Friday, November 30, 2007

Snoop comes alive

Many of you may know that Snoop Dogg's kinda always been my favorite rapper. He's always had a unique style and that laid back, west coast-style flow and he's always a lot of the vintage styles of old r&b andlike the Funkadelic/Bootsy/Kool and The Gang era and modernized them.

And then I saw this video yesterday and realized he's outdone himself again. Behold "Sensual Seduction." Be sure to check out the part when there's about a minute left and he lays down the funk. And check out the moves!

Apparently the real version of the song is called "Sexual Eruption" which clearly is something else entirely.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Thanks

Well folks, I'm back from a fantastic Thanksgiving in the beautiful low country (so local!) of South Carolina. I took some pictures, a few of which came out kind of cool.











Hope everyone had a wonderful holiday.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Who invited the guy from High School Musical?

Saturday night, Whitney and Katy were kind enough to throw a little pre-Thanksgiving dinner party for a few of us. So, in the spirit of the season, I figured "why not trot out the ol’ Christmas Sweater?" Some of you may remember it from the “Most Busted Holiday Card Ever” shoot Justin and I pulled off last year.

Festivus. For the rest of us.

I think it's safe to say it was a hit.

And because for some reason there was a cardboard cut out of Zac Efron, I posed it out with him, complete with my most LA pose. Who's 19 now, chorus boy?

And for good measure, I went all Vanessa Hudgens on him.

But then I thought "what fun is just wearing the sweater myself?" Spread the love, I say. The ladies X-Large, suburban-Atlanta-purchased, bedazzled-to-be-damned love.







Even Zac got a crack at it.

Special thanks to Aline for taking these pictures. And, more importantly, for deleting all the really incriminating ones. Hopefully.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Seventeen tracks and I’ve had it with this game

I bought the new Killers “album” called "Sawdust" on Tuesday. It's made up of odds and ends and leftovers, some of it is throwaways from the “Sam’s Town” sessions and some of it is left over from the “Hot Fuss” sessions. Guess which ones are better?

If you guessed “Hot Fuss”, go ahead and give yourself a prize. Make it somethin’ nice. You deserve it.

I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a band take such a radical left turn after a successful debut album. “Hot Fuss” was incredible. “Somebody told me”, “All these things that I’ve done”, “Andy, you’re a star”, “Smile like you mean it”, and of course “Mr. Brightside”—debut albums aren’t normally made up of wall-to-wall hits. What made them want to grow mustaches and start going all Vegas and stuff is beyond me.

So far on this new one, really only four tracks have jumped out at me as being good (aside from their Joy Division cover, “Shadowplay”, which all the critics seem to hate for some reason but I don’t—whatev, I say). As I said, most of the good sawdust came off of the “Hot Fuss" studio floor.

The first of the good ones is a tune called “Sweet Talk” which is full of synthy goodness and a couple very Killers-esque soaring choruses. It’s much closer to what they do best: earnestness and honesty and guitars. And synthesizers.

The next is “Under the Gun” which makes you wonder why it didn’t make “Hot Fuss.” If you boys are looking for a road map back to greatness, that’d be a good place to start.

Then there’s “Leave the bourbon on the shelf” which I’ve learned is part of what’s called the “murder trilogy” made up of it and “Midnight Show” and the stellar “Jenny was a friend of mine”, both off of “Hot Fuss.” I’m told hearing the three together is quite a treat though I haven’t been that organized yet.

The most unexpected thing I’ve found myself listening to a good deal is a remix of “Mr. Brightside.” Normally I like a remix like a bee sting on my eyeball but this one slows it all down a hair, heavies up on the synths, adds some nifty beats, and seems to capture the melancholy of the song in a way I’m not sure I’d heard before. And then it stretches the whole thing out over like 9 minutes.

More than anything, I think it's just reminded me what a frikkin’ great pop song “Mr. Brightside” was/is. I mean, that son of a bitch has got it all: a danceable beat, a flashy guitar line, a simple narrative, that frikkin’ chorus from hell, and a killer fade out. And synthesizers. Lots of them. Easily one of the best tunes of the past five years if not ten.

Sadly, a lot of the songs on this little collection just left me wondering “WTF?” The cover of Dire Strait’s “Romeo and Juliet” is borderline painful. A cover of Kenny Roger’s (yeah, that one) “Ruby don’t take your love to town” is, well, random. “Tranquilize” with Lou Reed is like the definition of so-so. And “Who let you go?” just makes me wonder, “what am I missing here?”

But guys, listen. If you’re looking for a producer for your next full-length, just give me a call. Or just leave a comment. We’ll get in touch one way or another.

