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by Allison Taich

7 Oct 2009

Come January 2010, Animal Collective will re-issue their classic Campfire Songs on their label Paw Tracks. Collective members Avey Tare and Panda Bear conceived the album while in college some years ago. The songs were written and constructed in a shared apartment by Panda, Avey, and Deakin; member Geologist did not play on the album.

The concept was to record five songs, straight through, in one take. It was originally recorded live in 2001, on a screened-in porch in Monkton, Maryland. In order to capture the fresh sounds of trees blowing in the wind, birds chirping, and insects stirring, the band recorded the session on a portable mini-disc player. Campfire Songs was officially released in 2003 on Catsup Plate Records.

According to the band, the album’s goal was to “give the music the feeling and atmosphere of the outdoors and warmth of a fire, so people could bring it indoors.” Complete with flowing melodies and natural ambiance, Campfire Songs is bound to take you on an outdoor adventure this winter.

“Doggy” (fan video)

“Two Corvettes” (fan video)

by Rob Horning

7 Oct 2009

In the New Yorker, James Surowiecki writes about his skepticism of the much-ballyhooed new frugality. (He expands the column on his blog here.) After some zigging and zagging, he concludes:

But the evidence for a radical shift in the way we consume seems more like the product of wishful thinking (there’s a palpable longing among pundits for Americans to become more frugal) than anything else. In many categories, spending has dropped only slightly, if at all. And, while these are very tough times for retailers who believed that spending could only go up, retail sales rose briskly in August. Before we go proclaiming this the age of the American tightwad, a little perspective is in order. Even after the worst recession of the past seventy years, retail sales this year will be about where they were in 2005. Does anyone really think that four years ago Americans were misers?

His point about wishful thinking extends beyond pundits; it seems as though we all would like to see some more frugality from everyone else—this would ease the pressure on us to spend more to keep up, and make what we purchase more distinctive. I suspect that many Americans carry around an idea of how much the U.S. should be saving, and that we would like to see as much as that as possible done by other people. Frugality is one of those traits we piously praise in others because we secretly believe that takes us off the hook for exhibiting it ourselves.

by Lara Killian

7 Oct 2009

It has been an irrepressible activity since the dawn of man: to heap insults on enemies, rivals, neighbors, and even friends.

Despite the ubiquitousness of expressions of disgust and frustration, just because one may be well versed in Anglo-Saxon cursing doesn’t mean you’ll be ready to call out a Russian or an Italian while traveling through this increasingly multicultural world. Not only do authors Dodson and Vanderplank want to give you the tools you’ll need to understand that Swede when he invokes the devil, but also the understanding of where many colloquial put-downs come from.

Dodson, creator of the LanguageHat.com blog, and Vanderplank have gathered an admirable representation of the wide variety of Untranslatable Insults, Put-Downs, and Curses from Around the World. In his introduction, Vanderplank notes that:

For me, insults and curses are the “dark” side of manners and customs and all the more interesting for that, as they may inform us about what lies beneath the social codes, what verbal games men and women play with each other.

The quest to bring obscure insults to English-readers starts in the ancient world, where many Roman insults have to do with sex, and Greek ones with drunkenness. Some of the insults culled from modern vocabularies may be quite familiar; for example readers in the US may have heard someone on the playground tell someone else they’ve been ‘beaten with the ugly stick.’ The Brits have many ways to refer to someone as an idiot, too many to list in this collection, but a favorite Britist insult of mine is ‘mutton dressed as lamb’ to describe a woman who uses clothes and makeup to try to hide her age.

In my experience, calling someone a mama’s boy is usually an insult meaning that he has been coddled and isn’t able to take care of himself. In Italy, sons are traditionally quite close to their mothers and this insult bears no weight—so instead they have figlio di papá, meaning daddy’s boy, implying that the person has left his father behind as he moves up in the world. ‘Scum of soya paste’ wouldn’t have meant much when thrown around at my elementary school, but in Japan misokakku is a popular children’s curse to describe someone annoying.

Translating the ‘Untranslatable’ presents a challenge even for Vanderplank, the Directory of the Oxford University Language Center, so the contextual notes are key to making this guide worth flipping through. Whether you’re looking for an unusual way to taunt your older siblings, or you’re something of an armchair linguist, you’ll find something unique and possibly useful within the pages of Uglier.

by Ashley Cooper

7 Oct 2009

Raphael Saadiq has answered his fans’ hopes by planning an all new winter tour for this year, which kicks off in Seattle in November and ends in Minneapolis in December. This tour, which features his first live shows since appearing at a bunch of festivals this summer, from the Essence Music Festical to Bonnaroo, to positive reviews, will also showcase Canadian chanteuse Anjulie and Grammy nominee Janelle Monae.

Raphael Saadiq has been playing music since he was six years old, working up the charts as a member of the trio Tony! Toni! Tone! and then with supergroup Lucy Pearl. His current album, The Way I See It, was on many critics’ “best of” lists for the year 2008.

Saadiq’s brand of R&B is part dance, part philosophical, part feel good, and all pure energy. He is positive, engaging and talented, and is known for working with such artists as Joss Stone, Stevie Wonder, and Jay-Z, and for writing “I Can See In Color” for Mary J. Blige, so his tour should not be missed.

by Kirstie Shanley

7 Oct 2009

Over ten years ago Hope Sandoval split from Mazzy Star but the distinctive voice that defined the music has followed her ever since.  Dreamy and feminine in all the right places, her lyrics tend to cascade down like raindrops on a windowpane.  Her work with both Mazzy Star and The Warm Inventions is an example of a slower psychedelic folk with a touch lo-fi done right.

The evening began with a moody jazz track as prolonged entrance music for the band.  When they did take the stage, the band stayed back in the darkness, letting the visuals of two film projectors do the work.  Sandoval’s lovely vocals floated above spinning ethereal bodies—dancing women whose dresses seemed to turn into flames. 

Sandoval, also remaining a mystery to the naked eye, was obscured behind shadows and her long dark locks.  She deflected attention, not even talking between songs despite the proclamations of love from audience members.  Her focus was entirely on the music.

Hope Sandoval & The Warm Inventions just released their second album, Through the Devil Softly, which they worked on with some notable musicians, including Colm O’Ciosoig of My Bloody Valentine.  Not surprisingly, the band focused on this album during their live set.  Highlights included “Wild Roses,” “Trouble,” and “For the Rest of Your Life.”  2001’s Bavarian Fruit Bread was presented to a lesser extent, with “Suzanne” and “Charlotte” feeling slightly transcendent.

Throughout, Sandoval’s vocals seemed to linger with the effects of the psychedelic guitars she was sandwiched between and, at times, unfortunately, not loud enough to overpower.  Individually she alternated between just singing and singing while playing the xylophone.  As her music conveys, if you concentrated hard enough you might have made out a look of longing when her eyes flashed through the darkness. 

While the cinematic images crept up and faded, it was difficult not to feel the impact of the songs that were longer and darker than most. 

After playing more than 60 minutes the band vanished quickly, and, for what seemed like ages, the packed audience clapped for their return.  Upon reemerging, they played a two song encore.  “Satellite” made Sandoval’s vocals even spookier and more effective with only half of the band present.  Returning to their first release again, the night ended with “Feeling of Gaze.”

Sandoval only two words to the audience the whole night were “Thank-You,” just before leaving.  And then she was gone.  While the crowd departed for the night, the house music played Johnny Cash’s “We’ll Meet Again,” which seemed nothing less than intentional.

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