Friday, September 30, 2005

Annie, Stranglers, Kate and Anna

5. Annie “Chewing Gum” (FakeID remix): Norwegian indie-diva Annie’s “Anniemal” disc is one of the catchiest things I’ve heard in years, sort of Kylie Minogue (she can’t sing) meets Saint Etienne (she knows she can't sing but is sophisticated enough that it doesn’t matter). Fake ID is one of mash-up’s biggest stars, like Richard X (who worked on the “Anniemal” album, and the original “Chewing Gum” in particular) some bedroom dude that’s gone onto to greater notice. His remix of “Chewing Gum” sounds uncannily like something Shep Pettibone would have done in 1987 or so, e.g. his 12” remix of New Order’s “Bizarre Love Triangle.”

6. Stranglers “Golden Brown:” I always thought the Stranglers were just another punk band, and then I heard “No More Heroes” ripped off lovingly by Elastica (they got sued, right?), and “Peaches” used so well in Jonathan Glazer’s “Sexy Beast.” But I first heard “Golden Brown,” the most un-punk of songs, covered live by Bedhead. It’s a beautiful and, like “Another Girl, Another Planet” by the Only Ones, one of the prettiest songs about heroin. Obvious, when you think about it, but you don’t notice it at first.

7. Kate & Anna McGarrigle “Complainte Pour Ste Catherine:” I came really close to using the version by Kirsty MacColl, which has more of a Caribbean soca thing going on. Her version is super pepped up, with big, rousing horns, and yes, she sings in French. It always sounded familiar to me, but for some reason it never occurred to me that it was a cover. So I look at the credits and see it’s a McGarrigles song. I pull out their first album, a folk-rock classic, and lo and behold: there it is! I chose their version since it’s a lot less in your face. MacColl’s version is great but really alive, almost too much so, and the new remastering would have thrown off the flow of the mix. Too bright!

This makes me wonder when Kate and Anna McGarrigle will get around to recording a new album. They keep putting out family reunion albums with Loudon, Rufus and Martha.

Thursday, September 29, 2005


The director and writer may be King, but check out what happens when you let loose an editor, a smug voiceover guy and a new soundtrack dude on The Shining.

I smell heartwarmer!


To paraphrase something I saw on the web: The discovery of the giant squid represents one of my childhood dreams come true. Now if only I live to see the day when one rises out of the ocean and attacks!

Wednesday, September 28, 2005


The greatest thing about the Arcade Fire is that they're one of the few bands that not only survived the hype but exceeded it. What few naysayers I've encountered still haven't seen them live, and that may be the clincher. I just got back from catching them for the third time, and they were better than I had ever seen them. Win Butler, the singer, apologetically stated that they're not coming back until they have "a million new songs." Indeed, it's hard to believe their album "Funeral" has only been out for a year, since it feels like such a longstanding part of the musical fabric, and that it's pretty much been that album exclusively that's driven their shows throughout their ascent.. Covers tonight included an opening tease of Dylan's "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall" before they played "Wake Up," and then later a great cover of Bowie's "Five Years." I've also heard them cover Talking Heads ("This Must Be the Place"), Magnetic Fields ("Born in a Train") and Yeah Yeah Yeahs ("Maps"). For the uninitiated, none of these bands really give a clue what Arcade Fire is like, let alone what they're like live: beautiful, cathartic, violent, graceful, messy - all at once. I'd be really curious to see how they go over opening for U2 this Fall.

I'll leave it to the history books to determine who's to blame/credit/thank for making off-key vocals so fashionable. Bright Eyes and Modest Mouse seem like two prime suspects. The latter's Isaac Brock produced the new disc by Wolf Parade, who opened for Arcade Fire.

Pizza Burnin'

I knew I had the new Rolling Stones disc in the basement, literally somewhere in a sloppy pile of promos, DVDs, CDs, magazines, trash and other stuff next to the cat box. It took me weeks to actually put the thing on, though, and give it a listen

Each Rolling Stones record arrives hailed as their best album since [x], with [x] determined by the generosity of the assessor. "Tattoo You?" "Some Girls?" "Voodoo Lounge?" "Goat's Head Soup?" Around the beginning of their new one, "A Bigger Bang," I thought the disc actually pretty strong, in a shambling b-sides and rarities collection sort of way, but then it quickly sags. No surprise there. The Stones only record as an excuse to tour.

