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Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Hello again.

Posted By on Wed, Jan 31, 2007 at 3:42 PM

Not a lot of posting going on here lately; I apologize. Been busy with little life tweaks, some of which are stressful, but ultimately beneficial.

I'm hoping to put together another podcast to make this last blast of winter just that much bleaker. Kidding.

I got the new Of Montreal album, Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer?, today. It's pretty fun; more electro-dance than previous outings, but enjoyable nonetheless. I kind of miss the lysergic, rubberband bass guitar that used to populate their records, but I'm pleased that leader Kevin Barnes is still his same, unhinged self.

I've never really cottoned to much of the "lit-rock" that's taken over in recent years; I find it too self-aware and not actually all that brainy. Although OM can't be classified as such, Barnes' lyrics are loaded with wordplay and odd references. Thankfully, they possess a trickster quality that keeps them from sounding precocious. Plus he always seems to be having a good time, even when singing about old people in cemeteries.

Check these out:

Of Montreal — "Heimdalsgate Like a Promethean Curse"

Of Montreal — "Gronlandic Edit"

Friday, January 26, 2007

I can't resist.

Posted By on Fri, Jan 26, 2007 at 12:19 PM

I know I just posted, but I had to put this up today. Feast your eyes on this real-life '80s commercial for "Synth Coke." It's essentially faux cocaine that you offer in exchange for sexual favors. The company that made it — appropriately titled Buzz Productions — was based in Kittery, Maine. My guess would've been Lewiston. That entire town looks like an abandoned set from "Starsky & Hutch." Courtesy Boing Boing.

Let it roll...

Posted By on Fri, Jan 26, 2007 at 11:26 AM

The Commission for Obvious Observations (of which I am a member in good standing) just released a report titled God, it's so Freaking Cold. In it, they describe the folly of living in the frozen North with, um, chilling insight. Although it's unlikely to unseat The Iraq Study Group Report from the New York Times' nonfiction bestseller list, it's a riveting read nonetheless.

A friend of mine just got accepted into the  Universiteit Van Amsterdam, where he'll attempt to get his Masters in Mysticism & Western Esotericism. Who knew such a degree even existed? I'm beside myself with excitement. It's like that scene in Goodfellas, when Henry and Jimmy think that Tommy is gonna get made. Hopefully my pal doesn't end up in an empty trophy room with a bullet in the back of his skull. Anyway, I just gotta say: congrats, Styles!

Did I mention I don't even care what you all think? Some days I just gotta listen to Morrison Hotel. On repeat. Today is such a day. "Blood is the rose of mysterious union." Yeah!

Hey, did'ja know that NYC hipster record emporium (actually, emporium isn't the right word... it's more like a shack) Other Music is starting it's own digital music service? The offerings will be underground-ish, and in a better-sounding format than MP3. I'm fairly psyched about this. Still, I wonder if it's gonna cut into mail order business for stores like Aquarius Records in San Francisco. If AQ followed suit, I'd stick with them out of loyalty.

I'm happy that Chris and Molly are coming for dinner on Sunday.

I'm happy to be getting married earlier and with less fanfare.

The world might be coming apart at the seams, but I believe '07 will be full of untold adventure for me and mine.

Do any of you know the band Deerhunter? I'm supposed to review them for Dusted this weekend. They're on Kranky, but don't particularly sound it. Ah, what do I know?

I had an awesome comment ready to go for this post at Candleblog, but Brooke's laptop ran out of juice as I was crossing my digital t's. Before I knew it, my brilliant statements were gone. Shame.

Best wishes to our man Peter Freyne.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Guitar Hero... Or Zero?

Posted By on Tue, Jan 23, 2007 at 12:50 PM

UPDATE: I arrived home last night to find the latest issue of Newsweek in my mailbox. In it, Steven Levy takes a similarly dim view of Guitar Hero II. He, too, finds it devilish, but not for the same reasons as I.

