Category Archives: Uncategorized

Bad Haikus c/o Abe Chuang

Remember when you had to make a haiku when learning poetry in middle school? If you weren’t blessed with a full blown literary talent at that age they were really bad right? Mine were. These aren’t those adolescent haiku poetry. Not exactly.

Artist and designer Abe Chuang takes the term “bad haikus” to task in his digital art project. Abe takes those bad haikus and designs them for the digital generation in the most clever ways. They are mostly in the digital setting, mimicking text pad notes, but every now and then he steps into the analog world and plays. In one image he scribbles the haiku, “Did I really write this one as I was Shitting? Maybe. Probably.” on his legs in ball point pen as he sits on the toilet. Dope shit. Literally.

Take a closer look at some of our favorite pieces from Abe Chuang below. and follow blah on Abe on Instagram for more.

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Le Trap Haus Presents: Vinyl Mind Flow, Ep. 2

The soul is a Gepetto.

The soul is a character, crafted at the hands of a Disney – to portray and display navigation. Precise design, guidance, vision, supposed to nurture and cultivate. Educate, inform, to build the context, the mental escape of this world for the inanimate – it has the power; and channel energy and light by way of inspired design, craftsmanship, workmanship, inspiration, execution, perspective, that creative spark

– and yet: it’s quiet, it’s sure. stoic. astute. precise and so articulate, in so few words, not that it doesn’t know them, but rather that it chooses to explore… the endless possibility in the world of language, in all its beautiful forms, and manifestations. it reaches beyond convention, and creates entirely new points of articulation. highlights them… paths, new roads to explore and ways to get from point a to point b and back again…

– and did all this for a wooden creature. something that he took from nature, something that was assumed to be dead. something pre-animate and in its design it is able to dictate its purpose. its function is inherently in its fashion – how it is built, how it is crafted, what it wears before it was aware, is exactly what determines its role in this life – and we all have that power, and she has that power. and the soul is that power

The soul is the Gepetto in America; when the creator, in this marketplace that never belonged in my father’s house, is Disney.

Lyrically Speaking: “Youthless” – Beck

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Good music speaks volumes… rather than impose analysis, step back and expose linguistic artistry…  listen, look, and linger in fantastic rhythmic reality: lyrically speaking

“Youthless” – Modern Guilt (2008)

There’s a bottomless pit that we’ve been climbing from
Just to get on level ground
Shake your seasick legs around
Dead of winter in a logo town
Signs of life are soft and flickering
Need a bed to lay my body down
Deadweight to carry down
Some static is lulling me to sleep
Hang your clothes on a chain link fence
In a junkyard say Amen
Your mouth is full of wordless hymns
And run-on sentences

And they’re helpless and forgetting in the background holding nothing
And they’re youthless and pretending with their bare hands holding nothing

There’s a million horses dragging down a monolith
With these trademarks so bereaved
Tied my leg to a barricade
With a plastic hand grenade
They tried to turn emotion into noise
Need a teleprompter for my life
Need a pipeline to the night
My body can’t get no relief
And this life it goes by fast
You’re treading water in the past
Trying to re-animate something that you can’t understand

And they’re helpless and forgetting in the background saying nothing
And he’s youthless and forgetting with his bare hands touching nothing

And he’s helpless and forgetting in the background saying nothing
And he’s youthless and pretending with his bare hands holding nothing

Where’s The Beef?

I’m so fucking sick of the “feud” between Mark Kozelek and The War on Drugs.

There, I said it.

Can it really be called a “feud” if it’s almost completely one-sided? I was never good at semantics, so such an inquiry may be futile no matter how rhetorical. To me, a feud seems like it should be a two-sided ordeal, a conflict between two or more parties in which the push-pull ratio either evens itself out amongst the give and take of public insults and/or passive aggressive behavior. These days, artists rarely stoop to such a level, but it wouldn’t be entertainment if some douchebag weren’t making a scene in some way or another.

This whole thing started several months ago at a music festival in North Carolina. Allegedly, during Mark Kozelek’s (a.k.a. Sun Kil Moon) set, some of the sound from the neighboring stage was bleeding into the airspace surrounding the stage that Kozelek was playing on. It just so happens that the only other band playing at the time was the Philadelphia band The War on Drugs. The War on Drugs is a band known for their polished Americana sound, yet recently they have embraced a more progressive, almost Dire Straits-ish sound.

Apparently this didn’t sit well with Mark Kozelek. So, being the mature adult that he is, Kozelek went on with his set, claiming that his next song was called “War on Drugs: Suck My Cock.” Super classy, right? Just wait: it gets even better.
This random outburst happened just moments after Mark Kozelek berated his audience, calling them “fucking hillbillies” and threatening to leave the stage if people didn’t stop talking. I think it’s incredibly rude to talk during someone’s performance, yes, but at the same time, acting like a diva isn’t going to help your case either.

Shit gets even crazier after this outburst. Evidently, Kozelek wasn’t fulfilled enough after yelling at his audience and putting down a band he knew nothing about, so what did he do? He released a diss track entitled—you guessed it—“War on Drugs: Suck My Cock.” He also went as far as to invite himself to the War on Drugs’ Fillmore show to play the song live…with The War on Drugs. The song itself is terrible and grossly unfounded. Basically Kozelek attacks The War on Drugs on the basis of being unoriginal and formulaic, even going as far as to say that they are “the whitest band” he’s ever heard. This is coming from a man who has made a career out of singing mopey guitar ballads that pretend to be deep and meaningful when they are all just exercises in mindless self-indulgence. ‘Oh poor me, I have feelings and I know like six chords and I hate everything.’ There. I just saved you like ten albums worth of “songs.”

