Sunday, November 28, 2010

Artist of the Year: Arcade Fire

In case you have been hitchhiking rickshaws through Southeast Asia or gondola riding in the Amazon, I will have you know that Arcade Fire has had the best year ever. After Where the Wild Things ravaged hipsterdome and mass media all at once featuring the band's beautifully anthemic "Wake Up," it seems that the band can do no wrong and is taking all the right precautions to place them atop indie rock royalty. The band has sold out shows at MSG, backboned Haiti relief projects, hosted one of the greatest sing-a-longs of the decade (see Lollapalooza 2010), and exceeded expectations with The Suburbs released this summer. If you still have no idea what the buzz is about, learn ya somethin' below:

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Miniature Tigers

Miniature Tigers are just as fun as their name would suggest and one of my favorite new (breakout) bands this year. On their album Fortress listeners will immediately taste notes of Animal Collective, The Dodos, and Deerhunter. The Pringles of music, these guys are addictive and sour cream & onion flavored.

Mari Kanstad Johnsen

Mari Kanstad Johnsen's illustrations are like the whirlwind of discovery and confusion that happens between childhood and adulthood. Utilizing playful imagery with dark undertones, the pieces resemble my high school notebooks and also Clap Your Hands Say Yeah's album covers.

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Tamaryn - Dawning

There is a whole lot of shoegaze in today's indie rock scene. If you don't know what shoegaze is, it was a sub genre of rock music consisting of whispery, airy vocals and distorted, reverbed-out guitars. It was popularized by bands in the late 80s/early 90s culminating in My Bloody Valentine's masterpiece Loveless. There have been stints of shoegaze revival, but only a few band have been able to stick to the script while still honing it as their own. Tamaryn is one of those bands.

Their album cover is just as cool as their music and about that?!

RIP Andy Irons

Over the past few years I have become completely enamored by surfing. Even though I have never surfed a day in my life, I am always moved by the level of passion and dedication synonymous with seemingly every surfer's own journey through the water. Andy Irons, one of the most influential surfers in recent years, was found dead today in a hotel in Dallas from Dengue Fever. He was 32.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Four Loko

"Popular sources (websites that came up when I googled Four Loko) say that it won't be around long. It's malt liquor plus caffeine, and any flavor you choose will taste like chemicals. It's in a can and should probably stay that way, because if you pour it in a glass you will realize you are ingesting neon. Four Loko is also hilarious. It is the closest you can get to literally drinking a bad decision. To just have a sip is not a good choice. There are videos online of people drinking entire cans of this stuff in under a minute and their faces go white immediately. Then they look proud but full of regret. Like they want to say, 'This is my life now.'"

- Sam Hockley-Smith
Fader Magazine

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Soundtrack for the Week

Andrew Myers Photography

I really like this one. It reminds me of my cousin Chris and I. What game are we playing, you ask? Mario Kart. How old are we? Anywhere between the ages of 3 and 23.

via Vectroave

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Shelby DiMarco

I love the collage work by Shelby DiMarco. Her choice of imagery is as much soothing as it is unnerving. This is combined with a minimalistic aesthetic ensconcing each piece in an air of mystery. A set of faceless portraits are especially provocative:

Look What the Light Did Now

Yet another fascinating documentary about the creative process and the interesting individuals who hold its legal rights is on the horizon. "Look What the Light Did Now" chronicles the travels of Feist following her breakout album "The Reminder." After watching the trailer I was immediately wholeheartedly regretful that I missed the Philly stop on this tour. I can't wait to see it!

Luis Dourado

Check out Luis Dourado! His work is like a pop culture acid nightmare. Jump in it. via DFM.