What surprised me about this album, however, is how essential asshole Mick sounds. Keith or Charlie are always pegged the soul of the band, the above-reproach linchpins that even the cooler than thou can embrace. But Mick's singing is really good on this disc, and without it half the songs would sound like, I dunno, the latest crapped out Ryan Adams record. So it's a compromise disc. I'll dutifully file it with their other records, but probably never listen to it again, save the occasional track like "Oh No Not You Again."

It did remind me that Keith Richards played on "Rain Dogs" and "Bone Machine," two of Tom Waits' best records, and it made me imagine how cool it would be were the two to reunite for a duo record. You never know!


The bigger you are, the harder you fall. The bigger an ass you are, the more I think it's funny. I'm looking at you, Tom DeLay!

Top 40

Brandon has requested specific examples of what's so great about recent top 40. I'll begin with his examples:

Gwen Stefani's "Hollaback Girl"
Kelly Clarkson's "Since U Been Gone"
The Pussycat Dolls's "Don't Cha" (though I prefer the original Tori Alamaze version)

Plus I'll add:

Amerie's "1 Thing" (better than "Crazy in Love")
Natasha Bedingfield "These Words" (I haven't liked a pop song so much since Aaliyah's "Are You That Somebody?")
Green Day "Holiday" (the only time you're hear "sieg heil" on the radio, thankfully)
Missy Elliott's "Lose Control" (I hope this makes Cybotron rich, though my guess is Juan Atkins already has plenty of dough)

Most of the real crap is, of course, by rock bands I thought broke up months ago: Lifehouse, Nickelback, Papa Roach ... I guess Rob Thomas can't ever break up, can he?

Anyway, maybe top 40 is the wrong scope. I'd say top 40 minus most of the rock and plus a host of hip-hop and r&b. Granted, I don't listen to the radio that much, thanks to DJ iPod, but hearing something good on the pop stations these days is probably as likely as hitting a block of AC/DC or Led Zeppelin on the classic rock stations. Which means it's always worth a shot!

Eat Crow

I received the new Sheryl Crow record in the mail today and realized that it arrived preceded by absolutely no buzz, hype or anticipation. It just appeared like another, say, Black Crowes record. Snooze. Does anyone else remember when Sheryl Crow used to be sort of an underdog? Not since Lenny Kravitz has a mainstream musician squandered so much initial good will (read the old reviews!) to become a risibile and ridiculous parody of themselves. Both began as relative DIY types, as far as pop music goes, but now may as well be robots. Or maybe they were robots all along, and now that they've infiltrated high levels of society they can complete implementation of their plan to destroy humanity.

By the way, Crow looks eerily like Ann Coulter on the cover of "Entertainment Weekly." Gives new meaning to "ew."

Hole in the Head

As far as I know, the Sugababes are an assembled pop group from the UK. They had a great single in the relatively lo-tech "Freak Like Me," which some dude famously combined with Gary Numan a few years ago, an early mash-up highlight. I don't even know if the group's albums have been released in the U.S., but I got "Hole in the Head" from their singles collection. It's pretty catchy, and just odd enough to catch my ear. It's also pretty infectious and worked well in the number 4 slot.

My wife and I agree that top 40 has for the past five or so years been better than it had been for ages, lots of inventive songs and interesting sounds. Some people fear pop music, but the truth is a lot is much more adventurous than what passes for "progressive" these days. Lyrically I'll concede that much hip-hop/r&b/pop is pretty lacking, but the same holds for a host of acts. Like, say, 99% across the spectrum. Exceptions like (for example) Amy Rigby almost throw you off with their cleverness.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Where Were You?

Early Mekons can be wildly erratic, part punk, part Dada. But their key singles - "Never Been in a Riot" and "Where Were You?" - remain remarkable. The former pokes fun at the Clash's "White Riot." "Where Were You?" is something of a one sided conversation with an object of desire. It's punk, but not punk, with a touch of loneliness thrown in. The Mekons got better and more interesting later on, and they're still as strong as ever (2002's "OOOH," a convenient acronymn for "Out of Our Heads," is actually one of the band's best), but this song is still pretty good stuff.

