Dots and Loops

liner notes and doodles in pop

Belle & Sebastian making “Tigermilk” and “If You’re Feeling Sinister.”

President’s Day is the Christmas, if the quality of alt media that’s been released today is any indication.

The art of the Not-To-Do List

When making a to-do list, you should consider making a “not-to-do” list at the same time. The “not-to-do list” isn’t about critiquing yourself, it’s simply about prioritizing.  Pick a few things that you really don’t have to do today (but perhaps usually do) and write them down.  You’ll be amused at what you find.

I thought I had every imitative angle of Ryan Adams’ Rock n’ Roll covered only to discover that I somehow missed the most obvious one.  No, really.

Ryan Adams: Rock n’ Roll (left)

John Lennon: Rock n’ Roll (right)

Renowned producer sets out on his own with Ultraista debut
Ultraista, the new project from producer Nigel Godrich (Beck, Radiohead) is essentially the same band as Atoms for Peace, minus Thom Yorke.  Naturally, that’s a little too bad.
Percussion wunderkind and oft collaborator Joey Waronker joins Godrich and vocalist Laura Bettison for a chilled-out take on their respective resumes, and as one would expect, it sounds like a killer cocktail of past projects:  an AIR loop here, a Radiohead synth there, but with an added dose of outer-space.
Bettison is given the unenviable task of distinguishing herself from other vocalists Godrich has worked with before (er, Thom Yorke), as well as other female vocalists who typically define this brand of downtempo.  For the most part she’s game, especially on the delightfully weird “Easier,” but other cuts, like “Gold Dayzz,” are practically crying out for Yorke’s singular honey-throated inflection.
Check out the video for smalltalk.

Renowned producer sets out on his own with Ultraista debut

Ultraista, the new project from producer Nigel Godrich (Beck, Radiohead) is essentially the same band as Atoms for Peace, minus Thom Yorke.  Naturally, that’s a little too bad.

Percussion wunderkind and oft collaborator Joey Waronker joins Godrich and vocalist Laura Bettison for a chilled-out take on their respective resumes, and as one would expect, it sounds like a killer cocktail of past projects:  an AIR loop here, a Radiohead synth there, but with an added dose of outer-space.

Bettison is given the unenviable task of distinguishing herself from other vocalists Godrich has worked with before (er, Thom Yorke), as well as other female vocalists who typically define this brand of downtempo.  For the most part she’s game, especially on the delightfully weird “Easier,” but other cuts, like “Gold Dayzz,” are practically crying out for Yorke’s singular honey-throated inflection.

Check out the video for smalltalk.

Mitt Romney not the only Mormon doubling down… and losing
Back in 2006 Brandon Flowers (hopefully) half-jokingly mentioned the Killers were recording “the best album of the last 20 years," and it was to be called Sam’s Town, so-named after a born-to-lose dive bar in Vegas, and let’s just say it wasn’t on the strip.
Sam’s Town wasn’t even the best album of 2006, not by a long shot.  But it did mark a turning point for the band that, for better and worse, appears to have been permanent on the evidence of Battle Born, their fourth release.
Flowers has always been drawn to kitsch as a bear is to honey, but here he leaves no Meat Loaf cliche uncovered.  ”Not sure how this natural selection picked me out to be a dark horse running in a fantasy,” he sings beautifully on “Flesh and Bone” with the innocent conviction of someone who doesn’t know any better.
The problem is they’ve already mined this territory with more novel results.  Battle Born sounds like the offspring of Sam’s Town and Day and Age without the soaring heights of “Dustland Fairytale,” “Read My Mind” or the self-awareness of “Losing Touch.”  Instead, we get closing-credits fodder like “Miss Atomic Bomb” and “Here with Me,” replete with synthesizers that probably should’ve stayed in 1986.
And yet, there’s something compelling about their stubborn resolve to exist outside of any contemporary context and continue mining their glitter-in-the-gutter ethos.  They’re precisely the kind of lost cause Werner Herzog would take a shining to.  Maybe next time they’ll transcend empty pastiche.

Mitt Romney not the only Mormon doubling down… and losing

Back in 2006 Brandon Flowers (hopefully) half-jokingly mentioned the Killers were recording “the best album of the last 20 years," and it was to be called Sam’s Town, so-named after a born-to-lose dive bar in Vegas, and let’s just say it wasn’t on the strip.

Sam’s Town wasn’t even the best album of 2006, not by a long shot.  But it did mark a turning point for the band that, for better and worse, appears to have been permanent on the evidence of Battle Born, their fourth release.