The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret

I feel like David Cross' humor is hit or miss. Either you love it or you hate it...or you think it's okay. Whatever your stance is, actually if you love it or think it's okay, you should be watching his new show on IFC called The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret. The show is centered around Cross' character who basically lies his way into a job heading an energy drink venture in the UK. Absolutely hilarious. So, who is Todd Margaret, and wtf is Thunder Muscle?:

Retro PanAm Travel

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Urban Marionettes

CTA during the 5 o'clock commute is jam packed. Everyone stuffs into tiny little boxes leaving only enough room to feel your butt fondled by the woman's purse behind you. As we pulled around the corner from the Chicago stop and approached Sedgewick, I noticed something going on on the side of the parking garage ahead. Getting even closer I noticed that it was three guys: at eye level with the tracks, two dressed as traditional man and woman marionettes who were connected by strings to the last guy dressed as a puppeteer one deck above. As we passed they began putting on a freakin' puppet show. I thought this was hilaaaarious and could not believe that I was witnessing something like this. I start whipping my head around the train thinking surely someone else was seeing this.

No. Everyone was so busy not looking at anyone else that they missed it! I am almost certain that not one other person on my car saw it, and in true Chicago fashion I am reminded of that (perhaps abused yet poignant) Ferris Bueller quote:

"Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it."

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Kings of Leon's NEW HIT SINGLE!

When I listen to Youth and Young Manhood, Kings of Leon's brilliantly simple and simply brilliant debut, it makes me sad. Those 11 songs showcase the type of song writing that they're capable of, and yet they continue to favor this new arena rock sound that sells tickets but certainly lacks the panache and attitude that I fell in love with in 2005 (I caught on a little late). Don't get me wrong, I do like their new stuff as well - for example, the infectiously groovy "Manhattan" on Only By the Night. However, I think a lot of the difference between the whiskey battered licks from when the band started and the anthemic atmospheres they put out now is that they’re completely different musicians in 2010. They’ve said in interviews that they could barely play when Youth and Young Manhood came out. Lead singer Caleb has said that he used to mumble his singing in the beginning because he was self conscious about his lyrics. The first two albums were the result of a zeitgeist - the rebirth of an edgier disposition in rock in the early 00's, and it doesn’t look like we’ll be hearing that kind of stuff from them again.

Kings of Leon just released the video for their new single "Radioactive" off of the forthcoming Come Around Sundown (a lame title if you ask me). I opened the blog post like a child on Christmas morning, hoping that inside I would find just exactly what I wanted and expected all year long. Alas, "Radioactive" is an overall very forgettable song with a Breeders-esque bassline that is completely ruined by obnoxious guitars that hearken to Band of Horses' "Infinite Arms" let down. I will not post "Radioactive" - not because it is just an "eh" song or because it reminds me and others of Aldous Snow's "African Child" video - but because I would rather not think about its existence. Instead, I offer you two crowning achievements in the Kings of Leon catalog, and a glimmer of what once was:

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Modern Medieval Artwork

I've always been fascinated by medieval style artwork and super old school religious iconography (you know, really solemn monks/emaciated Jesus/gold flake stuff). I stumbled upon a couple of modern artists that draw inspiration from the past and create works that are just as striking and captivating as their predecessors.

Chris Sedgwick

Jason Hernandez

Junip - strange name, strange video, awesome band!

Here is the first single off of Junip's debut full length "Fields." The song is called "Always." It was directed by the same guy who has done most of Jose Gonzalez's videos. If you're familiar with those at all, you would have clicked play already!

The Perfect End of Summer Video

So long, summer! Fall has drunkenly stumbled into Chicago and spilled my mojito. Here's the new video for "Hearts of Love" by Crocodiles. There's got to be some sort of end of summer metaphor at the end, right?

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Wilderness Downtown

The blogosphere has been abuzz about Arcade Fire's new venture into interactive film. The band, whose popularity will have grown exponentially even before you finish reading this, has collaborated with Chris Milk to create an interactive film entitled "The Wilderness Downtown" featuring the song "We Used to Wait" off of Arcade Fire's new album. The film uses google maps to place your childhood home as the setting for the music video! MMM, Lovely is a really cool blog, and in many ways is what this blog strives to be. They have a pretty cool post about it here, so knock out two birds with one stone and head on over.

