Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Sultriest Thing On The Internet

I know that's a big statement, but this clip of St. Vincent AKA Annie Clark slays me every time:

Stark Expo 2010

I love this type of viral campaign: setting up elements from a film as if they actually existed out here in the real world.
Check out the Stark Expo 2010 website, prepped for the release of Iron Man 2. I was pretty pumped to see John Slatterly (a.k.a. Roger Sterling from Mad Men) as Howard Stark (Tony's dad) in a faux-vintage promo. Your viral methods are working on me, Marvel Entertainment!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Not Nerd Enough

Sometimes it's a great relief to see people geek-out over something, to a degree I never would, so I can say to myself "see? I'm not so bad!"

But every now and then a guy like this comes along, who not only trumps my nerdy-ness tenfold, but also makes me really ashamed I'm not there with them.

Monday, March 29, 2010

As I write this, there's a man singing show tunes somewhere in my house. I want him to stop.

As usual, I didn't get my shit together in time to buy tickets for two shows I really wanted to attend: see you in my dreams, Yeasayer and Surfer Blood. To cheer myself up, I bought tickets to see Local Natives and The Tallest Man on Earth. The first Local Natives clip I remember seeing was this one:

Low budget and low quality, but fantastic energy. Although, honestly, almost any a capella-ish cover of a Simon and Garfunkle song will please me; it's a soft spot in my character. Anyway, here they are doing their own thing:

Somebody somewhere called them "the West Coast version of Grizzly Bear," which sounds about right.

And then there's this man, my future husband:

Seriously: Monster Crush. I've said it before: for the past couple of years, Sweden's number one export has been raw Aryan musical talent.

G-damn, there's a lot of good music floating around right now in general. Compare the present to the late 90's and early 00's (i.e. my early teen years): what a culturally void little pocket of time that was, wasn't it? Every twenty-something reading this should pause for a moment and give thanks that we all made it through 1998. The White Stripes are in the top ten this week; things could be worse.

Darwin Deez - Bad Day - Take Away Show

Darwin Deez - Bad Day - A Take Away Show from La Blogotheque on Vimeo.

This fella is about to blow the fuck up. As previously mentioned, thanks to Jamie Peterson for cluing me in about Deez' perfectly crafted indie-pop.

Monday, March 22, 2010

More Thoughts

I ordered a sandwich from Subway today, on their bread called "Italian Herb and Cheese." I said it kinda fast, so it sounded like "Italian Urban Cheese." I instantly imagined a piece of Parmesan dressed up with shades and a backwards cap saying something like "eat fresh, y'bitches!" I then wondered why he didn't have his own TV show already.

I get sad knowing trees can never climb themselves.

I live in LA, so I spend a lot of time driving. Whenever dealing with incompetent assholes on the road, I've started giving them a stern finger wag of disapproval. It definitely enrages people more than a dismissive middle finger, which instantly makes me the winner.

I want to open a boutique in outer space called "Orion's Accessories: More Than Just Belts!"

Whenever strangers dial the wrong number and end up calling me, why don't they believe anything I say? They really think they called the person they intended, and they're pretty annoyed that I'm not cooperating.
"Well," a peeved woman once said to me, "this is definitely my grandma's number, so I'm just trying to figure out what you're doing there."
Then they always ask me to recite my number, and get shocked when it's not what they dialed. How could that end any other way? It's as if they're waiting for me say "you're totally right; I was just trying to make you think you did something wrong! That's how I get my jollies! Don't worry, you've still never made any mistakes ever!"

No matter how poetic you think it might sound, "where are you in your moons?" is not a great way to start a date.

I don't want to lose an arm. I use my arms, like, every day. But if I did lose one, I'd want to make a prosthetic arm entirely out of those Crayola Skin Tone Crayons. I could get a pretty close color match, and any surface I touch could become a drawing. I'd just have to stay away from the top two crayon killers: hot cars and kindergarten classes.

What does "Casual Friday" look like for the employees of a strip club? It's hard to imagine them doing their thing in Hawaiian shirts and khakis.

While driving the other day, an old man was very slowly turning into the lane beside me. His eyes and skin were all droopy and sad; it looked like he was barely alive. Finally, his car crept up beside mine, and he looks right at me. He then snapped his face back to life with a huge exaggerated grin and wide-open eyes, as if to say "Fooled ya, asshole!" And now he is my hero.

There's a guy named Julio who works in the cubical behind me. He's very laid back and soft-spoken, with the tiniest hint of an accent. One day he came to my desk and very plainly asked "do you like positive reinforcement?" I said "yes." "Do you like notes?" he asked. I said "yes." He nodded, and went back to work. Ever since then, he's been periodically writing me complimentary words on small post-it notes, folding them up, and tossing them over his cube to land in mine. Here's a sampling:

"You've got a way about's amazing!"

"There is no doubt that the person you are makes the air sweeter."

"Get on with your bad self, you crazy young stud of a king!"

"The growth of a beautiful rose is based on your emotions."

The best so far:

"Nobody puts those happy pants on better than you."

