Thursday, December 22, 2011

My 20 Favorite Records of 2011

1. Jennifer O’Connor - I Want What You Want (Kiam)
I knew this record would make it onto my year end list before I even heard it because I kind of have a thing for Jennifer O’Connor. What I didn’t realize, was that Jennifer O’Connor had a year like mine, and that this record would be a document of the ups, downs, fears and doubts a whole lot of change and uncertainty will drag you through. But I Want What You Want isn’t an unconstructive pity party: O’Connor offers clarity, reflection and hope in these 13 exceptionally catchy and intimate songs. If you could really benefit from a life coach right about now but can’t afford one, buy I Want What You Want and listen to it on repeat. It worked for me.

2. Austra - Feel It Break (Domino)
When I first heard Katie Stelmanis’ voice, I thought to myself, “This is good, but I wonder what her voice sounds like without all the studio treatment?” Then I saw Austra live and thought, “Oohh. That wasn’t studio treatment. That’s really how her voice sounds in real life. Holy shit.” I also thought, “I am pretty sure the Austra back up singers are two of weirdest ladies I’ve ever seen perform. I will never get their dance moves out of my head.” Do you like knowing my deepest, darkest Austra thoughts? Good.

3. Richard Buckner - Our Blood (Merge)
Richard Bucker is one of my all-time favorites, so I was thrilled to find out he’d be putting out his first record since 2006 this year. I figured there must be a good excuse for the lag between records, but it never occurred to me that the excuse might involve Buckner, for instance, being a suspect in a murder investigation in his small upstate New York town. Which, really, considering how obsessed I am with true crime stuff, it’s amazing that this wasn’t the first thing that came to mind, “I wonder what Richard Buckner’s been up to? Probably trying to clear his name for murder, most likely.” It was worth the wait and I hope they find/found the real killer. They should get O.J. on the case.

4. Little Scream - The Golden Record (Secretly Canadian)
I saw Little Scream this year play a gracious and beautiful show for about eight people. One listen to this record and you’ll realize you missed out by not being one of those eight.

5. Telekinesis - 12 Desperate Straight Lines (Merge)
Break ups and heartache done power pop style. The catchiest cathartic experience the recently dumped can have.

6. Wye Oak - Civilian (Merge)
I was totally gay for Wye Oak when their 2nd album The Knot came out. Looks like the rest of you are finally catching up. Good work. Wye Oak for president.

7. J Mascis - Several Shades Of Why (Sub Pop)
Several Shades Of Why is everything you love about Dinosaur Jr’s J Mascis, just turned up to 10 instead of 11. Mascis is one of the only guitar players I truly love. I am not typically nuts for guitar solos. Or harmonicas. But that’s not important right now.

8. Crooked Fingers - Breaks In the Armor (Merge)
Eric Bachmann at his gruff country best. Liz Durrett’s background vocals are perfect.

9. Destroy This Place - Resurrect The Mammoth (Bellyache Records)
I’m glad these Detroit boys are not scientists. Otherwise they’d surely succeed at reviving nature’s most bad ass extinct species the way they’ve revived high energy indie rock.

10. Times New Viking - Dancer Equired (Merge)
I've seen Times New Viking live twice and both times I wished their records matched their live show rather than sounding like the songs were recorded by a homeless person sleeping in the back of a moving garbage truck. With Dancer Equired, my wish was granted.

11. Zola Jesus - Conatus (Sacred Bones)
That Zola Jesus girl’s got a serious set of pipes on her. I vote that she and Austra’s Katie Stelmanis have a no holds barred sing off. But not to the death. Because I love them both. Wait. Maybe they should just be best friends. Yes. I like that better.

12. Cut Copy - Zonoscope (Modular Recordings)
I put off listening to this record for a long time, but then the guy who cuts my hair wouldn’t stop going on and on about it and his earnestness was infectious. As is this record.

13. Vetiver - The Errant Charm (Sub Pop)
This record makes me feel like curling up on a comfy couch in a sunny picture window with a good book. Other people would probably say, “On a beach” or something, but I don’t really like going outside all that much, excuse me for living. It also sounds like it’s for hippies so I’m surprised I like it so much.

