Category Archives: Music

Cooler

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Sometimes I just don’t understand music videos. Rather, oftentimes I don’t understand music videos. This affliction is so consistent that I’ve almost entirely given up trying to understand them. Instead, I watch them, enjoy them, and move on.

Usually.

What throws me off is when a band passes up a cooler video in favor of… Another one. I’m not entirely sure about the chronology of these videos, but it seems that the band Grizzly Bear has done just that.

Grizzly Bear’s song “Two Weeks” is kind of their hit. It’s an awesome song, it’s catchy, it’s the whole deal. The band knows it’s their big song, too, because they made a video for it, and let’s face it: bands don’t make videos for b-sides. Here’s the official one:

Like usual for music videos, it’s cool, I guess. I don’t get it entirely, and it gets a little boring at the end, but hey, it’s not my video, right?

Artist Gabe Askew, however, has an alternative (as found courtesy of Mr. West):

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I can’t say I understand this one, either, but look at it! Whereas the official video makes do with a bit of CGI over some fairly static camerawork, Askew’s version is a craft-masterpiece. I don’t have to reiterate my love affair with cardboard and papercraft, and this obviously wins points there, but the creative drive behind it is almost overwhelming. Both videos crescendo in a similar fashion, but Askew’s completely swept me away, while the official video merely interested me.

Maybe I’m too picky, but maybe the band should have considered other options. Considering how cool their album artwork is, I think it would have fit right in with their style. Maybe next time.

I should really offer Grizzly Bear-themed mashups today… OK, sold.

This first track even incorporates “Two Weeks!” Lil’ Wayne is an interesting addition, however.

This second track has the same idea, but it uses Dead Prez. I have to say that I like this vocal track better.

The final track uses Grizzly Bear’s song “Knife” instead, against Ghostface Killa.

Three-Dee

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As promised, I’m sharing the source of the header photo for my last post. I found this artist via Kanye’s blog, and couldn’t help but pass it along. I’m not entirely sure what she uses to make her pieces, but they’re all brilliant.

The artist’s name is Meredith Dittmar, and she has a portfolio of her work here. I particularly like her dioramas, like this one:

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Particularly, I like how she uses the balance of vivid colors with the greyscale backgrounds. If I had the money, I would definitely buy one of these things to hang wherever I go.

In my US Experience class last week, my teacher (an art professor) gave us a big speech about how Americans don’t buy and hang original art. If anything, we’ll have a poster or a print, but never the original thing. I mentally protested, as we have quite a bit of original art hanging in my parents’ homes, but half of that is either my mothers work or my own. So maybe he has a point. Regardless, buying  original art has made it onto my list of things to do, when I’m rich.

Since I shared a whole album of mashups the other day, I’m going to leave you with this video, courtesy of A-Trak. If you haven’t heard of him, I’ll share something that I love dearly that he’s worked on, soon. That’s a bad sentence, I know. Anyway, here’s the video:

Enjoy!

The Cat Returns

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The school year has resumed, so I’ve decided to resume the blog, as well. I thought about restarting this with some kind of look back into what I’ve been up to in the months that I’ve been away from this, but I decided that’s stupid. I do, after all, try to keep myself out of this process as much as possible. However, I can sum it up in a couple of words:

I was in the woods.

Good? Good. To start things off, I have a couple of stop-motion videos (found through Boingboing, of course) to restore the aesthetic that I like to explore:

I’m not going to write too much right now, since I have a job interview tomorrow morning, but a post wouldn’t be the same without mashups. I shared Super Mash Bros.’ first album last year, but they’ve come out with a new one in the meantime, All About the Scrillions. This album became the soundtrack to the second half of my summer, and I dare say I could have done worse. Check it out.

Here’s one of the tracks.

Here’s another one.

And here’s the link to the album download.

PS– Curious about the header photo? Check back tomorrow to find out what it’s all about!

Fandom

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I can’t say I’ve ever understood fandom very well. I’m a fan of tons of different things, but not enough to really devote myself to them. I suppose the greatest extent of my fandom results in my attempts at emulating whatever I like so much (e.g. papercraft, steampunk, etc.), which never quite manages to be what I want it to be. This natural cycle of disappointment keeps my excitement with various things at a healthy craziness– not quite obsession. 

Of course, some people get a tad bit more emotionally involved than I do. It’s arguable that Elvis had the first rabid devoted fan base that crossed the country, but I think The Beatles had the first truly modern fan group. In the Anthology, Paul remembers that with the rudimentary monitoring equipment that they used, the musicians often couldn’t hear themselves over the screaming of the audience when they played stadiums, etc. Imagine not being able to hear yourself think over the thunderous cheers and applause of thousands

Of course, not all fans are members of colossal swarms. Exhibit A:

Granted, Mel is a fictional character, but I think they get her perfect. Devoted and slightly creepy, Fans everywhere (with a capital F) can probably see a little bit of themselves in her. As a side note, the creator of Flight of the Conchords is named James Bobin… Perhaps we’re related in some distant way.

Since The Beatles loom so large in any discussion of fandom, they’ll be the theme of tonight’s mash-ups again. This time, their influence isn’t quite as buried.

I’ll be quite frank– I love this first track. Both songs have special places in my heart, though they’re very different places. This is a prime example of ingenious song juxtaposition, in my opinion.

The songs in this second track aren’t quite as opposed, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t sound fantastic! Musically, it sounds better, I think, but songs from the same general era/genre can do that more easily as in the first example.

Slowing things down, as usual, is tonight’s final track. Since there are three artists on this track, it’s hard to say how they oppose one another. Whatever– they balance wonderfully.

