There are a lot of jokes to be made here about the kinds of things one could find in Ben Gibbard's pants, but I'll keep it clean and just relay the basic information straight from Nick Harmer's blog:
So tonight in San Diego, Ben got stung by a SCORPION. Twice. I couldn’t make this stuff up if I tried, file this under “things that really happen on rock tours.” Ben’s okay, if not a little shaken, but we were worried for awhile because the scorpion was a little guy and when it comes to the wonderful world of scorpions, the smaller the deadlier.
Read more about the incident (and see a picture of the lil' bugger) here.
...keep in mind that America's finest American, Mr. "Vote or Die" Diddy, has stepped back into the political ring, making yet another attempt to draw more youth voter turnout. How is he doing it now? With a mask, a YouTube account, and a baffling rant from a "brother from another mother" named "Ciroc."
For more of Diddy's political thoughts/hopes/prayers/delusions, hop on the express train to the Diddy Blog and wave goodbye to your sanity at the station.
that's REAL music though, they're using guitars and drums and stuff.
Kerri Harrop responds:
That song is a hit because of the Clash. The Clash, like Built to Spill, played real instruments.
Cosby breaks it down:
the clash (played real instruments) = real
big audio dynamite (used drum machines) = fake
also, were kids really getting pumped up to 'straight to hell' before m.i.a.? it's arguably one of the worst songs on arguably their worst album. 'straight to hell' would have retained b-side status if it weren't for samplers, recontextualization, and futuristic fakeness.
Do drums and guitars a "real" band make? Are the Monkees "real" because they played guitars? And if drums and guitars are "real" instruments, which instruments are "fake"? What about composers who write music but don't play it—are they "real"? Is Gabel right, is it merely a matter of writing one's own songs? M.I.A. wrote "Paper Planes"; the Clash wrote "Straight to Hell"—so, they're both "real"? How long of a sample do you have to use before you're not a "real" band writing your own songs? Are Public Enemy "fake," whereas James Brown is "real"? Are the songwriting teams that write the Backstreet Boys' pop songs the "real" band? Or are the pop stars "real" for their ability to sing (surely the human voice is a "real" instrument, right)? Is attempting to parse "real" and "fake" in an artistic/commercial medium like pop music just a fucking ridiculous endeavor?
Grampall Jookabox's "The Girl Ain't Preggers"
October 21 at
The ungainly monikered Grampall Jookabox is definitely one of the more interesting artists on Sufjan Stevens’ Asthmatic Kitty label. The unruly brainchild of Indianapolis singer/multi-instrumentalist David Adamson, Grampall Jookabox’s second album, Ropechain (out Nov. 4), gleefully assimilates elements of post-Americana rock, glam, R&B, soul, hiphop, and gospel. Grampall appears to be trying to craft accessible songs, but his innate weirdness distorts the efforts into appealingly slanted compositions accentuated with junkyard percussion, cracked synth emissions, and creepy falsetto. If Ariel Pink recorded for anticon., it might come out sounding like Grampall Jookabox.
The disc’s standout cut, “The Girl Ain’t Preggers,” sounds like Sly & the Family Stone’s “Dance to the Music” as translated by a rural white boy of limited means and amped up on fear of responsibility and meth. Asthmatic Kitty even has funded a video game based on the song’s lyrics, which deal with post-coital ambivalence and the financial worries that spring from the reality of a mouth to feed. “You Will Love My Boom” recalls ’60s wild guys the Godz, which is a very rare thing to recall in 2008. “Black Girls” is a bizarre paean to sisters who “do shit I can’t explain” and “convince the icecaps to freeze.” “I Will Save Young Michael” is a tender, too-little too-late pledge to help the “King of Pop.” And so oddly on…
Grampall Jookabox play with PWRFL Power and the Terrordactyls at Vera Project Nov. 14.
