Allow me to explain through interpretive…Arcade Fire?

•July 24, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Inspiration can often be derived from the oddest places: wise words. I feel compelled to give background tn this particular article, simply because it is so odd.

A dear friend of mine’s biggest hope and dream is to become a screenwriter for a comedy show: therefore, it’s only natural for her biggest influence to be Saturday Night Live (normally I would cleverly explain what these sort of things were, or leave some reference link or another. In this case, come on. If you really don’t know, I suggest you crawl out from underneath that rock of yours and do some T.V watching). One member of the S.N.L cast, Andy Samberg (one of her biggest heroes) has his own side comedy project: a comedy trio, consisting of him and his two best friends from high school Jorma Taccone and Akiva Schaffer, called The Lonely Island. With such hilarious and often crass songs such as Jizz In My Pants (I can’t even to begin to describe the kind of immature giggles I just erupted into as I typed that and watched the video again) and I’m On A Boat (motherfuckin’ yeah), they’ve taken the comedy world by storm, as well as given every adolescent an excuse to liberally say “I got my flippie floppies”, whatever the context.

But this is about one member in particular: Jorma Taccone, whose pure comedy genius can be summed up in these incredibly stupid yet hilarious 29 seconds. Famous videos that have been “leaked” (pssh yeah. Talk about convenient accidental publicity) are of Jorma Taccone doing a strange, spastic routine of arm and leg contortions, also known as his version of dancing, to S.N.L’s various music guests, ranging from My Chemical Romance to Fleet Foxes . In these gloriously obnoxious seconds, he gives new meaning to the line “allow me to explain through interpretive dance”.

Which brings me, finally, to the reason I’m writing this article: the other day, that friend sent me one of his marvelously pointless dances to one of my favorite bands of all time, Arcade Fire. When I saw this, I almost cried with joy: not only did this mark a transfer into mainstream of one of the most prolific and beautiful Canadian indie rock bands, but Taccone had also successfully expressed my general sentiments when I listen to the song he so obnoxiously moved to: Keep The Car Running, my all-time favorite song by them. With those few seconds, Jorma Taccone really did explain to me through interpretative dance the pure joy of this song.

Words cannot describe how I feel when I listen to the song: the sheer beauty of the lyrics, the powerful melody and Win Butler’s ever evocative and husky voice make of this song a true masterpiece and take my breath away. The 2007 album it’s from, “Neon Bible” is excellent too; though I do favor their 2004 album “Funeral” over this one, they’re both masterpieces strong and unique in themselves: Neon Bible delivers a bittersweet and profoundly dark sound whereas Funeral has a more raw, almost savagely passionate at times, one. Regardless of the feel of the sound, the finesse is always the same: every song is multi-faceted, fascinating from start to finish, and brilliantly executed. As one very wise YouTube user commented on the link to “Keep The Car Running” used above (I’m not a stalker so much as a little music geek who must comment on her favorite songs everywhere), “they make the infinite touchable inside with their beautiful sound.”

To conclude this tedious anecdote,  Arcade Fire is an amazing, unique band that I hope will only continue to create stunning songs. I hope you will enjoy them as much as I do, as well as The Lonely Island, whom I’ve inadvertently (though not regrettably) promoted in this article.

~Ady

Gold teeth and a curse for this town: a tribute to The Shins.

•July 23, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Turn On Me by The Shins

As Kmi so eloquently put it about Siouxsie & The Banshees’ “Hong Kong Garden”, such a bright, refreshing song.

The Shins are a quirky indie band with a sound that all the cheer of The Beatles, yet a profound absurdity and darkness reminescent of The Cure. That’s just the feel one gets when listening to their songs: their sound is completely their own. James Russell Mercer’s melodious voice, absurd and poetic lyrics (see Red Rabbits), multi-dimensional intrumental use, ranging from acoustic guitars to synthesizers, (see Sleeping Lessons) and marvelous, but very weird music videos (see pretty much any song) make of the band one of the greatest, possibly the greatest, contemporary American indie band. As someone who looks to the past for her music more than anywhere else, this is enormously refreshing: a new, modern sound is like a cool breeze underneath a sweltering sun (excuse my lame metaphor: I desperately wanted to avoid being cliché and saying “a breath of fresh air”).