Friday, August 27, 2010

The Extraordinary Ordinary Life Of José González

I am beyond excited for this movie. José González is my favorite musical artist, and now directors Mikel Cee Karlsson (who has worked on some of Gonzalez's amazing music videos) and Fredrik Egerstrand have taken nearly three years of filming, Gonzalez's personal diaries, and concert footage to create a documentary capturing his intricate creative process and a look into the mystique of the man himself. AH!!! Here is the trailer:

Find out more at Jose Gonzalez the Film

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Sex, Drugs, and Bon Jovi

Yeah, I was about as turned off by that headline as you were. There is a new book coming out called "Sex, Drugs, and Bon Jovi." Sounds very lame and coincidentally like something that I will not be reading.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Puzzling Abscrations by Kent Rogowski

I saw this over at one of my favorite blogs BOOOOOOOM. Artist Kent Rogowski combines various jigsaw puzzles to create his own abstractions that take you in and out of the image and many places at once. At first glance, it might even seem like there is nothing wrong with the puzzle, but look closer and the artist's intricate placement and calculated juxtapositions become evident.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Dalton Ghetti Pencil Art

I found this on Stumbleupon (Have you heard of this Stumbleupon?! Google it, it is amazing). It is silly how intricate and precise these mini works of art are...boggles the mind.

Rock is Alive in 2010

I've really been enjoying all these new bands this year that are creating straight forward, feel good rock n roll. Bands like The Soft Pack, Best Coast, The Strange Boys, and Dom have been rocking my ipod.

Best Coast - When I'm With You from Pete Ohs on Vimeo.

and while Black Lips haven't put out anything this year, they fit perfectly into this category and suit this soothing summer's eve.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Lollapalooza Day 3

Rain. Rain is how we began our third and final day in Grant Park for Lollapalooza 2010, and what a perfect setting it was for the beautifully haunting music of the Antlers. Their music softly builds to perfectly timed crescendos song after song. The Antlers' 2009 album entitled Hospice is perfectly crafted for rainy days. We stood awestruck under our umbrella and left wishing the downpour would never end.

Immediately after on the stage facing opposite, the Dodos were playing for the sun. The clouds cleared and the threesome blasted through crowd favorites "Red and Purple" and "Fools" en route to one of the best set endings I have seen in a long while.

After a very disappointing set by Freelance Whales which lacked energy and spark we wondered about a while until Yeasayer's set on the Budweiser stage. While their most recent and critically acclaimed album Odd Blood has taken a turn down a more digital, dance-driven route, the group's brand of desert bred world music from their debut All Hour Cymbals was by far the most moving for me.

A monstrous crowd collected for MGMT's late afternoon set. Say what you will about their new album (I like it a lot), MGMT's face melting journey through 60's surf-psychedelia was an epiphany of what this generation's definition of rock stardom has come to embody.

After an exquisite experience at my first Lollapalooza I could only imagine what was in store as the Arcade Fire prepped for a mind blowing, once in a lifetime experience. I don't know what more I can say about it that hasn't already been said by every other music media outlet. I think my friend Rich put it best saying before the show, "Are we gonna cry? I don't know if I want to cry, but I will if I have to." The biggest crowd I have ever been a part of chanted, oohed, and ahhed along with old favorites and new songs off of The Suburbs released just days before. However, the song Wake Up, which grew to massive popularity following its feature in the Where the Wild Things Are movie trailer, was one of the most moving musical experiences I have ever witnessed. "Don't ever let New York tell you you don't have the best fucking city," frontman Win Butler said, "because you guys are awesome."

Even after the show was over when the crowd flooded into the streets, the chorus could be heard from blocks and blocks away surely waking up many in their apartments.

