Latest Blog Posts

by Tim Slowikowski

17 Nov 2009

The soap opera that is Aerosmith continues unabated. First, we got word from lead guitarist Joe Perry that Steven Tyler “quit as far as I could tell”. Then guitarist Brad Whitford spoke openly about possibly replacing Tyler with another singer. But, before you could say “Journey”, there was Steven Tyler making a surprise appearance at a recent Joe Perry Project show in New York.

So are they or aren’t they? The answer is still unclear as it seems Joe Perry and Steven Tyler have become the musical equivalent of Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. Perhaps Aerosmith has become too big for its own good.

Which brings us to the Joe Perry Project. Bringing it all back home to the basics that originally formed his style, Perry recently released Have Guitar, Will Travel, an ode to hard rock that proves the guitarist from Boston still has a few tricks up his sleeve, with or without Aerosmith.
1. The latest book or movie that made you cry?
Frankly, I can’t think of one.

2. The fictional character most like you?
I’m a big fan of historical fiction. There’s a series of books by an author called Patrick O’Brian—the Aubrey-Maturin series that includes Master and Commander. I kind of identify with Captain Aubrey.

by PC Muñoz

16 Nov 2009

“There’s the me you see, there’s the me I see, there’s the me that I really am…”
—“Pushed Aside, Pulled Apart”, Lyrics Born

Though he swaggers with the best of ‘em and has bangin’ beats to spare, indie boom-bap pioneer and Quannum Projects co-founder Lyrics Born has always been a man apart in the hip-hop world. This is both by design, and by default: as a producer and artist, Lyrics Born adamantly blazes his own trail with each new record, refusing to cynically regurgitate trends or tone down his crackling technicolor vision of what hip-hop can be.  As a lyricist, he has long been known for a stellar word-stash and multi-layered rhymes that go deeper than the first listen. As a hapa/multi-racial (self-described as Japanese-Italian/Jewish) MC, Lyrics Born has also, for the past 16 years, grappled with the pros and cons of being one of the first Asian-American rappers to make a significant impact on the hip-hop scene.

For my money, however, it is not his daredevil artistic choices, nor the particular mix in his double helix that really sets Lyrics Born apart. It’s that voice. Lyrics Born’s voice, a unique instrument that can shout, soothe, and sing with equal effectiveness, is, in my opinion, an exceptionally more versatile musical tool than what the majority of contemporary MCs are packing. He’s got a sexed-up low register, a sassy, swinging shout, a rapid-fire show-off mode, a new-wave tinged melodic mellow tone, and a bunch more vocal versions of himself tucked up his hoodie sleeves, all of which coalesce into an electrifying and distinct sound on record and on stage.

In the above-quoted song “Pushed Aside, Pulled Apart”, from his upcoming album As U Were, Lyrics Born raps passionately and reflectively about being “pulled apart”, and several lines in past lyrics also acknowledge his chosen path as a road-less-travelled hip-hop maverick. Though in “Pushed Aside, Pulled Apart” he makes a compelling case for being a tortured artist who is painfully self-conscious about every choice he makes, the truth is, Lyrics Born has taken the multi-faceted influences of his personal and professional life and fashioned an unparalleled aesthetic which no one but he can claim. And there’s nothing more cohesive than that.

by Sean Murphy

13 Nov 2009

Back in 2006, I recall reading many intriguing reviews of Daniel J. Levitin’s book This Is Your Brain on Music. It’s been on my Amazon wish list ever since, and writing about music as much as I do, I occasionally have friends ask me if I’ve read it, or tell me I should read it. The latest reminder came from a friend who wrote the following email to me and a few of our mutual (music loving) friends:

In his brilliant book… Levitin relates the tale of how an elderly colleague and he used to dine every Wednesday and discuss music. During one of these dinners the colleague, an octogenarian, confessed that he did not understand rock music, but wanted to be able to. He asked Levitin to choose six songs that would capture “all that was important to know about rock and roll music.” Levitin chose the following songs:

“Long Tall Sally” (Little Richard), “Roll Over Beethoven” (The Beatles), “All Along The Watchtower” (Jimi Hendrix), “Wonderful Tonight” (Eric Clapton), “Little Red Corvette” (Prince), “Anarchy in the UK” (Sex Pistols).

