YEEZUS JUST ROSE AGAIN

Maybe you missed our good friend Kanye West perform his new single “All Day” at last week’s BRIT Awards. Maybe you’ve intentionally avoided it after finding this year’s earlier singles to have fallen flat. Maybe you just haven’t gotten around to it. I was some combination of all of these until last night, when I made the Right Choice and decided to give it a listen. AND I DARE YOU TO ASK ME HOW LONG I’VE BEEN LISTENING TO IT TODAY. [Morning-after edit: Full-length streams seem to be scarce right now! What a tease, that Kanye West… I guess maybe once the Steve McQueen-directed video drops we’ll be back in business.]

Now, I’m in Kanye’s corner all the way, but he’s had me a little on edge this year (which he started off by releasing “Only One” on his blog and iTunes). And it was a cute story and all, and there was the ooooh, ahhhh, Paul McCartney factor but… It was solid “Meh” status. I sort of rejected the notion that “FourFiveSeconds” would find its way onto the new Kanye album, as it just makes wayyyy more sense to me as a Rihanna song, but I guess if he’s going for “cookout” music? I guess I can imagine hearing that at a cookout? I was excited for a Sia collab and “Wolves” seemed like a step in at least a more sensible direction after a couple listens, but I guess I was still waiting for that ‘banger’.

FINALLY.

cover art for the pending album, titled ‘so help me god.’ click to hear ‘all day’ on kanyewest.com

Full version can be purchased on iTunes.

My first reaction was that– with a notable absence, of course– it might be what “Ni**as In Paris” would’ve sounded like if it had been on Yeezus. (And indeed, Kanye’s alluded to having channeled Jay while writing it. [Whoa, that interview’s from last July! Yeezy’s been holding out on us!]) And I guess the early reference to the proverbial “shit” being “cray” makes that an easy comparison but it’s also got the same self-aware (and almost silly, like when he refers to the AllState guy as “fake Denzel” ) bravado and a nearly as infectious a beat.

(The other song I keep finding myself reminded of is this sweet 2008 jam but maybe that’s something I should rather keep to myself…) The pop-culture references are plentiful and amusing, the hometown pride is clear, and he even finds a couple occasions on which to brag about his wifey (and the extraordinary resell value of his namesake sneakers). Ye’s back!

And let’s not overlook Allan Kingdom‘s refrain. It’s just… really nice poetry? “I took a young, sweet breath/and reached into my head/gave him what I had left/at that moment I dispersed.” Kingdom is an up-and-coming Canadian rapper who’s done work with Kid Cudi’s producer, Plain Pat.

And of course our buddy Paul McCartney pops in to show off his whistling chops there at the end. Didn’t you hear Kanye West is practically a Beatle by now?

“The Blacker the Berry”

There was actually another significant music happening, this one in the hip hop world, I’d intended to include with my last post, but which I think deserves to be more than a footnote. Kendrick Lamar dropped something that, in my opinion, carries more weight than either Kanye’s pulling-a-Kanye or Drake’s pulling-a-Beyoncé (seriously, surprise album releases are so 2013, and they don’t even end up winning you the Grammy riiiiiight?). At this point we’re all well aware that the past year-or-so has been a tough one, to put it lightly, for race relations in our country. Ideas of fairness and progress have been challenged; notions of privilege and disparity have been given unprecedented attention.

