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Showing posts from January, 2010

The Weekly Roundup: 1.29.2010

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Wild and Urban: Moscow's Strays
This is a fascinating article from the Financial Times about the many stray dogs that populate Moscow. These dogs are as much a part of the city as any Muscovite. Some are smart enough to use the subway system, and statues have been erected in their honor. Additionally, the article looks at the work of Andrei Poyarkov, a biologist and wolf specialist. Apparently, the dogs make up a unique biological niche that affects their behavior and appearance. They look more like wolves, because they are more feral then pet dogs or even strays dogs from other cities. Very interesting.
Moscow’s stray dogs by Susanne Sternthal
A British Take On America's RV Obsession
The BBC sent a British correspondent to Indiana to report on the history and culture of American motorhomes and recreational vehicles. Slightly humorous, but actually somewhat deferential, it offers an outside perspective of this fervent, Americana subculture. Bonus: photos of some extraordinary vint…

Tuesday Is For Tunes: Local Natives

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Presenting: Local Natives, this week’s featured music-makers. In what is becoming a completely coincidental trend, this week’s featured music-maker is once again on Frenchkiss Records. I’d don’t know what to say. It’s completely unplanned. Every time I find a new band to like they’re on Frenchkiss. I’m just unconsciously smitten with this record label.

In early 2007 when I was interning at a label in SoCal, the intern I became best friends with was Sally. Back then Local Natives were known as Cavil At Rest, and Sally loved and promoted this band like it was her job. They always sounded promising to me, but tracks they’ve previewed from their new album, Gorilla Manor, set to release February 16th have really blown me away. They are pulsating with creativity. Such rhythms! Such structure! Such noises! Not to mention some evocative vocal harmonies with delicious amount of reverb. If you don’t already know about Local Natives, you need to make yourself familiar with their music. I am full…

Disposable 2

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Previously I posted a series of photos I took while experimenting with single-use cameras entitled Disposable. Here is a second set from that ongoing experiment. All photos in this series were taken with a Kodak FunSaver (35mm, single use, flash), and developed at 1-hour photo centers.

The Weekly Roundup: 1.22.2010

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Lawless But Loved
I’m such a sucker for an underdog, a rebel. It’s hard for me to not overly romanticize characters like Robin Hood, Billy the Kid, Clyde Barrow, and Che Guevara, despite their violent and dangerous natures. Now I’ve got a new larger-than-life person to add to that list: Colton Harris-Moore. Colton is a teenage bandit from an island off the coast of Washington, who has been on the lam for almost two years now. Allegedly, he has stolen planes, and successfully operated them with no training. This week NPR covered not just the bandit, but also his growing popularity as a cultural icon. Apparently, I’m not the only one enamored with this outlaw. With songs written about him, t-shirts featuring his face, and fan clubs of teen girls, Colton is well on his way to being a larger-than-life legend, and a post-modern part of the American folk tradition.
At Large: Teen Bandit. Even Larger: His Legend. by Vanessa Romo
All Songs Considered Responses
Some big and little questions have b…

Top 5@5: Duo Bands

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Two of the radio stations I listen to regularly, WXPN and Graffiti Radio, do segments called the Top 5@5. Basically, they pick a new theme everyday and find five songs that fit it to play as a set at 5pm. I've been listening to a lot of two-member bands lately, so I thought I'd put together a Top 5@5 set of duo bands, bands that rock pretty hard with only two members. I included videos of each song being performed, 'cause I feel like that's the real test: that the recording can be replicated live.
My First Crush - Ed In The Refridgerators


Hotel Yorba - The White Stripes


Young Hearts Spark Fire - Japandroids


Joe's Waltz - The Dodos


You're Lovely (But You Got Lots of Problems) - Death From Above 1979

Bonus Track: The Cinnamon Band is my friend's band, and they are also a duo. I think they're really great, and they've toured with Handsome Furs, so you should check them out.
Wider Than A Mile - The Cinnamon Band



Tuesday Is For Tunes: Four Tet

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This week on Tuesday Is For Tunes: Four Tet. While by no means new to me, Four Tet has a new album coming out next week entitled There Is Love In You. A preview of the entire album was posted on Soundcloud Sunday, so it went without question that Four Tet would be the featured music-maker this week.