Dylan doc and other stuff

A lot of people are talking, rightly so, about the Dylan/Scorsese doc "No Direction Home." It's a really solid piece of work, with some nice parallels with "Lawrence of Arabia" (there's even a motorcycle crash!). But the best bit, which my Dylan-nut friend and I agree on, comes right after some footage of Dylan and the Hawks in the UK in '66. There he is, completely torn and frayed, his hair huge and his demeanor mean and sour. Suddenly, the screen says "three years earlier," and there's baby-faced Bob Dylan singing protest songs. Wow. What "No Direction Home" provides is this kind of context, a valuable chronology that shows how far Dylan went in such a short span of time, how much of an impact he had and how easily he could raze and rebuild his legacy. He's been, to some degree, in '66-mode ever since, the earnest protest singer of yore dead and gone forever, apparently buried in Woodstock, New York.

I knew it was coming, but I still almost crapped my pants when I saw this morning that they've finally remastered "Born to Run" and are packaging it with Springsteen's 1975 London performance. Cool!

There's a publicist who always calls me about upcoming movies, constantly offering the caveat that this and that is "a foreign film." Then she calls me about "High Tension" (which is French) and "Unded" (which is Australian), but doesn't give the "foreign film" warning. Could it be that horror movies, or genre-films in general, transcend the foreign tag? Maybe. Hong Kong films (for example) are "Hong Kong films," not foreign films, as are Japanese horror flicks or even Thai dramas. "Foreign film" still connotes something stuffy or intellectual, akin to "arthouse" but in a different language. And no one would confuse "High Tension" and "Undead" for arthouse films (or particularly good films, for that matter).

Monday, September 26, 2005


Today I wondered how wild it would have been had REM released "Murmur," vanished, and then come back all those years later to release "Automatic for the People." The former sounds more alive than ever, the lovely latter more beautiful and unique. I recommend the DVD-A version, since it's music that works best when it envelopes you. So risky a release in retrospect, but amazing that it connected so huge. Can anyone even imagine "Everybody Hurts" a hit on today's top 40 radio?

Another REM alternate reality: had the best acoustic tracks on "Green" been combined with the best tracks on "Out of Time." None of those pale post-'Document" rock songs, but "World Leader Pretend," "Hairshirt" and "You are the Everything." Then add, from "Out of Time," the likes of "Losing My Religion," "Near Wild Heaven," "Half a World Away" and "Country Feedback." And be sure to lose "Radio Song." Forever. I think the result could have been close to "Automatic" in its creative, emotional impact, though of course the band would have lost a few more hits.

Anyway, it's so easy to be cynical about these things, but "Automatic" truly is a special record that may one day yet top "Murmur" as the definitive REM album. And maybe already has.


Bobby Orlando - aka Bobby O - was an upstate New York boxer and disco enthusiast particularly taken by ABBA. Just as Chic and ABBA had several hits in the '80s, thus belying disco's reputation as a '70s thing, Bobby O. also had his biggest successes in the decade of greed writing and producing for a host of nobodies, as well as Divine. His trademark was simple bass arpeggios, a cheesy yet somehow cool gimmick borrowed wholesale from Giorgio Morodor but (obviously) still very effective. Eventually O.'s work got tagged Hi-NRG and caught the ears of the Pet Shop Boys, who contacted O. to produce demos for their first album. To this day there's some controversy as to how much of "West End Girls" is his, though "Opportunities" is more his style.

The Flirts were one of the many anonymous acts O. manufactured to release his music. He famously dismissed even his best work as disposable, and perhaps he's right on both counts about this 12" version of "Helpless." It's disposable, in a generic Eurotrash sense, but also easily one of his best. I love the chaotic percussion, and the bit were the disco chicken-scratch guitar comes in. Plus, the perfectly timed added synths in the coda as the song plays out give it that extra epic quality.

