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Thursday, August 23, 2007

Maria Bamford

If you have never heard of comedian Maria Bamford, please watch this video. It'll make you smile uncontrollably. Clinical depression has never been funnier. She is a brilliant comedian who uses her own insanity to make use realize that we are all crazy.

This video explores what it means to tell comedy and to be yourself. I can soooooo relate. You'll get what I mean when you see it. =)

Her myspace
The Maria Bamford Show!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Rilo Kiley: Under The Blacklight (2007)

I was introduced to Rilo Kiley by my sister on the way back from Vegas a few years ago and I immediately fell in love with them, which is why I am in quite a state at the moment and no more than right now am I so compelled to write a review for Rilo Kiley’s Under The Blacklight. Most reviews have dammed it to hell and others have said it is fun. Saying it’s a fun record is a meek way of saying you like it but are too ashamed to admit it. Under The Blacklight is a damn fine record. Not the best in the Rilo Kiley catalogue, but none of their records have been perfect. Jenny, Blake, & crew have never been good at releasing great records; what they do release is great songs and this album is chock full of them. I’m obsessed with “Silver Lining” at the moment. It starts out with a neat intricate guitar line, rockin’ drum beat, handclaps, and Jenny Lewis at her most soulful. Every time I walk to class I want to belt the chorus out and I get chills when she sings, “I never felt so wicked/ as when I willed our love to die.” It morphs into a gospel number by the end and Jenny Lewis preaches a message of being happy with oneself, “I'm your silver lining/ hooray hooray/ but now I'm gold!” Amen sister. There has been a lot of conversation on the nature of “The Moneymaker” and I’ll only say this: lots of people were pissed off at “Like A Rolling Stone” but they still sang along anyway. “Breakin’ Up” is another favorite of mine that uses possibly one of the most tender keyboard riffs in years before morphing into a 70s disco number that brings up images of roller-skating rinks. It’s totally groovy. The song’s genius is its ability to address the lyrical content in a thoughtful way while at the same time pointing out its absurdity. No more is this sentiment echoed than in the first line, “it's not as if New York City/ burnt down to the ground.” While The Elected’s 2006 release Sun, Sun, Sun is one of my favorite albums of all time I was never a big fan of Blake’s songs on any Rilo Kiley release (the exception being “Ripchord” on More Adventurous). Yet, “Dreamworld” is as infectious as the title suggests and the driving bass, thumping drums, and whispery vocals from Blake culminate into a hallucinatory journey contained in a 4:45 song. “Give A Little Love” is reminiscent of 80s ballads and its Nintendo-esque synth line fits it well. It’s got a great little beat and its insistent chorus is something to be marveled at. I bet you all it’ll be sampled in a rap song by the end of the year (Kanye West I’m looking at you). It is a nice poignant way to close the album and not as grandiose as “Spectacular Views” or as prophetic as “It Just is.” And this can be said about the entire album. It has an intricate simplicity and subtlety in the face of the all shenanigans being raised about it being overproduced and lyrically dreadful. Give me a fucking break; listen to every Rilo Kiley album, the production quality is about the same on all of them. This album is so shocking to some because of the 180 degree change in musical and lyrical style. But really, the attitude is still the same since Jenny was belting out “Plan Crash in C” off of Take Offs & Landings. From such sweeping narratives off of The Executions of All Things and More Adventurous this new album is so minimalist it probably hurts at first. Imagine trying to condense a Paul Thomas Anderson film into the structure of Jim Jarmusch. With that said, I have a feeling that Jenny and Blake wanted to focus more on the feeling of things rather than tell concrete stories. This is can even be seen in the difference of the album booklet between Under The Blacklight and More Adventurous. The former contains a few simple mood shots showing the “seedier” side of LA and provides another piece of what the album is about. The latter contains dozens of shots of the bands, providing a story to see who the band is, and what kinds of the stories they are going to tell. Now I guess every argument about the band has come down to this, which approach is better? Most due to their “closeness” with Rilo Kiley’s previous material have rejected this new album completely (Pitchfork, as predictable as always). It makes me sad, but again to use a Dylan comparison, many people didn’t understand when he went electric, or country, or even Christian, but in time people began to see the bigger picture. In time we will see where Under The Blacklight fits, but for now I’m going to dance and sing along quite happily.

