Thursday, March 31, 2005

Other People's Songs

Moby is doing a bit of promotion in my area today with a book signing at a Barnes & Noble a couple of miles away from where I live. I won't be going because I'll be at work (the joys of a strange rotating work schedule), but I did catch him on the radio where he chatted and picked out songs. Nothing too surprising was revealed, his partner does most of the work at Teany, his home studio looks like the bridge on Star Trek and "Spiders" was inspired by Bowie, but it was nice to hear him. One of the songs he chose to play on the program was Massive Attack's "Teardrop" which I remember Garbage picking to play during a radio interview back when the song was new. Great song then and it sounds even better today.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Did I Say I Liked It?

This week has brought a virtual flood of interesting music. Not only did I buy the impressive new Moby album and got the chance to pick up the LCD Soundsystem album and I discovered that the new New Order album is being streamed (for a limited time only) at a couple of places on the internet.
Is New Order's "Waiting For The Sirens' Call" the horrible disappointment the folks on the forum at NewOrderOnline say it is, or a strong return to forum as I've heard elsewhere? Well, it all depends on which New Order you're into because the album finds the band pretty much dropping any serious attempt at being "edgy" and creating a few pop songs along the way. The big problem with the album is that it takes a couple of listens to get into, but fortunately once you're past the initial shock it's a really solid album that I've been listening to it pretty much nonstop. I can't wait to hear it on a proper cd with decent sound quality because I'm sure it will be all the much better.
As for the albums I bought, I love the new Moby album even if I haven't been in the mood for the bonus "ambient" disc. It's really fantastic how he's developed as a songwriter and the new wave/modern rock setting of the album isn't something I expected from him but it sounds great. At this point I've only had a chance to listen to the LCD Soundsystem album (which got a strong seal of approval from the record store clerk) once, and it seems to be the sort of album that will take a few listens to grow on me as a whole, but for the moment the singles and "Tribulations" really stand out.
In my travels across the internet, I stopped resisting and recently joined myspace (for a second time) so you can click here to find me there. Also my review of Everything But The Girls new remix album went live on recently and you can see what a review of a bad album from an artist I respect looks like.

Sunday, March 20, 2005


A few months ago I overheard a rather plump suburban woman telling her thinner friend all about the hit documentary “Super Size Me“ and how it told “the truth” about how stupid most people are about food. Well, despite my misgivings I did see the movie earlier this week and I see why it played well to elitist audiences.
The film starts off with a quote from Ray Kroc, referring to him as the founder of McDonalds, which isn’t true. McDonalds was founded by the McDonald’s brothers who created the original restaurant which Kroc franchised and expanded it into it’s current massive corporate form. Beginning a documentary showing us “truth” with a half-truth is a bad start. But that’s not my main problem. Director/star Morgan Spurlock asks where individual responsibility and corporate responsibility begins early on and then goes through great lengths to demonstrate that people are incapable of making rational decisions because of the marketing power of corporations. Even as a Democrat with a leftist outlook this offends me, because this viewpoint assumes that everyone except those who agree with him are too stupid to care for themselves. Then the film demonstrates it, with not one single person outside his friends and his experts ever making a valid point or even given the chance to seem intelligent.
He achieves this mostly by doing “man on the street” interviews where Spurlock quizzes random people about meta-issues involved with lifestyle choices related to fast food. Anyone who’s seen similar set ups by Jay Leno or “Street Smarts” should realize that when you catch someone unprepared and stick a camera in their face while putting them on the spot most people don’t perform very well under the pressure. Particularly frustrating is when Spurlock confuses issues when he captures a mostly overweight family in front of the White House, asks them to do the pledge of allegiance which they attempt several times dropping a couple lines each time, but when he asks them to sing the “Big Mac Song” they all know it. This is a key moment where we see that they don’t have the most basic understanding of citizenship, but instantly recall everything involved with their fattening drug. Right? No, this only shows the power pop culture. The “Big Mac Song” is just a catchy jingle, and people know the jingles for tons of products they never use. Hell, my wife knows jingles for products that were stopped being made before she was born.
As with most films targeting elitists, the movie has a strong anti-American element to it, which would be fine, but since this is who Spurlock is supposedly trying to save with this film it comes across as a little bit demeaning. He finds a French woman, oddly enough one of the largest people in the film, to talk about how she can’t eat fast food in the US, because the portions are far larger than in the liberal utopia of France and according to Spurlock’s argument the portions are why Americans are so fat, but he doesn’t explore other factors of eating habits such as which meal is the main course. In the US, it’s dinner, often eaten late, and in France it’s lunch when people still have plenty of activity throughout the day to burn off the calories. Beyond that Spurlock makes passing references to Bush throughout the film as demonstration of how stupid Americans are, which forgets that Clinton was the big burger eating President just a few years ago and then Spurlock wraps himself into a American flag speedo for his final weigh-in when his all McDonalds diet has turned his now plump belly into the average American.
It’s Spurlock’s distaste for the people he is supposedly educating that undermined the movie and his points for me. He also used a number of other shaky arguments, such as using the same high school as an example of teaching poor eating habits and a great example of running a fitness program that I won’t go into, but it’s leaves the films overall argument on poor ground. Of course if you’re an unquestioning elitist, you’ll love the film and how it proves that you too are better than everyone else.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Matters Of Importance