14. Carradine - In Case I Lose It, We Both Have It (self released)
Every time I feel disappointed by how boring the new Stephen Malkmus album is, I put on this record and feel a little more hopeful for the future of sloppy indie pop and Pavement's legacy.

15. Leslie Hall - Destination Friendship (self released)
Because being serious all the time is stupid. Plus, Leslie briefly cupped my breast (some say this was “by accident” but that’s clearly their jealousy talking) and touched my face when I saw her in concert. So we’re basically soul mates.

16. The Head and the Heart - The Head and the Heart (Sub Pop)

17. Bill Callahan - Apocalypse (Drag City)

18. Active Child - You Are All I See (Vagrant)

19. Still Corners - Creatures Of An Hour (Sub Pop)

20. Fionn Regan - 100 Acres of Sycamore (Heavenly)

Gratuitous, self-promotional bonus record:

21. John Nelson - Things In My Mind (Jack Holmes Recording Company)
I play drums for John Nelson & the New Girlfriends, the live band that John put together after recording this record. But it would be dumb to play drums on songs you don’t love, right? Unless you were getting paid thousands. I am not getting paid thousands. Hardly at all in fact! But that’s ok. I love this record.

There you have it, folks! I'll be making a CD with one track from each of these records for your listening enjoyment should you be interested. As always, I'll gladly trade you one for something cool. Send me an e mail if you are interested: laura (d0t) witkowski at g mail (d0t) com 

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Best Bollywood songs of 2011

I've seen a lot of Bollywood movies this year. I mean, I do that every year, but this year I decided to collect all my favorite songs from various movies and make a Best of Bollywood mix. Just like you've always wanted!

I've seen most of these movies, and while I certainly can't vouch for them all being good films, they all managed to contain at least one song I thought was awesome. So I made a little mix. If you want one, e mail me at laura [dot] witkowki [at] gmail... I will totally mail you one in exchange for something cool. You can also listen to the whole thing on Spotify (minus the Delhi Belly song) thanks to my friend Meghan.

1. Singham (Remix) - Singham
2. Mallo Malli (Tochi Raina) - Mausam
3. Chammak Challo - Ra.One
4. Pyaar Do Pyaar Lo - Thank You
5. Char Baj Gaye (Lekin Party Abhi Baaki Hai) - F.A.L.T.U.
6. Dhunki - Mere Brother Ki Dulhan
7. Maula Maula - Singham
8. Achha Lagta Hai - Aarakshan
9. Senorita - Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara
10. Darling - 7 Khoon Maaf
11. Bhaag D.K. Bose, Aandhi Aayi - Delhi Belly
12. Mit Jaaye Ghum (Dum Maro Dum) - Dum Maaro Dum
13. Sadi Gali - Tanu Weds Manu
14. Criminal - Ra.One
15. Mauka - Aarakshan
16. Character Dheela (Ishq Ke Naam) - Ready
17. Faltu - F.A.L.T.U.
18. Zaraa Dil Ko Thaam Lo - Don 2

Monday, December 12, 2011

Do you hate Christmas music?

Even after watching this? Well, then you're dumb.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Jingles Going Steady

It's here, it's here! The only Christmas music release that warms my winter-heart: the annual Suburban Sprawl Music Holiday Sampler! This year I'm especially excited because it is serving as the debut of my new band with Sunil Sawani called A Lady Never Tells. Our track "Greyhound Bus On Christmas Day" is the first on disc 2. It's a depressing song that I hope mothers will sing to their children on Christmas Eve for years to come. Sunil also has a song by his lil' ol' self called "These People Aren't Your Friends, Santa (Claus)" and it's seriously so, so good. That boy has talent. So much talent on this collection. Detroit is the best.

Listen to the whole thing and find some new favorites!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

"Believe me, you need me..."

So, you're gonna go to Pontiac tonight to see Austra, right? Because you have a brain?

