Monday, March 31, 2008
Saturday, March 29, 2008
Let the Blind Lead Those Who See but Cannot Feel (CD) – Kranky
Atlas Sound is Deerhunter frontman Bradford Cox and Let the Blind Lead Those Who See but Cannot Feel is his first full-length solo release. It’s an atmospheric, fuzzed-out effort, shot straight out of Cox’s bedroom in Atlanta, Georgia. With that in mind, you can expect less guitar and more electronics and multi-tracking throughout. As the song titles suggest, Cox’s focus is autobiographical here. These are tales of young love, but love always with a twist and even a bite. Tales also of anxiety, death, disease and addiction. Sonically, Cox sometimes channels something akin to Vangelis meets shoegaze: “Winter Vacation,” for example, opens with all the chilly austerity of a Vangelis soundtrack. “Cold as Ice” sounds more like tripped-out Herbert though and “Scraping Past” more like “drone punk,” the label Cox himself affixed to Deerhunter. Among the most appealing tracks are the narcotic cloud of “Recent Bedroom” and “Quarantined,” a gorgeous show-stopper, with a repetitive tinkling sound to it that reminded me of carousel music. It was inspired by a story about quarantined Russian children, isolated, suffering from AIDS and “waiting to be changed” as Cox sings over and over again. A propulsive bassline gives the track the clearest pop undercurrent of any track on here. Listening advice for this disk? Turn it up, let it wash over you. - Robert Stribley
Various Artists (CD) – Rhino
Anton Corbjin's recent biopic Control details the brief, but electric career of Ian Curtis, lead singer of Joy Division from 1976-1980, and the soundtrack to Corbjin's first directorial effort is notably satisfying. It smartly includes Joy Division's material along with contemporaries who influenced them or who would've provided the soundtrack to their lives. You experience Curtis's devotion to David Bowie and the Velvet Underground, and hearing songs by Kraftwerk, The Buzzcocks, Roxy Music, and Iggy Pop, you see how Joy Division stood on the shoulders of giants when they began wowing Manchester in the '70s. John Cooper Clarke even appears, performing his punk poem, “Evidently Chicken Town.” Clarke plays himself in the movie and used to open for the Sex Pistols, as well as Joy Division. The cast perform Joy Division's songs in the movie, and their version of "Transmission" provides an authentic glimpse of the rough, but entrancing spirit of a Joy Division appearance. Fittingly, New Order provide three instrumental tracks for the score. Nothing too striking, but it's comforting to hear their distinctive sound coloring this effort. Some fans will grouse about The Killer’s poppy cover of “Shadowplay,” which plays over the credits, but it seems appropriate to include a band so obviously indebted to Joy Division. Though you might reasonably ask, "What? No Interpol?" They'd have better suited the Control's achromatic mood. - Robert Stribley
This review appears in the latest issue of Skyscraper Magazine, Issue 27 (Spring 2008)
Made in the Dark (CD) – Astralwerks
And now let us praise nonsensical men. Like fellow Brits Fujiya & Miyagi, Hot Chip make a living coupling occasionally silly lyrics to indecently catchy tunes. On their third album Made in the Dark, the supporting evidence most prominently includes "Wrestlers,” wherein the lads stitch wrestling references together to form a surprisingly mournful song with enough gravity to trick a tear to your eye. The descending piano scales and woo-woo background vocals contribute to this sleight of hand, but what really makes the song work is its underlying subtext: after all, this isn’t a song about wrestling; it’s about the narrator's combative relationship with his lover and his resulting emotional distance from her. And it’s still funny. Hot Chip run the gamut here, presenting dance-floor tremblers like the ironically entitled “Don’t Dance” and “One Pure Thought,” as well as wriggling Kraut-pop on “Bendable, Posable” or “Ready for the Floor.” They’ve also mastered some exquisite come-down tunes, including “We're Looking for a Lot of Love,” “Made in the Dark” and “Whistle for Will.” The band says this album was inspired as much by Willie Nelson and Richard and Linda Thompson as German techno. I believe it. They're also said to be headed to studio with legendary British musician Robert Wyatt to rerecord the title track. Now, that I can't wait to hear. – Robert StribleySkyscraper Magazine, Issue 27 (Spring 2008)
The experience? Well, I was hoping to be able to go into the report and update it later, but that doesn't appear to be an option. I can understand why, given that people have the ability to comment on the stories, and some users might change their stories to an extent that they render the comments out-dated. Nonetheless, TV and print journalists often do get to update or repackage their stories, and I'd hope to see that experience replicated here. I suppose you could always create a 2nd story incorporating much of the same content.