Rilo Kiley-"Breakin' Up"

Rilo Kiley main site
Their Myspace

Other Reviews:
My Little Ghost Friend
Retro Lowfi
Rolling Stone
Uncut review and interview with Jenny Lewis

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

I'm Not There Trailer hits Teh Interwebz

IGN is the first site to release the trailer for the Todd Haynes flick based on Bob Dylan's life called I'm Not There. The cool thing about this "biopic" is that six different actors (Marcus Carl Franklin, Ben Whishaw, Heath Ledger, Christian Bale, Richard Gere, and Cate Blanchett) will be playing Bob Dylan at different stages of his life. When I first heard the premise I was immediately excited because the recent slew of biopics all followed the same formula: Musician experiences traumatic moment as a child, meets a girl, becomes famous, gets the girl, does drugs, potentially loses girl, and then gets over drug due to the love of the girl. I'm Not There seems like a much more compelling approach. However, I haven't seen a Todd Haynes film yet so I do not know what to expect. All I know is that this trailer makes me giddy as a hardcore Dylan fan. Enjoy!

I'm Not There Downloadable at IGN

IMDB page

Thursday, August 16, 2007

The Lonesome Architects: The Ocean at Night (2007)

The Lonesome Architects are a band (Josh and Martin) originating from LA who play dare I say, “Folktronica”? Is it possibly the greatest antithesis to rap/rock? Genre-bending aside, their latest EP The Ocean at Night is a surprising album given their more acoustic background. However there were inklings of the sound on their last record 15 songs of loss, love and longing. This mixing of folk and electronic music is simply stunning and each form compliments each other greatly. The warm intimacy of acoustic guitars entwined with the cold discipline of electronic beats really recreates the surreal landscape we all live in. So what is this EP all about? Well relationships are one big answer and our relationships to those relationships too. It’s very post-modern; the very best kind. I think I really like The Lonesome Architects because of the pervading sense of individualism that comes from these two guys. It isn’t a selfish or self-absorbed type of individualism, it is us the individual who looks and feels and perceives. I could go on and on about this type of stuff (I’m taking culture and film theory at the moment), but I think what will really win you over is their craft at coming up with very memorable melodies and interesting song structures. “Julie Vignon” is an instant classic. It has a very biting edge to it; a synthesized beat intermixed with some screeching guitar, handclaps and a killer hook, “And now I’m living alone/ just like Julie Vignon/you can catch me by/ the swimming pool anytime.” I’d be afraid to be this girl. Josh and Martin mentioned at the Muddy Waters show yesterday (Read my review here) that while making this record they decided to make it a dance record, or an attempt at one. Now I wouldn’t necessarily call this a dance record, but if some DJ were to remix it I’m sure it would be tearing up the clubs. The song, “Was It You?” Is the most obvious of their intentions. It is the kind of dance song all young un-dance oriented guys would make who wished they had moves (like me): earnest, serious, and a bit cute (in a good way!). The poetry is something else when Josh sings, “And in to this field of schemes/ that once was filled with dreams/ but dreams do rot/ and fruit gets soft/it’s true or is it not?” Attempt to get The Ocean at Night any way you can right now. It is necessary for anyone who’s ever thought about our place in this world and with everyone else.

The Lonesome Architects-“Was It You?”

Their Myspace with "Julie Vignon"!
On Virb!

Fox Paws: Macondo EP(2007)

I recently got a hold of Fox Paws new EP Macondo. If you haven’t heard of these guys they are band from Chicago who sound like so many things at once. This isn’t a detractor; it’s a plus because their music is so much fun! It is as if you took Paul Baribeau, teamAWESOME!, and ska music with a dash of politics and tossed it into a one giant music whirlpool; this would be Fox Paws. They have a messiness about them is charming and infectious. Standout tracks include the opener “Baribeau” which is an homage to our big hearted bearded friend from Michigan. I like the song because it doesn’t try to copy a Paul Baribeau song, rather, it captures the spirit of his songs whilst being true to Fox Paws own hodgepodge style. All you need to know about “Arcadio” is that they do the trumpets with their voices and not since “Lady Madonna” has doing that been as much fun. “Rejoice!” is a great song that I can’t even describe, but does that weird radio voice effect that really fits with its anti-war themes. Everyone definitely needs to check these guys out, look for them and get caught up. You might dance without realizing.

