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Looking Forward To Death From Above 1979′s New Release Coming Out In 2012

[ Comments Off ]Posted on November 27, 2011 by admin in Music

Sunday, November 27th, 2011

That’s a lot of prepositions and dates for a single overlooked band, but these guys were replacing nipples with other body parts in their videos WAY before Lady Gaga and Die Antwoord’s Yolandi Vi$$er.

One thing I love about the demise of the major record labels and the explosion of indy releases over the last decade is that just when I think I’m caught up on things, I run across some bizarre pop treasure that leads me on the YouTube equivalent of Wikiphilia. You know, when some quirky video or song by some under-recognized artist leads to discovering an entire new world, i.e., the world of bands with 307 video views. This happened the other day when someone sent me a link to the creepy but clever Sexy Results video (NSFW, if breasts with mouths aren’t safe where you work) by Death From Above 1979. Although Die Antwoord’s Yolandi Vi$$er had eyes for nipples in the video for Evil Boy , and Lady Gaga had zippers in Born This Way, that Death From Above “mouths for nipples” video pre-dates both by more than a year. So they have that going for them. But what they also have going for them is a fairly unique sound that’s surprisingly full, in spite of basically being driven only by a heavily-effected bass, drums, and vocals. The band’s playlist is hard to sort out since they seem to mix various projects’ material when performing live, but comparisons to Daft Punk are inevitable in the case of material from their project MSTRKRFT. Though frankly, I find DFA and MSTRKRFT’s tunes in possession of the soul that a lot of Daft Punk’s material seems to lack. And the DFA material itself is a little harder to categorize, since it meanders from tunes that sound like a more martial, less poppy White Stripes to almost sounding like early Wire. Death From Above 1979 is apparently reuniting this year after a 2006 breakup, so it will be interesting to see what they put together. Although they were touring much of this year, there has been no news of a new release, and unless you’re in Brazil on December 3, you’re not likely to catch them live any time soon. But what you CAN do in the meantime is check out the extensive back-catalogs of their various members’ projects. That’s how I discovered the slightly Daft Punky MSTRKRFT, as well as the quirkily charming Girlsareshort, whose CD Earlynorthamerican has fun tunes like the title track and Ex Degenerate (those are both YouTube links). More vids below. Read the rest of this entry »

Thomas Dolby’s “Oceana” On iTunes, Online Game Announced For Upcoming “Urbanoia” EP

[ Comments Off ]Posted on March 31, 2011 by admin in Music

Thursday, March 31st, 2011

I’m in no mood for games, Mr. Dolby, but I admire your marketing savvy.


Now available on iTunes

Well lucky you, average music consumer. You can now purchase Thomas Dolby’s recent EP “Oceana” – previously only available to drooling sycophants like myself – on iTunes. And Mr. Dolby has announced another small change in marketing strategy. While he originally stated a plan to release three EP’s (exclusively to Flat Earth Society subscribers) leading up to the full release of the album “A Map Of The Floating City” this summer, he’s now added an online social networking adventure to the mix. While the FES forums and regular promotional materials that are being released don’t go into much detail, this fellow is apparently one of the developers. And Dolby himself described it in this interview with Amy Steele: “You can access the game for free through your web browser. It’s set in a kind of 1930s that might have come to be, had the strange experimental weapons of that time come to fruition. There were sonic cannons and Tesla death rays. In the game, tribes of players collaborate to explore what’s left of the planet following an event of mass destruction. Survivors take to the oceans in the hulls of abandoned vessels, and eventually they raft up, like the merchants’ barges in Tokyo harbor in the 17th century. A strange kind of barter culture emerges, a form of ‘maker’ society where players cobble together inventions using relics from the past. Most of this is done in text form, you understand, it’s a kind of collaborative fiction, not a 3d shoot em up. And as you explore the game, you will discover new songs from the 3rd and final EP from my album, ‘Urbanoia’.”  As a non-gamer, this doesn’t thrill me much, but it’s a clever marketing angle. I’ll personally probably just wait for random leaks and buy the complete album when it arrives. We’ve been following Dolby’s recent releases with interest since last May, and will share any updates as they become available. So Oceanea remains the only material you can purchase without becoming a Flat Earth Society member, or playing the upcoming game. But if you love the tune Toadlickers as much as I do, well, there’s an app for that. Vids below. Read the rest of this entry »

Music Industry Plans To Pay Off Federal Deficit

[ Comments Off ]Posted on March 23, 2011 by admin in Music

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011

How else would you explain a $75 Trillion lawsuit? Yes. We said trillion.

It’s been clear for a while that the established music industry missed the boat to the digital age, and that their innovative new business model is primarily based on suing the pants off their own customers and pirating music from their own artists. But if you’ve been following these bizarre attempts by the music industry to remain profitable, one thing that that might be troubling you lately is the way that the government seems to be operating as a tool for the entertainment industry to execute this doomed strategy. The fact that the Department of Homeland Security basically admits that it’s the private police force of the entertainment industry raises perfectly reasonable questions like “Is CD Piracy a Matter for Homeland Security?” And for the entertainment industry to pursue this kind of strategy more aggressively than ever – especially at a time when consumer piracy has declined almost 50% in three years – has personally left me perplexed. Until today, when I finally figured out the long-term goal of this bizarre partnership between agencies devoted to national security and the people who bring you wonderful and innovative products like Justin Bieber and Toy Story 3. They’re out to eliminate the federal deficit. How else would you explain the music industry’s $75 Trillion lawsuit against Lime Wire? Yes, you read that right. Seventy five trillion dollars. That’s enough to pay off the current federal deficit 45 times, if you’re curious.