With these challenges and new perspectives has come a whole, confusing, spectrum of emotions for people of all colors. Kendrick’s never had a problem tackling the hard subjects in his lyrics, though. Section.80 was such a powerful and insightful album for me (I’ll never forget hearing, “‘How old are you?’ She say 22, I say 23. ‘Okay, then we all crack babies.'” for the first time.), and it opens with a pretty simple, if impractical, solution to the Race Problem: fuck your ethnicity. That said, Kendrick’s proud of his. While remaining true to his heritage, he goes to great lengths to subvert stereotypes about and realities within his community. His breakthrough hit “Swimming Pools” poses as a standard party anthem but is really a scathing critique of the shallowness of a lifestyle centered around excess. He shines on Pusha T’s “Nosetalgia,” using the tale of his rejection of the drug-dealing legacy handed to him by his father and grandfather (“Pops, your ass is washed up, with all due respect… Every verse is a brick. Your son dope!“) to counter Pusha’s sentimental reflection on his own crack-slinging days. And last year’s “i,” which the Academy did find Grammy-worthy, is a celebration– an affirmation of love even when the world’s a ghetto full of big guns and picket signs.

“The Blacker the Berry,” to use a completely unoriginal comparison, may well be the Malcolm X to “i”‘s Martin Luther King, Jr. It’s aggressive and pushes buttons. You’re supposed to feel uncomfortable in parts. Put simply, it’s an honest and heartbreaking glimpse into the mindset of a black man in America, revolving around an enigmatic ‘hypocrisy’. But I’ll leave the more knowledgeable interpretations to the Pulitzer Prize winners and bow out here. Remember this: every race start from the block.

In this final couplet, Kendrick Lamar employs a rhetorical move akin to—and in its way even more devastating than—Common’s move in the last line of “I Used to Love H.E.R.”: snapping an entire lyric into place with a surprise revelation of something hitherto left unspoken. In “H.E.R.”, Common reveals the identity of the song’s “her”—hip hop itself—forcing the listener to re-evaluate the entire meaning and intent of the song. Here, Kendrick Lamar reveals the nature of the enigmatic hypocrisy that the speaker has previously confessed to three times in the song without elaborating: that he grieved over the murder of Trayvon Martin when he himself has been responsible for the death of a young black man. Common’s “her” is not a woman but hip hop itself; Lamar’s “I” is not (or not only) Kendrick Lamar but his community as a whole. This revelation forces the listener to a deeper and broader understanding of the song’s “you”, and to consider the possibility that “hypocrisy” is, in certain situations, a much more complicated moral position than is generally allowed, and perhaps an inevitable one.

(Michael Chabon‘s two cents on Genius.com)

“I Love You, Honeybear”

Anyone familiar with my Bright Eyes fixation of nearly well over a decade will be aware that when it comes to music I’m (I mean, why mince words here?) a sucker for a “tortured soul”-type full of self-loathing and cynicism, who possesses the poetic finesse with which to spin his bleak outlook into the most heart-wrenching of verses. Someone who demonstrates the kind of unrepentant honesty that almost surely would be off-putting in real life, but from a safe distance makes one feel like a confidant. Like Conor Oberst, Josh Tillman (masquerading as Father John Misty) ticks all these boxes with the added bonus of having the voice of an angel (whereas an old girlfriend of my brother’s once compared Conor to a goat). There aren’t exact parallels between the two, of course… Oberst is mopey and introspective; Tillman, jaded and callous. If anything, I’ve pegged Justin Vernon as Tillman’s indie-music-universe foil-slash-nemesis, what with their whimsical pseudonyms and beards and affinities for women named Emma.

In any case, “I Love You, Honeybear” is one of those albums that just makes you feel so many things. It’s filthy (“Mascara, blood, ash, and cum on the Rorschach sheets where we make love” are the album’s opening words, if you don’t count the three crooning “Honeybear”s that precede), hilarious (“She says, like, literally, music is the air she breathes; and the malaprops make me wanna fuckin scream. I wonder if she even knows what that word means.”), sweet (“You left a note in your perfect script: ‘Stay as long as you want.’ I haven’t left your bed since.”), confessional (“I didn’t call when grandma died. I spend my money getting drunk and high. I’ve done things unprotected, proceeded to drive home wasted, bought things to win over siblings; I’ve said awful things, such awful things.”), anguished (“Now I’ve got a lifetime to consider the ways I grow more disappointing to you as my beauty warps and fades.”), but above all, beautiful. Basic folk melodies get fleshed out with these great brass and string arrangements, plus all those vocal harmonies… Haha. It’s nice. Really worth a listen (or seventy).