Once in a Lifetime

I had been on an African music kick, so I went to the local record store (where one of the owners, Jody, knows a lot about African music) and asked for some recommendations. For reference I told her I had really been enjoying the Super Mama Djombo CD, which she had (oddly) never heard of. Anyway, she gave me three recommendations: a disc of Kenyan guitar pop, some other overview collection, and a contemporary disc by Wasis Diop.

Wasis Diop, she told me, was Senegalese but lived in Paris. Looking over the booklet I saw a few familiar names, but then "Once in a Lifetime" caught my eye. "The Talking Heads song?" I asked.

"Yeah," said Jody. "Though you won't recognize it."

"I did ..." mumbled her husband Peter at the other end of the counter.

"Well, you might, but it's still different."

I had my doubts, but both were right. The entire album is great, but this song is a pretty interesting reinvention. As far as "Remain in Light"-era THs songs go, "Once in a Lifetime" is among the least exotic and most Western sounding, in part due to Brian Eno's involvement and inspired meddling. But the distinctive chorus aside, Diop makes it sound like a traditional African song the Talking Heads subsequently ripped off, rather than the exact opposite. Quite cool, and a great way to start the disc. Or day, for that matter.

Strangely, at the store they also had the must-have/hear Golden Afrique collection for sale, right behind the counter and right behind Jody's head. Among the tracks on the double-disc set? Super Mama Djombo!

Sunday, September 25, 2005


Every few months my sister puts out a call for mix CDs, to be exchanged by a handful of participants in her Nerds of the Mix group. I think the most recent was the 5th disc I made. Here's my tracklist, with comments to be added later:

1. Wasis Diop “Once in a Lifetime”
2. The Flirts “Helpless (You took my Love)” (12” mix”)
3. The Mekons “Where Were You? “
4. Sugababes “Hole In The Head”
5. Annie “Chewing Gum” (FakeID remix)
6. Stranglers “Golden Brown”
7. Kate & Anna McGarrigle “Complainte Pour Ste Catherine”
8. Bryan Ferry “A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall”
9. Siouxsie and the Banshees “Cities in Dust “
10. Cockney Rebel “Judy Teen”
11. Shriekback “Lined Up”
12. Kiley Dean “America”
13. Ween “It's Gonna Be (Alright)”
14. Robert Scott “Fog And Wind”
15. Creedence Clearwater Revival “It Came Out Of The Sky”
16. Mad Scene “Spilled Oranges”
17. Fellini “Teu Inglês”
18. The Walkabouts “Train to Mercy”

In other news, I checked out Clap Your Hands Say Yeah opening for the National the other night. The show was completely packed, and I'm sure the club owner was praying the fire marshall had better places to be. The thing is, Clap Your Hands' performance was wildly disporportionate to the amount of excitement they generated. Are people so desperate to get in on the ground floor of the Next Big Thing that they're willing to suppress good taste? Apparently so, since about a third - maybe more - of them left before the National, who proceded to wipe CYHSY from memory. Boy, were they good. Their most recent record "Alligator" is really good, too, but live was something else.

One show I missed last week when I was seeing Beck was the Rosebuds. They're from North Carolina, and their second album "Birds Make Good Neighbors" briefly renewed my faith in indie-rock. I think the songs, and particularly the give and take vocals between husband and wife Ivan and Kelly, are frequently breathtaking.

I'm excited to dig into some new CDs I got. Old Sufjan Stevens, Sue Jorge, Dylan's "No Direction Home" collection, Sonic Youth's "Washing Machine," the new Joe Henry produced southern soul supergroup, and the upcoming Band boxed set. I was shocked to learn that the canonization of the Band is controversial in some circles, but c'mon. If you can't feel the music then you're not listening.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Disaster Watch

Can there be any doubt that, if there is in fact a God, that God hates George Bush? If I were a man of faith who thought God had my back, and this much bad stuff went down on my watch, I'd start to reconsider. If people thought they were voting for President Job, I bet most of even the religious nuts would have thought twice. No one wants to stand next to a walking lightning rod in a thunderstorm.