October 18 at
My friend Jerome and David Ivar-Herman Dune in 2004
Four years ago, I was an American in Paris on the eve of an election that would inflict unprecedented presidential ignorance, armed violence, and corporate corruption upon the world. Bush's victory, his very existence soiled my sojourn in many ways-- but between the deep sense of defeat and geographically appropriate existential despair, I found a French band whose music countered my own ex-patriotic impulses. Singing in slightly accented English the sort of insouciant folk-pop that to me is more reminiscent of the "Indy" aesthetics of my Pacific Northwest, rather than the smoky chill of Paris and continental Europe-- Herman Dune was a band that reflected my own hang-ups about travel, indulgence, homesickness, and American ugliness in strange ways. Herman Dune's singer seemed taken with a particular sort of nostalgia for an imaginary America, and as I consider the band now I feel a nostalgia for an imagined/remembered France and those feelings of being far from home.
I have particularly distinct memories of watching Herman Dune perform on the same bill as Little Wings, the ethereal local-ish group whose best songs are akin to whispered dreams. The bands played a bar/club that was actually a converted Chinese Junk sitting on the Seine near the Bibliotech Nationale. This boat called La Guingette Pirate, slightly swaying on the river Seine seemed a surreal place to see any show, let alone one with an American band I had seen so many times in Seattle.
Now, in anticipation of an election that has the potential to bring the ideological antithesis of the past four years, its an odd coincidence that Herman Dune is playing my home, perhaps to witness the transition to a imagined ideal America? The band plays the Triple Door on this coming Monday night, a tough sell given that fans of folk-influenced Americana are potentially split between a few other high-profile shows. Between the Mountain Goats' soaring, acerbic story-songs and the o-vah enunciated swagger of the Kings of Leon, Herman Dune may have a hard time attracting folks to the Triple Door for their American-but-not-American French pop (especially with a ticket price of $19! Yeeeesh).
So, chalk this up as just another post of navel-gazing indulgence clogging up the blog-o-webs but Herman Dune is a band that has a strange and varied connection to my personal history, a soundtrack of sorts to a time and place but moreso a lens through which those now blurry early twenties can be recalled and examined. I think most music fans have bands just like this, music that follows them around appearing and disappearing at different times in their lives.
"The Dreams in Which I'm Dying are the Best I've Ever Had"
September 24 at
A couple weeks ago on Slog, Brendan Kiley wrote about a mildly disturbing run of songs—"Head Like a Hole," "I Wanna Be Your Dog," "Helter Skelter"—played by John Richards on KEXP's "John in the Morning" show. Brendan's curiosity about John's increasingly dark mornings was picked up by the post's commenters, who mused about Richards' recent move to NYC and the possibility that the uprooting was messing with his head.
I didn't think much of it—a run of three aggressive songs is not a reputable measure of mental health—but then came this morning, when I tuned in to Richards' show and was treated to Gary Jules' Donnie Darko-soundtrack cover of Tears for Fears' "Mad World" (sample lyric in the subject line), Kate Bush's "Running Up That Hill" (five minutes of begging God to give your life to someone else), Eef Barzelay's "Could Be Worse" (about an inability to draw consolation from the fact that it could be worse), and They Might Be Giants' "We Live in a Dump" (self-explanatory).
I do not believe it's fair to diagnose DJs through their playlists. But if I did, John might be ready for an intervention, or at least a big hug.
I have no idea how we missed this story a week or two ago. Francis Bean not only turned 16, but her party was an RIP-themed affair thrown by her mother and the guest of honor wore a dress previously worn by Kurt.
Courtney Love spent over $323,000 on her daughter's birthday party.
The Hole singer – who is the widow of the late Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain – spared no expense in ushering Frances Bean into adulthood at her 'RIP childhood' themed 16th birthday.
The event – held at Los Angeles' House of Blues restaurant – saw Frances sporting a dress previously worn by her father Cobain at a performance at Reading Festival.
Caribou Barbi Profile, Song Yanked from MySpace
September 11 at
Remember this post from Tuesday? Treasure those memories, because Rupert Murdoch’s minions have deleted the MySpace page containing the anti-Sarah Palin ditty titled, with scathing wit, “Caribou Barbi.” Such a pity—it was a real toe-tapper and it surely swayed some fence-sitting Americans to vote Obama come November.
Stranger freelancer Matt Garman, who just paid a visit to the under-construction, soon-to-be-reopened Crocodile Cafe, reports:
"So yes, all papered-up windows. [There's] graffiti all over the place. I walked the edge, listening for music, but heard none. The side door near the bar area is a bathroom now, that much is abundantly clear.
