Tuesday, March 23, 2010


Music, as most people who know me know, is a huge, almost all-consuming, aspect of my life. It constantly amazes me how music can transform and illuminate my life. I've often sat down and attempted to address why certain music appeals to me, and other music doesn't. Like most art, music is highly subjective. It amazes me when there can be a consensus on why something is good as opposed to bad. In a nutshell, and a completely off-the-cuff nutshell at that, I just like what I like. What brings this up is that three situations have come up recently that intrigued me. First, I bought a cd from a new UK act called LoneLady, which has gotten very good reviews. When I listened to it the first time, I loved every song and immediately began listening to the cd over and over again. Strangely, with each listen, I began liking it less and less. To the point now where I really can't stand it whatsoever, except for one or two songs. Odd that I could go from hot to cold that quickly. I do love the song "Marble."

Second, I had my iPod on shuffle the other day and a song came on I didn't recall (this is pretty easy considering my iPod has 15 thousand songs on it). The artist sounded familiar, but I couldn't place it. I looked at the menu and it was a song called "Gravity" from the German band The Notwist. It came off their last cd The Devil, You + Me, which was a huge disappointment from their brilliant cd Neon Golden. I couldn't even get through the cd and quickly never listened to it again. After hearing "Gravity," I was stunned at how I could have let such an amazing song pass me by. I immediately set forth to listen to the cd again with a more open ear. Unfortunately, "Gravity" is by far the only song on the whole cd I like, so there was no reprieve from my initial assessment of the cd. I am glad I was able to find one redeeming song off the cd though.

Third, and in direct contrast with The Notwist, I also heard a song on shuffle called "Colorado" from my current favs Grizzly Bear, off their second cd Yellow House. I am a huge fan of Veckatimest, which was my cd of the year last year, but Yellow House just never did much for me. After hearing "Colorado" I wondered again if I maybe gave the cd short shrift. Again, in contrast to The Notwist, I rediscovered a cd I wish I had spent more time on. It is a fabulously dense and rewarding cd, and is easily on par with Veckatimest at the least.

All of this goes to show me that I can never be sure why I like something or why I don't. A lot just depends on timing, mood, and other various factors. Sometimes the timing is right, sometimes not.

Song Lyrics Rattling Through My Head

"If everyone in the world
Would give me their treasure
I would not want for more
Than I have right now"

"I Couldn't Love You More"

"When I clung to you there was nothing to hold on tight with, you left me adrift. Colorado, what now?"

Grizzly Bear

"Bring in the savage
Bring in the loud
And fill our house with all the holy astronauts
Bring in the trouble
It's where we live
Up on the roof a prayer for love and disbelief"

The Notwist

"I want to make it up
I want to make my skin adapt to the sun
no barrier fun"

"No Barrier Fun"

Appealing Things

Healthcare reform
Spring weather
A smooth job interview
Pot roast, carrots, mushrooms, and garlic mashed potatoes
Returns to form
Coachella soon!
Nosaj Thing opening for The xx

Annoying Things

Republican scare tactics
Winter weather that won't go away
Waiting for word on said job interview
jj opening for The xx

Monday, March 22, 2010

Black Noise

Pantha Du Prince
Black Noise
9.4 out of 10

There are so many sub-genres of dance music that it threatens to become somewhat a joke trying to pinpoint where an artist falls. Because it is now ridiculously easy for anyone with a laptop and Ableton software to put together music (including your intrepid writer), perhaps this micro-naming serves the purpose of separating the truly musically gifted from the mere technologically savvy (which would include your intrepid writer as well). Most of the artists I have heard lumped into the genre known as minimal-techno fall squarely into the latter category. However, the true artists stand far and above these computer charlatans. One of these artists is Hendrick Weber, who records under the moniker Pantha Du Prince.

Weber's music is deceptively simple. Most of the tracks begin with a very simple drum track and melody, but just as the track threatens to become aural wallpaper he changes tack and it evolves into something wondrously complex. The first track "Lay In A Shimmer" embodies this approach to a T. Building off of found sounds: street noises, crowd sounds, tuning instruments; the music builds off a twinkling synth pattern into a muffled drum pattern and droning bassline. All of the pieces coalesce into a beautiful whole, no one element dominating, each playing off each other perfectly.

This is not to say that every track follows the same pattern. There is a general flow to the cd, (comparable drum patterns, icy synths) but each song is distinctly unique and beautiful. And sometimes, just small variations make a huge difference. "The Splendour" is a perfect example: a shuffling, muted drum track is playfully contrasted with a gamalan-like synth patch, which builds and builds into one of the most dance floor friendly tracks.

Probably the most hyped track on Black Noise is Weber's collaboration with Animal Collective's Panda Bear, "Stick To My Side." There have been criticisms that the track is too cold for Panda bear's warm voice, but I think the two disparate elements complement each other well.