ALSO, for those of you who have foolishly waited to purchase their amazingly good record Feel It Break, your foolishness is hereby rewarded: Domino just today is releasing a digital deluxe version of the record with nine bonus tracks. One of which is this chillingly beautiful cover of Roy Orbison's "Crying." Wow.

Monday, November 28, 2011

There, there, ghost... don't be cry.

Sometimes I forget how much I like Ann Arbor's Chris Bathgate. This came out on Halloween or thereabouts, but who says you can only enjoy monster and ghost themed videos at the end of October? That shit's good for any day of the year.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Morrissey at Bass Concert Hall in Austin, TX Tuesday Nov. 15

Set list:
I Want The One I Can't Have
You Have Killed Me
You're The One For Me, Fatty
Black Cloud
The Kid's A Looker
First Of The Gang To Die
Action Is My Middle Name
Ouija Board, Ouija Board
Meat Is Murder
I'm Throwing My Arms Around Paris
Everyday Is Like Sunday
All The Lazy Dykes
Satellite Of Love
I Know It's Over
Still Ill

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

"We need you here..."

I reviewed the new Crooked Fingers record for Collapse Board. The short version is that I love it. The longer version can be read here. Not doing anything tonight? Go to the Magic Stick and see Crooked Fingers live. I have no doubt it'll be a great show.

My five favorite lines from Amazon one-star reviews of Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me

"I went into this hoping to prove the critics wrong, but 30 minutes into it, I could see why FWWM received most of it's positive press in Japan."

"Most of the actors did a fine job diespite the fact that the script seems like it was written by a 16 year old heroin addict that had only seen a handful of episodes."

"The lead actress' performance could be described as 'not believable as a human being.'"

"If you like this movie, you have no taste, and little self-respect. If you complain, 'Hey, it's just one of those movies to trip out on.' Then you haven't seen Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas."

"If you liked this movie you are a pretentious tool and probably think you're the 'movie guy' at your school or job."

Monday, November 7, 2011

In case you missed the Little Scream show (and I know you did)...

... here's a little write up I did about it for Collapse Board. And if she's coming to your city, seriously go. Totally worth your time.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Punk Rock Friday? Punk Rock Friday!

Here's a little punk for your Punk Rock Friday - two brand new songs by Detroit's own Waxgordon:

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Caroline as my witness...

... this show totally snuck up on me. Little Scream put out one of my favorite records of the year and she's playing at Small's tonight! Should be a sweet, sweet show. Come hang out with me.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

I need to hold auditions

So who wants to audition to be in my new three-part harmony a cappella group where we do hand percussion using stuff from the recycling bin and only cover songs I love? Everybody does? Well, get in line because auditions start now.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Power up

Need a little power pop this morning? Yes? Try these new songs by Detroit's Prime Ministers on for size...

Monday, October 24, 2011

"You don't know anything at all..."

Jennifer O'Connor is one of my favorite, favorite, favorite musicians/singers/songwriters ever. That sounds all hyperbolic and stuff, but it's actually true. She's finally putting out a new album November 8th and I am super happy for her. I am also happy for me because I've been dying to get my hands on some new Jennifer O'Connor songs. I admit I didn't expect her to put out a record that resonated with me to the degree I Want What You Want does. I know it resonates with me because I can't stop listening to it. I've tried! I can't. But these songs and their tales of starting over, getting through adverse situations and figuring out what you want are all so good and relatable! So yeah, basically Jennifer O'Connor is my life coach. Listen to the first single "Running Start" here, and for serious buy I Want What You Want when it comes out. In fact, order one of the limited edition CDs she's releasing just in time for Christmas... She'll even like, sign it or write a little something. I already know who I'm sending one to and what I want her to write in the message...

Friday, October 21, 2011

Robyn's Otto Titsling moment

If this song was by anybody else, I'd be unable to resist making a comment like, "Call your girlfriend... it's time you had the talk - about not wearing a bright white bra under a sheer shirt, right ladies?!." But this is Robyn. And she is awesome. And this song is awesome. And as far as I'm concerned, she can wear a bright white bra constantly for the rest of her life. You win, Robyn. You win. You always win.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Happy National Coming Out Day!