And what does Adam Granduciel—frontman of and mastermind behind The War on Drugs—have to say about this? Fucking nothing. Because he isn’t a petty asswipe like Mark Kozelek. Since “War on Drugs: Suck My Cock”—which was released a couple of months ago—Kozelek has released another diss track (he’s also hinting at another) referring to The War on Drugs. How many diss tracks has The War on Drugs released? None. Because Adam Granduciel and his band aren’t paltry losers like Mark Kozelek. God forbid that someone play loud music at a fucking festival. That seems like a totally valid reason to hate somebody for the rest of your life.

Desperation brings out the ugliest in all of us, but there’s a line. This bullshit “feud” between Mark Kozelek and The War on Drugs is tired and lame. Dude, you’re pissing off basically everybody…except The War on Drugs. Adam Granduciel doesn’t give fuck. He even said the Sun Kil Moon’s latest album Benji was one of his favorites of 2014. What the fuck are you trying to accomplish? If this is a cheesy fame grab, then congratulations: you did it. You, the aging musician that basically everyone forgot about, have reclaimed some sort of twisted status. Except now everyone hates you because you’re being a prick for no good reason. You’re a pompous shitball who thinks the whole goddamn world should revolve around you. I have some news for you dear, and it probably won’t go down too smoothly: in five years, nobody will know your name. Nobody knows your face even now. The only folks that will remember you are the ones who will think back on you in bitter remorse as that asshole who hated on a band because they were drowning out your crappy songs at a festival.
You have the opportunity to be the bigger person here. Either give it up or fuck off. We’re done.

POSTMADONNA #WatchThisSpace

POSTMADONNA was written on a figurative island in a back corner of Seattle, WA. Conceived of by Pat Goodwin, Rich Clark Coller, Sean Niggemeyer, and Rowdy Gleason, this album represents the lifestyle shared by these and their friends as they gently stroked the feet-bottoms of the Northwest’s experimental and progressive rock scenes in 2012-2013. #WatchThisSpace

New York Still Breeds Punk

Remember that one time when Summer People made a music video and we had something to say about it? Well, I hung with the band pre-“Cry” video debut, and tagged along for some live shows. Nobody was crying this time.

*****

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In 2008, Justin Mann started a band, Summer People. He sang and played guitar alongside Brandon Musa and Graham Feltham. After a revolving lineup and the band’s first album, Good People, in 2010, the seven piece rock band downsized to five. As Summer People released their third album in April 2013, the band tallied out to Alex Craver (vocals), Brandon Musa (bass), Graham Feltham (guitar), Jesse Lafian (drums) and Pete Ives (guitar).

DAY 1 6:30 PM: Everything was a blur like the grey skies and warm weather that blend together before rainfall. I’m in Astoria, Queens for the first time and the air is clearer than Manhattan. Maybe people’s souls are cleaner the farther you get away from the city too.

I meet Jesse and Pete at Pete’s Queens apartment before embarking on the four hour road trip upstate, for Summer People’s weekend release tour for their newest album, Burn the Germs.

Pete sets out to navigate the Subaru while Jesse, Pete’s guitar and I pack on top of each other, seatbelt-less in the back seat. No one talks beyond the small stuff. Ghostface Killah and Upstate New York jazz stations break the silence.

Pete says we’re going to “meet the others,” and shakes his hand in that hang-loose manner native to Hawaiian surfers. We’re headed north on an uncongested freeway I thought nonexistent in this state. We leave honking, road-rage and strange stares to New York City. After a few miles, the sun sets, and the only emblems of an active community – neon storefronts and highway exit signs – dissipate with the sun. Brutal rainfall breaks up the night and pounds the windowpane.

Hours pass and the rain calms. I notice upstate’s short quiet blocks, some lined with small bars disguised as homes. They exude an endless, tranquil summer. Streets are full of cigarette smokers who never worry about the time stogies take to burn because the sun is on their side. In lieu of emotionless Manhattan power brunches and hotel rooftop lounging, up here it seems people live for meeting new people in familiar places, good times and even better music.

*****

DAY 2: Summer People’s first show of the tour is in downtown Ithaca at Angry Mom Records, the basement of a bookstore-cafe. Their set is at 4:00 P.M. and its 2:20, a.k.a margarita time. Inside the margarita restaurant, the band meets collectively for the first time this tour. I sit somewhere between them all not asking questions, hoping to elicit an authentic experience, pressure free.

We sip margaritas and the band fuels with food while my notepad-less memory catches bits of conversations. Amps, set up times and praise about the restaurant’s salsa is all I get in. We linger a little longer, finalize the ends of loose discussions before the band gets their gear together. We pack in another car, off to the backdoor of Angry Mom’s.

Before Summer People’s set, I’m fine-tuning my Panasonic HMC 150 lighting when a power chord jolts my lower intestine with a growl. “Well I burn all night just to smoke all day. I don’t mind working, but I’d rather play.” Alex, Summer People’s vocalist was just seated across from me an hour ago, quiet, eating tortilla chips with that really good salsa from Viva Taqueria in the Ithaca Commons. Now he screams these lyrics in a strained chant, compulsive like Joy Division’s Ian Curtis.

