Friday, February 29, 2008

(02.29.08) Recommends:

You Talk Way Too Much.

Apropos of, ahem, Absolutely Nothing, we've been listening to this song all day today.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

(02.28.08) Recommends:

Looking Forward to the Weekend.

We don't want to jinx it or anything, but. We've been doing some research. We're scoured the internet. Poured over the newspaper. Flipped through all the channels on the teevee. We even consulted with the guy down at the corner store. The verdict is in. And it's unanimous: this weekend is shaping up to be the Best Weekend Thus Far For This Calendar Year. We all just have to get through today. And then we've got more potential highlights than reasonable people can shake sticks at. Behold:
  1. Miss Chan Marshall will be serenading us on Friday.
  2. The weather is supposed to be, um, another nearly perfect LA weekend. sums it up succinctly with it's prediction of "abundant sunshine."
  3. Which means we're gonna be getting our exercise outside!
  4. We'll probably consume no less than three alcoholic drinks in a single sitting, because it is the weekend, and well, we can. Note: this does not mean the drink must come from a can. It might come from a bottle. Or a fancy glass. Or off the chest of an eager, nubile female. No, no. Another Note: we didn't just write that; it was the other editor; and it's completely false. And preposterous. We only love people for their minds. Sheesh.
  5. Last and probably funniest: New Will Ferrel Movie Weekend.
So there you go. There's no point in asking if you can top this list because we both know you can't. But you should try anyway. 'Cause this is the weekend when things are gonna happen.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

(02.27.08) Recommends:

Busting Our Your Favorite Driving CD and Going for a Drive.

Call us old timers, but this post is a nod to old school music listening ways.

One of the things that our iPod world makes us contemplate is the future of the Driving CD. Anyone born from about 1985 and earlier knows what we're talking about. The CD that you always have somewhere in the car because if a long road trip should suddenly break out, you'd need it because it's your favorite Driving CD. They are those rare albums where every song is good, every song flows perfectly into the next song, and together the album seems to perfectly soundtrack whatever landscape that happens to surround you.

Do people still have Driving CDs, or is it all iPod mixes, perfectly tailored to meet the expectations of the destination, the driving company, the climate controlled environment? God, we hope not.

Probably our favorite Driving CD is Son Volt's Trace. This record came out when we were Sophomores in high school, and my goodness, driving really meant something at that age, you know? We can definitely recall getting out and getting lost among the dusty backroads of Kansas, with the windows rolled down and that humid heat beating down on us, listening to this record over and over and over again. We didn't know where we were headed, but we were hopeful that the open road and this album held some of the answers.

And this week, we're there again. I mean, we're not back in Kansas. We've found ourselves sequestered in a certain California city that was heretofore unknown to us. But this town has a really stunning mountain range. So when we've had time, we've gotten out, like that Sophomore stuck inside of us, and have been driving in the shadow of that mountain range. Looking for answers, trying to clear our heads. And wouldn't you know it, but we had to bust out our favorite Driving CD again. And it can still make everything seem more meaningful.

These songs will never be as powerful to us as they are coming out of a CD player, out on the open road, but here are two of our favorite tracks from our favorite Driving CDs.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

(02.26.08) Recommends:


Just the other day we were wondering -- luckily we weren't wondering this aloud, as is sometimes our wont -- what would happen if Satomi Matsuzaki, the lead singer of Deerhoof, and Sufjan Stevens, of, um, Sufjan Stevens made some kind of musical robot out of their combined presences. Luckily we didn't have to wait too long for an answer, because today the good people at Catbird Records emailed us the answer. The robot's name is PWRFL POWER and he sounds like this. Note: He's not actually a robot. But we're very excited by the results nonetheless.

PWRFL POWER -- Alma Song -- mp3

PWRFL POWER @ Myspace.

Monday, February 25, 2008

(02.25.08) Recommends:

The Bureau of Communication.

We came across this page via the Daily Candy email, and it cracks us up. The premise is combining the powers of the internet and Mad Libs to convey all those unspoken thoughts that go through our heads all day. So if you're not sure how to reveal your attraction or repulsion to somebody; your regret or appreciation over things; to communicate, to celebrate, to observe; BoC might be just the thing for you. Just go to the site. Pick out a pre-created form. Fill it out. Email it off. "Let that which is unsaid be said." Attempts at humor are strongly discouraged.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

(02.24.08) Recommends:

"Sometime Around Midnight" by the Airborne Toxic Event.

One of the things that we've really loved about our time in Los Angeles is all the great local bands we've stumbled upon one way or another. We've seen and blogged about locals the Deadly Syndrome, Western States Motel, Robert Francis, Emily Jane White and lots of others. We think Airborne Toxic Event gets top honors for Weirdest Discovery. And we've been listening to this ATE single tons lately. One of the reasons we really love this track (and perhaps it's subconsciously one of the reasons we love this band) is that we're pretty sure this is what Neil Diamond would have sounded like had he decided all those years ago to front an indie-rock band. And we're not being ironic or snarky here -- we really love Neil Diamond.

So seriously. We're pretty sure this band is gonna break big this calendar year. And we're pretty sure they owe a big debt to Neil Diamond. If you doubt this theory, check out this tune, close your eyes, and picture Neil Diamond.

All you know about Neil Diamond and indie-rock might change upon this experiment.

Paradigms? They're about to be shifted.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

(02.23.08) Recommends:

Six Degrees of Comedy.

1. Paul F. Tompkins performed down the street from us last night at UCB.

2. Paul F. Tompkins regularly performs in Comedy Death Ray at UCB.

3. A Comedy Death Ray album has been released.

4. Ian Edwards contributes a track on the album.

5. Part of his contribution is a bit on shark attacks.

6. And it's among the funniest things we've ever heard.

Here's the bit, in a slightly different form, that we found on youtube. [Starts at 1:44]

Friday, February 22, 2008

(02.22.08) Recommends:

The Track "Lights Out for Darker Skies" by British Sea Power (Rough Trade, 2008).

So Pitchfork apparently really hated BSP's new album, Do You Like Rock Music?, but we're really digging this song. I guess Pitchfork, and probably lots of other people, are upset that BSP hasn't put out an album it finds to be as awesome as their first, The Decline of British Sea Power. We really fucking love that album. But we're fine with BSP putting out whatever they want. Certainly people shouldn't be required to like everything by a band that puts out a killer debut. But we're also pretty certain that you're trying too hard at life if you can't get behind an anthem like Lights Out.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

(02.20.08) Recommends:

The Mountain Goats.

Sometimes we sit around wondering how our culture will be remembered by future generations. Of today's cultural outputs, what music will survive, what books will be taught in high school English classes, what thinkers will influence the way the next generation understands the world.

However that history is ultimately written, as things stand now one thing is abundantly clear. John Darnielle is one of the most important songwriters we have. If you've ever talked to us about this in Real Life we're merely repeating ourselves, but we'll put it out there on the blog now: the closest we can ever imagine ourselves feeling like heroin addict is listening to The Mountain Goats. We mean this as a compliment, of course. The characters in John Darnielle songs have reached this level of pure, unadulterated misery; it makes us twitchy just listening to the narratives. But here's the thing. It's not like mindless nihilism. The characters embody what we imagine Janis Joplin means when she sings freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose. They are at rock bottom, but they have a defiance toward the world that is both scary and awesomely impressive. And it's a defiance we damn well better understand if we want to try to make any sense out of the world.

Or, at least this is how we hear things. Sometimes we wonder if our lives would have turned out differently had we only listened to "upbeat" "happy" music. Frankly, we feel sorry for those who don't listen to the Mountain Goats.

They released a new album earlier this month. We're busting out of our britches with excitement to see them when they come through town for two shows next month. So for now we'll leave you with an old favorite and a new favorite.

Old Favorite:

New Favorite:

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

(02.19.08) Recommends:

More Thoughts While On the Exercise Bike at the Gym.

One. Do drive-by shootings occur more frequently in Los Angeles than the national average, and if so, is it because the shooters just can't find any parking?

Two. Does stalking occur less frequently in Los Angeles than the national average, and if so, is it because the stalker has to wait in so much traffic that eventually the stalker gives up on ever making it to the stalkee's place of residence and instead, e.g., detours to a bar to drink away the road rage?

Three. Are you really wearing that spandex outfit? Really?

If you have answers to any of these questions, please send them along.

Monday, February 18, 2008

(02.18.08) Recommends:

Mx Missiles by Andrew Bird.

If you've read this blog for any amount of time you know we're not really subtle about our love of Andrew Bird. If you want to see past musings, type his name up there in the search bar on the upper left hand corner of the blog. We're pretty sure by the time this blog is done we'll have used this space to individually recommended every song he'll ever put out. And our latest obsession is Mx Missiles. We recently hung out with a friend who's equally obsessed with Bird and Andrew Bird & The Mysterious Production of Eggs soundtracked parts of the eveing. Mx Missiles has lingered in our ears since.

Have a listen.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

(02.17.08) Recommends:

Not Making Going to the Gym Harder on Others Than It Already Has To Be.

Okay, look. We will be the first to admit that despite the fact that we live in Southern California, and the day-time temperature has unlikely dropped below 72 degrees since we've been here, our extremities remain a pasty shade of white, an ashy shade of gray. We realize we're kind of hairy. We realize that once we get going, we really sweat quite profusely. And our faces turn a shade similar to strawberry jam.

In addition to our own considerable shortcomings, we live in a section of a city with notoriously heavy amounts of traffic and notoriously scare amounts of parking spots. There are no take-a-quick-drive-to-the-__________ (fill in the blank)'s here.

Taken together, it takes something resembling a leap of faith to get us to even show up to the gym.

There are a lot of poor saps out there like us. But we show up. We're trying.

Therefore, An Important Note: If you are going to use the gym equipment immediately adjacent to, or anywhere within the peripheral vision of, a person, please do us all a favor and do not behave in the manner of an insane person. Good Lord: life is already difficult enough, people.

In these days of multiculturalism and multilangualism, we do not want to risk "behavior in the manner of an insane person" getting lost in translation.


An Example.

If somebody is using an exercise bike, and it is obvious -- perhaps from observing (but you should note your Insane Behavior Monitor going beep! beep! beep! when observing from too close a distance or too long a time) the aforementioned amounts of sweat or facial shade of strawberry jam -- that said person is in the middle of an intense workout, and is probably putting out maximum effort and still just basically holding on for dear life, you should not do the following.

You should not get on the exercise bike next to this person, and immediately start pedaling at what has to be 150 RPM while punching the air like you are training for a goddam boxing match, then leave after five minutes. This, this is Insane Behavior.

One. It is easy to get the machine up to 150 RPM the second you get on the bike. It is also easy to maintain 150 RPM for five minutes. Nobody is impressed with your speed. However, the person next to you probably thinks you're a douche bag.

Two. You are not, in fact, training for a goddam boxing match, are you? Answer: no, you are not. So enough with the punching, Billy Blanks.

Three. All of your commotion is very distracting to the poor person who we have already established is just trying to get through his or her daily workout, which in theory is supposed to offer respite from the traffic and the lack of parking and the commotion of the city and the headaches of work and the disappointments of life and the price of gasandrentandglobalwarmingandthenever-endingelectionseasonandetcetcetc and your routine, well, just stop it already, dude!

Friday, February 15, 2008

(02.15.08) Recommends:

Don't Think Twice, It's Alright.

Okay so no one can dispute that Bob Dylan is a legend or that this song is legendary. To this end enough has been said and written about both to fill up entire internets. But please indulge us as we toss another one into the tube.

Not a month goes by without us giving this song a listen. It always speaks to us. It manages to move us and comfort us, to make us feel happy or sad, but mostly it reminds us that it's necessary and proper to set aside four minutes out of this hectic life to be contemplative.

And it's worth nothing that this song has been around for literally our entire lives.

Which means:
  • We've known it longer than we've known family members, friends, loved ones
  • We've known it longer than we've known the Bible, been allowed in a voting booth, held a job.
  • We've known it longer than we've known some of humankind's most vexing elements: love, intoxication, indifference. etc.
People, things, movements, these are all fleeting; they come and go. But somehow, this song has been here forever. And it remains.

We sought refuge in it's words when we were confused 12-year olds [a child I am told]. We seek guidance from it now, standing -- confused again, we must admit -- at the dawn of 30 [a child I am told].

The song has literally become part of us. It's seen our past and knows our present and will be part of the toolkit that we bring to bear on the issues that we will face in the future. We find strength in it's longevity and we're hard pressed to come up with many other things in our lives that can make such a claim.

We love this timeless quality of music. And we think it's important to reflect on this quality when we get too caught up in thinking about how digital technology will affect music, and how the law will deal with digital technology, and how a generation of post-Napster people will view the law.

In the end, we turn to music because it's been there for us before, it's what we've always known. We've had rough patches in the past and the music is proof both of those old wounds and of the fact that we soldiered on, and things turned out okay.

Oh, things turned out way better than okay.

Friday, February 08, 2008

(02.08.08) Recommends:

An Urban Conversation in Los Feliz.

Several weeks ago we went to brunch with a Fellow Blogger at Alcove Cafe & Bakery in Los Feliz. Today's LA Times has a lovely article about a chess table located in the cafe that has turned into a repository for notes left by patrons. If you've ever found yourself mesmerized by Found Magazine, Post Secrets, or craigslist Missed Connections, you'll love this article.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

(02.07.08) Recommends:

Headlines that make you go "hmmmm?"

There was a story on today about Pedro Martinez being filmed at a cockfight in the Dominican Republic. The headline was "Pedro Emphasizes He Was At Cockfight As Spectator." Hmmmm, was he concerned that people thought he actually got into the ring to fight a rooster?

Monday, February 04, 2008

(02.04.08) Recommends:

Robert Francis.

Another young gun in the LA indie-music scene. We saw him a while back at Tangier in Los Feliz. He put on a set of indie-country rock and we enjoyed it. He has a Monday -- hey today's Monday! -- residency at Silver Lake Lounge this month. Go check him out. Also, go to his myspace and give Little Girl a listen. We really like that track.

Robert Francis -- Little Girl -- streaming audio.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

(02.02.08) Recommends:

Pre-Invasion Jitters.

Back in October, we blogged a few times about David Dondero (here and here and here). Since that time we've found ourselves caught up in primary/caucus hysteria. (We've even blogged about a change we'd like to see in that process.) And all this political talk hearkens us back to those Dondero days. So last night, while we were catching up on the state of our political state we put on a live Dondero album -- released in January 2004 -- in the background. And up came Pre-Invasion Jitters. And man, oh man. There must be at least a half dozen ohnohedidn't! moments in these lyrics.

While we've been paying closer attention to politics these last few weeks than we have in a while, we're still pretty certain neither Democratic candidate would have the (gender-neutral) balls to bring a guy like Dondero up on the stage. So we feel it's our duty to continue to shine our light upon him. People complain that the young and the hip don't care about politics. Dondero cares. Anybody care to listen?

David Dondero -- Pre-Invasion Jitters -- mp3.

Friday, February 01, 2008

(02.01.08) Recommends:

Buying Low: Minor Leaguer Takes Stock of Himself.

A while back we linked to a Michael Lewis article on creating a stock exchange on which professional athletes are bought and sold. Today the New York times brings the story of Randy Newsom, a minor leaguer, who set up a website where people could purchase shares of his future major league income. The article says that through Thursday, Newsom had sold about 1,800 shares of himself at $20 apiece, bringing in $36,000. The article goes on to say a player like Newsome typically makes $8,000 for a five-month season. Newsom has temporarily shut down the market, as the SEC says the shares are securities, and their unregistered offering violates federal securities law, and MLB is concerned it violates league policies. It may also violate MLBPA (the player's union) policies. However, Newsome says "this idea is not going away." So the story, once hypothetical, seems to be developing in reality now. It'll be an interesting story to follow.