National Coming Out Day happens to coincide with the release of the debut
Still Corners album on Sub Pop. Which is perfect since I'm totally gay for this record.

Monday, October 10, 2011

New Kate Bush New Kate Bush New Kate Bush New Kate Bush

After wanting so much to love her recent Director's Cut, I am happy to report there is actual new new Kate Bush music and that I love it. Can't wait to hear this record...

Kate Bush - "Wild Man" by antirecords

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Introducing... Movie Box!

Are you losing your mind in anger over this Netflix debacle? Have you looked into Redbox and decided it seems much more complicated and expensive than you thought it would be? Well, I have the solution for you: Movie Box!

It's fun and easy to participate! Here's what you do:

1. Find a box
2. Fill it with the DVDs, video games and even VHS tapes (why not?!) that you never watch/don't remember buying and are cluttering your home.
3. Put these games and movies in the box.
4. Put box at the curb with a sign that says, "Movie Box!"
5. People can come paw through your box at their convenience and take moves and games that may interest them.
6. Take as many as you want and keep as long as you want. There are no late fees!
7. Instead of returning them, the borrower should start their OWN "Movie Box" at THEIR curb and place the movies in it when they're done.
8. Pretty soon, there will be Movie Boxes EVERYWHERE!
9. Congratulations! You are now part of a media revolution.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Wild Country

I am not sure what I'm more excited about - that today is the release day of the Wild Flag record, or that Wild Flag's Rebecca Cole created a Spotify playlist of her favorite country duets to celebrate the occasion. I think it's a tie. Yup. Total tie.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Breaking news for girls who love horses...

... Tori Amos has a new record coming out! Though I assumed the title would be, The Fairy She-Goddess Breathes on the City of Static Dreams and All the Men Die in a Volcano, it appears to be titled Night of Hunters. As somebody who went though a serious love-affair with Ms. Amos during the Under the Pink/Boys For Pele era, I take a special pride in ignoring any and all of her musical output over the last decade. But since the new record is currently being featured on NPR's First Listen, I thought I would go ahead and give it a go. For kicks. For old time sake. And then I heard the first line of the first song: "That is not my blood on the bedroom floor..." Ok, no. You know what? I'm done. Somebody give Tori a mop and tell her to clean up that mess...

If you're braver, or more dumb or more patient than I am, feel free to check it out yourself. You can also read what Ann Powers has to say about the record. Which, I'm fairly certain, is actually more pretentious than the record itself.

Friday, September 9, 2011



Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Spanish can't hurt you

Are you totally in the mood to listen to the Magnetic Fields today, yet aware that Stephin Merritt's lyrics could very well be the death of you should you give in to this temptation considering your current emotional state? Well have I got the answer for you: Alvy, Nacho y Rubin interpretan a Los Campos Magneticos.

It's dudes playing Stephin Merritt songs, but in Spanish. And Spanish can't hurt you. Unless you like, speak it. If you do, here's a little paragraph about them that, once you read it, will make you more of an authority on the subject than I because I can't:

Alvy, Nacho y Rubin interpretan a los Campos Magnéticos es el resultado de un singular proceso de investigación y traducción sobre las formas y los modos con que Stephin Merritt construyó un repertorio de canciones de amor universales desde una plataforma musical sorprendente, que sumerge tanto la pluma en ABBA como en Gershwin.

Go listen to it.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Introducing... me on Thought Catalog

My very first piece for Thought Catalog is now up for your reading pleasure. Or strong displeasure. I can't control how you react to it. But please read it.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Let's do the Spotify

"The Spotify" should be a new dance craze, though I don't know how exactly how it would look - as long as the moves conveyed a message of, "I'm still just learning how to use Spotify and I am already in love with it and also you should get it if you haven't already oh my god let's share music all the time" I'm guessing you'd be doing it right. Maybe put a little more hip into it though. There you go. You got it.

