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Saturday, March 29, 2008

Patrick Ripoll: Praise The Lord! (2008)

Many people know Patrick Ripoll through his glitch pop/noise/sample album Disorient, but before the samples he was making his own angry brand of folk. That album, Open All Winter, was admittedly hard to listen to because of the primal scream-esque approach. But, on Praise The Lord! Patrick’s skills as a musician and songwriter have beautifully come together to make it easily one of my favorite albums of 2008.

For the most part Patrick plays these songs straight, and really it works best this way. Half the appeal is its cathartic feel and when you could easily get turned off by some of the screaming and wrenched vocals by any other artist, here it used effectively and we scream right along with him.

For example, a song like “Second Place,” works best because it in many ways is a wonderful anthem for downtrodden souls everywhere. By the end of the song I’m shouting the lines, “Can anyone drive me home/I’ve had too much to drink/I apologize to the groom and bride/For vomiting in the sink,” at the top of my lungs.

The album is not without tender moments. “The Day I First Knew I Would Love You” takes a progression from The White Stripes and transforms it into a wonderfully detailed treatise on an errand trip that has far more implications than one would think. And, It has one the sweetest set of rhymes on the album, “And for each other we got DVDs/Punch-Drunk Love and Love Actually/And they were buy one get one free/We split the savings…50/50.” Pure gold.

One of the most contentious songs on this album is “Generation”. This song talks about leaving The Moldy Peaches buried and declaring to DIY artists, “Put the ukulele down son/You don’t know shit about life.” Now you know a movement/scene is dead when they lose their sense of humor (I’m talking to you punk!), so just laugh along and besides, “Nothing personal, really/I wish you twee sumbitches the best.”

The album climaxes with the song “Rest” that chokes me up every single time. Musing on giving up Patrick sings with resignation, “I'll give up all ambition that I ever had/ Go work at the post office, doesn't really sound too bad.” It’s simply heartbreaking. I hope he doesn’t mean it.

I could probably say something about all nineteen tracks on Praise The Lord!, but its fruitless to try and capture the brutal honesty and sheer drive that Patrick exudes. He sings like he’s running out of time, but I hope that he keeps creating and creating.

Patrick Ripoll-"Generation"

Patrick Ripoll on Myspace
Download Praise The Lord! for free on CLLCT!

Jacob Borshard: "Cocktail" Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (2008)

One word to easily describe the newest release from Jacob Borshard, "Cocktail" Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (Based on that 80s Tom Cruise movie), is precious, but that would be undermining the irreverent humor underlining these two ukulele gems.

"The latest Wee Pop! Records release has only two songs!? What the fuck!?" Yes, Jacob Borshard’s EP only contains two songs, but included in the wee pop packet is a nifty fold out map of the island in Cocktail. So when you’re listening along you have something to look along with. Pretty cool right? I think it’s great when bands/artists use several mediums and Borshard’s art is just as compelling, cute and funny as his music.

So what about those songs. “Nine Cocktails (before we set sail)” is classic ukulele pop with a dash of light drumming and dangerously funny lines like, “A little bit crazy/ is all right.”

Borshard’s cover of “Kokomo” really does a great job at highlighting the ridiculousness, and yet, sweetness of this Beach Boys song. His voice is the real powerhouse in selling this cover (and all of his music). It can only be described as fragile with a tinge of irony that fuels melancholy, but speaks funny to your brain. Funny in the sense that you cannot help but feel the same. And it works perfectly.

Wee Pop! Records continues its reign of terror, but in the form of Jacob Borshard you’ll be sway and bounce, fall in love and laugh your way to a few cocktails; delightful.

Jacob Borshard-“Nine Cocktails (before we set sail)”

Jacob Borshard on Myspace
Borshard's site with free downloads of his first two albums!
Wee Pop! Records (2.0)

Friday, March 28, 2008

One Happy Island: Pulaski Park (2008)

A self-deemed sloppy DIY band from Boston, One Happy Island has released their second EP, Pulaski Park, on Wee Pop! Records. It is a bit mellower than their self-titled EP, but what it lacks in energy it makes up in sunshine, kazoos and laser shows.

I think I know why this EP is mellower. When I listen to these songs I get the impression it is a journal of a day's events at this park drifting into the night. Each song sort of drips into the other and I smell the barbecue smoke and grass stains.

The songs on Pulaski Park are just four parts to the same song to me. “Anita” starts off with Rebecca’s soothing voice singing of a helpless devotion to a girl who’s far away. “Florida, Dear” continues the theme of distances, but bounces along in the albums most energetic track. “Potential” hops along to a country bass bounce and contains, as Marc from RetroLowFi said, “The best kazoo solo ever.” Finally everything reaches a beautiful climax with “Laser Show.” It is a very lyrical song befitting of Brad’s buttery vocals. By the end of the song I can see the sunrise to a new day and feel the morning dew in my nose. There were some ups and some downs but it was living.

One Happy Island joins the pantheon of artists released on Wee Pop! Records and does not disappoint listeners hoping for satisfying pop journey and more.

One Happy Island-"Laser Show"

One Happy Island on Myspace
Wee Pop! Records (2.0)

Keith John Adams: Unclever (2007)

Sadly the ambivalence I felt towards Happy Happy Birthday To Me Records last artist is carried over to Keith John Adams' record Unclever.He plays his own brand of bouncy garage rock that it certainly meant to be catchy.

