Archive for April, 2009

April 26, 2009

Borders Books Not Music

Borders has been having clearance sales for their CDs and DVDs. First it was 30% off for select titles that had a red sticker, then 40%, and now 50%. At 50% off I started visiting the various Borders here in the valley, and going through their selection. I’ve been able to pick up some really good titles. A couple Of Montreal albums, a Metric album, the Tori Amos collection Tales Of A Librarian where she re-conceptualized some of her songs. But, on Friday the signs said simply 50% Off CDs. All of them. The DVDs were still select red stickered titles. So, I asked the cashier if Borders is getting rid off all their CDs and DVDs, and she said all except the top 25 selling titles. I said, “Well, as long as Borders stays.” And she said almost tearfully, “We’re trying.” I went to a different Borders yesterday, and this one still had only select titles on sale. This makes me sad. I mostly download music now too. But, lets be honest, there’s something missing. Not just the physical CD and the liner notes, but also the experience of driving to a store and perusing CDs.

I worked at Borders, in the music department, from September 2000 – August 2004. I loved it, and still count my time there as the happiest years of my life thus far. Most of my closest, dearest friends were met there. I said that while visiting Borders one time after I quit, and I was scoffed at. I hope those people always work in an intellectual, artistic environment. Otherwise, you will not find such a mix of intelligent, cultured, artistic, unique people. It was wonderful, and I felt at home. You’ll find people here and there, but not such a concentration as at Borders. Before I worked there, I was the person who “needed to come out of his shell”. Done. Borders has a welcoming vibe. Barnes And Noble feels like a stuffy library. It seems stark and passionless. And, I can’t explain the difference. It’s intangible. I worked at Borders while the music section had a separate CD player from the book department, and we would play anything we wanted. I was surrounded by music, books on music, and DVDs. I had a computer where I could do research and special order non-stock items. We rarely had to ring people up. It was utopian. As a teenager, working at Borders in the music department, was my dream job. I was offered a supervisor position about seven, eight months after I started. Part of why I declined was because it would have taken me out of the music department.

Before I started there, I probably went to Borders once a week. I was a regular customer, but me being me, I kept to myself mostly. I still frequently go there today. It feels like a second home. I loved the music department because it was so big and they played Radiohead, Massive Attack, the stuff I was into. Borders carried things no one else did. All the Brit-pop, electronica, indie bullshit I was starting to get into and love. I’d go up and down the aisles discovering new bands I had barely heard of, albums I didn’t know existed. It had an import section back then, and I bought many a $10 single or $30 album back then. It was the only way I could get the European music I read so much about in music magazines. How the internet has changed things. Who needs CDs anymore? Who needs magazines anymore? Who needs to pay $30 to get a CD from some obscure Swedish band anymore? The death of Borders Books And Music.

April 25, 2009

Let The Right One In

Need I say more?

I’m not crazy about vampire stories, but I like them. Buffy The Vampire Slayer is my favorite show ever. I love the writing, the characters, the humor, the action, the emotion, and the metaphors for real life. I also loved Angel, Firefly and at least like Dollhouse, so I am basically a Joss Whedon devotee. I have read the full Twilight series, and have seen the movie. And, the 15 year old girl in me genuinely enjoyed Twilight as well. I’ll eventually end up with a blog with my thoughts about Twilight. I’ll probably end up liking True Blood, but more because of Alan Ball, who did one of my favorite movies, American Beauty, and one of my other favorite shows, Six Feet Under. But, I’ve never read Anne Rice. Bram Stoker’s Dracula was pretty good. So was Interview With A Vampire. But, I was not passionate about either. I am attracted to dark, gothic things in general.

I took out Let The Right One In from Netflix because I heard it was the artistically superior vampire movie of 2008. And, it does make Twilight look like the frivolous, overwrought, middle brow teen book that it really is. It’s a Swedish movie, based on a novel, about a 12 year old boy, Oskar. He’s a quiet outcast who often gets harshly harassed and picked on by a bully and his two weaker followers. One night, while using a knife on a tree, imagining the tree is the bully, he meets a 12 year old girl, Eli, who has just moved into his apartment building. They develop a very innocent, 12 year old like relationship. Except, the girl is a vampire. She has a father (or guardian) who attempts to go out at night to find people’s blood to drain into a container. There’s a whole kit he takes with him. This is so that Eli doesn’t go out on her own to feed, possibly exposing who she is to people. She is an outcast herself. Oskar is sweet, and Eli is kind and falls for him despite herself. I don’t want to give away too many plot details. The movie deals with the vampire myth with such subtlety. Aspects of vampirism flow through the movie, sometimes quietly, other times suddenly. The vampire horror is matter of fact, and not done for show or thrills. The dialogue and relationship between the boy and girl is completely appropriate and believable. There are moments that are so tender, you fall in love with them both. The movie is gorgeous to look at, shot in a still, quiet way, as if every scene is meant to be a painting. I felt the movie to be poetic. Nothing happens quite as you expect it, and there are things left to interpretation. It’s become one of my favorite movies ever. I cried at the end, and I’m not sure why. Maybe it was sadness, maybe happiness, maybe relief. I think if you’re an outcast yourself, you’ll find yourself touched by this movie.

Also, there is a scene that seems to be inspired by Mark Ryden. Perhaps it’s coincidental.

The American distributor changed the subtitles for the DVD/Blu-ray release. Apparently they were simplified and dumbed down from the original theatrical release. Enough people complained, and soon they will be putting out the movie with the original subtitles. The original subtitles add more depth and colors to the characters and story. I can’t wait to see that version. I wish I saw this in the theater. Yes, there will be a shitty American remake.