My friend Matt came up from Boston this weekend for a surprise visit. He's a swell guy, a bitchin' bassist and a fellow newspaperman. We used to play in a band together years ago. He's still rocking out, while I've more or less permanently retired from live performance.

Anyway, Matty is one hell of a strong persuader. Over lunch and a few gazillion beers, he convinced me to purchase the shockingly popular Playstation game Guitar Hero II. I was rightfully wary — it's hardly the first time this silver-tongued bastard has cajoled me into something.

"Dude. You gotta get it. It's so fun. I've got my guitar controller in the car. We can totally play it together. At least we can go to Best Buy and check it out."

So, that's what we did. I was utterly unimpressed by the display version, which was manned by some Black Sabbath-rockin' redneck kid. The game itself looked chintzy and more than a little dull. But the next thing I knew, I was dropping 80-odd dollars on a hunk of cheap plastic.

Still, we played the thing all night. I even called my pal Jeb and asked him to come over.  I figured if there were more people involved — and if I got a lot drunker — it'd somehow be more fun.

Listen: I'm a guitarist. I've been playing since I was 14. My chops, while not exactly up to previous standards, are still pretty good. So why was this game so annoying to me?  I was OK at the verses and choruses, and atrocious on the solos. The exact opposite of real life, actually. The reason is that GHII robs songs of anything resembling nuance. I'm used to expressive fingering, and this thing was like a game of Simon. It's frankly easier for me to play with the sound off. That way, all I have to do is press the appropriately colored pad when the little *note* passes a certain part of the *fretboard.*

Now, I'm admittedly not a fan of games or puzzles. The only reason I bought a PSII in the first place was Grand Theft Auto. But that game is more about satire and hyperviolence and less about high scores.

I sensed something far more sinister in Guitar Hero II. With it, would-be six-stringers can be trained to play exactly like one another. Which is to say, mechanically and without any regard for subtlety. I mean, most "emo" bands could already swap out their guitarists without anyone even catching on. Well, maybe some fans would notice the difference in tattoos or length of bangs. But any distinction sure as shit wouldn't be musical. This game only cultivates further homogeneity.

It might be worth something as a sight-reading primer, though. Oh, and it does have a few decent songs. But you could always turn to one of our two local rock stations and hear the same tunes. Probably a few times a day, even.

So I'm gonna head back to Best Die sometime this week and dump the thing back on them. I love my bro Matty, but I need to trust my instincts more often. As BW sang, "I guess I just wasn't made for these times." Or maybe I just suck at fake guitar.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Friday makes fun.

Posted By on Fri, Jan 19, 2007 at 4:00 AM

I meant to post yesterday, but never found the time. Enjoy the following bits of random nonsense:

Witness jazzhole Al DiMeola and his "guitar karate." Must be seen through for full effect. Courtesy Mr. Leathers.

False 45th close out their 2006 Review with yours truly.

Highgate and Undead Molly go all secret society on our internet asses.

We're understandably psyched that Sonic Youth are coming to HG.

Not as psyched about this show.

Tonight you shall be collected and destroyed.

Listening:

Boris with Michio Kurihara - Rainbow. Amazingly gorgeous and alternately skull-rattling.

Sir Douglas Quintet - The Complete Mercury Recordings. Acid Country-Soul!

Grizzly Bear - Yellow House. Spitting Out Teeth's enthusiasm is justified 

Gruff Rhys - Candylion. The Super Furry Animals frontman can do no wrong in my book.

Dälek - Abandoned Language. Didn't they used to call this shit trip-hop?

Viewing:

The Devil's Backbone. Excited about Pan's Labyrinth? Be sure to take in Guillermo Del Toro's earlier masterpiece.

The War Room. I've seen it before, but it was on IFC last night.

The Wicker Man. The original, of course.

Post Script:

In this week's Soundbites column, I got the times wrong for James Kochalka's interview on XM Satellite Radio. The press release listed only PST, and I incorrectly assumed it was EST.

Here's the correct broadcast info:

Here's the times for VT:
Friday, 1/19 11pm
Saturday, 1/20 9am and 5pm
Sunday, 1/21 12pm

You can also watch it on DirectTV channel 116.

