Video Hookup

… the non-english speaking version.

01. K’naan wrote “Soobax” to protest the occupation of Somalia, his home country by hostile troops. Soo bax means “Get Out,” according to the amnesty international site. I am majorly fond of K’naan, and this is a great song.

02. G-Dragon, dubbed “the Korean Lady Gaga” by my friend K., singing his hit song “Heartbreaker.” Is it the white hair or the commitment to androgyny? I’m hooked.

03. More Korean pop, from the Wonder Girls — “Nobody.” Retrofabulous! I played this one on my ipod for two weeks straight. This video has a plot and everything, heh. How many chances to be a star hinge on lack of toilet paper? Probably a lot of ‘em.

03. And even more KPop, this time it’s two bands in one: BigBang and 2NE1 collaborating on “Lollipop.” The great thing is that pop basically transcends language. The outfits, the lights, the colors, the ridiculously pretty people — they all speak for themselves.

04. This one is a year old but I just heard about it via SoundRoots — Sister Fa, who is an activist in Africa but also is very famous hip-hop world, wrote “Milyamba” about the lives of Senegalese women in the countryside. And you thought life at your desk was hard.

05. Not really about music, but if you’re a language geek like me you will like this video about trying to emphasize gender in written Arabic.

06. Fusion! It’s Celtic + Indian, bet you never saw that coming. Vancouver band Delhi 2 Dublin combines them beautifully, and it’s way fun to listen to (videos are pretty low quality, but here is one for “Apple Jam” and one for their CD release party in Vancouver). Hear more at their site.

07. Via BoingBoing: In 1972, Oleg Sharov played “Flight of the Bumblebee” on the accordion. It sounds very beelike. (”Bumblebee” was written by Rimsky-Korsakov)

08. Last but not least, the ending song to Castle In the Sky (Laputa), a Hayao Miyazaki film made in 1986. It’s a song about setting out with nothing but a desire to find something lost and beautiful.

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Alan Wilkis

By some happy chance I got a copy of Alan Wilkis’s album “Pink and Purple” and faithful reader, it is fan-frigging-tastic. It was like being transported back to my teen years, only better (to be fair, anything would be better than that). The whole record is chock-full of 80s vibe, but it’s not derivative at all. Like Doe Deere, it has upped synth and beat to the next level, creating something as modern as it is retrospective. It’s a slim six songs long, so you don’t get bored, and I dare you not to at least chair-dance.

If they’d played this at my school dances back in the day, I might have gotten out there and danced to swank tracks like “N.I.C.E.” and “Gotta Get You Back.” “Snuggle Up To Nail Down” is my favorite track, with its wry summary of pretty much every relationship: Sometimes it’s like we’re doing double-dutch. Just don’t get tangled in the ropes … oops, too late.

Alan Wilkis — Site | Myspace

Alan Wilkis — N.I.C.E.

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[ed. note -- Hey, whut whut, has it really been three months since my last update? Probably the 4,500,000 points I have in Bejeweled Twist were responsible. If you asked for a song from me during this time, and you didn't get one, write in again. I just sent a few out to people who commented last month. Check your inbox! And your spam box, ha ha.]

Today’s music is actually the music of last year, but I’d never heard of Blind Pilot until my brother-in-law pointed me toward their 2008 album “3 Rounds and A Sound.” This is not unusual, given how much mail & RSS I sift through every day, but what a criminal oversight. Blind Pilot is what you’d charitably call GWG music (Guy With Guitar) — even though there is a rest of the band — so if you don’t like that, bail now. But I do! I love it! Especially if it comes from Portland, where they grow it all organic-like.

Oddly, the songs from “3 Rounds” remind me forcibly of the Format, not because there are handclaps (there aren’t) but because there’s a joyfulness in the music that just says, these people are having fun with their music. It’s not SRS BZNS, and if you danced to it, that might be okay, indie princess. And that’s pretty much it — I just like this music, I like songs that say till Kingdom Come / you’re the one I want. Oh, sweet devotion.

Blind Pilot — Site | Myspace
Blind Pilot — Daytrotter Session

Blind Pilot — 3 Rounds and A Sound
Blind Pilot — One Red Thread

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Once again my video links have reached critical mass.

01. Regina Spektor does “Blue Lips” on Jools Holland (via Culture Bully). It is probably an understatement to say that I am SO SO SO SO SO SO SO anticipating this new album. Also, R.Spektor is so very adorable.

02. Space Cowboy’s new single, “Falling Down” (via Electroqueer). I am enamored of this Space Cowboy fella because of his collaborations with Lady Gaga, but he’s also monstrously danceable by himself.