After 10 songs and 20 minutes, the set ends. Short, fast and hard. Maybe something like sex with Iggy Pop. There is no leader when Summer People play. They all extract the extra energy between the vinyl lined aisles, behind the register, around the short stacked staircase and throw it back at themselves, at their music. Perfect arranged chaos.

Its been said in a few reviews. The Cramps, The Cramps, that’s Summer People’s sound. The Cramps or even Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds. The unexpected riffs, the steady and low baseline, the strained vocals and eccentric drums, I get it. But I’m thinking of Hüsker Dü’s “Statues” rawness too and I can’t give Summer People over to one idol. There is no one influencer. I respect the band’s originality and don’t ask for a list.

*****

Summer People’s next show is another hour north in Binghamton, NY. I’ve been in a haze catching up on new names, set lists and inside jokes since I arrived, so I wedge myself into the closest car like a loyal groupie. Alex is in the back seat with the amp and I. His voice from the Angry Mom show still haunts me, loud and abrasive. I sit back and wonder where all his energy goes when the mic is gone.

After some dead, quiet minutes, Brandon the bassist turns around to talk about cinema criticism and his film blog. Our conversation turns to the death of punk and the rise of indie bands without heart, without crazy. I think of Summer People and if their crazy switch is simultaneous with guitar amps and microphone power.

As a rock band with punk tendencies, Summer People’s natural habitat should be wild, reckless and loud like their music. I hop in and out of their sedan cars and veggie-oil fueled van, traveling between small suburban towns, and I only think of pescetarians and raw foodists.

They seem like other underground musicians I know in New York: Journalism, Kuf Knotz, Lil Kids. Eclectic sound creators pushing the curriculum of their respective genres. But as New York natives, Summer People’s authenticity spills through the core of their music as an innate boredom and disgust with growing up in a state infamous with talent and opportunity. Their rage, released in lyrics and music come from somewhere, but I guess not personality. I don’t see any signs in hand gestures, wheel steering, or verbal sentence structure. Maybe the band’s offstage reservations have something to do with their girlfriends or wife and three month old baby.

*****

The sun finally shrinks as we pull alongside the curb afront a narrow bar, The Beagle Pub. Beagles are small and cute and this place looks intimate so I guess the name fits.

I’ve standardized New York bars because the bartenders and slightly more than tipsy middle aged customers smile at me as I walk in and their friendliness is off-putting. I’m carrying Brandon’s bass so maybe they think me a bandmate. We’re three hours early for the show’s setup so I pace the venue and avoid the bar in an awkward attempt at professionalism. I keep up small talk, moving from band member to band member, so they don’t think me a bad journalist.

Batista, who also played earlier at Angry Mom’s (Upstate New York has an intimate music scene), plays and ends a set so the Summer People boys and I gear up. The band’s photographer, Tim Hunt, warns me not to stand in front of the crowd. I migrate to the far right corner, facing Brandon’s back while he plays to the amp. The crowd pulses like dirty hyenas. I elbow the moshers in the ribs and push their faces out of my way while I try to film a steady, one-handed video.

I keep getting shoved into Brandon but his back is facing the crowd so there’s not too much damage. My camera hits the stem of his bass. He seems pissed but maybe its the adrenaline. After the fifth video camera to bass head run-in, there’s no room for apologies. I face-shove whoever is shoving me. They get the point and back off.

Eight songs into the set, the band members switch instruments and positions like musical chairs, for their song “94 Chapin”. Alex is now on the drums, Brandon on vocals, Jesse on bass, Pete and Graham on guitars. I’m transfixed in the set rearrangement when Brandon attempts a crowd surf and gets shoved headfirst into a plasterboard ceiling tile and keeps singing.

A few indecipherable lyrics later, Summer People’s set ends and they disperse into a scattered crowd. I try and find a place to fit in, an empty bar stool or free table. Strangers gather, the prodding enquirers all ask if I’m in a band.

More stranger initiated conversations follow and revolve around music, like there’s no other outlet but learning to craft and play sounds.

Alex and Graham are the only two Summer People I spot during some post-show reporting. Some stranger I meet at the bar ends up being Hunter Davidson, the producer of Summer Peoples’ latest album and he offers his home for the band and I to sleep. We pile into the veggie-oil van and steer off into the street.

*****

DAY 3: A blinding sun and Pete announce its daylight. The whole crew: band members, girlfriends and tag-alongs, head to breakfast before the road trip to Brooklyn Bowl for Summer People’s last show this tour.

At the diner, we hunt for a table, 10 hungover and hungry 20-somethings. The waitress doesn’t know what to do with us because the place is full and everyone in our group looks from out of town, but I’m the only one. After a few cigarettes, we seat ourselves inside. I think the diner’s entire menu adds up to about one prix-fixe at Benoit in the Upper West Side.

We’ve split into two booths. Brandon, Jesse, his girlfriend and I in one, and everyone else in the other. The coffee is shitty but a certain caffeine source so I slip the black tar without a desire to refill. We’re all pretty quiet, maybe reminiscing on the night before. I start searching again for some vestige of anger and passion from last night’s set. I don’t see anything in our conversations over $3.50 coffee, eggs and homefries.