Fox Paws-"Arcadio"

Fox Paws' Myspace

The Mutineers, The Lonesome Architects, and Watercolor Paintings at Muddy Waters

I always enjoy the shows at Muddy Waters down on Haley Street, but yesterday was special. I saw The Lonesome Architects in February and I was blown away. Finally after much delay they came back to Santa Barbara. Due to some pulled wisdom teeth, Thousand Oaks’ own Hell-Kite could not make it to the show so several random audience members (including me) played a song or two to warm things up for the main bands.

The Mutineers played first and brought everyone into their enjoyable form of folk-rock. They played a song every young twenty something who’s looking for a job and likes to get wasted on coffee can relate too. She definitely could relate. The end of the set concluded with a wonderful ode to country music and a great tribute to death metal (On two acoustic guitars and a tambourine mind you).

Next up was The Lonesome Architects. This time around they had an expanded set with the addition of a keyboard. Comprised of Josh and Martin, they trade vocals, guitars, and all the other random instruments they use (melodica, harmonica, and keyboard). The opened with “Echolocation,” one of my personal favorites and played a bunch of songs off their new EP (My review is here). They put new live spins on “Julie Vignon” and a really old song that I heard back in February, “Anna’s Hands.” Overall their set was as great if not better than the first time I saw them (I also helped them move a table. How often can you say you’ve done that with Bright Eyes?). More time on the road has made them better musicians and the new keyboard works so well with the songs. This was the last night of their tour for now, but if they come around to your area do not miss them.

Next up was the always enchanting Watercolor Paintings comprised of Rebecca Redman and her older brother (king of all beards) Josh Hoshwa Redman. I have seen them play about two dozen times and in various incarnations (the drum phase, the Rian James phase, etc.), but I really dig what they are doing at this moment. The set nowadays always involves her harp, a baritone ukulele, a soprano ukulele, and a classical guitar. She played such classics as “Happy Ships,” “Gold,” “Hello Out There,” “Smile,” and “Tender Loving Care”. She also played a song called “Sailboat” that she has yet to make a releasable recording of (It’s really sweet). Watercolor Paintings is touring soon and if you want to see the sweetest vegan punks play, you should definitely check them out. I’ll post the tentative dates and locations soon.

Muddy Waters is a great little coffee shop that is welcoming to all kinds of wonderful local and touring bands. Last night was another fun and enlightening time for “little music made by people with big hearts.”

The Mutineers-"Coffee Mug"
The Lonesome Architects-"Echolocation"
Watercolor Paintings-"Happy Ships"

Muddy Waters
The Mutineers' Myspace
The Lonesome Architects' Myspace
Watercolor Paintings' Myspace

Thursday, August 9, 2007

MIX ONE: Instrumental Music

It is time to do my first mix so I thought long and hard about what I should do first. I don’t know if it’s been done, but even if it has I put together a ten song mix of amazing instrumentals. I think songs can be powerful, emotional, intelligent and thought provoking without having to say a single word. The music can carry its own weight and on these ten tracks, the music really gets into some great places.