The cd is just stunningly gorgeous; whether it is the delicate and drifting "Welt Am Draht"

or the haunting, beatless "Im Bann."

Black Noise is one of the best cds of the year and will likely end up in my top ten. I understand that words like German and Minimal and Techno tend to have most listeners running for the the hills, however, this cd rewards multiple listens and is not overly schematic or obtuse. I highly recommend this release to those who are electronic music aficionados as well as those who are new to the genre.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Oscars 2010

I did a sort of live blog last year of the Oscars and are going to attempt to do the same this year. I must admit, with 10 nominated pictures I have not seen nearly enough of them. But I will do my best to not come off sounding stupid. The nominees this year are:

Best Picture 2010:
The Blind Side
District 9
An Education
The Hurt Locker
Inglorious Basterds
Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire
A Serious Man
Up in the Air

Sadly, I have only seen District 9 (creepy and gross, held my attention, but no clue why it is nominated); Up (one of the best movies of this or any year; a complete triumph of story and execution); and Up In The Air (one of the best written and acted films in recent years; Clooney is fantastic).

I am assuming Avatar will win Best Picture, but that Kathryn Bigelow will be the first woman to win best director.

Red Carpet Musings:

Kathy Ireland is awful. She should rarely be seen and certainly not heard.

Jess Cagle, hot silver haired daddy.

Penelope Cruz looks amazing as usual.

Jake Gyllenhaal: Grrrrrrrrrrrrr

George Clooney needs a haircut.

Zac Efron looks like a teenage girl.

J Lo looks like a marshmallow peep.

Sarah Jessica Parker: it may be Chanel but it looks terrible.

Mylie Cyrus' dress is like a combo of a Madonna bustier and a bedazzled shower curtain.

Kate Winslet: classy as usual.

Kathy Ireland still pointlessly awful. Her dress looks like a cross between an Etch-A-Sketch and Tetris.

Meryl Streep looks good in a Chris March dress.

Opening Of The Oscars

Neil Patrick Harris!!!!!!

The set is a little too trashy looking.

Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin are so so as the hosts. Funny, but not hysterically so.

And Now The Awards:

Best Supporting Actor:

Christoph Waltz: Inglorious Basterds

Didn't see the movie, but hear he was great and that it is a deserved win.

Best Animated Feature Film


Beautiful, touching, marvelous film. Deserved to win!

Best Original Song

"The Weary Kind" from Crazy Heart

Best Original Screenplay

The Hurt Locker

Best Animated Short Film


Best Documentary Short

Music By Prudence

Best Live Action Short

The New Tenants

Best Makeup

Star Trek

Best Adapted Screenplay


Best Supporting Actress

Monique: Precious

Would have rather seen Vera Farmiga win, but Monique looked like she did an amazing job.

Best Art Direction


Best Costume Design

The Young Victoria

Best Sound Editing

The Hurt Locker

Best Sound Mixing

The Hurt Locker

Best Cinematography


Best Original Score


Completely deserved to win. The opening 15 minutes is almost completely silent except for his score and it is breathtakingly beautiful and emotional.

Best Visual Effects


Best Documentary Feature

The Cove

Best Editing

The Hurt Locker

Best Foreign Language Film

The Secret In Their Eyes (Argentina)

Very surprised that Michael Haneke's film The White Ribbon didn't win.

Best Actor

Jeff Bridges: Crazy Heart

Glad he won, but I really wanted to see Colin Firth win. He gave such a deep and moving performance in A Single Man.

Best Actress

Sandra Bullock: The Blindside

Don't get me wrong, I like Sandra Bullock, but for her to win over Meryl Streep or the girl from Precious is a travesty.

Best Director

Kathryn Bigelow: The Hurt Locker

Well deserved. The first female best director winner.

Best Picture

The Hurt Locker

Wow, that was a surprise. I would have bet money it would be Avatar. Congrats!

The Oscars this year were painfully boring. I would barely rate it a C. No real surprises, and the same long and drawn out broadcast. There weren't even any great dresses to look at, and no major missteps. Just a big bag of meh. I don't think the additional 5 films made any direct impact to the show. Just made it infinitely longer. I hope they do not keep this format for next year.

Off to bed.

Thursday, March 4, 2010


Long crazy week and it's almost over with. Had jury duty, job interview, and started a new project, all in the space of two days. I was a "stand-by" juror so I assumed I would likely not be called. I waited at the court house for 5 hours before they called my name and told me I would have to come back after lunch. I was the 60th person they called so I thought I was going to be released. Of course they kept all 60 of us and let everyone else go. I was put on a jury panel for a case where the defendant was charged with armed robbery. As I was a victim of a home break-in several years ago, I was told I would likely not be impartial and I was finally dismissed from the jury at 5pm. It was a very long, stressful day and I was glad to be going home. The jury process was fairly streamlined and progressed smoothly. I will say though that the citizens of Fulton County that were in attendance were not a fetching crowd. I felt like I was in a gay man's waiting room from hell.

