Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Start The Year With A Bang!

The Canadians strike again! Don't worry, I still have a fond place in my heart for all that is good and true with Canadian music-- and I'm making room especially for this new chanteuse, Jane Vain. Accompanied by her band, The Dark Matter, what they do for unrequited love is sort of like what Emily Haines and The Soft Skeleton do my mental well being. Which kinda makes sense: Soft Skeleton! Meet Dark Matter! Oh, mind, body, and spirit. We are aiming for anatomical correctness here.

Catchy name aside, it doesn't hurt that this group is really, really good. Jane Vain, whose real name is Jamie Fooks was initially dissuaded from singing because of a bad experience at an open mic night, but with some encouragement, Fook banded with The Dark Matter and recorded their debut EP, "Love Is Where The Smoke Is," in her basement apartment over the course of the year. The ethereal smokiness in her voice and her downright captivating lyrics lend a geek-chic sexiness to the music.

They are slated for a Canadian tour starting in January. Is it too early to suggest an American tour? Please? New York welcomes you with open arms.

Jane Vain & The Dark Matter- C’mon Baby Say Bang Bang
(Listen to another track or pre-order the album here)

Coincidentally, I just re-watched Kill Bill 1 and 2, which featured this Nancy Sinatra classic. This too, is bangin’--

Nancy Sinatra- Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)

(Buy the Kill Bill vol 1 soundtrack)

Monday, December 24, 2007

Money Makes the World Go Round

Christmas is just around the corner, and like most of America, I spent the last few weeks cramming shopping at the bustling malls, and waiting on long lines. This evening I turned on the TV and caught the middle of an interview with Benjamin Barber on Bill Moyers, and he was talking about capitalism, consumerism, and his book , Consumed. He’s an interesting fellow. I don't think he means to come across as patronizing, but I can understand how he could come off that way. Still he makes a compelling argument.

I haven’t read his book, but it did peak my interest. Do markets corrupt people? I don’t think it’s the market’s job to teach us about responsibility. I think it’s up to the people to decide for themselves what is socially responsible, and accept that we aren’t perfect, but we do the best we can. But the thing about that is, once you have enough citizens together who are demanding for social action, the ball really starts to roll. Like this whole green movement in recent years. Eat organic, wear bamboo, carry cloth totes. Spend your dollars on environmentally friendly goods.

The market gets its fingers dirty in that too as well. A famous starlet was seen carrying that “I’m not a plastic bag” tote which was then made available at Wholefoods and then the lines went crazy for those limited edition bags. And then I saw the knock off versions in Chinatown and it just didn’t sit right with me. I mean, this is New York-- knock offs are peddled on sidewalks with the same enthusiasm as hot dogs and roasted peanuts, albeit you probably wouldn’t buy peanuts from a dude who scatters the nuts on a blanket on Broadway and Prince St.

But since the goal of that “not a plastic bag” campaign is to get people to stop using plastic bags, is it, A) good that people want to be environmentally-aware, and the purchase of a fake with the slogan means more people will see the message, B) a little sad that consumers would resort to a fake when, let’s face, it, plain old cloth totes are cheap and readily available anywhere, and this is just another status piece, or C) all of the above?

Am I answering my own question?

Benjamin Barber was telling Moyer something to the extent of, “capitalism has failed us”, and the consumer marketing machine infantilizes adults into mindlessly droning, “I see, I want, I need.” Maybe. But getting back to the point of fake goods, if say, Gucci or Louis Vuitton sold bags that donated a hefty 50-75% of the profits of each sale to a good cause, would people think twice about buying knock-offs? Who knows? I think the problem is luxury brands are in the business of luxury, and not the business of charity. The world might be a better place if they met in the middle more often. But hey, like Lily Allen says, “that’s just the way the cookie crumbles.” And let's face it, they wouldn't be very good at their job if they constantly gave handouts. One day perhaps, we can fix that pesky job description Mr./Ms. Moneymaker.

I lost my point. Where was I? (I ramble!) Oh yeah, Christmas. So what can consumers do during the most wonderful time of the year? What we’ve always been doing: Save some, spend some, and give some away. All things in moderation. Have a very, merry Christmas.

Jesca Hoop- Money
(Buy the album: Kismet)

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Papa don't preach

I'm in trouble deep...

I know, I take a long hiatus, and this is the best I can come up with:

What's that Sofiblu said? "Babies are not like leggings!" Sad.


Monday, December 10, 2007

The Song that Pays, The Song that Stays

These are some old songs that randomly shuffled onto a playlist. I forgot how much I loved the demo to The Strokes "You Only Live Once.” For all the shiny spirit of the album version, it’s still the demo I love best. I think I enjoy this afterthought bout of honesty from Julian Casablancas. Just tell it like it is, please.

Ten decisions shape your life,
you'll be aware of 5 about,
7 ways to go through school,
either you're noticed or left out,
7 ways to get ahead,
7 reasons to drop round,
when I said ' I can see me in your eyes',
you said 'I can see you in my bed',
that's not just friendship, that's romance too,
you like music we can dance to....

Why not try it all,
if you only remember it once...

Yes, why not try it all? Some days I just want to slow it all down. The album parties like a rock star, but the demo cleans up the dixie cups.

The Strokes- I'll Try Anything Once (demo)
(Purchase the 'Heart in a Cage' enhanced single)

The Strokes- You Only Live Once (album version)
(Purchase the album)

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Here Comes The Wave:
Richard Hawley at Bowery Ballroom

The crowd chants for Richard Hawley as his stagehand switches on the singer’s little portable reading light and tapes spare guitar picks to his microphone. Hawley and his band take the stage and they open with “Valentine.” The set rolls on and eventually he gets to “Darlin’ Wait”, which he had this to say: “Me and Shez [Sheffield—his guitarist] wrote this song for our wives. We’re as soft as a bag of shit.”

Oh, love is in the air.

The live Richard Hawley experience is a thing to admire. There was never a more down to earth guy who says what he thinks and sticks to his guns. Even after he chided a fan for a flippant remark, there was still nothing but good humor.

Let me tell you, I haven’t gone to that many gigs in my lifetime, but still, this was a first, when Hawley and crew came back for the encore, a hush fell over the crowd. All was quiet except for the sea of soft shushes in the audience. The mirrorball began to spin a blur of light. Husbands and wives, lovers, singles stood and swayed. It was kind of magical.

Really, I need to go to more shows where the band utilizes the power of the mirrorball.

Catch Richard Hawley on tour in your town:

December 2nd- Philadelphia, PA @ World Café Live
December 3rd- New York, NY @ Other Music (in-store live show)
December 4th- Cambridge, MA @ TT the Bear’s
December 5th- Toronto, ON @ Horseshoe Tavern
December 6th- Chicago, IL @ The Abbey
December 7th- Minneapolis, MN @ 400 Bar
December 10th- Seattle, WA @ Crocodile Café
December 12th- San Francisco, CA @ Café du Nord
December 13th- Los Angeles, CA @ Troubadour

Richard Hawley @ Bowery Ballroom 12.1.07 Setlist

Roll River Roll
Just like the Rain
Dark Road
Coles Corner
Tonight the Streets are ours
Lady's Bridge
Hotel Room
Darlin' Wait
Our Darkness
The Sea Calls
Born Under a Bad Sign
Something is
I'm Lookin' for Someone

The Ocean

Richard Hawley- Valentine
(Buy Lady’s Bridge)

Richard Hawley- The Ocean
(Buy Cole’s Corner)