Thursday, June 26, 2008

Gregg Gillis Explaining the Album

Gregg Gillis walking through his latest album Feed the Animals.  But first, GG talking about winning a Taco Bell contest and giving away $500 worth of Taco Bell. 

- Joel

Taco Bell

Album Part 1

Album Part 2

Album Part 3

Album Part 4

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Another Version

As I was looking for the Girl Talk remix, I found this a cappella version of Grizzly Bear's "Knife".  It's performed by a men's choir from Carleton College in Minnesota.  Another great take on a great song.  Big up to the choir for performing this relatively obscure song at a concert.  They nailed it.

By the way, Grizzly Bear is a band you should know about.

- Joel

Girl Talk Remix - Grizzly Bear meets Clipse

This is a great combination: Clipse, Grizzly Bear, and Girl Talk.  Grizzly Bear is a band I'm just now getting into.  Great indie band from Brooklyn.  Gregg Gillis again displays his brilliance in this remix of Grizzly Bear's most popular song "Knife".  I guess you could say this song is Grizzly Bear meets Polar Bear (aka Pusha and all his snow).  

You can download the remix for free from Grizzly Bear's website here.  Or just watch the mashed up music video via YouTube below.  Obviously, anything Girl Talk puts his hands on should be in your music library.

- Joel

Monday, June 23, 2008

No Country For Old Men

I received No Country For Old Men (the book) for my birthday in April.  After finishing In Cold Blood, Truman Capote's beautifully chilling documentary of the unexpected slaughter of the Clutter Family which crippled the small-town of Holcomb, KS, it was on to Cormac McCarthy's fictional tale about a circus of death touring Southwest Texas.  Most people will recognize No Country For Old Men as the Oscar-winning film released last year.  Most people will also recognize the general rule that "the book is better than the movie."  The rule holds true in this case.  The movie, while excellent and worthy of its many awards and recognitions, is surpassed by the book.  Here's why: the movie got bogged down by the murder, blood, and destruction but the book is able to transcend the violence.  McCarthy aggressively deals with themes of faith, inevitability, free will, destiny, culture, change, and old age.  Many people may have left the theater complaining of unnecessary violence or a bad ending.  I finished the book contemplating the state of the world, the pace of change, and Anton Chigurh's strange worldview.  The book was surprisingly good and a worthwhile read for both those who saw the film and those who did not.  It is one of the best contemporary novels I have read in a long time. 

- Joel

Friday, June 20, 2008

Requisite Coldplay Post

I think made it a requirement for all blogs to contain at least one post about Coldplay this week.  Here are my thoughts on the latest album:

1.  I guess I like Viva La Vida better than X&Y.  Coldplay clearly took more chances.  I was sitting in a bar on Wednesday night watching the Royals game, and the house music was tuned to a Sirius station dedicated to Coldplay.  As background music, Viva La Vida kept my foot tapping.
2. Coldplay gets hated on by most people who profess to love music.  They aren't the most inventive band (although I thought Parachutes brought a new sound to Top 40 alt-rock).  Here's the thing I like most about Coldplay: I can listen to their music no matter what mood I'm in.  Critics would say that's because Coldplay's music is bland.  Maybe that's true, but, in my opinion, they are selling out stadiums because they are melodic.  That has to count for something.
3. Coldplay is possibly the most talked about band in the world.  Isn't art supposed to lend itself to discussion?  Because so many people talk about Coldplay, could that lend more artistic credibility to their music?
4. A lot of Viva La Vida reminds me of bits and pieces of other bands.  Parts of "Lost!" (most notably the beat) sound like "Venus" by Air.  The guitar solo halfway through "42" sounds like a Radiohead solo.  "Lovers in Japan" sounds like a piano-driven version of U2's "Where the Streets Have No Name."  The "bonus section" of "Yes" reminds me of "The Swamp Song" by Oasis or maybe something else Radiohead would put out.  The middle "solo" (if you can call it that) of "Viva La Vida" reminds me of something...maybe it's the soundtrack to Stomp the Yard, maybe it's a song by High Places called "Jump In", maybe it's something else.  I can't put my finger on it.
5. The big question for me is this: does Coldplay sound familiar (which isn't a bad thing) or too familiar (which isn't a good thing)?  I guess it doesn't really matter.  I like Chris Martin's voice.  I like their sound, even if it can get bland at times.

Amid the criticism, I guess Coldplay can take solace in this: people will talk, but at least they're talking.  Not that Coldplay needs to take solace in anything.  I think they'll be just fine.

