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Archive for the ‘Blur’ Category

5.20SOUNDTRACK: ELEKTRA-“I Don’t Do Boys” (2009).

elektraI found out about this band and video because of my recent reading of the Icelandic magazine Séð og Heyrt and this post on I Love Icelandic Music.

This song was listed as one of Iceland’s musical scandals because of the aggressively lesbian imagery.

The song is simple enough.  Piano chords play slowly until the tone changes for the bridge and the very simple chorus (which reminds me of Blur’s Boys and Girls in a way, although it doesn’t sound anything like them): “I don’t do Boys, I just do Girls, I just do girls with style and class. I don’t do boys I just do girls I just do girls with kissable ass”). It’s poppy but a little more aggressive than a typical pop song (and not as metal as a pop metal song).  There’s an interesting style to the backing vocals that seems to make it more than a pop song as well.  I’m not saying it’s good, but it’s more than typical.

As for the video, I can’t tell if this is male fantasy lesbianism or what, but since this story is all about kissing, here’s a video that’s all about kissing.  See if it’s as scandalous as Iceland thinks.

[READ: May 16, 2013] “Leaning In”

The five brief pieces in this week’s New Yorker are labeled as “Imagined Inventions.”  And in each one, the author is tasked with inventing something.

Mindy Kaling is always funny, especially when you’re not sure how serious she is.  As when she begins her essay, “One of the perks of my job is that I regularly get to kiss men—often married men—with zero repercussions for anyone involved.”  Of course she’s talking about acting, but as she says—who is to know if she slips out of character while kissing?

She explains that kissing new people is one of the great joys in life and, while being in a committed relationship is also wonderful, she feels that removing the joy of kissing new people is a terrible drag.  She agrees that marriage is a serious business but kissing is not.  “Kissing in and of itself can’t create offspring or cause life-threatening disease.”  She offers an example of how if you just kissed someone you would never be stuck having to listen to his post-coital ramblings afterwards. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: BRITISH SEA POWER-Live on KEXP,  March 4, 2008 (2008).

The four songs from this set come from Do You Like Rock Music?  It’s the only album I have from British Sea Power, so I found the set enjoyable.  The band seems to specialize in a kind of chanted heavy rock.  This is especially noticeable in “No Lucifer” which has a big chanted chorus (the DJ observes that British fans chant a lot better than America fans–which is very true).

The singer’s voice reminds me a bit of Catherine Wheel (deep and kind of smooth, as opposed to high-pitched and/or screamy) and the music has a kind of Blur feel–very English-sounding.  And yet the band is a bit heavier than Blur and much darker as well.

“Atom” is a speedy blast of borderline punk.  “Down on the Ground” has a very catchy riff and “Canvey Island” has a building swelling sound that I really like.  They would never be my favorite band, but I really like this album.

I also enjoyed that the DJ was sort of fawning over the band since they had gotten about two hours of sleep the night before (after their show).  And I must say they sound pretty fine for having no sleep.  Check it out. 

[READ: November 1, 2012] “This Feels So Real”

Heidi Julavits is one of the founders of The Believer magazine, so naturally I’m drawn to her writing. And I have enjoyed most of her short stories (I haven’t gotten around to reading her novels yet).  But I really didn’t like this one.

It is about a contestant on a romantic reality show who has been kicked off the island (or whatever manufactured location they are supposed to be on).  He, Ryan P (for there is another Ryan on the show), really loves Ashley.  But she has given him the symbol that means she is not interested in him.  And we follow him as his love and obsession for Ashley blossoms.

Ryan says that there is a producer on the show, Chris, who is actually responsible for his departure–that he is the one who executes Ashley’s desires, but Chris seems to suggest that Ryan might want to try again (or so Ryan understands it).  The story then follows Ryan as he follows Ashley (and the other men remaining on the show–including Ryan M, whom Ryan P assumes is really gay).  He tries to avoid the cameras and tries to get closer and closer to his beloved. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: The 90’s Are Back, Or Whatever… NPR.  (2011).