(Oh also Marlon got me the vinyl for Valentine’s Day, so that‘s pretty awesome too.)

(Oh also, don’t get me wrong– for all the talk of goats and mopeyness I’m still very much on Team Oberst.)

For more FJM fun, you could check out his appearance on Marc Maron’s WTF podcast; his meandering, admittedly self-indulgent (but engaging!) personal-statement-of-sorts+”Instructiongs For Listening” (Also serves as an album insert. Whatever you do don’t miss the accompaniment to “When You’re Smiling and Astride Me”); or Pitchfork’s write-up of “Bored in the USA” as Best New Track last November. “Maybe Tillman’s just one of us, not even sure if we’re being sarcastic anymore.”

Pitchfork Music Festival (INCLUDING MORE GIFS)

Marlon and I took a vacation a couple of weeks ago that we kicked off at the Pitchfork Music Festival in Chicago. We flew in late on Friday so had to miss attractive acts like Sharon van Etten (coming to the Jefferson in October, though!) and Beck, but Saturday and Sunday had plenty of good ones in store. We spent most of Saturday with Lee, an old friend of Marlon’s whose wedding we’d be attending the following weekend in Champaign; and parts of Sunday with Stephanie, a high school friend of mine, and her boyfriend Darrel.

wild beasts 2

nice 'stache

nice ‘stache

we too had such flowers...

more random crowd pictures?

we arrived early to get a good spot for pusha t and everything, and then he was late as hell.

we arrived early to get a good spot for Pusha T and everything, and then he was late as hell.

sunglass swap

sunglass swap

we like and love each other.

we like and love each other.

marlon & lee

marlon & lee

lee ang mar pitchfork ang sunglasses

we caught Danny Brown from afar.

We were pretty amped up for a few of the night shows: St. Vincent, FKA twigs, and Neutral Milk Hotel. St. Vincent’s set opened with a HAL/“Fitter Happier”-sounding voice requesting that we don’t “digitally capture” our experience and I chose to obey the robot. But hey, someone else got the whole set on tape so. Go nuts.

It was a pity to have to dip out early to catch twigs, but also worth it. Think she’s really starting to blow up.

And due to allegedly typical stage fright (or something to that effect), Neutral Milk Hotel did not have their big screens on, and the stage was poorly lit, so that experience was a mostly audio one… Played pretty much everything you’d want to hear, though. Glad to have had the Jeff Mangum solo experience last year, as well.

neutral milk hotel pitchfork

Sunday I briefly joined Ollie in foxhood:

whole foods chicago fox pitchfork

Then we saw Perfect Pussy, and in an attempt to get a picture of her armpit hair, I took a bunch of pictures, so I made a gif.

perfect pussy pitchfork gif

 

pitchfork

makin friends.

makin friends.

(click for larger image)

(click for larger image)

me & mar goofin

ang flower

simba?

simba?

grimes pitchfork2

marlon flowers pitchfork stephanie flower pitchfork darren flower pitchfork gif

Kendrick Lamar

Kendrick Lamar was fantastic as the festival’s closer.

Then we went and had a photo shoot at a nearby bar until it made sense to actually attempt to get an Uber.

marlon bar marlon bar 2 ang bar ang bar two ang bar three

don't remember what the promise was, but i hope i haven't broken it.

don’t remember what the promise was, but i hope i haven’t broken it.

Oh and I made a big playlist with songs from all the festival bands, to include the ones from Friday.

Governors Ball Reconnaissance, Part 1 (plus a little something about “the Robots”)

governors ball

We’re well within the one-month-mark of the fast approach of Gov Ball (the countdown on their site informs me we’re at just over 23 days, as it happens) so I’m actually a little behind on my “Governors Ball Initiative,” as I’ve labeled the en masse consumption of previously unknown or unfamiliar groups that’ll be performing there. Luckily, as I’ve been known to brag, one of the perks of my job is that my time poring over Annual Reports generally has a pretty nice soundtrack, so I’ve got hours at my disposal for the task.