First up for review, the single, Love Cry, that has been available for a while on Four Tet’s Myspace profile. Clocking in at over nine minutes long, it is an excellent introduction to the album, which should under no circumstances be broken down into pithy sound bites. The length of the song gives it time to not only build up, but to branch out and explore as well. Humming distortion sets the tone for a full minute before the sweetest of drumbeats kicks in: I mean so sweet it does salacious things to my hips. However, at the same time I can still feel the synth expanding between my ears. About halfway through, the sampled vocals that give the song its name join the mix. Their repetition s…

A Different Light

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Here are some more photos I've taken with my new FinePix J38. On certain mornings when I come down the stairs I find the most fantastically misty shadows and peach-toned rays of light. On those kind of mornings I find myself marveling away the minutes, while I sip my tea, and end up late for work. This is an attempt to capture that bewitching moment.

The Weekly Roundup: 1.15.2010

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Kill Your Virtual Self
When I first heard about this an image of the suicide booth from Futurama flashed in my mind. Web 2.0 Suicide Machine is an online service that allows you to delete entire social media profiles and all activity associated with them with one quick registration and click. Personally, I think it's rather gimmicky and not very effective, albeit a fascinating development for the virtual world of the interwebs. The website markets virtual suicide with images of nooses made of network cables, and witty comments like, "We believe everyone should be able to commit suicide in social networks!" I know this service shouldn't be taken too seriously, but real suicide is a serious problem, and they are appropriating it's semiotics. Plus, information on the internet is disseminated so quickly and thoroughly, I doubt this service can be particularly good at what it claims. Personal things like photos and quotes posted on MySpace and Facebook are re-posted on…

The pure idea in your mind

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"Build, therefore, your own world. As fast as you conform your life to the pure idea in your mind, that will unfold its great proportions. A correspondent revolution in things will attend the influx of the spirit."

From The American Scholar (1837) by Ralph Waldo Emerson
Why can’t it be that easy? I’ve been trying and trying for years, and I’ve just never found it that simple. Transcendentalism was a mainstay of the many philosophies I was raised with. I believe, or at least want to believe in this. You need to conceptualize yourself as an idealized individual based on your own terms and then unceasingly strive to achieve that state of being. Then, if enough people are doing this, it reaches a critical mass, thus birthing a broader social revolution. Right?

Yet, despite attempting to achieve this for most of my conscious life, now as an adult I feel further away from my goals than I ever have before. The older I get the less I know. This week I realized that even though I’ve l…

Tuesday Is For Tunes: Freelance Whales

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This week’s featured band is Freelance Whales, because they’ve somehow managed to mix a banjo and glockenspiel with microKORG-made ambient, electronica without sounding like they’re trying at all. I’ll tentatively give the credit to their use of a harmonium, and their busking attitude to towards performing. I know it sounds like I just described the highly improbable, if not the impossible, but I have heard it. Oh believe me, I have heard it.

Remarkably, Freelance Whales manages to arrange this myriad of noises tactfully enough that they still sound simple and endearing. Their music is well textured, but built in a way that allows you to savor each sound. My ears can easily pick out the banjo riffs in Generator 1st Floor and appreciate them individually, and then appreciate them even more as they weave their way through the rest of the song. Other times they blend unlikely noises together so smoothly that you find yourself really appreciating novel new sound, like the glockenspiel/mic…

Cut and Paste Flyer

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When I first started doing shows the year was 2000, and my mom certainly did not have Photoshop on our home computer. Instead, I made up flyers the old school, lo-fi way: cut and paste. No matter how many new filters they come up with in fancy digital editing suits, they just can't seem to replicate this aesthetic. While I've used Photoshop for the last several flyers I've made, I decided to return to my roots for my most recent creation. Admittedly, I cheated a little with the font. I don't own a typewriter anymore, and didn't have time to go cutting individual letters out of magazines, so I used a font-package, printed it in Word, and cut out the text. Still, I think it looks pretty authentic. I cut the background image out of a 1937 issue of Life. If you're in the area, come check out this free house show Saturday. It should be a memorably good time.



