Thursday, July 31, 2008

Another quick note

I’m happy to announce that following months of steadily declining posts (I’m talking quantity here, not quality—quality is job 1), we’ve seen an exciting rebound this month.

Not counting this post, July is second only to February—the exciting first month of the blog—for sheer post volume. But don’t take my word for it, look at the chart!

Thanks for your continued support.

Li Wei’s dangerous realities

Things at work are a bit crazy today so I’ll be brief. I stumbled upon the photography of Chinese artist Li Wei a few days ago and wanted to share. According to Wei, these arresting images are not computer montages. Instead, Wei “works with the help of props such as mirror, metal wires, scaffolding and acrobatics.”

See more here.


Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Deerhoof share the (sheet) music

I’ve written about Radiohead and Nine Inch Nails turning their music over to their fans for remixing, reinterpreting and sharing. As you know, I think this is really cool and shows an amazing level of trust and connectedness.

Avant indie rockers Deerhoof have taken this practice to a new and very interesting level, with a twist. About a week ago they “leaked” the song “Fresh Born” from their upcoming album, Offend Maggie (scheduled for release in October).

The twist is they leaked it in sheet music form only.

They’re asking fans to produce cover versions of the song (that’s right, covers of a song they’ve never heard), post them on fan sites and blogs and share them with the band.

Pretty cool, huh? I love that it’s simultaneously retro and cutting edge.

Here’s a video of the band talking about their idea, plus on-the-fly interpretations of the sheet music by New Yorkers who apparently can’t sight read.

More info, sheet music and links to completed fan covers here.

Thanks to Carr for alerting me to this. Sorry it took a while to get it up.*

* Yep.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Another rhetorical question

Also about a poster, this one for Touchstone Pictures’ upcoming Kevin Costner vehicle Swing Vote.

Does anyone else think this poster looks like an old cigarette ad? Is it the combination of red, scruff and that damn font?

Better image here (though less cigarette ad-ish due to the familiar movie poster details like credits and images of supporting cast).

Rhetorical question

Doesn’t the very act of making a poster alerting us to Jurassic Fight Club break the first rule of Jurassic Fight Club?

Monday, July 28, 2008

Getting wet at the pool party; MGMT et al. live in Brooklyn (yesterday)

As I climb the stairs up from the L train subway stop in Brooklyn my error is instantly clear. The sunglasses on my head are extraneous, as ill-prescribed as a boxing glove at third base. The sun is hidden by layers of gray clouds that rolled in during my commute. Thunderstorms and rain are on the agenda, let there be no doubt, and my umbrella is in Manhattan.

Figuring I’ve been wet before—and at least it’s warm—I walk north toward McCarren Park and the McCarren Park Pool, where MGMT, Black Moth Super Rainbow and the Ting Tings are playing a free afternoon show.

It’s my first visit to the McCarren Park Pool, a giant, old, outdoor swimming pool, empty of water, where during the summer bands play and outdoor movies are shown. As I approach I see a large crowd gathered at the street corner. The listing said the show started at 2pm; it’s now 2:45. I expect to hear the Ting Tings wrapping up their opening set, but it’s not the case.

What I thought was a crowd is actually a thick line of people leading somewhere off to my right. Looking to get in line, I continue straight, walking down the block alongside the queue. I can’t see the end. I walk to Manhattan Avenue where the line wraps and I turn right to follow. Still no end in sight. Is the venue big enough for all these people? Did the promoter underestimate the popularity of MGMT? At Leonard Street I veer right again along with the snaking line, which finally ends at Bayard Street.

The line does not move.

Across the grass there’s a much shorter line to an alternate entrance. I move to this shorter line only to learn it’s the line for people on the guest list.

It’s beginning to rain now and I can’t see myself signing up for all this. I decide to leave, going the short way around, passing by the front entrance. There’s just one entry point and it’s essentially single-file—with security—a sign of some very poor planning. I’ll spare you the nefarious play-by-play, but suffice to say within ten minutes I’ve made it inside.

The scene is a sea of umbrellas and wet heads. The pool is massive. Off to the right a lively game of dodgeball is taking place within a cordoned-off area. After a few minutes the rain lightens a bit and the Ting Tings take the stage.

What I know about the Ting Tings is that they’re a male/female duo from the U.K. who make poppy, dancy tunes and their song “Shut Up And Let Me Go” was used in an iPod commercial.

What I learn over the next 45 minutes is that the Ting Tings are a very good time. Every song is a mini dance party and everyone’s forgotten about their wet shirts and shoes. “That’s Not My Name” is a highlight of the day.