Iamb comes from the mind of Ross Major and this is the first track off of I'll Stay Waiting. It’s quite haunting opener that starts off like a fire alarm before blending with a church-like grandeur that is the organ. A striking mandolin part rolls in at a certain point and it all leaves me feeling so small, yet infinite.
Bright Eyes-“The Invisible Gardener”
This cut is the first track off of Conor’s first real record as Bright Eyes, A Collection Of Songs Written & Recorded 1995-1997. It starts out with some messing about on a synth and a false start before jumping into a sweet little song with a sweet little melody that reminds me of being a kid.
Jonah the Thief-“Icelandic Noah”
I do not know who this guy is or what he is doing anymore. I discovered him about a year ago (He’s from the UK I know that), but his Myspace and all traces of him are gone. Do you all know that technique they use videos/films where the time is sped up and they show all the traffic and the sunsets/sunrises at ridiculous speeds? I always found that to be beautiful and this song feels like that.
Mike XVX-“Instrumental Music”
A wonderful friend of mine, I got a hold of this song from one of his demos on his birthday. He’s a thrash-folkie, but this track trades in the thrash for some wonderful mandolin work that’s pretty punk rock. It’s Simple, but wonderfully effective.
Led Zeppelin-“Bron-Yr-Aur”
What’s to say about Led Zeppelin? This little instrumental track is wedged in the middle of their 1975 massive album Physical Graffiti. It feels like the first night after a long journey. Calm reflection with a bit of dreams.
Watercolor Paintings-“Three Over Four”
Cutest little punk rocker if I ever knew one. This is one of the first tracks of hers that I heard (and eventually covered myself). Santa Barbara’s very own Rebecca Redman manages to bring back the feelings of 50s pop songs in a very efficient and wonderful forty-three seconds.
The Pillows-“Stalker Goes To Babylon”
Japan fuzz rockers most known for their work in the greatest anime ever, FLCL, really created a whole new level of pre-made music integration into a show (Many scenes were written with the music in mind). This track get’s used to the fullest effect in the show’s second episode and freaks me out sometimes. It’s pretty awesome.
SXEZSKOZ-“Balloon Ride (Ghostwalking)”
This was composed by the great Alfredo Barazza under the electronica/techno moniker SXEZSKOZ for a 2007 UCSB film called The Titan Sting. I wish this song would just loop over and over again everyday. It’s happy and melancholy and bittersweet. When I listen to this song I feel like my life flashes before my eyes.
RJD2-“Smoke & Mirrors”
Some may feel like I’m cheating by putting this track with a sample by hip hop/rock/electronica artist RJD2 (It samples Marion Black’s “Who Knows”). However, a great man once told me that the sampled voice is another instrument in a DJ’s repertoire. Plus its just an amazing and cool song.
Death in Vegas-“Girls”
To wrap it up I decided to put one of my favorite songs from the 2003 Sofia Coppola masterpiece that is Lost in Translation. My favorite (or second favorite) film of time, this song by electronica artists Death in Vegas uses lush female “ooos” and “ahhs”, guitars, synths and drums to create a dream-like landscape. It starts out slowly, but revs up in intensity reminding you of loneliness and beauty and industrial skylines that can still stir some feelings inside you.

So that’s it, Mix ONE is done! I hope everyone enjoys some or all these songs and please send me some feedback or advice on any future mixes or anything in general.

Iamb Myspace
Bright Eyes Myspace
Mike XVX Myspace
Led Zeppelin.com
Watercolor Paintings Myspace
The Pillows Myspace
RJD2 Myspace
Death in Vegas Myspace

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Great Kevin Smith moment at Comic-Con 2007

A friend pointed this out to me and I feel like I should share it because it was one of the greatest moments at Comic-Con this year. I had a lot of trouble that weekend which you can get an idea by reading this Here: Evan at Cacrew. Due to the trouble the only panel my friends and I were able to see on Friday was Kevin Smith. I have mixed feelings about him as a filmmaker. I love Dogma, Clerks and Mall Rats, and scenes from his other films, but many dramatic moments fall flat in all of them (the exception is Clerks 2). However as the king of all nerds, I think Kevin Smith is one of the smartest wittiest men in Hollywood. The panel on Friday consisted of him getting asked questions from dozens of nerds about various nerdy things and a small promotion for a pilot he directed for the CW (It’s called Reaper and it was funny, but I still won’t watch the CW). This clip here is one of the highlights where a guy (and we know these kind of guys who try to act like a pompous dick during panels) asks if Kevin Smith was going to do anything original and stop rehashing his old characters. And This is why I like Kevin Smith; he was able to answer the question honestly, but he injected his own form of fiery wit into it. It really shows you that to survive in the "biz" you need to be quick as hell. And who doesn’t love a good “Mom” joke either. Enjoy!