I had my first job interview in over a year on Tuesday. It was for a staff attorney position for a large firm here in Atlanta. It was a screening interview and I think I passed what they were looking for. I am waiting to see if I get a callback. They liked my trademark experience (the firm is primarily known for their IP litigation group) and my experience with large document reviews. Also, the partner in charge of the staff attorneys is the husband of a law school classmate and former fellow associate at my first law firm. So I am hoping I get called back as I think the job would be a good fit for me. I like the sophisticated work that you can have at a big firm but without the pressures of trying to become and maintain being a partner. I should find out in a couple of days.

Why do people, men and women, feel the need to wear perfumes/colognes, or body products with intense scents when the majority of people have allergies or issues with said scents? On these review projects we are usually crammed into a small room with lots of people and the smells can get overpowering.

43 days until Coachella!

Lyrics Rattling Around My Head

"Lord, hear me now
Junk boats and English boys
Crashing out into the noise
Electric fences and guns

You swallow me
I'm just a pill on your tongue
Up here on the nineteenth floor
The neon lights make me numb

And late in a star's life
It begins to explode
And all the people in a dream
Wait for the machine
Pick the shit up keep things clean

Kid hang over here
What you learning in school?
Is the rise of an eastern sun
Gonna be alright for everyone?

The radio station disappeared
Music turned into thin air
The DJ was the last to leave
She had well conditioned hair
Was beautiful but nothing really was there"

"Hong Kong"

"Saturday come slow
Do you love me
Do you love me
Is there nothing there"

Massive Attack
"Saturday Come Slow"

"Seems that I have been held, in some dreaming state
A tourist in the waking world, never quite awake
No kiss, no gentle word could wake me from this slumber
Until I realise that it was you who held me under"

Florence + The Machine

"This push and pull is the force of a wave of time
In the heat of the night, we would cry, you are not mine
They said we would go far, but they don't know how far we'd go
'cause this heart is a stone, and this is a stone that we throw"

Beach House
"10 Mile Stereo"

Appealing Things

Spring approaching
Reconnecting with friends
The surprise and joy of finding you have similar feelings with someone else
Await Your Reply
Getting out of jury duty
The cowboys on The Amazing Race
Having a best friend again

Annoying Things

Having to clean my loft when I am tired
Hypocritical Republicans
Self-hating gays
Having a high deductible insurance policy
This being the final season of LOST
Douche bears

Monday, March 1, 2010

Teen Dream

Beach House
Teen Dream
9.0 out of 10

Again we come to another band I am late to liking. Pitchfork.com has been touting them ever since their first two cds, however, I just thought they sounded like a garage band Mazzy Star. After seeing them open for Grizzly Bear last year I was intoxicated by their hypnotic sound. They are still using a minimal amount of instrumentation, Victoria Legrand on keyboards and vocals and Alex Scally on guitar and programming. But they are supplementing the fragile nature of their sound with bigger sounding drums in addition to the dime store drum machine they normally use, and a more dense and swirling mix.

There are criticisms of the cd; the songs can seem to blur together and as my esteemed friend Kurt says, they are just boring. Kurt and I differ on several musical fronts, so his criticism is only a subjective quibble, as for the blurring comments, I don't really have a problem when the template is so strong. their music on Teen Dream is so strong and so stellar, I just feel it is more of a song cycle than a series of distinct songs.

There are so many strong songs, it is hard to discuss the cd without mentioning them all, but I will limit it to the songs that have the most meaning to me.

The first song that struck me (and that I thought would be one of favorite songs of the year) was "Walk In The Park" a devastating song about a relationship ending.

With the haunting lyrics:

"In a matter of time it, would slip from my mind
In and out of my life, you would slip from my mind
In a matter of time"

Another great track is "Norway" about a woman in love with a man who only wants her physically.

While the narrator is hurt, she is wiser from the experience:

"Where you thinking that you gotta run to now
With the beating of a tiny heart?
Hang on to the things that you're supposed to say
Millions of stars, they open to your fate"

And probably my favorite track is the stunning "10 Mile Stereo" which starts with a minimal, repetitive guitar refrain and builds into an almost orchestral fury.

"t can't be gone, we're still right here
It took so long, can't say we saw it all
Wings parallel, we stood so long we fell
Bright pyramids at night
they carry us on forever"

Most of the songs, like "10 Mile Stereo" seem to focus on young narrators experiencing first love, which for the most part doesn't end happily but always gives the person a little more maturity to withstand the pains that will only get stronger with age.

Teen Dream is a stunningly confident album by a band that I didn't think had it in them. I can definitely understand why Grizzly Bear chose them to open for them on their last tour. While the songs and music are not similar, they are both bands that have grown immensely with each new release. Both are playing Coachella this year and I will be eagerly seeking both of them out.