What makes me still more glad is that they have dabbled somewhat in mainstream music’s roaring waters, with the use of their beautiful ballad New Slang in Zach Braff’s 2004 film “Garden State”. Well, relatively speaking: the movie, despite critical acclaim, remains a bit in the dark. Still, one point for those who listen to obscure music.

Hmm. This was supposed to be about a single song by another band: instead I’ve written a tribute to them, albeit a succinct one. No matter, it’s not really a bad thing at all, seeing as they’ve been what I’ve been listening to the most nowadays, in light of my all-nighters for finishing up my stories and watching movies (and, despite enormously enjoying these things, I always find some way or another to procrastinate. *waggles righteous finger at self*).

As a final word about The Shins to conclude rather hastily (I can almost feel my writing scream at me. Why yes, I am insane.), all I can really say is: enjoy.

~Ady

An Open Letter to Miley Cyrus

•June 28, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Dear Miley/Destiny Hope,

Let me start by being completely and totally honest: I am not a fan.  I don’t like your music, or your show, or your merchandise, or your clothes, or any aspect of you, what makes you you, and what is affiliated with you. I’m merely here to pose five questions that have been on my mind for some time (I would have thought of seven, but it would have turned into a more clever and overwitty version of your banal hit). So Miley/Destiny Hope, here it goes:

1) Do you realize that your stage name is no better than your given Christian name? Seriously: unoriginal cutesy childhood nicknames (Smiley became Miley; ingenious) are just as lame as having two undefined nouns that put into question the sanity of your parents, not to mention the amount of amphetamines they must have smoked at Woodstock to give you such wonderful names,. You would do yourself, myself and the rest of us a favor if you took a leaf out of a prominent musician’s book when it comes to names: on second thought, I’m sure even Gary Glitter would have a thing or two to teach you.

2) Do you honestly feel that keeping the spandex and rhinestone industries out of the pit is a wholesome contribution to society? Personally, I’m proud of you. You’ve marginally surpassed my underestimations and preconceptions of you by saving two industries from the economic crisis every time you step out on stage as Hannah Montana (another concept that escapes me, which I will get to later) wearing one of your famous Disney-rawkstarr outfits. From psychedelic plaid gauchos to sequined fuschia stiletto  boots, you seem to have kept every obscure sector of mediocre textile completely recession-proof. After all, especially  given your status as Disney sooperstarr (I’m presuming that the youngguns Disney Channel media ensnares write like that, given that what mundane magical shenanigans Alex Russo has recently gotten herself into is far more compelling then riding a bike or learning to read), you’ve saved those two industries: monkey see, monkey do. Through crappy merchandise and insidious omnipresent media, you’ve successfully manipulated an entire generation to venerate the garish mediocrity of mainstream music: I salute you, Destiny Hope/Miley Cyrus.

3) Speaking of crappiness and mainstream music, let’s associate the words for the next question: why must all your music be so spectacularly banal and formulaic? It’s one thing to have lyrics easily comprehended by the younger generations and universally appealing, but a complete other to have lyrics that are just-to put it simply-pointless. Case in point: nobody’s perfect/i’ve got to work it/again and again/ till i get it right. Come on, that’s just bad observational humor. And please don’t get me started on your hairflips that would make a Kurt Cobain on ecstasy jealous, your static-robotic choreography and your spectacularly lame rhymes: sometimes i’m in a jam/I’ve got to make a plan/it might be crazy/I do it anyway. My brother’s proven to be more eloquent and well-spoken, and he’s almost half your age.

Then again I shouldn’t be pointing fingers, at least not at you: I should turn to your brilliant lyricist, your father, for his preconceptions of today’s kids that continually gets on my nerves every time Radio Disney is turned on. All I can really say is, I’m insulted: however jaded, oversexed and dumbly thrill-seeking our generation might be, we’re not all completely stupid (did that sentence just contradict itself? BLEH).