The first track, “Bed,” really grabbed me with its honest bounce, cool riffs and Adams’ snarling vocals, but it kind of went downhill from there. Songs like, “Lies,” and “Sorry That I Loved You Badly,” are meant to be clever, but they come off as annoying and Adams sounds kind of like a jerk. Now I’m not attacking his character, but this is the feeling I get when listening to these songs.

And the song “Yesterday Morning” is pretty atrocious with lines like, “When I woke up yesterday morning/And my heart felt like a flower press/Cuz of course I couldn’t call you/I couldn’t express.” Ugh.

Adams is really best at rocking out and “Elizabeth Hodgkinson Warzone” is successful at being catchy while maintaining its own sense of cool. “Nothing” mixes things up a bit with some pounding piano and a greater set of harmonies.

I feel bad for being 0 for 2 on albums from Happy Happy Birthday To Me Records, but Keith John Adams just comes off as a bit too arrogant most of the time and doesn’t have the skills to back it up. I could make a joke about the album title, but I'll leave that up to you.

Keith John Adams-"Bed"

Keith John Adams on Myspace
Happy Happy Birthday To Me Records
Unclever review on RetroLowFi

Eux Autres: Cold City (2007)

Happy Happy Birthday To Me Records was kind enough to send me Eux Autres latest record Cold City, but I gotta be honest, it doesn’t do much for me. I listened to it at least a dozen times, but most of it passes through one ear and out the other, and believe me I wanted to love it. Eux Autres are a boy/girl drum-and-guitar duo based out of Portland and they sing songs mostly about military history, sports and/or being wronged. They occasionally sing in French. What’s not to like?

And yet, I am still hesitant. A lot of the songs sound the same-ish and when they sing I can’t really hear any of the words. I don’t want to say that Eux Autres is generic because I don’t think that. “Anne Boleyn” mixes things up and adds some shimmer-y organ that is really quite delightful. It reminds me of Stars if they had more discipline. Now that I think about it, the songs that have the organ are infinitely better. The next song, “The Town That Never Was,” has an ominous bounce that is further accented by the Halloween-esque organ riff throughout. I guess what I’m saying is, when Eux Autres are solely drum-and-guitar they come off as any other indie/garage rock band.

But, I think a lot of people will like this record more than me. A song like “Molly” has a soaring, almost one-word chorus that will definitely get stuck in people’s heads and has enough wit to satisfy any Pitchfork reader.

I really wanted to love Cold City by Eux Autres, and there are some good tracks, but I just couldn’t get passionate enough about it. Maybe you will.

Eux Autres-"Anne Boleyn"

Eux Autres on Myspace
Happy Happy Birthday To Me Records
Cold City review on RetroLowFi

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Flight Of The Conchords Issue Free Song On Myspace

Self-described "New Zealand’s 4th Most Popular Comedy Duo," Flight Of The Conchords first full-length studio album arrives courtesy of Sub Pop on April 22nd (Trying saying that ten times in a row). And today on an ever-so-epic myspace bulletin I learned that they have issued one of the songs from the album on their myspace for free. The song? “Ladies Of The World.”

Now I know some take issue with the fact that a lot of the songs on the forthcoming self-titled album are mostly (well, all) are taken from the show. However I know that they weren’t completely satisfied with the hurried versions that were released.

“Ladies Of The World” doesn’t get a heavy makeover, but the lounge angle is stressed more than any previous version of the song. At first I missed the Sean Paul-esque part that Bret sang, but I dig the lounge style just as equally. The best part about the album version is the beautiful wordless coda that comes after a few seconds of silence.

Here is the tracklist for Flight Of The Conchords:
1. "Foux Da Fa Fa"
2. "Inner City Pressure"
3. "Hiphopopotamus vs. Rhymenoceros"
4. "Think About It"
5. "Ladies of the World"
6. "Mutha'uckas"
7. "The Prince of Parties"
8. "Leggy Blonde"
9. "Robots"
10. "Boom"
11. "A Kiss Is Not a Contract"
12. "The Most Beautiful Girl (in the Room)"
13. "Business Time"
14. "Bowie"
15. "Au Revoir"

Flight Of The Conchords-"Ladies Of The World"

Flight Of The Conchords on Myspace
Sub Pop Records
What The Folk, a great fan site

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Poll closed, new poll and other news

...And the results are in!

It was basically a tie between most of the categories (except news), but indie/mainstream music was the winner.

With Foggy Ruins Of Time's growing popularity you may get your wish, but don't worry there will still be plenty of Lo-fi music to go around. I have a review of Patrick Ripoll's new album in the works as well as two new Wee Pop! releases coming this week so stay tuned and vote in the next poll!

Good 'ol messy Lo-Fi courtesy of Existential Hero

Monday, March 24, 2008

Mp3 of the Week: “You Geranium, You Potato” by Shelby Sifers

Shelby Sifers, if you haven’t heard of her, is amazing writer and singer making minimalist musings and sweet songs. Her voice is often called “childlike” even in the most loving circles, but I would say it reflects the melancholy of an individual who tries to be hopeful in every circumstance.

“You Geranium, You Potato,” is taken off her overlooked first album Yeah And I’m In Love Too and it is particularly striking. Like my favorite Shelby songs, a lone acoustic guitar plays allowing her voice to shine. She has some lovely harmonies courtesy of Joshua Fu, of The Lonesome Architects if I’m not mistaken.

