Friday, October 16, 2009

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Sufjan Stevens - existential crisis

Sufjan Stevens records album of 'background music' He has contributed to Music for Insomnia, an ambient record designed for relaxation. All this had led him to question the power of his music.

"I definitely feel like, 'What is the point? What's the point of making music anymore?'" Stevens told Exclaim magazine. "I feel that the album no longer has a stronghold or has any real bearing any more. The physical format is obsolete; the CD is obsolete and the LP is kinda nostalgic. So, I think the album is suffering and that's how I've always created – I work with these conceptual albums in the long-form. And I'm wondering, what's the value of my work once these forms are obsolete and everyone's just downloading music?"

Read the whole Exclaim interview here and here for a bit more.

I also think that we missed commenting on the release of the BQE - a Sufjan side project.he released a classical composition called The BQE (and an accompanying film), commissioned by the Brooklyn Academy of Music in 2007. This week, a remake of his 2001 album, Run Rabbit Run, is due on shelves – with its original electronic arrangements replaced by newly composed string parts. The Guardian gave it

Music for Insomnia is due 8 December.

Honestly, when will he get on with it and release another album already? As the Guardian rightly said "Sufjan Stevens is a very talented singer-songwriter who seems determined to do almost anything else but write songs and sing them"

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Flaming lips - Embryonic

NPR listening party:

ShockHound interview with Wayne and Dennis Coyne



The Flaming Lips publicity machine is getting into gear for the launch of Embryonic. The FLAMING LIPS have planned a very special, intimate MYSPACE SECRET SHOW performance just for tickets winners at their pop-up store
at the Nike / Ricardo Montalban Theater located at 1615 Vine St. in Hollywood 90028.
You won't get the change to see the LIPS live again until 2010!

Tickets for the event will be made available on a first come, first served basis at the opening on October15. Additional tickets will be available at Amoeba records with purchase of the Lips CD on street date, October 13. KCRW 89.9 FM and the LA Weekly will also participate in ticket give-a-ways so play close attention.

Monday, October 12, 2009

HBO Bored to Death

New HBO show starring Jason Schwartzman,Ted Danson, and Zach Galifianakis.

Jonathan Ames, a young Brooklyn writer, is feeling lost. He's just gone through a painful break-up, thanks in part to his drinking, can't write his second novel, and carouses too much with his magazine editor. Rather than face reality, Jonathan turns instead to his fantasies - moonlighting as a private detective - because he wants to be a hero and a man of action.

The offbeat comedy series BORED TO DEATH kicks off its eight-episode first season SUNDAY, SEPT. 20 (9:30-10:00 p.m. ET/PT), exclusively on HBO, followed by other half-hour episodes debuting on subsequent Sundays at the same time. Created by Jonathan Ames (author of several books, including the acclaimed graphic novel "The Alcoholic"), the show follows the misadventures of a fictional Jonathan Ames as he pursues his quixotic dream of emulating his heroes from classic private detective novels.

BORED TO DEATH stars Jason Schwartzman ("The Darjeeling Limited") as Jonathan Ames; Ted Danson ("Damages," HBO's "Curb Your Enthusiasm") as George Christopher, a high-profile magazine editor and Jonathan's boss; and Zach Galifianakis ("The Hangover") as comic book illustrator Ray Hueston, Jonathan's confidant. Guest stars on the first season include Olivia Thirlby, Heather Burns, Kirsten Wiig, Parker Posey, Bebe Neuwirth, Oliver Platt, Patton Oswalt and John Hodgman.

Mixing noir mystery and neurotic humor, BORED TO DEATH opens with Jonathan's girlfriend, Suzanne (Olivia Thirlby), moving out of their apartment in Brooklyn, on the grounds that Jonathan devotes too much time to smoking pot and drinking white wine instead of focusing on his writing and their relationship. As Jonathan returns to his empty apartment, a neighbor who witnessed the parting suggests he look for a rebound date on Craigslist.

After sifting through his abundant supply of noir suspense novels, Jonathan idly decides to offer his services as a private detective on the site instead. As responses to Jonathan's Craigslist post roll in, he begins taking cases - and usually finds himself injecting his own personal problems into his client's situation.

Jonathan's needy boss, magazine editor George Christopher, frequently interferes with his newfound career, forcing him to work his cases in increasingly ludicrous ways. Jonathan also meets regularly with his best friend Ray, a struggling graphic artist who does his best to advise him, but can barely keep his own life together.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Larry David video

CNN posted a preview of Joy Behar's interview with Larry David tomorrow night, and it is hilarious. In the clip they talk about doing standup in the old days, and Larry relates how his favorite explorer is Magellan because he circumnavigated the globe - "the others just went to Africa."

David became mortified when Behar told him her producers had dug up an old video of him doing standup and begged her not to play it, but of course she did and we were treated to a very young Larry David with a full head of dark hair cracking jokes.

Watch the video at Huffington Post

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Amazon Kindle arrives in Europe

Amazon's e-reader device has taken the world by storm. It is top of the best selling and most wished for items in Amazon USA. It's not the first e-reader by any means but it is the first to do what Apple do, to provide an easy way to get content onto your device wherever you are.