So Spotify! I remember reading about how "streaming was the future of music" a few years ago and I certainly did not believe. But that was also when streaming meant being tethered to your computer staring at a little streaming player that would probably stop working or need to reload several times and would also not allow you to skip ahead or around.

I am not an "early adopter" type when it comes to technology. But I didn't even wait for my free invite - I just went ahead and purchased the "Unlimited" plan for $4.99 a month. Totally worth it. I've already put together two playlists that I think you, dear reader, would highly enjoy.

My favorite records of 2011 so far. This list is pretty self explanatory, but it's such a great way to keep track of what's come out this year that I've really liked and Spotify has allowed me to check out scores of 2011 releases that I had on my "need to hear" list. But so far there's a dozen or so records that I've added...

My favorite records of the early 90's. This massive playlist has over 60 of my favorite records - most of which came out between 1990 and -94. These were my musical formative years as it were. You'll find everything from the obvious-but-essential (Pavement, Nirvana, Pixies) to the super-obscure-and-forgotten (Drop Nineteens, Pale Saints, Bark Psychosis). I'm proud of it.

When I get around to it, you can be sure I'll be posting some kick ass Bollywood playlists too.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Zola, meet Katie

So in case you were wondering, my newest musical crush since Zola Jesus and Diamond Rings is Katie Stelmanis. Come this November 29th, Katie and her band Austra are coming to the Pike Room in Pontiac. The only way this could be better, is if Zola Jesus and Diamond Rings were the other bands on the bill. Holy moly, that would be rad! But it will STILL be rad, because look:

Let's all go right?

Sunday, July 24, 2011

My favorite musical things from 2011 so far

One of them is this video:

Wye Oak - Fish (Official Video) from City Slang on Vimeo.

Head on over to Collapse Board to find out the rest.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Stuff to read, things to see.

Hello, strangers. If you're sad about the less-frequent posting, I am sorry. It's just the way it goes. Mostly because I hate Blogger so, so much. But there's new stuff I've written here and here. It's about music in funny languages, but do not be afraid! Read it anyway...

Also, this flyer. Mark your calendars. RSVP on Facespace. Draw a circle around it on Google +. Whatever helps get your ass there. Thank you.

Monday, July 11, 2011

I DO want to...

Whoa. Whoa. Whoa.

Music Video - The Chase from The History of Pan!c on Vimeo.

Also - from his Facespace page: "In his youth, Pan!c grew up with a steady diet of techno and Morrissey, later championing Britpop at a series of local DJ gigs..." In other words the fact that I'm not best friends with this fellow yet is absolutely ludicrous.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Slacker Escapism

Local indie rockers Carradine have a new record coming out soon that's currently streaming on their Bandcamp page. Sloppy Pavement-esque goodness, just like us olden days people like it. They used the tag "1993" for a very good reason. Good call on that tag choice, guys. The album title is In Case I Lose It, We Both Have It which is certain to be one of my favorite album titles of the year...

Record release show at The Atlas Bar in Hamtramck is Saturday July 16th. They describe the album as being "pressed on some tasty vinyl by Detroit's own Archer Pressing." I hope this means that it is a color other than black. Or that you can actually eat it. Or both.

Friday, June 24, 2011

"Bollywood! Bollywood! Bollywood!"

That is what the world over will be chanting repeatedly forever once my brand new column "Bollywood Ear Candy" takes off on Collapse Board. Hollywood will be a distant memory and Tom Cruise will end up working as Shah Rukh Khan's very short laundry boy. But I personally will settle for just a few people actually reading the column and enjoying it. Read it on Collapse Board now, and let me know what you think.Link

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Three new Morrissey songs?! Yes please.

Morrissey played three brand new songs on BBC radio yesterday. They're all going to be on his next album which is apparently done but... wait for it... he's currently without a label. You know the record industry is a wasteland of incompetence when somebody like Morrissey is floating around without a label. He should tell them all to go to hell and just put stuff out himself. "Action Is My Middle Name" is my favorite of the three new tracks, even if it does sound like he's stroking out at the end:

There's also "People Are The Same Everywhere" and "The Kid's A Looker" which you can find here.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

So this looks fun...