03. Bishop Allen does “Butterfly Nets” in a bathroom (via IGIF). It’s one of my favorite Bishop Allen songs, definitely. Plus, ukelele is the new orange.

04. JoCo singing “Future Soon,” (via Boingboing), the ultimate nerd anthem. I find it a very sad song (I can’t decide from the text whether it’s supposed to be sad) — I hate to think of science smoothing away everything that makes us human (i.e., our flaws).

05. Don Omar’s “The Chosen” and “Virtual Diva” from his new album “iDon” (at Slate). Of course I can’t understand a darn thing Omar is saying, but if it’s reggaeton and cyborgs, I am on board like Scully on a ghost ship.

06. Beverly Sills singing from “La Traviata” with the Muppets (via LAist). Is there something that’s not to like? I didn’t think so.

07. Over at Boingboing they are obsessed with cigar box guitars, which I think is weird, but then they linked to this video of Keni Lee Burgess playing that Muddy Waters classic, “Baby Please Don’t Go,” and I can now see their side of the story.

08. Has everyone already seen this? YANP linked to a trailer for “Where the Wild Things Are,” complete with Arcade Fire soundtrack. If it wasn’t Spike Jonze directing, I would say, psh, you can’t make a movie out of this book. Instead I’ll just say, this sounds like a movie for other people to watch.

09. EQ does it again — lots of footage of the nostalgia 80s reunion in Quebec — Tiffany, Deborah Gibson (maybe she went by Debbie for one night), Samantha Fox, and Rick Astley. I don’t care what you say. I listened to “I Think We’re Alone Now” and “Spanish Eyes” about a million times when it came out, so THERE.

10. Iron & Wine does “Godless Brother In Love”s on Jimmy Fallon (via Culture Bully) — get it while it’s hot at Hulu. I love Sam Beam but looking at that beard gives me the willies.

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Ah, my favorite genre, the mishmash that is folk/alt-country/alt-folk/americana, whatever you want to call it. Whatever the moniker you choose, it’s the heartsbloody, dirty-handed songs of the people, and excluding blues & blues rock, there isn’t anything better to listen to. Lately there’s been a slew of good stuff coming down the pike like the train rolling past Folsom Prison. Let’s take a listen, shall we? *beep* [advance filmstrip]

01. The Felice Brothers — Yonder Is the Clock

Though the album is (on the whole) rather lugubrious, all the Felice Brothers elements are there — death, brawling, the mob, you know, stuff like that. I’m not a person that throws around the word “authentic,” thanks to a lot of theory training, but the Felice Brothers strike me as a deeply human band. Entry track is “Run Chicken Run,” a romping singalong about how chickens don’t get no life after death. (Unless you read that one Shalom Auslander story.)

The Felice Brothers — Site | Myspace | Label (Team Love)

The Felice Brothers — Run Chicken Run

The Felice Brothers — Boy From Lawrence County

02. Justin Townes Earle — Midnight At the Movies

I have not heard the entire JTE album yet, but I love the juxtaposition between the two songs I do have. “Midnight At the Movies” is kind of this micro-study of humanity, this guy who’s reaching out for anything but who mostly ends up with his flicks. And then “Mama’s Eyes” is this really warm, human introspection about parents and where a person gets his physical and mental traits. I love them both! And probably whatever else happens to be on an album between them.

Justin Townes Earle — Myspace | Label (Bloodshot)

JTE — Midnight At the Movies (sxsw showcase version)
JTE — Mama’s Eyes

03. Scott H Biram — Something’s Wrong / Lost Forever

This one I haven’t heard either, but I’m a Biram fan and from the two tracks that Bloodshot released, I’m thinking it is standard Biram fare, all hellfire and brimstone. Woot! Smells like sulfur up in here.

Scott H Biram — Site | Myspace | Label (Bloodshot)

Scott H Biram — Still Drunk, Still Crazy, Still Blue
Scott H Biram — Judgment Day

04. Roadside Graves — My Son’s Home

Straddling the pointy pointy fence between alt-country and folk, these guys come from New Jersey, of all places. But there is no Bon Jovi in these stark, deceptively simple songs. The harmony is a little shaky in “Far and Wide,” but that’s practically a bonus. The album is not out yet, but enjoy these previews.

Roadside Graves — Site | Myspace | Label (Autumn Tone)

Roadside Graves — Far and Wide
Roadside Graves — Ruby

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Well, I tried and tried, but me and the Hazards of Love just aren’t going to be BFFs. I had a previous commenter (thanks, Josh) who said that the title track was pretty good, and it came up randomly in my ipod, and I liked it pretty well, but like he said, the rest of it … eh. Not even the addition of Ms. Awesomesauce Worden can mitigate the ehness. Sorry, Colin and crew.