Between every sip of black tar coffee and each bite of over-hard egg I retreat back to Alex’s voice, how it grabbed the back of my neck, intended to kill like ram’s horns. The hold never let go, but merged psyches to the point where I thought I understood the band’s motives and beliefs with each screeching vocal inflection.

I feel the sincerity and dedication in every Summer People song. The lyrics or what song is played doesn’t matter. The chord strokes, the riffs, tamborine shakes and snare pounding morph into untold emotions.

I want to tell the band what they’ve told their audience the last two shows, “Open your mouth, let me see what you got in there…You sing to the sun till’ your song is at its end.”

During shows, Summer People give themselves over to a crowd of many who will never speak to the band past the standard “good job” and “first round’s on me, buddy.” They still riot with their audience like symbiosis. They touch, feel and pull out whatever the crowd feels, string it in the air and let it flow like an endless ribbon. They don’t let go until the end of the set. No room for lazy ear canals, unprepared for abrasion. Cell to cell, the band infiltrates the body with each sound wave. Pete and Graham’s power chords, Brandon’s soul strumming bassline, Jesse’s ceaseless drum beating, all combine with Alex’s vocal antics. They spell out a slow, steady feeling of unity and anonymity, roused through cryptic music notes.

I still can’t figure out the passion source.

We finish breakfast and divy up the bill and travel arrangements. I ride in the veggie-oil van with the band.

*****

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We head back to Brooklyn and the jazz of Miles Davis’ smooth times helps the traffic flow. Graham is moving to Oakland soon, to be with his girlfriend and try out another life. This tour is his last with the band. Brandon’s brother Justin is replacing him. It seems like Graham will be missed but no one confesses this aloud.

Alex is my road trip seat neighbor again. We both try and start multiple conversations. I try and ask a few questions without the awkward journalistic insincerity.

Alex only likes to play in one group at one time to fully devote to one project. “Most musicians spread themselves thin within multiple bands, trying to succeed, catch a break with whoever they can,” he says.

I look around the van without drawing too much attention and it feels like those old family trips to L.A., like I’m stuck in the back with my brothers again. Graham and I smoke a joint and I fall asleep until we arrive in Brooklyn. It’s the band’s last gig of the tour and I don’t want to leave the veggie-oil van, or this musician life.

*****

New York City is just how we left it, busy, crowded and unforgiving.

The venue portion of Brooklyn Bowl is half filled with a young crowd, half empty from those unwilling to approach the stage and get caught witihn Summer People’s sound waves. While I film the show nobody moshes. I have free range to move so there is no one to blame for a shaky video. The set finishes to a decent applause. I begin questioning my feelings for Summer People’s music from the crowd’s lukewarm response, but think back to the conversation Brandon and I had during the drive to Binghamton. Maybe all this Williamsburg indie clouded Brooklyn’s memory of New York punk.

I wait for Alex as he climbs off stage and he says something about my camera being bigger than me and I bring up the lack of crowd hostility. We walk to the bar and I order an $8 dollar gin and tonic. It’s not $2 like in Binghamton. The high price reminds me I am back in this great city of expensive drinks and cheap experiences. I just hope all the money goes to bartenders who spend the rest of their time playing music, releasing pent up emotions they can’t set free elsewhere.

*8/2/13 update: I attended Summer People’s show at Union Pool in Brooklyn, NY, featuring the new guitarist Justin Musa. The thrill was just the same.

 

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Zedd’s “Clarity” Pulses Through Atlanta

German-born musical phenomenon, Zedd is set to continue his tour and stop in Atlanta, GA on September 3rd to bring his mix of electro and progressive house music to the walls of the Tabernacle. He is still supporting his 2012 album Spectrum and he’s already seeing some positive results as he is nominated for the VMA “Artist to Watch” and his single “Clarity” featuring Foxes just went platinum. He has already blown the audiences away on the Letterman show and he aims to do the same thing for his fans at the Tabernacle. For those who have been missing out, you can watch the video for his hit single below and get your good vibes ready for his show September 3rd.

 

The LowFiRe: adidas Originals #unitela Secret Show ft. araabMUZIK, Snoop Lion, and Big Sean

The LowFiRe – the Low Fidelity Reverberation… a vantage from the ground floor, amplification of the static noise, echoes and bellows from below.

#djspinitback Marching out like a l.a.m.b. adidas Originals hosted a secret warehouse show in East L.A. featuring araabMUZIK, Snoop Lion, and Big Sean #ohgod Amidst a bevy of any-and-everybodies was an ambiance akin to the original flair for which adidas scribes the signature contemporary-casual-bombastic-cool style of life … lights, camera, action Jackson

#aviewfromthepit

#launite araabMUZIK Pop Dap

#launite Vineback

#launite araabMUZIK Can’t Stop

#launite araabMUZIK Pop Dap

#launite Snoop Intro

#launite Snoop fourtwo Freestyle

#launite Big Sean Mercy

#launite Big Sean Clique

#launite Big Sean Don’t Like

All Hail Coliseum

Adrenaline, power, distortion, intensity… This is what the punk band Coliseum brought to The Earl in Atlanta, GA on a warm Thursday night. After two awesome bands Halmos and Dropout opened up for them, Ryan Patterson (Guitar, Vox) Kayhan Vizier (Bass) and Carter Wilson (Drums) took the stage and brought their new album Sister Faith to life. Only seconds after setting up their equipment did Ryan Patterson greet the audience and prepare everyone for what they were about to experience.