I’m pretty much just going straight down this list from BrooklynVegan that shows the mostly-manageable schedule. The Nas/Guns’n’Roses and Kanye/Avett Brothers conflicts don’t exactly make me happy but for the most part I’m unconcerned. But that could just mean that I don’t know enough of the bands well enough yet…

(click for full list)

(click photo for full list)

It’s been a fun two days. First up are Swear & Shake, an “Indie Folk” quartet outta Brooklyn. I liked them quite a bit; Kari Spieler’s voice is to die for and they’ve got some tight arrangements that maintain a pretty true folk sound.

Check out their EP (aptly titled “Extended Play”):

A couple of my personal favorites were “Daggers,” “The Light,” and “Johnnie,” (allegedly the first song Spieler and Adam McHeffey, the other vocalist[/guitarist/banjoist] recorded in Spieler’s bedroom their senior year at SUNY Purchase College).

Next was a change of pace with St. Lucia, a former boys-choir member from Johannesburg turned electro-pop marvel out of New York. Before long I had to remind myself (…numerous times) to cease dancing in my office chair. I enjoyed his remixes a lot:

But also took a shine to a number of his original tracks, such as “September,” “All Eyes on You,” and “Paper Heart.”

Dinosaur Jr. completely switched things up again with their very classic/alt rock stylings. I think I had listened to them on a few occasions previously, but nothing that stuck with me too drastically. I remember thinking to myself, this would be a pretty fun band to watch on a sunny summer day… as I ran through their SoundCloud offerings twice this morning, but will confess that they still haven’t left the hugest impression on me. That said, unless Holy Ghost! totally blows me away I’d probably go see ’em.

I was pretty close to giving Of Monsters and Men a skip, but decided I was being unfair in letting their fate be decided by the fact that radio stations went completely overboard with “Little Talks.” SoundCloud didn’t offer much original material for them (though the Until the Ribbon Breaks remix of “King and Lionheart” and Passion Pit remix of “Little Talks” did get the ice around my heart to meltin’) so I turned to my old stand-by, YouTube. (Spoti-what?) There I found their live sets at Coachella 2013 and Lollapalooza 2012, which I thought would be appropriate for my reconnaissance. I’ll include the latter set here, mostly because I just want to be that girl in the tree at the beginning.

Ultimately I found them endearing (oh ye Icelanders… get me every time) and guess I wouldn’t mind seeing them.

But wait– we waited with baited breath for the new Daft Punk album and they delivered yesterday!

(click to stream on soundisstyle.com)

(click photo to stream on http://www.soundisstyle.com)

(Ah, they’ve taken down their stream option, directing you instead to iTunes.)

And did the Robots ever deliver… I’m one of the seemingly-few whose heart still races for “Get Lucky” even after hearing it multiple hundreds of times, and think the album really lived up to its strong lead single. Let’s just say I’ve had a few very enjoyable walks with Ollie while plugged into this since putting it on my phone yesterday afternoon. I’m running out of commentary so I’m just going to throw these other entertaining/interesting DP-related items at you without any: The amazing Daft Punk|Random Access Memories|The Collaborators episode featuring Pharrell in which he only ever refers to them as “The Robots” and claims to have no memory of making “Get Lucky” and This inspiring Billboard interview that delves into their philosophy and methodology a bit.

My favorite quote from the last piece: “It’s mostly a question: Is it still possible to have this dream of looking at the way music is made like movies are made? It used to be teamwork. Is it still possible? Is there still an audience, a market for it? All interesting questions as an experiment. We are musicians even more than producers, in some sense composers. We’re not the best-selling artists in the world, but we have this dream; this ability to try to do this project and see if it we can make it happen.”