The rain returns. I grab a beer and lean against the wall near the back in hopes of cutting my rain exposure by 50 percent. Violent thunder and lightning keep us entertained.

Fellow former Seattleite John Richards (seeing him here is just plain bizarre) introduces second act Black Moth Super Rainbow. Despite John’s endorsement I’m not impressed. Their songs are meant to be groovy funky numbers but in comparison to the Ting Tings, these guys sound mired in the… mire? The “singer” runs his voice through a keyboard vocoder or something. The first three songs all seem to have the word “summertime” in the chorus. Another song seems to consist of no lyrics other than “one, two, three, four, five.”

Yawn. I decide the promoter put the Ting Tings on first so the crowd would arrive early.

As the stagehands prepare for MGMT the rain stops and the sky clears. Maybe Mother Nature wasn’t a fan of Black Moth’s set either.

I’m still trying to figure MGMT out. They strike me as a blend of “Moonage Daydream” Bowie, “She Don’t Use Jelly”-era Flaming Lips, Marc Bolan (T. Rex), and a touch of Big Star with some hippie space-out jam-rock thrown in for good measure.

The band’s fashion sense has been lovingly adopted by the fans. I haven’t seen this much hot pink, light blue, purple and red since the 1985 VW Beetle Auto Paint and Detail Show in Honolulu. Or Andre Agassi in ’87. Some fans have brought Crayola markers and are drawing on each other’s arms, chests and faces. Headbands are back, apparently

Shirt of the day has to be the handmade number worn by the very large guy near the front. The back reads “Six foot Eight… Not my fucking problem.” You tell ‘em, tall guy.

MGMT (I’ve heard it’s pronounced “management,” but front man Andrew VanWyngarden says “M-G-M-T”) put on a solid show. Solid, that is, until they get around to playing “Electric Feel” 30 minutes into their set. Their performance is killer and the crowd—especially the ladies—goes justifiably crazy.

(I love that the bass line and layered vocals remind me of the old Brothers Johnson R&B tune “Stomp”)

Taking the stage for their encore, VanWyngarden says that in honor of this being the last year for concerts at McCarren Park Pool they’re going to play a 14-minute song. I hope that he’s joking, but he’s not.

I wander toward the exit at the rear, hoping they’ll close with “Kids,” the song that turned me onto MGMT. They do, but the music is prerecorded and the band members leave the stage save for VanWyngarden and Ben Goldwasser who grab mics and dance and sing what feels to this reporter like a bad cross between lip-synching and a performance on Ed McMahon’s Star Search.

The giddy crowd eats it up; for me it’s an unsatisfactory ending. But the show, as a whole, was certainly worth the price of admission.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Show some luv with Insound 20

Jason Munn is an artist who creates a ton of awesome posters for a lot of the bands I like (and you can too). His site, the Small Stakes, has a gallery of his work and doubles as an online store.

Yesterday the awesome blog It’s Hard To Find A Friend alerted readers that Munn has teamed up with online music retailer Insound to bring us Insound 20. It’s a collection of 20 exclusive Munn designs made available as T-shirts, hoodies and posters, and they’re very cool.

Bonus feel-good detail: Insound and Munn added a 21st design with poster proceeds benefiting 826NYC.

The other items just benefit you, I guess.

Oh, and the artist list is great, including Grizzly Bear, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Spoon, The National, The Thermals, Beirut, Built To Spill, The Hold Steady and others.

Ben, there’s even a New Pornographers design.

And if you use the coupon code "insoundtwenty10" you'll receive 10 percent off your order. Shhhh.

Thank God it’s Friday’s song of the day

I’m pretty sure there have been almost no occasions where I’ve put a song on the blog that wasn’t readily available online on dozens of other blogs many days—if not weeks—prior to my posting it. It sucks feeling like you’re late to the party on this stuff. The feeling is similar to that of beginning to tell a joke only to be told, “yeah, we’ve heard that one.”

And I can only partially blame the fact that I do these on Friday instead of earlier in the week.


But I’m betting that’s not the case today.

Although I can't claim to be a rabid fan of Calexico, I do like the In The Reins EP they did with Iron & Wine. It’s got a great feel to it. Front porches. Tumbleweeds. Old cars. Dirt roads. Vinyl. Leather. (What the hell am I talking about?)


Calexico’s new album, Carried To Dust, comes out on September 9th, and the song “Two Silver Trees” was unveiled on Monday.

Check it out. And happy Friday.

Via Pasta Primavera.

Okay, now I'm excited

Story here for anyone who's interested.



Thursday, July 24, 2008

Is Wendy an agent of Satan?