Basically my take on this song is that it’s about caring for someone who is really depressed and I wish people would sing this to me when I’m feeling down. It’s about seeing someone’s sadness and falling in love with the inherent wisdom/beauty that often (I feel) comes with depression. It is seen quite clearly in the last lines, “There’s never a time/when you don’t feel like dyin’/But somehow/I just love you more…”

Shelby Sifers-"You Geranium, You Potato"

Shelby Sifers on myspace, she is on tour right now!
Buy her records at Oh Map! Records

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Poem of the Week: “‘When you see millions of the mouthless dead’” by Charles Hamilton Sorley

‘When you see millions of the mouthless dead’ by Charles Hamilton Sorley

When you see millions of the mouthless dead
Across your dreams in pale battalions go,
Say not soft things as other men have said,
That you'll remember. For you need not so.
Give them not praise. For, deaf, how should they know
It is not curses heaped on each gashed head?
Nor tears. Their blind eyes see not your tears flow.
Nor honour. It is easy to be dead.
Say only this, "They are dead." Then add thereto,
"Yet many a better one has died before."
Then, scanning all the o'ercrowded mass, should you
Perceive one face that you loved heretofore,
It is a spook. None wears the face you knew.
Great death has made all his for evermore.

Charles Hamilton Sorley is not a well-known poet out of World War I, but he was considered very influential to other WWI poets like Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Own. Sorley was one of the first to show what life was really like in the trenches instead of the romanticizing that was going on when the war first started. The chilling thing about this poem is that it was found on his person when he was killed in 1915.

Charles Hamilton Sorley on wikipedia

Coldplay’s fourth album has a title!

Chris Martin broke the news to Rollingstone. Here’s the press release:

“Coldplay’s fourth album, due out on June 17th, will be called Viva la Vida. Singer Chris Martin chose it after seeing the phrase, which means “long live life,” on a painting by Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, who endured polio, a broken spine, and chronic pain for decades. “She went through a lot of shit, of course, and then she started a big painting in her house that said ‘Viva la Vida,’” says Martin. “I just loved the boldness of it.”

Of course, Frida Kahlo will not be the first name that jumps to most peoples’ minds when they hear the phrase. “Everyone thinks it comes from Ricky Martin, which is fine. I have absolute respect,” says the singer, who gave Coldplay its original name, Pectoralz, and named his children Apple and Moses. “I’ve been through this before, naming something or someone and everyone saying that ‘That’s a terrible name’. But then saying, ‘Well, fuck you, that’s what it’s called, and I’ll be proved to be right eventually’. So when Viva la Vida came along, I was kind of annoyed because I’m going to have to try and convince everybody of this, but it just felt right.” Check back later this week for the full report from Coldplay’s studio sessions for Viva la Vida.”

I like the sound of it, something different. I was a big Coldplay fan back in the day and this new album seems like it’ll challenge a lot of people’s notions of what kind of band Coldplay is and what kind of music they make.

Coldplay-"See You Soon"

Original article at Rollingstone
Details on some songs that'll be on Viva la Vida
Coldplay site

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Oh mercy, is that a new Raconteurs album next week?

The carnival thing is so IN right now.

Surprise everyone! The "supergroup" and non-candy-colored Jack White side project The Raconteurs is releasing their second album, Consolers of the Lonely, next week, March 25th everywhere. And by everywhere they mean it. Here is the press release from their site:

"The Raconteurs are happy to announce that in one week's time their second album, entitled Consolers of the Lonely, will be available EVERYWHERE Tuesday, March 25th.

"'Album' meaning: full length vinyl, CD and digital formats; and 'everywhere' meaning: local mom and pop Indie retailers, corporate superstores, supermarkets, iTunes, Amazon, the band's own website and any other location that could get the record up and going this quickly (some places couldn't move this fast, so they will join in as soon as they can).

"It contains 14 new recordings and is being released globally on Third Man Records in conjunction with our marketing/distribution partners, XL Recordings and Warner Brothers Records.

"The album was mastered and completed in the first week of March. It was then taken immediately to a vinyl pressing plant. Then to a CD pressing plant. Then preparations to sell it digitally began. March 25th became the soonest date to have it available in EVERY FORMAT AT ONCE. The band have done no interviews or advertisements for this record before this announcement.

"The purpose: to get the album to the fans as soon as possible and as we promised. We wanted to get this record to fans, the press, radio, etc., all at the EXACT SAME TIME so that no one has an upper hand on anyone else regarding its availability, reception or perception.

"With this release, The Raconteurs are forgoing the usual months of lead time for press and radio set up, as well as forgoing the all important 'first week sales'. We wanted to explore the idea of releasing an album everywhere at once and THEN marketing and promoting it thereafter. The Raconteurs would rather this release not be defined by its first weeks sales, pre-release promotion, or by someone defining it FOR YOU before you get to hear it.

"Another purpose was to also allow people to have their own choice as to exactly which format they would like to hear the album in IMMEDIATELY, rather than having to wait for their favorite format to become available. The band are also not releasing any version of this record that contains bonus tracks. Musically this album will be the same as the band created it no matter what format it is purchased in. (The sound quality of each format however, is a different story. The Raconteurs recommend hearing it on vinyl, but the choice is of course up to the listener).

"The band also prefer that fans buy the album as a whole instead of breaking up the tracks, but until iTunes and other digital services allows bands to release their albums with the option of NOT breaking it up, it will be sold in that fashion on those particular sites. On the band's website however, the album will be sold in its entirety as an mp3 at 320kb bit rate. Also in Japan, fans will be able to download the record via their mobile phones, as that is how a majority of recorded music is consumed there.