Kevin Smith's myspace
Link to the actual You Tube page

Sunday, August 5, 2007

The Short Term Melody: Tomorrow Was Yesterday (2007)

I went home from school about a month back to visit my father. We ended seeing both Eagle Vs. Shark and Transformers, quite a double bill. He and I always share music and movies whenever we are together and when I was riding with him in the car he told me about a musician named Allen Morris performing under the moniker The Short Term Melody. We listened to his EP Tomorrow Was Yesterday. Sitting hear now listening to it again I am very impressed with it. Allen played all of the instruments (vocals, guitar and percussion) and recorded it at Long Beach City College himself. His guitar work on every song is fantastic, spanning genres of rock, folk and jazz among other things. My favorite song on the EP is “(My Friend Thinks You're A) Gypsy” which perfectly blends all those above genres in one delicious song that never gets old. The guitar solos will make you try and air guitar it. I know I do every time and I play guitar! Other highlights include “7 Trumpets” a lovely folk/country stomp featuring some amazing slide guitar work, and “Highway One” a mournful song with an interesting warble in his voice. It makes you long for anything you’ve ever longed for. I’m very happy I was able to find The Short Term Melody. He is another great example that someone can do anything and do it well if they really want to.

(My Friend Thinks You're A) Gypsy


Regina Spektor-"Real Love"(2007)

I know it’s a month or two late, but I’m going to write a little something on Regina Spektor’s cover on John Lennon’s “Real Love”. As you may or may not know Instant Karma: The Amnesty International Campaign to Save Darfur was released on June 12th this year containing a host of artists covering John Lennon songs to provide awareness for the genocide in Darfur. The artists range from Avril Lavigne doing her take of “Imagine” to U2’s take on “Instant Karma”. Now I cannot say much about the rest of the album, but Regina’s take on “Real Love” is sublime. Starting out with a wall of rising harmonies provided by Regina’s beautifully unique voice we go straight into a simple play of vocals and piano (Stripped down as compared to The Beatles take in 1996). The problem with many covers is that some artists “American-Idol” the song and do not make it their own. Regina’s voice and style really fit the powerful message of this song, making it her own. Before the end the harmonies swell up again and the phrase “real love” is sung with so much conviction it burns into your mind. Now I’m not going to put up an mp3 of the song because all the proceeds go to the campaign for Darfur. If you don’t want to buy the entire album you can just buy her take through itunes. A dollar is worth it and you are doing something good with your money.

InstantKarma.org: Buy it here!
Regina's myspace
Save Darfur

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Isaac Arms: Old Artificer (2007)

Blanketarms was a twosome band from Illinois featuring the lovely couple Isaac Arms and Leila Grey. They sang with such purity it broke your heart and put it back together at the same time. I wish so much every time I listen that I could be in love as much as they are together. However this review isn’t about Blanketarms, it is about Isaac’s solo EP Old Artificer. Released earlier this year, it is by far my favorite of 2007. Containing eight songs, they go by quickly, but it makes it easy to listen to them multiple times; and you will. Scribbled on a note with the album, Isaac tells me that these songs were written while living in his old apartment in East Champaign. This solo record is a snapshot of feelings, memories, musings, and revelations written during a time of uncertainty about the future. Emotion is the keyword here, but it is coupled with a fragility so delicate you are almost afraid to listen for fear of your own emotional stability. In the album’s best song, “Us Vs. Stuff” Isaac recalls the war of living in the “real world” and being so determined to survive because the one he loves will give each other the strength to transcend anything. “And I may never be enough/ but I will swear that I will pull out all my hair/ ‘till its plain to everyone/ you got every gallon of my love.” He sings this with a touch of self-deprecation, but it never gets melodramatic. That can be said for the entire album. This music is so affecting because I know the things Isaac has gone through are real, never embellished. His voice is the sound of hope from experience. I am sad as I write this review because I know only twenty-five copies of this EP were made. So I ask you all to go to his Myspace as well as his record label Pop Monster Collective (And get all the other great lo-fi music!) and beg for him to make more copies. These songs deserve to be heard by everyone; just be careful, you will fall to pieces.