- Joel

Thursday, June 19, 2008

A Catchy Song

Who doesn't like catchy indie-pop?  Everyone loves indie music these days.  It's kind of the cool thing to do liking indie music.  That's fine.  I say the coolest thing is to like the music that you like.  Whatever that is, listen to what you like, not the music you should like, or the music that will impress other people.  And here's some music I think you'll like.  I found it on Pitchfork.  It's The Broken West and the song is called "Perfect Games."

- Joel

Perfect Games - The Broken West

Girl Talk Available

Feed the Animals, the latest from Pittsburgh genius Gregg "Girl Talk" Gillis, is now available from Illegal Art's website. You can name your price, but if you name a price $10 or greater, you will be sent a CD when they become available. This will be the first thing I do when I go home over my lunch break.

Here is the Illegal Art website.

- Joel

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Look, No Hands

Here's a music video I like.  The song is "The End's Not Near" by The New Year.  Band of Horses do a great cover of this song.  I'd classify this music video as "haunting."  What do you think?  It looks like the guy's riding his bike next to a bombed out amusement park.

- Joel

Two Things

Two other things before I go to bed.

1) Pitchfork has a great interview with Gregg Gillis (aka Girl Talk).  He's a genius and a normal guy at the same time.  Check out the interview here.  I love it that he listens to Mariah Carey and The Beatles and plays basketball in his spare time.  For someone that pretentious music snobs love, Gregg Gillis unashamedly loves the music that music snobs love to hate.

2) Spoon recently played a live set for Daytrotter, a really unique music website based in Illinois.  Daytrotter is great because they get tons of great bands to play live sets.  They offer the mp3's as free downloads.  They're also great because they create an original illustration for every band's visit.  The picture above is the illustration for Spoon's visit.  Spoon played a previously unreleased cover of Paul Simon's "Peace Like A River" for Daytrotter.  Go here to download the set.

- Joel

Free Music

There are a few pretty good music samplers offered online right now.  The first is from Pitchfork Media.  They're holding the second annual Pitchfork Music Festival this summer.  The sampler offers a song from most every act performing at this year's festival including Animal Collective, Cut Copy, and The Dodos.

Check out and download all 25 tracks from Pitchfork here.

Also, Girl Talk's record label, Illegal Art, is offering a new music sampler.  Girl Talk actually has an album being released on Illegal Art's website Radiohead-style (pay-what-you-want) tomorrow or shortly after.  The sampler doesn't include new material off of Girl Talk's new album, titled Feed the Animals (that's the cover art above), but it does include a song from an out-of-print compilation album.  You can't find this track anywhere else.  

Check out Girl Talk and the rest of the sampler here.  Also, for Girl Talk's new album, keep checking back at Illegal Art's website here.

- Joel

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Coming of Age

This past February I had the opportunity to to see an exhibition entitled Coming of Age: American Art, 1850s to 1950s at the Meadows Museum on Southern Methodist University's campus. The exhibition, put together by the Addison Gallery of American Art in Andover, MA, sets out to document and display the maturation of a distinct, American style of art between the mid-19th and mid-20th centuries. Here are some American artists, on display in this traveling exhibition, worth checking out. In the opinion of the Addison Gallery, these artist were key in establishing the United States as the artistic center of the world. These pictures do not do justice to the actual artwork. For example, in Moonlight, Wolf, the stars as well as the wolf's eyes are an incredibly bright, beautiful yellow, which look brilliant in contrast to the rest of the painting. It's hard to see that from a computer screen. Similar observations can be made about each of the paintings below.

- Joel

The West Wind - Winslow Homer

Moonlight, Wolf - Frederick Remington

Phosphorescence - Jackson Pollock

Saturday, June 14, 2008

The Heat and The Beats

My ears will be dedicated to rap music this summer.  This week I bought two albums:  Lil Wayne's Tha Carter III and Kidz in Hall's The In Crowd.  Including The Cool Kids' The Bake Sale EP, I have a lot of music to work through over the next few weeks.  At this point, I don't see any other summer releases that will demand my attention like these three albums.  Next week Coldplay's album drops.  The week after Sigur Ros drops an album.  I will probably buy both but don't expect to dedicate any time to them.  

Here are my initial thoughts of Tha Carter III.  I really like it.  It has taken me a long time to get used to Lil Wayne's strange lyrics and scratchy delivery, but I think I'm finally there.  This album seems like something that will really grow on you (and me) as you continue to listen to it.  To be fair, there are some atrocious tracks, like "Got Money" with T-Pain.  But the album is also a lot deeper than just the Top 40 fave "Lollipop."  Right now "Mr. Carter" featuring Jay-Z is my favorite track, but I haven't really made it through the whole album yet.  There are probably a lot of people who will hate on this album.  The amount of time it took to put out the album and the number of times Lil Wayne pushed back the release date created expectations of a legendary release.  It's not legendary, but it's still really good.  