4) I honestly don’t think I need a clever formulation for this next question; punctuation and capital letters will suffice. To quote 90% of the sane adolescent population: HANNAH MONTANA?! WTF?! Has the stupidity of having an alias, that isn’t actually an alias at all because no one lives under a rock and you frequently shove your SOOPERSTARR DOUBLE LIFE ZOMG media in to the populus’ face, ever crossed your mind? Have you ever thought it was entirely pointless to sweat into an overused, massively heavy with hair product, bleached-blond wig for half your life? You recently said in an interview that through Hannah Montana, you explore a different façade of your music: pardon my crudeness, but how the hell does that work? Aside from that horrid garish excuse for a sitcom, do you live vicariously through your “alias”? NO. Do you explore two very different styles of music, say maybe pop and ska (though I discourage you virulently from doing so, you’ve already killed one genre)? NO. Honestly Destiny Hope/ Miley,  I make no distinction between Miley Cyrus and Hannah Montana, save maybe more rhinestones and some bleached hair in between.

5) Final question: why is it necessary to treble your voice for EVERY song? Experimenting with one’s vocal range is a beautiful thing: Imogen Heap can go from a monumental belt to a hissy whisper in twenty seconds, and though an acquired taste, it’s a beautiful thing to hear. You, on the other hand, do something quite bizarre: you go from a husky, murmuring croak to a nasal lengthening of a note, then to a poorly executed falsetto, and then back to that good ol’ croak. Oh, and let’s not forget all the “sha”‘s in between. Seriously Miley/Destiny Hope, for someone with so much alleged talent, why can’t you make up your mind on your vocal range? Even with computer synthesizers making every aspect of your voice artificial, it still comes out a confused mess, as do most of the outfits you wear, your celebrity profile and your love life (zomygawd yesh, I went there).

To conclude this rather scathing letter, a word of advice: go have a sit-down in your little Nashville and sort your voice, your outfits and your celebrity profile out. Straighten things out. And make yourself comfortable while you’re at it, possibly never come into the spotlight again. Merely a suggestion, I’m not pointing fingers here: after all, wasn’t it you who said that nobody’s perfect?

Insincerely,

~Ady

Summer’s here, the time is right for….making a playlist?

•June 8, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Like for every other teenager, summer vacation, the “big” one, or, for the luckier among us, time-for-tennis-camp-then-the-beach (n’est-ce pas, kmi?), is highly anticipated and very much celebrated when it rears its glorious head. It means relaxation, unquantifiable amounts of fruit smoothies, short short shorts and a whole lot of time. For me,  it certainly means using that time wandering aimlessly around the city, and where there is a a pointless promenade, there is a playlist. Or at least, there should be.

You see, every summer, I’m faced with the same challenge: making the perfect summer playlist. Finding songs that flow nicely into each other, invigorating me those arid July days and gently caressing me through those hot August nights. But every year, I have the same problem: I become so obsessed with one sub-genre of a sub-genre of a sub-genre of music (i.e. pop-techno-ska from the 80s with cheesy lyrics in ’06) , that I get tired of the songs by mid July. And that leaves me wandering my 1,000+ songs, when I could be wasting that time on something far more trivially interesting.

But this year, a new year, a new summer, will be different: I vow to come up with the ULTIMATE SUMMER PLAYLIST that is pure in its awesomeness, flows nicely, and does not accentuate any one sub-genre. But for that, I need the help of you, the reader: share your musical tastes with me. Give me the song that you listen to July, that you’re completely in love, that says SUMMER for you. Nobody’s judging, unless it’s this. Then, you’re on your own.

Here’s the link to The Summer Playlist

Please leave comments, tell me what you like and dislike, and above all give me recommendations so I can expand the playlist!

~Ady

~THE PLAYLIST (SO FAR)~

•June 8, 2009 • 2 Comments

Click on the song title to have a listen and be sure to leave comments!

Song for the sudden urge to dance like one was possessed (or as though one is having one hell of an epileptic fit)  and maybe even sing some nonsensical lyrics:

Boom Boom Boom (Let’s Go Back To My Room) by Paul Lekakis (I just had to)

Sex Machine (Club Mix) by N-Gels (I also think the association with Tom Felton is all too perfect ^^)

I Know You Want Me (Calle Ocho) by Pitbull

Rich Girls by The Virgins

Can You Hear Me by Enrique Iglesias

Jai Ho by A.R. Rahman (this link gives the original Hindi version, as well as an access to the English version. I think the English version is good, but personally I prefer the original by a lot, mostly because I think that the English version is an incredibly pointless “remix”, if you can call it that. I also happen to dislike PCD, but that’s just me 😀).