I’ll help you make the album you were destined to. An album so good your big toes will shoot up in your collective boots.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Imagine

Sunday night I saw JC Penney's new Christmas spot and have seriously spent the last two days wanting to see it again. I can't think of the last time that's happened. Then again, it's pretty darn good. Fredrik Bond shot it and somehow Saatchi even managed to use John Lennon’s beautiful, stripped-down, piano version of “Real Love."

I don’t know why I think it’s so good. Maybe it’s the early onset of holiday spirit. Maybe it’s ‘cause the little girl is so cute and nerdy. Maybe it’s because it has absolutely nothing to do with shopping at Penney’s or buying a bunch of stuff you don't need. Maybe it's because it sells the emotion of the brand and the season rather than showing countless shots of blenders and cake mixers and clothes and flat screen tv's and power tools and women's separates. Maybe it's because it doesn't spend its time talking about things like "30% off door-buster savings" or "unbeatable savings" or "hurry in now!" like every other ad on tv.

Or maybe it’s just because it’s beautiful and you don’t see that often enough on tv. At least in the spaces in between.

This is the 2-minute cut.

Art, this is commerce. Commerce, meet art.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

I'm sorry

But I can't bite my tongue any longer. Lord knows I've tried but sometimes people find a way to set me off. I'll also go ahead and apologize ahead of time for the obscenities.

This "Election from Hell" is still like forever away but I read something this morning about this douchebag from Colorado, Tom Tancredo (the same guy who said bombing holy Muslim sites would serve as a good "deterrent" to prevent Islamic fundamentalists from attacking the United States), is getting ready to run an ad assuring the good folks of Iowa that his presidency is pretty much the only thing standing between them and a terrorist attack in downtown Des Moines. Oh yeah, and if they don't blow you up, they'll still steal your job. These are remarkably gifted and versatile terrorists, apparently.

Or here, see it for yourself:
Worst. Ad. Ever.
(and be sure to note the craptastic audio speed glitch right after the voiceover says "...take our jobs". Real pro job there, Tom.)

And so I figured I had to say something. Something like this.

Are you fucking kidding me?

What kind of country does this guy think we want to live in? One where pretty much the rest of our lives will be spent fearing people with skin that’s a shade darker than the people in Iowa’s? That unless we isolate ourselves from the rest of the world, we’ll never be safe again? That we want to live in a world where we squander what little goodwill America’s got left in favor of living on permanent lockdown? Well if you want to live in that country, then he’s your man!

But I don’t want to live in that country.

Because that’s not America. That’s not the America I subscribe to. That’s not the one I read about in school. That's certainly not the America I passionately believe in. And it sure as hell isn't the America I know we're capable of.

America isn't just a place, it's an idea. It's, for lack of a better analogy, a brand. And that brand stands for a better life, not a worse one. Not one where you're scared from now on because some has-been tells you you should be.

In Tom Tacredo's America there’s no hope. They're already here and waiting. There’s only fear. And hatred. And America doesn’t run on fear or hatred. Not at its best, it doesn't. I mean, unless you think the last 7 years have been our finest hour. If you do, then you’re probably numbskulled enough to vote for the guy who promises to keep white-bread Iowa safe from “the muslims.”

The point is (and Tom knows this) scared people will let you do whatever you want: stage a war, threaten everyone, shun your allies, give tax cuts to your rich friends, overhaul environmental protections, take care of your oil and gas buddies at the environment's expense, set up secret prisons, torture people, sully our good name, etc. The list goes on.

Hopeful, courageous people on the other hand will call you out on it.

They'll ask to help make the world a better place. Not just their world, but the world. They'll even ask, as someone once said, "what can I do for my country?" They'll go on to ask what sacrifices they can make. Hopeful, courageous people want to do more to help than simply "go shopping."

And he, like the rest of them, knows that. Truth is, they have no interest in improving the lives of Iowans or anyone else for that matter. They just know the game. And they're more than willing to play it. "Before it's too late?" Please.

Go fuck yourself, Tom Tancredo. You're like a little bit worse than Rudy 9/11 who will no doubt tirelessly remind us over the next twelve months after you are long gone that until we blow up the rest of the world, 9/11 is gonna happen again. Probably today. Tomorrow at the latest.

That's the funny thing about wasp’s nests: the more you knock them down the more the wasps want to sting you. Then again, you can always just lock yourself in the house and tell yourself everything will be fine.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Home. Or Heima, if you're nasty.

(hey look, another posting about music!)

The new Sigur Ros double EP, “Hvarf Heim ”, came out this past week and, lo and behold, it’s yet another beauty in a long line of them from everyone’s favorite Icelandic group.

It’s made up of a lot of live/stripped down versions of songs like “Starlfur” and “Vaka” and the lovely “Aegtis Byrjun.” And, via iTunes, it comes with a trailer for their beautiful “Heima” movie which was shot at various shows they played around Iceland the past couple of years and plays like Planet Earth with like a way better soundtrack.