I’m having trouble finding good files to link to but I want to take this moment to profess my love for “Lose Yourself to Dance,” Pharrell’s other collab track. And I was completely engrossed in Giorgio Moroder’s spoken-word contribution to “Giorgio by Moroder.”

And yes, as I mentioned in my last post, Vampire Weekend’s new album dropped today and I regrettably haven’t even gotten around to it. In a minute, there is time…

One year ago: Snorkeling on Gili Trawangan

I… haven’t been able to access any of my China blogs or the host site for the past few days. Starting to worry a little that they shut down? Meh :(.

[update:]

With the top comment, “Can you imagine how many children are going to be conceived to this song?” I’m sayin!

Off to the Races (Again!)

photo cred: ben holmes

photo cred: ben holmes

My dear mother had the good fortune of being born on May 4, which happens to fall on or near the weekend of an important horserace (and, as her “Third Son” has pointed out, is the day before Cinco de Mayo. Every year!). Sure, some of you may know it as the weekend of the Kentucky Derby, but round these parts (specifically, in a place truly called The Plains, Virginia) Gold Cup is the name of the game. My parents have made a sort of tradition of it over the past few years, but that whole being-on-the-other-side-of-the-world thing has thrown a wrench into any chances of my own participation.

Until this year! And what a blast it was. Slightly classier (at least in some areas haha) than Foxfield, with plenty of horses seen and documented, and even bet on. Daddy ended up showering Momma in birthday winnings after sweeping three races, but the $20 he lent me went nowhere. Alas.

gold cup virginia

'a wooden table? a glass pitcher? flowers in a glass vase? we're not at foxfield anymore...'

‘tablecloths? a wooden table? a glass pitcher? flowers in a glass vase? we’re not at foxfield anymore…’

the birthday girl and me with an old neighbor, michelle. hadn't seen her in 14 years, i wanna say!

the birthday girl and me with an old neighbor, michelle. hadn’t seen her in 14 years, i wanna say!

he was dubbed my 'horse race bf,' which meant that we called each other 'dahhhling' and belly laughed in a very highbrow manner. also that he was responsible for wiping from my chin the bloody mary that invariable found itself trickling down on various occasions.

he was dubbed my ‘horse race bf,’ which meant that we called each other ‘dahhhling’ and belly laughed in a very highbrow manner. also that he was responsible for wiping from my chin the bloody mary that invariable found itself trickling down on various occasions.

actually watching the races... what a novel idea.

actually watching the races… what a novel idea.

sweet gig

sweet gig

horses overexposed

i have a feeling their photos turned out better than mine

i have a feeling their photos turned out better than mine

spectating

as it turns out there's not much skill or research involved in the gambling we do... just drawing numbered balls from a cigar box... but we have fun.

as it turns out there’s not much skill or research involved in the gambling we do… just drawing numbered balls from a cigar box… but we have fun.

numbers 1 and 2... my horse didn't even finish the race.

numbers 1 and 2… my horse didn’t even finish the race.

stupid kingdom...

stupid kingdom…

one-time president of serp, future [co]-president of gold cup

one-time president of serp, future [co]-president of gold cup

the golf cart whence we phoned our girl kathy chen. and it's old hat by now, but i feel it's worth reiterating that the photographer left us with these parting words: 'don't worry, i've got bail money for the both of you. i'm so rich it's not even funny.'

the golf cart whence we phoned our girl kathy chen. and it’s old hat by now, but i feel it’s worth reiterating that the photographer left us with these parting words: ‘don’t worry, i’ve got bail money for the both of you. i’m so rich it’s not even funny.’

father/daughter shot. right before this my dad pronounced, 'my daughter IS me!' this was followed shortly by, 'i'm KING of the idiots!' if a=b... and b=c... well i'm just not really sure if i should be offended or not.

