearkens back to the 70s.  And then, we have the excellent bass guitar, which is unobtrusive but still powerful.  It's buried underneath the layers of instruments so, at times, you forget that it's there but if you were to remove it, you would lose the darkness that it infuses into the entire track.  The lyrics tell about a woman who is looking for love ("the magic" if you will) but her exterior walls, her trust guard, keeps others away.  She just want to be herself but sometimes that gets in the way, which is a situation I'm sure we've all encountered.  The verses are filled with a lot of mythical references, and you'll probably be forced to look them up.  It's not necessary but it opens up another stratum of meaning for the lyrics.  Don't feel bad -- even I had to remind myself what "leviathan" means.  Also, it doesn't hurt at all that Joan Wasser has a great, husky voice.  "Magic" is the first single off her latest album, The Deep Field.  Click for a video after the jump.

Warning:: The music video contains body builders wearing speedos.  Thus, it is extremely weird and creepy in a way.  Go ahead and watch if that's your scene.  Otherwise, it's perfectly okay to close your eyes while listening to the song.  You have been warned.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Ode to the Directorial Works of the Talented Matthew Gray Gubler

Check out that snazzy tie...
Who has two thumbs and is incurably boy-crazy?  This girl!  I would like to take a moment (and a posting) to wax poetic on the virtues of my current celebrity crush, Matthew Gray Gubler.  Now, I realize this a ludicrous waste of time for someone who has short stories to polish and submit, but when you look at that face, can you blame me?

To begin,  I first encountered his acting work, naturally, through my interest in black comedies -- namely "How to be a Serial Killer," which is brilliant if you can see the humor in it.  Not long after that, I got caught up in his performance as Dr. Spencer Reid in "Criminal Minds."  I enjoy the show because, as opposed to some other procedural dramas that focus on the interpretive-side of psychology, the viewer sees the application of behavioral theory in an accurate way -- even if it stretches the truth of FBI bureaucracy a bit.  Some argue that forensic profiling, statistically, has had limited success and can sometimes be horribly off the mark, but I still enjoy learning about it.  Of course, in terms of television shows, I think "Lie to Me" most accurately portrays the benefits and boundaries of applied behavioral science.  But I digress.

Perhaps you didn't realize this, but Matthew Gray Gubler is a director.  He has an actual degree in Film Directing from NYU.  I don't know about you but I think that's awesome.  Now, you may be asking yourself "Hmmm....that's strange....I thought this was a f*cking music blog" so I will concede and say that you are correct, sirs, and there is a connection....Matthew Gray Gubler has directed a music video, in addition to a few episodes of "Criminal Minds."  As tenuous as this connection is, I'm going to say it counts.  It totally counts.  And it wasn't just some random band's music video either....it was for The Killers and it is moderately amusing (okay...at times, it's downright bizarre), as I invite you to view below.


Other than being a director and an actor, he's paid his dues as a model for Marc Jacobs, Tommy Hilfiger, and American Eagle and as the voice actor for Simon in those god-awful "Alvin & the Chipmunks" films.  But that's okay....he's only 30-ish and he has his whole life ahead of him.  Matthew Gray Gubler also sketches occasionally and, if you watch "Criminal Minds" at all, you've seen some of his sketches featured during the show.  His website is incredible, hilarious,--in short, mind-blowing--and you can check out some of his short films and sketches.  Check it out at Gublerland.

Song du Jour: DEV

The Cure
by DEV
I can't remember where I found this track, so I apologize but I do think it warrants a listen, especially if you like rap.  Now, before we start, I am not even going to fool you into thinking I'm some kind of expert on rap.  I have some on my iPod and I'm familiar with old-school stuff but, make no mistakes, I do feel horribly under-qualified to write about it.  That being said, I would like to think I know a good rap when I hear it.  As I've said before, a well-written rap should be distinguishable from poetry only in that, when spoken, the rhythm and flow of the words becomes paramount.  Like with poetry, rhyming is nice but it's not a must, and unexpected rhymes throughout --like start-spark and parade-grave in "The Cure"-- that hints at phonetic similarity provides a smoother connection between lines rather than using a word just because it has the right ending. 