But something else came up randomly on my ipod — keeps coming up, actually, and I keep thinking, “this song is excellent! What is it?” — and it is pretty much always from the Harlem Shakes’ album Technicolor Health, which they kindly sent to me way back in January. This blog is very fond of “Burning Birthdays” and the full-out brashness it blessed my ears with, so I was glad to see the Shakes continuing the trend.

Technicolor Health is sometimes dissonant, sometimes chaotic, sometimes blippy and sometimes it goes bangety bang, but it’s all in the service of the sound. It’s a sound you have to work to get into, which is why I’m just writing about it now, I guess (yeah….). My favorite song is “Sunlight,” which combines a great beat with funny, ironic lyrics: I had a coat of many colors / sold it off online (PFork hates that line, which must be another reason to like it so much). And on the opposite end is the melancholic “Unhurried Hearts,” which (to me) laments the way life just rushes on like a freight train, and love sometimes misses us entirely.

Nice work, guys! Sorry it took so long for the writeup. I’ll be over here rockin’ out to my ipod.

The Harlem Shakes — Site | Myspace | Label (Gigantic)

The Harlem Shakes — Sunlight

The Harlem Shakes — Unhurried Hearts

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Off topic, does anyone have an “entry song” into “Hazards of Love”? You know, a song you can listen to and it gets you excited to hear the rest? Excluding the Rake’s Song, that is. I listened to the first three tracks and it was like, snoozeville, so either I am way off base or I just haven’t found the way into it. Any suggestions? (Confession: I kind of hate albums where the whole thing is one story. Excluding “The Wall.” But even that gets on my nerves sometimes.)

Aaaand, back to topic in five, four three ….

The ladies are rocking my socks off these last few months, with some really great stuff. It’s so much fun to look at my playlist and realize that it’s all women singing/writing/playing (yes, guys are great too, that’s not the point). Let’s recap, for those people who have been hiding under a rock for awhile.

01. Lisa Hannigan — Sea Sew. Have I said enough about this album? I THINK I HAVE.

Lisa Hannigan — Venn Diagram

02. Camera Obscura — My Maudlin Career. This one is classic C.O. and very fun to listen to. It starts off with such a great track, “French Navy,” where Traceyanne Campbell laments the fleeting nature of love and its unholdability.

Camera Obscura — French Navy

03. Vienna Teng — Inland Territory. Her voice is so beautiful that she sneaks all kinds of social issues into her songs and you don’t even notice until you’re singing along.

Vienna Teng — No Gringo

04. Bat For Lashes — Two Suns. Spacy, nutty, gorgeous: it’s all still there in the fabulous mix that is Natasha Khan.

Bat For Lashes — Travelling Woman

05. Neko Case — Middle Cyclone. The usual mix of the unusual: startling violent images, mysterious lyric play, being stalked by a cyclone. You know; same old same old.

Neko Case — Polar Nettles

06. Jenn Grant — Echoes. Understated and beautiful folk with jazzy undertones; the lyrics almost remind me of Bjork sometimes :D but the music does not sound anything like Her Icelandiness.

Go forth and listen!

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A beautiful new song by NY band Edison Woods has hit my inbox: well, sort of dropped into it with a teeny splash, but the ripples keep getting bigger and bigger. This is the Edison Woods of “Last Night I Dreamt I Would Last Forever,” a song so weirdly and slowly sublime that one forgets that it spans over seven minutes.

This new song, entitled “Wind Song,” reminds me of nothing so much as the Cinematic Orchestra — both bands employ that muted atmospheric piano and the sped-down pace. There’s just a bit of that European, San-Ilya-esque sensuality thrown in as well. The songs end up sounding almost otherworldly, but not in an alien way. More like they are the soundtrack following someone with a perfect life, someone who throws open French doors into a sunshiney morning.

I don’t have a song for you to sample, but you can listen to the Wind Song in its entirety at Edison Woods’s site.

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Video Hookup

This one is kind of Electroqueer-heavy, but that’s just because EQ is so awesome.

01. Video for Matt Alber’s “The End of the World” — this guy, seriously, he can sing. I love this song, I have seen this video a million times. It’s romance with a capital Row.

02. If you have an hour and a half to watch a great film, clap your peepers upon “Sita Sings the Blues,” by Nina Paley. It’s augmented by the beautiful blues of Annette Hanshaw.