"The reason we are announcing this release one week ahead of time is because of retail pre-ordering and stocking, information about this album's imminent release was bound to come to light and could be confusing to fans. Also in the event that the record leaks, we didn't want this method of release to be seen as a REACTION to such a leak. It's not. The actual worst thing about a leak is the usual poor sound quality, akin to watching a movie on a wristwatch instead of in a theater. Which for the album's creators is a bit of a letdown, but again, it is completely up to the listener.

"There will be a video up on the internet for the first single, 'Salute Your Solution', on the 25th as well, provided it gets edited in time. We just filmed it the other day!

"We hope not to confuse anyone with too many options, or deny them the formats that they like best. The Raconteurs feel very strongly that music has worth and should be treated as such. Thank you to all those who respect music in this fashion, and thank you to our label partners for working with us to get this album to fans in as many formats as possible all at once.

"Thank you, and we hope that you enjoy Consolers of the Lonely."

The Raconteurs"

I wasn't too keen on their first album, but to be honest I haven't really given it too many listens, but still I find it to be an exciting time for music. So much experimentation with distribution, it's really unprecedented. Maybe this whole downloading thing was a good thing for the music biz eh?

The Raconteurs site

Monday, March 17, 2008

YouTube Video of the Week: Patrick Ripoll's Big Saturday Night!

Patrick Ripoll is awesome. He creates and creates without any restraint and that’s something I wish I had more courage to do. He’s messy and things aren’t perfect, but when you watch this short film Patrick Ripoll's Big Saturday Night! everything comes together nicely. Plus it is hilarious as shit.

Patrick Ripoll on myspace
More videos from Patrick on YouTube

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Mp3 of the Week: “Two-Headed Boy” by Neutral Milk Hotel

So my Mp3 of the Week segment is very late, almost next week, but I had trouble choosing one, but I did and so I’m going to do it.

I recently started listening (obsessing) about Neutral Milk Hotel, specifically In The Aeroplane Over The Sea. And I think it is one of the greatest albums of all time. Filled with wild, childlike surrealism and sheer physicality and emotion, I feel this album in some ways more than I actually listen to it.

Every song is flawless, but this week I am going to talk about “Two-Headed Boy.” This song makes me weep; there is something so fragile, so fucking beautiful about it. The popular line in the song, “And they'll be placing fingers through the notches in your spine,” is one of the many perfect lines that say twenty different things at once without any pretension.

Just download it already.

Neutral Milk Hotel-“Two-Headed Boy”

Two-headed boy
All floating in glass
The sun it has passed
Now it's blacker than black
I can hear as you tap on your jar
I am listening to hear where you are
I am listening to hear where you are

Two-headed boy
Put on Sunday shoes
And dance round the room to accordion keys
With the needle that sings in your heart
Catching signals that sound in the dark
Catching signals that sound in the dark
We will take off our clothes
And they'll be placing fingers through the notches in your spine
And when all is breaking everything that you could keep inside
Now your eyes ain't moving now
They just lay there in their clouds

Two-headed boy
With pulleys and weights
Creating a radio played just for two
In the parlor with a moon across her face
And through the music he sweetly displays
Silver speakers that sparkle all day
Made for his lover who's floating and choking with her hands across her face
And in the dark we will take off our clothes
And they'll be placing fingers through the notches in your spine
And when all is breaking everything that you could keep inside
Now your eyes ain't moving now
They just lay there in their clouds

Two-headed boy
There is no reason to grieve
The world that you need is wrapped in gold silver sleeves
Left beneath Christmas trees in the snow
And I will take you and leave you alone
Watching spirals of white softly flow
Over your eyelids and all you did
Will wait until the point when you let go

Neutral Milk Hotel-"Two-Headed Boy"

Neutral Milk Hotel site
Pitchfork review of In The Aeroplane Over The Sea

Friday, March 14, 2008

Snapshots: a faulty chromosome, The Terrordactyls, Pocketbooks

a faulty chromosome:

a faulty chromsome is a lo-fi, noise pop/shoegaze band from Burbank, CA and their new album as an ex-anorexic's six sicks exit,... is out now (self-released, like all proper lo-fi acts). The song “them pleasures of the flesh,” sounds like a thunderstorm in a desert and yet is quite tender at the same time. Electric guitars rip the skyline while casio keys underscore the melancholy. The last few minutes are quietly intense and require a headphone listening experience.

a faulty chromosome on myspace
Sun drenched video for "Jackie O"

The Terrordactyls:

The Terrordactyls (best name ever) are Michael Cadiz and Tyrel Stendahl from NYC/DC and their new self-titled album is sure to find plenty of love. Due to the recent popularity of Juno (and Kimya Dawson) the duos song “Devices,” featuring Kimya Dawson couldn’t have come out at a more perfect time. It’s a bit too precious for me with lyrics like, “You and I are meant for each other/ a literary device/but together we’re lovers,” but its got some mad kazoo skills through out and is already finding a mass audience due to the cute video on You Tube.

The Terrordactyls on myspace
Cute stop-motion video for "Devices"


Remember Sunny Intervals? Well that was Andy’s side project; this is the band that he is a part of. Pocketbooks are a self-described, “Pop group from London,” and have new EP out called Waking Up and the lead single is “Don’t Stop.” It’s classic catchy pop even if the end of the chorus weirds me out a bit. No matter, the boy/girl harmonies,springy piano and the hook “Don’t stop/don’t stop/don’t stop me!” keep me coming back for more and more.

