Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Dance Yrself Clean

I went to get coffee this morning and made eye-babies with the cute barista behind the counter. Too bad I can't bring myself to actually speak to him; the problem is, I once awkwardly hit on another guy who works at the same place by informing him that he had, "beautiful locks." Exact phrasing: "You have beautiful locks." And he does. The man has Aladdin's hair. But that's neither here nor there. The point is, Cute Barista #2 and I had a tender moment, then he handed me my change, walked over to the stereo, and put on this song:



Then this scene from High Fidelity happened, but in real life:



The whole café was head bobbing, then:

Who is this?
It's LCD Soundsystem.
It's awesome.
I know.

I've said this ten billion times, but the best songs all have that one specific moment in them that you wait for, patiently. This song has its moment at 3:08.

Youtube comment: "this song is epic as a school bus fire. except way more awesome." Sure, why not.

Shine On Me - Music Video


I think if I commented on this, I simply wouldn't be able to do it any justice. Just enjoy.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Lots-O-Huggin' Bear


As if you needed further proof that Pixar was the coolest place ever.

They've sneakily been posting faux-vintage commercials for a stuffed-animal character from their upcoming Toy Story 3.


Check out the YouTube page to see a solid selection of real commercials they must have drawn inspiration from.

For Wall-E, Pixar set up a fake "Buy 'N Large" shopping website that was a little more overt with it's connection to the film. They're really going for it this time.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Naysaying Yeasayer

I finally got around to going to SF’s best-known concert venue: The Fillmore, a place famous for its complimentary apples and concert posters, not to mention a floor that bounces like a trampoline when the crowd gets to dancing. Anyone worth listening to in the sixties played there: Aretha Franklin, CCR, Hendrix, Jefferson Airplane, The Dead, The Doors, Otis Redding, The Who, and a hundred others. Sadly, The Fillmore is now owned and operated by Live Nation, the insensate, money grubbing offspring of Clear Channel; may a fat anti-trust lawsuit dickslap both companies in the face someday soon; I rage, rage against your $10 “convenience fees.” Thanks, but it’s more convenient for me to take the bus down to the box office and pay the base ticket price.

Anyway, I kind of wish I’d saved my first time for someone a little more special than Yeasayer—what a confusing band. I love a quarter of their songs and want to bury the rest. At times, they sound like the mentally deficient bastard child of the Knife (listen to “The Children”). But when they’re on, they are so fucking on:



The "woah" in this song is a particularly good "woah," don't you think? And doesn't this sound like something you'd want to play underneath a girl's window...on your boombox...in 1986? The 80's synth thing is working for me, in this number at least. Here's an example of where the nostalgic 80's sound fails:

Eeeek. No mas! But compare that disaster to this acoustic version:
Vast improvement. There was a lovely pop tune hidden under all that other noise. I wish they'd cut out the bullshit more often. Including in their videos. I mean, for real guys?:

Yeasayer "Ambling Alp" from Team G on Vimeo.

What the fuck was that all about? I know there's a banana bunch of overt symbolism in there, but I just can't bring myself to care.
All of those visually arresting images are hitting me as derivative and hollow, actually. Big Ol' Empty Statements.

Ok, so part of my cranky attitude problem towards Yeasayer is the fact that I saw Jonsi on the same day, at Amoeba, under the cold fluorescent lights, accompanied by the sound of a hundred industrial fans whirring over my head, and it didn’t matter; he was still INCREDIBLE.

The man hits a high note and it travels down your ear canal, then somehow dips into your chest and makes your heart balloon with HOT FEELINGS. Last week, $60 for a ticket to his show at the Palace of Fine Arts seemed insane. But if he comes to town again, I’m paying cash money to see him in a real venue. No question.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Rafter - "No F*cking Around"


This jam is hot and slow.
Like a turtle in an oven.

Now let's dance.

"Umbrella" by Philip Vose

Umbrella from philip vose on Vimeo.


Back in high school, I went to a summer camp held at CalArts called CSSSA (now known as InnerSpark, which isn't any better a name than "California State Summer School for the Arts.") They offered all sorts of art programs, and I was part of the animation one.

For me and several others, it was like attending a reunion of family members you didn't know you had. Sharing such a niche interest with people was a wonderful experience, especially since we all were so equally passionate. Joe Pitt, who went on to work for Disney, traveled all the way from Atlanta and was overjoyed at meeting people just like him. We all inspired each other like crazy, it was a month of watching cartoons together and never putting down our sketch books.

Philip Vose was another extremely talented friend, who I've sadly lost touch with since those days. Thankfully, it looks like he's doing some amazing work, as shown in his beautiful short film "Umbrella."

I remember when I would flip through his sketch book I'd see detailed notes he'd written himself about how to improve his own drawings. I remember thinking he was being way too hard on himself, but it looks like it paid off in the end. I can't wait to see what he does next.

"Dan the Man"


When video games get real. And more than a little depressing.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

RAC Remix: "Home" - Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros

Every now and then a song comes along that only crazy people dislike. "Home" by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros is one of those songs.
Unfortunately, sometimes such good songs get played way too much, so remixes are a welcome reinterpretation of a current favorite. In my opinion RAC delivers just that, download it here.