I know Jeff posted this a while back but this is the “Hoppipolla” version of that trailer which to me is (alongside “Olsen Olsen”) one of the most beautiful songs they’ve ever written. And I’d argue this clip one of the more beautiful things you’ll see today.

Theirs is the type of music you could argue couldn’t possibly come from anywhere else but Iceland. The type that could only be sung in some made-up language called Hopelandic. The type of music that just seems to sound the most beautiful around this time of year.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Daft Punk’d


It’s taken me a couple of weeks to even begin to try to write something about what I witnessed two weeks ago in the desert outside Las Vegas. And in many ways I feel like one of those people who stumbles out of the desert saying he saw a UFO or God or whatever and knows no one is going to believe him. How could you?

But then last night I came into possession of a bootleg of the Daft Punk show from that night. Between that and the pictures and videos I’m now pretty sure what I saw was real.

I’ve also come to the realization that if it wasn't the best concert I’ve ever been to, it's at least in the top three. That, my friends, is some high-ass praise. Bold-ass praise, even. Especially coming from me.

But now when I throw the best shows I've ever been to up against it, it appears Daft Punk may very well have wrangled away the top spot in terms of “the best concert I’ve ever seen.”

Seriously.

Sure, there were contributing factors to my experience, but from everything I’ve read, everyone there saw the same stunner of a show.

I’d been introduced to Daft Punk in the late 90’s I guess, but it was during one my periods of rock and roll superiority so I’d always seen them as a little too “house” and a little too “French.” Sadly, I had no idea how much “rock” they pack into their live shows. So over the last year or so I’d read about these rare live shows (they don’t perform often at all, especially here in the states) they’d been putting on involving a glowing pyramid and a light show the likes of which the world has never seen. And I’d heard it was not to be missed.

Yet that night, when I found myself out on the field in the few moments before it started, I had no idea what I was in for.

I remember Elvis’s “Viva Las Vegas” was playing and people were milling about and taking their places. Then the lights went down and that five-note tone from Close Encounters began to fill the air. The next hour and half were a blur of jaw-dropping, mind-expanding, unfrikkinbelievable sound and visuals. I’ve never seen anything like it. And doubt I ever will.

I’ve seen hundreds of shows but none that reinvented what a live show could be the way they did. They didn’t speak, they didn’t take off their helmets, there wasn’t a traditional instrument on the stage. There were just two guys atop a glowing pyramid twiddling knobs. And wearing space helmets.

This may very well have all been in my head but the whole concept of “human” and “robot” was very intriguing to me (they opened with a song called "Robot Rock" which involves heavy use and display of the word "Robot" and then encored with "Human after all" which was just the opposite). I mean, while you're mind is being blown wide open by the positively deepest, dopest, deadliest, filthiest beats and breaks you’ve ever heard and your eyes are trying to process all the frikkin’ brain-melting visuals and brighter-than-the-sun lights, you’re pondering the concept of all this electronic sound and who’s driving it. Is it human? Or is it robot? Is it kind of both? Oh right, it’s two guys in space helmets. Atop a glowing pyramid.

It was like being in that future we all dreamed about growing up. The one that was kind of like Tron and involved computers and lights doing really awesome things. The one where we all drove flying cars and wore those Mork-From-Ork shiny suits all day and our food came in pill form. The future I’m personally still holding out for.

Then all of a sudden the show was over and Elvis’s “Can’t help falling in love with you” is coming over the PA. It was like a time warp. Or like someone let off the fast forward button. It was like our whole bodies just got sucked back down the wormhole we’d been in for an hour and half. Suddenly, via music, we’d all gone from some point deep in the future right back to where rock and roll all began: listening to Elvis.

And there I was. My body was standing in the middle of the desert outside Las Vegas in late October 2007 wondering what in the world just happened. And wondering how, after 33 years, was I suddenly rethinking everything I’d ever thought I knew about music and definitely live performance.

I’ve listened to little else since returning home. I’ve talked about little else since returning home. I’ve thought about little else since returning home.

This was no show. This was an experience.

If I had to sum it up in 24 seconds of video (and I do since I was so entranced I didn’t shoot but like two pictures), I’d say it was kind of like this:

If I had 40 more seconds, I’d give you this:

Or this:

And this is how it all ended.

If you're curious like I was in terms of what's in the pyramid, behold.

If you’re keen to listen to the whole thing, here is a big-ass mp3 of it:
The Full Vegoose Show

Monday, November 05, 2007

What is this, the O.C. prom scene?

Last week, the boys from the LA band Rooney stopped by the agency here to play a little acoustic set. It was pleasant enough and cool if nothing else to have a rock band stop by on a Monday afternoon. But I gotta admit, I didn’t realize at the time how not-my-taste these guys were. I mean, Wisconsin’s got nothing on them. Each song they played here was introduced with an idea for what type of product or service it might be a good song for. “This next one would be great for a wireless company. It’s called ‘Calling all the world’.” Whatever you wanna do I guess. But that doesn’t feel too rock and roll to me.