Flowers has always been drawn to kitsch as a bear is to honey, but here he leaves no Meat Loaf cliche uncovered.  ”Not sure how this natural selection picked me out to be a dark horse running in a fantasy,” he sings beautifully on “Flesh and Bone” with the innocent conviction of someone who doesn’t know any better.

The problem is they’ve already mined this territory with more novel results.  Battle Born sounds like the offspring of Sam’s Town and Day and Age without the soaring heights of “Dustland Fairytale,” “Read My Mind” or the self-awareness of “Losing Touch.”  Instead, we get closing-credits fodder like “Miss Atomic Bomb” and “Here with Me,” replete with synthesizers that probably should’ve stayed in 1986.

And yet, there’s something compelling about their stubborn resolve to exist outside of any contemporary context and continue mining their glitter-in-the-gutter ethos.  They’re precisely the kind of lost cause Werner Herzog would take a shining to.  Maybe next time they’ll transcend empty pastiche.

Richard Gere loses his cool in ‘Arbitrage’
“I’m under a lot of pressure,” Robert Miller (Richard Gere) repeats throughout Arbitrage, Nicholas Jarecki’s rather deft examination of a billionaire businessman trying to outrun his lies.  “I have responsibilities… people are relying on me.”
Among those relying on Miller are his wife (Susan Sarandon), daughter Brooke (Brit Marling), mistress (Laetitia Casta), and his investors.  This last group is the most meaningful to Miller, naturally, as they have made him the man he is.
So what kind of man is he?  Jarecki sets out to answer this question in subtly perverse fashion, never deigning to judge him as much as coolly observe him.
Miller has business troubles.  A billionaire with a beautiful family, a (seemingly) flourishing business, and a newly minted Forbes cover, there is in fact a $400 million hole in his balance sheet he’s plugging with a loan from an impatient colleague so he can clear the audit standing between him and the sale his business.  No one, least of all his CFO – who also happens to be his daughter Brooke – knows about it.
To make matters worse, Julie, his mistress, goes all crazy on him.  He offers to drive them upstate to spend some time together, but a car accident delays them indefinitely, and in fact, the accident is a neat little metaphor for what is perhaps Miller’s greatest skill: survival.  We get the sense he’s been able to walk away from wreckage his entire life when no one else is spared.  Will he get away this time?
To his credit, Jarecki’s doesn’t condescend us with the mechanics of the ensuing investigation.  Detective Bryer (Tim Roth) has only one – albeit highly engaging – scene with Miller early on, and in a genre where the detective is supposed to appear and reappear like the suspect’s nagging conscience, it’s a remarkable thing that the brunt of Bryer’s investigation is more practically reserved for Jimmy (Nate Parker), Miller’s unwitting accomplice and part-time beneficiary.
And therein lies Arbitrage’s strength: despite familiar plot points, Jarecki’s screenplay inverts enough of the pieces to inspire equal parts intrigue, disgust, and a sort of wry pleasure in whether or not Miller gets away with it.
As we watch his high-wire act unfold, Miller covertly enlists our — dare I say — sympathies.  Credit Gere’s finely calibrated performance.  With a face like a fox, he weaves in and out of ruthlessness and remorse, ego and insecurity convincingly enough to add surprising accents to a man whose livelihood relies on the projection of confidence, even if there’s nothing back there.

Richard Gere loses his cool in ‘Arbitrage’

“I’m under a lot of pressure,” Robert Miller (Richard Gere) repeats throughout Arbitrage, Nicholas Jarecki’s rather deft examination of a billionaire businessman trying to outrun his lies.  “I have responsibilities… people are relying on me.”

Among those relying on Miller are his wife (Susan Sarandon), daughter Brooke (Brit Marling), mistress (Laetitia Casta), and his investors.  This last group is the most meaningful to Miller, naturally, as they have made him the man he is.

So what kind of man is he?  Jarecki sets out to answer this question in subtly perverse fashion, never deigning to judge him as much as coolly observe him.

Miller has business troubles.  A billionaire with a beautiful family, a (seemingly) flourishing business, and a newly minted Forbes cover, there is in fact a $400 million hole in his balance sheet he’s plugging with a loan from an impatient colleague so he can clear the audit standing between him and the sale his business.  No one, least of all his CFO – who also happens to be his daughter Brooke – knows about it.

To make matters worse, Julie, his mistress, goes all crazy on him.  He offers to drive them upstate to spend some time together, but a car accident delays them indefinitely, and in fact, the accident is a neat little metaphor for what is perhaps Miller’s greatest skill: survival.  We get the sense he’s been able to walk away from wreckage his entire life when no one else is spared.  Will he get away this time?

