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6/30/2005

Podcasting's on the brain today. Rita's "We Read the Weeklies" column on SFist had a link to a (somewhat fluffy) podcasting cover story in the SF Weekly, which you can read here. (I'll pick up my print copy later.) Then Cherry Coloured announced its first foray into podcast listening.

I've been using Odeo for the past couple of days, and I highly recommend it. (I believe they're in their beta version so their Odeo Syncr may not be available to the public yet for download.) You can preview podcasts, then click on individual shows to queue them into your Syncr, or click "subscribe" to get all new shows queued up. You can also how often your Syncr downloads new programs into your iTunes -- when I start my computer, Syncr automatically downloads any new podcasts for me. I don't have any other podcasting software to compare Odeo to, since this is my first foray into podcast listening, although I do plan to download the latest version of iTunes to try out their podcasting downloads. But so far Odeo rocks.

Through a few searches on Odeo I've discovered Tracks Up the Tree and Toronto Star Podcasting. There are also podcasts from indies like Sub Pop and Jade Tree. It's interesting to see how people deal with the nebulous legalities of music podcasting. The Toronto Star is a short show, broadcasting snippets of songs with only one full song thrown in. Tracks Up The Tree podcasts only mp3s that are available for download on the internet. I guess most other music podcasters are counting on their ASCAP and BMI licenses to protect them, or they're just throwing caution to the wind.

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I read 10-20 blogs a day (33 and counting in my bloglines), and I feel overwhelmed by all the fantastic blogs and podcasts I've yet to discover. And still, when I say the word "blog" to most of my friends, their eyes glaze over in confusion.

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If you haven't been won over by Feist yet, stop everything and witness her casual musical genius on Morning Becomes Eclectic. She is a one-woman revolution. Viva la Feist!

(Right below the Feist links are links to listen to and watch a set by my old NYC buddies David Poe, Sim and John, with one of my favorite friends who I miss all the time FIL on keys.)

6/29/2005

Hilary Duff is indie rock. Who knew? Check out iTunes' Indie Top 100. (I have no idea how to link to it, so just open your iTunes Music Store and look for the icon.)

Was it just me, or during "Blow Out" last night was there an M&M's commercial featuring a very slow remake of the Postal Service's "Such Great Heights"?

Speaking of "Blow Out"!**

Every time someone made one of the 874 mentions of Jonathan's Legendary Signature Long Layered Haircut ™ during the episode, I expected a little trademark sign ™ to flash across the screen and a little "cha-ching" to sound in the background.

Kimberly pouted and gave great I-was-excluded-from-the-NYC-trip sourpuss from beneath her perfect bangs until Jonathan invited her to do hair for a magazine shoot, at which point she lit up like a Christmas tree and gushed her eternal gratitude towards her boss. Ride the waves!

Poor Edward the Assistant is so in awe of Jonathan that he choked during cutting class and could not come close to replicating Jonathan's Legendary Signature Long Layered Haircut ™. "It's like painting next to Van Gogh," he lamented. While I do not doubt the powers and genius behind Jonathan's Legendary Signature Long Layered Haircut ™, and would love to afford to get my own someday, poor Edward should have taken a clue from lil' Scott and smiled his way through it.

Enter Scott Zorbit. (On a completely unrelated note, I just want to link to these traits of passive-aggressive behavior. Back to what I was saying --) Scott showed up 45 minutes late to the Jonathan Product packaging meeting and then appeared to pull two or three plastic bottles from a little bag and launched into a speech about how he thinks that's the best way to go, and his vision for the line is blah blah blah. The "Blow Out" editors must have edited out the part where Scott asked Jonathan his opinion? When Jonathan asked why Scott didn't bring any other choices, Scott blamed his lack of options on Jonathan's unwillingness to meet in the Zorbit offices. The logic behind that argument, um, must have been edited out. (Because 10 empty plastic bottles would have been too heavy to carry?)

Things reached a fever pitch and Jonathan invited Scott out back, into the Alley of Drama, where they continued to puff up their chests and peck at each other, this time with a ton of cussing. Scott finally crossed the line by referring to Jonathan's "beauty school education" (hello, inflammatory!), causing Jonathan to scream "Get the hell out of my salon!" The home audience cheered, and Jonathan gave the back door an enraged elbow-punch.