"There was a gap in the paper right near the front door. I peered in, shielding my eyes from the sun, and saw everything moved around, and placed in piles. The tables are now learning against the walls. The temp wall is leaning against the stack of tables. The artwork and other weird shit that hung from the ceiling is gathered into piles in the front area. There were boxes bundles of unexpanded storage boxes. A box of trash liners sat in front of me, as well as one of those foam brushes you might use for painting, but no paint anywhere. Then a man in work clothes came into view, carrying a box of stuff from the performance area. He set it down near the other piles and returned to the performance area.
"[S]omeone at some point stuck a proportionate paper 'A' over the first 'O' [on the Crocodile sign] so it reads 'Cracodile.'"
Grime, a.k.a. England's inner-city black hip-hop dance music that spiraled off from jungle and 2-step at the beginning of the decade, has skirted around a mass-appeal breakout for years, often getting close to a widespread popular cross-over, but never quite managing to deliver. The grime scene remains a cult, despite everything that had been -- and it still has -- going for it.
But out of nowhere, two different songs from the sound's biggest names have just scored new-found freakish popularity.
Earlier this summer, Wiley released "Wearing My Rolex," a strolling and acid-propelled club anthem that features a simple bassline-house spine, samples of DSK's 1991 garage classic "What Would We Do," and Wiley's own spit-fueled, blame-it-on-the-alcohol bursts of rhyme. It was the biggest digital single the week of its release and eventually got to #2 in the U.K. charts. Hot Chip covered it. Jay-Z had Wiley open for him. It even had its own dance.
Then, just a few weeks ago, Dizzee Rascal put out "Dance Wiv Me." Showcasing smarm-pop addict Calvin Harris and the old-school R&B of Chrome, the song bobs and dips with a glow of easy-going grime and bargain disco (beepew!) effects, all technicolor and good-natured. It sounds modern. A style-clash with an addictive hook. "Dance Wiv Me" fired right into #1 and has remained the best-selling, most popular single in the U.K. for the last month. Even Dizzee was floored from the start, and instantly promised to drink all night every day it stayed at the top. Which has since become impossible.
What's going on?
On the one hand, it's a real victory to see grime get its due. While the sound has had success before, often with Wiley and Dizzee, nothing has come close to this summer's surprise, this new quasi-resurgence. After "Wearing My Rolex" and "Dance Wiv Me," the mainstream has found grime again, years late, just when everyone thought it was impossible.
But on the other, it says something that this only happened when grime doesn't sound like grime anymore. Both Wiley and Dizzee -- press-egged-on rivals who might be forever damned to race against each other -- followed the same instincts around the same time and independently ended up going for a preposterously similar club-crossover approach. And this can be seen as either 1.] a late-but-necessary evolution of grime's sonic plan, or 2.] a watered-down compromise of sound, the latter of which already becoming a popular choice.
My new favorite backlash bits being from Fader magazine:
I hate to slag off Dizzee Rascal because it's such an obvious thing to do at the moment -- it's like shooting an anaesthetised whale in a barrel -- but I can't help it. Safe in the knowledge that the worst song he has ever made has given him the most success, our man Dyl has decided to carry on making utter musical faeces. His latest output is a cover for Jo Whiley's Radio 1 show of "That's Not My Name" by The Ting Tings, who are almost indescribably bad. The only equivalent I can think of would be the Vengaboys. They are the Vengaboys of indie-pop. I'm not sure what that would now make Dizzee.
In the end, though, it's hard to tell which side all of this comes down on.
I don't know what to think.
It's a success of conflicted feelings, but at least I'm glad, in a way, to feel the conflict again.
On the Weird Secret Lost Invention of Dance Music
July 21 at
Delia Derbyshire, who composed the original Dr. Who theme song, may have inadvertently created dance music twenty years before its modern invention. Some of Derbyshire's lost tapes have been found and this not-even-minute-long track does sound maybe twenty years ahead of its time.
That Melvins cover just brought back a memory I repressed from last night. Words can't properly describe how I felt seeing this trailer in the theater. My brain barfed all over itself. This clip actually caused me to yell "NOOOOO!!!" out loud involuntarily. The song. The premise. Lord God why? Fuck everyone who was involved in making this film and anyone who goes to see it. Be warned, this may ruin the rest of your day:
On a brighter note, the film that followed the trailer, Wall-E, was spectacular.