Pocketbooks on myspace
For UK kids, order Waking Up on Make Do And Mend Records
US kids, order Waking Up on Valiant Death Records
Buy Waking Up off Indiestore.com!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

21 Love Songs: The Magnetic Fields Tribute (2008)

It may not be fair to review this album since I’m on it, but James Eric has compiled a great collection of artists covering the hilarious and heartbreaking Magnetic Fields.

The covers here run the gamut from faithful to downright bizarre. Check out Tinyfolk’s take on “I Don’t Believe You,” I’m so strangely drawn to it, but every time I’m like “WTF is going here?” It sounds like a mice and robot orgy.

Fairmount Fair turn “Why I Cry” into an upbeat jungle romp ‘n’ stomp sing-along. The same goes for James Eric’s cover of “(Crazy For You) But Not That Crazy,” as he injects about ten billion watts of electricity into the original and lets go with wondrous results.

Now before you think that everyone here is taking a piss out of Stephin Merritt, its all in good fun and I think he might get a real kick out of this if, or when, he hears it.

There are some also really touching covers, my cover of “Plant White Roses,” for example. No, no really. But seriously, A Lime Tree’s homespun, front porch country cover of “You Me And The Moon,” is really sweet and banjolicious.

But my favorite cover on this album is Your Yellow Dress’s cover of “Absolutely Cuckoo.” This has become a full blown twee number, and you’ll totally fall in love with Carrie Muller’s voice. Her voice bounces just on the edge of the melody and keeps the song racing. Alex Poska ain’t no slouch either and the simple yet effective arrangement keeps it on constant repeat for me.

When James first started calling for admissions on this tribute I hadn’t even heard of The Magnetic Fields, but I was totally won over and consider myself one of the believers. I think everyone on this tribute, regardless of fandom, really pulled out the big guns and made a great album even if you haven’t heard of The Magnetic Fields either.

Tinyfolk-"I Don't Believe You"
Your Yellow Dress-"Absolutely Cuckoo"

Download the whole album for FREE on CLLCT!
Buy a hard copy from James Eric
Tinyfolk on myspace
Your Yellow Dress
The Magnetic Fields on myspace

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Poem of the Week: “Sailing to Byzantium” by W.B. Yeats

I’d like to start another weekly column, Poem of the Week. I write so much myself it was really a shame that I haven't read a lot of poetry, but lately I’ve started to discover quite a bit (taking a modern poetry class doesn’t hurt). So every week I’ll put up a new poem and say a few words about. Hope you enjoy!

"Sailing to Byzantium” by W.B. Yeats

That is no country for old men. The young
In one another's arms, birds in the trees
- Those dying generations - at their song,
The salmon-falls, the mackerel-crowded seas,
Fish, flesh, or fowl, commend all summer long
Whatever is begotten, born, and dies.
Caught in that sensual music all neglect
Monuments of unageing intellect.

An aged man is but a paltry thing,
A tattered coat upon a stick, unless
Soul clap its hands and sing, and louder sing
For every tatter in its mortal dress,
Nor is there singing school but studying
Monuments of its own magnificence;
And therefore I have sailed the seas and come
To the holy city of Byzantium.

O sages standing in God's holy fire
As in the gold mosaic of a wall,
Come from the holy fire, perne in a gyre,
And be the singing-masters of my soul.
Consume my heart away; sick with desire
And fastened to a dying animal
It knows not what it is; and gather me
Into the artifice of eternity.

Once out of nature I shall never take
My bodily form from any natural thing,
But such a form as Grecian goldsmiths make
Of hammered gold and gold enamelling
To keep a drowsy Emperor awake;
Or set upon a golden bough to sing
To lords and ladies of Byzantium
Of what is past, or passing, or to come.

I’m guessing you noticed the glaring reference that Cormac McCarthy took for his novel that became this year’s Oscar winner via the Coen Brothers.

This poem was published later in his life (Published in The Tower in 1928) and shows Yeats expressing the desire to transcend humanity and become his art, ever eternal. Well, I’m studying him at school, so he got his wish?

I think most artists in general have this desire, I know I do.

W.B. Yeats on wikipedia

Chimes Of Gaviota Premiere This Wednesday March 12th!

A mockumentary about the coast that will have you rock'n out to the sounds of activism!

…I didn’t invent that tagline. But I’m LOLing anyway.

Chimes Of Gaviota: Or I’ve Got The Real Estate Blues, a mockumentary about coastal development and the zany figures who take up the fight for and against was first birthed in July 2007 when Joe (the Film & Media Studies Advisor/my BFF) introduced me to a grad student, Nicole Starosielski. She was creating a program called GreenScreen where media creation would be fused together with environmentalism to bring awareness to local Santa Barbara issues. Yet, its scope is much larger. By using film and other media to shine a light on issues, real solutions can be reached.

With this in mind I researched and wrote until I came up with the idea of a mockumentary. A mockumentary is a great form because it can be equally critical and sentimental when it’s done well. I also chose the issue about development along the Gaviota coast (one of the most biodiverse places in North America) because I think public vs. private issues are really interesting and so complex, mystical and emotional. It’s completely grey.