I saw part of Idlewild's set last night. These Scots work pretty hard, and were impressively together, yet the place was maybe a quarter ful and I couldn't quite put my finger on why the band has yet to break in America. Too smart? Too Scottish? Too wimpy? Too loud? If Capitol records really wanted to make a buck off of them in the U.S., they'd tag them as emo and put them on a co-headling tour with Jimmy Eat World or something.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Shhhigur Ros

Not surprisingly, Sigur Ros was closer to a classical night out than a rock show, the beautiful and confy Chicago Theatre the perfect place to catch an act like them. While the hipsters in attendance (sold out!) wore jeans and t-shirts, they still behaved largely like a classical audience, too. Respectful silence, shhh-ing talkers, cell phones off. With one exception, right next to me.

This woman and her friend stumble in an hour into the performance and sit next to me in our otherwise deserted row (no doubt set aside for press and whatnot, but conspicuously empty all the same). She proceeds to flip open her cell phone, call a friend then leave the damn thing open for the remainder of the show for her friend to hear, talking briefly between each song.

Now, cell phones are aggravating but not inherently noisy. It's the user that contributes that property, and to her credit after one rather loud exchange with her cell-mate she promptly quieted down and simply held aloft the phone. Annoying and silly, yes, but noisy? No. Yet her initial racket was enough to piss off (rightly so) the people behind me, so much so that the guy and his girlfriend kept insisting she hang up the phone. The woman with the phone either ignored them or didn't understand them (she wasn't speaking English, and could very well have been part of Sigur Ros's posse), but they kept it up.

"If you were a man, I would punch you!"
"Hang up the phone!"
"I will kick you hard, right in the ovaries."

Indeed, one of the great ironies of shh-ing: they were much, much louder and more distracting than the woman with the phone! The breaking point for me came when, after one pause between songs, the guy reached over the seat and intentionally applauded right in the woman's left ear, as loud as he could. Which, of course, was right next to my right ear. So I whipped around and snapped:

"Dude, that's my ear, too! Knock it off!"

He understood but was a bit taken aback.

"Yeah, I know, but ..."

"Shh!!!!" I snapped, then turned around again and watched the rest of the show, which was uneventful.

When I left I leaned over, gave a shrug, and said "sorry, man." Then I pointed to cell-phone woman and said "she's all yours." He smiled and gave me a wave, and I headed home.

Question of the day: does Paul McCartney transcend demographics, the way the Stones arguably do, or is he firmly and exclusively boomer rock? Remember when the Beatles "1s" collection came out, and people made a big deal about how many young people were buying it and discovering the Beatles? Is that true? Is anyone under the age of 25 excited about the current Macca tour?

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

I knew this would happen

Swamped with work, I haven't had time to update. But now I do!

I saw Royksopp and Annie play Monday night. Annie was a lot of fun, but her 30 minute set was really too short. Royksopp started out strong but then reverted to two dudes behind a keyboard mode, which makes for pretty plain viewing.

Last night I saw Beck, and - shockingly - he was dull as cobblestone. Looked half asleep, the sound was bad, and the only good moment came when his band sat at a dinner table and went through the motions of ordering for a meal while Sir Beck played a sloppy solo set. Snooze. I have higher expectations for Sigur Ros tonight, where "snooze" actually serves as a sort of a compliment. They're so dreamy! [sigh]

Today I had to bring the car in for its first emissions inspection. All I have to say is that all that idling I did waiting in line probably did worse things for the environment (not to mention my disposition) than my car has managed in a year. Imagine the feeling of road rage with nothing to rage at, or bumper to bumper traffic when you're the only car, and you get the idea of the tedium. I'm also pretty convinced my ultra-long wait made my tech skip a few tests. There were less than five minutes of actual tests, which I watched him do as I stood in the air conditioned cubicle (with glass walls). While waiting there I watched the emission inspection infomercial, which showed all the steps I could see him not doing. Oh, well. Can't complain of only having a huge hunk of my time wasted instead of an even huger hunk.

Earlier today two women came by the house. I ignored the first doorbell, but when they rang again I answered.