Click on over to www.thecrocodile.com for something... weird.
In white text against a black background, it reads:
1. The belief that certain persons or members of certain classes or groups deserve favored treatment by virtue of their perceived superiority, as in intellect, social status, or financial resources.
2. a. The sense of entitlement enjoyed by such a group or class. b. Control, rule, or domination by such a group or class.
You no doubt remember the club suddenly closed down last December. To this day, there has been no explanation from owner Stephanie Dorgan, who ignored requests for comment from press (and in some cases, former employees). So, is this it?
AdFreak reports that the president of Taco Bell has asked 50 Cent to change his name to 79 Cent, 89 Cent, or 99 Cent for one day and then rap a lunch order including his new name. If he does so, Taco Bell will donate 10,000 dollars to charity.
50 Cent says that charity and also Taco Bell can go take a flying fuck at the moon*.
I just got this press release, spreading news about the first ever chocolate record:
Some of you may have heard but for those who haven't, Innerpartysystem is releasing a 7" of their single "Don't Stop" in the UK, and it's on chocolate and fully functional! The Pennsylvanian group will become the first band to ever release their single on chocolate, and have limited the run to 100 copies.
A friend brought this to my attention today: Keith Strickland from the B-52s is going to be 55 years old in October. But on the band's new Funplex art, he looks like he's in his 20s.
That's Strickland on the right:
The whole band looks pretty damn good, but Strickland looks like someone's little brother, like the token young guy hired to bring some youth to the band for their resurrection. But he was born in 1953. I couldn't believe it either--it cost me $5.
For a little context, this guy is a year younger that Strickland.
A bunch of rockstars are nominated for PETA2's "Sexiest Vegetarian 2008." The list of men is about three times as long as the list of women. Is it just because there are fewer female vegetarians? Or are female vegetarians uglier than male vegetarians?
Whatever. Here's a sample of who's up for the crown (featuring some local folks--way to be sexy, Seattle):
Tina Trachtenburg (Trachtenburg Family Slideshow Players)
Andy Hurley (Fall Out Boy)
Anthony Kiedis (Red Hot Chili Peppers)
Chris Martin (Coldplay)
Chris Walla (Death Cab For Cutie)
Doug Martsch (Built to Spill)
GZA (The Wu-Tang Clan)
Ian MacKaye (Fugazi)
Jason Clark (Jaguar Love)
Johnny Whitney (Jaguar Love)
Nick Zinner (Yeah Yeah Yeahs)
Rivers Cuomo (Weezer)
Stuart Murdoch (Belle and Sebastian)
Ted Leo (The Pharmacists)
See the full list and vote at peta2.com. Or don't.
The Vulture has news that Vampire Weekend was name-checked yesterday in Sally Forth. Sally Forth, if you don't know already, is the comic strip whose target audience is girls aged 10-16 who enjoy wearing fanny packs and vests to school. It's probably best recognizable for the smug smirks on the faces of its main characters, as well as their hollow, soul-sucking eyes. It reads as if the most bland sitcom on the face of the Earth had every last inkling of humor sucked from it.
To Vampire Weekend: it was a good couple months, there, guys. Sorry Sally Forth had to go and ruin it for you.
Well, Idolator reports today on a 50 Cent concert in Angola where a fan swiped 50's (diamond-encrusted skull?) chain from right off his neck (watch for diamond yoink at 1:40, followed by the most righteous laugh ever recorded):
FORT WORTH -- An aspiring record label owner is singing the blues after he was arrested last week for allegedly trying to pass a $360 billion check at a Fort Worth bank.
Employees at the Chase Bank at 8601 S. Hulen St. grew suspicious after seeing all those zeroes (10 to be exact) and called the check's owner. The woman said the suspect, Charles Ray Fuller, 21, of Crowley, is her daughter’s boyfriend and that he did not have permission to take the check or cash it.
Fuller was arrested on suspicion of fraud, along with unlawfully carrying a weapon and possession of marijuana after officers found less than 2 ounces of the drug and a .25-caliber handgun and magazine in his pockets.