This is a 90 minute podcast about the music of the 90s.  And, of course, it opens with “The Dream of the 90s” from Portlandia.

I don’t listen to too many full discussions on the All Songs Considered site, but since the 90s were definitely my favorite era of music, I thought it was worth a listen.  Incidentally, it’s funny that the 90s are so meaningful to me when, really I should be a child of the 80s.  But in reality, my 80s music was mostly heavy metal, because I hated all pop radio then.

This radio show (available for free download here) features four NPR music geeks talking about the music they loved during the 90s.  There are some obvious points (“Smells Like Teen Spirit,” “1979,” “Song 2,” “Loser”), but some unexpected songs as well: “Grace” (Jeff Buckley), “Long Snake Moan” (PJ Harvey).  And of course, probably the biggest surprise: Sebadoh’s “Soul and Fire as “song of the decade.”

The hosts have a lot of fun with bad songs (severe bashing on Collective Soul or hilariously cueing up “Can’t Touch This” to punk one of the speakers when they are talking about Missy Elliot–yup, it’s not all alt rock, Missy Elliott and Lauren Hill crop up along with Johnny Cash and Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan).

But let’s not forget my perennial favorite from Cornershop: “Brimful of Asha.”  And, yes, My Bloody Valentine.

These days, when I do listen to the radio, I find that the stations I prefer tend to play a lot of 90s songs, but it’s surprising to me how infrequently they play some of these really big artists (I hear a lot of Harvey Danger, but no My Bloody Valentine).  It’s funny that one of the songs they talk about, Len’s “Steal My Sunshine” I actually heard coming out of a radio at a pool while on vacation in Florida this past January (!?!).

It’s a fun segment and makes me think that although I do like a lot of new music, I’m a gonna hafta retire to Portland.

P.S. Stay till the end of the show for the hilarious impersonation of Trent Reznor.

[READ: February 17, 2011] 3 book reviews

Zadie Smith is an author whose output I fully intend to ingest one of these days.  So I figured why not read a few of her book reviews, too.

Smith reviews three new titles: Harlem is Nowhere: A Journey to the Mecca of Black America, by Sharifa Rhodes-Pitts; My Prizes by Thomas Bernhard; and While the Women are Sleeping by Javier Marías.

I’m intrigued by her review of Harlem is Nowhere.  She seemed to be rather critical of the author, especially of her mannerisms: like calling James Baldwin’s “habit of speaking to Harlem folk, having experiences, and deriving from these encounters “a metaphor about all of black existence”–“The Jimmy.”  (where others might have simply called it “writing”).  Or the fact that the author describes herself as a “single girl” as if that has anything to do with anything.

The second half of the review concedes that once you abandon wanting to known anything precise about historical Harlem, it’s a lovely book.  Smith revels in learning about James VanDerZee, Raven Chanticleer and Alexander Gumby (and her enthusiasm makes me want to investigate this book, if not their own works).

So, despite initial criticisms, she ends the review very positively and gives a thumbs up to the work. (more…)

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end.jpgSOUNDTRACK: THE GOOD, THE BAD & THE QUEEN-The Good, The Bad & The Queen (2007).

goodbad.jpgOnce upon a time, Damon Albarn was just the singer from Blur. This was long before he became a multi-band, genre-hopping, composing man about town. Blur were a fun, poppy band who wrote fun poppy hits and sort of bubbled under in the U.S. until they hit it big with “Song 2” or the Whoo Hoo Song, if you will. I think that “Boys and Girls” or is it “Girls and Boys” from one of their earlier albums was a minor hit here. At least that’s how I first heard of them.

During the nonsensical Blur vs Oasis war that raged all across the world (or at least the UK Music Press), I liked both bands, but was clearly more in the Blur camp. And then one day Damon met up with Jamie Hewlitt who made the great comic Tank Girl, and they formed a great comic band Gorillaz. And boy was it big; even if you don’t count that they were cartoons, they were still huge! (more…)

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