Woman: Good morning! Do you ever notice that there's sometimes nothing but bad news on the news?
Me: Yeah.
Woman: Hurricane Katrina? There's another hurricane coming, too.
Me: Yes, they do that.
Woman: Well, there's a passage in the scripture [reaches for the Bible] where we can get an idea of what God thinks ...
Me: I'm pretty sure I know what God thinks.
Woman: Oh.
Me: I'm Jewish. Would you like to be Jewish?
Woman: [still smiling] What do you mean?
Me: I mean I don't need to see that book, and I have to get back to work.

It's a lose-lose situation, isn't it? Engage them and you raise their spirits. Resist, and you're just one more heathen to convert that will hasten their ascent to heaven.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Mali Blues

I've never gone to any concerts presented as part of Chicago's World Music Festival. In fact, I'm not even sure if that's the name of the festival [It is - Ed.]. Regardless, last night I went to see Amadou & Mariam, the blind duo from Mali, currently Paris residents, whose latest Manu Chao-produced disc "Diamanche A Bamako" has become something of a European hit and a nascent crossover disc with the NPR crowd in the US.

Mariam sings and Amadou sings and plays guitar. He's an incredible player, made even better by his current band, basically a Gallic fusion group well schooled in Afro-pop but clearly capable of anything. Well after said grey-haired NPR crowd began trickling out, due to the late hour, hundreds were still left dancing at the Park West. The percussionist was a real crowd favorite. After a particular flurry of fills or barrage of call and response with the drummer, Mariam would let out this cool "yeeaaaaaaaah ....!"

The opener was a more traditional Mali star, more in the Ali Farke Toure mold, which is to say redolent of the same stuff that ultimately seeped into American blues. His name was Boubacar Traore, and he played acoustic accompanied by a gourd percussionist. His songs were very modal and hypnotic, and I found it fascinating the way he weaved melody and solo within what sounded a pretty static structure.

In other news, Z.'s young vocabulary continues to grow. Words - or approximate words - include: mama, dada, cat, dog, tree and a few more. She knows the sound of a few animals, too. Plus, she's ever close to walking and therefore Life As We Know It is ever close to ending. Good thing our neighbors, currently expecting boy number three, just offered to babysit some night before their own life gets more complicated. We're totally taking them up on it, since we can only imagine how wiped out we'll be when Z.'s ground speed jumps exponentially, as does her potential to run head first into sharp objects.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

How Generous

Last night, killing time at a bar before the show, I was watching a TV with the sound turned off. A commercial came on for a car dealership with a special Hurricane Katrina benefit in progress. For ever car sold, the guy said, they would donate $25 to Hurricane Katrina relief. No, really! $25! Why do we even need Congress to allocate all that money, when this guy was willing to donate $25 per car. See, he even had a set goal of $100,000. My math isn't that good, but that's about 4000 cars, I thin. By the time this cheapskate shifts that many vehicles, no doubt some other disaster will have hit.

In other moron news, my friend and I each nursed a beer until it was time to cash out. He took out his money but had to wait five minutes for the bartender to stop talking with his co-workers and finally get around to us. We told him we wanted to cash out, he nodded, and went over to the tap. My friend reminded him we wanted to cash out, he nodded and started filling two more glasses. So my friend gets his attention once more and says, hey, we want to pay and leave. He finally gets the message, apologizes and asks the other bartender who was originally serving us how much the tab was. My friend offers a $20, the bartender says thanks and then goes back to business.

At which point my friend says, hey, where's my change? We each just had one beer. And the guy goes, oh, this is for the other two you had before. Huh? We told him we only had one beer each, he talks to the female bartender, she comes over and says, yeah, but this is for the other two as well. Meaning the two the bartender was mistakenly filling before he realized we were ready to leave. So we say again, we only had two beers, total, and it finally clicks. She apologizes as well and we finally get out of there. English, by the way, was spoken by all, but that's apparently no guarantor of communication.

Sufjan Stevens, by the way, was excellent. The whole band was dressed like cheerleaders and at one point they even did a human pyramid. Nice misdirection, given the subject matter of the songs ranged from cancer to John Wayne Gacy.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Sheer Lunacy

I rushed to get Z. in bed for her morning nap around 8:15am, since I was speaking with "Wallace & Gromit" creator Nick Park at 8:30. He was in Toronto for the film's North American premiere. Great guy, it seems, and he did the "Sledgehammer" video, too.