I really try to avoid talking about the Scott Peterson trial, but the news coverage today was yet another example of going way overboard in the amount of coverage for the story's actual importance. Interestingly, it was the usually tasteful KTVU News that led their hour-long nightly broadcast with nearly ten minutes worth Peterson coverage and then teased their extended take for the later half of the broadcast including a story on how the Peterson coverage has distracted from other news stories. What they didn't say in the teaser that it would be stories of actual importance that lost out, but since KTVU is much closer to a hard news show than most local stations offerings I suspect that final "related story" was something they had wanted to do for a while. Beyond that I think the Peterson story got as much coverage as it did because it's an easy job. There have been virtually no new developments in the story that couldn't be summarized sufficiently in a single newspaper article that have happened in the last year, but yet it has had an enormous amount of time devoted to it. Of course, in all this coverage today who other than Amber Frey’s lawyer/book promoter found even more time to talk to the media and there are now rumors that the jurors who were present were considering book deals of their own. It’s just sickening.

(Entry Pretentiously Left Untitled)

I've only recently (re)discovered Barcode and I've been really impressed by the level of insight they've got going with their reviews (even if they are occasionally wrong). Particularly exceptional is their review of the new Autechre album that is an articulate description of my feelings on the group and to an extent their followers. Maybe it's just because 90% of the Autechre fans I know hate techno. Absolutely think it's trash and don't understand how anyone could stand to listen to any of it...except Autechre. Why? :
Electronic music itself has too often been labelled with the emotionally retarded tag, but as ridiculous as that is, its artists like Autechre that have often provided convincing argument for the cynic.

: If you praise music that confirms your uneducated opinion, once again 90% of Autechre fans I've met are only passingly familiar with only the work of three or four electronic artists, then you've established your superiority because your token acknowledgment of the genre confirms your biases.
Since I'm talking reviews it appears that David Vesel, who had been announced as the official reviewer for Electroculture/Electronode before the site went through an ownership change, will be adding his considerable reviewing powers to I've been following his complete and insightful criticism since he worked through the Gods Of Music site and I look forward to reading more from him.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Human After All

In the last couple of days I've had a chance to stream the new Daft Punk album (thanks vh1!) and I've got to say that I'm disappointed. Of course meeting expectations I have for a group like DP are incredibly difficult since I credit them with changing the sound of underground dance music with their first record and sounding the call towards traditional song structures on "Discovery." Still, the record isn't without some great moments. "Robot Rock" and "Human After All" are great tunes with a unique quality to them, but not enough of the album has spark. I'm still planning on buying it.
We've reached a critical point that historians will point to as the moment when Old Navy commercials went from campy to just painfully awful with the new shorts commercial sung the theme of "Fame." Of course it doesn't help that the shorts look like the $3 variety from Kmart.

Friday, March 11, 2005

Do Androids Dream Of "Office Space?"

Could this be the best sci-fi film I've seen in ages?

(by way of Voltage)

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Hotel Intro

I found an online preview of Moby's new album "Hotel" and on first listen it is amazing. I read on a forum earlier that someone thought "Beautiful" was the worst choice possible as a single, and they aren't too far off. Still the people at V2 turned "Play" into a massive hit by releasing all the least commercial songs as singles first, so I assume they know what their doing.
New Order's "Krafty" got it's digital release today, and it sounds so much better after a couple of weeks getting it slowly stuck in my head. Why not watch the video?

Friday, March 04, 2005

Write A Text, Not Too Complex

Fans of deconstructionist pop must check out this video from Sweden's Pay TV. With lyrics like "getting a hit can be easy/as long as you’re loud and cheap and sleazy" you know it's got something going for it, but once you hit the "tagging in" dance section of the video you'll be sold. I know I was.

(by way of PopJustice)

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

What I'd Really Like To Hear

A piano roll ragtime version of Blondie's "Heart Of Glass."