Thursday, March 20, 2008

Man, I've Gotten Lazy

...But I'll share this with you, dear reader. A friend recommended a customizable internet radio station to me, and so far, so good. Maybe I'm the last to hear about it, but it's called Pandora.

No need to download or install anything, which is definitely nice. It seems to have more options than Launch as well (e.g. you can click "I'm tired of this song - don't play it for a month").

The first artist I typed in was Radiohead... shocking, I know. And then Muse popped up all on its own. It knows me!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

The Supremes Deserve Their Own Post

Listening to The Supremes forces me to dance around my apartment whether I plan to or not. Before I know it, I'm all hip and shoulder action, performing for an audience of no one. The music's good enough to make me forget how Diana Ross turned out kinda batshit crazy. (I can make fun of her all I want, lady's still supposedly worth $150 million.)

For my own edification and yours, I tried looking up the names of the other two Supremes, but there have been about 9 women who have fit that description over the years. So much for that.

This is honestly one of my very favorite bands, so I couldn't post just one song. Titles with punctuation are where it's at!

Come See About Me (1964)

Where Did Our Love Go? (1964)

Stop! In the Name of Love (1965)

Also, "You Keep Me Hangin' On" certainly deserves an honorable mention for such timeless lyrics. During a post-breakup phase last summer, I was impressed that a song from 1966 could capture my sentiments so precisely. Right on, ladies.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Tell Two Friends, Ya'll

An old friend of mine has achieved something remarkable. He is doing what he loves, i.e., making movies. (Insert awe here) Truly, I admire anyone who's actually pursuing his passion in a real way. And for enduring nearly catastrophic levels of stress as a producer, there has been some reward. The film, Medicine for Melancholy, got in to South by Southwest! The screenings are this Sunday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. . . it's all happening. People will be watching it on a large screen, possibly while eating popcorn. Holy shit.

I couldn't possibly summarize the film any better than their press release:
A love story of bikes and one-night stands told through two African-American twenty-somethings dealing with issues of class, identity, and the evolving conundrum of being a minority in rapidly gentrifying San Francisco—a city with the smallest proportional black population of any other major American city.
Intriguing, yes. Good, also yes! And not just supposed-to-like-it good either. I got to sit down with my very own pre-final copy last night, and I thought it was really great. Starting with the realistic take on the "morning after" sequence (not that I would know...), striking cinematography, smart dialogue, refreshing unknown actors playing characters you totally want to follow, right down to the subtle education on a subject I didn't know much about... hell, it was everything an indie movie should be. A lovely mix of intensity and lightheartedness wrapped in a scenic tour of San Francisco.

Wait, this is a music blog, right? Let's talk indie soundtrack. What a wonderful way to get a crash course in at least 10 new (to me) bands. Like the oh-so British pop-rock trio, The Answering Machine. I'm finding myself digging "Lightbulbs" more with each listen. Bloodcat Love just
sounds like L.A., but in a good way. And perhaps my favorite, Au Revoir Simone, who will instantly chill you out with their self-proclaimed "triple keyboard action." For reals, I'm about 17 times calmer since I hit play on "Through the Backyards." Love those sleeeeeepy voices.
Then there's this other up-and-comer, what's his name, Tom Waits? Yes, Mr. Waits kindly permitted use of his song, "Lie to Me." He truly does it all. Musician, actor, source of a mysterious eponymous website(?), and friend of the little man.

Keep checking the website: to find out when the film will be available near you. Then you can go see it and support some folks who are so indie, they make Harmony Korine look like, um, Michael Bay. (Suck it, analogies.) Just go see it.

Look - it's a trailer! (That charming song in the background is "Meet Me By the Water" by Saturday Looks Good to Me.)

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

More Confessions of a Blogger

I'd like to say that I enjoy "Alone" by Heart in an ironic sense, but the fact is I just like it. Step off, Celine.

Monday, February 18, 2008

The National: Music for a Post-Apocalyptic Landscape?

Maybe that's over-stating it a bit. But by chance, my ipod in shuffle mode led me to a discovery this morning. I was on my way to work on Presidents' Day (don't ask), and couldn't help but feel weirded out... almost no cars on the street, few people on the sidewalks, absolutely no one waiting for the elevator in our usually packed lobby at work. I realized that The National is the perfect music for wandering a spookily empty city first thing in the morning.