The Weekly Roundup: 1.8.2010

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Hipster Quests for Psychotropic Frog
If watching a heroin-chic guy in the tightest black pants wander around the Amazon looking for a fabled frog with psychotropic venom sounds like your kind of entertainment, you need to watch this movie. It's actually pretty interesting for what sounds like a documentary version of just another stoner flick. Hamilton is surprisingly knowledgeable, ballsy, and in possession of some ill documenting skills. Apparently, he's also a high school friend of my cousin, a fact that gives me never-ending amusement.
The Sapo Diaries (Part 1)
The Sapo Diaries (Part 2)
The Sapo Diaries (Part 3)
Quilts by Luke Haynes
Luke Haynes makes quilts that epitomize the use of textiles in art. I made my first quilt when I was ten, but I'm still a complete amateur. I would give anything to be this good at quilting. Pieces like this blend art and domesticity, which was frequently the original intention of crafts. Fine art is all well and good, but there is something abo…

Tuesday Is For Tunes: Beach House

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I'm supposed to be studying for the GRE, so today's post will have to be unusually short, not that this artist is any less worthy of a complete review.


This week: Beach House. I saw this duo play at the Siren Music Festival back in the summer of 2008, and thought they were a little too sleepy for the stifling heat that was beating down on the Coney Island boardwalk.

However, the music they've previewed so far from their new album, Teen Dream, set to release January 26th is considerably more promising to me. They've stepped up the tempo and tone just a little, and that seems to have made all the difference. I can't stop thinking about this one song in particular. Norway has been shimmering and shifting in the back of my mind, since I first heard it. I've listened to about five other songs from the album already, and they all have my attention. They recorded in an old church, and it sounds like it. Their acoustics shine like lucid dreams of faded memories.

Since I…

2009 Year In Review: Addendum

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Back in November I posted my 2009 Year In Review for XPN, a list of what I felt at the time were the top 10 songs and top 10 albums of the year. While making mix CDs for friends this holiday season, I predictably ended up expanding and changing that list. Now that it's 2010, no more changes can be made. C'est la fin! Here's the final, official list of my favorite songs from 2009.
1901 - Phoenix
Phoenix is from France. They've been making good music for years, but had yet to really break into the USA. Finally, the album they released in 2009, Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix, was too fantastic to be ignored state-side. This song is the single they released in advance of the album as a free teaser download. It made me dance so hard that I immediately pre-ordered.

At The Bottom - Brand New
Brand New has such a bad rep as just another early 2000s, Long Island, pop punk band, even though they moved on from that years ago. If you've been ignoring this band since high school, get ove…

The Weekly Roundup: 1.1.2010

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L.A. County Estate Sales
This article from the LA Times is haunting. I was so riveted I couldn't have stopped reading had an earthquake struck. It is an intimate look at how L.A. County handles the estates of people, who die with no will or next of kin, obviously sad, but the author manages to find some bittersweet humor as well. Anything I say about this simply won't do it justice. All I can say is that you should read it.
Selling what the dead leave behind by Molly Hennessy-Fiske
Important Work Thingies
My coworkers and I are pretty keen on photos of animals. We discuss The Daily Otter like it's important news. This was the contents of an inter-office memo sent out Tuesday.

The Best Music of 2009 from NPR
There are so many of these music-of-the-year lists being passed around, even I am guilty of creating and proliferating such a list, that it's hard to know which ones are actually worth your precious time. Let me recommend this one. I don't even necessarily agree with …