When I first started exploring the world of remixes, I realized that a lot of the tracks I truly enjoyed were by someone or something called RAC. Eventually I stumbled upon their website, and found it stood for Remix Artist Collective. After reading up on their philosophy, I started to understand why their stuff always appeals to me:
We aim to maintain a style of remixing that strays from the "club mix" archetype, creating new incarnations of songs that stem from the original structure, but expand on their genre and musical arrangement.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Captain Planet: A Michael Bay Film


Here me out on this one: Michael Bay should direct a Captain Planet movie.

Yes, Transformers cannot be called a "good" film by any stretch of the imagination, but there's something about it that captures the spirit of giddy, sugar-addled, preteen boyhood. Things explode, things are really shiny, and things never get past kissing. It maintains the feel of all those cheesy early 90's cartoons we know and love. So why not let him take a crack at the Planeteers?

Imagine the exotic locals and various cultures we'd explore when introducing Kwame, Linka, Ma-Ti, and Gi. And if there's one thing Michael Bay excels at, it's showcasing cultural diversity... in a "lowest common denominator" kind of way. Stereotypes abound in Tranformers: American soldiers playfully jab at one another's heritage, the Hispanic characters are told not to "go all Ricky Ricardo on me," and the sequel has been accused multiple times of being racist, thanks to the buck-toothed characters Mudflap and Skids.

Bay has zero shame, and that's exactly the kind of director you need to head an environmentally conscious film with a 200 million dollar budget. He'll make "going green" look so cool and glossy, everybody will want to help save the planet.

Make it happen, movie gods.

Captain Planet concept drawings by Thomas Perkins.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

"Pixels" by Patrick Jean


This is so damn cool. I want this to be a feature film, taking itself as seriously as War of the Worlds.

Tie me to the bed post!

A couple of posts ago, I implied that 1998 was a musical wash. I'd like to take that back. My taste at the time was limited to whatever I could find on the radio, which wasn't much, but it wasn't all unspeakably awful.

1998 was Titanic, braces, inflatable furniture, confessions of love over the internet, and clandestine cigarette breaks on my back porch. It was also these songs:






And, let's be real: a lot of Toni Braxton and Brandy. Oh god, and that song "The Freshman" by the Verve Pipe; I emphatically sang the line "When I was young, I knew everything," without even a modicum of irony.

I don't go out of my way to listen to any of the tracks listed above, but last night I had a little Nostalgia Fest with a friend and we sang the fuck out of "Inside Out," because you know what? It stands the test of time. Those lyrics will be in my brain forever, right alongside "Prufrock" and "Daddy."

Oh no, but wait: according to Billboard, this was the #1 song of the year:

Now I'm embarrassed for '98 all over again.

The Hold Steady

Halfway through my drive to work, my iPod decided to play only songs by The Hold Steady while in "shuffle" mode. I'm not complaining; they're a great band that I don't listen to as often as I should. But if this is the first sign of machines growing cognizant, then I think we'll be okay.

Maybe there won't be the Matrix-style uprising, maybe instead we'll just sit around with robots who say things like "although I will miss keyboardist Franz Nicolay, I do not think it will impede the band's ability to put forth a quality album." And we'll agree with them.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

"Inception"


I just read an LA Times article about Chris Nolan and his upcoming dream-thriller Inception that gave me chills. I'm so pumped for this film, it sounds like everything I could ever ask for.

Some tasty quotes from the article:

...Nolan [achieves] the unreal on camera as opposed to in computer, which runs counter to Hollywood's obsession with the pixel possibilities of green screen and 3-D. With cinematographer Wally Pfister (Nolan's director of photography since "Memento") and special effects guru Chris Corbould (the man who built the Batmobile and has worked on a dozen James Bond films), the director put a premium on an old-school approach to movie magic.
...
"Inception" does have major computer effects: Several vivid sequences show a dream metropolis in churning calamity, a city skyline seems to fold in on itself as a dream begins to lose its shape and, unlike many Hollywood versions of dream surrealism, the scene has the look of a massive mechanical failure, not a morphing, liquid calamity. Nolan's dreams have the sharp edges of Escher, not the syrup drips of Dalí.

The Large and Growly Bear


I really like drawing bears, and I wish I could render them as wonderfully as J.P. Miller in The Large and Growly Bear. Check it out over at Golden Gems.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Russian Matchbox Labels

These Russian matchbox labels are great! Check them out in all their space age glory.

Jónsi - Go


Okay, Rennie.

You want emotionally-driven, sincere, alternative music? You want beautifully orchestrated, mind-bogglingly heartfelt pop tunes? You want passion so palpable you're compelled to clean your ears out after hearing it? You want to get inappropriately touched by sweet melodies until you're thier bitch? Do you?

BLAM!


Yeah, that's right. Try not feeling that, I dare you. Just try and not be moved in the slightest by the sheer scope of this flavor. Try listening to this album and not feel better about your day, or the world in general. You can't. You can't stop your eyes from watering when you look into the sun.

Those are called tears, Rennie.