What would you guys choose, and why?

by Evan Sawdey

12 Nov 2009

All these years later, Adam Young still can’t sleep—and that just might be a good thing.

When the then-20-year-old Adam Young suffered from intense insomnia while living in his parents basement, he used his non-sleeping hours to carefully construct his own brand of Postal Service-indebted synth-pop, eventually self-releasing two albums under his Owl City moniker (2007’s Of June EP and 2008’s Maybe I’m Dreaming) to decent acclaim but somewhat marginal sales. When he put his music on MySpace, however, a following gradually began to grow around Young’s abstract, optimistic tales of love, his whimsical song “Hello Seattle” gaining particular notoriety. It wasn’t long before he got signed to Universal Republic, began collaborating with Relient K vocalist Theissen, and began forming an near endless litany of side-projects (with animal-friendly names like Swimming With Dolphins and Insect Airport).

Yet a funny thing happened following the release of Ocean Eyes, Young’s major-label debut. The quirky single “Fireflies” began picking up steam, first via MySpace, and then through the video outlets like MTV and VH1. Next thing you know, the 23-year-old Young has a chart-topping hit on his hands, is touring the nation with a full band, and is still selling hundreds of thousands of downloads every week, making him one of the brightest pop stars to emerge out of 2009. In short, these past few months have been a bit of a whirlwind for the dark-haired pop maestro, but—as is revealed in this short yet illuminating interview via e-mail—Young hasn’t let success go to his head at all. Being tackled by biker chicks, discovering Taco Bell, and still (still!) suffering from bouts of insomnia—these are just some of the moments that have colored Adam Young’s life this year. If his success is any indication so far, Owl City’s ride is just beginning ...

by Jennifer Cooke

11 Nov 2009

Facebook is a hell of a thing. Not only can it end marriages and get people fired, it brings folks back into your life after years or even decades. Many of these people have oooold pictures of you, and many of these people also have scanners. You will get to relive outfits and hairdos. Oh sure, you remember these things being atrocious, but you don’t get the full impact of how alarming they truly were until someone digs up photographic evidence.

Every once in a while, some clever little archivist takes it to a whole new level of humiliation… with VIDEO. Video of you in your puffy shirt, ripped fishnets, crimped Manic Panic pink hair, and braces, doing That Dance, the dance we all did circa 1987 when a 12” extended remix of Tones on Tail came on at ‘da club. In our case, ‘da club was called Stratus, and you probably had your version of it where you grew up, so I will share the glory:

Unfortunately, I am not actually in these videos, but I hereby declare that I looked just as ridiculous, and in fact aspired to the calibre of ridiculousness of some of these girls, with whom I attended high school.

This trip down Memory Lane was all worth it, however, for reminding me of one of my favorite songs of the ‘80s: “Dance with Me” by Lords of the New Church. This band doesn’t get many pages (or even paragraphs) in the history books, even though it was a punk supergroup fronted by the legendary Stiv Bators and included Brian James of the Damned, Dave Tregunna of Sham 69, and Nicky Turner of the Barracudas. Dead Boys is Bators’ primary legacy, and rightfully so, but when I was 13, I didn’t know from the Dead Boys. All I knew was this wierd-looking dude in this bizarre video had me at “ritual fertility”. I heard real longing and desperation in that voice, and it spoke to me.

Twenty-four years later, the clothes and hair don’t hold up very well, but the song does—remarkably so. I think I’m going to go find me some Lords of the New Church CDs. And possibly a crimping iron.

//Mixed media

Considering Twitter: An Interview with App Artist Nora Reed

// Moving Pixels

"Twitter is a place where bots prevail. And where they don't rule, people, acting like bots, rule. This uneasy person-bot rapprochement offers a fertile space for artistic exploration.

READ the article