Friday, March 19, 2010

Nat White's Grotesque Children

One of the illustration blogs I frequent (Today's Inspiration) posted these truly disturbing advertisements from the 1950's. Un-ironically creepy! See more of Nat White's devil children if you think you can stomach it.


I guess it's comic week on RSF, because I just found another awesome one about a unicorn and a robot who fall in love with each other. Check out Mythfits by Justin Winslow.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Pixar's Day and Night

Pixar's new short to be shown before Toy Story 3 looks like it's their first major foray into traditional animation. They've always been a big fan of the UPA-style, and it looks like they're totally going for it. I couldn't be happier.

Just for kicks, whadya say we watch Gerald McBoing Boing? I wouldn't be surprised at all if Pixar produces something just as perfect:

The Morning Benders - Big Echo

Sometimes I'll find a band with a handful of songs I really enjoy, but for whatever reason, it's not enough to make me investigate them any further. Then later that band will come out with better songs that slap me in the face and say "now are you gonna pay attention, punk?"

In my book, The Morning Benders are now officially worth paying attention to. They went from a pleasant distraction between Shins albums (plunking out folksy love tunes), to a band that's broadening their sound and adding some serious depth.

If you yourself can't fully investigate and take in a full album, at least listen to the mesmerizing first track "Excuses."

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Tic Toc Toys

These vinyl figures made exclusively for Kid Robot are so damn appealing. I can easily envision myself shelling out ten bucks to get my hands on one.

Damn you, Amanda Visell for your impeccable design sense and fantasy homages.

Monday, March 8, 2010

3 Shows in 5 Days

The Noise Pop Festival comes but once a year and, like Santa, it never fails to deliver, unless you’ve been bad and forgotten to buy tickets in advance, in which case you rely on more pragmatic friends to save your disorganized ass. And that’s the story of how I saw three awesome shows last week: by mooching.

Show 1: Fanfarlo at the Great American Music Hall

The interior of the GAMH is baller-status, although Microsoft Word wants me to describe it as “baler-status.” It was a bordello in the early 1900’s, and it still has some of that Barbary Coast vibe. Picture red velvet curtains, ceiling frescoes, marble, and ornately carved wood paneling. Or, just look at this photo:

On top of that, the Hall only holds about 500 people, so it’s intimate-ish.

I'd already seen Fanfarlo last November at Rickshaw (all of this means absolutely nothing to you LA folk, and for that I don’t apologize, but say, come visit me, fools). Here’s a not-so-great-quality-clip from that show:

There tends to be a lot of movement on stage. It feels like each band-member rotates through a few instruments during the course of a single song. And we're talking cool instruments, i.e. a guy throws down his trumpet only to pick up a melodica. Cool, right? Although, I don't know what counts as an uncool or lame instrument. I've got to think about that one. The flute, maybe? Poor flute.

Anyway, most Fanfarlo songs (and the best songs in general) have a lot of buildup. See Harold T. Wilkins:

You've gotta wait till the last minute for the good stuff. At the show, I'd lightly tap my foot at the beginning of a song, but by the end I'd be jumping up and down. Good sign. Fun band.

PS: this is a big part of why I'll never understand the appeal of jam-bands: the songs don't go anywhere, you're stuck in musical Purgatory: what's the point?

Show 2: Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes at Bimbo's

They lived up to the hype. And Lordy, they were hyped to the point that I was on the verge of being turned off. Which is an adolescent reaction, admittedly: "everyone likes this band: now I'm skeptical."

Some of my concerns were legit: their aesthetic is grating. The whole pseudo-hippie thing, the syrupy-lyrics like, "We want to feel ya! / We don’t mean to kill ya! / We come back to heal ya!" : they're a concept-band. They're selling sixties nostalgia to a generation of twenty-somethings that never experienced the sixties. The whole package is iffy.

But I can't deny that their energy onstage is huge. Here's a clip:

Actually, this was really the one time during the show where Alex Ebert seemed a little tired. You can tell he's sick of singing "Home," although he gets into it eventually. But I love this little clip because of the rando fiddler who crowd-surfs to the stage, get's a microphone, and proceeds to steal the show.

Ok, here's a clip from a different show that captures Alex's manic energy:

He was all about the audience. He talked to us and brought people on stage for half of the songs. His arm must have been on the verge of falling off from shaking that tambourine for two hours straight. He told us he loved us. We sat down on the floor for the slow jams. And after it was all over, he lingered and hung out with whoever wanted to chat.

What a mensch.

Sidenote: What's the deal with those token guys you run into at every concert that refuse to move their bodies or react to the music they're hearing in any discernible way? There's nothing worse than being stuck at a show behind a tall man (it's always a tall white man) who stands before you like a petrified tree trunk and acts like he's at an Anglican church service. I realize that the man is probably feeling a lot of feelings behind the empty chalkboard that is his face, but nonetheless--I hate that guy. He kills the mood. He was in front of me for a while at the beginning of the E. Sharpe show, but he disappeared, thank god.