Quote of the episode -- Bethann to Scott: "Come on, you've never fought with a client before??"

To counteract the Jonathan ego-fest, the editors show us a few other shades of his personality. He goes to his therapist, he actually reflects on his contentious interactions with Scott (is Scott really impossible or is it just me?) and we get the requisite choked-up "Glurp!" moment when Jason raves to him via cell phone about the Jonathan Product line.

**Allow me to point out that my comments are aimed at everyone's characterizations on the show and not the real people -- because I don't know them.

6/28/2005

I was reading the first article in the June issue of the Believer (Rick Moody's very lengthy essay about how he discovered the Danielson Famile and why he became a fan plus lots of his thoughts on religion) wherein I read about a Record Club happening in NYC. Basically you invite a bunch of friends to gather together and bring two songs they're currently obsessing over and each person takes turns doing their show and tell (or play and tell). It's like a book club, but not. At the end, you can burn up CDs to commemorate that meeting's playlist forever.

Why have none of my friends thought of doing this before?

Who wants to start one in San Francisco? I realize this is a pie-in-the-sky wish, to start an SF Record Club, because people are busy, and how many proactive music-loving friends do I have that can stick to a schedule, and who has a living room with a CD, cassette, mp3 and record player that can fit 6-10 people (not me)? But I can ask. So I ask.

(Nyla and I belonged to a monthly mix CD club a while back called Fellowship of the Mix, which lasted for about 6-8 months. My turn to make a mix never came up, unfortunately, but I did get some cool CDs. The concept of Record Club is way better though, because you actually interact with each other.)

Check out how it works, read the Village Voice article and peruse the NYC Record Club's past playlists. And get back to me.

6/27/2005

Nyla has handed me the musical baton.

Total volume of music files on my computer:
2448 songs or 7 days of music (9.64 GB).
(That doesn't seem like a lot, but I only have the dinosaur first generation 5 gig iPod, and I still use my old fashioned CD and record players. And my Real Rhapsody subscription too.)

Last CD I bought:
I hardly ever buy CDs anymore (I get a lot of promos), but on my last trip to Tower I bought:
Tegan and Sara So Jealous
Ryan Adams & The Cardinals Cold Roses
Depeche Mode Violator

Song playing right now:
the secret song at the very end of the silversun pickups Pikul EP

Five songs I listen to a lot, or that mean a lot to me:
Only five?? These aren't all time favorites, just five that come to mind.
"Love is Stronger Than Death" -- The The
"Anything Can Happen" -- Finn Brothers
"So Into You" -- Shudder To Think
"5 Years" -- Bjork
"Stand Back" -- Stevie Nicks

Three people to whom I’m passing the baton:
Ashod
Alex
Sef
...all of whom are probably too cool or busy to respond. Which is not an insult. Just sayin'.

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This seems like the perfect meaningless bit of information to blog about -- this morning I noticed that one of my dollar bills had www.wheresgeorge.com stamped on it, so I took the bait.

Turns out this dollar bill started out in Burlingame and travelled 13 Miles in 37 Days, 23 Hrs, 39 Mins at an average of 0.33 Miles per day. Read the stats here.

I will send this bill on its merry way down at my favorite neighborhood eatery, the Ebb-Tide Cafe.

6/26/2005

Worth your hard-earned catfish:


Silversun Pickups' Pikul EP

I've heard about this band many times from Ashod, but never actually heard them until I got a promo of the EP in the mail. Their dreamy dirges are now stuck in my head and I can't wait to see them live to prove to myself that the singer is in fact male.

mp3: Silversun Pickups "Kissing Families"

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I've refrained from commenting on this week's "Blow Out" episode, mainly because it lacked a jaw-dropping appearance from Scott. This week the stylists went to NYC, they curled, they overslept, they complained. The editors hinted at a B Michael fashion show catastrophe (Will the stylists be late? Will Jonathan only get through half his finger curls before curtain call?), but then everything went off without a hitch. Sigh. Bring back the "Apprentice"-esque business drama! It's exciting to see from your comments that I'm not the only person fascinated by the puffed up ego-fest that is Jonathan vs. Scott.

Trailers from next week's episode promise more hijinks punctuated by a furious Scott-induced door-punch by Jonathan. Can't. Wait.

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I've yet to tackle the phenomenon of podcasting, but I have downloaded Odeo's Syncr tool and will test it out this week.