father/daughter shot. right before this my dad pronounced, ‘my daughter IS me!’ this was followed shortly by, ‘i’m KING of the idiots!’ if a=b… and b=c… well i’m just not really sure if i should be offended or not.

i got four grown men to link arms wedding-style with me to take shots of sambuca... maybe one of my greatest achievements to date.

i got four grown men to link arms wedding-style with me/each other to take shots of sambuca… maybe one of my greatest achievements to date.

photo credit: kyle moller (whom i may or may not have threatened to knock off the tailgate if they didn't turn out well... lucky him.)

photo credit: kyle moller (whom i may or may not have threatened to knock off the tailgate if they didn’t turn out well… lucky him.)

ran into carol and kelly, two of my old gym buddies from high school!

ran into carol and kelly, two of my old gym buddies from high school!

someone, at the very end of the day, presented us with a mint julep (very poorly mixed, i might add). this pleased ben, who'd been in search of a libation to match his bowtie all day.

someone, at the very end of the day, presented us with a mint julep (very poorly mixed, i might add). this pleased ben, who’d been in search of a libation to match his bowtie all day.

while awaiting the traffic to disperse ben and i went to kick it with the boys blasting eminem from their car. saw fit to switch hats with this upstanding gentleman, though mom was none-too-pleased and, completely fairly, i should add, asked him if he had lice when he went parading over to our car in his new headwear. hahaha.

while awaiting the traffic to disperse ben and i went to kick it with the random boys blasting eminem from their car. saw fit to switch hats with this upstanding gentleman, though mom was none-too-pleased (it… may or may not have been HER hat i was giving away all willy-nilly) and (completely fairly, i’ll admit) asked him if he had lice when he went parading over to our car in his new headwear. hahaha.

It was a really nice time with great weather and great company! And… we were all ready to crash by 9:30pm, just like real adults.

In other news, got my wisdom teeth out yesterday! Am feeling surprisingly good and will almost certainly be crashing another of my parents’ events tonight by attending the Sons of Bill show with them at the State Theater. In honor of the extraction, and of Vampire Weekend’s forthcoming new album:

the gloves are off, the wisdom teeth are out… what you on about?

And it’s no “David After the Dentist“, but my brother did make a six-minute video of my coming-out-of-an-anesthised-state that shows me in my most childlike and mumble-tastic state (not to mention strangely resembling a dinosaur of some sort).

One year ago: Gili Trawangan
Two years ago: First Day of School

(Olliefield/)Three Things

I keep wanting to post about FoxOlliefield, but the task overwhelms me. <-That links to photos. I started making a Grooveshark version of the playlist, but it kept deleting songs after I added them (quite sure this wasn’t user error) so I only got 86 out of nearly 300 songs on it. Anyway, Emilie made a retrospective list of the only songs that really mattered, and by that I mean:

what rhymes with ‘hug me’?

(And we were so sure “Get Lucky” was going to be the Foxfield anthem… Pharrell’s just all over our charts right now. For a total change of “Get Lucky” pace, by the way, check out this downbeat-but-beautiful Daughter cover.)

Long story short, twas the bestie-best of times and it was wonderful having so many old friends in one place. Who says 13’s an unlucky number?!?!?!

girl pic foxfield

Alright but this post was originally supposed to just be “Three Things.”

Thing #1: My good friend Jack, formerly known as “The Tallest Man in Thung Song,” is an excellent photographer and I was just made aware of a really gorgeous blog he has of his work done in various locations across the globe. Give it a look:

Thing #2: My brother is a comedic genius:

Ketchup from Ryan Calonder on Vimeo.

Thing #3: This video’s awesome. Uses clips from glamorous ’80s and ’90s ads to make what really feels like a narrative. So amazing what having a soundtrack tricks your brain into thinking it’s seeing. Also just a cool track.

One year ago: The Ubud Market
Two years ago: Home Improvement
Three years ago: Chinese Transportation (maybe my favorite post from the whole time I was in China haha!)