They've announced a price cut and international availability.

Now I have always thought that I have no interest in getting one. I like physical books, I like the fact I can read them on the beach and get them wet and sandy without worrying, I like the fact I can throw them into the bottom of my bag without a care and I love the fact that they are so cheap (most I buy second hand for around £2).

But I love gadgets and the Kindle really does intruige me. If it was cheap enough...

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Thom Yorke and Flea - live review

The Guardian reviews the first live show where Thom Yorke and Flea (from the Red Hot Chilli Peppers) perform songs from Thom Yorke's solo album - The Eraser

Verdict - "Harrowdown Hill, a gut-wrenching work that queries whether the death of Ministry of Defence weapons expert Dr David Kelly was really suicide, has been described by Yorke as "the angriest song I have ever written". So who knew that what it really needed was a funky Chili Peppers bassline wriggling through it? Yet somehow Flea managed to take this most haunting and most English of songs and make it his own."

Monday, October 05, 2009

Curb Your Enthusiasm - Season 7

Curb is my favourite television show and at long last Larry David is back with a new season. It kicked off in america last night.

The sitcom Seinfeld commanded the kind of devotion from up to 20 million fans normally associated with cults or religious sects. It was dubbed the greatest television show of all time, turned its creator and lead actor Jerry Seinfeld into a multimillionaire, and was showered by critical accolades.

The characters have finally reunited after 11 years on Sienfeld.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Number 8 of the decade - Sigur Rós -Ágætis Byrjun

I've just had one of those really annoying moments when I typed a whole post, went to copy and paste it and then accidently pressed CTRL-C instead of CTRL-V and lost it. Anyone know if you can recover text?

Anyway, what I was typing about before is that looking down the list of the top records I saw Sigur Ros at number 8 with Ágætis Byrjun. Now that was a record.

It brought me back to when I discovered it. My good friend and bandmate David and I found it together. At the time we were listening to big guitars and post-grunge rock with plenty of Smashing Pumpkins and some Rage Against The Machine etc. Then we found this record with unknown sounds, a language called Hopelandish and the voice of angels?

It blew our minds. It led the way to discover more music like Mogwai, Godspeed You Black Emperor and Explosions In The Sky. Perhaps you didn't need lyrics or choruses after all.

Listening to the record now, it still sounds as fresh and timeless as ever. Never mind the music, the videos were some of the finest ever made.

The Pitchfork review gets it just about right:

They came from Iceland and Radiohead liked them. That's about all we knew back when Ágætis Byrjun first starting making its way around near the turn of the decade, but in those days, that was enough to get people intrigued. Discovering the music of Sigur Rós was an active process, because a series of questions inevitably followed: How do you pronounce their name? What does it mean? Is that a man or a woman singing? Did I hear right, that the words aren't actually in any language? Indeed, since Ágætis Byrjun was one of those records that filled a deep-seated need listeners didn't even know they had, experiencing it was at first a little confusing. Punk had taught us to be skeptical of pure, unapologetic prettiness, so as underground music fans, we'd been conditioned to reject this sort of thing. We were used to it being cut with noise, irony, or emotional distance, which left us unprepared for exquisitely crafted music that asked to be appreciated in the same way as a bright orange sunset or the first snowfall of the season. But we got over it, and once that happened, after we'd given the record a couple of spins, one final question came to mind: Is there any other music like this? --Mark Richardson

Well it's finally finished - down to the top 20 records of the decade.

And what made number 1?

Kid A?!!!!

You've got to be kidding me.

Yes it's a pioneering break through record. Yes it has influenced probably all the music that came after it, but Radiohead were already experiemental musicians pushing boundaries. OK Computer is probably one of the finest records of our time and that came before Kid A.

Kid A was a challenge. It threw down the gauntlet for even those who that that "Fitter Happier" was the catchiest thing on Ok Computer. It was a mainstream record that challenged mainstream listeners. It had rock - "Optimistic"; it had plenty of wierd - "Treefingers"; and it showed a rock band dabbling in beats and dance music - "Idioteque".

Ok, perhaps it is a great important record. But the best of the decade? Not convinced.

Wilco interview

The Austin Chronicle has an interesting interview with Wilco lead singer Jeff Tweedy. Wilco are currently on their US tour and will shortly play Austin. They do spend most of the interview talking about The Beatles though.

"AC: I was thinking about the line in "Wilco (the song)" about us all needing a "sonic shoulder to cry on." We all acknowledge the truth of that statement in our culture today, but I think back to the 1920s when they didn't have that. Are we a shallower culture because we need that? Why do we need that?

JT: Because we don't have each other as much as we did in the 1920s. We don't. We've been isolated by television and this idea that the world's expanding and you have to take on the emotions and heartbreak and misery of the entire world whereas in the 1920s people understood their communities and that's about it. Maybe some people would get the news filtered in from the world at large, but most people were pretty much ensconced in their day-to-day with the people they knew and were face to face with. I'm not a historian, but that's got to be a part of it."

Read the rest of the article here