03. Via BoingBoing, I am fond of the chipper song “Happy Up Here” by Röyskopp. Space invaders!

04. Not to jump onto the literal video bandwagon, but I like the literal video for “Head Over Heels,” because when you don’t have to concentrate on the song, you notice how dippy the video actually is. I used to love those old-timey videos (heh), which weren’t slick and stupid and full of plasticked-up singers doing ripoffs of Janet Jackson dance sequences.

05. Largehearted Boy has John Darnielle doing “Woke Up New,” with backup singer Tobias Wolff. How cool is that.

06. EQ links to nifty Pet Shop Boys montage, done live at the Brit Awards (scroll past Brandon Flowers to the second video). Lady GaGa does a little cameo too. Oh, Lady G.

07. Via BoingBoing, the totally adorable Nano Song, about … what else … nanos. I still don’t really know what a nano is but that’s cool.

08. Also at BB, Chinese bluegrass. Awe. Some.

09. Stereogum has video for Ladytron’s “Tomorrow.” Brandon’s right, it does look a bit like Parrish, although to my knowledge he never painted flying jellyfish.

10. The Gum also has video for Malajube’s new song (well, it was new as of last month, okay, geez) called “Porté Disparu.” The band all gets murderated. It might be because of their poor sartorial choices.

11. Fabulist! has Amanda Palmer doing “Creep” on a ukelele. That woman can do anything, I swear. If they told me she was playing the tuba with her toes, I’d believe it.

12. EQ showcased Private doing a crazy video for “Killer on the Dancefloor.” I’m a fan of Private’s 80s sound, but I have no idea what any of his videos are about. Paging Killer, paging Killer, please wash your hair, repeat, please wash your hair.

13. There is also video at EQ for Lady GaGa’s “Love Game.” Lady G never fails to amaze with her trashy French-cut bodysuits and her awful lyrics (she got her a** squeezed by sexy Cupid. HAH), but when she belts it out in that voice, she rocks my socks.

14. At BoingBoing, Japanese Saturday Night Fever meets, uh, public breakdancing. It’s Peter, Bjorn, and John’s video for “Nothing To Worry About.”

15. And last but not least, snails slithering in time-lapse to the tune of “Go West.” My 4-year-old son’s favorite word is “snail.” I should probably show him this video, but then of course I would have to watch it a thousand times.

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Bon Ton day

By strange coincidence, the word of the day at AWAD is “bon ton.” So if you’ve always wanted to know what it meant, there you go. It’s Bon Ton day! Let’s celebrate it my way: virtual unicorn tapestry cake and poetry.

Almost Blue
by Mark Doty

Chet Baker, 1929-1988

If Hart Crane played trumpet
he’d sound like you, your horn’s dark city

miraculous and broken over and over,
scale-shimmered, every harbor-flung hour

and salt-span of cabled longing,
every waterfront, the night-lovers’ rendezvous.

This is the entrance
to the city of you, sleep’s hellgate,

and two weeks before the casual relinquishment
of your hold — light needling

on the canal’s gleaming haze
and the buds blaring like horns –

two weeks before the end, Chet,
and you’re playing like anything,

singing stay little valentine
stay

and taking so long there are worlds sinking
between the notes, this exhalation

no longer a voice but a rush of air,
brutal, from the tunnels under the river,

the barges’ late whistles you only hear
when the traffic’s stilled

by snow, a city hushed and
distilled into one rush of breath,

yours, into the microphone
and the ear of that girl

in the leopard-print scarf,
one long kiss begun on the highway

and carried on dangerously,
the Thunderbird veering

on the coast road: glamor
of a perfectly splayed fender,

dazzling lipstick, a little pearl of junk,
some stretch of road breathless

and traveled into … Whoever she is
she’s the other coast of you,

and just beyond the bridge into the city’s
long amalgam of ardor and indifference

is lit like a votive
then blown out. Too many rooms unrented

in this residential hotel,
and you don’t want to know

why they’re making that noise in the hall;
you’re going to wake up in any one of the

how many ten thousand
locations of trouble and longing

going out of business forever everything must go
wake up and start wanting.

It’s so much better when you don’t want:
nothing falls then, nothing lost

but sleep and who wanted that
in the pearl this suspended world is,

in the warm suspension and glaze
of this song everything stays up

almost forever in the long
glide sung into the vein,

one note held almost impossibly
almost blue and the lyric takes so long

to open, a little blood
blooming: there’s no love song finer

but how strange the change
from major to minor

every time
we say goodbye

and you leaning into that warm
haze from the window, Amsterdam,

late afternoon glimmer
a blur of buds

breathing in the lindens
and you let go and why not

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Chet Baker — My Funny Valentine

Annie Lennox — Every Time We Say Goodbye (Cole Porter)

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