Moody, mopey, whatever, it's not like they try to hide it. Anyway, they're brilliant with layering instruments and constructing interesting rhythms. I've seen them live twice - once when they opened for Arcade Fire - and these Cincinatti boys know how to put on a mesmerizing show. You don't need to know any of the songs in advance to enjoy it; it's that kind of good. They also must have somewhat of a sense of humor, with lyrics like, "They're gonna send us to prison for jerks..."

I'll admit, I know their most recent album,
Boxer, much better than 2005's Alligator. Both are great though. Here are a few of my favorites.

Squalor Victoria
Green Gloves
Fake Empire

I could (and I will!) write another whole post about songs that make a great soundtrack for various activities/moods. It's kind of a hobby. Soon...

Thursday, February 14, 2008

..Together we can take it to the end of the line...

As a general rule, I don't love the abuse of karaoke for let's-bring-everyone-down ballads... but there are definitely exceptions. The most significant case in point - you all know where I'm going with this - is Bonnie Tyler's "Total Eclipse of the Heart." I don't know why we all know the words, but few things can unite a packed bar as surprisingly as the opening sounds of that melancholy piano.

Last Thursday, some friends and I busted out this standard at T.G. Whitney's karaoke night. The audience reacted as hoped, and by the chorus, we didn't even need our microphones anymore.

It's hard to say which is my favorite part:

-The sudden swelling into "...And I need you
now, tonight..."

-The excuse to scream at the top of your lungs, "We're living in a powder keg and GIVING OFF SPARKS!!"

-The lyrics "Every now and then I know there's no one in the universe as magical and wondrous as you," so ballsy in their ridonculousness

-The way they throw in an extra little falsetto "turn around, bright eyes," sung ever so lightly, before the swirling wind sounds bring it to a close...

Oh, who am I kidding, I can't choose a favorite!

My first memories of this song involve the annual D.A.R.E. rally at our middle school. Every year, the 8th graders put on this melodramatic little skit about a teenager who ruins her life with drugs, while Bonnie Tyler inexplicably played in the background. God knows how many years this same skit had been used, considering that the song pre-dated most of us entering preschool.
Taking the message to the literal extreme, students would dress up as different drugs, i.e. a sandwich board with the word "Marijuana" or "LSD" on it, and of course, sunglasses. Each drug would hug the wayward teen, and then all of her new drug friends joined hands and circled around her (could I make this up?). The coolest kids got to play the drugs. God, where would we be without D.A.R.E. rallies?
The point of this tangent: it took about a year for that song to leave our skulls, and then it would be time for the next rally. Turn around.....

Listen at your own risk!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

A Modern Definition for Shame

I wanted to share this conversation. The names have been changed to protect the innocent.

Me: Someone on the kickball message board was trying to organize a bar gathering tomorrow, and my friend was like, I might be able to stop by after this Matchbox 20 concert.
Me: and 3 of us simultaneously reacted- "Matchbox 20???"
Anonymous Friend: hahaha
Me: she was like, defending herself, that she got tricked and didn't know what concert
Me: apparently Alanis is opening?
Me: MSG even. amazing
AF: they're SUCH a guilty pleasure. like i'm not embarrassed by my love of bubblegum pop, but THEY make me all shy to admit
Me: it's like Benedict Arnold = Traitor. Matchbox 20 = I listen to whatever the radio DJ tells me to
Me: i still like "Long Day"
Me: but i would rather die than go to that show
Me: except maybe to see Alanis
AF: i liked Mad Season a lot
AF: the album
AF: Beautiful Girl, Bed of's good!
AF: shh
Me: haha

It's true. I owned Yourself or Someone Like You. I saw them in concert twice. I can't exactly pinpoint when Matchbox 20 fandom became shameful; it just did. I guess I didn't officially give up until the advancement of Rob Thomas' solo career. There's generic VH-1 Top 20 Countdown fodder, and then there's that, a whole new level of forgettable, contrived, pop-rock.
1997 Kim will always think fondly of you. But I feel I must bid you adieu.

Listening to: STP - "Vasoline"