... let's ride bikes and go to there!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Power of Pathetic: Why the 'Power of Print' ad campaign makes me crazy

Have you ever seen an ad in your local paper or perhaps in your child’s soccer banquet program and thought to yourself, “Wow - somebody paid money for that to represent their business.” But then you remember it’s just a small time ad and the lady who owns Honey Donuts was probably too busy and subsequently poor from her husband’s recent, sudden passing to collaborate with a cutting edge ad firm to really make you feel the sweetness of her “award winning honey rolls.” You should also stop being so ungrateful that local businesses care about the community enough to take out a pointless ad which will be seen by like, 40 people at BEST to support your stupid kid’s soccer league. Jerk.

But what about ads by super powerful companies? Considering how much money they pour into advertising, it always stands out when they totally miss the mark or put their name on something terrible. So when five of the nation’s biggest magazine companies unleashed the “Magazines: The Power of Print” campaign, I kind of became obsessed with hating it.

Let me start by saying this - I love magazines. I read several of them. Would I be sad if print media disappeared? Yes. I like to turn the pages. But would I eventually get used to carrying around a little electronic reading tablet thingy like so many people use now? I’d have to. But this campaign! It makes me never want to read a magazine again. It makes me feel both furious and embarrassed. Let’s take a look at an ad from the campaign:

First of all, cool picture. You really had my attention with that iconic image of a man with shorter-than-dude-appropriate shorts and dumb sandals holding a white folder looking at stacks and stacks of brown bags. I’m assuming those bags have coffee in them. Because of the ad copy headline being all coffee related. But I like to think that these are bags of cocaine. And not because I have a Miami Vice inspired imagination. But because it happens.

Also, that headline: “Will the Internet kill magazines? Did instant coffee kill coffee?” I am assuming I’m supposed to answer the second question with a resounding “No!” therefore revealing to myself that the answer to the first question must be the same. But I am not really a huge coffee drinker and don’t really understand the impact instant coffee introduction had on the java economy. So for me, the second question might as well be, “Did the Teamsters kill Jimmy Hoffa?” Then I’d know the answer to both questions was, “Probably, but perhaps we will never know!”

The main part of the ad is pretty text heavy. It has about a zillion more words than most ads. It is also laid out in such a way that it feels like a letter from the magazines themselves. Which gives it a slightly more personal feeling, but not “super nice thank you note from a friend” personal - more like “love letter from somebody you have no interest in ever being romantically involved with, but who you’re still going to have to see all the time because you work together” kind of personal. So many words, but what are they saying?

“New technologies change many things. But not everything.” Those first two sentences are pretty eye opening, right? It sounds like the lazily translated tag-line to a Hindi science fiction film. Thanks for telling me nothing! That vast statement is followed up with, “You may surf, search, shop and blog online, but you still read magazines. And you’re far from alone.” Ok, they GOT me on the “you still read magazines” thing - after all, I DID see this ad in an actual issue of
Rolling Stone. Guilty! Also, when I read magazines, I am constantly fighting back an anxious feeling that I’m all alone. That nobody left on Earth understands my magazine reading. So thank you for including that much needed reassurance. Now if only there were a toll free helpline number included in the ad...

This second paragraph though - that’s where it is at! It is all crammed with facts and stats and compelling information! Right? “Readership has actually increased over the last five years.” If somebody in a suit or lab coat or other authoritative garb said this to me while pointing at a bar graph, I would maybe believe it for a second. But here it’s just all naked and vague and I can’t help but wonder, “Increased from what? Abysmal to slightly less abysmal?” Also, by throwing the word “actually” in there, it shows an assumption that the reader will find this contrary to their current view. I mean, yes a smart person probably assumes that print media readership has gone down since the Internet came into play. But this is America - you’re not selling to smart people. The majority of people who see your ad are the same people that earnestly do their Christmas shopping at the “As Seen on TV” store. If the person who bought
this can't be sold on the idea that magazine readership is up, heaven help the publishing industry.