There’s a post over at Make The Logo Bigger today about Wendy’s advertising and the insanity of a specific recent Wendy’s commercial, wherein the VO claims the salad is “good good.” Granted, that’s an annoyingly stupid line.

Their reference clip is, as they say, “unfortunately one of those typical YouTube hold the camera up and record the TV type jobs.”

More interesting though—and the part that MTLB barely mentions—is the clip’s ending, which brings light to the evil that’s apparently been a subtle (or is it subliminal?) part of the Wendy icon for who knows how long.

It’s waaaay more evil than fast food.

Naming is branding

What’s in a name? Plenty. An old friend of mine was convinced he’d have become a completely different person had his parents gone with their alternate choice and dubbed him Greg instead of David.

Looks like this New Zealand judge agrees.

There are some pretty astounding baby names referenced in this article, including that of the 9-year-old girl at the center of the story. I think my favorite has to be Number 16 Bus Shelter, with Yeah Detroit as my runner-up.


Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Remembering Sifl and Olly

I rarely saw the Silf & Olly Show when it was on the air, but I did kinda love it. Guiltily.

For some reason I was reminded of it recently. OK, it’s not all great, and it’s definitely stoner TV—though that doesn’t keep me from enjoying it sober (see also Aqua Teen Hunger Force)—but there are some great bits.

Here are a few short ones:

United States of Whatever (I especially love Sifl’s reaction shots in this one.)

Prostitute Laundry

Get The Bubbles, Chester!

Oh that Chester! He kills me.

Awesome ffffinds

From Ffffound today:

Funny videos for Wednesday

Brian directed me to this video of a white boy rapping. Pretty good and he’s quick with the rhymes. I’m as impressed with his memorization skillz as I am with his flow. Lots of great lines in here.

And then this one Andreea sent me (from Ugly Doggy). It’s longer, closer to home, and maybe not quite as funny (perhaps because of the aforementioned close-to-home issue). But still worth sharing and watching.

See? That wasn’t so hard.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Heeding the call of the siren, or a Homeric quest to the far reaches of Brooklyn in search of rock and glory unbowed by the breath of Hades (mostly)

It’s last Saturday morning. I’m slow getting up and still deciding if I’m going to go to the Siren Music Festival in Coney Island. Quick, while I have some Internet leakage from one of my neighbors, I refer to the Village Voice insert and search for audio clips online. I find some good ones. What the hell, it’s free. Not like I was gonna clean the apartment anyway.

Thanks to Hop Stop I take the N (instead of my beloved F) train. Express. Still takes more than an hour to get there.

I arrive about 2:30, just as Film School takes the stage. As a big fan of shoegazer bands like Slowdive, Ride and My Bloody Valentine back in the day, it’s great to hear someone bringing it back. Film School doesn’t do a direct lift, though. Most notably, the drums are often more rocking than that of early ‘90s dream-and- shimmer acts. But the wall of sound, grooving bass and soaring vocals are intact. At times during their set they remind me of Silversun Pickups, but Film School never cross over into complete aggro rock like the Pickups sometimes do.

Here’s “Compare” by Film School:

Their set ends and I’m already feeling beat up by the heat. Or is it hunger? Well I can solve one of those problems. So I head to Nathan’s Famous for a hot dog and a giant lemonade. The line at Nathan’s is a scene of sweaty hipsters and, surprisingly, regular Coney Island visitors who surely had no warning of the dual-stage rock fest going on. In the adjacent line a guy’s shirt has a silhouette of a tropical island with palm trees and the line “Sorry No Telephone.”

After killing that wurst while hiding in the shade I head back to the main stage for Annuals. They’re from Raleigh, NC, and I expect them to be roots/Americana. They kinda are, but they also kinda rock it on occasion. They seem a bit like kids, but they’re talented and into it and sweating just like we are. And they totally bring it with “Sore.”

Here’s “Sore” from Annuals:

It’s about 4:30 when Annuals finishes and I’ve got serious concerns about the little bit of sunscreen I put on before I left the apartment. I wander through the “attractions” and take a few photos. This place is pretty sad and looks unaltered from four decades past. Someone told me it’s been bought by Six Flags and will be redeveloped soon. I don’t know if that’s good news or not.

On my way to the other stage I stop for a beer and a sit. Apparently you can drink in public in Coney Island. Refreshed—if not re-hydrated—I amble alongside the Cyclone to a good spot to watch Ra Ra Riot, from Syracuse, NY. El Sol is beating down on my forehead like it owes him money, but I came to file a report on the rock, and file it I will. I liked RRR’s song “St. Peter’s Day Festival” during this morning’s intel session. Fun and catchy and summery. Live, you’re drawn to the two girls—on violin and cello—dancing and singing (without microphones, just because they’re into it).