While inside a patrol car, police say Fuller blurted out that he is starting his own record label and had been given the money by his girlfriend’s mother to help him start it.
...the story behind this? (I feel like I'm playing right into their hands, but still...)
Is this merely an advertising campaign for Thee Emergency's upcoming CD release show(s), or is there more to it? They seem to have filled every available surface—and covered just about every other poster—in the vicinity of the Stranger office.
Before the Guitar Hero days, you could pretty much guarantee yourself a shit-wich of a video game if it had anything to do with music. Aerosmith and KISS can attest to '90s gaming cash-ins of the highest order, and let's please not talk about those Sega CD games where you had to make videos with footage of C+C Music Factory, Kris Kross and Marky Mark.
But hip-hop stars have a relatively decent record with games. The Wu-Tang Clan whooped each other up in a pretty good fighter on PlayStation 1, while the Def Jam roster has beat the snot out of itself in a few good brawling games as well. 50 Cent, sadly, proved himself to be the motherfucking G-I-M-P in his ego-flaring virtual debut from 2005, 50 Cent: Bulletproof, but the "relive my hustlin' days with unlimited lives" journey still managed to sell over one million, so where does that put Fitty?
In the Middle East with a rifle, naturally.
Gaming rag EGM "broke" the story in their last issue about the inevitable sequel, 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand (ughhhhh). I can't believe this preview got published with a straight face; if you're looking for unintentional comedy, EGM's preview has you covered.
50 and his buddies fly to some vague Middle Eastern country to play a benefit concert, get stiffed for their payment (a diamond-encrusted skull, no less), and end up embroiled in a massive firefight with several warring factions over the aforementioned bling.
A hip-hop star doesn't get his precious trinket-skull and starts killing "vague Middle Eastern" guys with bandana-covered faces and automatic weapons? This really exists? The article gets better, explaining that ol' Curtis himself "really challenged us to create a more compelling setting...he felt like he'd been there, done that already." You mean, been there done that exploiting the modern minstrelcy of gangsta rap, so now it's time to cash in on another culture's stereotypes in the form of a polygonal, megalomania-fueled killing spree? Come gimme a hug! And in case you're wondering whether the game's developers are street enough:
"Expect some co-op puzzles," Blean says. "You will find these locked areas that require you to call over your homey to open up inaccessible areas, boost you up to a higher area, and so on."
Games sites magazines have gotten a lot of flak lately for puffing up awful games, so it's good to see EGM give this G-Unit merchandising circle-jerk the critical eye it obviously merits: "50's new game stands poised to outclass his previous effort with ease." Ouch! Those game critics are hard as fuck.
One of last year's most infamous Internet sensations, the "Don't tase me, bro!" arrest of an excitable college student, is getting a new lease of life from former Clash rocker Mick Jones.
He told Reuters on Wednesday that he has written a song by that name for his second album with Carbon/Silicon, the band he formed with fellow punk veteran Tony James.
"It's gonna go like this, dun-dun-dun ... Aaaargh!" Jones said backstage at the inaugural NME Awards in Los Angeles, after he received a special honor for his inspirational work and then played two songs with Carbon/Silicon.
The Gossip Has Been All Over MTV This Week... and the National Enquirer?
April 22 at
They're the channel's band of the week, so the Gossip's music is being played before and after shows, in commercials for other shows... you hear them at least twice every 30 minutes. Last night they played some live footage while running the credits for the Hills. It was weird. (And yes, I'm ashamed that I know that).
Even more strange, Beth Ditto, who used to be our little Northwest secret, is also on the cover of this week's National Enquirer.
A new musical piece called "Car Orchestra" which features the engines and horns of five utility trucks, known as "utes," alongside a saxophone, double bass and disc jockey, will debut at a music festival in western Sydney on Saturday.
Michael Atherton, a professor at the University of Western Sydney, says he composed the score to connect the festival with the local culture of the working-class Campbelltown area, inviting a local "Ute Club" to play the piece.
"A festival's concept of culture should be very broad," Atherton told the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper.
"People can expect to hear fanfares, jazz-funk sections, percussion solos. They will hear mag wheels played like Balinese gamelans," he said.
I really hope they post a recording of it somewhere. I want to hear this.