Monday, April 5, 2010

How To Train Your Dragon


I've never really held Dreamworks in high regard. True, they really went for it with their first outing Prince of Egypt, but they quickly shifted to an entirely different mode of entertainment: the animated fart joke. After releasing a slew of Shreks and other gratingly "hip" films, I wondered if they were capable of anything else, or anything of substance.

Enter the dragon. I liked this film so much more than I thought I would.

It opens with the voice-over narration of Hiccup, our gawky hero, introducing us to his Viking island village just as dragons are attacking it. Things move forward at a brisk pace, while still managing to let all the characters develop - I was happily surprised that each of Hiccup's classmates had their own defined traits, instead of just being generic bullies. There are some pretty unique twists throughout - the mechanics of dragon flight, the strange weaknesses they have for eels and particular flora, and their "nest island" situation. It's all refreshingly different and intriguing.


My only plot-related gripes concern the father/son drama between Hiccup and Stoick. It's pretty tolerable until we get toward the end, where what could have been justified disappointment turns into heavy-handed disownment.

I'm also a little uncertain about one aspect of the ending, but I don't want to spoil it for you because you should really see this film.

Visually, I loved the stylized Viking world, all rough wood carvings and jagged metal. I feel like you don't see this genre very often, and they really took advantage of its potential for unique design. All the characters had interesting shapes and exaggerated features that were both playful and aesthetically pleasing, save for our hero Hiccup who looked way too "realistic" to belong in this world. He's supposed to be the "quirkiest" character in the whole thing, but his design was the most bland. Explain that one to me.

I also liked how they let the dragons look pretty damn ugly, while still having appealing designs. If you've ever seen the Art of Monsters Inc book, you know that there were so many awesome designs that never made it in the actual film, probably because they weren't adorable enough. For this film, it's as if they encouraged the designs to stay un-cuddly, with hundreds of fangs and bumpy scales all over the place. Not only was it cool that the dragons had diverse appearances, but I also liked that they developed different personality traits for each "species," my personal favorite being the bulbous Gronkle.


This film was firing on all cylinders for me: sweeping action, great visuals, and an engaging story. Apparently Dreamworks has been pretty disappointed with the box office results, which makes me worry they'll think solid films like this don't sell. Prove them wrong; go see it. Let them know you appreciate more than farting ogres.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

New Frightened Rabbit!

Happy Easter! Now, who wants to feel some feelings? Take a listen:



I just found this album yesterday, but my initial gut reaction is: yes, yes, yes. "Nothing Like You" is currently taking up a lot of brain-space. Some of Scott Hutchinson's lyrics can be a teensy bit overwrought, but I appreciate the man's passion, and the fact that the words at least appealed enough to make me hunt down the album liner notes. It's been a while since I've put this much effort into listening to an album, which is sad, really. I'm ready to have visceral reactions to music again, please. Down with emotionally detached, hollow electropop covers of already cheesy enough Hall and Oates songs! (DK, I love you and 99% of the music you recommend.)

Oh, and if you haven't listen to Frightened Rabbit's last album, The Midnight Organ Fight, then you should take a hot minute to do that. Or, at least listen to this song:


For me, Frightened Rabbit lyrics evoke Sylvia Plath poems; I like artists who can laugh at their own angst, or at least poke fun at themselves in a self-hating kind of way.

I'll leave you with this joyous music vid of cute kiddos rocking out:



Ooo, wait. This one too:

Friday, April 2, 2010

Surfer Blood

So, remember when I said the Surfer Blood show was all sold out? It was. It really was. Luckily, they played at Amoeba for free as a kind of teaser before their "real" show. I know there's an Amoeba in Hollywood, perhaps they have the same teaser-show tradition?

The Haight-Ashbury version of Amoeba is a big uncozy cube with school lunchroom floors and hospital lighting (or vice versa). On top of that, you have to stand amongst the records. I've never seen a band successfully thwart the awkward vibes of the space. Surfer Blood had a nice warm energy; they chatted the audience up and were just so...puppyish. I mean, look at them:



That lead singer still has all of his baby fat.

Stupid commentary on physical appearances aside, the show was solid:



And well-miked, although this clip doesn't exactly showcase the fact. The reverb didn't overwhelm JP Pitts voice like it does sometimes on Astro Coast. In fact, Pitt's voice was better than I initially thought; he's good at that growly rock-scream singing thing...what the hell is the word for that?! Insert recording of David Kantrowitz imitating what I'm talking about here.

In a nutshell: I like Surfer Blood. They're, you know, good. But I don't really understand why they're blowing up so fast. They have the same sixties-nostalgia-reverb heavy-Beach Boys-thing going on that a bunch of other bands also have. What makes them special? Maybe my feelings are just a reaction against all the hype.

Addendum: Now I can't get "Harmonix" out of my head. Maybe that's what the hype is about. Catchy, catchy.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Yogi Bear Movie


I knew this was coming (previously mentioned here), but please tell me this is an April Fools' joke.

Please.

To be honest, I can work with that Boo Boo, it's really not too terrible. But what is up with Yogi?


I'd kind of rather see a movie that looks like this: