Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Elevato Top Tracks of 2008

Here is the best I could do with a year end track list for 2008. I'm not so encyclopedic about the year in music. I've failed in the past to do this. I already realize that I'm missing TV on the Radio singles as I write this. All I can say is that their new album Dear Science is damn good. Go grab it!

I tried to do a sequential list. But I couldn't commit numbers past the top 5. Even they are up for resequencing. Still, these are all good songs. Eat em up. You won't be disappointed.

1- Cut Copy - "Hearts on Fire"

In a perfect world, these guys would be performing this track to sold out crowds of heart-struck, drooling, screaming admirers. Actually, they already do. Lighting up dancefloors all over the country, this is usually the final shot that sends an already excitable crowd over the top. But the music itself isn't exactly a loud pounding house track. Its a track that vaguely taps the heroic lovestruck emotions that only dance tracks like these can bring up.

2- Portishead - "Machine Gun"

The world had to wait over a decade for Portishead to come out with a new record. My hope was that they would not rehash what they did, but at the same time not embarrass themselves jumping into left field experimentation. Their interviews definitely gave a sense that they wanted to sound fresh, which was intriguing to me. Could they change their sound without losing what Portishead actually meant? The answer with this first single from their new album Third was a resounding "yes". This truly excited me. Martial beats, haunting vocals. They successfully changed their sound while keeping their vibe and still created some of the best music of today.

3- Alphabeat - Fascination

I've been fascinated with Scandinavian and Japanese bands that sing in English. They seem to sing rather excitedly about things and feelings that I'm not really sure what they're talking about. Fascination, I would surmise. However, this is a bright and shiny gem of a song about fascination that is difficult to get out of your head. Kind of Bowie's "Modern Love" but amped-up to a high degree, excited about life, and filled with more pop hooks than other people have in their whole albums.

4- Kylie Minogue - In My Arms

Here's a song I'm sure that's in no "tasteful" person's top of 2008 lists. Kylie has charmed me since I became aware of her around the time of "Spinning Around" (because I live in the US). Then falling completely for her in "Can't Get You Out of My Head". She knows her way around a good danceable pop tune. While the beginning of "In My Arms" is a bit irritating, the rest of it is pure french-disco-inspired loveliness. Of course she's doesn't tend to ask any hard questions. "How does it feel in my arms?" I'd imagine pretty satisfying. Track wins.

5- Hercules & Love Affair - "Blind"

While at the end of the year this is a huge understatement, but MY GOD Antony (from Antony and the Johnsons) is such a natural fit for a dance track. He turns an already glorious song into an understated anthem.

Lil Wayne - "A Milli"

Part of the fun of enjoying this track this year was defending against my friends who don't understand the pleasures of non-conscious hip-hop. This is an ugly track with the repeated "a milli", loping bass, and minimal typewriter beats. There is also the fact that Lil Wayne is a gifted lyricist who also happens to sound ridiculously high when he raps. He tends to waste his abilities on tracks that have an R&B hook that will sell millions. Here, we get it short and simple. No guest stars. Just Weezy, his dirty and high sense of humor and a sort of brilliance. I don't need to say anyting though, "My criteria compared to your career just isn't fair". "You drop em cuz we pop em like Orville Redenbacher"

Beck - "Gamma Ray"
Beck - Gamma Ray

Beck did me proud this year by putting out a no-nonsense record that maintained his integral dynamic of weird and familiar without sounding forced. "Gamma Ray" is a fun and tuneful tune.

Crystal Castles - "Courtship Dating"

What was 50 Cent and Timbaland's loss on Ayo Technology is Crystal Castle's gain on the forceful "Courtship Dating". While the track has the potential to grate, its even better because of it. Even these words used to describe it fit the track: forceful, grating, courtship dating.

Crystal Castles "Untrust Us"

Santogold - "Lights Out"

The effect of the song is a little dead now thanks to its neverending appearance in beer commercials. Which is just weird. Such a sweet song with lovely melodies and her own backing vocals (you'll remember them from the end of the commercial) to ice the cake.

Santogold - "LES Artistes"

Where she proves that she's a power in another pop gem.

Kanye West - "Flashing lights"

kanye west ft dwele -flashing lights from mike quintanar on Vimeo.
God bless Kanye for his dedication to not just be pop chart filler.

Rihanna - "Don't Stop the Music"
Definitely wins the prize for "Song I heard the most often that made me run back to the dancefloor".

Kid Cudi - "Day N Nite"

Kid Cudi is a Cleveland rapper who is apparently pals with Kanye. He seems to share Kanye's passion for a different way of doing things hip-hop. You'll definitely
hear more from this man next year. This track has apparently been making the rounds for a while. Since I don't really go out and not incredibly hip to the latest, its taken me a year to find this. I swear I've heard this before, but I don't know from where.

Crookers remix video:
Memories of the track were reignited in my mind by seeing the video for the remix of the track by Crookers. A remix that apparently Kid Cudi completely disapproves of, but is really dancey and catchy and I think keeps the track's essentials in hand. It also rides the wave of the latest British dance trend, bassline house (descended from grime and much more dance-y) (thanks Pitchfork).

Annie - "I know ur girlfriend hates me"

Right off the bat, not even giving a chance to respond, Annie lets you know that she knows ur girlfriend hates her. In Annie's world, this is inconsequential because she has won already. Then why the song? Because it is a great slice of pop perfection. Annie doesn't let go for a second. If her album holds up to this gem, it'll be hard to put it down.

Roisin Murphy - "you know me better"

This is here because it was released in 2008 and Roisin still has that amazing voice and a good ear for the pop tune. A gift to have releasing singles and albums. Another bit of perfection.

Vivian Girls - Where Do You Run To

One of the great debuts of the year. Their influences are dead on and they are loud and cacophonous. Injecting a bit of harmony into the noise. Lovely.

M83 - Kim & Jessie

You feel like you've heard this before. If you're lucky its because you have M83's Saturdays = Youth in your collection. Artfully constructed.

TI - Whatever You Like

TI - Live Your Life

Air France - Collapsing At Your Door

"Sort of like a dream"
"No." "Better."

Vampire Weekend - M79

Say what you will about indie backlash, Vampire Weekend was liked because they are great to listen to. M79 is just too damn charming. It is the soundtrack for the Wes Anderson movie in my mind.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Andy Samberg & The Lonely Island "J*** in my Pants" on SNL

Since I've constantly been mentioning this, I figure I'd make it easy and just post it here.

I proudly present Andy Samberg and The Lonely Island's new SNL Digital Short, "J*** in my Pants". It just might take the #1 ranking from "D*** in a Box", or at least be a close tie. The song is just so brilliant a take on something I can only call "Euro club rap" and a rather heightened version of an unfortunate premature male affliction. I thought the humor would die down for me once the twist of the song (the effect of which I'm trying to keep for you that haven't seen it by the asterisk censorship) wasn't so surprising as the first time I heard it. But no. Its so seriously done. Even things which don't tie in to the theme of the song are funny.
So again, I must say to watch it if you haven't:

Some bonus jams:
And the perfect anthem for white college dorm rastafarians: "Ras Trent"

and fundamentalist love song "Iran so Far"

Monday, October 27, 2008

I'm sick of this Rocky Economy

I'm also sick of people mentioning it.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

i'm a kid!

Whoops. I saw this blog draft kicking around unpublished. I forget what needed to be done, but it refers to something i remember being hilarious.

Chris Onstad's webcomic, Achewood, is one of the main reasons to connect to the internets.

The strips are written in a way that makes you feel the experience of its characters, how they would speak and anticipate how they would react to different situations. In this, Onstad has successfully created his own hilarious and impeccably detailed (yet minimalist) world.

One of these characters is Phillipe, a 5 year old otter who exemplifies the innocence of childhood. He also serves as a reminder of how annoyingly precocious you probably were as a kid.

Jonathan Airport seems to have found his equivalent in a "local blog" feature of weather website, wunderground.com

Discovered at the bottom of the wunderground forecast, one of the local "blogs":

About Dogloverforobama: I am a kid and love weather!

I entered in the Backstage with Barack
Posted by: Dogloverforobama, 11:10 AM GMT on August 12, 2008
I got my shirt I am hoping so bad I win my lifetime dream is to go to MIT and get a masters degree in engineering and work for the advertising for nasa and meet barack obama!

I am going camping for 2 weeks!
Posted by: Dogloverforobama, 11:02 AM GMT on August 18, 2008

Camera stolen!!!!!!!!!
Posted by: Dogloverforobama, 2:18 PM GMT on August 29, 2008
My digital camera was stolen while I was camping! I will not be posting pictures for along time until I get a new one!

foubd and lost!
Posted by: Dogloverforobama, 2:08 PM GMT on August 31, 2008
I found my camera and my brother is in new orleans because he is an emergency respons

And my favorite:
Weather Chat Is Fixed!
Posted by: Dogloverforobama, 12:07 PM GMT on August 05, 2008
Yehaw Party! I am so glad!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Yet another secret show not in Boston

When I try to tell new people the benefits of living in Boston, one of the things I say is that big artists find the city so cool they will play special secret shows in intimate venues.
Then, years later admit that I was cruelly jokin.

Here's Kanye doing a secret show recently at the Knitting Factory, NYC, playing some old and new stuff (like Love Lockdown). (from Nah Right)

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Crazy Man at Davis

me: on my way to school, i was waiting at Davis for a bus and this weirdo guy came up to me and asked for a cig
you can probably imagine what the guy looked like
big glasses
unkempt and nerd-looking
[white, middle aged]
and asked me if i was "Indian"
i said yes
then he asked where my headdress was
i said "no, like India" and pointed out which state
he said "so, you're an Apache"
and kept inquiring about my headdress
i said i didn't bring it with me, its cumbersome

but this guy was obviously an obnoxious nerd in his previous probably less-mentally challenged life
i asked if he was European

he said yes and eventually "french canadian"
i asked him "where's your french?"

Ria: where is your poutine?

me: and he said "i'm just a typical american"

i know! i was searching real hard for something french-canadian, but i couldn't think of one

in any case i said "well, i thought i was one too"

Ria: yeah, they don't have many good cultural props

me: and he said "but you said you were indian"

me: and i said "you said you were french-canadian"
which he apparently couldn't beat

so he asked about my religion and i said "christian".
[that's my answer as if i was jewish but not really religious]
[also to deflect the constant wishes from people of other races for me to embrace Jesus or politely praise Allah or some Hindu god at me]

and he asked what i thought about the afterlife
i said "i hope there is one"
and then my bus came

Ria: that would make for a lovely movie vignette

me: yah, i was hopin to see where the hell that conversation was going
see if he was trying to be a dick or whether he was just mentally challenged

Ria: probably a bit of both


Sunday, June 29, 2008

Fuck You Fridays: Budweiser

(it is actually Sunday)

Fuck you, Budweiser.

Budweiser is urine. It is cold urine when it is drinkable.

A commitment to making Budweiser is equivalent to a commitment to urination into a bottle or can.

All men are not these clones made of hair product and ignorance.

The Vines are fucking horrible. They suck urine. When one of their albums was reviewed by Pitchfork, it linked to a youtube video of a monkey drinking its own urine.

What a wonderful end to this circle of thought.

Budweiser, Fuck You.


On the other hand, all these things are true but this commercial is still wonderful:

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

hate the police

While unwisely avoiding sleep via looking up music videos, I decided to look up "hate the police", a song made popular by the legendary 80s hardcore punk band The Dicks, but i was made aware of through Mudhoney's 1989 classic (and recently re-issued) Superfuzz Bigmuff.

Mudhoney played at the Middle East (a wonderful 2 minute walk from my house) recently and tore it up well. The show has been on repeat in my head for days. "Hate the Police" in particular is a great song about a racist prick becoming a cop and how i would hate that. Actually, the wikipedia article for The Dicks has a great summation: "In the song Gary Floyd portrays a policeman who abuses his power by going after minorities and taking his anger out on civilians." With the beginning lines of "Mommy mommy mommy! / Look at your son / You might have loved me / but now I got a gun / you better stay out of my way / i think i've had a bad day" and the refrain "if you don't find justice, it'll find you"... the song just hits me in the gut every time i hear it.

I'm not looking to get into any debate about myself and cops. This song isn't about the nice ones, its a story about the bad ones who infringe on the rights of people through bigotry, bullying, etc.

In any case, I'm on youtube looking for video of the Dicks or Mudhoney playing the song live. I find Mudhoney at what looks like the Glastonbury Festival and i see this and laugh:

and laugh.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Its time for Amtrak

My friend, Jonathan Airport (merely his pseudonym, not his ideology, sounds better than Mr. Trainstation or Hauptbanhof; Mr. Conductor was already taken), was asked if an image of his on flickr of an Amtrak train could be used by the Heritage Foundation, a conservative "think" tank. Mr. Airport was afraid that it would be used in the foundation's continuing crusade for stupidity. Airport seemed to be correct.

The Heritage Foundation sucks and couldn't be more behind the times than now with our transportation energy crisis. They hate Amtrak and fail to see how funding might help our beleaguered intercity corridors in this country. They continue to attack Amtrak's performance when most of the factors which keep it from "performing" stem from underfunding and the fact that Amtrak's cross-country routes mostly run on the poorly-maintained tracks of private freight railroads where Amtrak trains are often forced to stop and fall behind schedule. Whereas in the Northeast Corridor between Boston and Washington DC, where Amtrak owns a good amount of track, things are fine. Ridership continues to increase and Amtrak serves about half the total market.

With high gas prices affecting airlines and drivers, Amtrak is continuing to look like the best option for corridor travel between cities. In terms of the ongoing fight against climate change, full trains going between cities like Boston - NYC - DC are much more preferable in terms of emissions and land-use impact than congested highways and short-hop airline flights.

These are things I'd tell you on a regular basis. I mainly wanted to have some background as I post these editorial cartoons:

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Thing that would've been awesome to be at #1

Crystal Castles live. Doing their remix of the Klaxons' "Atlantis to Interzone".

Crystal Castles' own stuff is awesome as well and will be covered soon. I just needed the sensation of jumping up and down screaming "Aaaatlaaaantis to Interzoooooone"! whilst being blinded by strobes.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Music Mood Swing Friday

Today's mood swingin tracks are:

Portishead: "Machine Gun"

Portishead have a new album, Third, out this month. I haven't paid much attention because I've been hearing for a few years now that Portishead was getting a new album ready. And all this after about 10 years since their last record, in its self-titled brilliance.

So no mind was paid until I saw a studio performance of "Machine Gun". All sins forgiven in my book. It was a little strange at first for me, with its industrial-ish beat. But Portishead is all about atmosphere, and this track is no different. Beth Gibbons's mournful wail = check! Claustrophobic (but rhythmic) arrangement: double check!

Love when the keyboards kick in at the end.


Robyn: "Who's That Girl" (feat. The Knife)

Next up is Swedish avant-pop star Robyn collaborating with brother/sister beatmakers The Knife on "Who's That Girl". A great pop track with a proper dosage of nostalgia on its beats. The Knife definitely have the pop turned way up like on Deep Cuts singles like Heartbeats and You Take My Breath Away. Robyn injects a good amount of her charm into lyrics about the pressures of being a girl compared to the media ideal. The video isn't that spectacular, but whatever. Great track. Great drum major uniform as well.


Actually that was supposed to be it, but you get a bonus mood swing.

The Long Blondes: "Century"

This was a bit of a surprise to me as "Century" is a radical departure for The Long Blondes. After last year's stylistic and rocking Someone To Drive You Home, the Blonde's new "Century" is radically different. Its more based on synths, subtle beats and Kate Jackson's different take on vocals. Very high, very pretty. Some say Cocteau Twins. Who knows. I figure if the last album paid tribute to a certain era of Britpop, with touches of Pulp and Elastica, then why not pay tribute to the new wave. I like it, and I'm willing to give the new album, Couples, a chance even though it seems some reviewers are not feeling as charitable.

You can (should) also download another new Long Blondes track: "Here Comes the Serious Bit", which is catchy and shouty in more traditional Blondes flair. Stream and/or download here: http://pitchforkmedia.imeem.com/music/oeEE6gUm/the_long_blondes_here_comes_the_serious_bit/

er.. and here's me and Kate!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Apologies to Stephen Malkmus, Bronson Pinchot

I've been on a Pavement/Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks kick.

That and desperation over my thesis have forced me to unearth....

Malki Martokomous!!!!

Cousin Larry will be pissed when he hears about this scheme!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Verizon hearts suburbs

As you might already know, the Boston Metro has a regular feature where people write in to Mayor Menino.

On March 6, there was a letter about Verizon's FiOS fiber optic cable/internet service and why we in Boston (or Cambridge or other big city in the metro area) are bombarded with ads about it, but can't actually get the service. Turns out its because we aren't in the suburbs.


Thank you for this question. My Office of Cable Communications monitors cable TV franchises and mediates consumer issues regarding cable TV service. I have recently written to Verizon asking them to bring FiOS to the entire City of Boston. To date, Verizon has declined the City’s repeated encouragement to enter a cable franchise negotiation, opting instead to slowly build in the suburbs. Meanwhile, the cities and towns of Boston, Brookline, Somerville, Cambridge, Everett, Revere, Chelsea, Medford, Melrose, Watertown and Quincy are left without this service.

Verizon has said in the past that their business plans do not include urban areas, but how do they explain their FiOS builds in New York City and Washington, D.C.?

I don't know, man. However, I am glad that he gave a straight answer to a question that doesn't involve fixing a pothole, traffic signal or parking restriction enforcement. Damn those suburbs. First, they give us Mitt Romney (not really the first crappy thing the 495 belt gave us, but I've only been around here for 10 years) and now this. I want me some fast internet and a choice beyond DSL or craptastic Comcast cable for internet/tv.

Read here for original article

Monday, February 25, 2008

Bowdoin: Destination Freedom

Destination Freedom is one of my required weekly readings. It is the weekly newsletter of the National Corridors Initiative, a group heavily involved in getting semi-high speed Acela passenger rail service on Amtrak's Northeast Corridor between Boston and Washington DC.

NCI "exists to support the development of infrastructure, including an integrated national transportation system that emphasizes rational transportation decisions, such as a network of intercity passenger and freight corridor rail corridors augmented by commuter rail, and served by feeder systems."

Which is all great and I totally support it and think everyone should. Unfortunately a major problem which exists for a lot of passenger rail advocacy is that the main advocates who speak are all old and a little removed from reality. Old-man reality is great when attempting to garner support from old-school politicians who generally support Amtrak and such. Amtrak actually manages to get support from both sides of the aisles.

My hope is that my linking the promise of economic development (or whatever cash prize for the constituency the politico thinks they'll get) with our current understanding of the impact that our transportation habits have on the planet: single-occupant vehicle = bad; short-hop flights = bad; intercity passenger rail = Rockin like Dokken.

J. Airport has regularly supplied me with oddities that the removal from reality has wrought. References have been made to "Islamofascists" (which actually turned out to be from a guest editorial), nicknames to things and areas that I have never heard anyone say, and other examples of poor journalism.

One particularly eyebrow-raising claim regarding the CharlieCard was made here:
Aside from the association with the former folk song, a somewhat-popular slang in the Boston area calls frequent transit users "Charlies" and getting around town by subway is to "Charlie it."

I must have a very different definition of "somewhat-popular" in my mental dictionary. To me, "somewhat-popular" would probably extend beyond a man and his well-worn fedora. From now on, I'm calling the CharlieCard a "ham n cheese" based on the sandwich that Charlie's wife probably gave him before he starved to death on the T. I hear its somewhat-popular.

So, what's the in paper this week?:

In an article about the new subway cars introduced to the MBTA Blue Line:

The present end-of-the-line station at Bowdoin Square, just one stop and a very short distance from Government Center, will close as it cannot be lengthened due to its close proximity to building basements and utility lines. To accommodate Bowdoin passengers, a new entrance to Government Center station will be created by re-opening an old passenger access portal, presently used solely for ventilation. The passenger portal to be re-opened is approximately one-half way between the two stations. To prepare passengers for this transition, Bowdoin Station is currently being closed on weekends and after weekday rush hours.

In the words of J. Airport, "Yes the MBTA has taken the steps to prepare passengers for this transition since 1982."


Ok Elevatoheads, its time for this Charlie to Charlie It! Catch you at the soda fountain before the sock-hop.

credits and apologies to J. "Sorry, I have an airport to run" Airport.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

i don't know about Juno and Kimya Dawson

I was recently in a store of unmentionables.

In this store they were playing the Juno soundtrack. In several songs there was this girl who sang songs of incredible-sounding innocence. Like she came from a family where they forced her to sing cute songs that she did not want to sing. They would occasionally back her up.

While I could see considerable merit in what she was doing, I did not like it.

I would later find that this was one Kimya Dawson. Of the Moldy Peaches. One of those bands that the painfully indie in NYC would pander to like crazy. I was suspicious and did something I don't normally like to do, let the bad album reviews completely steer me away from listening.

But now here she is. There is a Village Voice article talking about the Juno and Kimya Dawson phenomenon. I've yet to see Juno, and now I'm even more unsure:

It is sweet and heartwarming and winsome in its utter preposterousness. Just the fakest dialogue imaginable. Pop-culture-savvy sarcasm as suburban religion. Teenagers who talk like thirtysomething screenwriters. "Cool" parents who talk like teenage screenwriters. A 16-year-old heroine who actually says things like "Just looking to secure a hasty abortion!" and "Just dealing with things way outside my maturity level!" and (grits teeth) "Swear to blog!" Just appallingly cute cute cute CUTE CUTE. You'll probably really like it.

They go on to mention a slight Garden State effect: "The Shins will change your life"

But seriously, "SWEAR TO BLOG"?!?!?!?!

I can't stand that kind of fake not-so-clever dialogue. The Gilmore Girls were built on that and it made me squirm during the few moments I could stand to watch it.

In any case, this is all incredibly presumptive as I've not seen the movie.

Still, Kimya Dawson does not want her stardom. I will agree with her on this. Please stop listening to Kimya Dawson in shops. I'll do my part. I'm hoping this will go the whole way of the cutesy 'twee' movement that indie rockers were hustling for during the late-90's - early aughts.

I can't totally hate tho. I did find her straightforwardness and minimalist performances to work quite well.

Its just gross.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Winter fun (between papers)

During the hell that was trying to finish up papers at Tufts, there was thankfully scheduled a karaoke night at the Do Re Me in Allston. Entertainment was had by all. I seem to have hogged the mic a lot, but twas all in good fun. And a great hangover the next day. and it was back to the library.

These pics are mostly me-centered. For more, please consult your local library or here:
Kim's flickr set
Luba's fotki set
Jess's picasa set

enjoy (my comments below photos):

Kari and I warm up the crowd with a Backstreet Boys song that I didn't know well.

Erin sings beautifully into the beer bottle.

Danielle and I duet to Abba. Multiple times. It was awesome.

Everyone rockin out to Bohemian Rhapsody.
Excellent headbanging hair by Alison.

A committee is on hand to ensure Josh and I sing "On Bended Knee".