So for my first comedy script I decided to make it very difficult, but I knew I couldn’t do it on my own. As writer I also took up the mantle of cinematographer because well…I wanted to grow in that area. My Producer/Art Director is Lisa Shapiro and Goddamn, she is an amazingly talented and intelligent individual. She sees how things work and she knows how to make things happen. She can decipher words on the page and flesh them out into a colorful reality. Evan Koehne knows how to direct. He sees actors as people, not props and knows how to get the best out of them. He also is full of ideas and we constantly came up with great pieces that were never in the script but were just as meaningful. And he doesn’t take himself too seriously; this is a comedy after all and sometimes I needed to be reminded of that. The entire crew, God Bless them all, we made such a great unit and I'm sorry If I don’t name you all, but I am eternally grateful for all of you believing in this issue and this story I wanted to tell, and being just as driven if not more than me. And my actors, holy shit, we had the best cast on the planet, no divas, no selfish models, just humble, honest, passionate folks devoting themselves to getting into character and giving way more than one hundred percent.

All fall quarter we filmed and even after I left for New Zealand they continued to toil and perfect our beautiful piece of art.

Chimes Of Gaviota: or I’ve Got The Real Estate Blues premieres at the Isla Vista Theater in Isla Vista, California this Wednesday March 12th 8:00PM and then in downtown Santa Barbara on Tuesday March 18th at the Faulkner Gallery at 7:00PM.

…But it ain’t over. The worse thing for a film to do is get made and then just lie around. Believe me, this film will go places. It has to, it’s bigger than all of us, but without us, it wouldn’t have been made.

Thank you everyone for allowing my vision to become your vision and your vision to become mine. Like the environment we are symbiotically tied to it. We are art and art is the environment.

Trailer 1!

Trailer 2!

Bob Dylan-"You're Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go"

Event on Facebook for more details
CHAOS, CLOCKS AND WATERMELON MEDIA blog for behind the scenes footage and photos
Learn more at SaveNaples.org
Learn more at GaviotaCoastConservancy.org

Monday, March 10, 2008

Final One Sheet For Indiana Jones 4

So the excitement for Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is palpable and who knows maybe I'll start getting into this franchise this year.

So they premiered the final one-sheet today, thanks to AICN for the heads up.

I tend to be a big fan of these epic posters seen in most blockbuster franchises. I think it would be funny if they did this style for other kinds of films. Can you imagine this for Juno or Lost In Translation?

and just in case you missed it, here is the trailer:

Article at AICN
USA Today article
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull on IMDB

YouTube Video of the Week: “Falcon _ Paaawn~ (Iyaaaaahhh Mix)”

Honestly this is the cutest thing I have ever seen. Fuck kittens and puppies, bunnies or babies, if I had my very own Kirby life would be complete. This video is so cute I want to punch someone in the face.

Guitar Hero version
Kirby on wikipedia

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Chris Zabriskie: O Great Queen Electric, What Do You Have Waiting For Me? (2008)

First of all, is this really Chris, a writer for RetroLowFi? Most know Chris as the writer who tends to make lots of big statements in his hatred for certain films and bands (most notably My Chemical Romance and sadly Death Proof), but he also writes eloquent praises (most notably for the films Psycho II and Danny Boyle’s Sunshine). Either way he is a man in my mind who voices his opinions loud and proud, but on O Great Queen Electric, What Do You Have Waiting For Me? Chris sounds tender, focused and triumphant.

The album blazes its way quite easily with “I Can Be Your Love,” which has one of the coolest hooks to sing along to I have heard in awhile. I catch myself doing it in the shower, on the way to class and even right now as I’m listening to it. The song reminds me of a kind of noise-pop/electronica hybrid as the fuzz is slowly taken over by electronic warble.

O Great Queen Electric... starts out quite raucous and you could say it loses energy as it moves along, but the more I listen the more the latter half also strikes me as being as beautiful if not more moving than the first half. “God’s Will” is played tensely on acoustic guitars with Chris’s hushed vocals echoing melancholic religious apathies, “leave them now/they’re happy where they are/leave them now/they’ll watch you from afar.” And when the lone piano comes in the song (and your heart) hits the breaking point. The album’s weight shifts dramatically.

And throughout the album, Chris’s simple, but perfect orchestration of each song allows not one wasted note. On “If Only She Knew,” a simple acoustic guitar provides the backing to his yearning voice. The song comes to a perfect crescendo with a little gap of silence and then after a few seconds, he double tracks the vocals. This twofold attack perfectly fulfills the kind of reaction we would have in this kind of situation where all we want to do is scream out, “If only she knew/the things that I do.”

I find myself falling harder and harder for this album. It also makes me rethink Mr. Zabriskie too. At first I was turned off by his abrasive style of writing, but with O Great Queen Electric, What Do You Have Waiting For Me? I see a bigger and grander picture of a passionate individual so fueled by his artistic intake that he’s bursting at the seams to let it all out. This album is a disciplined, mature and joyful look into what makes Chris tick and how he reacts to this crazy world. I think if I ever get brave enough to read his negative review of Children of Men I’ll listen to “God’s Will” to understand why.

Chris Zabriskie-“God’s Will”

Chris Zabriskie on myspace
Preorder O Great Queen Electric, What Do You Have Waiting For Me? on his website

Friday, March 7, 2008

Snapshots: The Diggs, Springfactory and Freddie Stevenson

Foggy Ruins Of Time is getting a bit more popular these days, but don’t worry, I won’t be going all Pitchfork on you guys anytime soon. It just means I get a chance to hear more awesome music now, but I don’t have enough time to write in-depth about it all. So what I decided to do was create a segment called Snapshots where I give quick shout outs/opinions on particular artists I come in contact with. Here we go!