Here’s “St. Peter’s Day Festival” by Ra Ra Riot (from a WOXY in-studio):

After a few songs (including “St. Peter’s,” which I do enjoy) I decide they’re too reminiscent of Vampire Weekend and elect to move on.

I buy a water and sit in front of the Sideshows By The Seashore listening to the pre-recorded loop of the hawker’s schpiel, done in his best Vincent Price. Who knew this was a real place? I thought it was just something from the imagination of Luna's Dean Wareham.

“And at the sideshow by the seashore
The girls are dressed as mermaids…”

Back to the first stage, Beach House is on. Beach House is the Baltimore duo of Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally. They are killing us softly with their songs. Bad ‘70s references aside, they really do have the now much larger crowd completely entranced. They’ve brought a drummer, thankfully, and it sounds like they’ve got bass parts in the can too. They sound great, with Legrand’s Chan Marshall-esque vocals (a comparison I’m sure the band is sick of) aching against Scally’s lonely slide guitar lines. It’s not exactly summer music, which may be why it works so well.

Here’s “D.A.R.L.I.N.G.” by Beach House:

It’s a good note to go out on. When Beach House wraps I decide I don’t need to see Helio Sequence a fourth (or would it be fifth?) time, nor Stephen Malkmus a third. And I realize I’m more curious than excited about Broken Social Scene, who are scheduled an unfathomable two hours from now. Frankly I’m beat and starting to feel like the Warriors—tired and far from home (though they ended where I’m starting).

Turns out it was 96 degrees on Saturday. I’m not sure I’ve ever loved an ocean breeze as much in my life.

Oh, and no sunburn. Thanks for your concern.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Dunk you very much

It feels a little odd promoting my own agency’s work on the ol’ blog, but I love this installation for Oreo.

Simple, elegant, great use of the medium, and true to the core of the brand. Look at the smile on the guy’s face at the end. That’s what it’s all about, folks.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Thank God it’s Friday’s song of the day

I spent the day in a horrendous series of meetings. So let's get right to the point.

Listen to this.

It's "Collapsing At Your Doorstep" by Air France.

Happy weekend.

This is an ad for...

If, in the ever expanding world of advertising that we live in, an ad can be defined as any branded experience that informs your perception of that brand, then everything is an ad.

That’s the idea behind This Is An Ad.

So I guess this is an ad for This Is An Ad.

And for Blogger.

And for Friday.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

RA DIOHEA_D make data more INTE_RESTI NG

Radiohead’s “House of Cards” video was unveiled this week. I love this song (not just because the opening lyrics always make me think of Prince), and the video is decent. (Music videos in general seem like they’ve lost so much cultural relevance). It’s just like Radiohead to shoot a video without cameras. Watch it here.

Check out the making-of video below.

Learn more here, including (of course) the opportunity to explore data visualization and have a hands-on experience with the data.

Ever the promoters of fan interaction: “If you manage to create a data visualization that you'd wish to share, the band would love to see it. You can share your videos on the House of Cards YouTube group.”

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The Girl Effect

In case you haven't already seen it elsewhere...

Monday, July 14, 2008

Ffffind stuff you're not even looking for

If you're not using FFFFOUND!, where are you finding images like these?

Friday, July 11, 2008

Thank God it’s Friday’s mix of the day

I know things have been quieter than normal here of late. For that I apologize. Allow me to make it up to you right now by over-delivering on our regularly-scheduled Friday programming. In place of the “song of the day” feature that you’ve grown to love, today I bring you…

“Thank god it’s Friday’s mix of the day,” courtesy of muxtape.

I tried to make it an interesting mix of new things with a good vibe for Friday. I particularly enjoyed finding the Justice remix of MGMT’s “Electric Feel.”

Listen here.

Enjoy, and have a great summer weekend.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Oranges Band Update

I sent the link to yesterday’s post (about the Oranges Band show, not about the Christian license plates) to the Oranges’ general e-mail address and got a nice note back from Roman Kuebler himself. He thanked me for the review and said they’re hoping to find someone to put the new album out in the fall.

I love Web 2.0.

Monday, July 7, 2008

The Oranges Band w/ Bombers and Smoking Popes at the Blender Theater 7/05/08

It’s been three years since the Oranges Band released their last album, the fantastic but largely ignored The World and Everything In It. I became a fan of the band only within the last year and felt pretty sure they’d get around to formally calling it quits before I’d ever get to see them perform live. Thankfully I’m horrible at predictions. The band took a break from recording their new album to play a few shows with the recently reunited Smoking Popes, including one at New York’s Blender Theater.