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Mel and I went to SFist Sarah's house party last night, and lots of blog talk ensued with Jackson (whom Isaac recently christened "Jackson Social Club"). Mel and I had been discussing our strangely genetic Texas pride, but after all the writing and blogging talk with Jax, I started to feel some San Francisco pride for the first time. This is a city of ideas and of phenomenally creative people, and I'm extremely excited to be a part of some of SF's coolest offerings. I'm having my own little version of Pride Week.

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The 15 Minute Hipster, in defense of "X is the new Y." Thanks Hipster!

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Lastly, check out my new friend Tim's blog postpunkdiary. Meditations and musings on music. He's speakin' my language.

6/23/2005

Take the city as my sister, and the nighttime as my lover...

I'm just now listening to the CD compilation that came packaged with the June issue of The Believer, and I gotta say it's already worth every penny I spent on it, mainly for the covers of songs by Joanna Newsom and The Constantines.

Songs can move me for many reasons, but I have always understood the difference between an amazing song and an amazing performance. Sometimes you find both in the same track, sometimes just one, usually neither. It's hard to kill, say, a Bob Dylan or Neil Young song, no matter what kind of talentless hack is covering it. The song survives the performance. And even though I'm a huge fan, it would be hard to imagine anyone else making most Tori Amos songs sound as good as she does. Her performance makes the song.

I was subconsciously putting Joanna Newsom and The Constantines in the latter category, until I heard covers of their songs on this Believer compilation. Colin Meloy of the Decemberists, with his strummy acoustic and Mangum-esque vocal, revealed Joanna's "Bridges & Balloons" to be a folk masterpiece. Take away Joanna's creak and squeak voice and dreamy harp -- and her melody, phrasing and lyrics emerge to knock you over. I can see this cover being used to trick Joanna-haters into giving the lass some well-deserved respect.

Jim Guthrie completely re-imagines The Constantines' "Nighttime/Anytime (It's Alright)" into a relaxed swagger, removing much of the grit and tension from the original, but the darkness and mystery remain. It's still not a strong song in the classic sense, but Guthrie shows the song has legs and can live apart from its creators. I'm now obsessed with hearing some of Jim Guthrie's own music.

(And in case this post makes it seem otherwise, The Constantines are one of my favorite discoveries of the past year. They fill the hole that Shiner left behind when they broke up (although The Life and Times will rise). Hearing the new Constantines record and seeing them live for the first time are two of my wishes for 2005.)

I haven't gotten into the other Believer songs yet, but I have a feeling they'll be causing more discoveries and revelations. Check out the track listing here. Then buy it before they run out of 'em.


P.S. Read this week's When The Lights Go Down In The City, please and thanks.

6/22/2005

Read my review of Feist's opening gig for Rilo Kiley at the Grand, if you please.

Sunday July 19th could go down as the best day of 2005. It's certainly going to be hard to top it.

It started out with my bus trip down to Stern Grove to see John Doe open for Lucinda Williams. I took two buses from my house, both of which showed up right on time and got me to Stern Grove with ease. I'd never been to the venue before, so I was understandably awe-struck by the beauty of an outdoor stage nestled amongst a grove of towering trees. Apparently the facilities just went through a major upgrade, so the sound was amazing and the backstage area was plush. The weather was perfect and fogless, and the sun shone a little hotter than usual for San Francisco.

Penn and Ms. V met up with me and we spent plenty of time hanging out with Nick, Chris and Richard, who I affectionately nicknamed the Luca's, seen here. The quote of the day came from Nick:
You know, "Sex and the City" revolutionized "Oprah."
Ah yes, the usual backstage rocknroll banter.

When JD and the band played, we sat out at the VIP tables and were treated to sunshine and free refreshments, which totally made up for their Mountain Winery show being rained out. I got to see several friends including Mel and DKatz -- there were thousands of people there. Lucinda rocked, and the rest of us had a great time hanging out, drinking wine and talking about anything and everything.

After we left the grove, we had a great dinner at Indian Oven and then ran into Blakely and Xav on the street on our way out. To make a perfect day even better, JD brought me and the Luca's to the Fillmore to see the Spoon show. We sat up in a back balcony (I never knew those existed) and watched a very tight and professional set by Spoon. It lacked a personal feel, since Britt hardly spoke between songs, but they did deliver and made fans out of my initially skeptical companions. After running into Britt and JV after the show, it was time to call it a night.