The Diggs:

The Diggs are a pop/punk trio based out of Brooklyn. There is no sugary sweetness here. Their sophomore album ctrl-alt-del (awesome title) on Sugar Spun Records is being released on March 11th and I think they have a great melodic melancholy to their sound. It’s very evident on the track, “Careen,” where lead singer Timothy Lannen takes on an almost raspy feminine quality that is quite haunting.

The Diggs-“Careen”

The Diggs on myspace
Order ctrl-alt-del on Sugar Spun Records


Between Rambling Nicholas Heron and Springfactory, I think Sweden is going to be my next travel destination. And Springfactory is Peter and Lina and they make lovely pop music with a nice kick. They have a record out now on Series Two Records and the tracks I have show a lovely versatility. On “No More,” Lina’s harmonies are extraordinary and infectious as the song bounces along. If you want your pop with a little bit more zest look no further than Springfactory.

Springfactory-“No More”

Springfactory on myspace
Order their Self-Titled CD from Series Two Records

Freddie Stevenson:

Freddie Stevenson makes pop/rock type songs, but it’s the growl in his voice and the wit in his tongue that set him apart from others. Perhaps it’s his Scottish heritage. His second album All My Strange Companions is coming out on April 18th on Juicy Musical Creations and it promises to be filled with all kinds of funny, yet tender tunes such as “Easy Now,” which starts with the line, “JK Rowling’s been following me around…” It’s quite a humorous song with a sweet chorus that’ll have you devising your own paranoid adventures against popular authors.

Freddie Stevenson-“Easy Now”

Freddie Stevenson on myspace
Get All My Strange Companions from Musical Juicy Creations

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Best Of 2007: Other Cool Things

So these lists took a lot longer to get out than I expected, but forgive me, as I was moving halfway across the world.

This is the last installment of Foggy Ruins Of Time Best of 2007 lists and its basically any random stuff that I wanted to mention that didn’t fit into any of the three previous categories. I became a lot busier in 2007. I made three albums and played almost a dozen shows, worked on and acted in a few school films, wrote a screenplay and started filming it (more on that soon!) and started this blog. I also started reading again for fun. It was my most productive year yet!

Best Blog of 2007: RetroLowFi

Whether it was arguing/gushing with Chris and Marc over certain contest artists’/films' merits, getting advice from Emily, discovering always great new music (from the bloggers themselves or whatever they fancied), or being given one of the most flattering, but sincerest reviews of my musical career so far I have to say that the blog RetroLowFi definitely was the place for discovering new artists/songs/movies/books in 2007.

Every writer has a unique personality but an unquenchable passion for all things in life. They were one of the biggest inspirations for starting Foggy Ruins Of Time and I am indebted to them. Thank you Marc, Chris, Emily, Nicole and John.


Best New Source Of Inspiration in 2007: The Harmonica

Foto courtesy of Alex Tengco

I’m not going to lie and say I’m not a huge Dylan fan; I consider myself to understand the legend more than anyone (or at least anyone I know), but he was the chief source of interest in the harmonica as an instrument. Step two in my harmonica cultivation was my roommate and one of my best pals, Evan. He is a wonderfully talented harmonica player and seeing him in action is lovely. He is humble, but still able to create cool licks and colorful melodies.

With those two things in my mind I bought a few harmonicas and harmonica brace in around April and I haven’t looked back. The amazing thing about a harmonica is it makes you a better musician period. It has helped me understand what keys are and how vital playing in particular keys are too. It helped my writing of songs by making melodies much more satisfying and easier to create. It made my guitar playing better too and my live shows infinitely more interesting.

Everyone needs to play the harmonica.

The Harmonica on wikipedia
You Tube video of the song "A Winter's Tale Told In Spring" featuring some ace harmonica by me

Best You Tube Video(s) of 2007: Brotherhood 2.0

I am addicted to You Tube. I watch it more than TV now. In 2007 I saw many hilarious videos, but the daily video blog Brotherhood 2.0 was special because not only did it provide humor, but it was just an interesting experience seeing these two adult brothers (activists, writers, etc.) get to share with the world everything that they were concerned about and get recognition and rally people to particular causes.

The two brothers are John and Hank Green and the goal of Brotherhood 2.0 was a year’s worth of textless communication. They communicated by making a vlog every other day. Both John and Hank are very charismatic (for nerds lol), intelligent and funny. They kept it going for an entire year, something anyone can be astonished by. I came kind of late in the game (October), but since then I’ve kept up daily and it’s a part of the day that I really look forward to.

Two of my favorite videos by the vlogbrothers:

John Green


Hank Green

John and Hank's You Tube page

Best Facilitator of My Neuroses in 2007: last.fm

I listen to music always. I say always because I don’t I ever sit around in silence. Whether I’m showering, sleeping, doing homework, I pretty much always have music on in the background. Now I used to be one to bemoan digital music, I have an incredible CD collection and a tiny record collection, but I am past that now. Being semi-neurotic and OCD, the application last.fm was a perfect fit for my love of music and my personality disorders. Now I could see literally who I was listening to and how much. I am obsessed with my charts and boy does last.fm have plenty of charts. What’s even funnier is that I am my second most listened to artist…

My last.fm profile

Best New Record Label: Wee Pop! Records

I’m out of breath from all the praise I can give Thor and Camila of Wee Pop! Records, a tiny lo-fi CD label in the UK. For some of you looking for any Wee Pop! releases in my best albums of 2007 list you probably noticed that none were on there. But, that was because they would have dominated it. Everything Thor and Camila do is filled with so much love, not because it’s a living, but it’s a passion. They pick only the best artists and every release is handcrafted perfection and they will conquer the world, no your heart. I’m a true believer.