Lollapalooza Day 2

We strolled through the Lollapalooza gates on Saturday only stopping momentarily to greet the protesters wielding "Women should not be allowed to vote" signs...reflect on that...and into a wooded enclave where the Morning Benders were already mystifying the crowd. Grizzly Bear's Chris Taylor produced the Morning Benders' new album Big Echo (which features one of the year's best songs in "Excuses") and it is very evident that they have picked up a few new tricks.

"This next song's real good," deadpanned the Soft Pack singer Matt Lamkin. The Soft Pack is definitely one of my favorite break through acts of 2010. Their raw, straight forward rock sound has been described as if the Strokes were from California. Aside from songs "Answer to Yourself" and "Pull Out" the highlight of the set may have been taking a picture with a kid who had on a #2 Larry Johnson jersey that matched my #1 Muggsy Bogues Charlotte Hornets jersey. Nice!

The Soft Pack 'Answer to Yourself' from Felipe Lima on Vimeo.

Wild Beasts on the opposite side were an incredible surprise and featured a dramatic falsetto, calculated guitar work, and beautiful compositions under the mid day cloudy skies. I am currently hypnotized by their album Two Dancers. Had the clouds stuck around for the next set it would have been perfect, but the gentle moodiness of the XX contrasted with the surroundings resulting in a "just pretty good" performance.

Grizzly Bear's set was pitch perfect as they never cease to amaze. Songs like "Ready, Able," "Cheerleader," and "Little Brother" were standouts. I could have sworn that they played a new song or even a cover, but I could have been mistaken.

We met some new friends hanging out before Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeroes, and reached the perfect level of inebriation required for a hippie rumpus. The place was packed with devotees set for a celebration and the band did not disappoint. Dancing through jangly tune after jangly tune, the cult-esque collective showed why they are this year's festival must-see band.

Our euphoria lasted well into the night as Phoenix capped off a wonderful day under the city lights.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Finished Lolla Recap coming soon!!!

I promise! I have been very busy as of late: beginning (and finishing) a brief stint at a frozen custard shop, interviewing for (and commandeering) a position at Groupon(!), and doing some freelance writing for Design Bureau magazine. All very exciting stuff.

The Lollapalooza wrap up for days 2 and 3 are definitely coming. They were too good to go unmentioned!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Lollapalooza Day 1

Dragonflies dove in and out of the crowd as the three day aural sweat fest kicked off with the wake and bake session that was Wavves' set. The air smelled sweetly of the embodiment of Wavves' brand of lo-fi surf-pop: sunscreen and weed. Songs like the new "Post Acid" were executed with messy precision and left everyone wanting more...and a 40 on a sunny summer rooftop.

After a disappointing set by The Big Pink, which included a unique but ultimately unmoving rendition of "These Arms of Mine" by Otis Redding, we grabbed a Mountain Dew float (oh, yes) and headed over to the Budweiser stage to listen in on Dirty Projectors and get set for The Black Keys.

The Black Keys are always good. Scratch that, The Black Keys are always great! However, early in the set the volume on Auerbach's guitar was much too low and thus some of the gritty punch that they are known for went missing in action. All was forgiven after, against a red and black tire tread/communist rally-esque backdrop, the two were joined by a bass and organs to fill out the sound for their Danger Mouse produced/soulful new songs, and The Black Keys put on yet another memorable performance.

The question on everyone's tongue throughout the day and well into the night was "Strokes or Gaga?" We opted for The Strokes. We had to. It is a definite possibility that this would be the last time we would have the chance to see the now seemingly ancient artifacts of the early 21st century garage rock revolution. The Strokes walked onto the stage to "We Will Rock You" and blasted through a joyous romp of a set that opened with fan favorite "New York City Cops." They proved to the absolutely packed Butler field that the gents hadn't missed a beat during their near four year hiatus. "We haven't played the US in forevvvveeerrrrrrrrr," Casablancas announced to the crowd. Lylas, Strokes.