This song laments the devolution of the rap genre--positing that it has become more about the money and less about the art -- which I've noticed is becoming a recurring theme, especially among new artists.  The merit of this underlying theme,along with the perceived hints that public education is meant to contain creativity, is up for debate.  DEV also didn't use any cuss words in this rap, which always impresses me.  It's not that I'm against cussing -- my family will tell you have the most irreverently foul mouth possible -- I just feel that if you really have something important to say, you don't need them to get your point across.  Besides, it gives The Man a reason to censor you, which, make no mistake, they are hoping to do.  Personally, I think overall the lyrics come off as very intelligent, but that's something you can decide for yourself.  Just as a Note:  This artist is not well-known so if you search for him on Google, you are going to get a lot of hits for Dev from Far East Movement--even the last.fm page is confused.  Putting the name in all caps won't help and neither will putting in keywords like "rapper" and "the cure."  This, as you can imagine, was very frustrating so we're lucky to have video and an image this week.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have strange men in my house--they're here to texture my walls.  Wow...that sounded more like a sexual innuendo than I had planned.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Updates: The Stems and Vanaprasta

'Sup Music Sluts--Through my numerous sources, I've learned of some new information about some music I've been hyping lately.  Just a short FYI before we head into the weekend.
  • Remember the Crosses EP I was encouraging y'all to download (for free!).  At the time of it's release, the band didn't have an actual name so I just labeled it something like "Chino Moreno Side Project" or something like that.  They are calling themselves The Stems but cross symbols are used instead of actual Ts.  This kind of gets frustrating when you're doing searches on Google for them because most of the websites pull up another The Stems from Perth, Australia.  It doesn't really matter, yet, because they don't have much press out but it's still annoying.
  • Vanaprasta is releasing their debut LP, Healthy Geometry, on November 1, 2011.  If you follow them on twitter, you probably already know that they're really excited about it.  As am I, boys...as am I.  Still no word on the exact date of their show in Pheonix but, if I hear anything, you know I'll share it.
Vanaprasta

2011 VMAs: The Long-Awaited Breakdown

I just thought she was getting fat...
I think I've done enough procrastinating on this and it's forced my hand.  I have to be honest -- I didn't watch the VMAs this year.  Even the lure of Chelsea Handler hosting the awards could not convince me that my time wouldn't be spent better working on short stories or building websites.  For the record, I dislike most award shows.  I am of the opinion that award shows are mostly just celebrity strokefests or, in cases like the Oscars or the Grammys, an attempt for the stars to convince the adoring masses that they have taste in their respective arts.  As much as I love Arcade Fire, you can't convince me that their winning Album of the Year had nothing to do with the fact that those voting probably had no idea who they were before the Grammys and therefore, Arcade Fire must be the most artistically deserving nominee, regardless if it was true or not.  Same with "The Hurt Locker."  A word to celebrities:  Award Shows are NOT the appropriate venue to express your political beliefs. 

I have a special aversion to any award shows with the words MTV or Teen's choice attached to them because, let's face it, the vast majority of the people who watch/vote for those ones have no creativity or desire to explore new options.  Which is why it was complete bullsh*t that Twilight won everything at Teen's Choice this year.  If I were Emma Watson, whose performance as Hermione -- her acting choices for which I didn't agree with very often -- was infinitely better than Kristen Stewart's lifeless Bella Swan, I would be pissed.  So, in general, if teenagers are the majority of the voting populace, it's probably best to just write it off as mindless tomfoolery and save the primetime spots for something worth watching.  Unfortunately, network executives don't share my views.  But....since they are kind of a big thing in the music world, I will touch upon a few highlights.
  • OMG!  Beyonce is pregnant! --  What?!  One of the top grossing celebrity couples in the world who have been married for several years is going to have a baby?!  You're f*cking me....I didn't see that coming at all.  Yes, my friends, Beyonce is abandoning her curvaceous silhouette for a more maternal one and everyone is all aghast and buzzing about it.  Why this is the case is beyond me.  Anyone with any intuitive sense about people could've told you that Beyonce is the "mom" type -- and I think she'll be a good one, in spite of her massive fortune which gives her ability to hire an army of nannies.  I'm more interested in how easy it will be for her to get back into booty-shaking shape.  She had a great body and she was always moving and exercising, so if she loses that battle of the baby bulge, I am definitely opting for a surrogate.