Party All The Time by Eddie Murphy

Despre Tine by O-Zone (I happen to think this is the bounciest and kinkiest dance video ever made. In fact, so inspired was I, that I made my own pointless half-assed medley video to it, which, if you care to, you can watch here).

DVNO by Justice

Scatman (Radio Edit) by Scatman John

Lean On Me by Club Nouveau (this is an incredibly happy and peppy cover of Bill Withers’ 1972 hit. This is the 5-minute remix made for the Greatest Hits album. Personally, I prefer the original 3-minute 1987 one, but I couldn’t find that one)

Forever Young (Dance Remix) by D.J. Sammy (I normally dislike remixes of timelessly cheesy classics, especially ones that give the voice what I like to call the “hamster” effect, but this remix is highly addictive).

Songs for walks through the park, the city, etc:

O Valencia! by The Decemberists

The Underdog by Spoon

Keep The Car Running by Arcade Fire

I Will Dare by The Replacements (forgive the crappy quality, it was the best version I could find).

The Blues Are Still Blue by Belle & Sebastian

This Charming Man (London Version) by The Smiths

I Found A Way by Drake Bell (Here really for nostalgia’s sake: been growing up on him since 1998. Insanely catchy and pointless song too. :D)

I Love to Boogie by T.Rex (the movie Billy Elliot also happens to be one of my favorites, I definitely recommend it).

Baba O’Riley by The Who

Mr. Blue Sky by Electric Light Orchestra

Wrapped Up In Books by Belle & Sebastian

Time For Heroes by The Libertines

Turn On Me by The Shins

L’Effet Papillon by Bénabar [his eyes will pierce your soul]

Another Travelin’ Song by Bright Eyes

Funny Little Frog by Belle & Sebastian

Two Young Lovers by Dire Straits

Songs for an upbeat mellow mood:

Island In The Sun by Weezer

Piazza, New York Catcher by Belle & Sebastian (tragically, I couldn’t find the original, but I find this to be a pretty brilliant cover. Nonetheless, I must say that the original has no comparison).

A Night Like This by The Cure (this is a rather lethargic live version: the recorded one is a bit peppier and more fast-pace. Still, they are spectacular live.)

Time To Pretend by MGMT

Arctic Outcry Wind by Josiah Leming

I Don’t Like Mondays by The Boomtown Rats

Stop Me If You Think That You\’ve Heard This One Before by The Smiths

Mambo Sun by T.Rex

Karma Police by Radiohead

Imagine by John Lennon

Hey by Pixies

Rhthm & Soul by Spoon

How To Save A Life by The Fray (Normally, I dislike fanvids and find them pointless, and normally, I don’t particularly like The Fray. However, the song is absolutely perfect for the movie Dead Poets Society, a movie I definitely recommend, and the video is absolutely marvelous).

Such Great Heights by The Postal Service

Bruises by Chairlift (the vid really illuminates the fact that it’s about something other than attempting handstands and failing miserably *wink wink* XD)

Fake Plastic Trees by Radiohead

The Bleeding Heart Show by The New Pornographers

If You Find Yourself Caught In Love by Belle & Sebastian

Songs to jump around and singly loudly to:

Kids by MGMT (this also happens to be one of my favorite unofficial music videos, so take some time to watch it: it’s incredibly well done)

Bang A Gong (Get It On) by T. Rex

Head On by The Jesus and Mary Chain

PDA by Interpol

Hong Kong Garden by Siouxsie and the Banshees

Matador by Mickey 3D

Dashboard by Modest Mouse

Neighborhood #3 (Power Out) by Arcade Fire

Two-Way Romeo by The Bang Bang (this song is off the soundtrack of arguably the weirdest and most grotesque film ever made, Brothers of the Head: it is an extremely good and incredibly fascinating movie that I absolutely recommend, with incredibly talented and gorgeous twins as the main characters to top it all off, but is not, I must warn, for the weak-hearted).

Songs for taking it slow:

Lost Cause by Beck

First Day Of My Life by Bright Eyes

Lord Anthony by Belle & Sebastian

There Is A Light And It Never Goes Out by The Smiths

Stars Of Track & Field by Belle & Sebastian (sadly, I couldn’t find a good live version, which is always better than the recorded version. I recommend the live version of this song, and the album it’s from, If You’re Feeling Sinister).