Thoughts on Home

Without much commentary, because I haven’t really done much mulling-over of it, I wanted to include the opening words of Giles Morris‘ Read This First segment in this week’s C-ville. They just really resonated with me.

You can never go home again. The line expresses a quintessential sorrow embedded in the American dream. You move up and out. You can never go home again, because you left and became someone different. When you go back, no one will understand you, and the place you idealized can’t ever live up to the new tastes you’ve acquired. But is the message historical or progressive? Essential or didactic? Was it coined to communicate immigrant longing? Or as a warning to those who made the upwardly mobile journey from the provinces to the city? Or, more basically, does it say something about time and memory?

And since the phrase “American dream” found its way into the very first sentence (and since you know how I feel about media-less posts, and since I spent a good amount of time last week strangely engaged in this song) I’m going to throw in David Bowie’s “Young Americans” along with an insightful interpretation from SongMeanings.net. (Haha I don’t know if I should be embarrassed by admitting that I find myself doing investigating on that site with relative frequency.)

all the way from washington, her bread-winner begs off the bathroom floor: “we live for just these twenty years… do we have to die for the fifty more?”

Several people have mentioned the allusion to the Beatles: “I heard the news today, oh boy.” …Remember the rest of the line? “About a lucky man who made the grade.” You see, Bowie’s song is about someone who has NOT “made the grade” that is collectively articulated as the American Dream. That, in a nutshell, is the point of the song: America bombards people with a litany of flashy expectations -Ford Mustangs, Barbie dolls, Daddy’s heroes (Sports, Hollywood, etc.) material success, etc., but the disconcerting reality is that few people ever attain this tantalizing vision of success, because it’s unrealistic, and when their adult lives turn out to be about divorce, alimony, and general failure, they are just confused. The speaker of Bowie’s song asks questions like “”We live for just these twenty years… Do we have to die for the fifty more?” and “Ain’t there a man who can say no more?” Because he is confused when he sees that a culture that only values youth and flashy things leaves everyone over 20 in the lurch. And there’s no Hollywood hero who will step in to save the day, because that’s just in the movies. In the final evaluation, those who fail to realize that the American Dream is, after all, a dream, will wind up in mid-life wondering what kind of meaning they were really supposed to have sought instead. The ironic part is that Bowie (who is British) is so smart that he manages to critique America without being obvious; most people mistakenly think this song is some kind of celebration of the American way of life. It’s not. It’s an intelligent critique of our shallow culture and the hollow expectations it encourages in place of anything that could actually provide meaning-religion, literature, learning, family, etc.

(Comment– which I don’t mean to say I relate to entirely, but certainly in some ways– by lazerpj. Full lyrics available here.)

But still a sick jam!

(Oh and don’t let me trick you into thinking I’m bummed out or anything… I’ve got housing sorted out for next year, I think I’ve got some second income about to kick in, and Foxfield 2013 begins in three days!!!)

Guerillas do Gorillaz; Flume does U Street Music Hall

Last week was a good week for me, musically. Awhile ago my brother was excited to inform me he’d been asked to play trumpet with local act Guerilla Tactics when they, appropriately enough, covered the first Gorillaz album (“Gorillaz,” as it so happens) for an April Fool’s Day show. Guerilla Tactics is generally a two-man operation: Tucker Rogers and Rob Bedford (aka DJ XSV), two old friends of mine from my first stint in Charlottesville. For this undertaking they obviously were going to need a little more than an acoustic guitar and some turntables (and a trumpet), however. Another old friend, Travis Elliott, took lead vocals; another Tucker and another Rob (Titus and Richmond, respectively), joined them on drums and bass, respectively; and the Bowden sisters rounded out the mix with Kristen on keys and Amy on violin (and kazoo!).