Nonetheless, my story's currently on the homepage, so that's pretty darn cool.
Saturday, March 22, 2008
Saturday, March 15, 2008
I took this photo a few blocks from where I live. I think it pretty well sums up the gentrification of the East Village, as the building at right looks as if it's engulfing the much older one at left. This site is a block or two from the busiest block on St. Mark's, which now also charms with a Supercuts, a Chipotle, and a Pinkberry coming soon. Not to forget the branded CBGB's store.
"Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." - Arthur C. ClarkeComing soon: voiceless phone calls. The implications, described in the latter half of this video, are astonishing. First, the ability to hold a cell phone conversation without speaking out loud. Second, the ability to silently request information from the Internet, on the go, and have the Internet return information to you.
I for one welcome silent phone calls on our streets and in our cafes. And the ability to access the Internet directly in this fashion would be a great way to augment my already failing memory.
Of course, it's also another step towards humanity's perhaps inevitable merging with "machines" or technology. As others have pointed out, we won't be replaced by robots or taken over by them. We'll probably be indistinguishable from them before that ever happens.
Thursday, March 13, 2008
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
Unfortunately, today I received an email suggesting that if I have any children I withdraw them from school that day, describing the event as "quite appalling and an attack on our religious freedoms." The email and the site linked to continue by engaging the usual scare tactics about how the event will "promote the homosexual lifestyle in public schools." There's so much wrong with that little phrase it's hard to know where to start. I suppose the black people who sat quietly and with dignity at Southern counters were "promoting the wickedness of racial integration" were they?
Anyway, I thought I create a promotional post here as a sort of Karmic response to the appalling feeling that came over me when I read that email.
Strength to the children out there who do have to suffer in silence out there daily because of society's primitive understanding of their sexual identity. Note that I didn't say "sexual lifestyle."
Consider making a donation to GLSEN.
So I'm a little cynical about these situations: I can't help that the spouses in these situations are often being used by their husbands as an initial stage in their campaigns to rebuild and restore their careers. I don't mean it as a criticism of the women, but of the men, who have already wronged their families, and are now using them as props. Is that too harsh? Feel free to straighten me out in the comments.
Monday, March 10, 2008
Pretty soon, we should be able to get electoral politics down to a basic newspeak that contains perhaps 10 keywords: Dream, Fear, Hope, New, People, We, Change, America, Future, Together.Via The Money Quote, a blog which promises just what you'd expect from its name.
- Christopher Hitchens, writing in Slate
"A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong, gives it a superficial appearance of being right," wrote Thomas Paine when he called for civil disobedience against monarchy — the flawed national policy of his day. In a similar spirit, we offer a small idea that is, perhaps, no small idea. It will not solve the drug problem, nor will it heal all civic wounds. It does not yet address questions of how the resources spent warring with our poor over drug use might be better spent on treatment or education or job training, or anything else that might begin to restore those places in America where the only economic engine remaining is the illegal drug economy. It doesn't resolve the myriad complexities that a retreat from war to sanity will require. All it does is open a range of intricate, paradoxical issues. But this is what we can do — and what we will do.In the last couple of decades, we've seen more and more addicts shipped off to jail where they can be forgotten about and more and more people turned out of psychiatric facilities and on to the street. When can we look forward to the "kinder, gentler America" George H. W. Bush once spoke of?
If asked to serve on a jury deliberating a violation of state or federal drug laws, we will vote to acquit, regardless of the evidence presented. Save for a prosecution in which acts of violence or intended violence are alleged, we will — to borrow Justice Harry Blackmun's manifesto against the death penalty — no longer tinker with the machinery of the drug war. No longer can we collaborate with a government that uses nonviolent drug offenses to fill prisons with its poorest, most damaged and most desperate citizens.