Rebecca Black’s Friday & The Death Of Parody In Pop

[ 3 Comments ]Posted on March 17, 2011 by admin in Music

Thursday, March 17th, 2011

Is Ark Music Factory helping accelerate the demise of parody in pop and destroy the wall between professional and user-generated content?

One of the more important recent events in contemporary pop music took place February 10, 2011. That was the day that the video Friday by Rebecca Black (also below) was uploaded to YouTube. If you haven’t seen it yet or heard about it, I only suggest you watch it so you can experience the discomforting cognitive dissonance it generates. It’s a unique feeling. At first you’ll be like “Bleh. Another cute but prepackaged, overly-autotuned young pop star being launched“. Then, early in the song, she says the word “Friday” the way she says it for the first time. While you’re busy marveling at the new vowel she’s invented (it’s somewhere between “i” and “e” mixed with the sound of a dying bunny), you’ll first start having trouble identifying what level of production quality is being presented. Yes, that’s fairly solid camera work and editing, and the audio is punchy and cleanly mixed. But those “extras”… those must be her friends, right? At some point you’ll wonder if this is some clever Onion.com parody, and start waiting for the punchline. Then you’ll realize it isn’t coming, and suddenly the song ends, and you’ll be like “wait, WHAT? OH MY GOD THAT WASN’T A JOKE”. If you’ve ever been in a rollover car accident, you’ll briefly relive that feeling that something terrible has just happened, but you’re okay, and almost laugh at how you just tempted fate and defeated it. I’m not sure if I’m exaggerating. The reason I said at the top that this song is such an important event was that it has accomplished the amazing feat of forever breaching that crumbling wall between professional and user-generated content in pop music in a way that no one really has before. This has happened with most other media and subcultures; I’ve talked before about the Death Of Meta-Ironic Hipsterism and The Death & Rebirth Of Political Meta-Satire As Quantum Comedy for instance. But so far, in spite of a decade of American Idol and websites like mp3.com and MySpace Music, no one has so successfully destroyed this line between “celebrity” and “nobody” with such carefree naivete, such oblivious indifference. For the record, Rebecca didn’t do this on her own; she’s a partially self-created product, but the other part of the partial was created by Ark Music Factory, a production house that seems to be cashing in on the same parents that sign their kids up for beauty pageants at age three. In spite of the genuine hat tip I offer to Rebecca Black for being in the right place at the right time, Ark Music Factory seems like an evil entity designed to destroy youth by deceiving them into pursuing hollow and unachievable dreams by selling them their own naivete and self-obsession. I would bet that half of these kids will be in rehab or thrice-weekly therapy by the age of 22. I mean, watching this Ark Music Factory promotional video gives me the same sick feeling inside that I got in third grade when I watched my nerdy friend get bullied during recess and acted like I didn’t know him. And I know, you may be thinking “Oh c’mon. This is just one of those meme thingies I’m always hearing about“. Well, I might have agreed a few weeks ago, but as of this writing the video has more than 13 million views (double that of Radiohead’s recent Lotus Flower), there’s talk of a tour, and the song has made the top 100 on iTunes. Oh. And a spinoff. The “girl in pink with the awkward dances” has a Tumblr. More video clips below.

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You Are Listening To Los Angeles

[ Comments Off ]Posted on March 9, 2011 by admin in Music

Wednesday, March 9th, 2011

The delightfully strange intersection of crime and ambient music.

Have you been lamenting that there’s no way to combine your favorite police scanner channel with some nice ambient music? Of course you haven’t. But you would have been, if you had known in advance just how cool it would sound. In any case, this problem you didn’t even know you had has been solved with the brilliant website mashup You Are Listening To Los Angeles, which is simply a picture of Los Angeles, and the simultaneous streams of ambient music from SoundCloud.com and police radio chatter from Los Angeles. On the surface, this may not sound terribly appealing, but it is in fact amazingly pleasant to listen to. Especially if – like me – you enjoy the brilliant audio work in movies like THX 1138 or Blade Runner, or if you’ve ever enjoyed music by the likes of Bill Nelson or Byrne & Eno. There’s something about the filtering of certain kinds of radio transmissions, combined with their blips and static cutoffs, that make them quite musical. And when layered randomly with certain ambient music, you suddenly have an ever-evolving, and strangely soothing background music. I’ve been listening to it randomly while I work, and  eventually got curious about how well it would work with different sources, so I tried some of my own ambient music (embedded below, or you can buy it here) combined with various emergency scanner streams from RadioReference.com. And it seems to work well with just about any stream you pick, provided the music is genuinely “ambient” enough. I chose my tune On The Eve from a benefit CD I did back in 2003, and it worked pretty well with the Chicago Police stream. But who knows if it ever will again. Which is sort of the beauty of this. You Are Listening To Los Angeles was created by Eric Eberhardt , and as of this writing the site says he’ll be adding feeds from other cities soon. If you’re reading Eric, feel free to include the tune below… Read the rest of this entry »

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