April 24, 2009

Chin Chin

If anyone is wondering who the band was during that awesome quiz before the This American Life Live show, it’s a band called Chin Chin. Ira Glass mentioned their name briefly. They have a couple albums, one on Def Jux records, home to El-P, Aesop Rock, Del The Funkee Homosapien, and formerly RJD2. Needless to say, their music is of the 70’s throwback disco/funk vibe.

April 23, 2009

This American Life

This American Life Live

Tonight I went to a showing of This American Life Live. This American Life, if you don’t know, is an hour long public radio program generally played on Saturdays. It is often the most downloaded podcast on iTunes, and as of this blog entry This American Life sits at #1. I’m being serious when I say it is one of the best things ever. Best Things Ever. Every week they choose a theme, and then present deep, personal stories based around that theme. Most of the time the stories are taken from real life, though occasionally they’ve had short story fiction on the show. Recently they’ve had entire shows about the economic crisis. One, explaining the housing crisis, the other the banking crisis. They were priceless and really brought me to have an understanding of what is going on. This week’s episode centers around “This I Used To Believe”, and presents stories about people who believed something, and then something happened to cause them to question that belief. The host, Ira Glass, is possibly the most charismatic person ever. They’re up to episode #378, and as a collection it would paint the greatest tapestry of America ever created. The episodes are often funny, moving, sad, inspiring, and intellectual. You’ll learn a lot, perhaps about yourself even.

The live show tonight featured a who’s who of NPR intellectual geekdom. Mike Birbiglia, Starlee Kine, Dan Savage, and Joss Whedon as a musical guest. Yes, Joss Whedon, creator of my favorite TV show ever, Buffy, sang and played piano. It was a song from his commentary track to his DVD version of the internet movie musical Dr Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog ::deep breath::. Plus an animated story featuring an Andrew Bird song. And, it did all of those things. Made me laugh, cry, and taught me something about life. The theme was “Return To The Scene Of The Crime”. Mike Birbiglia’s story was about when he was hit by a drunk driver. Starlee Kine’s was about going to an unusual therapy in order to deal with her childhood.

For what it’s worth, if you’re reading this and already know of This American Life, they’re doing an encore presentation on May 7th in theaters. If you’re wondering what is meant by live, they did the show on a stage at NYU, and broadcast it to 430 theaters around the country so that everyone can experience it who wants to. Sometimes modern technology is wonderful. It’s worth the $20, especially because it’s public radio. Just click the first link in this entry.
What a great poster!

April 23, 2009

Everything Is Music

I haven’t posted anything much at all in this blog for the past month. Life has felt entirely too much. But, I plan on posting an entry soon discussing how excellent the first four months of 2009 has been for music. Music is everything, all the more so when it’s what is keeping you going when things are strained.

Leave it to Bjork, even in parody, to inspire depth of meaning:

April 23, 2009

I’m so moving to Sweden Pt. 2

Wyatt Cenac visits, and annoys, Bjorn Ulvaeus from ABBA!

Vodpod videos no longer available.

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April 22, 2009

Screw America. I’m moving to Sweden.

And Wyatt Cenac visits Robyn!

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more about "Daily Show — Stockholm Syndrome ", posted with vodpod

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April 21, 2009

The State On DVD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

April 13, 2009

The Juan MacLean – The Future Will Come

The Future Will Come
This album sounds like the culmination and perfection of the past 30 years of dance music. I adore it. It makes me so happy I feel giddy at times, like on infectious electro track “A New Bot”. Other times it has a beautiful melancholy that fills my heart, like the 10 minute modern disco centerpiece “Tonight”. There’s the sexy new wave of “One Day” and “The Station”, with the icy back and forth vocals of John MacLean and Nancy Whang. Whang is a touring musician for LCD Soundsystem, and you also may recall her as the vocalist on LCD Soundsystem’s “Get Innocuous!” and “North American Scum”. The reason why this album is so excellent is best exemplified by the opening track, “The Simple Life”. It spends the first four of its eight minutes pulsing away, the drums, bass and synths joining for a slinky dance track that you’d be quite happy never ending. Then, after four minutes the song downshifts for a moment while Nancy Whang comes in. Suddenly, it becomes a real pop song with verses and a chorus along with the melody established in the first four minutes. It is sublime. There’s actual three/four minute pop songs, like the aforementioned “A New Bot” or the rave techno track “No Time”, which somehow finds time to recall the “Theme From Shaft” in the lyrics. The euphoric “Happy House”, already released in 2008, ends the album perfectly with incessant house piano in the first half, and techno synths in the last half. There’s also plenty of emotion in the lyrics, at times bitter as in “The Simple Life”, hopeful as in “Tonight”, or painfully sad in the comedown track “Human Disaster”.

Since 2002 The DFA have been, as a record label, production team, or artist, unparalleled in the quality of their output. Every year brings a new favorite album from their efforts. I didn’t think an album could rival the high watermark of LCD Soundsystem’s Sound Of Silver, but I think this album may do it.

Finally, this is another album that makes me think we need to retire words like “retro”. True artists are able to take the history and influences and create something new and modern. Here is another artist that has achieved this.

The Juan MacLean Website
The Juan Maclean Myspace

April 8, 2009

This will put a smile on your face.

They showed a small clip of this on Anderson Cooper last night. I’ve not even seen the Sound Of Music (I know), but this performance is sure to put a huge smile on anyone’s face. Old people seem much cooler in Belgium.