Archive for the ‘arts & culture’ Category


Franz Ferdinand: Tonight

January 26, 2009

Stuart Berman • Pitchfork   more in Arts & Culture    header

148567tonightThe standard line about having your whole life to write your first album and only six months to write your second seemed especially true in the case of Franz Ferdinand. The Glaswegian band issued its sophomore effort You Could Have It So Much Better some 18 months after its 2004 self-titled debut– a narrow window considering that first record yielded three top 10 UK singles, a Mercury Prize, and a steady touring itinerary that saw them ascend from clubs to concert halls to the Grammys. But the quick turnaround and life on the road didn’t affect the quality of the material so much as the band’s performance of it– sounding brawnier and brasher than on their debut, Franz Ferdinand ripped through the album’s 13 songs.  

Franz Ferdinand must’ve therefore been happy to sit out the past three years. In the time since Franz released their last album, their American contemporaries the Killers have already gone Springsteen and then swung back to their synth-pop roots, while next-generation UK upstarts like the Arctic Monkeys have weathered their own cycle of hyperbole, hibernation, and orchestral side projects. During that time, Franz Ferdinand first seemed poised to reemerge as the biggest pop band in the UK– having initially tapped Girls Aloud guru Brian Higgins (Xenomania) to produce their third album– or the most commercially suicidal, eventually parting ways with Higgins and indulging in extended studio jams, electronic experiments, and deconstructed, Martin Hannett-like recording techniques (complete with tales of using human bones for percussion).
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Chanting Down Babylon • Ep. 4 • Make It Look Good

January 13, 2009

zack Zack Charles • Operation Itch Video   • header

(lyrics below the break)

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Paul Moller: Take a ride in the Skycar

January 13, 2009

TED     header
 Paul Moller talks about the future of personal air travel — the marriage of autos and flight that will give us true freedom to travel off-road. He shows two things he’s working on: the Moller Skycar (a jet + car) and a passenger-friendly hovering disc.


Interview w/ Jay Reatard

January 9, 2009

Interviewed by Steven Hyden     • see all posts in ARTS & CULTURE

jayreatardMemphis garage-rocker Jay Reatard was one of the big breakout artists of 2008, releasing two fantastic singles collections on two different labels—Singles ’06-’07 collected songs from various 7-inches released by In The Red, andMatador Singles ’08 packaged together a special series of monthly vinyl-only releases from his new label. Along with earning critical praise for his music—which is a lot more sophisticated and clever than its dumb, Ramones-inspired artifice might suggest—Reatard also got the wrong kind of publicity when he punched out an unruly fan during a disastrous show in Toronto last spring. Inevitably, video of the incident was widely circulated on the Internet, and Reatard was painted as a petulant would-be rock star who couldn’t stand the heat of the punk-rock kitchen. Reatard maintains that he’s merely a musician and songwriter and not a badass tough guy, and he continues to be a prolific record-maker who’s currently prepping his first full-length album for Matador, set for an early 2009 release. The A.V. Club recently caught up with Reatard to talk about music, fighting, and whether it was wrong to name himself after a politically incorrect term for the cognitively disabled.

The A.V. Club: How are you?

Jay Reatard: I’m in fucking panic mode, trying to finish up my record before next week when I have to deliver it. I need to take a little break. I’ve been frying my brain on recording this morning. I had 15 songs done, and then I had to get shipped away to London for two weeks. Then I came home for three days to work on the record, and then I flew back to Paris. And now I’m back home this morning to work on the record again. It’s pretty hectic.

AVC: Are you recording by yourself?