To the best of my knowledge this spectacle came together with precious few rehearsals and limited time (as well as a couple last-minute changes in the lineup) and I thought the results were well impressive. And despite being moved back from my normal Monday-night bedtime of 10 pm to the unthinkable hour of 11:30 in order to avoid competing with another show at the Jefferson that night, turnout was massive and, suffice it to say, the House was most certainly Rocked.

And… even with all the fun I was having I managed to take over an hour of video? That I’ve trimmed down into four videos and made a playlist from? Enjoy! (Video quality, as always, is definitely lacking but the audio’s decent enough.)

Track listing: April Fool’s Day “treat”, “Re-Hash”, “New Genius (Brother)”, “Punk”, “Sound Check (Gravity)”, “Double Bass”, “Rock the House” (featuring Aaron Ahlbrandt of Kings of Belmont), “19-2000”, “Latin Simone” (featuring Seth Green of Sons of Bill), “Slow Country”and the special encore, “Feel Good Inc.” (Also I apologize in advance for the nonsense chatter that, on occasion, can be heard in the background on my part… a friend and I decided that our only hope for remaining awake until such a late hour came in the form of $3 Jack & Gingers at the Virginian before the show…)

sibling shot! i love that i get to see these two so frequently :)

sibling shot! i love that i get to see these two so frequently

with the prompt 'pout.' (alas, i'm clearly far better-experienced in the ways of pouting than either of my brothers)

with the prompt ‘pout.’ (alas, i’m clearly far better-experienced in the ways of pouting than either of my brothers)

giving it another go

giving it another go

guerilla tacticsryan on stage

hadn't seen these lovely ladies in awhile!

hadn’t seen these lovely ladies in awhile!

having fun

genna matthew and ryan calonder... a match made in cville music heaven!

genna matthew and ryan calonder… a match made in cville music heaven!

Wednesday then found me saddling up to drive to DC to see Flume perform at U Street Music Hall with some friends. Flume (or “Harvey Streten,” as he may have once been known) is a 21-year-old DJ/producer from Australia that a friend had turned me on to awhile ago; U Street’s known to be a pretty dope venue; Nate said he’d take Ollie for the night… I couldn’t resist. And it was fun!

flume u street music hallI mean, there were a few drawbacks. He went on quite late and the set was fairly short (there were rumors that he’d come back on that kept us there later than we may have ordinarily stayed, but eventually we had to cut our losses). We also found ourselves musing that the first few tracks were sounding more or less like he’d just set his CD to “Play” (though even if this had truly been the case it still sounded extra-cool on the state-of-the-art soundsystem they’ve got there). And, this is probably my biggest lament, he didn’t play one of my favorite tracks, “Bring You Down”. That being said, before long he was doing some more novel and interesting things with both new and old songs, and all in all it was a right good time. (The same cannot be said for work on Thursday, but I suppose I was prepared for as much).

Here’s his most recent album:

(My favorites, in addition to “Bring You Down” are “Holdin On”, “Insane”, and “On Top”.)

One year ago: Ubud, Part One (and Getting There)
Two years ago: Krabi (yeah last week marked the two-year anniversary of my departure to Thailand!! So crazy…)
Three years ago: Hangzhou Two

“Pilate”

I was reading a collection of George Orwell’s essays, Books v. cigarettes, many moons ago in China when a reference to Pontius Pilate inspired me to read his (Pilate’s) Wikipedia page.

That, in turn, inspired me to write this song:

(I was listening to a lot of Sufjan Stevens at the time, which must have reassured me that it can be cool to write songs with strong religious overtones. Though Brand New might win the prize for best religious-themed song.)

Four Easters (and, I suppose, more appropriately, Holy Thursdays) have passed since then, each marked by an intention to sit down and get it recorded that was finally realized this year. Enjoy!

Oh, and the image in the video is a photo of a wood carving that I edited a little (heres the original). The artist, Grant Figura, has a lot of really interesting pieces and I’ve just noticed he’s from right down the road in Floyd, Virginia!

Lyrics: Continue reading