Perfect Sunday, in my book.

6/17/2005

Head over to ye olde BlaggBlogg to read about why "Music Critics are Stupid and Pointless." I have to agree with Alex, despite the fact that I have reviewed and will continue to review records online and in print. In my own defense, I try to be descriptive rather than judgemental or self-aggrandizing. As in, here's a record I think you should know about, and this is why you might like it. Jury's out on whether or not I'm successful at that goal.


--> Read this week's "When The Lights Go Down In The City" please and thanks. <--

Did anyone watch "Blow Out" this week? Zorbit Scott is my favorite new reality TV villian that I love to hate.** I wondered if he was a paid actor, but a Google search yielded this possible evidence that he is, in fact, an actual marketing/branding executive.

Watch this week's bonus footage of Jonathan talking to his girl Sescie on the phone. For added comic effect, pay attention to his bedside alarm clock in the background which tracks exactly how erratically the editors hacked apart their phone conversation and created something completely different out of it.

The "Blow Out" website's "blog" section leaves much to be desired, by the way. I applaud whoever had the foresight to include a blog section, but unless people are actually blogging about something interesting, then don't even bother. They should let me be a special audience correspondent.

**Allow me to point out that my comments are aimed at their characterizations on the show and not the real people -- because I don't know them.

6/10/2005

Ce n'est pas un Spoon fansite.

Spoon made a video for "I Turn My Camera On," which can be seen here at RollingStone.com. I really wish I hadn't watched it. Can no one make a good video for Spoon? (Except for Ryan Junell, I mean.) If any images from this video pop into my head the next time I hear that song, I'm going to feel defeated. Spoon, if you don't have a good video to make, don't make one at all.

The word of the day is: multivalent.

Read it used in context in Jessica Hopper's review of Gimme Fiction here.

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Pixel Revolt is coming! Pixel Revolt is coming!

We have to wait until August 23rd for John Vanderslice's latest, but you can download "Trance Manual" from the new record here.



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Speaking of JV, he's apparently prominently featured in the Beulah documentary, "A Good Band Is Easy To Kill," which comes out August 2nd. Watch the trailer here. I wonder how the documentary turned out, but it will be entertaining for me to watch either way since I know so many people in the Beulah camp. I can't wait to see which Kurosky nuggets of wisdom and shock value made the final cut!

6/09/2005

Read this week's "When The Lights Go Down In The City" please and thanks. Also enter to win guest list spots to see Amusement Parks on Fire or The Futureheads.

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The new CocoRosie album Noah's Ark isn't a huge departure from the last one, but the production quality has improved. The duet with Antony, "Beautiful Boyz," is most excellent. I heart Touch and Go!

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Tivo-worthy: "Blow Out: Season 2"

Bravo's original programming makes me almost happy to pay my cable bill.

The first season of "Blow Out" followed uber-famousse hair stylist Jonathan Antin as he opened a second salon location in Beverly Hills. Multiple Hollywood hairstylists all in one room is a recipe for drama in itself, but what really carries the show is Jonathan's charisma. He's handsome, professional and ambitious, as well as moody, self-centered and overworked. But he balances seemingly vapid statements like "I'm about perfect hair, man," with thoughtful reflections on life as an entrepreneur. He's sincere about his art, and I respect that. Despite his leonine presence, he has a big ol' heart underneath the tattoos and hair product. Every time he cries (it's no rarity), I just want to hug him. Did I mention how handsome he is?

This season he's starting his own line of hair products, complete with a group of corporate suits who are toeing the big, bad Bottom Line. Check out this video clip preview of Episode 2, where Jonathan is introduced to Scott, some sort of branding/marketing guy they're putting in charge of the Jonathan product. Scott comes to a big meeting unprepared to show Jonathan any ideas or samples of past work, then acts supremely offended when Jonathan calls him on it. Extra points for the repetition of one of my favorite phrases, "dog and pony show." **

**Allow me to point out that my comments are aimed at these people's characterizations on the show and not the real people -- because I don't know them. The "Blow Out" editors have created some fascinating characters in the editing process!

6/08/2005

Don't you just love a change in the weather? Sunny to rainy, cold to warm, I don't care what it's changing from and to, I just love the change. It reminds me that change is possible and unexpected, and makes the challenges in my life seem a little more bearable.