Then we’re hit with the factoid that the precious 18 to 34 demographic “continues to grow.” This is aimed right at advertisers since that’s exactly who they want to sell things like Mountain Dew and Doritos to. Also Axe body spray, Skyy vodka and Trojan condoms. Probably in that order. But that’s not all! “... typical young adults now read more issues per month than their parents.” And
atypical young adults write suicide poems and draw pictures of Satan in the notebook they’re hiding inside that issue of Seventeen they’ve never actually read. Oh wait - that describes typical young adults. Also, if they’re reading more than their parents, does that mean that readership in the parent age group has gone down? So does that supposed young adult increase only serves to cancel that out? I don’t know - I only cried in front of one college professor and that was in my Statistics class.

But even I know this is a pretty weak case, magazines.
One of my favorite things is when somebody tells me an explanation is “fairly obvious” and then backs this up by telling me nothing but vague bullshit. This next paragraph gets a gold medal in this category. The “explanation” for the maybe-not-even-that-great upswing in readership described above is “Magazines do what the Internet doesn’t.” Hmm... The only thing I can think of that I can do with a magazine but not with the Internet is kill a cockroach. The Internet pretty much does everything. It is a never-ending information land that may or may not consist of a series of tubes. Hardly anybody actually understands how it works. It’s literally magical!

Suffice to say, to strengthen the ballsy statement that magazines can somehow do something the Internet can’t, that follow up sentence better be pretty awesome. “Neither obsessed with immediacy nor trapped by the daily news cycle, magazines promote deeper connections.” Wow. You’ve just gone ahead and listed the two things magazines
by design will always be terrible at and laid them out there as if they were your greatest strengths. Well spun, magazines, well spun. Also, what is this “promote deeper connections” business? Between me and the magazine? Between me and other people? Is this because it is easier for the crazy lady on the bus to read a physical copy of Vanity Fair over my shoulder and engage me in a conversation about how she was supposed to be Reese Witherspoon but the government kidnapped her before she could audition for Man In the Moon and forced the director to cast a cyborg fighting weapon robot girl they called Reese Witherspoon than it is for her to see the same article on my iPhone? That’s my best guess.

The last paragraph though, tells us everything we need to know. This two page advertisement is directed at and a cry for help to those who advertise. “Please advertise your products in our magazines, ok? Because we’re terrified that you’re going to stop doing that. We can’t quit you, because that would mean evolving. As you can see from this ham-fisted, desperate ad, we aren’t ready for that yet.” I mean, this ad is TWO FULL COLOR PAGES. To buy that kind of ad space in a high school yearbook is expensive, let alone a major publication. So the fact they’re willing to take up potential money making space with an ad begging people to advertise tells me maybe they’re not as confidant as they pretended to be earlier when they were bragging about their readership numbers. But I suppose that’s just the cynic in me.

So yes - I still love magazines. When
Harper's or The New Yorker or Jugs comes in the mail it immediately makes my whole day better. Browsing the newsstand at a bookstore is my favorite part of the experience. I even love the way they smell. But seriously magazines, your insecurity is grossing me out. Knock it off.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Ten reviews of the same record? Yes.

Collapse Board has 10 reviews of the new Cults record. Number 10 is written by me. I thought this might be an exercise in overkill, but instead I've been enjoying reading the different perspectives. I think you'll get more out of reading all 10 of these than if you search the web for 10 different sites. I'm just happy I got to make both a Saint Etienne reference and a joke about Phil Spector. That's a win for me.

Here's the video for the lead off track. A little too literal for my tastes, but certainly one of the best songs on the record.

Friday, May 20, 2011

My Collapse Board debut

Today marks my debut with Collapse Board. Go here to read my feature. I am very excited to start writing more for the site, but I am also a consummate professional about this opportunity. I'm not like, reading Everett True's Wikipedia page and getting all giddy like a nerdy fan girl. Who would do that, right?