For a band with only three members, their name perfectly matches their sound because it is just as big as a Coliseum. The passion and aggression that lead singer Ryan Patterson has when lashing out those nerve pinching riffs is enough to make the deaf hear again. The sweat that drenched his black button down is a clear indication of how much power he put into his performance. Along with Ryan, bass player Kayan Vizier hangs to the side constantly headbanging while digging into his bass strings matching riff by riff to Ryan’s guitar. It was almost as if they Ryan and Kayan were in a competition on who could rock out the most. I’d have to say it’d be a toss up.

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The most powerful moment of the show was when Ryan Patterson addressed the audience in regards to an article written about them. Apparently, the article compared them to their work prior to Sister Faith and described them as “going soft” because of the purple, flower image illustrated on their new album. As any true artist would react, Ryan wasn’t too happy about it and stressed that what the effort they put into their music has nothing to do with an image of being hard or soft, but just to make good music that helps them express themselves whether it’s in an aggressive format or not. As Ryan spoke, his point was very well received as people listened and clapped, resonating with the words he was saying. Seconds later, Coliseum commenced with melting the audiences faces off.

Coliseum is a band that sticks to their punk rock guns while challenging listeners with a variety of topics. Their performance is as live and powerful as their name implies and anyone who attends their show will feel like they are a part of an epic event. If we take out the musical labels, Coliseum is a good three-piece band that makes good music overall. What they have that most bands don’t have is passion… Passion in their music and passion for what they stand for and that is what makes bands more meaningful.

#nowplaying Stars and Bars (Blind on the Grind) – Paris Hilton ft. Lil’ Wayne, Nicki Minaj, Drake & Limp Bizkit

#nowplaying Stars and Bars (Blind on the Grind) – Paris Hilton ft. Lil’ Wayne, Nicki Minaj, Drake, Limp Bizkit

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In all fairness, Paris was “young money cash money” before it had a label – she was the apex of glam ratchet nouveau riche last decade, even down to the Scott Storch track production

#nouveaurichecashmoneybilled

The Dictator Hall of Fame

 

The Illest Dictators across the globe… according to Artist & Designer Pete Kirill

 

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Miami based Neo-Pop artist Pete Kirill recently shared these images with me of his latest installation located in Downtown Hollywood Florida. In turn I’m sharing them with you. No sense in being an art hoarder. The installation entitled The Dictator Hall of Fame was commissioned by the Hollywood Mega Mural project and features five dictators including Big Daddy Hussein, MC Arafats, Kim jong-Rodman, MC Chavez and Flavor Fidel. Complete with a portrait of each dictator and one piece of fake memorabilia from each portrait. For example, the portrait titled, Flavor Fidel depicts the Cuban dictator holding a microphone, so under his painting on the shelf is a microphone. MC Arafats has sunglasses on his shelf like the one’s portrayed in the painting.

According to Pete, “The Dictator Hall of Fame series focuses on famous dictators worldwide. A strong connective tissue joins dictator worship and celebrity idolization, as these these leaders increasingly resemble American Pop icons versus heads of state.

 

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The Show Must Go On

When one chapter closes, another opens. The story is simple. One crisis leads to another climax, another climax draws upon a sudden conclusion, and the conclusion brings us right back to where we started. The beginning, the inciting incident, the boom and the bang that traces our footsteps into another series of narrative problems is not just Hollywood, baby; it’s life.

 

So, where are we now? What part of the story are we in and where are we going? One must wonder. If life is like a movie, let us just say we have not quite hit the big screen. This is the uncut version, just as raw as Harry meeting Sally and just as real as Stella when she got her groove back and lost it all over again. At some point, the cameras must stop rolling. The makeup must come off. The flashing lights must flip their switch and the characters must flee the scene. But, the show? The show, ladies and gentlemen, must go on.

The dice are rolled.The cards are played. The winner takes the luscious blond back to his hotel room. The losing players take a last swig of their whiskey and leave. The table empties. The attendant stacks the chips, shuffles the cards, and introduces the same game to another set of players.

 –

At the beginning of the night, no one knows what role they may end up fulfilling – the winner, the loser, the blond? All they know is that the game must be played. The script is improvised, from one blank page and one mad game to another. Maybe Act One did not end where we wanted it to. Perhaps the ordinary world never called to adventure, or the adventure did not quite cross the first threshold. In something like a Hollywood stripped of its star, we stand subject to the crazed narrative. No matter how many times the dice are rolled, we can never tell what the outcome may be. In this life, we can’t choose our genre nor can we choose our theme. Even if we tried, they seem to always choose us.

 

We surrender to the unwritten script. Whether we play our cards or our cards play us, there is one truth to every tale: The show must go on.