Us Vs. Stuff

Myspace: Hear three other songs!
Pop Monster Collective
PMC site: So many great bands

Friday, August 3, 2007

A Drum and an Open Window: There Will Be Fields For Us

I saw A Drum and an Open Window play at Muddy Waters Cafe about a month ago. I had no idea who they were or what kind of music they played, but I fell in love with them. They are two guys, Yuri and Whisper, from Emerson College in Boston and they play guitar, banjo, mandolin, xylophone, and melodica. After the show I immediately picked up one of their albums, There Will Be Fields For Us. Listening to this over and over again gets more rewarding each time. From seeing shitty shows in “The Mount Eerie Show Song” to writing their moms postcards in “The Mom Song” to summer time nights in “Summer Camp Pop Song” they truly capture the full spectrum of life on the road. Being a musician myself I felt truly inspired by their conviction in just doing what they love, most beautifully captured in their song “Make Things” where they proclaim, “If I want to sing I just grab this guitar and do it do it do it/ if I want to tour I just get in a car (or van) and do it fucking do it”. Any artist will want to rush out and share their art with the world after hearing these guys. The title track features some nifty melodica work and both guys singing conflicting but harmonizing parts near the end, which I am particularly a big fan of when it is done in songs. A Drum and an Open Window is a band that will inspire you to “make things” and get your toes tapping and singing along quite easily. See them live and then get There Will Be Fields For Us as soon as you can.

Make Things

Their website
Oh! Map Records

Cave Babies-Two songs

Although there are only two songs at the moment (On his Myspace) Josh “Hoshwa” Redman’s project Cave Babies has captivated me from the moment I received the friend request. I’m sure others could find some crazy obscure genre to fit this into, but that kind of thing is irrelevant to me. What does matter to me are the songs. First we have “Asparagus Green” a song that plays with the words “fire” and “pretty” to create a surrealist chord organ and trumpet dream that I wish would last forever. Then we have “Slime Green” which reminds me of some muggy Sunday afternoon where lying around just feels like the perfect thing to do, especially with someone you love or want to love.
Each song’s construction and honest delivery just speak of how much love goes into them. These two songs leave me really wanting more, but I wouldn’t want Josh to quickly patch together more songs. They are a labor of love and I wouldn’t have them any other way.


Paul Baribeau: Grand Ledge (2007)

I’ve seen Paul Baribeau play twice now in Santa Barbara. He screams his big heart out about two feet away from me and for those twenty minutes of his set I cannot see anything else. If you haven’t heard of him it is about time you did. Using just his voice and an acoustic guitar his self-titled debut was recorded in one night and was filled with desperate, vulnerable songs about girls, old bands and his home in Michigan. Last year we were able to see the more random and humorous side of Paul Baribeau in his second album 25 (note: It has great keyboard jams like “Star Trippin” and a damn fine cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “Thunder Road”). Now in 2007 we get to listen to his true follow up to his passionate debut. This is where Grand Ledge comes in. Named after a city in Michigan it is a perfectly appropriate title for this album all about memories and musings about his life there. This album is different than his others. There is more confidence in his voice this time around. He knows he has an audience this time and he has stories to tell us. And boy are they stories. There is the instant classic “Ten Things,” a song written due to frustration with people who fail to see perspective in there life. ‘Try to list the endless reasons why it's good to be alive/and then just smile for awhile about them,” Paul breathlessly commands; and we follow. “Hard Work” is a fantastically simple song about distracting yourself from failed love and bad dreams. It recalls all too familiar and painful memories hearing, “let a song on the radio make me cry/ some girl I don’t even know drive me crazy”. This whole album does not mess with the acoustic guitar and voice formula, but in it’s simplicity we can see that Paul has a greater sense of how to capture our imaginations, and our hearts. “Don’t let it be the last time, you come into my life,” Paul asks us in “Last Time” and we cry out that we won’t ever let him go. Then you realize that you are sitting at home listening to this amazing little record, but for a small time you were transported across the Midwest to Grand Ledge.

Hard Work

No Idea Records: Grand Ledge here
Plan-it-x: Order the first album here

The Goals...

This blog is all about the musings by me about music, movies, and anything else of interest. I really look forward to writing reviews for all the music I love, and hopefully new music that I will love soon.

Thursday, August 2, 2007


I smell a new addiction coming.