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by Jane Jansen Seymour

14 Jun 2010

For months now I’ve been lusting after a new song by Hot Hot Heat. Never a big fan of the Vancouver group, I didn’t even know what band was playing when I first heard it on KCRW’s Morning Becomes Eclectic. “21@12” instantly caught my attention as I reached over to crank the volume and bask in the redemptive quality of discovering a really good tune. When I checked the playlist online I was disappointed to find out it was an advance copy, privy only to DJs to play on demand. I went on to request the song on other new music radio shows and searched the web for an MP3 just to be able to hear it again.

“21@12” opens by sounding an alarm of synths before the band kicks in with a roller coaster of pop rock. The blistering vocals provoke and cajole, espousing the virtues of not being virtuous late into the night.  Then the musicians drop out to catch a breath during a descending swirl, before the drums kick things back in for the catchy hook in every chorus.

KCRW has the entire CD Future Breeds available as part of their Album Preview program through June 29th. The write up says this latest release is a “return to roots” for the band after venturing into indie rock, back to the noisy synths during the genesis of the group in 1999. Not sure how these opportunities for a free listen are affecting sales but I welcome every one, digging into the whole thing like a kid with candy. Although this time, the preview just reinforced my assumption that “21@12” is a hit destined as a solo pick for my next playlist.

When Future Breeds finally came out June 8th, I happily purchased “21@12” online and look forward to many a listen – until the next new favorite tune catches my ear.

by Sean McCarthy

11 Jun 2010

S&M getups - check. Homoerotic dancing routines - check. A more than slight Madonna homage midway though - check. Outrageous outfits - actually, this one actually has Lady Gaga exercising some subtlety in the costume department. Lady Gaga may have detractors, but it’s doubtful anyone would argue she may be the only artist out right now where the release of a video is treated as a media event.

Editor Note: Most likely, this video is not suited for work, unless you work at a truly awesome place.

by Sarah Zupko

10 Jun 2010

Here at PopMatters, we’ve been Katzenjammer fans since well back to 2008 when Adrien Begrand had the good fortune of catching their show at by:Larm 2008 in Oslo, Norway. He was smitten with the Norwegian four-piece band, who he likened to a Scandinavian Dixie Chicks. Well, that sold me as an unrepentant Dixie Chicks lover. Begrand picked up a copy of Le Pop in Norway that year and we thought highly enough of it to place it on the 2008 edition of Slipped Discs.

Just to reiterate, here’s what Begrand had to say back then: “Loaded with sea shanties, Balkan gypsy folk music, bluegrass, blues, German cabaret, twee orchestral pop, and delivered with the reckless abandon of punk rock, there’s a lot to digest on the manic debut album by Norwegian foursome Katzenjammer, but the charisma of these four talented ladies always wins us over. With each member a lead singer and multi-instrumentalist, the band’s versatility is remarkable a live setting and especially on record, as Le Pop veers from raucous (“A Bar in Amsterdam”, “Hey Ho on the Devil’s Back”) to tender (Wading in Deeper”), each song boasting plenty of gorgeous, rich four-part vocal harmonies.”

Now, finally, in 2010, Katzenjammer is hitting US shores with Le Pop releasing 29 June on Nettwerk Records. They were here back in 2009 after David Byrne became a fan and had them play his 2009 curated stage at Bonnaroo. This year, they’re on a short US tour before hitting the circuit with the musical women on the Lilith Fair tour revival (dates after the jump).

In the meantime, we have the pleasure today of premiering this live video of “A Bar in Amsterdam” shot at the Rockefeller Music Hall in Oslo, Norway. Enjoy… it’s impossible not to really.

by Arnold Pan

9 Jun 2010

As conspiracy theories involving our President go, the latest one that he was an extra in the video for Tag Team’s immortal “Whoomp! (There It Is)” is at least the most entertaining and least paranoid one. After Gawker ran with the “story”, the thread became silly enough to be teased on Colbert (see below) and semi-serious enough to be debunked by Politifact, tracked by the Washington Post, and mentioned by pretty much all the network news outlets. Don’t know if this is completely hilarious or totally pathetic, but, according to Politico, the White House has issued an official denial that the then 31-year-old Barack Obama was in the video, which apparently was confirmed by Tag Team itself. Still, check it out for yourself, as the POTUS double appears around the 30-second mark on the Colbert clip, flashing a pretty Obama-like smile while talking on a giant cellphone. Now if it were only a BlackBerry prototype…

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Obama’s Whoomp! There It Is Controversy
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorFox News

by L.B. Jeffries

9 Jun 2010

The Modest Mouse song “Edit the Sad Parts” is one of their best rock anthems overall, but it’s also the one that most fans seem to miss. It can only be found on the EP Interstate 8, which was almost entirely transferred to the album Building Nothing Out of Something except for a few particular songs. The lyrics are about self-doubt, in this case the personal thoughts of something trying to charm someone they like. The chorus rings in, “We’re all so funny but he’s lost his joke now, A communication from the one lined joke, A stand up comic and a rock musician, Making so much noise you don’t know when to listen.” Yet, each verse finds a new thing to worry about, “Why are you judging people so damn hard, You’re taking your point of views a bit too far.” It’s the intense self-criticism that makes Modest Mouse such a bittersweet band to enjoy, a unique combination of narcissism and self-loathing that everyone feels on some level.

That sense of self-reflection is what makes a protracted video about the history of the Mario franchises commercials set to the song such a good idea. There’s something intrinsically engaging about the idea of Mario being insecure, the contrast becomes so stark when you compare it to his usual “Yahooo!!” self. Here he is selling himself to people in almost every conceivable way: clips from games, Mario jumping out of TVs, and even those old cartoons. The video starts with this rolling piece of paper and those cheesy “Who are you?” commercials that Nintendo used to run back in the Gamecube days. Then, the video plows through every childhood memory a kid with a TV and a Nintendo would have: NES, SNES, N64, and all the sequels in-between make an appearance. As the memories of being young and escaping to video games progress, it starts to nicely highlight the insecurities that the actual song is about as you remember them.

At the very end of the song there’s this uplifting moment where an amazing bass line starts up and you’re snapped out of the melancholy into a foot tapping surge. The lyrics intone, “Think it over, There’s the air of the height of the highrollers, Think it over, You ain’t got nothing until you know her.” The video phases out on this semi-positive note with another clip from the “Who are you?” commercials, ending with a sheepish and grown up Mario waking up hung-over.

//Mixed media

Because Blood Is Drama: Considering Carnage in Video Games and Other Media

// Moving Pixels

"It's easy to dismiss blood and violence as salacious without considering why it is there, what its context is, and what it might communicate.

READ the article