Sounds of Tomorrow: Anticipated Albums of 2013

When I got my first iPhone back in 2011, I thought that 16 GB was more than enough storage than I would ever need on a phone.  This was before smartphones became the new cameras, the new iPods, the new…well…everything.  I tend to carry my boxy—yet altogether reliable—iPod Classic everywhere with me if I am travelling a distance farther than the neighborhood grocery store, so I never really understood the purpose of carrying music on your phone…until I realized that iPhones have speakers on the bottom.  Suddenly my phone became my portable boom box, though I would only allow new releases to take up valuable mega- and gigabytes to keep things interesting (this was before SoundCloud and Spotify, mind you).  I have kept up with that tradition every year since then, formulating year-specific playlists that would ultimately serve as my phones sonic backbone for that year.

Each year, however, it becomes more and more difficult, as I find myself opened up to more and more music as time marches forward.  Spotify—despite it’s monthly $10 fee—is basically a godsend, as it allows me to hear whatever I want as long as it’s on their database and I have a decent Internet connection.  For the other times, when I am without my soon-to-be obsolete 4G LTE—say, if I’m in the middle of rural Vermont or in the backwoods of southeast Louisiana—I have a comfortable amount of recently released music stored on my phone’s hard drive in case of emergency.

2013 is no different in this effect, though I see myself having to make some sacrifices in the near future to make room for these highly anticipated albums being released in the coming months.  It’s going to be a messy year for me and iPhone maintenance, as I am sure you so concerned with how I’m going to deal with it.  I know what I must sound like: “Waaaah, poor me, I don’t have enough room on my phone to store all the music I want.” (#firstworldproblems, am I right?)  For the time being, you can put your worries aside (I will be OK), as I share with you a few upcoming albums I am especially looking forward to hearing:

 

Phoenix – Bankrupt! (4/23):

Phoenix’s latest is not nearly as mainstream-friendly as 2009’s Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix. In a recent interview with Rolling Stone they coyly remarked that in developing their latest piece they were not trying “to make Ludwig Von Phoenix.” The album itself is a grand departure from their usual style, mixing heavily synthesized material with garage-rock mentality.  Bankrupt! is much cruder and dirtier, playing on the French quartet’s earlier roots while at the same time experimenting with more modern, lo-fi sentiment, as well as some very obvious (yet very fitting) Asian influences.  The result is a beautiful cacophony that toys with recession-savvy lyrical themes backed by careful, industrious instrumentation that questions the values one encounters at the intersection of entertainment and expression.

 

Deerhunter – Monomania (5/7):

The mysterious, Georgia-based art-punk outfit Deerhunter is at it again.  After teasing fans with cryptic hints as to what their latest LP would sound like, the band recently revealed the studio version of the title track, and based on that one can only ascertain that Deerhunter have once again reinvented themselves.  Noted for his stream-of-consciousness style of songwriting, front man Bradford Cox is expected to once again to deliver a delectably inventive new album which seems to hint at a return to the band’s more gritty, esoteric style so very evident amongst the tracks on their classic debut, Cryptograms.  Cox has an uncanny aptitude in re-establishing his own sound—whether with Deerhunter or with his solo side-project Atlas Sound—and Monomania seems to promise a similar essence of perennial originality.

 

Vampire Weekend – Modern Vampires of the City (5/14):

It’s very easy to get comfortable within a musical style.  Vampire Weekend has snuggled into a sound that works for them, but at the same time they refuse to do the same thing time and time again.  Their African-influenced synth-pop has evolved gracefully amongst their soon-to-be three albums, yet it refuses to pigeonhole itself as one genre or another.  The breadth of the New York quartet’s appreciation of variety matched with their stubbornness to conform is what keeps this band going.  After their eponymous debut, I couldn’t think of any other way that they could produce another album that would set itself apart from their first.  Yet they succeeded with Contra.  And now it seems they have done it again with their upcoming third, highlighted by the electrifying “Diane Young”, which is just a wonderfully energetic and genre-crushing masterpiece of a song.  I cannot wait to hear the rest of this album.

 

Daft Punk – Random Access Memories (5/21):

Understandably this is perhaps the most anticipated album of this year. Daft Punk has a huge cult-like following, and the French duo hasn’t released a studio album since 2005’s semi-lackluster Human After All (not including the soundtrack they provided for 2010’s Tron: Legacy and their recorded chronicle of their 2007 tour).  With a new label and an obnoxiously mouth-watering marketing campaign, Daft Punk has been slowly yet surely whetting our collective appetite for weeks/months/years (depending on how long you have been waiting).  Over the past several weeks they have been mercilessly teasing us with less-than-satiating snippets of their new music in the form of 15-second TV spots and, most recently, a “trailer” of sorts detailing the album’s many collaborators, including legendary musicians Giorgio Moroder and Nile Rodgers, Animal Collective’s Noah Lennox (a.k.a. Panda Bear), underground producer Todd Edwards, Strokes front man Julian Casablancas, and the incomparable Pharrell Williams (of Neptunes and N.E.R.D. fame), who apparently appears on the album’s leading single “Get Lucky”.  A short video clip of the robots playing “Get Lucky” with Nile Rodgers on guitar and Pharrell on vocals was included in the trailer, which was shown on large screens throughout the Coachella grounds late Friday night.  The Creators Project has also been involved, releasing a series of “Collaborators” videos, each featuring a different collaborator describing in detail their creative process while recording with the prodigal duo (so far four have been released, featuring commentary by Giorgio Moroder, Todd Edwards, Nile Rodgers, and Pharrell Williams, in that order).  Apparently this album has been in the works since around 2008, and all those involved have trumpeted immeasurable praise in regards to the new effort, basically saying (in a nutshell) that this album is the future of music, and that it will change everything.  Reportedly the album takes on much more of an organic atmosphere than Daft Punk’s previous works, as most of the album was recorded using actual, analog instruments, save for an orchestra of synthesized material originating from a giant analog synthesizer, as well as the duo’s signature, Vocoder-driven vocals. All this hype can mean one of two things: either the album is going to be as amazing as everyone says, and will reshape/revitalize the landscape of modern music, or—and I hope I’m wrong here—it’s going to be just…OK.  I hope for their sake (and ours) that they don’t disappoint, though in my mind the worst Daft Punk songs are better than some bands’ best songs, so I think we’ll be in good shape either way.  Just sayin’.