One sad change happening in NYC is the closing of the Luna Lounge, the location of many of my late nights spent between the autumns of 1999 to 2001. There was the time when a few of my V2 co-worker friends and I folded ourselves up into a tiny backseat of a car with our friends Grasshopper and dreamboat Jeff Mercel of Mercury Rev to meet up with our boys in Grandaddy at Luna, because they were there to meet up with Elliot Smith (who hung out there often). There were the many nights that my Tex-pat friends Billy, Pamela, Blu, Dan, Wes, and I all convened to watch Skywriter play. There was the spin-the-bottle experience with friends and members of the Morgan Taylor Rock Group that I only remember vaguely. There were a few times Dave D. and I shut the place down, laughing at the tiny marlin mounted on the wall behind the bar. There was the time Blu and I sat at the bar and witnessed, in the reflection of the mirror behind the bar, two of our friends emerging from a secret makeout session in the backroom. They thought they got away with it unnoticed, until Blu and I busted them, and subsequently laughed ourselves silly. So many nights there with Karla, Lily, LT, Fil...it's a shame it won't be there when I go back to visit.

The good news is that Luna Lounge is set to re-open in Williamsburg, according to Brooklyn Vegan. I borrowed that photo from MurphGuide.com -- click here here for their interview with Luna owner Rob Sacher.

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In my habitual combing of Craiglist job ads, I discovered an application for the MSN Music Road Tour, and applied. Much to my surprise, I was selected as one of 18 semi-finalists with a shot to become one of six selected to hop on a tour bus and ride around the country to promote MSN Music at summer festivals and events. In my phone interview with the MSNers in charge of casting, I was completely honest, highlighting my interest in travelling around the U.S., seeing tons of music, and blogging about it every day. When they asked me how I felt about doing street promotions (i.e. handing out flyers and tchotchkes), I also answered honestly. Which is why I'm not leaving on the bus tomorrow. I think they made the right decision!

It was very flattering getting chosen as a semi-finalist though. Dan from MSN, if you read this, email me so we can swap music recommendations. I'll be following the MSN Road Tour from my laptop right here in SF, CA.

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I got a last minute invitation on Friday to go see The Mars Volta at the Greek Theatre in Berkeley, because a friend had an extra ticket. Four of us made the trek out there and got positively rocked and rolled. Cedric's tight, tight polyester pants were thankfully no hindrance to his noodly-limbed, James Brown-esque, slide-footed dance moves and banshee screams.


6/02/2005

Read this week's "When The Lights Go Down In The City" please and thanks.

This morning Sef linked to Spoon's KCRW performance, which is a must-watch. (Although, the way the studio is lit, it looks like they're taping a Saturday Night Live performance from the 80's.) The first half of the performance is all new songs, and in the last portion they play "Utilitarian," "Everything Hits At Once," "Someone Something" and "My Mathematical Mind."

Of course I love Gimme Fiction. (Britt would have to try really hard to diminish my respect for Spoon.) I love that they stuck with Merge. I love the Spoon swagger -- he's not afraid to sing about dragons, dukes and neckrugs, and dares you try to figure out why. In "The Beast and Dragon Adored" lyrics, I love that he makes self-referential mention of GF songs "I Summon You" and "They Never Got You." And I'll never get bored of hearing Britt embellish a song with his signature "alright!" or "ow!"

Simple, majestic, nuanced, raw, real, revealing, fantastical Spoon.

I know that Gimme Fiction is getting a lot of attention, and they're playing every hip festival this year, but I've said it before and I'll say it again: Spoon is way underrated.

6/01/2005

I love it when record companies allow entire records to be streamed on the internet, especially prior to their release date. Lately MySpace.com has been the place to do it, with both bands and labels getting exposure for major releases by streaming them on the site.

Now, I do understand the logic behind disabling the fast forward button when you're streaming an album for promotional purposes. And I certainly didn't mind listening to the Audioslave album in its entirety. When I heard that the new Black Eyed Peas record was streaming on MySpace, I was excited to check it out since one of my close friends is a writer on one of the songs. Unfortunately, it was track 4, meaning I had to wait through no less than twelve minutes of BEP's catchy nonsense before I could check out my friend's track.

For someone who dislikes BEP as much as I do, it was pure torture. Oh, fast forward button, how I miss you...

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