Some of the best songs from their catalogue in 2007:

Tinyfolk-“Really, Really Blue: A Tale Of Unrequited (Perhaps) Romance and Lizardry”
Bunnygrunt-“Where Eagles Dare, Pt 2”
Desmond Reed-“First Proud, Then Sad”
Sunny Intervals-“Sunset On Parliament Hill”
The Darlings-“Emily”

Wee Pop! Records
My Wee Pop! reviews of almost all their releases!

Best Personal Achievement of 2007: A Winter’s Tale Told In Spring

I love this fucking album. Everything before this was child’s play. These songs came together so naturally, so effortlessly. The recording process itself was almost nightmare inducing due to several technological scares, but whenever I completed a song I felt so satisfied. There is no filler here, its one of the truest expressions of myself I can possibly imagine. People responded with so much love and passion for these songs that they found nuances and meaning that I never even dreamed of. I know its only the beginning for me musically, but A Winter’s Tale Told In Spring was an early benchmark that will always hold up.

Existential Hero-“Almost Spirited Away”

Existential Hero on myspace
Download the album on CLLCT
Review of the album at RetroLowFi

And there you have it.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Mp3 of the Week-“Southern Comfort “ By Arrah and The Ferns

So I have to rant about this more. I day after I fall in love with Arrah and The Ferns they announce they’re breaking up. Totally tragic for me right? Well it’s more about how wonderfully talented this band is and that it’s sad to see them fall apart in their prime. Their record Evan Is A Vegan is simply stunning, filled with infectious harmonies, compelling instrumentation, and beautifully sweet sentiment.

I choose the song “Southern Comfort” because it’s melancholy, has a great sing-along ending and it’s one of their many songs to put the banjo upfront. Structurally it is reminiscent to the recently popular “Anyone Else But You,” by The Moldy Peaches, but its more emotionally satisfying and less silly.

The members of Arrah and The Ferns are all going on to make more music and I wish them the best of luck.

Arrah And The Ferns-"Southern Comfort"

Arrah and The Ferns on myspace

YouTube Video of the Week: Melbourne, Australia Commercial Featuring “Sprout And The Bean” by Joanna Newsom

So I first saw this commercial before seeing Sweeney Todd in Auckland, but I finally found it on You Tube. In September of 2006, Melbourne commissioned several commercials to be made to advertise the city. The campaign moved from advertising in Australia to New Zealand as well in 2007.

Now first of all I give kudos to Melbourne for using a Joanna Newsom song. I mean my obsession with her is just now starting, but she isn’t the most commercially viable artist. Yet, the song, “Sprout And The Bean,” fits the sentiment of the commercial nicely. It mainly involves a pretty girl rolling around a giant ball of string, but I think it’s a nice quiet commercial that would definitely get me thinking of going to Melbourne. I am on that side of the world, so maybe I will.

Joanna Newsom site
Visit Melbourne

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Candle: miles and miles and miles (2008)

When I first saw Candle play in Santa Barbara last year I was very impressed and moved by their brand of pure folksy blues. They had a raw honesty that really spoke to me. Yet, I must admit when I bought their last album Birds Were Meant To Fly I was disappointed. The production was rather dreary and sucked the life out of most of the songs. Now their second LP on Real Love Records miles and miles and miles is coming out March 22nd and I cannot express how much of an improvement this record is over the last one.

No more is it obvious than on the reworking of the song “Say Goodnight,” from the 1st album. The first version featured no drums, a more highlighted banjo and double tracked vocals from Kevin Coons. Don’t get me wrong the song was the best on that album, but the new version will blow your socks off. Still featuring the banjo, the guitar this time adds a lot more atmosphere; the drums give it a kick, and guest vocalist Laura Mulderrig make the tenderness of the song all more apparent. The addition of female vocalist (and keyboard player) Rachel Spotten to Candle has done wonders to diversifying their sound. On "The Lonesome Wind," for example, Rachel's vocals gives song that extra emphasis that it needs to reinforce Kevin’s fragile lyrics.

My biggest complaint last time around was the production and overall on miles and miles and miles there is a greater variety to the songs. Everything sounds brighter, more assured and songs like “Let Me Love You” soar to great heights. Taking a stepping style of singing during the verses, a beautiful little keyboard melody and a self-probing attitude of desperation, the song builds and builds to a crescendo then poignantly trails off. The song “Santa Cruz” shows that while making these songs there are certain instruments and instrumentation that work better than others. A reverb-tinged guitar plucks along to a chorus of singers and appropriately an organ keeps the pace building up like a church hymn. It’s moving and everything adds up more than the sum of its parts.

I think the biggest compliment I can give Candle about miles and miles and miles is that it sounds like they are having a lot of fun and are more attuned to their own abilities as musicians, songwriters, and as a band. They see their strengths and are using them to the fullest.

Candle-"Say Goodnight"

Candle on myspace
Preorder miles and miles and miles at Real Love Records