 

The National – Trouble Will Find Me (5/21):

It’s been three years since The National’s dynamite breakthrough album High Violet, which transcended the band’s status from garage-rock sweethearts to powerhouse virtuoso.  With High Violet (my favorite album from 2010), The National traded in bristly displeasure for impeccable profundity, enriching not only the depth of their lyrical content, but also the instrumentation, toying with string arrangements, silky reverb, and decorative piano to further their newfound fragility.  Now, they’re back, with Trouble Will Find Me due out in May.  Most of the album has been played live over the course of the past few years (many of the songs can be heard on YouTube via live recordings), but the band has formally released two of the album’s singles over the past few weeks, “Demons” and “Don’t Swallow The Cap”.  Based on these two tracks, the album presents a message of awareness in relation to the kind of sincere instability that we all face at some point(s) in our lives, and thus Trouble Will Find Me may prove to be the most thought-provoking National album to date, though I can’t say for sure because I have not yet heard the whole album, and those familiar with The National understand that they are a band whose albums are more effectively absorbed and analyzed as one long piece of work.  I am sure that the Brooklyn-based outfit will have no trouble exhibiting the same graceful fluidity on Trouble Will Find Me that they have on all of their previous albums.

 

Disclosure – Settle (6/4):

Disclosure is a relatively new outfit hailing from the UK, though they have already made a splash with several EPs and singles, as well as appearances at last year’s Moogfest in Asheville, NC and this year’s South by Southwest Festival, held this past March in Austin, TX.  I saw them at SXSW, and it was a show I had the utmost pleasure in witnessing.  It was almost like it was a gift, a privilege to see these masters at work.  Disclosure exemplifies the inevitable metamorphosis of modern electronica in an elegant and exciting manner.  Mixing elements of electronic production with garage rock, the Lawrence brothers have created a truly original hybrid that is executed brilliantly due to their immaculate attention to detail that is reflected within their vibrantly complex configurations.  After releasing a slew of singles over the past several months, their debut full-length is slated for release in early June, and is easily one of the most anticipated albums of the year.

 

Sigur Rós – Kveikur (6/18):

Sigur Rós has been one of my favorite bands for many years.  I was introduced to them in high school when a friend of mine gave me ( ) as a birthday present, and I have been in love with them ever since.  Admittedly, though, they have become somewhat predictable in terms of their music, it all being highly ethereal and notably incomprehensible when it comes to their lyrics (that’s what you get when you sing in a made-up language).  2008’s Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust was a welcome departure as they explored more upbeat rhythms, themes and melodies (as well as their first song sung in English), yet they swiftly returned to their somber sound with last year’s ValtariKveikur, however, boasts a whole new sound that is much darker; it’s almost industrial sounding (judging from the album’s leading single “Brennisteinn”).  I for one am thrilled to see the Icelandic outfit go in a new direction, and hopefully my expectations will be met or exceeded (as I am sure they will be).

 

Empire of the Sun – Ice on the Dune (6/18)

I saw Empire of the Sun back in 2011 at the Ultra Music Festival, and I pretty much don’t remember it at all.  I do remember dancing to some of my favorite tracks from the profoundly strange Australian duo’s debut Walking on a Dream, as well as witnessing two grown men in headdresses and fantastic makeup prance around onstage, but the experience as a whole is somewhat lost on me.  Walking on a Dream is perhaps one of my favorite albums of the past few years, and so when I was presented with an equally thrilling yet bizarre trailer for their new album Ice on the Dune—in which Spanish-speaking archaeologists discover some sort of hieroglyphic monolith—I was overjoyed.  I even got to hear snippets of the album at a semi-secret listening party at SXSW, and I can promise you that they have not lost their touch.  Having just released their first single from the album “Alive”, the new material seems to boast the same sort of wacky, grizzly electro-pop Empire of the Sun does so well, though this time it has a certain edge to it that cuts through the slim layer of fluff that mildly cushioned the intensity of their debut.

 

MIA – Matangi (TBA)

I am not a fan of MIA’s recent antics and weirdo mentality as of late, but I still think she is a decent artist if she really puts her mind to it.  Her first two albums were great, and from what I’ve heard of the new stuff it sounds like this one will be at least decent.  I just hope to God this one is better than /\/\ /\ Y /\ or however you spell it (even the album title is obnoxious – yuck), because that was just awful (except for one or two songs, maybe). This album might very well be the make-or-break moment for the notorious Sri Lankan. I for one hope she redeems herself.