Anyway, with the exception of her afternoon nap, Z. was absolutely insane the rest of the day. Happy insane, at least, but exhausting all the same. Even climbing and playing at My Gym didn't quite wipe her out, and after we got back from a walk to the post office later in the afternoon she was a whirling dirvish. The living room looked like a tornado had set down, she had green on her face from chewing crayons, her hands were still sticky from peaches and bits of her hair were sticking up because, in the middle of lunch, she grabbed a fistful of hummus and rubbed it into her head. Plus, lots of laughing, screaming, screaching and whatnot, all with a big, giant smile.

And you should have seen her when Mom came home. Nuts x 5.

Tonight marks the start of rock and roll week, aka "goodbye, high-end; hello, eardrum buzz." Sufjan Stevens tonight, Amadou & Mariam tomorrow, then Royksopp/Annie, Beck, Sigur Ros, Idlewild and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah one night after the next, beginning next week.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Who needs style? I do!

Last night I passed a Latino hair salon with a help wanted sign in the window. In Spanish, it read, more or less, "Stylists Wanted." But in big English type above that it was translated:

"We Need Style"

I have a hunch they'll be losing the gringo walk-in business at that place.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005


I just got back from the Bloc Party/Kills/Noisettes show. Bloc Party were good, though suffering various ailments. The Kills were great as usual, though suffering theatrical overkill. The best surprise was the Noisettes, whose singer Shingai Shoniwa is some sort of force of nature. Charming, too. When someone yelled "encore" she responded with:

"Oh, encore! I thought someone was yelling 'uncle'!"

Has anyone ever actually cried "uncle!' before, or heard someone cry "uncle!"? What a great, obscure heckle that would be.

What a cutie

Thank you, Wal-Mart photo department, for making our dreams as parents come true, for just a promotional loss-leader of $5!

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Today's already been pretty nuts. Four interviews down, one to go. Spoke to such stellar video directors and filmmakers as Anton Corbijn (best known for his work with U2 and Depeche Mode), Mark Romanek (who has worked with Nine Inch Nails and Johnny Cash; he did the "Closer" and "Hurt" videos) and Jonathan Glazer (who did a bunch of stuff for Radiohead and the like, plus Jamiroquai's "Virtual Insanity" clip). All quite nice. Corbijn told me he's been banned, after all these years, from directing a video for Depeche Mode, at the command of Warner Bros. records. That's just silly.

It's interesting that in many ways these directors - as well as Spike Jonze, Chris Cunningham and Michel Gondry - are seen as peers or even superiors to some of the artists they work with. Cunningham and Corbijn have such a close working relationship with their frequent clients (Aphex Twin and the above, respectively) that they're more like partners or collaborators.

Interesting things learned: Corbijn is currently casting his Joy Division movie. Romanek admits Mick Jagger "doesn't give a shit." Thom Yorke had some serious reservations about some of the videos he did with Radiohead and UNKLE. Glazer has been approached by Kanye West and the White Stripes to possible direct videos. And Keith Richards still smokes and drinks like a champ. Well, everyone knew that last bit.

On Sunday I had a near disaster with my iPod. I thought it had spontaneously erased itself. Now, iPod/Apple makes everything pretty easy, but reloading 40GB of songs onto the thing still would have taken hours. Fortunately, the worst case scenario was so drastic that it overshadowed the simpler, less destructive solution: just resetting the thing. The car is once again safe for a non-stop set from DJ iPod.
OK, this thing seems to work. Boy, they sure do make this easy for you. No doubt when Blogger makes you pay or goes out of business (or both!) it will be just as easy to lose weeks or even months of posts to the digital dustbin.


Things to come: posts about music I like, have heard or have seen live. Posts about movies, mostly DVDs. Pieces of interviews with famous, semi-famous or obscure people I've conducted. Posts (of course) about my daughter, henceforth known as Z. And pictures. And movies. Plus, whatever else comes up. When I don't have to go to bed I'll spend more time on a proper post. Until then.

Ths is a test

No, really. This is really just a test.