So, fast forward to Friday night when we went to see the Polyphonic Spree who were being supported by Rooney and the early-Beatlesque Chicago outfit, The Redwalls. Sadly, the Redwalls opened and were done by the time we even got there.

Then Rooney proceeded to come on and turn the room into something resembling a gigantic fondue pot. Every song involved some sort of cheesetastic introduction (“you better love me or leave me” for the song “love me or leave me”, etc.), an open-shirted and totally overdone guitar solo, and lyrics about being a boyfriend or losing a girlfriend or being a boyfriend or losing a girlfriend or other boyfriend-girlfriend related troubles you haven’t had since you were 16. You get the idea. It really became comical after a while. A good band I suppose, just not my taste by like a mile.

I suppose the fact that the venue was requiring like multiple forms of ID to get a wristband that even then only allowed you to buy one drink at a time should have been a tip-off as to the underage crowd in attendance. But I don’t think any of us there realized how many of the people were total O.C. and Laguna Beach fans until Rooney mercifully stopped after like an hour and half of playing and the place frikkin’ cleared out. Literally half the kids left. Which was nice, but weird.

Which got us to talking about who dreamed up that bill? Let’s take a semi-avant garde band from Texas and pair them with a smart young band from Chicago and then put a totally overproduced teen pop act between them. I remember saying Rooney were the kind of band I’d be pumped if my sixteen year-old daughter was a big fan of. They even covered the safest song ever, “My little runaway.” You've probably heard it—my little run-run-run-run-runaway!!!!!! Puh-lease. Why not cover “Mrs. Brown, you have a lovely daughter” while you’re up there? Uggh.

The Spree were good as ever in their new black uniforms and still sported the white robes for the encore/second set which included their stellar cover of Nirvana’s “Lithium”. But thanks to Rooney they got an incredibly late start and I gotta admit we even ended up leaving a little early. But a solid show nonetheless. And they spared no expense on the confetti canons that seemed to go off every other song.

[Editor’s Note: All of the above comments should totally be viewed through the filter of “this is coming from a guy who just saw what is shaping up to be an easily ‘top five all-time’ concert last weekend in Daft Punk.”]

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Niner

To celebrate Halloween last night, I decided to give The Pants a night off and instead go as a drunken airline pilot.

(This one is me responding to a concerned passenger who just approached me in the Chili's Too to ask if I'm flying the 10:15 to PHX. Yeah lady, I am. Shut up and let me finish my drink. And Christ, it's like an hour flight. I'm pretty sure I can make it.)

Mom was kind enough to send me the old college interview suit last week which I then kicked in $3.36 in needles, thread and epaulets to make it into a pilot uniform. Note the attention to detail, especially around the cuffs.

Not too shabby, eh? Unless you count the tear in the crotch of the pants. I didn’t. You shouldn’t either.

Due to the amazing lack of parties on the actual night (I’ve actually got a Halloween party this coming weekend! WTF?) we ended up just hitting a bar/restaurant called Jones up in West Hollywood not too far from the craziness that is the West Hollywood parade on Santa Monica Blvd. It did afford us a nice view of the parade of freaks heading over.

There was “Incredibly tight uniform 'sexy' taxi cab person thing with her breasts practically hanging out.”

Sorry there wasn’t a front shot. I could probably charge for that.

And there was “Guy in a bunny suit.” We just thought he was funny.

The rest of our crew consisted of Aline as a future cop, Katy as a Southwest Airlines Flight attendant, Scott as whatever he was, Whitney reprising her 80’s country singer outfit, and yours truly in aforementioned pilot outfit.

We took pictures of every possible scenario we could imagine in which all those people would ever cross paths. Enjoy.

Pilot meets guy at bar, they become fast friends until his flight.

Pilot meets Vegas country star who is under the "watchful" eye of future law enforcement. So much so, they're trading hats.

Pilot decides he needs to let his helmeted friend know he's not thrilled with some of his life choices.

The country singer decides she doesn't care for how she's being treated on Southwest and decides to take matters into her own hands. Law enforcement is not impressed.

Maybe this one is just a group shot.

A chance meeting at the airport Marriott leads to a prom date.

The country diva freaks out a little bit on the Southwest flight back from Vegas. The flight attendant is shocked and future law enforcement is having none of it. Look at her, she's out of control!

One thing I’ll say about being a drunken pilot is your find yourself getting really into it. I was saluting everyone, shouting, calling out random numbers, using the term “niner” and—there’s no easy way to put this—womanizing. The bad kind. The creepy kind. Kind of wish I had grown out a mustache for this one.