 

Also to be released later this year are new albums from Janelle Monáe, !!!, Savages, ADULT., Smith Westerns, Polyphonic Spree, Surfer Blood, Fleetwood Mac, Queens of the Stone Age and The Weeknd.  Apparently also on the way (supposedly, but with no details, release dates, or even hints having been shared thus far, who can say for sure?) are new albums from Arcade Fire (produced by James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem fame), Holy Ghost!, MGMT, New Order, and Prince.  There are also rumors flying around regarding new Portishead and Nine Inch Nails albums (coming on the tail of their recent, unexpected resurrection) in the works, as well as a new studio LP from The Chemical Brothers, though those should (as always) be taken with a grain of salt.  Plus, if we were to get new Daft Punk and new Chemical Brothers in the same year, my head might explode.

Given the short list I’ve provided here, it seems like we are in for a good year of music.  I for one am very excited to hear Sigur Rós’s new, hardened sound, as well as new music from some of my old favorites like Vampire Weekend, The National, and Empire of the Sun.  I’m even willing to give MIA another shot–granted she doesn’t do anything ridiculous that pisses me off between now and the release of her album—and after seeing Disclosure at SXSW this year I am most certainly eager to hear how their music translates to studio recordings.

Above all—and I don’t think I’m alone here—I am most excited about Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories.  We have been waiting and waiting for years and years for this album, and it’s almost within reach.  And apparently this record is going to change everything.  How can it not?  The collaborators are basically music royalty, and they ALL say that this album is unbelievable.  How can Pharrell, Nile Rodgers, Todd Edwards, and Giorgio Moroder all be wrong?  These people are legends—as are Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter (Daft Punk)—and they know what music is, and they’re all saying that this album is going to change everything.  This is why this marketing campaign for this album is driving me bananas.  They’re teasing us, almost gleefully, and it’s starting to hurt.  Like physically hurt.  It’s so mean.

Nonetheless, 2013 promises to be filled with wonderful music.  Already this year we’ve seen new albums from James Blake, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Flaming Lips, David Bowie, The Strokes, Bonobo, Youth Lagoon, Jamie Lidell…I could go on and on.  Already I feel almost overwhelmed, but then I remind myself that it’s only April and two-thirds of the year remain to be encountered.  And who knows what surprises might pop up along the way?  Maybe we’ll get another surprise Radiohead album out of nowhere, or maybe Led Zeppelin will get back together, or perhaps we’ll get those Portishead/NIN/Chemical Brothers albums after all.

I wouldn’t count on that second Avalanches album coming out this year though.  At this point, I’ve given up. Le sigh.

Say Hello to Betti Ono, Our Official West Coast Distributor

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Just an FYI if you’re in the bay area, stop by Betti Ono gallery and say hello to our official West Coast distributor. We’re happy to be partnering with such an amazing gallery that shares our values of empowering independent artists while exploring new visual aesthetics. In addition to our latest issues, Betti Ono also carries exclusive posters and prints. Go ahead… #GetYouAPiece

We’ve Got Issues.

 

If you’re interested in carrying Art Nouveau Magazine in your boutique or gallery please stockists@an-mag.com

Preview our “POPtimism” exhibition before it opens Feb 1

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This February, we celebrate five years of Art Nouveau Magazine with an art exhibition opening February 1st at Betti Ono Gallery in Oakland, CA. The fittingly titled POPtimism features work by Corinne Stevie FrancilusHugh Leeman, ThirdEyeTrue, TONE, and Tonia Beglari hand selected by Art Nouveau editor GREATeclectic. In addition to the themed exhibition, GREATeclectic, D Young V and Hugh Leeman will complete a indoor mural to coincidide with the celebration.

“God and Love”
36” x 48” bill poster wrapped edges carbon soot, spray paint on bill posters
Hugh Leeman

“Awaiting Your Return Atop A Hill Overlooking Our Pregnant Shadows”
Smoke and 16 Karat Gold on bill posters
24″ X 30″ framed
Hugh Leeman

“Glitter Armor”
12 x 12
Mixed Media (2013)
Corinne S. Francilus

“$$$ Make Me…”
16 x 20 inch
Mixed Media Collage
GREATeclectic

“Bowie ‘how do you know who I am on”
Small Canvas
Mixed Media
by TONE
 

“Mickey Mouse”
17×23 inch
watercolor, pen, glitter and jewels
Tonia Beglari
 

 

POPtimism

Corinne S. Francilus
GREATeclectic
Hugh Leeman
ThirdEyeTrue
TONE
Tonia Beglari

February 1, 2013 – February 22, 2013

Opening reception: Friday, February 1, 2013 / 7- 10pm

For press and sales information please inquire with the gallery via

Making sure my punctuation curve #PoeticJustice

Sadly to say, Kendrick Lamar’s debut album, good kid, m.A.A.d city, followed the trend of his rap peers and leaked online a week early. As much as I want to see Kendrick do well and have chart success, as he is a true breath of fresh in the rap game, I am happy his album leaked because we were blessed early with the standout track, “Poetic Justice” featuring Drake.

The two rappers turn to poets, and pour their thoughts out in love letters disguised as verses over the Janet Jackson sampled beat. “Poetic Justice” is without a doubt a hit, and bound to lead to good album sales for Kendrick – and future babies for the few who choose to listen with their significant other in just the right lighting. Check out “Poetic Justice” featuring Drake below, and make sure you support good kid, m.A.A.d city which is in stores now.