Poison Oak by Bright Eyes

If You’re Feeling Sinister by Belle & Sebastian

Landlocked Blues by Bright Eyes

New Slang by The Shins

Hallelujah by Jeff Buckley

~Ady

Slanted eyes meet a new sunrise

•April 25, 2009 • 1 Comment

Hong Kong Garden – Siouxsie and The Banshees

Such a bright and refreshing song.

Honestly, how many songs mix chords of, I guess, ancient chinese melodies with a bashing electric guitar ? It’s genius ! – only better.

But the title ? Didn’t you instantly think of a restaurant of some sort ? Exactly. Says Siouxsie in a 2001 Punk Top Ten interview :

“I’ll never forget, there was a Chinese restaurant in Chislehurst called ‘The Hong Kong Garden’. Me and my friend were really upset that we used to go there and like, occasionally when the skinheads would turn up it would really turn really ugly. These gits were just go in en masse and just terrorise these Chinese people who were working there. We’d try and say ‘Leave them alone’, you know. It was a kind of tribute.”

Seriously, I can’t put in words what I think of this song. It just makes me amazingly happy when I listen to it, so I thought I’d share.

Oh, and by the way, the song was so great it was featured in the movie Marie-Antoinette. Only difference is the intro was changed a little and replayed with string instruments. You can listen to it here, it’s still super-duper.

Very quick article I apologize for,

– Kmi

Siouxsie & The Banshees

Siouxsie & The Banshees

Psychedelic: a look at Pink Floyd

•April 24, 2009 • Leave a Comment
Pink Floyd

Pink Floyd

There is a rumor, a sort of urban myth if you will, that has been swooping the Internet, popping in and out of corners, since 1994: it is called “The Dark Side of Oz”. The theory is that if you were to start playing Pink Floyd’s 1973 album “The Dark Side of the Moon” precisely at the third roar of the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer lion in the 1939 film “The Wizard of Oz”, you will observe many synchronicities between the film and the movie (like when Dorothy starts to jog on the yellow brick road, the band is singing “no one told you where to run”).  Many, Floyd included, consider this entirely coincidental; others think it’s completely absurd and untrue; still more (and I’m partial to this one) think it requires some seriously bored friends, a state of strong alcoholic stupor and a dingy basement for it to work: it remains an arguable phenomenon that has yet to be resolved to this day.

I am giving this example to give you an idea of how wide-spread Pink Floyd’s influence has become over the course of the 40-something years they have shared their phenomenal music and ideology with the world. From the most trivial Internet myth to the most  psychedelic anti-war film (warning: the trailer is violent and graphic in imagery. Creepers are guaranteed), Floyd is without question the space rock band.

The real question is, where do I begin? I want to avoid rattling off every favorite song I’ve ever had, avoid raving like a pretentious fart about the subversive phenomenon that was and is their 1979 album “The Wall”, avoid ranting about how the subsequent albums  didn’t even begin to live up to that magnificent rock opera,etc. I refuse to play the Floydhead this one time, because I know that Pink Floyd is a band that not everyone likes, that not everyone has even heard. What would honestly be the point of preaching my rattlings, though perfectly valid, to the rest of the world? No, I’ll take the high road, and instead try to begin to explain their sound.

It is first off, without question, amazing: Pink Floyd takes the pure rawness of Roger Water’s voice combined with impressive bass, quality computerized sounds, beautiful string swells and incredible guitar riffs and cranks out every sound imaginable: from the simple, poignant Vera to the complex, emotion-ridden Comfortably Numb ,their music is diverse, intense and always interesting.

Their lyrics have sometimes, though it may sound very hackneyed, genuinely touched my soul: the sheer power of Waters’ scratchy voice and the vivid imagery in the lyrics in some songs have simply taken my breath away. To this day, I will cite Nobody Home as one of my favorite songs of all time: the string swells and tragic lyrics are some of the most beautiful out there.

Damn, I really have ended up playing the Floydhead, haven’t I? No matter, I guess: it’s what this blog is here for. For everyone out there that hasn’t heard their sound, I suggest you give them a try: there really is a song for everyone. I would recommend “The Wall”, for it’s brilliantly executed anti-war message, but also because the songs are so damn good. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to click my heels three times and go rent a certain movie.

~Ady