Playing a gig during the Fourth of July weekend—especially in a city where so many people leave for long weekends—is a recipe for a low turnout, and this show was no exception. Bombers, a wannabe punk band from the Bronx, played to about 100 people, including their friends and parents (and possibly their friends’ parents).

Most of the crowd, which I would guess peaked at 300, were geeked up to see the Smoking Popes (including the guys from Bombers who went a little Wayne and Garth on stage). A few concertgoers dusted off their threadbare 7 Seconds and Agnostic Front and the Damned concert Ts for the occasion. I wasn’t familiar with the Chicago-based Popes until a couple weeks ago, but apparently they were a much-loved (if only modestly successful) punk band back in the ‘90s. They’re back together and released their new album, Stay Down, in March.

As punk bands go, the Popes are of the pop variety. Not much separates their music from the likes of Weezer. In fact, the song “If You Don’t Care” from Stay Down makes me think of Fountains of Wayne on (mild) steroids. And the song’s verses sound like something from Little Buddy’s For Those About To Pop. Check it out here.

It was a bit funny to see aging punk fans so excited over what seems like a pure pop band disguised by a bunch of distortion—sheep in wolves’ clothing. (How different is “If You Don’t Care” from “That Thing You Do” by the Wonders?*) Within the same genre, I think Ruth Ruth’s songs were more interesting and more vivid. (Here’s Ruth Ruth’s “Jerome.”) But enough about that.

Sandwiched between these pomo-punk acts was the Oranges Band, pride of Baltimore. Frontman Roman Kuebler, wearing a blue windbreaker over a red T-shirt, immediately won over the crowd with his playful, unassuming personality. “We’re gonna be about three-quarters as loud as the other bands tonight—and that’s OK.”

The Oranges Band have recruited longtime Guided By Voices guitarist Doug Gillard to play on the new album and on a few tour dates, though it seems he’s not a full member of the band (not that he wasn’t invited, I’m guessing). Kuebler gave him a bit of praise mid-set and noted, “He even learned some of our old jams,” before the band launched into “I’ll Never Be Alone.”

Not surprisingly, most of the Oranges’ set was dedicated to new material, which they played with joyful abandon. “Gordon’s Nightclub,” named after a Baltimore watering hole, is a catchy, danceable number with a surprising time change to keep things interesting. It’s simply a great indie rock song. “On Star” (or possibly “OnStar”) was loud and fun and easily as energetic as anything the band has done. And the aptly titled “Absolutely (Instru)mental,” inspired in part by Laika & the Cosmonauts’ “NY ’79,” gave Gillard even more opportunity to shine.

One of the things I love about this band, and perhaps specifically Kuebler as a vocalist, is their comfort within the spaces of their songs. Kuebler often sings at a leisurely pace, occasionally delivering words or phrases after the line they seem to belong to has passed. His technique mirrors his own casual ease, as if nothing is of much importance. Sometimes, parts of songs seem to elongate as needed to allow breathing room around the vocals, as if to say “no need to rush; we’re not saving lives, we’re just rocking.”

Although they didn’t play some of my favorites (“OK Apartment” or “Atmosphere” or “Open Air”) the new songs were easily just as entertaining. I spoke with Kuebler briefly afterward and I’m sad to report there is no target date for finishing or releasing the new album. (It’s still in progress.)

No worry, though. At least we can look forward to its eventual arrival, which is more than I had reason to hope for a few months ago. I kept that in mind as I walked to the subway with strains of the fiery closing performance of “Ride The Nuclear Wave” in my ears. “Oh, oh, oh, oh!”

* “That Thing You Do” was written by Adam Schlesinger of Fountains of Wayne, incidentally.

Wake up and smell the hypocrisy

This morning CNN picked up a story that broke about a month ago, that of South Carolina’s House and Senate passing a bill that directs the state DMV to create and make available a pro-Christian license plate.

Florida rejected a similar bill in April (proposed "I Believe" plate design above).

Not surprisingly, this has created quite a stir, with many claiming it violates the tenet of separation of church and state.

Senator Lawrence K. Grooms, the co-sponsor of the bill and a Republican who is chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee, was quoted in the New York Times as saying, “We have other plates with religious symbols on them and phrases like ‘In God We Trust.’ Just because it’s a cross, some very closed-minded people don’t believe it should be on a plate.”

So I’m guessing Senator Grooms would give similar support for license plates with “Praise Allah” on them. Religious freedom and all that.