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Lasers & Headbands & Smiths Weekend

Two really outstanding shows this weekend. Friday at the Belmont, Lasers & Fast & Shit and Johnny Headband. Saturday, The Smiths United at the Berkley Front. Yes, yes.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Music Critics DO Suck

Yesterday I was e mailed the article "Why Music Critics Suck" by Kelly McClure. Aside from the potty-humor related giveaways (those who know me at all know the words "fart sandwich" would never, ever appear in anything I wrote - other than, for instance, to tell you how I'd never ever write that) the piece could have been written by me. Go read it, and then let's talk about it shall we?

All done? Ok. I appreciate McClure's honesty when she makes this point:
"... when I sit down to type out a 150-200 word review, my primary goal is to show the reader how funny, cool, and clever I am. If they also come away with a rough idea of what an album sounds like, then whatever, I guess that’s cool too." Haha! It's funny because it's true! Have I been guilty of this myself as a music writer? There's no doubt. But to be fair, I think I'm way too much of an earnest nerd about music (and more importantly a nerd in general) to let that be my primary objective. So maybe I'm doing it wrong. Regardless, it certainly does seem to be the primary objective for a whole lot of music writer types.

In "Why Music Critics Suck" McClure does a little exercise where she flips to a review and critiques it. Because she encourages the reader to do this along at home, and because I like to follow instructions, I have done this as well. My review is of the new Panda Bear record
Tomboy from the newest issue of Rolling Stone with Adele (who I totally don't get - but that's a whole different topic) on the cover. I figured this review would serve the purpose well since I've heard some of Panda Bear's music but nothing from this new record. Let's look at the first two sentences, shall we?
"Noah Lennox makes music swathed in so much synth noise, ambient voices and ricocheting stereophonic WTFs, it can feel like you're swept into a tidal wave of bong water. But life can feel that way too." Hmm. Yes. There is not a single part of that lead sentence that doesn't read like a first person account of a horrific drug induced seizure. It makes me feel sweaty and like I'm going to throw up. Oh, but now with that second sentence, you've opened it up into a metaphor about life. Well - now I get it. We can all relate to those bong water tidal wave days, right? I mean, how many of us haven't had a day that left us feeling like we were being washed away Katrina-style by a stagnant, stale, smoke scented wave of putrid liquid? This is life, people! And we're living it!

What about the rest of the review? Who cares. I already have a direct association between Panda Bear and bong water that will last me the rest Noah Lennox's career. Nice aversion therapy work,
Rolling Stone. But I don't think the blame lies solely on the shoulders of the reviewer (in this case a Mr. Will Hermes). An editor - maybe even more than one editor - at Rolling Stone read that and said, "Yes. Let's print this in our magazine." Cool choice, editors.

Toward the end of her piece, McClure writes: "I personally can barely find it within myself to care about the memories and feelings of my closest friends, yet alone some critic who lives god knows where and looks like god knows what. Don’t tell me how an album makes you 'feel,' you jerkstore, just tell me how much it costs and I’ll figure out the rest." I agree with this sentiment, but would insert "tell me what it sounds like" for her "tell me how much it costs." I've never once looked to a review for price information. I have read a lot of complaint and criticism about reviews that compare a band or record to other bands or records, and I've never really understood why that's so wrong. First of all, forgive me, but since virtually everything had been done a hundred times before, nothing being created today is so amazingly unique as to allude any comparisons. Secondly, I really don't want to read more of your self-important overly-thesaurus reliant review than I have to. So the more I can get out of it with a cursory glance, the better a review it is. "Something, blah... blah... Trompe le Monde era Pixies meets Bad Brains..." Ok! Let's listen to that! "Something, blah... blah... meandering melodies with superfluous smokey overtones swirled with ether..." Jesus Christ. NEXT!

I'm pretty excited about this Collapse Board business though. I think we'll get along well.
Go to there and see what you think...

Monday, May 2, 2011

This Saturday - THIS is where you should be.

Read my interview with the bands over at the Metro Times Music Blahg. I'm really proud to be a part of this - not in a bragging way. Ok, kind of in a bragging way. I think that's acceptable.

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