JR: Yeah. I’m just doing it in what would be my dining room if I was eating, rather than creating music there. I’m doing it at my house, like I always have. It’s simply for convenience’s sake. If I have a song idea at 9 in the morning, it’s pretty difficult to say, “Hey dude, get the fuck over here in the next five minutes before I lose inspiration.” I have a couple of drum kits at my house, and I keep them miked up, so it’s easier just to sit down and do it myself. On this record, I recorded with the drummer I’ve been playing with for the past year and a half. He played on about a third of the record, which is a pretty big step for me. I haven’t recorded with other people for four years, I guess.
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Shotgun Party: The Finest Trio This Side of The Rio Grande

January 7, 2009

kevinby Kevin Egan • Operation Itch Contributing Writer   header 

 more  in Arts & Culture      read all posts by Kevin Egan

“Shotgun Party is definitely in many ways a crossover band,” says Jenny Parrott, lead singer and songwriter for the Austin-based trio.  “Most of our music is written by me and I love soul, R & B, vintage jazz, country and Bjork.  Chris, the bass player, is a huge bebop & Beatles fan and Katy is a classically trained violinist whose life was changed by bluegrass.  We all add very different and hopefully complimentary things to our sound.  It is hard to put an accurate name on this type of sound but we often get away with ’swing,’ ‘pop’ or ‘country.’”

click for the Shotgun Party myspace page

click for the Shotgun Party myspace page

Regardless of what name you assign to their sound, their music definitely “swings.” 

Chris Chrepp’s upright bass and Jenny Parrott’s steady strumming on the guitar provide the perfect driving rhythm for Parrott’s playful melodies, Crepp’s and Katy Rose Cox’s impressively tight harmonies and Cox’s extraordinary fiddle playing.  The end result is a combination that can put a smile on the face of even the most miserable of curmudgeons.   

In fact, it was that combination that helped the band land a residency one of Austin’s most legendary venues, The Continental Club.  It was after a CD release party that went extremely well that the band began playing The Continental on a consistent basis, eventually landing them the prestigious spot at Happy Hour. 

 You’d be hard pressed to find a better staff than the one at the Continental Club,” says Parrott.  “They treat musicians very well there.  I don’t know many clubs where the owners book the shows, come out to see the bands play and spend time at their own club.  It seems very hands on.  And of course, the caliber of the music at that club is awesome.” 

 And although Cox is the only original Texan out of the three (Parrott hails from the Northeast and Crepps from San Diego), they are all equally immersed in and dedicated to Austin’s flourishing music scene.  They only have kind words to say about their fellow musicians, as well as their fellow citizens. 

 I enjoy the quality of musicianship here.” Crepps says.  “I also love the camaraderie amongst musicians.   There’s not a lot of animosity.  From my experiences there’s a general interest in what the other bands are doing.”

 Cox adds, “People here in Austin love to dance, eat good food, swim and laugh.  There is no place else like Austin.”



Courtney Love Album Delayed, Vast Conspiracy At Cause

January 5, 2009

Lisa Derrick    headermore in ARTS & CULTURE        

2009-01-02-20070815loveCourtney Love’s new album was supposed to hit stores yesterday, but Nobody’s Daughter has been postponed. The New York Post reports that she may release the album independently via her website Love’s MySpace administrator posted reasons for the delay, including:

some paranormal technical issues and had to be moved from one studio to another studio right around the holidays…Courtney and crew could not hear between guitars. Sound and vocal mixings have to be completed still to perfection.


Along with recording issues, Courtney has been consumed tracking down a vast embezzling scheme.

When she first began investigating the nefarious malfeasance it was simply to discover who had opened credit card accounts and bought plane tickets in her name. Now on her own–the police, the FBI, politicians and media refuse to listen to her–Courtney has accumulated evidence that $800,000,000 has been stolen using Kurt Cobain’s social security number and variations on the spelling of his name and the names of other celebrities, as well as family members, as she reports on her most recent blog:

Mark Consuealas and Kelly IPA mine under courtney lovecobain no space is 98 pages and i get stuck being of all people axl rose, yep B A Bailey B baily ab bailey wa rose a rose all with 100s of iff addresses i get stuck being Pamela lee ANDERS , myneighbou and dear friend Pamela and Davids daughetr sara is also a good friend, since Knispel and Chapman is using their ssns and their ex spouses

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Jennifer 8. Lee: Who was General Tso?

January 5, 2009

From TED more in Arts & Culture header.jpg 
Reporter Jennifer 8. Lee talks about her hunt for the origins of familiar Chinese-American dishes — exploring the hidden spots where these two cultures have (so tastily) combined to form a new cuisine.