Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Songs (and videos) for the Weak

1. "Golden Skans" by Klaxons
A weird
video? Yes please! Oh wait -- maybe "Golden Skans" is a little too fun. Maybe it doesn't deserve such a lethargic treatment. Maybe we should listen to what my friend Rosangela's pin says: fuck art. Let's dance!
[Song available on iTunes]

2. "Inner City Pressure" by Flight of the Conchords
The whole video is good (and oddly comforting as I search for a place to live), but the black woman when there's 1:20 left makes it classic.

3. "Stay" by Dave Matthews Band
There's a scene in Six Feet Under where Claire makes fun of her older boyfriend for being "deeply unhip." Finally she's met her match: a man as adorably square as she is judgmental. He points out that being hip is an adolescent concern, so he'll take that as a compliment. Whenever I rediscover bands that I liked
when I was younger (like Dave Matthews), I try to keep that in mind and listen to the songs without any of the lame cultural baggage -- who said you can't like Bob Dylan and Britney Spears? This song occasionally makes me remember the awful people I went to high school with, but it's just too much fun to give up! (And if I relapse, I can just say how it's influenced by Paul Simon's Graceland.)
[Available on iTunes]

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Trailer for Persepolis

One of my favorite books is gonna be a movie! The trailer's all in French, and despite going all the way up to 102, the only words I can make out are "Julio Iglesias" and "Michael Jackson." That's okay though, since those are the only words you really need to know (in any language).

Friday, June 22, 2007

Frida Kahlo

Courtesy of Amneris

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Better Than You'd Think

(Ebony Bones' "Don't Fart On My Heart")
Courtesy of Donna K.

Ebony and Ivory: The New Class

("Girlfriend" by Avril Lavigne & Lil' Mama)

The Human Genome, pg. 348

(Photo by Jonathan Player)

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Songs for the Weak

1. "Boyz" by MIA
This video's a hell of a lot more fun than the boilerplate that passes for entertainment at MTV. It's like someone took over your local access channel and devoted the entire shoestring budget towards awesomeness. It's jam-packed with dancers and graphics, with MIA as the ringmaster. Watch it

2. "Break Down Here" by Julie Roberts
So many critics hate modern country that you'd almost expect them to call it "Gnashville." Some make fun of the voices, some the Republican ideals, and some - amazingly - the lyrics. Okay, maybe it's not so amazing (ever hear the pro-lynching anthem "
Beer for My Horses"?) But for every Toby Keith, there's a Julie Roberts -- or rather, a team of songwriters like Julie Roberts' (this is Nashville, after all). And that's when you get songs like this one, with lines like

Under fifty thousand miles ago
Before the bad blood and busted radio
You said I was all you'd ever need

As you might guess, this song is about two kinds of breaking down. Like I said, this is Nashville. [Available
here. Don't let the fact that she was on Wheel of Fortune scare you.]

3. "Hands on a Hardbody" - Benny Perkins
This is an interview from This American Life, so it isn't technically a song.


::fog machine turns on, adding to the mystery of Rahul's last comment::

The interview's with Benny Perkins, a resident of Longview, Texas, who's participating in a contest that a Nissan dealership holds every year: 24 people each put a hand on a pickup truck, and whoever's the last person standing gets to keep it. The producers did a really nice job with the music they play while Benny's talking -- Yo La Tengo's "Green Arrow" is perfect for when he's talking about what the sleep deprivation does. You can listen to the piece

::fog machine off::

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Who are you calling an idiot box?

Simon Schama's Power of Art is one of those series that makes you feel guilty for not giving to public television. Its unfortunate title notwithstanding (he has the power of art?), yesterday's episode on "Guernica" was magnificent -- I missed about half of it mulling over what he had just said. As someone who envied the art history minors in college, this is a nice consolation prize, especially because it highlights the continued relevance of the work being discussed (in this case, how the painting was covered up when Colin Powell went to the UN and made the case for invading Iraq). Not quite as good as John Ashcroft covering up Lady Justice, but close enough.

Mondays at 10 on PBS. For more information click

Monday, June 18, 2007

Happy Father's Day

(Photo by Mary Ellen Mark)

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Songs for the Weak

"D.A.N.C.E." by Justice
Blessed are the days when iTunes' free single of the week is excellent. (Wretched are the ones when it's by James Blunt.)

"Mer du Japon" by Air
A radio edit of this song just came out, which is odd for a couple of reasons: (1) it will never be played on the radio; (2) the edit is half a minute shorter than the original, even though every second of it feels essential. It's almost easier to imagine that someone turned the song into a gay disco romp or synth-pop experiment, which is exactly what two remixes do, the first by Kris Menace and the second one by The Teenagers. It's also easier to imagine the video -- and that takes place in a heavenly fish tank of some sort. Watch it
[Available on iTunes]

"Touch Me I'm Sick" by Sonic Youth
Kim Gordon is the slayer. This is the second cover of hers that I'm writing about, the first being Ciccone Youth's "Addicted to Love." She killed that one by not killing it -- with lazy vocals and a karaoke backdrop, who would've thought it would be so addictive? This one is a bit of the opposite: feral and insane and everything a proper woman should be. There's some of the same though, too -- it's just as sloppy as I had hoped.
[Available on iTunes]

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Songs for the Weak

"Girlfriend (Japanese Version)" by Avril Lavigne
Of all the versions of this song (there's even one in Mandarin), this one's the most successful. The chorus achieves the manic happiness of J-Pop, not bad for a sullen Canadian girl who recently took on the surname "Whibley." The German version is also interesting: teen pop never sounded so fascist. At first I chalked up all the versions to globalization, which for some reason we still think of as a phenomenon of the '90s, but then I remembered that Johnny Cash sang a German version of "Ring Of Fire," and Toni Basil did a Spanish one of "Mickey" (that last one is essential, by the way.)

[Available on iTunes]

"Obama" by Amigos de Obama
Go to - NOW. "Como se llama? Obama!" Even better would have been what my co-worker thought: that Barack Obama recorded a reggaeton song to court the Hispanic vote. Maybe in 2012.

[Available at]

"Traffic Jam" by Stephen Marley
It's too late (or, depending on your perspective, early) for this song to be my summer jam -- I've played it out already, though I have trouble believing that radio stations haven't. It's eminently sing-alongable. My summerjamz last year were "A Sweet Summer's Night On Hammer Hill" by Jens Lekman and "We Be Burnin" by Sean Paul -- it's nice to know that this year's still up for grabs.

[Available on iTunes]

Monday, June 4, 2007