To his credit, Jarecki’s doesn’t condescend us with the mechanics of the ensuing investigation.  Detective Bryer (Tim Roth) has only one – albeit highly engaging – scene with Miller early on, and in a genre where the detective is supposed to appear and reappear like the suspect’s nagging conscience, it’s a remarkable thing that the brunt of Bryer’s investigation is more practically reserved for Jimmy (Nate Parker), Miller’s unwitting accomplice and part-time beneficiary.

And therein lies Arbitrage’s strength: despite familiar plot points, Jarecki’s screenplay inverts enough of the pieces to inspire equal parts intrigue, disgust, and a sort of wry pleasure in whether or not Miller gets away with it.

As we watch his high-wire act unfold, Miller covertly enlists our — dare I say — sympathies.  Credit Gere’s finely calibrated performance.  With a face like a fox, he weaves in and out of ruthlessness and remorse, ego and insecurity convincingly enough to add surprising accents to a man whose livelihood relies on the projection of confidence, even if there’s nothing back there.

An (un)welcome return?

Ah, it’s been too long.  Time clean out the Fall closet in preparation for winter, which is clearly upon us.

New demo from our friends British Sea Power “Hail Holy Queen.”  Brings a tear to the eye.  Sort of perfect for the new Marie Antoinette project…

Smashing Pumpkins ticket in hand for Halloween at the Barclay Center show!  Frankly, I’m tickled.

I know, I know: they’re not the same Pumpkins.  Call me naive, but that’s a good thing.  Corgan, like the best of narcissists, could use some underdog status, and right now he’s got it.

The current line-up, which includes wunderkind Mikey Byrne, the very nice Nicole Fiorentino on bass, and Jeff “Shredder” Schroeder, can flat out play.  It feels like a band, unlike the 2007-2008 iteration that spawned the rightfully-panned Zeitgeist, which saw Corgan coming to terms with his failures in the ugliest of fashions.

But since announcing his absurd 44 song-cycle Teargarden by Kaleidescope project, Corgan  appears to have regained his Occult mojo.  The Songs for a Sailor EP, Vol I (of XI?) of the Teargarden cycle, was a pleasant surprise, with the title track and “Astral Planes” retaining the spirit of the band that recorded Mellon Collie while exploring new territory.  Even the cover design looks like something out of “Magic: The Gathering.”

The momentum’s continued with the excellent Oceania, the first LP since Corgan’s 2008 announcement the band would no longer record any such thing.

Against all odds, Corgan & company seem to be in a fertile creative period.  The Halloween show (and I can’t think of anyone I’d rather see on Halloween) should be a celebration, then, of the true resurrection of the band, not as nostalgia reunion shtick, but an actual creative force worth paying attention to.  I plan to enjoy while it lasts and keep my fingers crossed they bring the pain on non-album tracks As Rome Burns.

Any music lovers/writers out there?

We are looking for a few voices to contribute occasional music reviews to our new blog.  Pop and hip-hop voices needed in particular.  These are not paid posts, but if you’re already writing about music here, good opportunity to reach a new audience and drive traffic to your own site as well.

Shoot us a note here if interested, thanks!

The Vaccines Comes of Age
Oh the Brits and their provocative album covers.  Kind of looks like the War cover, no?  And where did they find these androgynous girls?

The Vaccines Comes of Age

Oh the Brits and their provocative album covers.  Kind of looks like the War cover, no?  And where did they find these androgynous girls?

crookedindifference:

Rest in Peace, Neil Armstrong

Buzz Aldrin took this picture of Neil Armstrong in the cabin after the completion of the first EVA. This is the face of the first man to set foot on the Moon, just hours earlier, on July 20th, 1969.

Neil Armstrong was a quiet self-described nerdy engineer who became a global hero when as a steely-nerved pilot he made “one giant leap for mankind” with a small step on to the moon. The modest man who had people on Earth entranced and awed from almost a quarter million miles away has died. He was 82.
Looks like Yan from British Sea Power a bit, no?

crookedindifference:

Rest in Peace, Neil Armstrong

Buzz Aldrin took this picture of Neil Armstrong in the cabin after the completion of the first EVA. This is the face of the first man to set foot on the Moon, just hours earlier, on July 20th, 1969.

Neil Armstrong was a quiet self-described nerdy engineer who became a global hero when as a steely-nerved pilot he made “one giant leap for mankind” with a small step on to the moon. The modest man who had people on Earth entranced and awed from almost a quarter million miles away has died. He was 82.

Looks like Yan from British Sea Power a bit, no?

(via crookedindifference)