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Tuesday, January 16, 2007

RIP, R.A.W.

Posted By on Tue, Jan 16, 2007 at 1:24 PM

Sad news has filtered through the ether: Robert Anton Wilson — author, visionary, psychonaut, skeptic and cosmic prankster — has passed away.

Thanks to Max for the tip.

R.A.W. was one of my main dudes; hope his bardo-hopping goes smoothly.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Frozen out.

Posted By on Sat, Jan 13, 2007 at 11:31 PM

Went to Madonna thing at Radio Bean around 10:15. Line outside. Too cold to wait/didn't want to play "cool guy" card. Went home.

Hope it was super rad.

Spreading cheer!

Posted By on Sat, Jan 13, 2007 at 11:42 AM

I think we're finally gonna try to see Children of Men today.

Speaking of dystopia...

I've been doing some more pondering about the obstacles facing our species as we stumble towards the next paradigm shift, whatever it may be. I have serious doubts as to whether we'll even reach the finish line. There's a cruel irony to almost: "We almost had the foresight, creativity and discipline to avert Armageddon."

The hurdles before us are legion, but I've got a few faves.

Further environmental degradation could lead to mass-scale diaspora, violent competition for resources, reactionary authoritarianism and the re-introduction of 19th-century plagues. That's in addition to those sad polar bears. Maybe we should give cloud seeding a try.

Then there's the religious folks  — most of humanity, with pockets of resistance — whose inability to break out of their eschatological programming is driving civilization to the brink of all-consuming conflict.

WMDs, astronomical impact objects, lack of clean tube socks — I could go on and on.

Each of these issues could prevent us us from identifying and implementing necessary correctives, creating the grimmest feedback loop of all — a self-perpetuating, ever-accelerating engine of destruction and confusion.

I believe that most, if not all, of the problems facing humanity can be solved, but I worry that we're too distracted to do so. Our "waking up" point should have already happened. What's the big holdup?

Then again, I'm hardly an enlightened being — most of my brain power goes towards debating the pros and cons of the new iPhone. There's a little space left for Wired Magazine. Say, wasn't their last cover story called "The Science of Human Enhancement"? Damn, I haven't even read it yet. See what I mean?

This is ostensibly a music blog, but there are other topics to consider. As much as we value art, there has to be something resembling a stable culture for it to exist. I mean, at least Dostoevsky had his gulag.

On a positive note, I've become rather intrigued by M-Theory — the "what, me worry?" of Elegant Physics.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Coughing it up.

Posted By on Fri, Jan 12, 2007 at 1:08 PM

Damn this cold. I never get sick. Oh, well. Gives me an excuse to stay in and watch Bergman films with the old lady.

Music? Who friggin' knows. There's that Project Object show at Metronome tonight. The Le Duo seems pretty psyched. Not sure if I've got the stamina.

I really wanna bitch a blue streak, but will refrain from doing so. My malaise starts with a B and ends with an N. I'm sure you know the score.

Been filling my earholes with the following:

Mark Fry — Dreaming With Alice

The Pretty Things — Parachute (Thanks for reminding me of these guys, Josh).

The Psychic Ills — Dins

Cornelius — Sensuous (Gotta love Amazon Japan).

Emerson, Lake & Palmer — Pictures at an Exhibition (Ewww!)

Aufgehoben — Messidor

How's that for eclectic? I'd post some tunes, but I'm feeling lazy. Gotta call the DMV and see about getting legal behind the wheel once again.

Madonna thing on Saturday. I'll be there. Hope it's worth it.

I plan on doing some recording this weekend. Should provide temporary distraction from geographical agitation.

Having offered up the contents of my head, I shall leave you in peace.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

"Rik Johnson" rocks the Casio!

Posted By on Thu, Jan 11, 2007 at 4:00 AM

Been a while since I've posted a dumb YouTube clip - it's just so 2006. But I couldn't resist sharing this sucker:

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