PS– If you like mash-ups and didn’t check out the treat I posted on Sunday, do yourself a favor and download it. It’s one of the best mash-up albums I’ve ever listened to.

MY JAMZ

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My parents aren’t very materialistic. They don’t have many of the modern amenities that most Americans deem essential, including cable. And SUVs. They’re just not tempted by that kind of thing. In recent years, however, I’ve noticed a particular vice of theirs: land. I guess buying up land is kind of old-school materialism… As in colonial-old-school. I don’t begrudge them their splurges, though– every time they buy more land around my cabin in northern Michigan, more forest is saved from development. Anyway, they’ve also started building/buying houses, and now we have the first three houses on the block.

The most recent house was foreclosed on, and apparently the residents that preceded us didn’t care to take anything with them when they had to leave. The house is filled with all the detritus of up-north life, including cabinets stocked with canned foods, snowmobile boots, and over 500 bullets, both boxed and loose. Also present in the house was a lone audio cassette tape of Biz Markie (the link is a little bit of a LOL, since every page besides the home page is dead. Here’s his Wikipedia entry). If you’ve never heard of him, I’m not surprised. His only hit was in 1989, and it’s ridiculous. Still, I loved the tape, and want to share this video with you.

Why does this count as alternative media, you ask? It’s hard to justify, I know. I’ll just say it’s retro– he’s an artist that has largely faded from popular knowledge, and so he’s become an alternative figure in the world of pop culture. Yeah? Whatever. Just watch the video.

In the extremely unlikely chance that you didn’t enjoy that, I won’t count it as one of the songs today. So this track will be the first mash-up of the day instead.

I didn’t like how dance-y this second track was initially, but I stuck with it, and I’m glad I did! You’ll see what I mean.

This last track is really well done! You’ll have to turn it up a bit, since for some reason this track is quieter than the rest, but it’ll be worth it. I haven’t heard of the DJ (I think this is him…) but they definitely have skill.

PS– This is the first post that’s not being written from the comfort of my own apartment. Just sayin’.

Punk, Contintued

 

Copyright Glen Friedman, via BoingBoing

Copyright Glen Friedman, via BoingBoing

I came across this interesting BoingBoing TV series today, though if I’d seen it a few days ago, I wouldn’t have thought anything of it. The band name Bad Brains jumped out at me, and I realized they were the hardcore punk band I was most impressed with in the video we watched in class. Anyway, this episode features photographer Glen Freidman and artist Shepard Fairey, who collaborated to create an image of the Bad Brains in Fairey’s now legendary style.

I was going to be snazzy and embed the flash video of the episode, but WordPress has been stone-walling me for the past half hour. So if you want to see it, you’re going to have to just click through. Sorry. (Update– Success!)

We’ll start the music loud again today, with this first track. I just love Britney mash-ups, since she’s so pop that any non-official mix is immediately evident.

I don’t know what’s going on with this second track, but I like it. 

The final track is a little spacey, too, but hey, a little change is good now and then.

“They Don’t Like Music”

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We spent all of class today watching American Hardcore, a documentary on the hardcore punk culture of the eighties. It’s not over yet, but I came away with some initial impressions, regarding the subject matter. I’ve never been much of a fan of punk music. Hardcore punk music, apparently, I find even less attractive. Call me a traditionalist, but when I think “music,” I think… Melody. Even harmony. I’m a rather shoddy guitar player, but if I cranked my amp to full distortion and did the same to my vocals, all the while holding a E minor-chord and screaming, I could put on a performance (somewhat) equivalent to famous hardcore bands. What I’d be missing, of course, is the attitude, and as SS Decontrol famously emphasized, that’s what makes a true punk band.

I actually like a lot of the punk subculture, especially the philosophical underpinnings. Do-It-Yourself is huge, as is questioning authority. They’re both equally valid and important ideas, and are epitomized (to me) in blogs and zines. Zines are more legitimate, since you yourself staple them together, but I’ve talked about that already. The problem I have with punk is when it goes beyond the actual creators of art (credit to Prof. Massanari for the link idea). Punk, more than almost anything else, is dead when it’s popular. If something is the anti-pop, then it cancels itself out when every pop producer in the world gets their hands on it.

I guess I’m talking myself in circles. The point is, and this is just my opinion, that there are two kinds of Punk. Artists and producers of thought or media are Punks. With a capital P. They provide the impetus and passion behind the movement, and they actually contribute to an alternative way of thinking. On the other hand, kids who just want to look cool to scare their parents are regular old punks. They don’t get any capitalization. How embarrassing. I suppose that they contribute to some culture in a way, but if anything they just feed the hungry beast that is mainstream culture with once-legitimate, now-hackneyed ideas and styles. 

Thoughts?

I thought briefly about making the mash-ups today punk based. Then I realized I would be contradicting my opening statements, so instead, I’m posting anything but. Half the fun of mash-ups is how they deal with pop music anyway.

Starting things off loud, this first track is fairly dance-oriented, but it does that very well. There’s not too much “DJ/Electronic” sound muddling up the mashed tracks (which I often see as simply a smokescreen to hide bad mash-up skills).

Next is a direct affront to punk, featuring Blink 182! This track doesn’t use them too much (thank goodness), but if you want to listen to what dead punk rots into, check them out. I include all emo in that category, as well.

Finally, this last track features a perennial favorite on this blog (I’ll let you figure out who– it’s not hard). It also has a band called “Bonobo,” which initially excited me, since I hoped it could be used as a “gorilla” reference. Unfortunately, I quickly remembered that bonobos are chimps, but at least they’re still primates. If this gorilla-drought continues, I may have to change the name of the blog to something less *ahem* clever.

We shall see.