Show 3: The Magnetic Fields at Herbst Theater

This one made me feel like a little kid at the grownup's table. Herbst theater is fancy-town. We're talking sit-down, assigned seating: it was weird.

Overall, the show was too sedate for my liking. I hadn't realized that Stephen Merrit suffers from hyperacusis: sounds reverberate in his left ear and grow progressively louder. Which means, he's a musician who hates the sound of applause: again, weird. It also means that the Magnetic Fields can never really rock out, because it would cause their lead singer excruciating physical pain.

Quirks aside (or maybe because of the quirks), I would pay good money to be Merrit's beard. So witty. So romantic in a fucked-up way. So talented. So gay.

If anything, the show renewed my love for pre-"69 Love Songs" era Magnetic Fields. They played almost nothing from that album, and only a song or two from "Realism." They did their more obscure stuff, and I appreciated that. They've been touring for twenty years, they've released nine (?) albums, and they've got a big catalogue of songs to chose from.

Here's the only clip I can find online from the show. Not too bad:

And that's all I have to say about that.

Epic Owls!

Imagine if something like Lord of the Rings was played out by cute and fluffy owls.

Oh wait! You don't have to imagine:

Elijah Wood already looked like a sad owl throughout most of the LOTR films, so this was probably just the next logical step.

I like how the owls wear rusty old helmets in order to look evil. Because animals wearing tiny versions of human-clothes always scares the crap out of people, and certainly is not adorable in the slightest.

More weird things: this owl epic was directed by Zack Snyder, the macho bad-ass who gave us the film adaptations of Watchmen and 300. His films were already half-animated before, but they were far less cuddly.

Legend of the Guardians was also animated by an Australian company (who did that other "cute-but-sad birds" film Happy Feet), so we naturally get the voices of Aussie-all-stars Hugo Weaving and Claire from Lost.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Currently On Repeat

There are a few albums I've recently purchased (that's right, legally! With money!) that I can't stop listening to. Over and over. Thankfully, there's a good amount of variety to their respective sounds, while all probably still considered "alternative." So here are some mini-reviews of the tunes I force-feed my ears these days.

Surfer Blood: Astro Coast
A lot of people are comparing this band to Weezer and the Beach Boys, which I really don't understand at all. Yes, they have lyrics about summer and surfing, but that's really it.
Instead, to me they sound like what would happen if the Shins rocked out harder.
Towards the end of last year, their single "Swim" was getting a lot of well-earned buzz, showcasing their hook-infused power chords and heart-felt yelps. But even their quieter moments on the album are solid, "Slow Jabroni" being a personal sleeper hit, slowly building to their pleading anthem "take it easy on me."
In fact, their emotional honesty might be the secret ingredient to their well-crafted rock, letting listeners find the layers behind otherwise upbeat songs like "Twin Peaks" on the re-listen. Whatever they're doing, it's enough to keep me coming back for more.

Yeasayer: Odd Blood
Sweet lord, do I dig this album. For a while, I was convinced I'd never before been into anything that sounds quite like it, but that's probably an overreaction to how they toe the line between experimental and poppy. If you put the Talking Heads and Animal Collective in an electro-beat blender, you might get something close to Yeasayer.
Please don't let the first alienating track fool you, these guys can get as pumped-up and dancey as The Rapture, as the prove on the infectious song "Rome." They're also quick to counteract the opening nightmare noise with "Ambling Alp," an energetic song with a chorus that's so self assured it's more like a mantra.
This album has taken some smack for not committing to one sound, regardless of the strong traces of 80's synth-pop found on several tracks. And yes, it is disappointing not to hear anything as ear-grabbing as their previous single "Tightrope," but the pure fun and funkiness throughout is enough for me.

Local Natives: Gorilla Manner
This might be the best of the bunch. I'd downloaded their single "Sun Hands" and loved it, but it wasn't until Frosty recommended the whole album that I realized the scope of this band's talent.
Sometimes I hate Pitchfork, but their description of Local Natives is pitch (ha!) perfect: they're the west coast version of Grizzly Bear. This LA-based band is all about three-part harmonies, rapid percussion, and a general awe-struck sincerity.
So far I've responded to this album the same way I did to Freelance Whales' debut: every time I start to listen I'm glued to it, along for the whole emotional ride until the very last track. "Airplanes" stands as a current favorite, a track that gets to me even though the lyrics remain foggy. Again, this album grows and reveals more of itself with every re-listen, which is no small feat for a band that's just starting out. I'll definitely be keeping an eye on them.
Also: it's ballsy as fuck to cover the Talking Heads on your debut album, especially when giving such a fresh take.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

OK GO Screws Themselves Over By Being More Awesome Than Before

OK Go has successfully topped themselves with every video - first their adorable dancing, then their impressive treadmilling, and now this:

I'm not quite sure how they'll ever beat this one. They might want to consider stopping this self-imposed oneupmanship while they're ahead. It can't end well.

Side note: it's a little sad that the stuff OK Go does to ultimately promote their music overshadows their actual music. In other words, it's sad this is a side note, but their most recent album is their best yet. This band knows how to keep improving.