Another track to check out is "Drivin' Down the Block" by Kidz In The Hall.  Actually the remix to this song with Pusha T and The Cool Kids is even better than the original.  It's definitely worth a download or a purchase off of iTunes.  

- Joel  

Kidz In The Hall - Drivin' Down The Block

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Noble & Webster

Check out the British contemporary artists Tim Noble and Sue Webster.  Noble & Webster are part of the Young British Artists movement of the 1990's.  I had an opportunity to see some of their work on display at the Goss-Michael Foundation in Dallas.  I've never seen anything like it before.  At first glance, their work looks like a pile of trash you could find on the street.  However, when light is shone against and through their work at the right angle, it casts an incredibly intricate shadow.  Some of their work on display at Goss-Michael is sexually graphic and suggestive, but they also have other work, like that shown here, that blows your mind.

- Joel

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Breaking All the Rules - John Mayer style

I have posted a lot about John Mayer recently. His music doesn't always seem to be the most authentic. At times, it seems watered-down and targeted towards adolescence (and adolescents). I'm not sure if that is a by-product of signing a big record contract or if that is genuinely the type of music Mr. Mayer likes to make. No point in speculating, because I won't know until I hang out with him and ask him. But here's the thing I really like about John Mayer - he seems like someone who could actually hang. He has a witty, dry sense of humor and he's intelligent, at least those are some of the personality traits which I attribute to him after reading his blog and watching various clips on VH1,, among other media outlets.

Anyway, let's get to the point of this blog. He's going on tour this summer and is doing some really cool things. One, he's letting the audience vote on what songs he will play in his encore. That's not completely original, considering today's pop culture is driven by audience participation. At the same time, I don't know if I've heard of another musician doing that. Yet, the coolest (swiftest, trillest, insert word here) thing to me about his summer tour is that he is giving anyone and everyone rights to record (both audio and video) his shows. People can post the live material to his site and share it with the world. Other than jam bands, I don't know of too many pop artists who are encouraging the audience to bootleg their shows. Maybe I'll be able to catch a live version of his "Kid A" cover (see post from May 28). Part of his set will be dedicated to covers by the way. Watch his explanation of the summer tour below.

So don't hate on John Mayer. He's probably the coolest guy pretensious music people love to hate. I'm not afraid to break the rules and admit I like John Mayer. Does that mean I don't have good taste in music?

- Joel

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Swift Music

Remember on Mean Girls when Regina George lashes out at Gretchen Weiners and says, "Gretchen, stop trying to make "fetch" happen!" Well, over the past few years, I've always wanted the word "swift" to become synonymous with "cool". This is one more attempt at making that happen.

Here's some swift new music you should check out. The band is Fleet Foxes and they're Subpop's latest indie darling. The album has received pretty good reviews. Read some of the reviews here. I'm listening to it as I type this and I really like it. It could be described as indie folk, or indie baroque pop, or some other term that really doesn't mean anything. To me, their music sounds like a collaboration between The Eagles (or maybe just "Seven Bridges Road"), Band of Horses, and My Morning Jacket. Great harmonies. Great acoustic guitar. It sounds like summer in the Appalachian Mountains. Very warm and folksy. Check it out.

Most of the album is up on their myspace page here. If you want to buy it, try going to SubPop's website here. Or here is the link to the Subpop store. SubPop has a lot of other great acts signed to their label including the aforementioned Band of Horses, The Postal Service, Iron & Wine, The Shins, The Album Leaf, and many more. Check out Fleet Foxes if for no other reason than you know The Postal Service and Iron & Wine are good and they are all labelmates.

- Joel

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Lakai Skate Video

Check out the intro to this new skate video.  Make sure you get at least 1:30 into the clip before you decide if you want to watch the whole thing.  Once you make it that far, you won't want to turn back.

- Joel

Monday, June 2, 2008

Summer Sneakers

I haven't bought any shoes since a pair of Ronaldinho commemorative Dunks last summer.  Recently I embarked on a quest to find a great pair of summer sneakers.  Today, thanks to Daniel, I found a great pair of sneakers that are perfect for the summer.  Daniel gave me some great ideas and so I thought I would share them here for anyone interested in a fun pair of shoes for the summer.  In case you're interested, I bought a pair of Dicoco's from Creative Recreation.  Actually, Dallas has some great sneaker shops.  Check out some shoes below.

- Joel

Creative Recreation "Dicoco"

ALife (not sure what the style is called, but ALife is the brand)

Supra "Skytop"